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A New Adventure with Steve Ray, the Catholic Indiana Jones!
presents ABRAHAM Father of Faith and Works
NEW YEAR – NEW FILM – NEW ADVENTURE WITH STEVE RAY! And ready for the “BIG SCREEN” in Your Parish in 2015!
Have you been following the Footprints of God from Ignatius Press and Steve Ray?
If you have, you already know there is nothing else like these fast-paced, entertaining, educational documentaries on our salvation history. If you haven’t, you’re in for a real treat!
These eight films combine the elements of a biography, travel documentary, Bible study and apologetics course all rolled into a remarkable, family friendly adventure! Each one is a 90-minute, stand-alone masterpiece taking the viewer to another time and place. With ABRAHAM you will travel with Steve back 4,000 years to Iraq, Turkey, Palestinian Territories and Israel. Have you ever seen a ziggurat? You will!
And now this much anticipated foundational film in the series, ABRAHAM: Father of Faith and Works, has been released as an exclusive parish screening program. Parishes, schools and organizations will be able to purchase a package that will include DVDs to have for sale or to gift, a free DVD for showing, promotional materials, and a 12-month site license to show the movie unlimited times in your facility or in a theater!
License holders will have 6 weeks of exclusive sales of the ABRAHAM DVD before general sales will start on March 17th.
FOOTPRINTS of GOD Parish Screening Program
And for those who would like to show all 8 Footprints of God DVDs now available: JESUS, MARY, PETER, PAUL, APOSTOLIC FATHERS, MOSES, DAVID/SOLOMONand ABRAHAM, we have packages that include a 12-month site license to show all 8 DVDs as well as a free copy of each DVD to use for showing, copies of all the DVDs to sell or gift, and promotional materials.
Both of these parish screening programs make great evangelization tools and can be used as a fundraiser as well.
Click here to see an overview of the Footprints of God films.
For more information on packages and prices available as well as the forms to order your packages, please go to www.IPMovieNights.com and click on SPECIAL SCREENING PROGRAMS.
Dominican community at evening vespers (Krakow, Poland) [Photo: Dr. Anthony E. Clark]
“Do Not Grow Bored with Christ:" A Week with the Dominicans in Poland | Anthony E. Clark, Ph.D. | CWR
On a bitterly cold Sunday morning in mid-December I approached the basilica church attached to the Dominican Priory in Krakow’s Old Quarter. The church and priory are named after the Most Holy Trinity, and upon entering I saw a dense crowd of faithful flooding through the three main doors below the remarkable church façade. Fr. Ireneusz Wysokiński, OP, warned me that Masses throughout the day would all be crowded, but I was not prepared for what I encountered—extra chairs had to be set out to accommodate the overflow.
Sunday Masses in the Dominican church run all day, with a brief pause from 3-5:00 pm; the rest of the day is animated with Mass attendees. Even as I walked by other nearby churches I could see large crowds entering and leaving for Mass. The reports I had heard that Poland is a vibrantly Catholic country are true, and the ninety Dominican friars who serve in the Krakow priory are part of the central heartbeat of the city’s Catholic culture. Earlier that morning, Bro. Grzegorz Kuraś, OP, took me into the elegant church sacristy to show me historic vestments with beautiful needlework, painstakingly made by sisters as a gift to God for use in Holy Mass. The liturgy celebrated in Poland is a sumptuous feast for the senses that elevates the soul; a choir of friars intones chants throughout the Mass, and an assembly of Dominican habits surrounds the altar during the words of Consecration in a cloud of incense. No wonder their church is full—they know how to transport one’s heart and mind to God, which is what, as St. Augustine tells us, we were created for.
The long history of the Dominican priests and brothers who live in Krakow is punctuated with some of the world’s most turbulent events: two World Wars, Nazi occupation, and the harsh, anti-Christian Communist invasion of Catholic Poland. Illuminating the dark shadow of these eras is the memory of Poland’s spiritual hero, Karol Józef Wojtyła, or Pope St. John Paul II, whose image is seen in almost every part of Krakow. This holy son of Poland once said, “I kiss the soil as if I placed a kiss on the hands of a mother, for the homeland is our earthly mother,” and this love of his native country is returned to him by the thousands of young Poles I joined for Mass in Krakow’s Dominican church. On my final day in Krakow I reflected on the many countries I have visited; none has left a stronger impression of Catholic devotion and spiritual maturity as Poland, and the flourishing vocations and filled liturgies of the Dominican community there remain, at least in my mind, the best example of the “hermeneutic of continuity” discussed by Pope Benedict XVI.
For an entire week I was enfolded in the Dominican community, joining them for meals, Masses, daily prayers, and even an evening with the brothers at a local pub, where we discussed their observations of Catholic life in America. Comparing Poland, with its history of Nazi and Communist horrors, to America, with its history of economic triumph and materialism, Bro. Grzegorz Kuraś, OP, said that his largest concern for the US is that it is “growing bored with Christ.” “To all Americans,” he remarked, “I would simply say, do not grow bored with Christ.” Perhaps we Americans can learn something from the Dominican’s of Krakow, who are anything but bored with Christ, and their love of God is contagious. I cannot remember a single Mass in their huge basilica that was not filled with faithful, a very different scene than I am accustomed to in my native city.
Fr. Reginald Wiśniowski, OP
In preparation for this report I was introduced to the oldest Dominican priest in Poland, Fr. Reginald Wiśniowski, OP, who is now ninety-four years old, and has lived through Nazi and Communist occupations, and has worn the Dominican habit since 1939.
Mass at St. Ignatius cathedral in Shanghai – photo taken during the Requiem Mass of Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian. Source: Author’s private collection.
China’s Modern Martyrs: From Mao to Now (Part 4) | Anthony E. Clark, PhD | Catholic World Report
The blood of martyrs has proven to be the seed of the Church in China, as vibrant communities thrive despite government interference and restrictions.
