Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Updating Ourselves: The New Evangelization

By Father Benjamin Alforque, M.S.C.
Parochial Vicar, St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside

In the Catholic Church today, there is a call to a New Evangelization. Blessed Pope John Paul II, on several occasions, did call for a new evangelization. This stemmed from his discernment on the situation of the world today and the new mission of the Church today in this new situation. The new situation of course refers to the passing of the 2nd millennium and the advent of the 3rd millennium. The encyclical letters that he wrote would be instructive for us, to understand his message more profoundly. I refer to the following documents: Redemptoris Missio, Sollicitudo Rei Sociali, and Novo Millenio Ineunte.

In the document on the mission of the Redeemer, the Blessed Holy Father proposed a definition of mission as having three trajectories, namely:
  1. to proclaim the good news to those who have not heard it yet; 
  2. to nourish the faith of those who have heard the good news and have accepted it, and 
  3. to proclaim the good news to those who had accepted it but have left it. 

In the document Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, he presented an analysis of the world situation and of the modern human condition, from the perspective of faith. And in the document on the beginning of the third millennium, the Holy Father defined the tasks that lay ahead, building on the synthesis of faith and human experience of the second millennium. It is in this last document that he also spoke loudly on the need for the NEW EVANGELIZATION.

After outlining the need for the people of the third millennium to learn to grow in Holiness and Prayer, he then says: (Novo Millenio Ineunte, 39) “ There is no doubt that this primacy of holiness and prayer is inconceivable without a renewed listening to the word of God. Ever since the Second Vatican Council underlined the pre-eminent role of the word of God in the life of the Church, great progress has certainly been made in devout listening to Sacred Scripture and attentive study of it. ..

(40.) To nourish ourselves with the word in order to be "servants of the word" in the work of evangelization: this is surely a priority for the Church at the dawn of the new millennium. Even in countries evangelized many centuries ago, the reality of a "Christian society" which, amid all the frailties which have always marked human life, measured itself explicitly on Gospel values, is now gone. Today we must courageously face a situation which is becoming increasingly diversified and demanding, in the context of "globalization" and of the consequent new and uncertain mingling of peoples and cultures. Over the years, I have often repeated the summons to the new evangelization. I do so again now, especially in order to insist that we must rekindle in ourselves the impetus of the beginnings and allow ourselves to be filled with the ardor of the apostolic preaching which followed Pentecost. We must revive in ourselves the burning conviction of Paul, who cried out: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16).”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What I did last Summer...

By Deacon John De Gano
St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside

I hate to break it to you… Summer’s over and its time for English teachers to begin their writing assignments with the dreaded 500 word essay, “What I did last summer.” (A true buzz-kill to any fond memory of laziness and contentment).

The ominous signs and portends were there last week when the faculty at Notre Dame High School began returning to the parking lot we share in order to set up their rooms, have meetings, etc.

This week there was a spate of flurry as students began streaming in in two hour increments to get their locker assignments. The student athletes have been training (Heck Week?) and according to one of the school counselors I met in the parking lot this morning (to be left nameless for his/her protection), the school year begins next week.

Where did the time go? What did the students do all summer?

And why do English teachers care that much about other people’s summer plans, anyway?

That last question reminds me of an old George Carlin bit. The comedian used to say the reason adults ask children what they want to be when they grow up is because they are still looking for an answer themselves.

Maybe English teachers should report on their summer vacations? That way the students would appreciate their own lives more and go easier on their teachers throughout the school year.

Maybe, too, the students would be moved to pity and all chip in and mow the teacher’s lawn for them during the course of the year or volunteer to re-roof their house.

It’s not just that summer has ended that is the problem, but that we have once again allowed precious time to slip through our fingers. Did we accomplish everything we had hoped (and planned to) accomplish this summer? Did we read a book just for fun? Get up early to watch a sunrise? Or break away from our electronic devices long enough to watch a sunset?

What was on your list?

If you were not able to meet all your expectations, the world won’t come to a screeching halt. Did you get to do one thing on your list that is memorable? To you, at least?

If so, then with a sense of gratitude greet the new school year with humble thanks. Walk a little straighter and taller. Don’t be in such a hurry that you forget to thank those whose dedication to your future means a bit more sacrifice on their part. You carry that memory in your heart and you should reflect on those whom God’s love is revealed to you and offer a prayer of thanksgiving for them.

If you’re not in school, say a prayer for those who are. Pray that they have a roof over their heads and enough food in their bellies that they can concentrate on their studies.

Be grateful for your own situation. If you have a job, thank your boss. If you have a car, thank your mechanic. If you have a house, thank your parents who taught you how to save and invest wisely.

And do not fear… Summer will be right around the corner.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Prayers for our Sikh sisters and brothers

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I ask you to join me in prayer for the victims of the tragic shootings that took place August 5 at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. We pray God’s strength and His peace for the departed, the wounded and all of the family members and friends traumatized by this horrific violence. We also take this moment to express solidarity with our Sikh brothers and sisters as people of God and to remember that our own faith calls us to tolerance and non-violence in a world filled with so many different faith traditions.

In Christ,

Most Reverend Gerald R. Barnes