Write In Between

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pope Wrap

Just a few good follow-up articles from a variety of sources that sum up the Pope's visit. Some are fans of the pope, (or of Joseph Ratzinger, prior to his elevation as pontiff) and some have been less enthused. It is good to read broadly and to take the pulse of American Catholics.

  • Colleen Carroll Campbell is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a former speechwriter to President George W. Bush and author of The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy. Her article is here.

  • Alejandro Bermudez was born in Lima, Peru, in 1960. He studied in Argentina, Peru and the U.S. before becoming the editor of the largest Catholic news agency in Spanish, ACI Prensa. He is currently the director of Catholic News Agency. His thoughts.

  • Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. , who is the Archbishop of Denver writes here.

  • Boston's own Sean Cardinal O'Malley talks about the pope's meeting with victims of sexual abuse in this interview.

  • The Rev. James Martin, S.J., is a Jesuit priest and associate editor of America, the national Catholic magazine. Father Martin is the author of several books on religion and spirituality, including "My Life With the Saints." Not always a fan of Joseph Ratzinger, we see a different take from Fr. Martin here.


And now a word from the bloggers:

Whispers in the Loggia

American Papist

Say thank you to the Papa by email... here is (no lie) His Holiness' address: benedictxvi@ vatican.va

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pope Benedict's Homily at Yankee Stadium

Today’s celebration is more than an occasion of gratitude for graces received. It is also a summons to move forward with firm resolve to use wisely the blessings of freedom, in order to build a future of hope for coming generations.

“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people he claims for his own, to proclaim his glorious works” (1 Pet 2:9). These words of the Apostle Peter do not simply remind us of the dignity which is ours by God’s grace; they also challenge us to an ever greater fidelity to the glorious inheritance which we have received in Christ (cf. Eph 1:18). They challenge us to examine our consciences, to purify our hearts, to renew our baptismal commitment to reject Satan and all his empty promises. They challenge us to be a people of joy, heralds of the unfailing hope (cf. Rom 5:5) born of faith in God’s word, and trust in his promises.

Each day, throughout this land, you and so many of your neighbors pray to the Father in the Lord’s own words: “Thy Kingdom come”. This prayer needs to shape the mind and heart of every Christian in this nation. It needs to bear fruit in the way you lead your lives and in the way you build up your families and your communities. It needs to create new “settings of hope” (cf. Spe Salvi, 32ff.) where God’s Kingdom becomes present in all its saving power.

Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom also means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society. It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in Christ’s victory and a commitment to extending his reign. It means not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity and scandal. It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness. It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life, since, as the Second Vatican Council put it, “there is no human activity - even in secular affairs - which can be withdrawn from God’s dominion” (Lumen Gentium, 36). It means working to enrich American society and culture with the beauty and truth of the Gospel, and never losing sight of that great hope which gives meaning and value to all the other hopes which inspire our lives.

And this, dear friends, is the particular challenge which the Successor of Saint Peter sets before you today. As “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation”, follow faithfully in the footsteps of those who have gone before you! Hasten the coming of God’s Kingdom in this land! Past generations have left you an impressive legacy. In our day too, the Catholic community in this nation has been outstanding in its prophetic witness in the defense of life, in the education of the young, in care for the poor, the sick and the stranger in your midst. On these solid foundations, the future of the Church in America must even now begin to rise!

---Selected text from the Pope's homily today at Yankee Stadium. To read Pope Benedict's entire homily, click here.

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The Pope's Blessing at Ground Zero in New York

After Pope Benedict XVI prayed silently at Ground Zero (picture above), he prayed this prayer:

O God of love, compassion, and healing,look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,who gather today at this site,the scene of incredible violence and pain.

We ask you in your goodnessto give eternal light and peaceto all who died here-the heroic first-responders:our fire fighters, police officers,emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,along with all the innocent men and womenwho were victims of this tragedysimply because their work or servicebrought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassionto bring healing to thosewho, because of their presence here that day,suffer from injuries and illness.Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving familiesand all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

We are mindful as wellof those who suffered death, injury, and losson the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.Our hearts are one with theirsas our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:peace in the hearts of all men and womenand peace among the nations of the earth.Turn to your way of lovethose whose hearts and mindsare consumed with hatred.