Part 4, Resurrection
“We should be glad and rejoice. As the Shanghai Catholic youths said: ‘We are greatly honored to have been born and lived at this important time.’” — Cardinal Kung Pin-mei, Sermon for Catholics in China (Rome, June 30, 1991)
When I published my book, China’s Saints, in 2011, I thought that only a few interested scholars would read it. I wrote it, after all, as an academic study, a work for curmudgeonly professors like myself more inclined to read objective history than pious hagiography. So I was surprised when a Jesuit priest mentioned to a large crowd of academics and ecclesiastics recently gathered in Chicago that he had been reading my book “for his daily devotions.”
Results seldom match expectations, and that is the theme of my final entry in this four-part series on China’s Catholic martyrs from Mao to now. In truth, even the most objective historian—secular or religious—must admit that decades of suppression, persecution, and suffering have resulted in a vibrant Catholic community. I shall here outline the “ongoing growth of these communities,” as Father Jeremy Clarke puts it, “even in spite of attempts to make them disappear.”
In the first three installments of this series I focused on a very dark era in the history of Chinese Catholicism: the attack against Yangjiaping Trappist Abbey and the massacre of many holy monks, Chairman Mao’s malicious media campaign against the Church, the wave of arrests that followed, and the atrocious martyrdoms of such priests as Father Beda Chang and Father Wang Shiwei. I have also recounted the Maoist destruction of Catholic churches during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) and more recent efforts to suppress popular Catholic devotions in China, such as the annual pilgrimage to honor Our Lady of China at Donglü. No one can deny the genuine suffering that Christians have encountered in China in recent decades, but as St. Augustine famously asserted, “God had a son on earth who was without sin, but he never had one without suffering.”
Still, China’s Christians have an optimistic view of their experiences. Elderly Catholics use the word chiku (吃苦) to describe their lives during the Maoist period (1949-1976), which literally means “having tasted bitterness.” One priest noted, “When we were bombarded with anti-Christian propaganda, we had tasted bitterness. We did not swallow it. We survived.” China’s Catholics have done more than survive; they have flourished. Over the years I have travelled in China by mule, train, plane, boat, taxi, bicycle, and long distances on foot to visit important places in the history of Christianity in China, and each year I am astonished by the unprecedented progress of the Church there.
Bishops, priests, sisters, and common faithful have told me their stories—and so have atheists, agnostics, and party members. In fact, party members have informed me that there are many persons in positions of influence who view religion as a “healthy human expression.”
A woman prays during Mass at a church in Seoul, Korea, Feb. 12, 2013. (CNS photo/Kim Hong-Ji, Reuters)
Francis and South Korea | John Paul Shimek | CWR
In his first international visits, the Pope looks to “the ends of the Earth” and to the young.
It’s official. The volo papale, or papal airplane, will take off from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport in mid-August. This time it will be headed for the heart of Asia. Pope Francis will visit Daejeon, South Korea from August 14 to 18. Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office, made the announcement in a statement issued March 10. The official comunicato reads:
Welcoming the invitation from the President of the Republic and the Korean bishops, His Holiness Francis will make an Apostolic Trip to the Republic of Korea from 14 to 18 August 2014, on the occasion of the Sixth Asian Youth Day, to be held in the diocese of Daejeon.
The trip will mark the first papal visit to the Korean peninsula in more than two decades. Pope John Paul II visited there on two separate occasions: in the spring of 1984 and again in the autumn of 1989. For his part, Pope Benedict XVI did not elect to visit South Korea during almost a decade as pope.
Both of Pope John Paul II’s visits attracted record numbers of pilgrims. Traveling to Seoul in 1989 for the International Eucharistic Congress, he led one of the largest outdoor gatherings on the Asian continent: some one million Catholics attended the congress’ closing liturgical celebration on October 8, 1989. However, that record was broken in 1995 when he visited Manila, Philippines on the occasion of the Tenth International World Youth Day. More than five million individuals attended that event—the largest outdoor gathering in human history.
A vibrant Church
Like Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis could attract record-setting numbers of pilgrims. After all, the Catholic Church is alive and well in South Korea. In fact, over the last decade, Catholicism has witnessed an incredible growth spurt there. Church enrollment has swelled some 70 percent. Now, more than five million South Koreans—about 11 percent of the population—are members of the Roman Catholic Church. That number continues to increase.
On Learning From Not Having Learned | Fr. James V. Schall, SJ | Catholic World Report
What I call “another sort of learning” is the finding and reading those seminal books that take us to the truth and order of things
Editor's note: The following was originally given as an address at the Bosque School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on May 8, 2014.
“It (disappointment) occurs when the boy who has been enchanted by Stories from the Odyssey buckles down to really learning Greek. It comes when lovers have got married and begin the real task of learning to live together. In every department of life it marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing.” — C. S. Lewis, from the second Screwtape Letter, The Screwtape Letters (New York: Macmilllan, 1962), 11.
“No man had a more ardent love of literature, or a higher respect for it than Johnson. His apartment in Pembroke College…was over the Gateway. The enthusiasts for learning will ever contemplate it with veneration. One day, while he was sitting in it quite alone, Dr. Panting, then head of the College…overheard him uttering this soliloquy, in his strong emphatick voice: ‘Well, I have a mind to see what is done in other places of learning. I’ll go and visit universities abroad. I’ll go to France and Italy. I’ll go to Padua—and I’ll mind my business. For an Athenian blockhead is the worst of all blockheads.’” — From James Boswell’s Life of Johnson, 1730 (London: Oxford, 1931), I, 49-50.
“Bosque” is evidently the Spanish word for a forest. Here in the southwest it refers especially to woods along river bottoms. In this school, the river is the famous Rio Grande. One can speak of being educated in a forest or even, I suppose, of being educated by a forest. Tolkien, who had a special love of trees, used to speak of what the forest taught. Our Scriptural heritage speaks of a “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” with a Garden as the original place of the First Parents. The relation of gardens to parks and forests is an interesting one. I believe that the City of St. Lewis has a large “Forest Park,” as does Everett, Washington.
