Archbishop Chaput’s Laity Expertise Is Set to Go Global

Taken from the National Catholic Register

Archbishop Chaput’s Laity Expertise Is Set to Go Global
Pope Francis has called the Philadelphia archbishop to bring his best efforts to a key Vatican office that is responsible for encouraging the Pope’s vision of the laity as ‘missionary disciples.’

PHILADELPHIA — Pope Francis has tapped Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput to join his council for the laity, the Vatican office responsible not only for the Church’s World Youth Day celebration, but also for promoting lay movements.

Church observers familiar with the archbishop’s legacy say Pope Francis is calling upon a bishop with a second to none reputation when it comes to putting the laity on the front lines of the Church.

Now, Archbishop Chaput will have the opportunity to bring his expertise to a global level.

Pope Francis named the archbishop to the Pontifical Council for the Laity on Feb. 6, making him part of a team that will advise Pope Francis on how the lay faithful can more effectively contribute to the life and mission of the Church.

Archbishop Chaput explained to the Register that getting laymen and women — who are the “overwhelming majority of Catholics” — actively engaged as leaders in the Church’s evangelistic effort is a priority he shares with Pope Francis.

“One of the passions of Pope Francis is evangelization,” he said. “In today’s world, that requires a committed, faithful laity. So I think I share his concern in encouraging laymen and women to see themselves in a new way: not as passive consumers of the Gospel, but as active agents and disciples.”

Pope Francis laid out his evangelism agenda for the Church in his recent apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), which draws heavily from the writings of Benedict XVI, Blessed John Paul II and the Second Vatican Council, to make the case for all the baptized faithful to take on the work of being “missionary disciples” in the modern world.

Archbishop Chaput said the Church is “a family of vocations that depend on each other’s service,” but added that the Church “can’t afford to overlook the skills of laypeople and their experience of the world in pursuing the Church’s mission.”

“We need a new spirit of energy and mutual support in the Church,” he added. “I hope the council, in a small way, can help promote that.”

Continue reading at National Catholic Register.

Bl. Columba Marmion: A Spiritual Master for Our Time

Taken from Crisis Magazine
by Dr. R. Jared Staudt

Bl. Columba Marmion: A Spiritual Master for Our Time

We just welcomed into the world my son, Colum Patrick Staudt. Colum is short for Columba, the Latin word for dove, the name of two great Irish saints, St. Columba of Iona (d. 597) and St. Columban (d. 615). I first came across the shortened form of Columba through my friend Fr. Colum Power. He is the one that introduced me to a modern Columba, the great spiritual master, Blessed Columba Marmion. I’m proud to initiate my son into the tradition of this great line of Irish saints!

Bl. Marmion, in particular, is striking for a number of reasons. First, he became a widely admired spiritual director, retreat master, and writer, teaching a generation of Catholics, including popes! Second, he is among a small number of modern Benedictine Saints and at the heart of a revival of Benedictine spirituality. I credit Bl. Marmion, in part at least, with my own vocation as a Benedictine oblate. Third, like St. Columban he left his Irish homeland for the European mainland to help re-stimulate monasticism there. St. Columban was generally following in the footsteps of St. Columba the great Abbot and missionary of Scotland. Bl. Marmion draws these strains of renewal together: apostle of spiritual renewal, Benedictine abbot, and Celtic missionary pilgrim (in the line of peregrinatio pro Christo or ‘exile for Christ’).

Joseph Marmion was born in Dublin in 1858 to an Irish father and French mother. He entered diocescan seminary in Dublin and completed his studies at the College for the Propagation for the Faith in Rome. It was in Rome that he first heard the missionary call and actively sought to be sent to Australia. The Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin had already set sights upon him for a prominent role back home and asked him to return to Ireland before a final decision was made. In the meantime, however, Marmion’s plans shifted during a visit in July of 1881 to the Benedictine Abbey of Maredsous in Belgium. During his stay, he heard a voice: “It is here I want you.” It would take some time for this come true, as Marmion began his priestly life outside of Dublin working in parish life, hospital ministry, as a chaplain to sisters, and as a seminary philosopher professor. Eventually, he did receive the necessary permission and entered Maredsous in November of 1886, taking the name Columba.

After a somewhat difficult adjustment in the novitiate, he was settled enough to become assistant novice master himself! This role was not to last for long as he was sent to help found a new monastery as prior of Mont-César Abbey in Louvain. His time there was significant: resuming his teaching duties as a professor of theology, beginning to give his famous retreats, and forming a lifelong friendship with Cardinal Mercier. It was not too long, however, until he was called home to Maredsous, for no less reason than become its next Abbot!

As Abbot, Marmion became one of the most sought after retreat masters in the English and French speaking world and continued writing many important letters of spiritual direction. He oversaw the life of the Abbey during the tumultuous days of the First the World War, founding a temporary refuge for his younger monks in Ireland, and then led the establishment of a new Belgian Congregation of Abbeys after the War. Before his death at Maredsous on January 30, 1923, he had become a world renowned author with his worked translated into 7 languages. When he was beatified in the year 2000 he became one of only a handful of Benedictines to be canonized or beatified since the martyrs of the English Reformation.

Continue reading at Crisis Magazine.

Christmas: let the light of God’s love shine in the darkness

Printed in the Catholic Servant, December 2013
By Douglas G. Bushman

Christmas: let the light of God’s love shine in the darkness

“God so loved the world.” (Jn. 3:16) Christians are so accustomed to hearing this, it is so much a part of the remnant of Christian culture, that it is difficult to appreciate why God had to reveal it. In fact, in the ancient world, to contend that God loves His creatures was considered such an absurdity that simply to point out that this is the Christian claim was considered a sufficient argument against Christianity. Whoever God is, the argument went, He cannot expect us to believe in absurdities, and to say that He actually loves people is the height of absurdity. It is an affront to reason. For its detractors, Christianity’s claim about God’s love for people was an impediment to giving it any serious consideration.

