Index : R
"My purpose will be to defend the following thesis: that the Holy Eucharist is Jesus Christ, who is in the Blessed Sacrament both as Reality and as Presence. He is in the Eucharist as Reality because the Eucharist is Jesus Christ. He is in the Eucharist as Presence because through the Eucharist He affects us and we are in contact with Him - depending on our faith and devotion to the Savior living really in our midst." - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
"The Eucharist is a sacrament giving us the real body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus, the Son of God. Although it does not look like the body and blood of Jesus we see on a crucifix, His Real Presence is hidden within the appearance of a small white consecrated host (altar bread). This is a great mystery, something we cannot fully understand." - Lee Ann Schoofs
When Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became man he assumed our human nature by taking on the flesh of Mary. He became man for four reasons: 1) to save us by reconciling us with God; 2) that we might know Gods love; 3) to be our model of holiness; and 4) that we may be partakers of the divine nature. "He himself declared that the reason of His advent among men was this, that He might bring them the assured fullness of a more than merely human life."
"There is so much confusion in professedly catholic circles about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist that someone had better make things clear. We begin to understand what the real presence means once we realize that the Holy Eucharist began in the womb of Mary the moment she told the angel, "be done to me according to your word," God became man and began to dwell among us. God was in the world He made from the moment of creation He had to be. Otherwise the world He created out of nothing would have lapsed into the nothingness from which it came." - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
"Although I have said this before, I wish to emphasize that what I have been doing in these teleconferences, and surely in today's, is carrying out an explicit order of Pope John Paul II. The order is to do everything in my power to restore faith in the Real Presence where it has been lost. Strengthen that faith where it is weak. In the plainest language, Pope John Paul II declares, I repeat, unless faith in the Real Presence is strong, stronger than it is now, I fear for the survival of the Catholic Church in many dioceses in the United States." - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
"In speaking about Holiness it is remarkable how we can overlook the obvious. For example it is obvious that we cannot become holy unless we obtain the extraordinary graces needed to reach sanctity. Hearing about holiness; reading about it; even seeing holiness, does not make one holy. We need grace. It is equally obvious that the graces we need must come to us from Christ since as He told us, "Without Me you can do nothing." If that nothing refers even to salvation, it most certainly refers to sanctification." - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Part of The Most Holy Eucharist Series, a group of six brochures by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
It was the present Vicar of Christ who gave us two terms that describe the modern world. There is a culture of life and a culture of death. The culture of death had become the dominate philosophy of the affluent countries, including our own beloved United States. I never thought I would live to describe the president of our nation as a professional murderer. But he is. As anyone with normal intelligence understands, partial birth abortion is infanticide. It is the murder of a helpless infant. Given the gravity of our subject, I thought this conference should be an exception to our normal procedure. It will be in the nature of a mini-catechism. The questions and answers will be drawn from Pope John Pauls encyclical On the Gospel of Life. In the limited time at our disposal, we will have to choose and pick from the Holy Fathers encyclical. We will cover the following areas: present day threats to human life, the Christian message concerning life, Gods holy law and how to re-Christianize America for a new culture of human life.
In the opening lecture which I will give after this introduction, on the re-evangelization of America: a responsibility of the laity. In order to achieve this notice re-evangelization the language is the Holy Fathers to achieve this re-evangelization the laity has certain obligations: to understand their Catholic Faith, to live their Catholic Faith faithfully, to pray their Faith by a growing union with God, to share their Faith by personal should be personal conversation and active evangelization; and finally and crucially to suffer for their Faith by uniting their trials physically and spiritual in union with Christ for the conversion of sinners and the extension of Christs kingdom.
My purpose in this presentation is to ask four questions and try within one hour to answer them. Why does America have to be re-evangelized? What does re-evangelization mean? Why are the Catholic laity mainly responsible for this re-evangelization? How is this re-evangelization a call to martyrdom?
The greatest means of converting souls is one more Mass, one more Mass during the week, and, with sacrifice, two or three more Masses; if possible, daily Mass, to pay for the eternal salvation of souls so dear to you. That is the great thing - the Chalice filled with the Precious Blood. You will never see souls go astray if you pay the ransom, hearing one more Mass, two, three, four, and, if possible, daily Mass, with sacrifice; then you are apostles, paying the ransom for the Sacred Heart.
There is no substitute for experience, especially the experience of suffering. That is why what the Holy Father, John Paul II, has to say about suffering is so revealing. He understands, from experience, and that is one reason why his words come from the heart and reach the hearts of those who hear them or read what he says. Wherever the Pope goes, and to whatever group he speaks, his message on suffering is always the same: Be patient and endure the cross of Christ, but at the same time seek to find ways of relieving human suffering caused by hatred, injustice and greed.
Father Hardon was a determined, strong-willed man who loved the Church and the sacraments. What an example he has set for us on the importance of Confession, on the determination we, too, should have to have our Confessions heard regularly.
These are my private thoughts and musings, yet as I re-read them it occurred to me that these certainly are not just my experiences. These words can apply to just about anyone who spends time in the Lords presence. So, please enjoy reading and reflecting on these words as I do, and hopefully your heart will be as filled as mine is with the awe and wonder of being here in His presence. -- Andy Cirmo
Credo asked some who have known Fr. John Hardon to tell us about the
impact the Jesuit had in their lives. "He was a man of holiness" From
Dominic Aquila, Provost Ave Maria College, Ypsilanti This summer when I
came to the position of provost here at Ave Maria College, Ave Maria Press
had just received the publishing rights to Fr. Hardon's manuscripts. I met
with him so that he might speak about his vision for carrying on his work.