In one sense today, we must almost say that all of our national forests spread throughout the country are cared for as large scale gardens and parks. In the middle of Munich Germany, is a lovely park called “the English Garden.” We probably have no “forests primeval” left. Even the jungles in Brazil come under governmental control. We go out of our way to prevent development of certain woods and lands. In a way, nature becomes more nature when it comes under the scope of human understanding. Nature was not meant simply to be nature. It was also meant to be understood as nature. The things of nature have their own intelligibility.
A school in a forest setting is designed, in the first place, to be a school, not a forest. This particular school was founded in 1994, so it is a mere twenty years old. Its first graduates are still not nearly into what Cicero called “old age.” The state in which this school is located is not in “Old” but in “New” Mexico. New Mexico entered the Union on January 6, 1912. My father was born in Iowa in 1904. In the beginning, I cited a passage from James Boswell writing in 1730. This was forty-six years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence and one hundred and twenty-seven years after the founding of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. I taught in a university in Rome founded in 1551. The usual date given for the founding of the City of Rome is 753 B. C. Thus, in terms of Roman dating, this year, 2014 A.D., is listed as Ab Urbe Condita 2767. That is, from the founding of the City of Rome, two thousand seven hundred and sixty-seven years.
I used to insist that students knew, among others, the dates of the deaths of Socrates, Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, and Aquinas. From the time of Abraham to the time of Socrates was approximately eight hundred years. From the time of Socrates (d. 399 B.C.) to the death of Augustine (d. 430 A.D). was another eight hundred years; from Augustine to Aquinas was eight hundred years (1274 A.D.). From Aquinas to our days is likewise about eight hundred years. These are time sequences and dates that anyone can remember from early youth if he but learns them. They serve to give some time proportion and structure to our history. We also know of ancient Chinese, Hindu, and Inca calendars. The age of the universe itself is said to be around 13.7 billion years. We like to know what went on, where, and involving whom.
Some education in time and space statistics, in history and geography, is appropriate to the young whose memories are still alert. It is good to know the where’s and when’s of things. If we do not take the trouble to know what happened in time and space, we will not be able to place things in relation to each other. Everything will come together as if time and space were collapsed into one blurry time and one fuzzy place. Knowledge of times and places is not the most profound kind of learning. But it provides the context and arena for what are the highest things. Again, I mention this point here as such things are best learned when we are young. We do not waste our time when we know more than our own time and place.
But can we not just look up times and places on our cell phone? No one needs to remember anything. The machine will do it for us. Yet, machines do not know relationships, how the Battle of Hastings in 1066 is related to the Plantagenet House of English monarchs. No machine knows that it knows. Yet, there is too much to remember, no doubt of it. Why not let the machine do it? The machine is a helpful tool to memory, no doubt of it. But if nothing is actually in our heads, we will not see how this relates to that. That is what we have a mind for, to see the connections, the order of things.
Pope Francis embraces Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, at the Vatican March 2013. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
On the Eve of Francis and Bartholomew’s Embrace | Christopher B. Warner | CWR blog
Seven cataphatic, or positive, points about the meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch
Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will meet in Bethlehem, Sunday evening, and then pray together in an ecumenical prayer service at the Holy Sepulcher. The events of the weekend can be followed through the official website, Pope Francis in the Holy Land 2014. Let us pray together with Francis, Bartholomew, and the many Christian leaders meeting with them in the Holy Land for authentic unity in Christ.
1. The Embrace: Let us not underestimate the sign of fraternal charity between Francis and Bartholomew on this very significant historical occasion. Fifty years ago, Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras likewise embraced in Jerusalem, lifted the century old anathemas, and began modern Orthodox-Catholic dialogue as we now know it.
2. Progress in Dialogue: A lot of ground has been covered in the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue. The titles of joint documentsproduced by the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation demonstrates how many dividing issues have been wrestled with and how much work has been done. The embrace of Paul VI and Athanagoras was far more than just a nice gesture in a geo-political game. Let us pray that the next fifty years will mark significantly more cooperation and integration between Orthodox and Catholic Christians.
As Dr. DeVille suggests, Eucharistic inter-communion between Orthodox and Catholic churches someday may again be possible and should be ardently prayed for. But Eucharistic communion presupposes theological and canonical harmony. We are getting closer to that goal, but we are still a long way away.
Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras attend a prayer service in Jerusalem in January 1964. Pope Francis will meet Patriarch Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew May 25 during his three-day visit to the Holy Land. The ecumenical session will mark the 50th anniversary of a 1964 meeting between Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras. (CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)
The Pope, The Patriarch, and True Ecumenism | Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille | Catholic World Report
Seven things that true ecumenism, which is rooted in the prayer and desire of Jesus Christ, is not
With the pope of Rome and the patriarch of Constantinople going to Jerusalem this weekend, there is naturally a great deal of conversation and consideration of where Orthodox and Catholic Christians have been and where we might be going. I have discussed some of this elsewhere. Here, however, I want to do something different, following a theological method beloved of many in the Christian East, as well as many Western mystics (St. John of the Cross comes to mind), namely the apophatic or “negative” way. I wish, in other words, to explain what true ecumenism is not.
Let us thus proceed by ruling out seven false forms, or understandings, of Christian unity.
1) Ecumenism is not a Pan-Heresy: Some ignorant and hostile Orthodox bloggers are endlessly recycling the fact-free fantasy of “ecumenism as a pan-heresy.” This ludicrous notion—for which nobody anywhere has ever provided the slightest shred of logical and credible evidence—is used to stir up fear that if Catholics and Orthodox draw closer to one another, it can only mean that one side has destroyed all its truth-claims and given in to the other side. Ecumenism is presented as a zero-sum game; in the words of certain economists: you win, I lose.