In our age, the scandal of the ancient pagan world over the claim that God loves His creatures takes a new form. Even if the claim may be true, so the worldly-wise reason, what difference does God’s love make? What person of intellectual integrity can take this claim seriously, when there is so much evil and suffering? Did 2,000 years of faith in this love prevent two world wars, the holocaust, countless other wars and genocides, and innumerable crimes against human dignity? Today the claim about God’s love is simply dismissed as irrelevant.

Of course, this dismissal of Christian faith in the God of love is readily countered by historical realities. To take one example: Franciszek Gajowniczek, the prisoner in Auschwitz for whose life St. Maximilian Kolbe exchanged his own, certainly realized that faith in God’s love takes on concrete, historical relevance. In the midst the suffocating darkness of Nazi hatred shone the life-giving light of Christian love. It changed the personal history of Franciszek Gajowniczek as dramatically as Jesus’ healing of the blind, the lame, and lepers, or more a propos, His raising back to life the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain, and the brother of Martha and Mary.

A star shone over Nazareth to signify that the light of God’s love had entered a world of darkness, that is, a world of blindness, a world in which men are unable to see how rightly to live, a world ignorant of the truth that God is love. This darkness can neither understand nor extinguish the heavenly light of divine love: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn. 1:5) There was no star shining over Auschwitz, but there was a star shining within it. Conformed to the image of Jesus, St. Maximilian Kolbe witnessed to the divine love that does not withdraw, does not cease to love, even when it is rejected. No darkness can overpower this light.

With a directness that has many reeling, Pope Francis has been challenging every disciple of Christ to make the light of Christmas faith in God’s love shine in the world. While every age will have its abysses of darkness, like Auschwitz, and the extraordinary lights of a St. Maximilian Kolbe, most are called to bring the light of the star of Bethlehem into spheres of life where the night may not be so deep: to act as peacemakers at the first sign of antagonism; to witness to hope when people are ready to give up on life. Pope Francis is especially attentive to the darkness of a world that neglects the poor. Only the absence of the light of God’s love in those who claim to know Him could explain this. If the world should be devoid of such rays of heavenly light, then it is perfectly understandable that the ancient argument should return in our own time: What value does Christmas have, of what significance to us is a God Whose love does not change the human condition? Without the witness of Christian love and solicitude for the poor, it appears that darkness has triumphed over the light.

Christmas is the celebration of the entrance into the world of the inextinguishable light of divine love. Our witness to it depends entirely on having a right understanding of it. It is one thing to light up our houses and our trees in imitation of the star of Bethlehem. It is quite another to have souls aglow with a faith that can become acts of light in a world of darkness. So, let us ask: What does it mean for God to love us? What does it mean for Him to draw close to us by becoming a man?

If we reflect on our own experience, we will realize that we draw close to others for one of two reasons. Either we seek others out because we are in need and we perceive that they can satisfy that need, or we seek them out because we have something to share with them. These are the two loves, the love of need and the love of fullness, about which Pope Benedict catechized us in his first encyclical: Deus caritas est. Corresponding to each of these loves is a loneliness in which one is trapped when no one can be found. There is the solitude of need, when a person’s need to be loved remains unfulfilled. Then there is the solitude of abundance, when a person cannot find someone with whom to share the joy of life.

God loves us out of His love of infinite abundance. What was it that moved the divine freedom in favor of creation? Can we imagine that eternal moment of decision (and of course, if we can imagine it then it must fall far short of the reality itself) when God confronted the implications of His own infinite goodness and beatitude, and acquiesced to the logic of the diffusive power of this goodness, and chose to create us in His own image solely for the purpose that we might participate in His own blessed life? God is “an eternal exchange of love.”(Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 221) The only desire the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have for us is that we participate in Their own unending joy. This is Heaven. Only after Jesus reveals this to us can we enter into the prayer He taught us: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

It is clear, then, that out of His superabundant goodness and love, God does not want to be alone. The Nativity confirms for us how serious He is about this. Not only does God not withdraw from us when we sin and reject His self-giving love; sin is the occasion for Him to draw even closer. God does not want to be alone in enjoying His own blessedness. His original decision to share it by creating us in His image is ratified anew by His decision to become incarnate in order to save us from the darkness of life without His love, a life of non-participation in His beatitude. We might be tempted to say that it is as if the infinite perfection of His love of abundance is so great that it becomes in Him a love of need, that He acts as if He needs us.

This is the precise point at which we must catch ourselves, defeat the temptation, and realize that such reasoning is nothing more than a projection onto God of our own deficient experience and understanding of love. In a world of darkness, can there be any such thing as totally other-oriented love? We find it difficult to avoid assuming that there must be some benefit to the one who loves that is driving his love. This is because we are accustomed to being enticed to do good things by the lure of rewards, and we realize that this is a very effective way to get people to engage in acts of love for others.

Underlying this is the inclination to think that the most intense and reliable love is self-love. In the end, is anyone as committed to my happiness as I am? This is precisely the insinuation made by the prince of darkness in the Garden of Eden. He is prince of darkness because he is the father of lies. The lie about God’s love in the garden is the progenitor of every lie, and the result is that men live in darkness because without believing in God’s love they now have no light but their own to illumine the path of life, and this light is not at all bright. The world is made dark because of the absence of faith in God’s love. So, we do not expect to encounter anyone who loves us more than we love ourselves. But this is precisely why the perfection of love must be revealed to us. God does not become man in order to fill any void in His own eternal blessedness. It is exclusively and entirely a love of superabundance. He loves us for our own sake, period. His only intention is that we enter into His overflowing joy.

