Recently, Archbishop of Galilee Elias Chacour spoke to the Institute of Catholic Culture about his struggles for peace in the Holy Land. The Vatican Insider recently profiled his take on the Arab Spring. As we have highlighted several lectures on the Arab Spring, I post the link to his article for you here:
The Washington Post had an interesting story recently what it calls a Church “campaign” for the New Evangelization, and highlights a couple local Catholics reaching out to others.
ICC speaker Deacon Keith Fournier published a great article over the weekend on the feast of St. Justin Martyr. An excerpt:
On the Feast of Justin, Martyr, we need new apologists, defenders of the faith, who are unafraid to contend in the marketplace of ideas for the heart and soul of the people of our age. We live in a new missionary age. The Third Millennium of the Christian Church calls us, in the midst of a Western Culture which resembles a new Rome, to defend the faith like Justin did. May the Holy Spirit inspire men and women who, like Justin and his companions, possess the heroic courage this mission will require.
The ICC is working to make resources available to all so that they are prepared to defend their Faith.
Go read the entire article here, and then go out and witness to the Gospel.
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Where have all the religious vocations gone?
The last few decades have shown that watering down the faith doesn’t inspire
May 01, 2013
It can’t be denied that the Church in the West is suffering a pronounced shortage of persons committed to the religious life as priests or nuns. According to a 2012 CARA study, the number of parishes in the U.S. without a resident priest has grown from 549 in 1965 to 3,389 today. Meanwhile, the number of religious sisters has declined from 179,954 in 1965 to 54,018 today, while religious brothers totaled 12,271 in 1965, and 4,477 today. Even in Africa, which has seen a burgeoning priesthood in recent decades, the ratio of laity to priests is still high – 4,875 to 1. These statistics leave many fearing for the future of the Church.
Why are priests and nuns disappearing from the landscape of the Church in the West? One common refrain is that the rule of celibacy is discouraging many potential candidates and that if only married religious became a norm, the predicament would be solved. Many also point to “outdated” Catholic teachings on moral issues such as abortion, contraception and divorce. And certainly, the abuse scandals of the past decade have done nothing to make the road to priesthood and the religious life easier.
These issues are anything but new. A brief skimming of Church history reveals that celibacy has been a challenge since its beginning. A look at those seminaries and religious orders in the U.S. that are bursting at the seams, like St. John Vianney in Denver, Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, MD, Sisters of Life and the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist indicate another theory about the shortage of religious. These stand-out orthodox seminaries and convents support the claim of former Archbishop Elden Curtiss of Omaha, Nebraska: “There are as many vocations today as there have ever been, but the number of vocations a diocese will receive is inversely linked to how liberal [in terms of Catholic doctrine] that diocese has become.” A 2012 CARA study shows a generational difference in “the consideration of vocations” between post-Vatican II Catholics, born 1961-1981, and the millennial generation, born after 1981. Those born on the heels of Vatican II, amidst its wake of liturgical and doctrinal confusion, showed the least interest in religious life, while interest among Millennials (the “JP II Generation,” which has seen galvanizing phenomena like World Youth Day, as well as a gradual return to greater orthodoxy) has gone up.
There are indeed many factors causing the shortage of religious in the West, but perhaps the single greatest cause, as Archbishop Curtiss suggested, is the damage done by a watering down of Catholic teaching and identity. This watering down turns hungry young hearts away because it doesn’t satisfy. They want the reality of the relationship with Jesus Christ, which is demanding in a way that attracts them if presented in its fullness. There are signs of hope in the new generation of young adults, but their discernment depends largely on the dedication of those around them. Catholics need to identify and support with renewed intensity the things that are producing the greatest fruit for the Church’s next generation of religious: weekly Mass attendance, conversation about faith in the home, participation in Eucharistic Adoration, Bible study, retreats, prayer groups, praying the Rosary, and participation in parish ministry.
We have posted the video for the first hour of Robert Reilly’s presentation on Islam, in which he focuses on the theology and history of Islam.
To watch it, click here.
We repost this article for those who are attending the “Islam: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” series with Robert Reilly. In January, Mr. Reilly wrote a fictional dialogue with Christ answering the questions of a recently-deceased Muslim.
I thank His Eminence, the Cardinal Dean, for his words: thank you very much, Your Eminence, thank you.
I also thank all of you who wanted to come today: Thank you. Because I feel welcomed by you. Thank you. I feel good with you, and I like that.