If this were, indeed, what the ecumenical task involved, then we could have accomplished it generations, even many centuries, ago: I set a list of demands, and you simply give in to every one completely while, perhaps, scrupling in the mildest possible way about one or two of the least significant—just as the (largely Orthodox) Serbs did before the (largely Catholic) Habsburgs in July 1914.
But the fact that we are still divided should give the lie to this notion: no Catholic or Orthodox hierarch (or theologian) wants to see the other surrendered and lying prostrate before its own side, which is precisely why the search for unity takes so long and is so utterly painstaking. We do not seek the capitulation of the other and the diminution of the truth (the way of the world) but the conversion of ourselves to Christ (the kenotic way), and in so doing we shall discover the unity he demands (about which see #7 below).
St. Brendan (Naomh Breandán) and the whale by Honorius Philoponus from "Novi Orbis Indiae Occidentalis" (1621)
America’s First Mass | John Buescher | Catholic World Report
When was it, where was it, and who said it?
When and where was the first Mass offered in America? No one living today knows the answer to this intriguing question. But we can summarize what we do know about the first Masses in various parts of the New World.
Some legendary accounts of the life of St. Brendan, who was a priest, say he set off in a small boat on a journey to the Isle of the Blessed, sometime around A.D. 512, along with 14 monks and priests. After they landed on Saint Brendan’s Island—wherever that was—he celebrated Mass. There are people who say that elements of the legends of the journey demonstrate that the Irish did have some knowledge of the northeast Atlantic coast of America, so if St. Brendan or some other Irish seafaring priest did arrive there, he would certainly have offered Mass, as he is said to have done in nearly every other place he visited (including, as the legend goes, on the top of a whale in mid-ocean).
Remains of a Norse settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, on the island of Newfoundland, were discovered and excavated in the 1960s. The settlement dates from around A.D. 1000. It was probably not the only settlement the Norse set up in the region, and it was likely that it served as a sort of permanent outpost for shipping lumber and furs to Greenland and perhaps further east. The size and number of buildings suggest that as many as 150 people lived there.
Icelandic bishop Eric Gnupsson, who had been based in Greenland since 1112, “went to seek Vinland” in 1121—presumably to minister to some of his far-flung Catholic flock—but nothing more was reported of him. If he succeeded, he surely offered the first Mass in the New World, perhaps at L’Anse aux Meadows or at another Norse settlement. With the approval of the Norwegian king, a bishop for Greenland was set up and the see was established in the settlement of Garðar. The first bishop, Arnaldur (Gnupsson’s immediate successor in Greenland), arrived there in 1126 and began construction of a cathedral, devoted to St. Nicholas, the same year. The last bishop served until 1378. Archaeologists have excavated the ruins of the cathedral, a cross-shaped church built of sandstone.
The first American Mass for which a record exists took place during the second voyage of Columbus, on the feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1494, at a temporary shelter that would serve as a church at La Isabela, 30 miles west of what is now Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. Five priests accompanied the expedition: Benedictine Father Buil, Jeronymite Father Ramone Pane, and three Franciscan missionary priests. Fr. Buil celebrated the Mass. The settlers built a church on the site, the foundation of which has been excavated (another church building is now at La Isabela). The original settlement was abandoned by 1498 and its settlers moved to the newly established Santo Domingo on the south side of the island.
There is some solid but as yet inconclusive evidence that in that same year of 1498 the first Mass may have been celebrated on the North American continent (apart from the Norse settlements).
Pope John Paul II is assisted by South African President Nelson Mandela at the Johannesburg International Airport in 1995 at the start of the pope's first official visit to the country. (CNS photo/Patrick De Noirmont, Reuters)
John XXIII, John Paul II, and the Quest for Peace in Africa | Allen Ottaro | CWR blog
The two newest Saints have a deep history with Africa, and their teachings offer guidance today and for years to come
These past weeks leading up to the canonization of Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II, have provided a wonderful opportunity to revisit and reflect on their contribution to the Church and the world. This week , at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) organized a two-day event with the theme, “The Church in Africa: From the Second Vatican Council to the Third Millennium”. The conference was a chance to celebrate the contribution of the two Popes to the Church in the continent of Africa.
The two newest Saints have a deep history with Africa. While Pope Paul VI was the first pontiff in history to set foot on the continent when he visited Uganda in 1969, it was Pope John XIII who created the first African Cardinal, Laurean Rugambwa (1912-1997), in 1960. Pope John Paul II made numerous trips to Africa, including three visits to my own country, Kenya, within a span of fifteen years.
However, what has caught my attention, especially in light of recent and ongoing events on the African continent, is what I and my fellow African citizens can learn from these two great Saints as we seek to advance justice and peace.
During the month of April, Africa and the world have been commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. The tragic events in Rwanda are still very fresh for many in the Central African country. The words “Never again” have been used repeatedly, in expressing the commitment that humanity will no longer remain as spectators in the face of the evil of war.
Regrettably, violence which has been described by various international agencies as “genocidal”, erupted late last year in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. And just this week, the world has witnessed what is being described as the “Massacre of Bentiu”, in which hundreds of civilians were killed in a church, a mosque and a hospital in the South Sudanese town of Bentiu.
The current conflict in South Sudan, pitting rebel forces under the command of former Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar, against government troops and President Salva Kiir, began in mid-December and was precipitated by internal power struggles within the ruling party, the Sudanese People Liberation Movement (SPLM). An agreement on the cessation of hostilities signed by the two parties and brokered by the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on the January 23rd, failed to hold, even after weeks of mediation talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Watching a country—whose birth I was old enough to witness—disintegrate so soon, along with the human suffering, death and destruction being experienced, is a sad experience.
I recently turned to Pacem in Terris, the encyclical of Pope John XXIII on “Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity and Liberty”, given on April 11, 1963. Now, the 1960s is significant in various ways in the history of the African continent, besides the many events in the life of the Church. More than thirty African countries gained independence during that period (1960-1969). A few weeks after Pacem in Terris was given, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the African Union (AU) was formed, to promote unity and solidarity of African states in order to achieve a better life for its people.