The logic of divine love is most luminous in the Immaculate Conception, which we celebrate in close proximity to Christmas. For Mary, this unrepeatable grace of being conceived without sin is wholly directed to her divine motherhood; it was given to prepare her for her role of mother of God’s only begotten Son. It is traditional apologetics to say that it is highly fitting that the woman who would carry and give birth to the Son of God, Who is all-holy, should herself be free of sin. What precisely is the nature of this fittingness?

The key lies in the very nature of love, which since Vatican II and thanks largely to Blessed Pope John Paul II we have come to define in terms of the giving of oneself: Made in God’s image, the human person can only “find himself in the sincere gift of himself.” (Gaudium et spes, n. 24) Even at the biological level, motherhood profoundly fulfills this understanding of love, and Pope John Paul invited us to see this physical self-giving as pointing to the corresponding spiritual reality of a mother’s self-giving love. “A lover’s first gift is his own heart.” (John of St. Thomas) The first gift received by every infant should be the heart of the infant’s mother. Being conceived without sin, Mary is able perfectly to fulfill this vocation to self-giving love that defines motherhood.

Precisely this consideration of self-giving love links the mystery of Mary’s Immaculate Conception with the Incarnation of the Son of God. She was conceived without sin. Sin is anti-love. It “sets itself against God’s love for us” (CCC, n. 1850); it is the “rejection of the gift and the love” of God. (Dominum et Vivificantem, nn. 35, 39) Sin is rooted in a distortion of the truth about God, so that rather than to believe that He is entirely committed to our fulfillment and happiness, man, tempted by the devil, comes to doubt God’s love, to be suspicious of it. (CCC, n. 399; Dominum et Vivificantem, n. 37) Thinking that God is not for man, man must be for himself. So he takes his life and his fulfillment into his own hands.

Blessed Pope John Paul II told us that Mary’s faith is the undoing of the dark suspicion about God’s love. She knows Him as the Almighty Who is the source of all gifts and does great things for those He loves. (Redemptoris Mater, n. 36) Mary is the first “to believe in the love God has for us.” (I Jn. 4:16) The integrity and beauty of her very being testifies to this love. She would deny herself if she denied God’s love. For her to be conceived without sin means that she was filled with love, totally receptive to every communication of love from God, and wholly responsive to God’s gift of self with her own gift of self. If her Son is the only One Who “fully satisfies the Father’s love” (Redemptor hominis, n. 9) by receiving everything the Father has to give, His very Self, Mary nonetheless satisfies this same love to the fullest potential of her human nature. By her unique grace Mary participates in the “eternal exchange of love” (CCC, n. 221) that is the mystery of Trinitarian Life. There is nothing in her that can resist God’s approach as He draws near to her. She is pure receptivity to His love; her entire being is an incessant welcome to God’s gift of Himself. She brings to perfection the spirituality of hospitality.

What would life as a man have been like for the eternal Word without Mary’s perfect receptivity to His love? We know that man, made in God’s image and likeness, “cannot live without love” (Redemptor hominis, n. 10), and that he can only “find himself in the sincere gift of himself.” (Gaudium et spes, n. 24) If this is true of all human persons, it is true of the Word Incarnate, the perfect man, in a pre-eminent way. Without Mary, Jesus would be thrust into a condition of solitude, plunged into the loneliness of abundance, because there would be no one to whom He could give Himself fully. The Father willed that His Son should never know such a moment. Mary is the one the Father chose to make it possible for Jesus to be fully human with respect to the vocation to total mutual self-giving love. Without Mary, Jesus could not live and express His divine life of total mutual self-giving love. It was necessary, then, that there be another human person capable of giving herself to Him and receiving His self-gift.

This is foreshadowed “in the beginning,” when Adam receives the gift of Eve, without whom he cannot fully experience his own being as “image” of Self-Giving Love. From the beginning, God intended this for Adam, and thus from the beginning He intended to create Eve. Similarly, the New Adam is not complete in His experience of human nature without the new Eve, who makes it possible for Him to give Himself as a man and to receive the gift of another human person. The grace of the Immaculate Conception is a redemptive grace won by Christ on the Cross, where the New Adam opened His side to create another with whom He could experience the Trinitarian mutual self-giving of eternal love. That “other,” we know, is the Church, and Mary is her model, type, and personification.

Mary is the Star of the New Evangelization. In her, and in the Church’s faith, in all the acts of love for the poor that have their origin in the birth of our Savior, the light of Bethlehem, the light of the truth that God is love, shines ever anew in a world of darkness.

Douglas G. Bushman, S.T.L., is Professor of Theology at the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado, where he holds the Blessed John Paul II the Great Chair of Theology for the New Evangelization.

Denver Catholic Register file photo: Our Lady of the New Advent


Christopher Check: The Cristeros and the Martyrs of the Mexican Revolution

Christopher Check: The Cristeros and the Martyrs of the Mexican Revolution

In the early part of the 20th Century a profound evil gripped Mexico. Masonic, Marxist revolutionaries, who were nothing less than the enemies of Jesus Christ, seized control of the government and attempted to destroy the Catholic Church. They very nearly succeeded. In the midst of the terror, courageous priests clandestinely made their way through the countryside dispensing the sacraments and preaching the Gospel to the Mexican faithful. Many received the crown of martyrdom; the most famous is Blessed Miguel Pro. As these holy priests, ever in danger of their lives, fulfilled the duties of their divine vocations, an army of laymen rose up and challenged the godless Mexican government.

