What We’re Reading Today: Mary Magdalene, sacred silence, and spiritual boredom

Anthony OleckAnthony Oleck

MTS Student, History of Christianity, University of Notre Dame

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1) Notre Dame PhD candidate Lorraine Cuddeback contemplates the witness of Mary Magdalene:

The hope that Mary Magdalene brings to us is not a hope that ignores the violence around us. It is a hope that knows and shares our despair and grief. After the violence and deaths we may experience, it is a hope that remains.mary-magdalene-icon

2) Bruce Morrill at ‘Pray Tell’ on the period of silence after the opening prayer of the Mass:

But this time for silent prayer, I am arguing passionately, is integral to full, conscious, active participation in the liturgy of the Lord’s Day.

3) Word on Fire’s Chris Hazell on sin, happiness, and spiritual boredom:

I think part of what makes such a descent so easy for us is the comfort our modern lives afford. We aren’t ever hungry, thirsty, cold, warm or lacking in any basic need. Instead, we have constant recourse to a host of pleasures and goods that literally—only kings had in the past. Our potential for the good life—what modernity in all its brilliance can lift us up to achieve—seems limitless. Yet, even in the midst of this great human achievement, we see an undercurrent of something. It’s a dulled monotony seeping out from behind a culture of consumerism, pleasure, entertainment, excess. It’s boredom. Many people aren’t happy or sad, they’re just bored. Bored. Bored. Bored.

What We’re Reading Today: theology of the papacy, violence, and pilgrimage

Anthony OleckAnthony Oleck

MTS Student, History of Christianity, University of Notre Dame

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1) Dr. William Luckey in Homiletic & Pastoral Review on the oft forgotten and obscured aspects of the papacy:

The Church, as can be clearly seen in the following quotations, expects the bishop to be a mirror of Christ in every way. The Catechism of the Catholic Church points out that the bishops sanctify the church by their ministry of Word and sacrament, but also by their word and example, “not as domineering over those in {their} charge but being examples to the flock.” 15 So, above all, the bishop, any bishop, should be a shining example of Christian life in every respect.

Luckey_photos_7-11-15

2) Daniel Stewart’s response to critics of Flannery O’Connor who warn against reading her works due to the prevalence of violence in her writing:

[…] But this understanding of O’Connor’s writing is, quite simply, wrong. Violence isn’t a tool used to deliver a message; violence is the message. But how could this be for a Catholic author who is supposed to be writing about Catholic things? Isn’t the Gospel about love and life, not violence and death?

3) An excellent piece from Michael Rennier at “Dappled Things” on pilgrimage and suffering:

Our-Lady-of-Guadalupe-shrine2-300x200In fact, I believe that the struggle to simply get there is a vital part of the pilgrimage itself. The struggle experienced is but a minor reminder of the true spiritual struggle of a pilgrim. Perhaps it is our belief that to be a follow of Christ is to become comfortably happy and blessed in this life. This is not what the faith teaches. Our Lord offers not relief from suffering; instead he joins us in it.

What We’re Reading Today: Interstellar, marriage & celibacy, and displaced communities

Anthony OleckAnthony Oleck

MTS Student, History of Christianity, University of Notre Dame

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1) A review from Bishop-Elect Barron’s apostolate, Word on Fire. Here Daniel Stewart reviews Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” and personal love:

The love that moves the sun and the other stars also binds us together across spacetime.MV5BMjIxNTU4MzY4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzM4ODI3MjE@._V1_SX640_SY720_ It is this personal force of love that saves humanity in “Interstellar” over the pragmatic approach to resuscitate an abstract humanity. And it is this personal love that must save us now. This love, this incredible gravity that created the universe is also the force that draws us back in.

2) “First Things'” Matthew Milliner on two pathways to heaven, marriage and celibacy:

If reality is muted in most American weddings, it was unavoidable at this service. Brother Timothy’s head was tonsured, a narrow rivulet of flesh cut into his hair, resembling the crown of martyrdom. For much of the service, he lay prostrate on marble before the Abbot and a shimmering Deësis icon. He was then enshrouded by his brothers in a black cloth. His mother stood in the front row weeping as Mary does in the icon, for her boy has figuratively died. I had figured the blanket was some kind of liturgical cloth with which I was unfamiliar, but as the service proceeds, the purpose of the black blanket became clear. It becomes his habit. He will be wearing the clothes in which he was buried until he is buried again.