The first thing that stood out for me in Pacem in Terris is that Pope John XXIII laid out the rights but also duties, beginning with the right to life:
Michael O’Brien’s Literary Icons | Eric Thomason | CWR
Voyage to Alpha Centauri explores familiar and timely themes, but in a very different setting.
Michael O’Brien is a superior storyteller and an increasingly bright light in the Catholic literary firmament. The Canadian native's fiction is reminiscent of Tolkien’s: epic in scope, universal in theme, and filled with ordinary characters facing extraordinary obstacles. An iconographer by trade, O'Brien's novels are literary icons, attracting readers with vibrant imagery in order to invite them into a deeper contemplation of eternal truths. O’Brien’s latest work, Voyage to Alpha Centauri, fits this mold.
Alpha Centauri takes place approximately 100 years in the future, at which time a unified world government is preparing to send several hundred elite scientists, scholars, and government officials to explore a potentially habitable planet in the next solar system. The central character is lapsed Catholic Neil de Hoyos, an aging Nobel laureate whose theoretical work made the journey of exploration possible and whose journal entries make up nearly the entirety of the book. The journey to the planet takes nine years, during which time de Hoyos makes unsettling discoveries about governmental intrusion into the private lives of the voyagers. De Hoyos’ journal entries in this phase of the book explore the nature of government, the basis for authentic human community, and the hubris of utopian efforts to perfect man without reference to the transcendent good of the human person. Recounting a mid-journey subversive speech he delivered on governmental social engineering, de Hoyos writes:
We can harness the atom, but we cannot attempt to absolutely control men’s wills, nor their capacity for rational thought, nor their hunger for freedom, without grave risk to man himself. To condition him, to determine him according to arbitrary theories of his nature—his perpetually elusive and mysterious nature—is to deform him. (p. 135)
The government officials on board are swift to respond to such rhetoric. As in several of O’Brien’s other novels, these officials are the immediate face of evil in Alpha Centauri. They are omnipresent, politically correct, unfailingly polite, and utterly ruthless; one colorful character, a hard-drinking Scottish astronomer, delightfully refers to them as “protocol zombies” (p. 50). Presiding over these bland but powerful bureaucrats and leading the response to de Hoyos’ speech is a particularly loathsome character, Dr. Elif Larsson. In a dramatic but private debate with de Hoyos, he offers his defense of increasing governmental control:
Revolution in Rio is a pulsating 55-minute documentary that will help you experience all the highlights of WYD in Rio de Janeiro in August 2013.
More than three million young people around the world responded enthusiastically to the invitation of Pope Francis, and you can experience that incredible enthusiasm of youth for the challenges presented by the charismatic Pope. Six unforgettable days synthesized in 55 intense minutes that mix humor, fervor, cry and love in joyful symphony. With several wonderful bonus extras.
The film includes many "thriller" moments of celebration, art, and drama, with a dynamic soundtrack and interspersed with brief interviews of young people at WYD. It ends with the prophetic witness of Pope: "Christ is preparing a new springtime in the world".
The DVD also contains 50 minutes of Extras, including the top songs of World Youth Day, the Pope's special speech to young Argentines, a photo gallery, and an extract of the biography of Pope Francisco.
Plus, the first 2,000 copies of this DVD will include a free copy of the CTS Booklet, Pope Francis!
This DVD contains the following language options: English or Spanish
On five days in Rome with 2,000 years of living history and 500 pages of learned guidance
Last week I enjoyed a wonderful five days in Rome. While I'd previously spent a fair amount of time in the city, this was my first return following my conversion to Catholicism in 2010.
I remember a visit in 2007 where I attended a general audience with Pope Benedict XVI and being profoundly moved, even as a Protestant, at the sheer power and draw of the papacy. Since that time, my understanding of the role of the successor to Saint Peter has been considerably enriched and it was with deep appreciation that I attended an audience with Pope Francis last
Wednesday. As the Holy Father made his way through St. Peter’s Square—and the nearly 50,000 in attendance snapped photographs, cheered, and passed their babies to be blessed by him—I couldn’t help but to reflect on the rich symbolism at play. There we were, joyfully witnessing the current successor to St. Peter while only a few hundred feet away from the tomb of St. Peter, as well as many of the other popes throughout the ages. This unbroken chain of succession is something that no other institution on this earth can boast of—giving further witness to the fact that the Catholic Church is more than merely a human institution. Our roots and our origin are to be found in the eternal and the divine. All of this—the churches and cathedrals, the papacy, etc.—are earthly ministries meant to point us toward our heavenly home.
Yet nonetheless, our heritage is essential. Our churches, our stories, and our history shape us and can and should play important roles in enhancing our spiritual lives. That’s why I brought along George Weigel’s newly released Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches(Basic Books, 2013) to accompany me on this past trip. As Weigel explains in his recent CWR interview with Carrie Gress, Roman Pilgrimage documents an important tradition that up until recent years had been neglected. He explains:
The "station churches" of Rome take the pilgrim back to the very first centuries of Christian life in the city, as virtually all of them are associated with early Christian martyrs. To make the pilgrimage to the prescribed "station church" for each day of Lent is to relive the experience of the pope and the people of Rome in the first millennium, when popes led a daily procession through the city to the "station" of the day, where Mass was celebrated and the day's fast broken by a post-Mass communal meal. In addition to being a marvelous way to deepen one's experience of Lent (and Easter Week, for the pilgrimage extends through the Octave of Easter), the station church pilgrimage is also a splendid way to "learn Rome" and to explore some of its hidden artistic treasures.