The [first] reading today makes me think that the missionary expansion of the Church began precisely at a time of persecution, and these Christians went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, and proclaimed the Word. They had this apostolic fervor within them, and that is how the faith spread! Some, people of Cyprus and Cyrene – not these, but others who had become Christians – went to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks too. It was a further step. And this is how the Church moved forward. Whose was this initiative to speak to the Greeks? This was not clear to anyone but the Jews. But … it was the Holy Spirit, the One who prompted them ever forward … But some in Jerusalem, when they heard this, became ‘nervous and sent Barnabas on an “apostolic visitation”: perhaps, with a little sense of humor we could say that this was the theological beginning of the Doctrine of the Faith: this apostolic visit by Barnabas. He saw, and he saw that things were going well.
And so the Church was a Mother, the Mother of more children, of many children. It became more and more of a Mother. A Mother who gives us the faith, a Mother who gives us an identity. But the Christian identity is not an identity card: Christian identity is belonging to the Church, because all of these belonged to the Church, the Mother Church. Because it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church. The great Paul VI said: “Wanting to live with Jesus without the Church, following Jesus outside of the Church, loving Jesus without the Church is an absurd dichotomy.” And the Mother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity that is not only a seal, it is a belonging. Identity means belonging. This belonging to the Church is beautiful.
And the third idea comes to my mind – the first was the explosion of missionary activity; the second, the Mother Church – and the third, that when Barnabas saw that crowd – the text says: ” And a large number of people was added to the Lord” – when he saw those crowds, he experienced joy. ” When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced “: his is the joy of the evangelizer. It was, as Paul VI said, “the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing.” And this joy begins with a persecution, with great sadness, and ends with joy. And so the Church goes forward, as one Saint says – I do not remember which one, here – “amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of the Lord.” And thus is the life of the Church. If we want to travel a little along the road of worldliness, negotiating with the world – as did the Maccabees, who were tempted, at that time – we will never have the consolation of the Lord. And if we seek only consolation, it will be a superficial consolation, not that of the Lord: a human consolation. The Church’s journey always takes place between the Cross and the Resurrection, amid the persecutions and the consolations of the Lord. And this is the path: those who go down this road are not mistaken.
Let us think today about the missionary activity of the Church: these [people] came out of themselves to go forth. Even those who had the courage to proclaim Jesus to the Greeks, an almost scandalous thing at that time. Think of this Mother Church that grows, grows with new children to whom She gives the identity of the faith, because you cannot believe in Jesus without the Church. Jesus Himself says in the Gospel: ” But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.” If we are not “sheep of Jesus,” faith does not some to us. It is a rosewater faith, a faith without substance. And let us think of the consolation that Barnabas felt, which is “the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing.” And let us ask the Lord for this “parresia”, this apostolic fervor that impels us to move forward, as brothers, all of us forward! Forward, bringing the name of Jesus in the bosom of Holy Mother Church, and, as St. Ignatius said, “hierarchical and Catholic.” So be it.
Text from page: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/04/23/pope:_mass_on_feast_of_st._george_%5Bfull_text%5D_/en1-685615
of the Vatican Radio website.
The Institute of Catholic Culture, in addition to posting our past lectures online as audio and video files, presents CDs of our lectures at all of local events. To view an entire list of the CD’s available, please click here.
A friend of the ICC wrote in with a link to an article about a new book about building a successful Catholic identity in the U.S.A., saying it reminded him of what the Institute of Catholic Culture is doing. An excerpt of the article:
…the Church has no significant influence on the broader secular culture because so many American Catholics have plunged “unconditionally” into that culture.
The solution, a new subculture, must be based in “a Catholic identity which is outward-looking and which is profoundly and radically committed to evangelization” of the larger culture, the author emphasized.
This subculture must sustain its members and maintain Catholic identity.
“You have to get your identity, values and commitments right or you’re going to be in serious trouble,” he said.
O Death, Where is Your Sting?
O Hades, Where is Your Victory?
CHRIST IS RISEN!
Let all pious men and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward. Let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late, for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour, as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and is generous to the other; he repays the deed and praises the effort.
Come you all, enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly laden: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of his goodness.
Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone forth from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Savior has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it, He has despoiled Hades by going down into its kingdom, He has angered it by allowing it to taste of his flesh.
When Isaiah foresaw all this, he cried out: “O Hades, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world.” Hades is angered because it has been frustrated, it is angered because it has been mocked, it is angered because it has been destroyed, it is angered because it has been reduced to naught, it is angered because it is now held captive. It seized a body, and lo! it discovered God; it seized earth, and, behold! it encountered heaven; it seized the visible, and was overcome by the invisible.
O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and life is freed; Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
(Saint John Chrysostom, Sermon on Pascha)
Rejoice O Queen of Heaven, for He whom though didst merit to bear, has risen from the dead as He said, Alleluia.