I had met him only once before, at a conference, but had been following
his work for many years and even reviewed his book A Treasury of Catholic
Religious bodies that adhere to Calvinism are called Reformed Churches according to the proper present-day use of the term. By this usage they are distinguished from the Lutheran or Evangelical Churches that believe in justification by faith alone but that reject the Calvinist view of predestination.
Reformed Churches are lineal descendants of the church of John Calvin, and therefore collateral relations of the Presbyterian bodies in Europe and America. But whereas Presbyterianism is mainly an Anglo-Saxon development through the Scot John Knox, the Reformed groups derive from Calvin directly. Their immediate ancestors are the Calvinists in France, Switzerland, and the Low Countries.
Few men since the turn of the century and no American in the past generation have made a greater impact on the Protestant mind than Reinhold Niebuhr
.Our interest here is to examine Niebuhrs thought against the background of Catholic principles, not critically but rather descriptively, and in the light of his own frequent analysis of Roman Catholicism. It is symptomatic of a grave need that, for all our apparent nearness to one another, Catholics should be largely unaware of how incisively the leading spokesman for American Protestantism has written about their own religious culture.
The anti-Catholic bias of the Encyclopaedia Britannica has been noticeably decreasing in the last twenty years
.It is unfortunate, therefore, that these editors did not go far enough in clearing their publication of all prejudice against the Church, especially when so many Catholic institutions use the Britannica as a standard reference work but always have to warn their people against the articles on religion, which are frequently tainted with heresy and sometimes are openly hostile to Catholic thought. A real contribution to the cause of Christ in England and America would be a critical analysis, from the Catholic viewpoint, of all the articles on religion and Church History which appear in the Encyclopedia Britannica. Only a sample of what should be done, can be given here.
American public education is undergoing the most serious crisis in the history of the country. The issue at stake is the character of tax-supported schools in a democratic society. Opposing sides are both appealing to the Constitution to promote their own concept of education. Religionists argue that every citizen has a right to the knowledge of God and the moral law, which the schools along with the churches and the home should supply. Secularists appeal to liberty of conscience, which they claim is violated whenever religion is taught under civil authority. The conflict runs deep into the national culture and goes back to the early history of America. It has currently reached a stage of development that deserves to be better known by Catholic teachers and educators.
Books on comparative religion are mainly of three kinds: the informative kind, whose purpose is to review in more or less detail the beliefs and practices of various religious systems; the analytic, which presume on the information and go on to evaluate a number of living (or archaic) faiths according to certain normative principles; and the projective, where an author combines factual data and personal theory to anticipate what the future of mans religion may (or should) be like.
Never before were there more urgent reasons to learn about the religious faith and practices of other people, beyond the universal instinct to know all we can about our fellowman in order better to know ourselves.
It is only a concession to common usage that we may speak of primitive peoples or of a primitive religion. Strictly speaking there are no genuine primitives anywhere on earth today. Evidently we have no direct knowledge of the earliest beginnings of religion and therefore of the true chronological primitive. Our observation of present-day backward tribes does not obviate this difficulty, for such people are after all our contemporaries, with as long a history behind them as our own and the possibility of degeneration cannot be excluded. Simply to equate the backward with the actual primitive is uncritical and unwarranted.
Hinduism can better be described than defined. It is less a religion than a religious culture, and less creedal than ethical or racial, which historically identified the people living in a particular region, namely, beyond the Indus River, which runs in a southwestern direction from the present State of Kashmir to the Pakistan city of Karachi. The correlative words Hindustan, Hindi, and the modernized India have the same origin.
Apologists of Buddhism describe it as the richest, broadest and most lasting of Aryan religions. Yet the name itself is of recent origin and refers to the vast system of teachings that trace their ancestry to the Indian sage, Gautama or the Buddha, who lived and died about the fifth century before the Christian era. There is even question of whether Buddhism should be called a religion and not rather a religious culture, which has permeated Asia to the point where it is impossible correctly to estimate the number of professed Buddhists in the world. Figures range from less than two hundred million, to more than five hundred million, with the lower number closer to reality.
Jainism is a sectarian offshoot of Hinduism, whose origins are traditionally dated with the lifetime of Vardhamana Mahavira (599-527 B.C.), a contemporary of Buddha. The name itself is derived Jina (conqueror), which his followers applied to Mahavira in much the same sense that Gautamas disciples called him the Buddha or "enlightened one."
Confucianism is the whole body of religious, ethical and political doctrine which Confucius gathered together from antiquity, personally taught by word, writing and example, and passed on to his successors. It is this same body of doctrine which Mencius in the pre-Christian era consolidated into a compact system and to which Chu His in the early Middle Ages gave the naturalistic interpretation that, at least in learned circles, has prevailed into the present century. Some historians prefer to consider Confucianism neither a religion properly so-called nor a system of philosophy, but a way of life that for our two thousand years has inspired the religious sentiments of the Chinese people and given them ethnic solidarity. Having no creed, priesthood, or ecclesiastical organization, it is yet a religion in the broad sense of an expression of belief in spiritual reality and of mans ultimate attitude towards the universe. Confucianism makes no claim to an original divine revelation, and its sacred books are highly respected but, unlike the Koran of Islam or the Vedas of Hinduism, are not considered supernatural communications to chosen prophets or seers.