God of understanding,overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,we seek your light and guidanceas we confront such terrible events.Grant that those whose lives were sparedmay live so that the lives lost heremay not have been lost in vain.

Comfort and console us,strengthen us in hope,and give us the wisdom and courageto work tirelessly for a worldwhere true peace and love reignamong nations and in the hearts of all.

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Pope to Youth: Truth is a Person--JESUS CHRIST!

Have you noticed how often the call for freedom is made without ever referring to the truth of the human person? Some today argue that respect for freedom of the individual makes it wrong to seek truth, including the truth about what is good. In some circles to speak of truth is seen as controversial or divisive, and consequently best kept in the private sphere. And in truth’s place - or better said its absence - an idea has spread which, in giving value to everything indiscriminately, claims to assure freedom and to liberate conscience. This we call relativism. But what purpose has a “freedom” which, in disregarding truth, pursues what is false or wrong? How many young people have been offered a hand which in the name of freedom or experience has led them to addiction, to moral or intellectual confusion, to hurt, to a loss of self-respect, even to despair and so tragically and sadly to the taking of their own life? Dear friends, truth is not an imposition. Nor is it simply a set of rules. It is a discovery of the One who never fails us; the One whom we can always trust. In seeking truth we come to live by belief because ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ. That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self and allowing oneself to be drawn into Christ’s very being for others (cf. Spe Salvi, 28).


Christ’s light beckons you to be guiding stars for others, walking Christ’s way of forgiveness, reconciliation, humility, joy and peace.
At times, however, we are tempted to close in on ourselves, to doubt the strength of Christ’s radiance, to limit the horizon of hope. Take courage! Fix your gaze on our saints. The diversity of their experience of God’s presence prompts us to discover anew the breadth and depth of Christianity. Let your imaginations soar freely along the limitless expanse of the horizons of Christian discipleship. Sometimes we are looked upon as people who speak only of prohibitions. Nothing could be further from the truth! Authentic Christian discipleship is marked by a sense of wonder. We stand before the God we know and love as a friend, the vastness of his creation, and the beauty of our Christian faith.


What matters most is that you develop your personal relationship with God. That relationship is expressed in prayer. God by his very nature speaks, hears, and replies. Indeed, Saint Paul reminds us: we can and should “pray constantly” (1 Thess 5:17). Far from turning in on ourselves or withdrawing from the ups and downs of life, by praying we turn towards God and through him to each other, including the marginalized and those following ways other than God’s path (cf. Spe Salvi, 33). As the saints teach us so vividly, prayer becomes hope in action. Christ was their constant companion, with whom they conversed at every step of their journey for others.


Friends, again I ask you, what about today? What are you seeking? What is God whispering to you? The hope which never disappoints is Jesus Christ. The saints show us the selfless love of his way. As disciples of Christ, their extraordinary journeys unfolded within the community of hope, which is the Church. It is from within the Church that you too will find the courage and support to walk the way of the Lord. Nourished by personal prayer, prompted in silence, shaped by the Church’s liturgy you will discover the particular vocation God has for you. Embrace it with joy. You are Christ’s disciples today. Shine his light upon this great city and beyond. Show the world the reason for the hope that resonates within you. Tell others about the truth that sets you free.

---Pope Benedict XVI's message to Youth, April 19, 2008. St Joseph Seminary, Yonkers, NY. Read the entire text here.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

The Great Professor teaches... (AKA Pope Benedict XVI addresses Catholic Educators--from university presidents to volunteer catechists)

All the Church’s activities stem from her awareness that she is the bearer of a message which has its origin in God himself: in his goodness and wisdom, God chose to reveal himself and to make known the hidden purpose of his will (cf. Eph 1:9; Dei Verbum, 2). God’s desire to make himself known, and the innate desire of all human beings to know the truth, provide the context for human inquiry into the meaning of life. This unique encounter is sustained within our Christian community: the one who seeks the truth becomes the one who lives by faith (cf. Fides et Ratio, 31). It can be described as a move from “I” to “we”, leading the individual to be numbered among God’s people.