3) I found these two articles interesting: a recent CARA report on closing down churches, and Christine Schenk’s reaction and examination of what we do with displaced communities:

What is missing in the sociological analysis is the power and meaning of Christian community.

What does closing a vital, solvent parish do to believers who have journeyed together over many years in good times and in bad? What does it mean to urban Catholic communities — formed in the social gospel — who have found fulfillment in serving the needy in their neighborhoods?

What We’re Reading Today: Bishop-Elect Robert Barron, Millennial Catholics, and Church Architecture

Anthony OleckAnthony Oleck

MTS Student, History of Christianity, University of Notre Dame

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1) If you haven’t heard the news, today Pope Francis named Fr. Robert Barron (rector of Mundelein Seminary and founder of Word on Fire Ministries) an Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles. Fr. Barron has been best known for his evangelical work and his Catholicism film series. Fr. Barron’s statement can be read here.

The late Francis Cardinal George—the spiritual grandfather of Word on Fire—was a mentor and friend to me. The mission closest to his heart was the evangelization of the culture, bringing Christ to the arenas of media, politics, law, education, the arts, etc. I can’t think of a more exciting field for this sort of work than Los Angeles, which is certainly one of the great cultural centers of our time.timthumb

2) Last week “Patheos” published its Summer Symposium on “Catholicism: Future of Faith in America.” The published essays address “the current realities in the Church and focus on the cultural trends that jeopardize faith, the hope of spiritual revitalization, and the possibilities of new vocations, of young leadership, and of radical choices for authentic discipleship.” The symposium also featured a piece by Timothy P. O’Malley, director of the Center for Liturgy, on the gifts millennial Catholics bring to the Church:

But, in the end, I cannot maintain my sourpuss disposition about the future of Catholicism in the United States. Though sociology can report upon the dire state of present Catholic practice, it cannot predict the future of the millennial Church just now coming into positions of leadership in Church and society alike. At Notre Dame, I encounter every semester undergraduate and graduate students who have chosen the Catholic Option. These students have immersed themselves in the theological tradition of the Church. They upset traditional categories of liberal and progressive by singing Latin polyphony on the weekends, spending summers in Calcutta serving the poor, and taking courses where they learn to critique forms of conspicuous consumption. They write plays about the perils of eating disorders, organize conferences around the effects of pornography, and feel deeply uncomfortable belonging to either the Democratic or Republic party.

3) I’m a big fan of Church architecture, and love learning from sacred art and architecture. So here’s an interview from the Liturgical Institute with architect Dr. Denis McNamara:

armenian heavenly jerusalem for web[…] The church building, then, is a sacrament of God reconciled with humanity, as the Catechism tells us (no. 1180). It is made up of many members such as bricks, stones and steel beams, all arranged with an eschatological glory to provide a place where God dwells with humanity. Just as we say the altar “is” Christ, so we can say that the church building is a great sacrament of Christ’s many members assembled in their heavenly glory. Just like the heavenly liturgy, the church building is centered on Christ, glorified, perfected, filled with angels and saints, radiant with light and an image of the new heaven and new earth.

What We’re Reading Today: salvation from distraction, St. Camillus, and baptism

Anthony OleckAnthony Oleck

MTS Student, History of Christianity, University of Notre Dame

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1) A wonderful sermon from Rev. Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick on St. Paisios’ (recently canonized in the Orthodox Church) very practical wisdom regarding the spiritual life within the context of a family:

St. Paisios understands very clearly that distraction is a huge problem in modern life. He says that we should rejoice if we even have ten minutes for prayer or even two minutes to read something good! As a wise father, Paisios is not expecting superhuman efforts out of his spiritual children. He is suggesting something that can be done by anyone.Distraction really is an enormous problem for us, isn’t it? It is something that I struggle with myself. I like to check my smartphone way too often.I like to have some kind of noise going on while I work or while I drive or even while I am being entertained some other way—I literally will be watching something on my television and yet distracting myself from that by reading my email or checking Facebook or whatever. I have distractions from my distractions!paisios-athonite-crop-1024x591

2) Gregory Dipippo at the “New Liturgical Movement” writes from Rome on the feast of St. Camillus (July 14):

Pope Leo XIII declared him a Patron Saint of the sick, and along with St John of God, the founder of the Order of Brothers Hospitallers, added his name to the Litanies for the Dying. (In the Extraordinary Form, his feast is on July 18th, one of a series of Saints displaced from their respective death days by the feast of Pope Anacletus, now recognized to be the same person as Pope Cletus.)