Taoism, which literally means the religion of the "Way" (Tao), has had the most chequered career of the three main religious cultures of China. According to its own historians, it once commanded respect from the nations leaders, until Confucianism replaced it as the guardian of the State. For a time, too, it appealed to the simple and uncultured people, but then Buddhism came along to win the alliance of the masses. Its final and present stage is an elaborate complex of polytheism, whose priests are regarded as the most expert magicians and exorcists, yet whose philosophy has won the admiration of Western scholars. Historians of China regard Taoism as perhaps the most characteristic of the Chinese people. In its fundamental concept, Taoism has always been a worship of nature inside and outside of man, and an attempted harmony between the two. The perfect man, in Taoist language, is not the person who obstructs nature, but who gives himself completely over to nature, thereby producing what some have called the highest ethical standards of the Chinese character, and others a repudiation of all objective law.
Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest living faiths, and yet it has the smallest number of adherents. Although its ancestry is traceable to the sixth century before Christ, there are less than two hundred thousand professed Zoroastrians, only the Parsis in India and a small community in Persia (modern Iran). But their religion merits careful study because of the attention it has received in the history of Western thought, and because of the influence which many scholars believe it exercised on other religious cultures. "Christianity," according to a modern writer, "claims to be the heir of the prophets of Israel. If there is any truth in this claim, it is no less heir to the Prophet of ancient Iran, little though most Christians are aware of the fact." (R.C. Zaehner, Living Faiths (Zoroastrianism), 1959, p. 209).
The origins of Shinto are lost in the dim past of Japanese history, and over the centuries its role has been to integrate with other systems, notably Confucianism from China and Buddhism from India, to give the people of Japan the most complex religious amalgam in the Orient. At the same time Shinto has served to consolidate the nation and became the religious expression of patriotism, where the divine right of kings, familiar in the West, was an object of faith and the emperor a descendant of the gods.
Sikhism is one of the least known living religions of the world, and yet one of the most interesting from the viewpoint of comparative history. Although practically confined to a single province of the Indian Republic, the Punjab region in the north-western part of the country, the Sikhs have made more than a proportionate contribution to the religious culture of their times. They are sometimes lightly dismissed as a hybrid of two old religions, Islam and Hinduism, made into one, as though it were really possible to fuse two such completely different concepts of life. Or again they are described as Hindus who have simply grafted Moslem monotheism on to the trunk of the ancient Vedas; that most of their other doctrines are taken directly from Hinduism, with little if any change. Sikhism, therefore, is an example of conscious syncretism and one of the few that has ever been successful.
Judaism is the oldest living religion of the Western world, and historically is the parent of Christianity and Islam, which together count one half the population of the human race. The pre-Christian phase of Judaism is not our concern, both because its vital elements have remained substantially unchanged and because, paradoxically, the Jewish people have greatly changed since the coming of Christ---and our interest is in the religious cultures of the present day.
Christianity is unique in the history of world religions. Its ancestry derives from almost two millennia of Judaism, whose prophets for centuries had foretold the coming of a great religious leader who would establish a new spiritual kingdom on earth; its origins are rooted in extensive historical facts, from the birth of Christ to His crucifixion and resurrection from the dead; its message centers around a core of doctrines which Christ revealed to His followers not as a philosophy of speculation nor even primarily as an ethic for self-conquest, but as mysteries whose inner essence lies beyond human reason, yet on whose acceptance would depend human salvation; its character from the beginning was social in the most comprehensive sense of that term, with a communal structure, a body of truths, rites and obligations that had for their purpose not merely the personal sanctification of those who believed, but their corporate unification and internal consolidation by the invisible Spirit of God.
Not the least difficulty in writing about Catholicism is the problem of isolating the subject. The history of the Catholic Church is so closely woven into Christian civilization that the one cannot be told fairly without the other, and to do justice by the Church would mean to retell the story of Christianity. Moreover not only Catholics claim the first millennium of Christian history as their own. The Orthodox and Protestants might therefore resent having all the centuries from Christ to Photius and Caerularius, or to Luther and Calvin, called Catholic instead of simply Christian. Practically speaking, however, there is no choice except to treat the first thousand years in the East and fifteen hundred in the West under Roman Catholicism. The characteristic features of the latter today are imbedded in the Churchs life before the Eastern Schism and the Reformation; Catholicism makes the claim of continuing these features and retaining them substantially unchanged through all the vicissitudes of time; and, most importantly, the institution of the papacy is a historical phenomenon that reaches back to the early centuries to give Christianity that cohesion which even the sharpest critics of Catholicism are willing to admit while they deplore, in Harnacks phrase, the lot of those who have subjected their souls to the despotic orders of the Roman papal King. (Adolph Harnack, Das Wesen des Christentums, Leipzig , 1933, p. 164.).
To most Christians, Mohammedanism is only a vague religious movement that somehow gave rise to the Crusades and that presently affects the culture and political aspirations of certain people in North Africa, the Near East and Pakistan. Actually Mohammedanism is the most powerful force among the living religions outside of Christianity, and to many observers its greatest competitor for the spiritual domination of the world. The correct name of Mohammedanism is Islam, which Mohammed himself adopted as a description of the faith he proclaimed. Grammatically Islam is the infinitive of a verb that means to resign, submit, or surrender, by implication oneself or ones person to God. Those who profess it are called Muslims, of which the Western form is Moslems, meaning "believers" who offered themselves to God, as distinct from Kafirs or Mushriks, "the rejectors" of the divine message of salvation. Moslems dislike the word Mohammedan because it suggests worship of Mohammed, even as the term Christian implies the worship of Jesus Christ.