They were the Cristeros. Their battle cry was “¡Viva Cristo Rey!” Their tale is one of the great Catholic war stories of all time, and it is one all Christians should know because the brutal persecution of the Church in Mexico may well foreshadow that which is to come in the United States.

Please join us to hear Chris Check present on the Cristeros at the Augustine Institute on March 21 at 7:00. Stations of the Cross will precede the talk in the St. Augustine Chapel at 6:00 p.m., with Holy Mass offered immediately afterwards at 6:30 p.m.

Christopher Check is a Director of Development at Catholic Answers. He served for seven years as a field artillery officer in the Marine Corps in the Far East and the Persian Gulf. His writings have appeared in numerous publications including This Rock, New Oxford Review, the Wanderer, the Chesterton Review, Gilbert! and Angelus. He has lectured extensively on Church history in North America and Europe. He and his wife Jacqueline have four sons. They live outside San Diego, California, where they show and breed Cavalier King Charles Spaniels under the kennel name Top Meadow Cavaliers named for G.K. Chesterton’s Beacosnfield Estate.


Come and See Weekend: February 7-9

Discover our Catholic faith through the Augustine Institute community by attending our Come and See Weekend!

Hear what our students have to say!
  • Discuss Evangelii Gaudium with Augustine Institute faculty.
  • Spend time with current students learning about Augustine Institute culture, courses, and community.
  • Attend a guest lecture on Catholic Environmental Ethics by Scott Powell.

Scott Powell is the Director of Scriptural Theology at the Aquinas Institute for Catholic Thought, an outreach to CU-Boulder, and a co-founder of Camp Wojtyla. He is a graduate of the Augustine Institute.

Schedule of Events

Friday, February 7

  • Frassati Friday: An evening of prayer and socializing with the young adults of the Denver Catholic community.

Saturday, February 8

  • 9:30- Optional tour of Augustine Institute campus
  • 10:00- Mass at St. Augustine Chapel
  • 10:30- Welcome Remarks from Dr. Christopher Blum, Academic Dean
  • 11:00- Discussion on selections from Evangelii Gaudium with Prof. Douglas Bushman
  • 1:00- Lunch at Tolle Lege, Augustine Institute cafe
  • 2:00- Presentation on YDisciple and Symbolon
  • 2:30- Question and Answer with Student Panel
  • 3:30- "Ask a Professor/ Admissions Member"
  • 4:00- "Jesus and the New Creation: A Catholic Environmental Ethic" by Scott Powell

Sunday, February 9

  • Mass at Immaculate Conception, Archdiocese of Denver's Cathedral Brunch to follow (optional)

RSVP: Maggie Smith: (303) 937-4420 x.110, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Creating Catholic Family Culture

Taken from The Catholic Parent
by Dr. R. Jared Staudt

Creating Catholic Family Culture

It is all too common to hear frustrated parents complain that although they sent their children to Catholic school, or had them faithfully attend religious education and youth ministry, they nonetheless fell away from the faith.Pope Paul VI may have said it best: “The split between the Gospel and culture is without a doubt the drama of our time” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, §20). What does Paul mean? He means that there is a rupture between what we believe, what we’re taught, and how we live our lives. That may be the best explanation for why so many youth do not continue practicing the faith.
They had not lived the faith out fully before they were off on their own.

Living Out our Catholic Faith

What can families do to bridge the gap between faith and culture? The most important thing is for our children to see that the faith is not something that stays at Church but is lived out every single day in the context of family life. Is the faith just an opinion or something done on Sunday, or is it something that truly guides and impacts everything that we do? When the faith is lived out in this way, it will sink down and take roots and become something living in the lives our children, not just an idea or a bunch of rules.

Continue reading at The Catholic Parent.

Dad's Due Respect

Taken from Catholic Exchange
by Dr. Mark Giszczak

Dad's Due Respect

Homer Simpson is the quintessential portrait of the American Dad. He’s fat, bumbling, silly, the butt of every joke. He always loses out in every conversation with his wife or with his kids. He is worthy of derision, never respect. But how does this caricature of fathers and fatherhood measure up against the Word of God? This Sunday’s Old Testament reading reveals a different picture of what fathers are like and how they should be treated by their children.

Readings for December 29, 2013, Feast of the Holy Family. First Reading: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14

Sirach and the Ten Commandments

This reading from Sirach gets to the heart of a biblical understanding of wisdom—how to live according to the Lord’s plan, how to walk in the way of wisdom and not in the way of the fool. Sirach is a rather late Old Testament wisdom text, which comments on and expands earlier biblical law and wisdom. Here the author is building upon two earlier texts: the Ten Commandments and Proverbs. The Fourth Commandment is, of course, “Honor your father and mother.” Sirach takes this commandment to the next level, explaining how this principle is foundational for a moral life, a wise life, a life lived in praise of God.

Continue reading at Catholic Exchange.

Did the Wave Offering Make the Sign of the Cross?

Taken from Catholic Bible Student
by Dr. Mark Giszczak

Did the Wave Offering Make the Sign of the Cross?

Wave offerings are prescribed in the Old Testament several times–mainly in Leviticus and Numbers. Normally, the OT sacrificial system leads people to tears of boredom, but something caught my eye in reading about this in Allen P. Ross’s book, Holiness to the Lord. He describes the wave offering ritual thusly:

The wave offering (tenupa) was placed in the offerer’s hands, and then the priest placed his hands beneath those of the offerer, moving them upward and downward, forward and backward, thereby symbolizing the consecration of the gift of God in the sight of all. (p. 192)

Sounds interesting, but what is even more amazing is what he suggests in a footnote:

[R.K.] Harrison ([Leviticus: Introduction and Commentary, IVP 1980] 83) observes the description and interpretation of this ritual and notes that the motion was in the shape of a cross. If this is right, then it is a symbolic foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Christ.