Shortly after its founding, the order received as a gift a small church dedicated to St Mary Magdalene, very close to the Pantheon in the center of Rome. It was completely torn down, and over the course of the 17th century rebuilt as one of the most elaborate churches in the city, despite its small size; the relics of St Camillus, who was canonized in 1746, now rest in the side chapel of the right transept.

3) Fr. Robert Barron unpacks what it means to be baptized ‘priest,’ ‘prophet,’ and ‘king':

So what does this look like in practice? How does it show itself in the lives of ordinary believers? Let us look at priesthood first. A priest fosters holiness, precisely in the measure that he or she serves as a bridge between God and human beings. In ancient Roman times, the priest was described as a pontifex, bridge-builder, and this remains a valid designation in the Christian context. The reconciliation of divinity and humanity produces in human beings a wholeness or integration, a coming together of the often warring elements within the self.

What We’re Reading Today: discernment, millennials, and ‘God’s Smile’

Anthony OleckAnthony Oleck

MTS Student, History of Christianity, University of Notre Dame

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1) Check out Philip Kosloski’s simple advice for discerning God’s will:

Personally I have had to discern God’s will many times over the years. At first I had to make the big decision of what to do after high school. In the last two years before I graduated, I had a deep conversion and sincerely wanted to do God’s will. At first I thought I was called to enter college and then get married. While praying, I didn’t have a lot of peace about the situation, but I really liked this girl that I was dating. I didn’t want to give it all up, so I persisted and applied to a local university.

2)  What must the Church do to reach Millennials?  Joan Frawley Desmond engaged this question, a question in which the Center for Liturgy has much interest, in a piece that includes an interview with Director of NDCL Dr. Timothy P. O’Malley:

“The vast majority of Millennials are disengaging,” said Curtis Martin, who leads the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (Focus), an apostolate that trains young missionaries to share the faith with college students on U.S. campuses. “They have not heard the Church’s message with the Church’s voice.”

But Martin also observed that the religious indifference of many cradle Catholics is matched by the enthusiasm of a small but vibrant group of new arrivals. Their striking commitment reveals the enduring appeal of Catholic faith and community in an era shaped by powerful secular forces.

3) First Things’ William Doino Jr. on the legacy of Pope John Paul I, also known as “the smiling pope”:

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Despite the stature of his position, he maintained his modesty and close relations with the poor and outcast, in line with his episcopal motto, “Humilitas.” He often quoted St Augustine: “If you should ask me what are the ways of God, I would tell you that the first is humility, the second is humility, and the third is humility. Not that there are no other precepts, but if humility does not precede all that we do, our efforts our meaningless.”

Spiritual Wakefulness

Claire Fyrqvist, M.Div.

Claire Fyrqvist lives with her husband John and two sons in the Catholic Worker neighborhood of South Bend.  She and John job share at Right to Life and love to catch good liturgy wherever they can.

Editorial Note: The following reflection was delivered as part of Morning Prayer during the Center for Liturgy’s recent Symposium, Liturgy and Vocation. We are grateful for the author’s permission to post it here.

You know very well that the day of the Lord is coming
like a thief in the night.
Just when people are saying, “Peace and security,”
ruin will fall on them
with the suddenness of pains overtaking a woman in labor,
and there will be no escape.
You are not in the dark, brothers and sisters,
that the day should catch you off guard, like a thief.
No, all of you are children of the light and of the day.
We belong neither to darkness nor to night;
therefore, let us not be asleep like the rest,
but awake and sober!
1 Thessalonians 5:2–6

Spiritual wakefulness and spiritual sleep, even for the greatest saints, are constantly at odds with each other in the human heart. The experience of being human is to long for fullness, to be totally alive, yet there are constant distractions and temptations, gravity itself, which is always pulling us back into a kind of spiritual drowsiness, a state in which we cannot hear or see God.

One way this state manifests itself is delusion, or imagination, to be completely or even partially out of touch with reality. When I was discerning my vocation…for over a decade…I had a wise spiritual director tell me that I had made an image of God in my mind and was agonizing over imagined, hypothetical situations that didn’t actually exist as real choices in my life. img_1426Instead of embracing the gift right in front of me, my future husband John, I kept visualizing myself in a habit (it was often glowing) and getting completely anxious and paralyzed by this image. The mind can be powerful in this regard, convincing us that something is perfectly real and viable when in fact it has no bearing on reality, on what is actually happening around us.