Eastern Orthodox writers justly complain that for over a thousand years Christianity has been identified with Europe. In the eyes of Asiatic and African people, Christendom is a West religion and its culture equated with the civilization of Western Europe. Yet almost one-fourth of all contemporary Christians do not belong to the West but call themselves Eastern and their religious position Orthodoxy. Geographically the Eastern Oriental Churches form a vast triangle, whose base is twelve thousand miles long, reaching across the Russo-Siberian plain from Petzamo in the West on the Arctic Ocean, to Alaska in the East where the Indians were evangelized by Russian missionaries in the last century. The western side of the triangle cuts through Finland, Estonia and Latvia, goes south towards Galicia and the Carpathian mountains, divides Yugoslavia in half, touches Albania on the Adriatic Sea and reaches the southern apex of the triangle in Egypt. On its eastern side, it passes across Palestine and reaches all the way to Japan and Korea. The great majority of Eastern Christians now live within this area, with substantial numbers in other countries, including the United States, as descendants of immigrants from the original Orthodox triangle.
There is a legitimate sense in which Protestantism refers to all Christian movements, other than the Roman Catholic Church, that share the heritage of Western Christianity. Even the Churches of Eastern Orthodoxy have been called "Protestant," because they place the seat of ecclesiastical authority outside the papacy and within the believing community. But these are extensions of a term that has historical rootage. Protestantism as a type of the Christian religion stems from the Reformation, and especially from the work of Luther and Calvin. Four hundred years have changed many things in Protestantism, but they have not effaced the spirit and theological emphases first created by the Reformers in the sixteenth century. Indeed every effort at renewal within Protestant ranks has been based on the principles of the Reformation, whose importance in religious history can scarcely be exaggerated. It marked a turning point in Western civilization and developed a form of religion that is baffling in its complexity, and yet so influential there is no part of Christianity whose life has not been affected by the faith and polity of Protestantism.
The origin of the Old Catholic movement goes back to Reformation times, and its theological principles derive from a Calvinist theory of grace. As a historical phenomenon the movement is sometimes described almost exclusively in terms of national aspirations that came into conflict with Rome. This is correct enough as a partial explanation, but fundamentally the issue was not a tension between groups of zealous Catholics in Belgium or the Low Countries striving to rise above their environment and inhibited by papal authority; it was mainly a clash of two opposing theologies of mans relations with God, the Catholic, which holds that human nature has been elevated to a higher than natural order, and the Jansenist, which claimed that such elevation never took place, so that when Adam fell he lost for himself and posterity not the gifts added to nature but something essential to nature itself.
Vocations to the priesthood and the religious life depend on good religious education as the harvest depends on a good soil. Vocations prosper when religious education in the home and school is true to its Catholic heritage; when parents and teachers seriously proclaim the Faith of our Fathers, when they train the young in the Christian virtues of obedience, chastity and selfless charity, and lead the souls under their care to a healthy fear of sin and a loving devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Diarmuid OMurchus "Religious Life: A Prophetic Vision" is a revolutionary book.
OMurchu is a social psychologist whose published writings reveal a radical mind. He claims that what Catholics still call the religious life can no longer be contained within the framework of Christianity. Otherwise, in his own words, the vowed life is doomed to stagnation and death. He devotes over two hundred and fifty pages to outline the revolution that must take place in consecrated life in the Catholic Church. My plan in this analysis is to identify the main ideas on which OMurchu bases his thesis. After each presentation, I will evaluate these ideas from the perspective of authentic Catholic doctrine.
My purpose in this conference is to get just one idea across--a crucial one on which everything else depends: to show that religious life today is going through the most serious crisis in its history.
It must seem strange that we should be reflecting on the meaning of such fundamentals of religious life as poverty, chastity and obedience. Why not talk about their sublimity or dignity, or concentrate on their practice? Why all this preoccupation with the meaning of this and the meaning of thatespecially of such prosaic commodities as the three vows? Well, they were perhaps prosaic sometime ago, but they are anything but that today. Volumes are being written, rewriting the essence of religious life and, in the process, redefining the evangelical counsels, including the virtue and the counsel and vow of obedience.
One of the most providential developments in the Catholic Church, through the Second Vatican Council, has been the extraordinary emphasis on the Liturgy in the life of the faithful: priests, religious and the laity. Unfortunately this liturgical renewal has not always been wisely interpreted. Not the least problem affecting the Church today is the misreading of what the Council taught and, in some instances, a positive indifference to, by now, the extensive teaching of the Holy See on how the Sacred Liturgy is to be celebrated and what norms are to be followed if the inspired directives of the Churchs latest and most comprehensive ecumenical gathering are to bear the fruit desired by the Holy Spirit.
There seems to be a special value in writing about authenticity in the religious life in our time. If there is anything that the modern world abhors it is pretense. It can forgive a person for not being intelligent or educated, for not being skilled or trained, even for not being a law abiding citizen. What it despises is make-believe, where a person claims to be what he is not, or professes to possess what he does not have. Such descriptions as counterfeit and phony, artificial and imitation, are only symbolic of a deep-felt need in our day for honesty and sincerity.
It is no secret to anyone familiar with the scene in countries like America, that two very different concepts of the religious life are widely professed. One view sees religious life firmly rooted in history, tracing its lineage back through the founders of existing communities
Another view of religious life is not only different but antithetical. It is willing to admit the past, even to call it "a glorious past." But it goes on to say that, in our age, this past is gone; and all the wishful thinking or wishful longing for its preservation has become fancy
Behind each view is really a different concept of the Church, in other words, a divergent ecclesiology.
is to state without apology that there is only one authentic concept of religious life, namely the first one; that its origins are divine because Christ, who is God, practised this form of life; and to this day calls men and woman to follow Him in living the way He did, a life of the evangelical counsels.