Interestingly, there is no description of the ritual in the biblical text and some commentators, like Jacob Milgrom, have rejected the wave offering as a “fiction.” Harrison’s description is rooted in later Jewish rabbinic sources. So this may remain a mystery, but if the description of the ritual is accurate, it reminds me of a Catholic priest making the sign of the cross over the gifts on the altar before the sacrifice of the Mass is made. Perhaps this act is foreshadowed by the ancient Israelite wave offering.

See more at the Catholic Bible Student.

Dr. Chris Blum on The Living Eucharist

Taken from RadioMaria.us

Dr. Chris Blum on The Living Eucharist
Listen Now!

On August 12, 2013, the Institute’s Academic Dean, Professor Christopher Blum was interviewed by Kathleen Beckman on her show “The Living Eucharist” about two volumes he edited, both published by Sophia Institute Press: The Sign of the Cross by Saint Francis de Sales and Everyday Meditations by Bl. John Henry Newman.


Edith Stein: The Hidden Life of Wisdom

Taken from CrisisMagazine.org
by Christopher O. Blum

Edith Stein: The Hidden Life of Wisdom

Edith Stein was an unlikely saint. A former Jewish-atheist bluestocking who died for the Faith as a Carmelite nun in the gas chamber at Auschwitz, Stein was impelled by a quenchless thirst for truth. God in His Mercy placed in her life friends who were themselves, in one way or another, “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3), and who helped her draw near to the source of wisdom.

Although raised in a large, devout Jewish family, Stein strayed from God during her youth. She later said that she “consciously decided” to stop praying. As a university student, she passed through a phase of being—again, in her words—a “radical suffragette.” Soon, however, she began the arduous work of pursuing the truth, moving to the university at Göttingen to sit at the feet of Edmund Husserl. Stein’s life as the student and then as the graduate assistant of Husserl, with her consequent membership in the circle of ardent young philosophers Husserl had collected around himself, has been admirably told by Alasdair MacIntyre, whose Edith Stein: A Philosophical Prologue, 1913-1922 is a penetrating investigation of character as it relates to the search for truth.

At the heart of MacIntyre’s narrative, and, indeed, of Stein’s conversion, is the life, death, and philosophical inquiry of Adolf Reinach (1883-1917). Like other talented young philosophers of his generation—such as Max Scheler and Dietrich von Hildebrand—Reinach came to Göttingen to learn from Husserl, whose reflection upon our experience of ourselves as knowers of the world was then opening up what has since become a philosophical tradition in its own right, phenomenology.

Continue reading at Crisis Magazine

Epiphany’s Conquering Light

Taken from Catholic Exchange
by Dr. Mark Giszczak

Epiphany’s Conquering Light

Something deep inside us associates light with good and darkness with evil. Maybe we feel this way because darkness can terrify us with its unknowns, cloaking everything in its gloom, while a whole room of darkness can be vanquished in an instant by one tiny candle. It is as if darkness has its bluff called by the candle’s seemingly insignificant light.

Readings for January 5, 2014, Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. First Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6

Jerusalem Rising

Isaiah builds on this powerful, central metaphor to describe the end of the reign of sin and the coming of the Messianic King in this Sunday’s first reading from Isa 60:1-6. He calls on Jerusalem, a city, to “rise up.” It’s kind of an odd thought unless we’ve been carefully reading his poetic metaphors throughout the book. One of the word pictures he has repeatedly used paints Jerusalem (built on Mt. Zion) as victorious in the Messianic age, as being raised up above all other cities (e.g. Isa 2:2). This elevation is not merely a change in altitude, but signifies the spiritual prominence of God’s holy city, the origin of our salvation. By calling on Jerusalem to rise up, the prophet is announcing that salvation has come, now is the time when God will establish the reign of light over the tyranny of darkness. Darkness may cover other cities, other nations, other mountains, but light will reign in Jerusalem!

Gathering God’s People

At this late point in Isaiah (chapter 60 out of 66), the prophet brings several of his themes to a crescendo. One of those themes is that of ingathering. And if you read closely here, you’ll notice two distinct flavors of ingathering. First, the dispersed people of Israel will return to Jerusalem: the sons and the daughters. The ten Israelite tribes that were lost at the Assyrian conquest and the Jews who had been spread throughout the known world are in view here. While the nation had been punished by God for its disobedience by the covenant curse of exile, now Isaiah tells us that the Lord will redeem his people and bring them back to the land. Their coming to gather at Jerusalem is the first stage of this redemption. “The people who walked in darkness” (Isa 9:2) will come into the light of salvation at Jerusalem.

Gathering the Gentiles

Isaiah tells us about the second stage of the ingathering in 60:5-6. Here, the re-gathered Israelites will no longer just look upon the light, but they themselves will become “radiant.” Why? Because the nations will bring their riches to Jerusalem. For us, this might sound avaricious and unspiritual, but it actually conveys a deep spiritual reality. The ancient Israelites had dreamed of restoring the glory of Solomon’s kingdom, with its wealth, power and dominance in international politics. One of the ways that dominance would have been demonstrated in the ancient Near Eastern world is through the payment of tribute. Here Isaiah illustrates the nations coming and paying tribute at Jerusalem—their wealth-bringing is a sign of their subservience. But for our prophet, this tribute is no mere political game, but a potent demonstration of the spiritual debt which the Gentiles will owe to the Jews, to Jerusalem for offering the Christ Child to us.