Ora Pro Nobis Deum, Alleluia
CHRIST IS RISEN!
As with any great event in our lives, there are some preparations which may be done at a more remote time, and some which can only be done more proximately. Our preparations for the Passover of the Lamb of God are no different. Before Lent, we began to pack our bags for our forty day journey, discarding those things that would only weigh us down on our pilgrimage and packing the essentials to ensure the success of our trip. But now, the goal of our journey is fast approaching, and a more proximate preparation must be made.
It must have been about this time that the faithful Jews began to leave their worldly homes to make their way to the spiritual home, Jerusalem, where all would gather each year for the great festal days of Passover. In like manner, let us lift up our eyes and see the Holy City of Jerusalem set in wondrous array on the horizon of our Lenten Journey. Let us see the Cross of Christ being set up, and the empty tomb being made ready for the entombment of the Savior. For today the Lamb of God makes his way to the Passover, wherein he will pass mankind over from death to life, from slavery to freedom, from the tomb to Paradise. As has been our custom during this Lenten season, let us once again turn to the wisdom of the Church, and sitting at the feet of Saint Gregory Nazianzen, let us continue our preparations for the Passover of God.
We are soon going to share in the Passover . . . prescribed by the law, not in a literal way, but according to the teaching of the Gospel; not in an imperfect way, but perfectly; not only for a time, but eternally. Let us regard as our home the heavenly Jerusalem, not the earthly one; the city glorified by angels, not the one laid waste by armies. We are not required to sacrifice bulls or rams, beasts with horns and hoofs that are more dead than alive and devoid of feeling; but instead, let us join the choirs of angels in offering God, upon his heavenly altar, a sacrifice of praise. We must now pass through the first veil and approach the second, turning our eyes toward the Holy of Holies. I will say more: we must sacrifice ourselves to God, each day and in everything we do, accepting all that happens to us for the sake of the Word, imitating his passion by our sufferings, and honoring his blood by shedding our own. We must be ready to be crucified.
If you are a Simon of Cyrene, take up your cross and follow Christ. If you are crucified beside him like one of the thieves, now, like the good thief, acknowledge your God. For your sake, and because of your sin, Christ himself was regarded as a sinner; for his sake, therefore, you must cease to sin. Worship him who was hung on the cross because of you, even if you are hanging there yourself. Derive some benefit from the very shame; purchase salvation with your death. Enter paradise with Jesus, and discover how far you have fallen. Contemplate the glories there, and leave the other scoffing thief to die outside in his blasphemy.
If you are a Joseph of Arimathea, go to the one who ordered his crucifixion, and ask for Christ’s body. Make your own the expiation for the sins of the whole world. If you are a Nicodemus, like the man who worshipped God by night, bring spices and prepare Christ’s body for burial. If you are one of the Marys, or Salome, or Joanna, weep in the early morning. Be the first to see the stone rolled back, and even the angels perhaps, and Jesus himself.1
In this way, each one of us who has followed Christ during our Lenten journey will enter into the Passover of the Lamb. And having been crucified, having died, and having been buried with Christ, we will also rise with him on the glorious Paschal day.
(1Saint Gregory Nazianzen, Exerpt from a Lenten Homily)
For all of you waiting for your latest ICC A/V fix, you’ll be glad to know we have just posted:
Audio and Video for Bishop Loverde’s presentation on “Light of the World: The Church & Vatican II.“ This is part of our Year of Faith series, so if you weren’t able to join us for the live event, go listen/watch now!
Video for both parts of Fr. Sly’s presentation on the Epistles of St. Clement of Rome.
Audio for the first part of Dr. McGuire’s lecture on “Cyril & Methodius: The Christening of Eastern Europe,” as well as video for both lectures.
Soon all faithful followers of Christ will lay prostrate before His holy passion. Soon the Body of Christ, the Catholic Church, will be nailed to the Holy Cross with her Savior. Soon all of us who have made the great journey of Lent will stand in the cool mist of Easter morning to see for ourselves the Risen Lord. Let us contemplate the mysteries that are before us through the beautiful teaching of Saint Ephrem the Syrian, Father and Doctor of the Church.
Death trampled Our Lord underfoot, but he in his turn treated death as a highroad for his own feet. He submitted to it, enduring it willingly, because by this means he would be able to destroy death in spite of itself. Death had its own way when Our Lord went out from Jerusalem carrying his cross; but when, by a loud cry from that cross, he summoned the dead from the underworld, death was powerless to prevent it.
Death slew him by means of the body which he had assumed, but that same body proved to be the weapon with which he conquered death. Concealed beneath the cloak of his manhood, his godhead engaged death in combat; but in slaying Our Lord, death itself was slain. It was able to kill natural life, but was itself killed by the life that is above the nature of man.