The book is a real treasure and is a perfect Christmas gift for any Catholic family. As Weigel notes in the introduction, it’s primarily designed to be used at home during the Lenten season, but of course, it’s also a helpful addition to any pilgrim exploring the eternal city. Here are just a few examples:
While at St. Peter’s in Chains, the church that holds the chains believed to have held Peter while imprisoned, Weigel invites the reader to consider more than just the historical significance of relics. Relics are meant to challenge our present living. St. Peter and his relics speak to us today, observes Weigel, by making us ask ourselves the question: “Am I becoming a saint?” Indeed, the path to sainthood is the only thing that can deliver us from slavery and the chains that bind us in this present life.
Consider, too, the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls built on the site where Paul is believed to have been buried. Paul, who converted to the faith after being a great persecutor of Christians. Here, Weigel provides a reflection on the true nature of freedom, a freedom that allows us doing the right thing at the right time. This freedom—a “freedom for excellence”—as St. Paul came to understand, provides the courage to endure all that is necessary for the sake of the gospel.
Back at St. Peter’s Basilica, we encounter Peter, a fisherman who has become a radical disciple of Christ, eventually charged to lead his Church as the first pope. In following Christ, he offered his own life—a life the Church now remembers and celebrates in the Church built above his burial site. “Peter is here because Peter met the Risen Lord,” Weigel reminds us. The resurrection and the hope of Easter is a narrative of life, not death, and the ministry of Peter, and his successors, is one that proclaims that message to the world.
Clocking in at almost five hundred pages, the book takes the reader through every day of the Lenten season and the Octave of Easter. Enhanced by beautiful photographs from Stephen Weigel (George’s son) and commentary from art historian, Elizabeth Lev, the book is part devotional, part history guide. And even though I have returned home from my own trip to Rome, thanks to this wonderful new work, this pilgrim’s journey is really just now beginning.
A Pilgrimage in Rome—At Home | Carrie Gress | Catholic World Report
George Weigel and his photographer son, Stephen Weigel, talk about their book, Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches
One of the best-kept secrets of lived Catholicism in Rome, the station churches pilgrimage, which dates back to the earliest centuries of Christianity, can now be experienced by the faithful worldwide in George Weigel's latest book, Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches(Basic Books, 2013), co-authored with art historian Elizabeth Lev, and featuring the photography of his son, Stephen.
George and and Stephen Weigel spoke recently with Catholic World Report about the new book.
CWR:Roman Pilgrimage is a day-by-day journey to forty historic churches in Rome. What is significant about these holy sites and this "pilgrimage" around the city?
George Weigel: The "station churches" of Rome take the pilgrim back to the very first centuries of Christian life in the city, as virtually all of them are associated with early Christian martyrs. To make the pilgrimage to the prescribed "station church" for each day of Lent is to relive the experience of the pope and the people of Rome in the first millennium, when popes led a daily procession through the city to the "station" of the day, where Mass was celebrated and the day's fast broken by a post-Mass communal meal. In addition to being a marvelous way to deepen one's experience of Lent (and Easter Week, for the pilgrimage extends through the Octave of Easter), the station church pilgrimage is also a splendid way to "learn Rome" and to explore some of its hidden artistic treasures.
CWR: Who do you envision reading this book? Is it just for those who are actually in Rome for Lent?
George Weigel: Roman Pilgrimage is a good way to "do Rome at home"—that is, to make the Lenten station church pilgrimage from your living room or study, a day at a time, reflecting on each day's liturgical texts and getting to know each day's stational church. So the book really is for everyone. Those planning on taking it to Rome as a companion to do at least a part of the pilgrimage might want to order the eBook, which is gorgeous (all photos are in color) and a lot easier to carry around.
CWR: The book is an insider's look at one of the best-kept secrets of those who live in Rome, although it is certainly not new. What do you think makes this book "work" to bring the experience to those who may have never even stepped foot in the Eternal City?
George Weigel: In addition to being a guide book to more than three dozen venerable churches and their unique architectural and artistic histories, Roman Pilgrimage is a spiritual companion to Lent and a means of discovering the baptismal character of the Lenten season, which is for all Christians, not just the Church's enrolled catechumens. In a sense, Lent invites every Catholic to re-enter a kind of catechumenate each year, examining conscience and pondering the ways in which we have and haven't practiced the imitation of Christ during the previous twelve months. The splendid cycle of Lenten biblical and patristic readings at Holy Mass and in the Liturgy of the Hours offers an unparalleled richness of material for reflection, amplified by the experience of beauty as a "rumor of angels" that everyone takes from the experience of the station churches. Thus after making the "Forty Days" through the station church pilgrimage, we can renew the promises of our own baptism with real conviction, and fully appreciate being blessed with baptismal water at the Easter Vigil or on Easter Sunday.
CWR: Art historian Elizabeth Lev also worked on this project with you. What was her unique contribution to the book?
started out the day with a wonderful Mass at Lanciano where a
Eucharistic miracle happened in the 700s. We toured the museum with all
the scientific evidence people enjoyed the gift shop.
Then we were off to the port. It wasn’t a long drive but it was beautiful through the gorgeous landscape of Italy.
We had conversion stories told on the buses along the way. I told
mine on both buses and Mark Brumley shared his as well as Fr. Mark Mary
who told his vocation story.
We arrived at the dock at Ancona Italy and boarded our beautiful ferry. Everyone was surprised how nice the ferry was.
All is beautiful going along Italian coastline and into Greek
Islands. We had an hour meeting to explain procedures and also a mini
“seminar at sea”. We talked about the Battle of Lepanto between the
Christians and the Muslims because will be landing in Patras Greece
tomorrow where the battle took place.
By the way, Patras has the bones of the Apostle St. Andrew, brother
of St. Peter. And it was here that the Catholic armies won the Battle of
Lepanto against the Muslims by the power of the Rosary. If they had
lost, you would all be speaking Arabic today!
The tireless author, apologist, and filmmaker, Stephen Ray, is one of the hosts—along with Mark Brumley (president of Ignatius Press) and Fr. Mark Mary (EWTN "Life on the Rock")—of the Year of Faith Mediterranean Pilgrimage Cruise that is embarking this week and will run through October 27th.
