Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Travels and Travails

My silence in the blogosphere is due to two things--travels and travails.  First, the travails because they are more important and they are not mine.  Stephanie Schmude, the Apostleship of Prayer's receptionist, Spanish-speaker, webmaster, leaflet designed, and order-taker and filler, is sick.  Three weeks ago she was diagnosed with acute leukemia and she has been in the hospital ever since undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments to build up her blood and immune system.  In her absence the Apostleship of Prayer office has been somewhat chaotic as we try to stay on top of all the things she does.  That's especially difficult because this is our busy time of year when people around the country and in other parts of the world are ordering our leaflets with the 2013 papal intentions.  While we could use prayer support now, Stephanie needs it even more.  Please pray for her healing.

From October 12 to 14 I was at Sacred Heart Retreat House in Alhambra, California giving a retreat for 75 women. 
Then last weekend I was at a Marian conference in Rolling Meadows, Illinois that was sponsored by Totally Yours Pilgrimages.  It was a tremendous weekend in which many people stopped at my table to talk, to tell me that they hear me on Relevant Radio, and to get some of our materials.  On Sunday night I was honored to be given the 24th annual Msgr. Popek award at a banquet sponsored by the St. Gregory VII Chapter of Catholics United for the Faith in Milwaukee.  The title of my talk was "The Sacred Heart and the Year of Faith" and I hope to present it here in parts. 

Tomorrow I leave for southern California again where I'll be giving a retreat to the leaders of "Magnificat, A Ministry to Catholic Women."  I'll be on the West coast all week and preach on Saturday, November 3 at "The Magnficat Day of Faith."  This is different from the other Magnificat group.  It's being sponsored by "Magnificat," the prayer book and missal people and it is being held at the Crystal Cathedral, soon to be consecrated as Christ Cathedral for the Diocese of Orange.  I hope to get pictures, but without Stephanie's expert help I may have trouble figuring out how to post them. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Happy Anniversary

Today is the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council.  Pope Benedict XVI chose this anniversary as the day on which the Year of Faith would begin.  In his letter announcing the Year of Faith, the Holy Father spoke of these themes:  "a profound crisis of faith" in the world; the necessity of the "profession of the truth faith and its correct interpretation;" "authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord;" and the need "to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith."  It's no accident that Pope Benedict chose this date for the beginning of the Year of Faith because those are themes that appeared in Blessed Pope John XXIII's address at the opening of the Council on October 11, 1962.  Here are some brief excerpts from that address which are as timely today as they were 50 years ago.

Pope John XXIII's reason for calling the Council

"And now the Church must once more reaffirm that teaching authority of hers which never fails, but will endure until the end of time.  For that was Our reason for calling this most authoritative assembly...."

"The major interest of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred heritage of Christian truth be safeguarded and expounded with greater efficacy.  That doctrine embraces the whole man, body and soul. It bids us live as pilgrims here on earth as we journey onwards towards our heavenly homeland. It demonstrates how we must conduct this mortal life of ours.  If we are to achieve God's purpose in our regard we have a twofold obligation: as citizens of earth, and as citizens of heaven.  That is to say, all men without exception, both individually and in society, have a life-long obligation to strive after heavenly values through the right use of things of this earth.  These temporal good must be used in such a way as not to jeopardize eternal happiness." 

"And our duty is not just to guard this treasure [of the truth of the Church's doctrine], as though it were some museum-piece and we the curators, but earnestly and fearlessly to dedicate ourselves to the work that needs to be done in this modern age of ours, pursuing the path which the Church has followed for almost twenty centuries." 

What is needed is to turn to Christ and to share the faith with enthusiasm

"Certain it is that the critical issues, the thorny problems that wait upon men's solution, have remained the same for almost twenty centuries. And why? Because the whole of history and of life hinges on the person of Jesus Christ. Either men anchor themselves on Him and His Church, and thus enjoy the blessings of light and joy, right order and peace; or they live their lives apart from Him; many positively oppose Him, and deliberately exclude themselves from the Church. The result can only be confusion in their lives, bitterness in their relations with one another, and the savage threat of war."

"What is needed at the present time is a new enthusiasm, a new joy and serenity of mind in the unreserved acceptance by all of the entire Christian faith, without forfeiting that accuracy and precision in its presentation which characterized the proceedings of the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council. What is needed, and what everyone imbued with a truly Christian, Catholic and apostolic spirit craves today, is that this doctrine shall be more widely known, more deeply understood, and more penetrating in its effects on men's moral lives. What is needed is that this certain and immutable doctrine, to which the faithful owe obedience, be studied afresh and reformulated in contemporary terms. For this deposit of faith, or truths which are contained in our time-honored teaching is one thing; the manner in which these truths are set forth (with their meaning preserved intact) is something else."

In these words of Blessed John XXIII there are clear echoes of what has come to be known as the "New Evangelization."  Christ is not new.  The contents of the faith are not new.  What is new is the enthusiasm with which the faithful ought to believe and to share their faith.  What is new is the method with which the Church communicates its knowledge to a world in desperate need of the faith that leads to love of God and neighbor.  May this anniversary and the Year of Faith inspire us all!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Play and Work

These have been busy weeks as I try to learn how to use a smart phone.  I got one because I thought it would make it easier to access emails on the road and to use an app for my Breviary, thus saving my suit case some space and weight.  But not being technologically savy, I'm finding myself spending extra time learning how to use it.  Is there a manual "Smart Phone for Dummies"?  But another advantage to the phone is being able to take pictures more easily as I travel and I'm hoping to share those more frequently.

Last weekend I went to Door County, Wisconsin where I spent an absolutely perfect weekend weather-wise with my sister and brother-in-law.  Besides having my first ever "fish boil" I saw some of Peninsula State Park.

I returned on Sunday to give a talk at Mary Queen of Heaven Parish in West Allis, a suburb of Milwaukee.  It was scheduled before the end of the Packer game but quite a few people showed up,
including Confirmation candidates and their parents.

And now, this weekend, I'm in St. Louis at the White House Jesuit Retreat House giving a retreat to 70 men.  I've never seen the Mississippi River, which is just below the bluff on which the retreat house is situated, as low as it is because of this summer's drought. It rained all day today, keeping the retreatants inside, but providing the earth and its growth and rivers with some much needed moisture.  God is good!