October 12. 2012 – Quotes of the Week

I’m writing my blog on late Friday afternoon, so this will be written before the outcome of the Cardinal game tonight.  Yesterday’s game was a blow to the psyche, but as we Cardinal fans know, it seems like our team plays its best with its back against the wall.  So anyway, I will be in the “zone”starting at 7:30, and the rest of the world as I know it will stop for a few hours.  And tomorrow I will either be a very happy boy or a large hunk of heartache.  GO CARDINALS!

Back in the real world, the Catholic news agencies and the cyber world were in high gear this past week as the Synod for the New Evangelization began at the Vatican, the Year of Faith began yesterday, and some comments were made during the Vice-Presidential debate last night the raised the eyebrows of many Catholics.  In sorting through all of this stuff, I came across some meaningful quotes from the week’s events.  So since my mind is distracted even more than usual, I’ll just share some of these quotes with you and perhaps interject a comment or two of my own.

In his remarks during the Mass which opened the Synod, Pope Benedict XVI made these comments: “Holiness is not confined by cultural, social, political or religious barriers.  Its language, that of love and truth, is understandable to all people of good will, and it draws them to Jesus Christ, the inexhaustible source of new life.”  The Pope explained that the particular focus of “new” evangelization are  those people “who, though baptized, have drifted away from the Church and live without reference to the Christian life.”  “The synodal assembly which opens today is dedicated to this New Evangelization, to help these people encounter the Lord, who alone fills existence with deep meaning and peace,” he said. He added that a rediscovery of  the Christian faith can be a “source of grace which brings joy and hope to personal, family and social life” to the re-evangelized.

So in trying to explain to someone what is meant by the “New Evangelization”, the purpose and the message remain the same.  What must be examined is how to spread this message more effectively given all of the modern means of communication and a culture that more and more tunes out our Christian ideals.  In an article from the USCCB titled “7 Things Catholics Should Know About the New Evangelization”, the author explains that the New Evangelization is “not new in content, but new in energy and approach. The New Evangelization re-proposes the faith to a world longing for answers to life’s most profound questions. It’s a call to share Christ and bring the Gospel, with renewed energy and through ever-changing methods, to new and different audiences.”  I plan to write further about the New Evangelization in the coming weeks.

Yesterday marked the beginning of the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and also the 20th anniversary of the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Pope Benedict, in his homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Square yesterday, said this: “The Council did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient. Rather, it concerned itself with seeing that the same faith might continue to be lived in the present day, that it might remain a
living faith in a world of change …  If today the Church proposes a new Year of Faith and a new evangelization, it is not to honour an anniversary, but because there is more need of it, even more than there was fifty years ago! And the reply to be given to this need is the one desired by the Popes, by the Council Fathers and contained in its documents.”  So again we hear the theme that this important time is one of not blowing up the traditions of the Church, but finding ways to continue to make the church relevant in our ever-changing world.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan added to this theme, particularly for us here in the United States: “While we Americans are … religious by nature, there are undeniably present in our culture those that are not only irreligious but anti-religion.  These would be evident in some vocal segments of the entertainment industry, the press, academia, and even in government.Such forces view faith — especially, pardon my thin-skin, the Catholic religion — as opposed to everything they see as liberating, enlightening, and progressive in the world, a repressive voice to be resisted and maligned.  For us, then, a genuine challenge of the New Evangelization is to present faith in Jesus as alive in His Church as we know Him and her really to be:  the premier force in history for all that is good, true, and beautiful in humanity.”

The Facebookers, Tweeters, bloggers, etc. really came to life today after the Vice-Presidential debate last night.  Joe Biden, who is a lifelong Catholic, had this to say about the controversial HHS mandate which requires employers to finance coverage of birth control: “With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear: No religious institution, Catholic or otherwise — including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy, any hospital — none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.”  The USCCB, however, has labeled this statement as inaccurate, and released a statement of their own today, which said that “This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain “religious employers.” That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to “Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital,” or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.  HHS has proposed an additional “accommodation” for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as “non-exempt.” That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation “to pay for contraception” and “to be a vehicle to get contraception.” They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.”  This will continue to be, and should be, a major issue for us as Catholics to consider as we cast our votes in a few weeks.

Finally, I have to share a couple of my favorite quotes from the week, which kind of came from opposite ends of the spectrum.  Cardinal Dolan, lamenting the amount of time he will have to spend in Rome, said this: “Here I am in Rome all month for the Synod on the New Evangelization.  I miss all of you already – – but my next bowl of Spaghetti alla Carbonara will snap me out of it.”  And in remarks to the Synod, a Philippine archbishop, who was speaking on bringing the Gospel to the poor, said this: “The Gospel can be preached to empty stomachs, but only if the stomach of the preacher is as empty as his parishioners’ (stomachs).”  We certainly now have the preacher in our parish to fill this role!

Have a great week.  Peace.




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