Steve plans to upload videos of the talks and other events to his website:
I will be making daily YouTube videos of our pilgrimage-cruise and uploading them to my blog. I will also be posting the talks and homilies on my blog at www.CatholicConvert.com.
If you want your followers and family and friends to follow the pilgrimage-cruise please give them this link and they can all join us virtually - watch videos every day of the pilgrimage, of Ignatius Press and Fr. Mark and listen to the homilies and talks.
The author presents Fr. Nicolas with a gift at the MAGIS 2013 gathering in Sao Salvador, prior to WYD 2013.
General of the Jesuits encourages youth to be “Ignatian people” | Allen
Ottaro | CWR blog
Adolfo Nicolas, SJ, participates in the pre-WYD program, MAGIS Brasil
city of Sao Salvador da Bahia in North East Brazil, the first capital
of Brazil was the landing point for the first Jesuits in 1549, led by
Fr. Manuel da Nobrega.
July 2013, twelve days before the start of the World Youth Day week
in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Salvador da Bahia welcomed over two thousand
young people from fifty countries. The youth participated in the
Ignatian pre-WYD program, MAGIS
Brasil, which was prepared by the Brazilian Jesuits in
collaboration with other congregations of Ignatian charism and lay
the late 1990s, Jesuits and other Ignatian religious have been
developing innovative programs which ran in parallel with the Papal
World Youth Days in various major cities, offering young people
spaces for prayer, service and companionship. Prior initiatives have
included Loyola XXI in Paris in 1997, Horizon 2000 in Rome in the
Jubilee Year, ANIA in 2002 at Toronto; and then MAGIS
in Köln in 2005, Sydney in 2008 and Madrid in 2011; all
participating alongside the official World Youth Day programs.
was blessed to be one of the over two thousand pilgrims, gathered at
the Jesuit high school, Colegio Antonio Vieira, first being a
three-day opening gathering in Sao Salvador, where all pilgrims were
received, welcomed and introduced to the program. The second part was
a one-week missionary experience divided into five categories:
Pilgrimage, Ecology, Spirituality, Art, Socio-Cultural Insertion and
Social initiatives. Each category had someone, Brazilians or
non-Brazilians as an inspiration, people who have testified their
life stories to life and evangelical service. For example, the
American missionary Sister Dorothy Stang was the inspiration for the
ecology experiences and is remembered for accompanying the life and
struggle of the field workers and indigenous communities in Brazil,
with determination and solidarity, especially in the Trans-Amazon
region. There were about 70 experiences all over Brazil, with twenty
to thirty young people from at least three nationalities, and a team
of people accompanying them.
third part of the program was the gathering in Rio de Janeiro, in
preparation for the start of the official World Youth Day week. The
gathering provided a wonderful opportunity for pilgrims to share
their experiences from the missionary week, and to get ready for the
main WYD events that included the official opening Mass and the
welcome ceremony for Pope Francis.
MAGIS 2013 opening gathering in Sao Salvador, was blessed
with the presence of Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, Superior General of the
Society of Jesus. Besides presiding over the opening Mass, Fr.
Nicolas also had the opportunity to meet with young representatives
of the fifty delegations.
World Youth Day, Liturgy, and the
New Evangelization | Dr. Leroy Huizenga | CWR
Well-formed disciples are shaped and
taught through good liturgy: lex orandi, lex credendi, lex
By the measures of attendance and
enthusiasm, World Youth Day in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, was a smashing
success, as organizers report well over three million energetic youth
on Copacabana Beach for the Saturday vigil and Sunday’s closing
Mass. World Youth Day was conceived by John Paul II as part of his
strategy for a “new evangelization,” a term he first used in 1983
in an address to Latin American bishops. As he later described in
Redemptoris Missio, a “new evangelization” or a
“re-evangelization” was needed “particularly in countries with
ancient Christian roots, and occasionally in the younger Churches as
well, where entire groups of the baptized have lost a living sense of
the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the
Church, and live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel.”
From the first official World Youth Day
in Rome in 1986, then, the events have taken place not in far-flung
virgin mission fields where Christian faith has been unknown but in
cities in countries of longstanding Christian tradition where the
faith has been forgotten, among them Buenos Aires, Argentina (1987);
Czestochowa, Poland (1991); Denver, USA (1993); Manila, Philippines
(1995); Paris, France (1997); Rome (2000); Cologne, Germany (2005);
and Madrid, Spain (2011). And World Youth Days have born fruit for
the New Evangelization. Taken out of the narrow confines of Catholic
life in their particular parishes and communities and given a grander
vision of the Church universal, many younger priests, seminarians,
and religious trace their vocational discernment to their attendance
at a World Youth Day, while many younger laypeople claim to have
discovered a deeper, or even initial, conversion to the Lord and His
Mountaintop experiences do matter: they
shake youth (and adults) out of the boredom of quotidian routine. But
mountaintop experiences are not the norm, as Scripture attests; the
theophany on Mount Sinai was not enough to sustain the people for the
long term, and even after witnessing Jesus’ Transfiguration on
Mount Tabor, Peter, James, and John failed again and again.
Mountaintop experiences are not enough to sustain a person, a parish,
a Church. Indeed, one sees in the Gospels that even repeated
encounter with Jesus Christ, God incarnate, was not always enough to
sustain the disciples. But from a passage late in the Gospel of Luke,
which Pope Francis presented as part of his program for the New
Evangelization, we learn that moving from despair to courage for
mission involves an encounter with the risen Christ in the Eucharist.
The Backbone of the New
If encountering Christ in the Eucharist
empowers mission, liturgy matters, for the Eucharist is celebrated
and generally received in the Mass, now often called the eucharistic
liturgy. In his prepared remarks as well as his off-the-cuff
comments, Pope Francis did not mention liturgy as such. But liturgy
formed the necessary subtext of many of Francis’ remarks, given his
emphasis on the importance of mystery, the imperative of formation,
and the graces of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Liturgy
thus necessarily forms the backbone of the new evangelization.