Continue reading at Catholic Exchange.

Evangelii Gaudium: Pope Francis on the Joy of the Gospel and the New Evangelization

Taken from The Catholic Servant, January 2014
By Professor Douglas Bushman

Evangelii Gaudium: Pope Francis on the Joy of the Gospel and the New Evangelization

Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Evangelii gaudium (EG), is conspicuous for its incorporation of themes from his three predecessors: Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI. It mentions each of these popes five times, and references to them account for 94 of the 217, or 43%, of the endnotes. If we add 18 references to Vatican II and three to John XXIII, 53% of his references are from Vatican II and the post-Vatican II popes. There are 30 references to the final propositions from the Synod on the New Evangelization of October, 2012, to which this apostolic exhortation is the Holy Father’s response.

Encountering God’s Love in Christ

The fundamental message of EG is fourfold. First, the Church’s mission, and thus the New Evangelization, is the fruit of an encounter with God’s love in Christ that results in a new way of living. In perfect continuity with his predecessors, Pope Francis underscores that the essential content of the Gospel is that God is love. “The heart of its message will always be the same: the God Who revealed His immense love in the crucified and risen Christ.” (EG, n. 11)

“Jesus Christ loves you; He gave His life to save you; and now He is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen, and free you. This first proclamation is called ‘first’ not because it exists at the beginning and can then be forgotten or replaced by other more important things. It is first in a qualitative sense because it is the principal proclamation, the one which we must hear again and again in different ways, the one which we must announce one way or another throughout the process of catechesis, at every level and moment.…” (EG, n. 165)

Our love for neighbor, which sums up the New Law, is a response to God’s love for us, which always comes first. (EG, nn. 12, 24, 162) Throughout the pilgrimage of faith, God’s love never ceases to transform us so that we can love others as Christ loved us. “Anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus.…” (EG, n. 120) “For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?” (EG, n. 8)

This connection between evangelization and a life-changing encounter with God’s love in Christ makes it clear what the remedy is for an alarming evangelical and missionary apathy. Too many among the baptized simply are not having this transformational encounter with God’s love. The reason, as we shall see, is that they are not coming to grips with their own poverty in relation to God.

The Joy of the Gospel

The second theme of Pope Francis’ message is joy. Pope Francis is concerned that “there are too many Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.” (EG, n. 6) Too many “end up being unhappy with who they are and what they do… They end up stifling the joy of mission with a kind of obsession about being like everyone else and possessing what everyone else possesses.” (EG, n. 79) Who would be attracted to a community of “sourpusses”? (EG, n. 85)

Joy is the fruit of the transformational encounter with God’s love in Christ. If this encounter is lacking or superficial, then there will be a corresponding lack of joy, or shallowness of joy, among the Church’s members. “The life of the Church should always reveal clearly that God takes the initiative, that ‘He has loved us first’ (I Jn. 4:19)…. This conviction enables us to maintain a spirit of joy in the midst of a task so demanding and challenging that it engages our entire life. God asks everything of us, yet at the same time He offers everything to us.” (EG, n. 12)

Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Gal. 5:22) It is practically a name for the Holy Spirit, God’s definitive gift to us. It is “a sign that the Gospel has been proclaimed and is bearing fruit.” (EG, n. 21) Joy is inseparable from the faith that keeps alive the memory of God’s love definitively revealed in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ.

“Memory is a dimension of our faith which we might call ‘deuteronomic,’ not unlike the memory of Israel itself. Jesus leaves us the Eucharist as the Church’s daily remembrance of, and deeper sharing in, the event of His Passover (cf. Lk. 22:19). The joy of evangelizing always arises from grateful remembrance.” (EG, n. 13)

The joy of evangelizing derives from the Eucharist! Joy springs from being aware of having been loved by God, of having received the Gift of gifts, the Holy Spirit. This presence of God’s Gift, perceived in our joy, has the power to attract people to the Church, and thus to Christ, and thus to God. The Church grows, not so much as a result of our hard work and clever programs, but “by attraction.” (EG, n. 14)

Love for the Poor

Pope Francis’ third theme is that the Church should live a love of preference for the poor. Evangelii gaudium mentions the poor 76 times! Pope Francis laments that too many Christians are living and “acting as if God did not exist, making decisions as if the poor did not exist, setting goals as if others did not exist, working as if people who have not received the Gospel did not exist.” (EG, n. 80)

God Himself looks down on the poor, hears their cry, and shows them mercy. Just as the joy to which we are called is a participation in Christ’s own joy, so the poverty to which we are called is a participation in Christ’s own poverty. “For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake He became poor although He was rich, so that by His poverty you might become rich.” (II Cor. 8:9)

“Today and always, ‘the poor are the privileged recipients of the Gospel’ … and the fact that it is freely preached to them is a sign of the kingdom that Jesus came to establish. We have to state, without mincing words, that ‘there is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor.’” (EG, n. 48) To encounter God’s love in Christ is to encounter His mercy toward us in our own poverty. As a result of being loved in our own poverty, we are called to love others in their poverty. It is the message of the unforgiving debtor. (Mt. 18:23–35) Once Christ has loved us in our poverty, the only way to fulfill the commandment to love others as Christ has loved us (Jn. 13:34) is by loving the poor.