This same dynamic of communal identity - to whom do I belong? - vivifies the ethos of our Catholic institutions. A university or school’s Catholic identity is not simply a question of the number of Catholic students. It is a question of conviction - do we really believe that only in the mystery of the Word made flesh does the mystery of man truly become clear (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22)? Are we ready to commit our entire self - intellect and will, mind and heart - to God? Do we accept the truth Christ reveals? Is the faith tangible in our universities and schools? Is it given fervent expression liturgically, sacramentally, through prayer, acts of charity, a concern for justice, and respect for God’s creation? Only in this way do we really bear witness to the meaning of who we are and what we uphold.


...fostering personal intimacy with Jesus Christ and communal witness to his loving truth is indispensable in Catholic institutions of learning. Yet we all know, and observe with concern, the difficulty or reluctance many people have today in entrusting themselves to God. It is a complex phenomenon and one which I ponder continually. While we have sought diligently to engage the intellect of our young, perhaps we have neglected the will. Subsequently we observe, with distress, the notion of freedom being distorted. Freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in - a participation in Being itself. Hence authentic freedom can never be attained by turning away from God. Such a choice would ultimately disregard the very truth we need in order to understand ourselves. A particular responsibility therefore for each of you, and your colleagues, is to evoke among the young the desire for the act of faith, encouraging them to commit themselves to the ecclesial life that follows from this belief. It is here that freedom reaches the certainty of truth. In choosing to live by that truth, we embrace the fullness of the life of faith which is given to us in the Church.

Clearly, then, Catholic identity is not dependent upon statistics. Neither can it be equated simply with orthodoxy of course content. It demands and inspires much more: namely that each and every aspect of your learning communities reverberates within the ecclesial life of faith. Only in faith can truth become incarnate and reason truly human, capable of directing the will along the path of freedom (cf. Spe Salvi, 23). In this way our institutions make a vital contribution to the mission of the Church and truly serve society. They become places in which God’s active presence in human affairs is recognized and in which every young person discovers the joy of entering into Christ’s “being for others” (cf. ibid., 28).


...secularist ideology drives a wedge between truth and faith. This division has led to a tendency to equate truth with knowledge and to adopt a positivistic mentality which, in rejecting metaphysics, denies the foundations of faith and rejects the need for a moral vision. Truth means more than knowledge: knowing the truth leads us to discover the good. Truth speaks to the individual in his or her the entirety, inviting us to respond with our whole being.


When nothing beyond the individual is recognized as definitive, the ultimate criterion of judgment becomes the self and the satisfaction of the individual’s immediate wishes. The objectivity and perspective, which can only come through a recognition of the essential transcendent dimension of the human person, can be lost. Within such a relativistic horizon the goals of education are inevitably curtailed. Slowly, a lowering of standards occurs. We observe today a timidity in the face of the category of the good and an aimless pursuit of novelty parading as the realization of freedom. We witness an assumption that every experience is of equal worth and a reluctance to admit imperfection and mistakes. And particularly disturbing, is the reduction of the precious and delicate area of education in sexuality to management of ‘risk’, bereft of any reference to the beauty of conjugal love.

How might Christian educators respond? These harmful developments point to the particular urgency of what we might call “intellectual charity”. This aspect of charity calls the educator to recognize that the profound responsibility to lead the young to truth is nothing less than an act of love. Indeed, the dignity of education lies in fostering the true perfection and happiness of those to be educated. In practice “intellectual charity” upholds the essential unity of knowledge against the fragmentation which ensues when reason is detached from the pursuit of truth. It guides the young towards the deep satisfaction of exercising freedom in relation to truth, and it strives to articulate the relationship between faith and all aspects of family and civic life. Once their passion for the fullness and unity of truth has been awakened, young people will surely relish the discovery that the question of what they can know opens up the vast adventure of what they ought to do. Here they will experience “in what” and “in whom” it is possible to hope, and be inspired to contribute to society in a way that engenders hope in others.

Read the complete text of the Pope's Address to Educators at Catholic University of America here.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Benedict XVI: Today at the south lawn at the White House

Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience – almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad. The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one’s deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate. In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good (cf. Spe Salvi, 24).

Few have understood this as clearly as the late Pope John Paul II. In reflecting on the spiritual victory of freedom over totalitarianism in his native Poland and in eastern Europe, he reminded us that history shows, time and again, that “in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation”, and a democracy without values can lose its very soul (cf. Centesimus Annus, 46). Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of President Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent “indispensable supports” of political prosperity.