Alternately, one can be so consumed with material existence and the details of life that it becomes impossible to see beyond the immediate and the practical. This is very easy to do, particularly when we as adults have a myriad of roles and responsibilities we are trying to juggle. As a parent now I am so much more liable to fall into this kind of sleep, barely lifting my head above the waters of constant activity, tasks, and physical cares to acknowledge God’s presence in prayer.

St. Paul describes a kind of spiritual sleep of those who cherish above all “peace and security.” We love more than anything to be comfortable in our views, our relationships, our lifestyle, and our habits. The Church is full of people, myself included, who can be so set in their ways that they cannot truly hear the words of Christ in the Gospel or be moved by the liturgy and its searing truth. We often do not want to be awoken from this kind of sleep because it will require making changes, potentially difficult sacrifices, and ultimately die to ourselves. The Gospel is much more palatable if you can fit it neatly into your already constructed world view that affirms and consoles you in your way of being, not challenges and wakes you to the urgency of love.

And indeed there is urgency! This reading is laced with urgency. The Lord is coming like a thief in the night! A woman in labor! If you have had a child or attended a birth, you know that those agonizing hours of waiting and laboring which brings a child into the world are incredibly real moments, zoomed out of time and space. You surely cannot escape it, yet there is no experience more real, more human, more infused with the divine. Sleep in fact would be impossible.

Such an experience of reality, both raw and startling, can bring about a kind of intense joy, a great sense of relief to be free from delusions, free from schedules and endless tasks, free from the personal comfort that can dull the senses; we are at last aware of what truly IS, that God is all in all, that we ARE, and that essentially nothing else matters.

These moments of wakefulness cast light in the darkness of our lives. And this light can continue to illuminate our way as we return back to the normal days and the normal tasks, transforming them into acts of great love, allowing us to be beacons of light for others. 800px-Candle_Light  This wakefulness makes great sacrifices possible because we recognize our true identity in God, and God’s magnificent love for us in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. As children of day we are compelled back to the liturgy and the sacraments, where over and over we can be awoken and startled out of our darkness and into the light of Truth.

Christ is surely going to return and we must be ready, yet God every day wants to visit us, to be with us and give us His Spirit and His Light. “We belong neither to darkness nor to night; therefore, let us not be asleep like the rest, but awake and sober!”

What We’re Reading Today: “encounter,” the permanent diaconate, and true love

Anthony OleckAnthony Oleck

MTS Student, History of Christianity, University of Notre Dame

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1) Thomas Eggleston unpacks and interprets what Pope Francis means, in spiritual terms, by “encounter”:

In Spanish, the pope’s first language, the word encuentro is often used in spiritual terms, and in this pontificate it is being translated into English as “encounter.” FE_IMG_0036-237x300The term in Spanish, however, is packed with more meaning than a literal translation to the English cognate is able to convey. An encounter between God and one’s self begins first and foremost by acknowledging that we are being encountered by our Creator who loves us infinitely—an encounter requires a dynamic back and forth between two entities. In his pastoral exhortation Evangelii gaudium, Francis urges the faithful to “a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them” (3). Underscored here is an important point about the dynamism of an encounter. Christ is constantly reaching out to all persons, but the event of an encounter happens when that invitation is acknowledged and responded to by a human being. There is a divine vulnerability to reaching out, an eager waiting in hope of a response.

2) In an interview with Sr. Camille D’Arienzo, Deacon Greg Kandra (Editor of Patheos’ “The Deacon’s Bench“) speaks about his life and vocation as both a permanent deacon and a “blogging” deacon:

I never cease to be amazed, awed, humbled and challenged. God uses us in ways we may never have imagined. And the grace of Holy Orders continues to make the impossible possible. I sometimes wonder where I find the stamina, energy or imagination to do what I need to do. But as St. Paul reminded us, “God’s grace is sufficient.” More and more, I realize that being a deacon draws on that grace. It’s a well that never runs dry.Greg Kandra 1

3) Sonja Corbitt’s analysis of the similarities that connect Twilight, Fifty Shades, and Leviticus:

Isn’t the Mass a Eucharistic Sacrifice because it is the same Jesus present, body and blood, pouring Himself out for our sins? In doing so He is not redeeming us again – He did that already on Calvary – but He offers Himself in eucharistic Communion to transmit His divine life to us through His sacrificial Body and Blood.