If Jesuit Father John A.Hardon has his way, Catholic children and adults will return to learning the basics of their faith by memorizing catechism questions and answers word for word, as they did until the 1950s, when the Baltimore Catechism was the standard instructional tool.
Christ instituted the sacrament of the priesthood for three reasons, three fundamental reasons. The first reason is so that the Holy Eucharist would be possible. We need the Priesthood in order to have the Holy Eucharist: the Sacrifice sacrament of the Mass; the Communion sacrament of Holy Communion; and the Presence sacrament of Christs Real Presence. No priesthood, no Eucharist.
Parents have the grave primary duty to educated and train their children in the Catholic faith, in Catholic worship and in morality. Why? In order to prepare them for eternal life in heaven. In one declarative sentencethe purpose or goal of Catholic education is heaven. And the only reason under God that parents even should bring children into the world is to prepare them for heaven. It would be shear madness to bring children into the world for "just" this world. Lord, spare us!
Faith in Our Lords resurrection from the dead is also a fact of recorded history. It is part of Catholic catechesis, which I wish to stress during this meditation. In other words, I want to bring out as clearly as I can the importance of explaining the mystery of the Resurrection, so that we in turn can pass on this revealed truth and its implications in the lives of others.
If there is one hidden theme in the New Testament, it is the fact that while Christ certainly wants His followers to imitate Him in carrying His cross and to deny themselves to prove that they are His disciples, at the same time He promises them not only an eventual and eternal glory with Him in heaven, but already on this earth, a deep-souled happiness.
My plan is to make this a Retreat on "The Essentials of the Religious Life"; more specifically, it is the Retreat that the Holy Father himself wants us to make during this Holy Year of the Redemption. For some of us it will be the last Retreat we will make during a Holy Year.
Over the centuries all the Bishops of Rome have shown a remarkable affection for Religious. They have sensed as of by divine instinct that the welfare of the people of God depends on no small measure on the loyalty of dedicated men and women Religious in living up faithfully to their vows.
As you recall, this is, the first of the essential elements, the non-negotiables that the Holy Father singles out as on trial in the Church today. As he calls it, the first substantial element is a special call from God. We might begin by asking ourselves why it is important to go into this subject or for our purpose, why the Holy Father makes this the first of the essentials.
As we have seen, the first essential element of religious life according to Pope John Paul is: "a vocation given by God." But a vocation has a purpose. People are called by God in order to do something. What is this something to which those who are religious have been called? They have been called, says the Pope - again I quote - "to an ecclesial consecration to Jesus Christ."
As we have so far seen, Pope John Paul told the American Bishops that the consecration of Religious to Jesus Christ is "through the profession of the evangelical counsels by public vows." The Pope further identifies the sources of the Church's teaching, especially the Second Vatican Council. And then he ends by declaring where this doctrine on the vows is found in definitive, legislative form, namely, the new Code of Canon Law. My purpose will be first of all to see what the Code says in general about the three counsels that a Religious undertakes to practice under vows, and then we shall concentrate first on the counsel and vow of chastity, and reserve the next two vows for later reflection.
We are as you know concentrating on the religious vows and specifically how the Church's new Code of Canon Law legislates how the vows are to be observed. There is no single aspect of consecrated life on which the Church's Code of Law spends more time, devotes more canons, is more explicit than on the practice of poverty.
"The evangelical counsel of obedience, undertaken in the spirit of faith and love in the following of Christ Who was obedient even unto death obliges submission of one's will to lawful superiors who act in the place of God when they give commands in accordance with each Institute's own Constitutions."
What we're doing, of course, is continuing our meditations on the Holy Father's essential elements of religious life. Before we proceed further, it may be useful to note that the Pope combines two kinds of fidelity; both, he says, required as substantials in the religious life: fidelity to the charism of the founder, and fidelity to sound tradition.
Canon 670: "A religious institute is a society in which in accordance with their own law the members pronounce public vows and live a fraternal life in common." Community life is of the essence of religious life.
By way of introduction, let me first give a short preview of all the canons to see the logic in the Church's careful handling of this vast subject. Then we will take each aspect separately and devote, with apologies, no less than four conferences in sequence to the apostolate of religious, touching on every important phase of what needs to be better understood among religious in our day.
"Institutes which are wholly directed to contemplation always have an outstanding part in the Mystical Body of Christ. They offer to God an exceptional sacrifice of praise. They embellish the People of God with very rich fruits of holiness, move them by their example and give them increase by a hidden, apostolic fruitfulness. Because of this, no matter how urgent the needs of the active apostolate, the members of these institutes cannot be called upon to assist in the various apostolic ministries."
I believe that the simplest distinction is to say that there are in the Catholic Church two extremes. There are strictly cloistered communities that are properly called contemplative and there are communities that are not cloistered but are engaged in a wide variety of active apostolic labors. Between these two forms of consecrated life is a wide variety of institutes some more cloistered at one extreme and others more active at the other extreme.
We have also seen how much the Church looks for from the apostolic zeal of contemplative communities, bidding them to advance the kingdom of God on earth by their life of prayer and solitude, penance and self denial. They are, as it were, the supernatural arsenal on which the Church depends in her conflict with the powers of darkness. We finally saw how demanding are the Church's requirements of those who belong to what are called Institutes of apostolic activity. They are to make the hard combination of cultivating the zeal of a St. Paul combined with the intimate union with Jesus practiced by Our Lady.