This is the meaning behind the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that “the Eucharist commits us to the poor.” (n. 1397) If there is a crisis of missionary zeal, it must be due to a crisis of Eucharistic faith and devotion, and this latter crisis is rooted in the failure of too many Christians to come to terms with their own poverty in relation to God. For humility, which is this poverty in relation to God, is the necessary condition for encountering God’s love in Christ. (CCC, n. 716)

For the Holy Father, our faith is put to the test every time we encounter someone who is poor. The following insight of Cardinal Ratzinger is an apt elucidation: “The deepest poverty is the inability of joy, the tediousness of a life considered absurd and contradictory. This poverty is widespread today, in very different forms in the materially rich as well as the poor countries. The inability of joy presupposes and produces the inability to love, produces jealousy, avarice—all defects that devastate the life of individuals and of the world. This is why we are in need of a new evangelization—if the art of living remains an unknown, nothing else works. But this art is not the object of a science—this art can only be communicated by [one] who has life—he who is the Gospel personified.” Structures Are not Ends but Means Regarding ecclesiastical institutions, Pope Francis writes of a necessary “missionary conversion” (EG, n. 30) for parishes, dioceses, and the Apostolic See. Like his predecessors, he is concerned about the Church closing in on herself, being preoccupied with bureaucratic realities at the expense of solicitude for people. He discerns that “if part of our baptized people lack a sense of belonging to the Church, this is also due to certain structures and the occasionally unwelcoming atmosphere of some of our parishes and communities, or to a bureaucratic way of dealing with problems…. In many places an administrative approach prevails over a pastoral approach.…” (EG, n. 63)

Ultimately, structures must be at the service of a personal encounter with Christ that true evangelists aim to bring about. We are “constantly to run the risk of a face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas, with their joy which infects us in our close and continuous interaction.” (EG, n. 88) We are called to develop the “art of accompaniment” (EG, n. 169), which is to make a commitment to people who need to be loved. Structures and institutions do not love—people do.

Very importantly, the renewal of structures presupposes the renewal of hearts. Only hearts transformed by the encounter with God’s love can direct the renewal of structures and put them to the test of whether they are transparent to missionary charity and useful as its expression and in its exercise. “Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: ‘We have always done it this way.’ I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style, and methods of evangelization in their respective communities.” (EG, n. 33)

In light of all of this, Pope Francis shares with us his vision for a genuinely evangelical Church:

“I dream of a ‘missionary option,’ that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation. The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light: as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented, to make ordinary pastoral activity on every level more inclusive and open, to inspire in pastoral workers a constant desire to go forth and in this way to elicit a positive response from all those whom Jesus summons to friendship with Him. As Pope John Paul II once said to the Bishops of Oceania: ‘All renewal in the Church must have mission as its goal if it is not to fall prey to a kind of ecclesial introversion.’” (EG, n. 27)

In what will likely be one of the most quoted passages of this exhortation, Pope Francis warns against a kind of sense of false security or safety that can come with an obsession to maintain structures: “Let us go forth … to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ…. I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light, and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: ‘Give them something to eat’ (Mk. 6:37).” (EG, n. 49)

[Editor’s Note: Many people have questions about Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation, Evangelii gaudium. “The Catholic Servant” asked Professor Douglas Bushman to respond to two of these questions.]

Question: What is the level of teaching for an apostolic exhortation? How must it be followed by Catholics? Can one disagree with all or parts of it?

Professor Bushman: Contemporary Catholics are most familiar with the post-synodal apostolic exhortations, which elaborate on the themes considered by the Synod of Bishops. Interestingly, though Evangelii gaudium is about the New Evangelization and Pope Francis refers (30 times) to the final propositions of the Synod on the New Evangelization (October, 2012), it is not a post-synodal apostolic exhortation. The Pope writes an apostolic exhortation to encourage the entire Church, or a group within the Church, to fully embrace the demands of living the Gospel. The exhortative nature of these texts indicates that they presuppose what God has revealed and the doctrine that the Church authoritatively teaches. Thus, they are not intended to be authoritative affirmations or clarifications of doctrine, nor are they legislative in nature. Regarding the question of the authority of ecclesiastical texts, people should avoid assigning levels of engagement of teaching authority to an entire document, as, for example, we believe that all of Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit and asserts what God wanted asserted and is free of error. Rather, they should be alert to the fact that an apostolic exhortation contains many re-assertions of Scripture and dogmatic pronouncements, as well as statements that are in various ways related to Catholic teaching. Catholics must believe all that the Church authoritatively teaches, but they can certainly question and disagree with a pope’s reading of the signs of the times. They should also recognize that, even if he is inaccurate in one or another of his assessments of particular situations, this in no way attenuates his teaching authority with respect to faith and morals. Permit me to say that it would be lamentable if questions of this kind were to prevent well-educated Catholics from examining their own consciences regarding Pope Francis’ main preoccupation, namely, loving the poor.

Question: Some people are disagreeing with Pope Francis’ statements about economics in this document. They think the Pope doesn’t seem to understand the free market system as experienced in the United States. Can he be wrong, and how does a Catholic sort through such a document as to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable?

Professor Bushman: Some of Pope Francis’ phraseology has given rise to alarm and consternation. Yet, Pope Francis has said that there is nothing in Evangelii gaudium that is not in the prior social teaching of the Church. Upon close examination of his precise wording, my view is that this is true. The Church openly and repeatedly has said that she is not an expert in politics or economics. The Pope’s teaching authority does not assure us of any special expertise in making judgments of a technical nature about the relative efficacy of various political and economic systems. The Church does insist, however, that she is an expert in humanity. This means that her concern with political and economic questions is focused on the moral principles that bear upon human dignity and ultimately on the place of secular activity in Christian life. On my reading of Evangelii gaudium, Pope Francis is consistent with the teaching of his predecessors when he asserts that a trickle-down market system cannot, by itself, assure that the poor are treated as they should be. His insistence is that the capacity of any economic system to measure well against the criterion of concern for the poor depends on the moral disposition of those who are engaged in economic activity, especially those with the greatest influence.