When He says, “This is the cup of the new covenant in my blood that is poured out for you,” He uses the same word the Old Testament used for the pouring out of sacrificial blood in the tabernacle and covenant sacrifices. To eat and drink the blood of those sacrifices would have been to drink unto death, so God enacted a protective prohibition against such.

“‘What We Have Seen and Heard’: Fostering Baptismal Witness in the World”

Danielle Peters-cropDanielle M. Peters, S.T.D.

Secular Institute of the Schoenstatt, Sisters of Mary

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Institute for Church Life, University of Notre Dame
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Recently, I attended a Conference in Celebration of the fiftieth anniversaries of Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes, Apostolicam Actuositatem and Ad Gentes. Presented by the John S. Marten Program in Homiletics and Liturgics, the conference took place at the University of Notre Dame and invited mainly (but not only) pastors to reflect on their ministry of preaching. The conference’s theme, “‘What We Have Seen and Heard’: Fostering Baptismal Witness in the World,” marten_two_color_web_smallemphasized that “all forms of Christian preaching are ultimately grounded in baptism, the sacrament by which we are called into the Christian life and sent into the world as witness-servants.” These words from the description of the conference’s objective indicate that preaching cannot be – or rather, should not be – restricted to the homily given by priests or deacons from the pulpit during the Mass. Rather, ‘preaching’ as a form of witnessing to Jesus Christ belongs to our baptismal calling and takes place in our everyday life at home, at work, and wherever we “have an obligation to manifest the new person which [we] put on in baptism” (Ad Gentes 2, 11).

Two speakers underscored that the implementation of “the Universal Call to Holiness” proclaimed in Lumen Gentium’s chapter V remains the largest challenge in our time. The council fathers were aware that for the majority of the baptized this vocation is lived out facing the world and immersed in the world. In the Constitution on the Church in the World, Gaudium et Spes, they noted that Christians “are called to participate actively in the entire life of the church” in order “to animate the world with the spirit of Christianity” and “to be witnesses to Christ in all circumstances and at the very heart of the human community” (43). Even in our own day, Pope Francis reminds us in Evangelii Gaudium:

“[i]n virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization.” (120)

Apparently, the Christian vocation to holiness, which is nothing more or less than the perfection of love, goes hand-in-hand with verbal witness to the living presence of God. This charge comes from Christ himself, who summons us to be his witnesses, providing us with the “understanding of the faith” and the “attractiveness in speech,” for a truly ecclesial and apostolic purpose (Lumen Gentium, 35; cf. CCC 904).

Bishops fill St. Peter's Basilica as Pope Paul VI presides over a meeting of the Second Vatican Council. Sessions were held in the later months of 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965. Pope John XXIII opened the council in 1962, stating that the goal of the council was to eradicate seeds of discord and to promote peace and unity among humankind. The remaining three sessions were led by Pope Paul following the death of Pope John in June 1963. (CNS photo from Catholic Press Photo) (Oct. 17, 2002) See VATICANII-HUNTHAUSEN and VATICANII-MARKEY Oct. 17, 2002.

The fiftieth anniversary of the close of the Council and this conference calls for a re-energized focus on the mission shared by all the baptized. How can we ‘preach’ effectively in the here and now when we often feel our lack of “understanding of the faith” and of “attractiveness in speech?” Archbishop Joseph Tobin from Indianapolis made reference to Pope Francis’ preaching who “speaks a language we can understand.” He summarized the recurring message of the pontiff’s preaching with three Ms: Mission, Mercy, Margins! Pope Francis reminds us that “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” (Evangelii Gaudium,120).

This, I believe, is the point of the matter! When we know ourselves personally called and loved by God, then nothing remains the way it used to be! Rather, we grow beyond ourselves; we are propelled by an inner dynamism which urges us to make of ourselves a gift to God and others (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 24). This personal encounter with Love, in a way, forges a friendship between the Christian and Christ that is no longer directed by duties, laws, and restrictions but by a spirit of generosity that offers and asks always for what pleases the Father and not for the easy way out. In virtue of this encounter as a fruit of baptism, the Christian takes on a manner of life which brings to perfection his or her witnessing in word and deed.