We would expect the Church's new Code of Canon Law to be clear and explicit on the practice of prayer by religious, as persons dedicated to the consecrated life. In order to do justice to a vast subject, the matter will be covered in three stages: first, prayer in general; then, the place of the Holy Eucharist in religious life; and finally, the role of penance as sacrament and practice among religious.
We should expect that the New Code of Canon Law would be very specific in directing religious to be very devoted to the Holy Eucharist. Why? Because the Church has already told us that the Holy Eucharist is the center of every religious community. If the Eucharistic Christ is objectively the center, evidently we should respond by making Christ central in the Eucharist in our lives. Among many passages on the Holy Eucharist in the Code, to be exact pages and pages, the following Canon bears directly on us: "Each day the members of religious communities are to make every effort to participate in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, to receive the most Holy Body of Christ and to adore the Lord Himself present in the Sacrament."
By way of introduction we might note that we are here being told three things; there are three nouns and three verbs and adverbs. First, earnestly to strive for conversion; conversion, to be striven for earnestly. Second, the conscience to be examined daily; and third, the Sacrament of Penance to be received frequently. We then have the logical outline for our reflections: conversion, examination, and the Sacrament of Penance.
The new Code of Canon Law is remarkably clear and very detailed on the subject of continuing or lifelong formation of religious. There are many canons dealing with formation before first vows, but that is not the subject of our reflections. There are new canons, quite unknown in the Church's Canonical history before, specifying and obligating religious to have formation after their vows.
Against the background of our last conference on the need of a lifetime formation in the religious life, I wish now to offer three meditations on three successive areas of crucial need for the formation of religious in our day. I say crucial because in my judgment, the single greatest necessity among religious men and women in modern times is sound education in Catholic doctrine.
In our present conference, we go a step further and again rely on the Nicene Creed. "We believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church." As we did before, so now, let us consider each of the four marks as they are called. The four marks of identity by which the Church founded by Christ is recognized. As we meditate on the meaning of these four marks, let us apply each Truth to our own religious lives.
The Church wants us to be continually educated, trained, from entrance into a Community up to eternity. We now wish to consider doctrinally, from the viewpoint of the Church's dogma or teaching, "What is religious life?" As our source of doctrine, we take the definition of religious life from the new Code of Canon Law, and isolate those elements in the Church's definition that need to be especially stressed in teaching and training religious all through life, about what we become when we become religious.
Remember that we are reflecting during this retreat on the Holy Father's essential elements of Religious Life. The second to the last of these substantials according to Pope John Paul reads, "A form of Government calling for Religious authority based on faith." It is essential, therefore, for authentic Catholic Religious life to have a form of government calling for Religious authority based on faith. In this reflection, we shall limit our reflection to the simple statement of the Holy Father rather than try and go through the scores of Canons on government listed in the New Code of Canon Law. We shall see what he means and apply the meaning to our lives.
In Pope John Paul's own words, he identifies the closing essential element in Religious life as "a special relation to the Church." Religious life is nothing - if not ecclesial. It is the Church, the ecclesial, that preserves Christ's revelation about the evangelical counsels. It is the Church which recognized the authentic charism of saintly persons, who then became founders of Religious Institutes. It is the Church which authorized the establishment of individual Religious communities. Finally, it is the Church which regulates the life of religious; approve their constitutions; and decides what may or may not be done by religious.
Today's feast, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, was instituted by the late Pope Paul VI. He explained in his Apostolic Exhortation, Marialis Cultus (The Veneration of Mary), why this feast was established and he gave five reasons: 1) was to commemorate the role played by Mary in the mystery of salvation; 2) to exalt Mary's dignity as the one to whom we have received the Author of life; 3) to renew our adoration to the new born Prince of Peace; 4) to meditate on the glad tidings announced by the Angels at Jesus' birth; and finally, 5) to implore through the Queen of Peace, for a war torn world, the supreme gift of peace.
I would like to call this a retreat of faith. The longer I live in the priesthood and the more souls I come into contact with the more certain I become that what most people mostly need to grow in holiness in the modern world is a deep abiding faith. Rather than rely on my own wisdom and insight, let me quote in sequence from the addresses of our Holy Father to three groups of people - to bishops, to priests, and to religious. In every case and on every feasible occasion the Vicar of Christ tells his audiences that what persons in every state of life should mainly look to, seek to preserve and grow in is their faith. Provided the faith is sound everything else is secure. Trials and suffering are the lot of every human being in this valley of tears, but the very crosses we bear or the pains we endure take on meaning and become valuable assets to heaven on one condition: that those who endure have the faith. With faith everything makes sense, without faith everything in life is nonsense.
Part one, Christ foretold to His followers that they would be opposed: the servant will not be greater or different than the Master. Second, He predicted that the opposition would come from the outside but also from the inside. Third, He promised the Holy Spirit to those who in their loyalty to Him would be opposed. Finally, He gave the reason for the opposition. He would permit His followers down the centuries to experience all kinds of enmity. Why? In order thus to witness to His Name.
The opening article of the Apostles Creed proclaims the first and primary mystery of our faith. It is not only placed first, it is first. Unless this first article is true nothing else is believable. "I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth." My purpose here will be to do two things: first, briefly explain what we mean by the mystery of faith expressed in each article, then at greater length, or at least with greater personal importance, comment on how this truth of faith is to be lived out in our own lives; because the Apostles Creed is not only to be believed, it is also and with emphasis to be lived.