The Key Themes of World Youth Day 2013 | William
L. Patenaude | CWR
words and actions of Pope Francis in Brazil built directly on the
evangelizing work of his predecessors
valuable lessons came out of World Youth Day 2013. The first is that
the Holy Spirit is intent on igniting with joy and resilience the
post-conciliar Church of the twenty-first century. The second is
that, in large part due to the catechetical influences of Bl. John
Paul II and Benedict XVI, Pope Francis’s flock can better balance
the joys of the Spirit with the Cross of Christ.
will be helpful, then, to ponder some themes from Rio’s World Youth
Day because it is highly likely we’ll be encountering them
repeatedly as an energized Pope Francis shepherds his flock deeper
into the twenty-first century.
and Make Disciples
does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to
everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not
only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming.
It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into
every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem
farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, he wants
everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love.” — Pope
Francis’s closing homily,
World Youth Day, 2013.
bishops, and even laity have said and written much during these past
few years on the New Evangelization. When planning for World Youth
Day 2013 began during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI the time
had come to urge the Church to act. Thus the theme “Go and make
disciples” seemed fitting for an event that draws millions of young
people and many millions more (of every age) through social media.
then Benedict XVI’s doctors told him that he could no longer travel
by air. And it seemed likely that even if he could he might not have
the strength that World Youth Day schedules demand. (One wonders how
much his being unable to travel to Rio de Janeiro influenced his
decision to cede the Chair of St. Peter.)
question of whether the pope would attend World Youth Day vanished
with the papal transition. Pope Francis brought to the world stage a
bold and gregarious personality. He changed the rules of papal
engagement and accelerated the use of social media. He continues to
bring his own style to the papacy, one that resonates in a world of
political uncertainty, economic struggle, and a growing weariness
with impersonal spirituality.
a stronger, younger body than his predecessor’s, Pope Francis began
charging into crowds—which, come to think of it, seems natural to
do for those who espouse an incarnational faith. Once inside the
crowds, whether in Rome or Rio or wherever, he is especially happy
when he meets those on the outskirts.
see the fruits of this charging
in and greeting the outskirts by
listening to those who are not at all enamored with Catholicism but
are attracted to Pope Francis.
A “Laboratory of Ecumenism”: Cardinal Koch Visits Ukraine | Michael J. Miller | CWR
Ecumenical trip marked by candor and optimism
The president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian
Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, visited Ukraine from June 5 to 12, 2013. Upon his arrival the curial official was
welcomed at Borispol Airport by the primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic
Church (UGCC), His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk), and by Archbishop Thomas
Edward Gullickson, apostolic nuncio for Ukraine. Since it was the first journey of the honored
guest to Ukraine, his chief purpose was to meet with the Greek, Latin, and
Armenian Catholic communities and their respective leaders in a country that
Bl. John Paul II had called “a laboratory of ecumenism” during his pastoral
visit in June 2001. Cardinal Koch spent
two days in Kyiv, the capital, then traveled on Saturday to Lviv in Galicia
(Western Ukraine), a Catholic stronghold, and finally on Monday to Uzhorod and
Mukachevo, near the border with Slovakia and Hungary.
Cardinal Koch is also the co-chairman of the Mixed
Commission for Theological Dialogue between Catholic and Orthodox
Churches. In that capacity he held talks,
during his visit, with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church leader, Metropolitan
Volodymyr, of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP), and other representatives of that
Church. He also learned about the
inter-confessional fellowship that takes place within the framework of the
All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, and about the
work of Institute of Ecumenical Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University
(UCU) in Lviv.
Past documents of the official Catholic-Orthodox ecumenical
dialogue have typically ignored or papered over crucial differences in how the
two sides understand Church and authority.
The keynote of Cardinal Koch’s visit, however, was a refreshing candor on the part of the
Catholic speakers. On June 10, in a
lecture at Ukrainian Catholic University, he explained that:
A Schall Report on Things Current and Otherwise | Fr. James V. Schall, SJ | Catholic World Report
Thoughts on moving across the country, teaching, universities, and popes.
packed up my worldly goods at the Jesuit Community in Georgetown, gave many
things away, and shipped other books here to Los Gatos. I flew via San Jose
here on the first day of spring. It is a beautiful place. About seventy retired
or infirm Jesuits live here, many old friends and classmates whom I have but
rarely seen over the years.
What have I been
doing? Once I was set up with the normal household things, the staff and my
nephews set me up with a computer. I can still use my Georgetown e-mail. So the
world is suddenly as close or as far away as it was in Washington.
far, I checked the galleys of two books which are hopefully to be out in the
fall. One is entitled, Rational Pleasures,
to be published by Ignatius Press. I wrote this book while recovering from my
jaw cancer operation during the Spring Semester 2010 when I was not teaching.
The second is called, Political Philosophy and Revelation: A Catholic
Reading, to be published in the fall by the
Catholic University of America Press. In many ways, this book is the summation
of my thinking about the nature, extent, and purpose of political philosophy,
where it fits into the “order of things”.
Also, I put
together for Jameson Books a manuscript entitled Schall at Georgetown: On
Being Liberally Educated. This collection
contains essays that I wrote in The Hoya, Utraque Unum, and other Georgetown journals over the years. It
includes the “Last
Lecture,” that was delivered last December 7 in Gaston Hall. The book is a
reflective summation of what I was doing, or at least thought I was doing,
during my many years at Georgetown. It reflects the memorable influence that
students, colleagues, and friends have had on my thinking about what makes
sense in the world.
Someone asked if I
would return for Georgetown graduation in May. My answer was: “Alas, I shan’t
be able to return for graduation. Missing it will break my heart, but not half
as much as being there.”
Having left a
place for a time, what does one miss?