This witnessing aims at the critical juncture between salvation and secular reality which is by no means free of tensions and conflicts. Gaudium et Spes, 13 refers to the polarity of such a ‘divided person’ with a ‘high calling’ and a simultaneous experience of ‘deep misery.’ Our communion with God in the world cannot simply mean to give a pious touch to everything we do. Rather, it is a form of existence, a manner of being by virtue of which the profane is sanctified.

john-the-baptistThe saints, our model witnesses, are also our guides. Each hagiography includes a personal encounter with Christ which, unsettling as it may have been, transformed him or her into a witness of Christ, “the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev 1:5). One of the first outstanding witnesses is John the Baptist, whose birth we celebrated on the last day of the conference. His life’s motto can teach us what authentic witness is all about: “He must increase while I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). To the extent that we make room for Christ in our being, action and speaking, we are carried by our encounter with Him and allow Him to act and speak through us. At the end of the day, we can honestly and gratefully take stock: when He takes over, our witnessing takes on dimensions reaching far beyond our imaginations!

Christ’s principal witness is Mary, the new creation and powerful initiation of the most glorious witness of God’s love. The Decree On The Apostolate of the Laity Apostolicam Actuositatem, 4 affirms the Blessed Virgin Mary as the perfect example of the spiritual and apostolic person since she “while leading the life common to all here on earth, one filled with family concerns and labors, was always intimately united with her Son and in an entirely unique way cooperated in the work of the Savior.” In a way, we can say that she is the model of every lay Christian whose personal encounter with God at the Annunciation moved her to ‘allow’ God to use her in order to become fruitful first in her and then through her. From crib to cross, her witnessing consisted in unswervingly directing us towards Him to the point of “the shocking mystery of [her] self- emptying” which St. John Paul II considered to be “perhaps the deepest ‘kenosis’ of faith in human history” (Redemptoris Mater, 18). This supreme form of witnessing is aptly described by Hans Urs von Balthasar: “Progressively every shade of personal intimacy is taken from her, to be increasingly applied to the good of the Church and of Christians” (The Glory of the Lord. A Theological Aesthetics, Vol. I: Seeing the Form, 341). Precisely in this stage of giving witness she became abundantly fruitful.

Vatican II singled out one particular paradigm of witness to which few are called: martyrdom. stinson_remick_chapel_window_1_webThe Council Fathers considered martyrdom in the light of magnanimous love and linked the exceptional gift of the martyr with the sacrificial gift of Christ on the cross, the highest proof of love (cf. Lumen Gentium 42). A more ample view of a martyr (Greek for witness) includes all those who in spiritual martyrdom stand up for truth and justice in their daily combat and experience persecution, calumny and denouncement without laying down their life in a physical manner. This form of witnessing is offered in daily dying to self, motivated by love for God and neighbor. In this respect the invocation Queen of Martyrs receives a new dimension. Under her maternal protection our vocation to give witness matures into a disinterested and joyful gift of self.

In a way, we all face this kind of spiritual martyrdom, due to the profound social and cultural changes of post modernity. Is it any wonder that this universal vocation remains the largest challenge in our time?

What We’re Reading Today: the ‘prayers that Jesus knew,’ Romero, and an American Martyr

Anthony OleckAnthony Oleck

MTS Student, History of Christianity, University of Notre Dame

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1) Judith Valente at America Magazine on Abbot Gregory Polan and the new English translation of the Psalter:

The Psalms are, of course, revered sources of prayer for both Christians and Jews. They are among the oldest prayers ever written, “the heartbeat of the Bible,” as Abbot Gregory calls them.

“Jesus himself prayed the Psalms,” Abbot Gregory told me. “They were the prayers, if I can say, that he learned on his mother’s knee. When the gospel authors quote Jesus, often he speaks of himself in relation to the Psalms … Spirit speaks to spirit in these prayers.”

2) One interpretation of Oscar Romero’s beatification, from First Things‘ Carlos Colorado:

For decades, while Romero’s canonization cause was considered by the Vatican, a debate roiled over whether Romero had been killed because of his faith or strictly due to the political content of his preaching, which railed against army abuses and socioeconomic exclusion of the poor. The controversy was forgotten during the beatification ceremony. “His option for the poor was not ideological but Evangelical,” declared Cardinal Amato, to applause.

3) Finally, consider Fr. Stanley Rother, an “American Martyr”:

We need shepherds who will not run away when their flocks are under attack. We need priests like Father Stanley Rother who died because, as he said, “a shepherd cannot run away.”

[…] Father Rother may not have been a scholar, but he had manly courage and deep faith in Christ that led him to embrace his responsibility to the people God had entrusted to him. On July 28, 1981, three men wearing masks shot and killed Father Stanley Rother, the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep.
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Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, Institute for Church Life

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