Douglas G. Bushman, S.T.L., is Professor of Theology at the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado, where he holds the Blessed John Paul II the Great Chair of Theology for the New Evangelization.


Excavating a Spiritual Dinosaur for Lent

Taken from The Catholic Thing
by Dr. Christopher Blum

Excavating a Spiritual Dinosaur for Lent

In his inaugural lecture at Cambridge, C. S. Lewis spoke of himself as a dinosaur, that is, as a “specimen” of the “Old Western order.” He was only partly jesting. Lewis considered England in 1954 to be separated from the ages of Arthur, Chaucer, and even of Dr. Johnson by a great “chasm” that opened in the time of Jane Austen and Walter Scott. To understand the world before Ivanhoe and Persuasion, he warned, one needed to “suspend most of the responses and unlearn most of the habits” that one acquires by “reading modern literature” and inhabiting the modern world. It was precisely because he belonged to that older world as a native son, Lewis said, that he would at least be useful to his contemporaries as a specimen, if not as an authority.

If ever there were a representative of the Old Western order in its specifically Catholic form, Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704) would seem to be the man. When he’s known at all, it’s for what he opposed: political liberalism, Biblical criticism, the new spirituality of Fénelon and Madame Guyon, even the ultramontane interpretation of the papal office. Tonsured while still a boy, he lived entirely within the Church and northern France; he seems never to have traveled far enough to see the ocean or the Mediterranean Sea. A small-town bishop with decidedly traditional views, he has sometimes been called a “founder of the Counter-Enlightenment.” How could his innermost thoughts and aspirations possibly be of use to us?

The answer is that Bossuet’s mind was a model of judiciousness and balance. He combined excellences only rarely brought together in one person. As a preacher, he was both learned as well as fiery and dialectically sharp. As a courtier, he was both discreet and principled. Trusted as the tutor to Louis XIV’s son, he also rebuked the Sun King in veiled terms from the pulpit and with bold directness in private letters. He was a competent administrator but no plodding bureaucrat. No less a critic than Paul Claudel once said that his History of the Variations of the Protestant Churches (1688) was the book he would choose if only one could be saved to “bear witness to the world of the French language and spirit.”

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Faculty Focus: Douglas Bushman

Faculty Focus: Douglas Bushman

Meet Douglas Bushman

Prof. Bushman started out as a philosophy major, where he was drawn to the vocation of the intellectual life. After finishing his Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) degree at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, Bushman worked at a parish for four years, where he lived with three holy priests and got to know the Church at the “retail level,” and acquainted him with the daily pastoral issues of the Church. Then, after six years of working as the Director of Education for the Diocese of Duluth, MN, Bushman became the director for the Institute for Religious and Pastoral Studies master’s program at the University of Dallas.

Bushman has been talking about the New Evangelization under the heading of “Pastoral Theology” for the past 20 years, following the lead of Blessed Pope John Paul II and the second Vatican Council. “That’s why I’m so at home here at the Augustine Institute,” he said. Being a Thomist, he loves being able to find the roots of pastoral theology in Thomas Aquinas’ works, Bushman added.

When Bushman was the director of the Institute for Pastoral Theology at Ave Maria University, he first heard about the Augustine Institute when it was still only an idea. Watching with great interest, he admired the innovative use of technology and absorbed the positive reports of the program and its graduates.

Bushman was given the title of the Blessed Pope John Paul II Chair for the New Evangelization as a recognition of his service to the Church and to convey the mission he has been entrusted with: to compile, finish and publish the fruit of years of labor in the New Evangelization. In addition to writing his own works, Bushman also contributed to “Man Up: Become the New Catholic Renaissance Man” by Jared Zimmerer.

What would it be like to sit in on one of Professor Bushman's classes? Here is a sneak peak!

Bushman’s writings and articles can be found in print in Magnificat and The Catholic Servant, and online at Ignatius Insight, Catholic Answers, the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary blog, and the Augustine Institute’s Tolle Lege blog.

Links to articles:

Bushman Quotes:

  • “Occasionally I think in French.”
  • “We love to be around saints. They make us feel comfortable because they are so comfortable in God’s love and make us want to be in that position of God’s love.”
  • “God does not subscribe to the axiom 'if you want to do things well, do it yourself.' He sends bunglers out there to tell His story.”
  • “All the saints are comfortable with themselves because they so deeply experience God’s love for them.”
  • “If you love the truth more than you love yourself, you like having friends who are smarter than you.”

Faith that Sees in the Dark

Taken from TheCatholicYearOfFaith.com
By Dr. Sean Innerst

Faith that Sees in the Dark

Father Walter Ciszek, S.J., spent twenty-three tortuous years in various prisons under the old Soviet regime in Russia. After a year of intense interrogation, he signed a false affidavit admitting to crimes that he had not committed. The weakness in himself that this act revealed, both to himself and to his Soviet interrogator, precipitated a real crisis in Ciszek’s soul. Cast into darkness and eventually into real despair, he experienced what he flatly calls a conversion when he finally called upon God’s grace and found the strength to give up all the calculations he had entered into with his captors to avoid further torture and death, and to cast himself entirely upon God.

That essential act of faith, that final surrender of every pretension to self-sufficiency, is critical to sanctity, to hope, and to love in full. The book of Hebrews defines faith as the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” (11:1) which means, in short, that faith is the power to see in the dark. Things always seem darkest when our own resources have failed entirely and we have no place to go but the throne of grace.

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