In the second article of the Creed we say, "I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord." If in the first article of the Creed we found seven truths, in this one we find four. There are four mysteries locked up in this second article of the Apostles Creed. They are Jesus, and Christ, and the Only Son of God, and our Lord.
We are on the subject of faith as specifically the third article of the Apostles Creed. Preceding the third article, we've already affirmed, "I believe in Jesus Christ," and now "Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary." Immediately we see there are two mysteries of faith professed in this article. First, that the Son of God, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became Man through the operation of the Holy Spirit. And second, that He was born of the Virgin Mary.
"I believe in Jesus Christ
Who suffered under Pontius Pilate, died and was buried." We divide this article into four parts, namely, the Passion of Christ under Pontius Pilate, Christ's crucifixion, His death, and His burial.
This a profession of our faith in what Christ did after He was crucified and it contains two statements of revealed fact, namely, He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead.
The second, third, fourth and fifth articles of the Creed profess our faith in Christs earthly visible presence. The sixth proclaims our faith in Christ's presence beyond this world in heaven. "He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty." We consequently believe in two distinct mysteries: the ascension which took place in time and Christ's continued presence at the right hand of His Father which began in time but is destined never to end.
What do we call this judgment? We call this the general judgment or again the final or the social judgment or the total judgment. Each of these names, honored by the Church, has its own special meaning. It is to be the general judgment because the whole human race is to be judged and not as happens when each one of us dies, when we receive a particular judgment. This is the universal judgment. It is to be the final judgment because there will be no other of anyone after that. It is to be a social judgment because the whole society of mankind from Adam to the last person to be born will be judged and judged together as a body; it will be public in the extreme. And it is to be a total judgment not only of our moral conduct but of all the accumulative blessings or injuries that have resulted from each person's good or evil deeds. You see, God judges not only on what we do but on the consequences of our actions.
By Whom is the fruit or grace of the divine redemption communicated to us? By the Holy Spirit. Where is this grace communicated to us? The grace of the Holy Spirit is communicated to us in the Catholic Church of which the Holy Spirit is the Soul and to which Christ had for that very purpose promised to send the Holy Spirit. The implications of this answer are far-reaching. If it is true, and faith tells us it is, that once the human race was redeemed and the graces the world needs to be saved were merited, Christ then entrusted, gave all the grace which the human race will need until the end of time to the Catholic Church. Are we then saying then that everybody needs the Catholic Church? That's exactly what we are saying. Are we further saying that anyone who is saved is saved only because of the Catholic Church? Exactly.
The Holy Catholic Church. There is some value, I think, in noting that we believe in the Church. Now the Church is not only or mainly an object of historical knowledge or reasoned analysis. She is that, but the Church is also and mainly an object of faith. In other words the Church is a revealed mystery. We can know just so much about the Church nationally or naturally or rationally but her inner core or essence remains a revealed mystery. The value of this fact I think it particularly important today. While it may be difficult, to say the least, to understand why certain things have happened and are going on in the Church, like the widespread convulsion in nominally Catholic circles, we must trust on faith that God knows what He is doing and what He is permitting and that in His own way and time He will draw great good even out of the manifest evils that plague today's Church on so many sides.
The article itself is plain enough: "I believe in the forgiveness of sin." But note carefully this is an article of our Catholic faith. We might well ask, "Does not everyone who has any faith in God believe in the forgiveness of sins?" Yes, of course. The very notion of an unforgiving God would be blasphemy. And so we find in every religion in history, from the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians through the Hindus, Buddists and Muslims, without exception they believe in a merciful deity, in a god or even in gods who need to be propitiated sometimes in strange ways, but who are willing to forgive provided the people repent of their sins.
The eleventh article of the Apostles Creed is a declaration of our faith in what will take place on the last day; and so we say, "I believe in the resurrection of the body." As we take a closer scrutiny at this mystery it may be useful to note that we are hearing say more than that we shall live on beyond the grave. Our souls are spiritual by nature and therefore cannot naturally die. The only way the human soul could go out of existence would be for God to annihilate it, that is reduce it to the nothingness from which it came. And we know that God will never annihilate the human spirit.
It is most appropriate that the Apostles Creed which begins with God should also end with God, for we come from God and we were made for Him; that's what our destiny is all about. Our final act of faith declares, "I believe in life everlasting." How do we know there is a life everlasting after death? Why is it called life everlasting? Will everyone reach everlasting life? Are we all to be equally happy in the life to come? How is God the essential joy of heaven? How will creatures add to our heavenly happiness?
No one has spoken more eloquently or more often on the subject of joy than St. John the evangelist; the most dramatic quotations from the Savior on His wanting us to have joy are given us by John. John's teaching therefore on joy should be seen in relationship to his teaching on faith, and the clearest expression of the relationship between faith and joy is in the first four verses of the first letter of John that appropriately the Church quotes in the first reading in the Mass for his feast. It comes in four parts.
The Infancy narratives of the gospels give us four of the most beautiful canticles of our faith. There is the Benedictus of Zachary at the birth of John the Baptist; there is the Magnificat of our Lady at the Visitation; there is the Gloria in Excelsi Deo of the angels in Bethlehem; and finally the Nunc Dimittis of the aged Simeon at Christ's presentation in the temple at Jerusalem. Comparatively speaking the Nunc Dimittis is a short hymn. It is recited or sung in the Divine Office at Compline in preparation for our night's rest, which we should remind ourselves is the nightly preparation for death. God made sure we would normally go to sleep every night to remind us every day come a day when we close our eyes for the last time and open them on eternity.