--Pope Benedict XVI, April 16, 2008, Washington DC.

The text of the entire address is here.

Happy Birthday Benedict!!!!!

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Monday, April 14, 2008

I'm home now and hunkering down to watch Benedict XVI

First, a heartfelt THANK YOU to those of you (you know who you are) who have supported me in prayer for my Comps -- the mega final examination en route to my diploma, a Masters in Theology. Your intentions will be in my prayers by way of thanksgiving.

Second, I am happy to report that the exam, though challenging, was successfully negotiated and I am greatly relieved, and pretty confident that I passed. Although official notification is still 10-14 days away. (Oh yeah, I'll be sure to post that result.)

It's great to be home and I've got a list of things to do that I've been putting off since last fall. Schoolwork has dominated 40-60 hours a week of my life since then. But my first gift to myself is to simply unwind...

I intend to do alot of that in front of the television coverage of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the USA.

Benedict XVI has recorded a pre-visit video of greeting to the USA. See his message here.

Welcome Papa!

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

While I'm away...

The final days of study are upon me. I'm doing the laundry and packing my bags for my jaunt out to Ohio to live in the library and prepare for the comprehensive exam.

Once again, please pray for me, and my fellow students, as we approach the end to this period of study. Feel free to invoke any of the communion of saints to assist us in our task. A few of my favorites prayers include:

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us!
Our Lady, cause of our joy, pray for us!

St. Thomas Aquinas, Angelic Doctor and Patron of Scholars, pray for us!
St. Augustine, pray for us!
Pope John Paul II, pray for us!


Lately, on study breaks, I've been reading about the many struggles of those living the openly Catholic life... the courage and fortitude I see in others gives me the inspiration to keep me own life in order and to soldier on. For your reading, I recommend:

It's Tough to be a Catholic.

Dawn Eden on being singular vs single

The view of Catholic student at Georgetown University

The Politics of Forgiveness

The Last of the Firsts -- this one mixes the bitter with the sweet for the moms out there!

Finally, the Holy Father had this extraordinary tidbit to say about Mercy on Mercy Sunday. In other words, Mercy is a WHO, not a what:

Indeed, mercy is the central nucleus of the Gospel message; it is the very name of God, the Face with which he revealed himself in the Old Covenant and fully in Jesus Christ, the incarnation of creative and redemptive Love. May this merciful love also shine on the face of the Church and show itself through the sacraments, in particular that of Reconciliation, and in works of charity, both communitarian and individual. May all that the Church says and does manifest the mercy God feels for man, and therefore for us. When the Church has to recall an unrecognized truth or a betrayed good, she always does so impelled by merciful love, so that men and women may have life and have it abundantly (cf. Jn 10: 10). From divine mercy, which brings peace to hearts, genuine peace flows into the world, peace between different peoples, cultures and religions.
---[taken from here.]


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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Clean Catholic Joke

Did I happen to mention that I am studying my life away? Yes, the Comp Exam is literally days away and the stress-worry nerves have kicked in. I've taken to studying in the farthest corner of the local Catholic college's library, where I sit amidst their ancient Augustinian collection--hoping that that dust from the book jackets, er, words of knowledge of one of my theological heroes--St. Augustine--will blow, um, flow into my study space and transform my brain from mush to mensa. (This is not the Catholic joke part.)

I am studying the assigned 9 areas of knowledge hand-selected for me by the Theology Chairperson for my exam. (Nope, not the joke part, either.) The subjects that are otherwise occupying my life are, in random order:

  • Church history from Christ 'till now, broken down by period, players and major events

  • three major works on bible exegesis

  • the collected works of the Apostolic Fathers

  • the Dark Night of the Soul and the Teresian grades of prayer

  • the four constitutions of Vatican II

  • Biblical theology and divine accomodation as it appears in the Bible, the Fathers, and contemporary theologians like Schonborn & Ratzinger (now BXVI)

  • the Nature of Love (a philosophy class: think Dietrich von Hildebrand, Karol Wojtyla)

  • the Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • and eschatology... which is the study of the last things, in case you were interested.

And so, with what is left of my brain, I offer you this joke that I lifted from Happy Catholic, because it made me laugh, and because I thought I might use it as the conclusion for eschatology exam question... wonder what the professor will say!

Here's the joke!

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