Death could not devour Our Lord unless he possessed a body, neither could hell swallow him up unless he bore our flesh; and so he came in search of a chariot in which to ride to the underworld. This chariot was the body which he received from the Virgin; in it he invaded death’s fortress, broke open its strong room and scattered all its treasures.
At length he came upon Eve, the mother of all the living. She was the vineyard whose enclosure her own hands had enabled death to violate, so that she could taste its fruit; thus the mother of all the living became the source of death for every living creature. But in her stead Mary grew up, a new vine in place of the old. Christ, the new life, dwelt within her. When death, with its customary impudence, came foraging for her mortal fruit, it encountered its own destruction in the hidden life which that fruit contained. All unsuspecting, it swallowed him up, and in so doing, released life itself and set free a multitude of men.
He who was also the carpenter’s glorious son set up his cross above death’s all consuming jaws, and led the human race into the dwelling place of life. Since a tree had brought about the downfall of mankind, it was upon a tree that mankind crossed over to the realm of life. Bitter was the branch that had once been grafted upon that ancient tree, but sweet the young shoot that has now been grafted in, the shoot in which we are meant to recognize the Lord whom no creature can resist.
We give glory to you, Lord, who raised up your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge, by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. We give glory to you who put on the body of a single mortal man, and made it the source of immortality for every other mortal man. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed your body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead.
Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer Our Lord the great and all-embracing sacrifice of our love, pouring out our treasury of hymns and prayers before him who offered his cross in sacrifice to God for the enrichment of us all.
(Saint Ephrem, Excerpt from a Sermon on the Death of Christ)
Today the Church of God reaches the middle of the great journey of Lent. With the help of the wisdom of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, let us reflect upon our journey thus far, always keeping before our eyes the glorious day of the Resurrection of God.
Give thanks, Brethren, to the Divine Mercy Which has brought you safely halfway through the season of Lent. For this favor they give praise to God, thankfully and with devotion, who in these days have striven to live in the manner which they were instructed at the beginning of Lent; that is, those who, coming with eagerness to the Church, have sought with sighs and tears, in daily fasting and almsdeeds, to obtain the forgiveness of their sins.
They, however, who have neglected this duty, that is to say, those who have not fasted daily, or given alms, or those who were indifferent or unmoved in prayer, they have no reason to rejoice, but rather, unhappy that they are, for mourning. Yet let them not mourn as if they had no hope; for He Who could give back sight to the blind from birth (cf. Jn 9), can likewise change those who now are lukewarm and indifferent into souls fervent and zealous in His service, if with their whole heart they desire to be converted unto Him. Let such persons acknowledge their own blindness of heart, and let them draw near to the Divine Physician that they may be restored to sight.
Would that you might seek the medicine of the soul when you have sinned, as you seek that of the body when you are ill in the flesh. Who now in this so great assembly were he condemned, not to be put to death, but to be deprived of his sight only, would not give all he possessed to escape the danger? And if you so fear the death of the flesh, what do you not fear more than the death of the spirit, especially since the pains of death, that is, of the body, are but of an hour, whilst the death of the soul, that is, its punishment and its grieving, has no end? And if you love the eyes of your body, that you soon will lose in death, why do you not love those eyes of the soul by which you may see your Lord and your God forever?
Labor therefore, Beloved Children in the Lord, labor while it is yet day; for as Christ Our Lord says, The night cometh, when no man can work (Jn 4:4) Daytime is this present life; night is death, and the time that follows death. If after this life there is no more freedom to work, as the Truth tells us, why then does every man not labor while he yet lives in this world?
Be fearful, Brethren, of this death, of which the Savior says: The night cometh, when no man can work. All those who now work evil are without fear of this death, and because of this, when they depart from this life they shall encounter everlasting death. Labor while yet ye live, and particularly in these days; fasting from delicate fare, withholding yourselves at all time from evil works. For those that abstain from food, but do not withhold themselves from wickedness, are like to the devil, who while he eats not, yet never ceases from evildoing. And lastly, you must know that what you deny yourself in fasting, you must give to heaven in the poor.
Fulfill in work, Brethren, the lesson of this day . . . lest there come upon you the chastisement of the Jews. For they said to the blind man: Be thou his disciple (Jn 9:28). What does being a disciple of Christ mean if not to be an imitator of His compassion, and a follower of His truth and humility? But they said this meaning to curse the man. Instead it is a truly great blessing, to which may you also attain, by His grace Who liveth and reigneth unto ages of ages. Amen.
(St. Ambrose, Sermon on Lent)