A resolution is a firm act of the will to do God's will in the future. It is a firm act of the will to do God's will in the future. I then set myself, implied in making a firm act of the will, to do what I believe will be at least pleasing to God, and at the end of a retreat what will be more pleasing to God. I think it bears a little emphasis to point out that our acts of the will are not only to chose to do good and avoid evil; that's obligation; to that every human being is bound. We also are to make acts of the will to do things that are better and more pleasing to God and not only avoid evil and not commit sin.
After the angels had told the shepherds of the good news of great joy and further told them that they would find this Messiah, the Lord, lying in a manger, they took the angels at their word. They were simple people. Simple people don't speculate. Once they trust you they take your word. So they went and they found not surprisingly just what they had been told. What a strange sign the angels gave the shepherds: a Child born in a stable and lying in an animal's trough. That's the way God came into the world.
Before dealing at length with the meaning of the priesthood in the Catholic Church, there is value in first looking at the priesthood in general, as revealed to us by God in the Sacred Scriptures, because today in so many circles there is such widespread confusion.
As a fundamental question it needs to be answered if we are to say anything else significant about those persons whose office the Church still believes is not of human invention but of divine origin. The priesthood is simultaneously four things. It is a sacrament of the New Law instituted by Christ. It is a state of life to which some men are called by a special vocation from God. It is an institution without which there would be no Christianity on earth today. And it is a ministry of the Catholic Church by which Christ continues His own priestly work of saving and sanctifying the souls for whom He shed His blood on Calvary.
There is more than passing value in looking at the meaning and implications of the priesthood of the faithful. There is much confusion these days in some quarters about who and what is a priest; there is an overwhelming amount of what they call identity crisis in many priests. So many writers are saying that ordination makes no difference, that every Christian is equally a priest, and that priests (as they are properly called) are merely functionaries; long, learned disquisitions on this subject say priests are not really different from the faithful.
When the so-called "reformers" of the sixteenth century attacked all the Sacraments, but with special virulence this one, the Church at the Council of Trent took stock of her God-given faith and for all future ages told the faithful, including bishops and priests, what the sacraments are. The Council Fathers gave no less than fifteen detailed definitions on the sacrament of penance; all would be useful to recall in these days when there is so much that is odd being said and done in the name of compassion, that is sometimes in contradiction to the expressed teaching of the Churchs infallible Magisterium.
So true is this that if we would specify the heart of the priesthood we would have to say it is the Eucharist, the Eucharist as presence and the Eucharist as sacrifice. Each of these levels of the Holy Eucharist is totally dependent on the priesthood. Without the priesthood there is no Real Presence, nor Eucharistic Sacrifice. But what may be less obvious is that if the Real Presence and the Mass depend on the priest, the priest also depends on them. And I am not sure which dependence is more absolute.
Since the life of a priest is to be modeled on the life of his Master, even as Christ went about preaching and teaching the Word of God, so the primary duty of a priest after the offering of the Mass and the administration of the sacraments is to proclaim Godís revelation to a world that needs nothing more than to hear the message of salvation. The term "primary duty" may seem too strong; the Latin expression is "Primarium manus" and that is the terminology used by the Second Vatican Council in its Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests. "Since nobody can be saved who has not first believed, it is the first duty of priests as co-workers of the bishops to preach the Gospel of God to all men."
It may seem a bit strange that all the major exhortations of the modern Popes to priests stress the importance of the virtues of humility and obedience, with no exception. On second thought, however, it is not unexpected. You would expect priests to be reminded to practice especially the two virtues on which so much depends in their lives and ministry. Why? In answering this question I will take up each virtue separately and try to show why it is so important for priests, if they wish to be priestly priests, to be humble and obedient, and how they can grow in humility and obedience.
As we begin our meditation on the priesthood of Christ, we should immediately distinguish the two stages of its existence: namely, His life on earth and His life in heaven. We carefully note that while the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, had no beginning since He was from all eternity, yet Jesus Christ had a beginning. He began at the moment of the Incarnation when Mary told the angel: "I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me."
But Christ not only was a priest; He is a priest. He is our priest and He is a priest on our behalf now that He is in heaven. I dare say not too many Catholics realize this. In order to better understand this large panorama of our faith, we will look at a few questions and, while answering them, apply the fruits of our reflection to our lives.
Some people may be surprised at the pressure and propaganda that have arisen in our day against the celibacy of priests in the Catholic Church. But it should not be surprising, as the history of the Church from the beginning amply testifies. It was, in fact, the unwillingness of so many priests to remain celibate that tilted the pressure in favor of Protestantism in the sixteenth century. There were many other factors; doctrinal, theological, political, that cost so many millions to Catholic unity, but the center of the issue was priestly celibacy. The first thing the so-called reformers did on breaking with the Roman Catholic Church was to remove celibacy.
From time to time in the history of American Protestantism there have been mass re-awakenings of religious faith and devotion throughout the country. These movements are part of revivalism, a name that applies also to the method of intensive preaching and prayer meetings that inspire such mass religious fervor.
"As we address ourselves to the "Rights and Responsibilities of Parents
in Religious Education," you will immediately notice that our focus
of attention is on parents. This means that, while recognizing the rights
of others, notably the Church, and within the Church, of bishops, priests
and religious, we concentrate on the rights of father and mother, hence
parents (plural), in the religious rearing of their offspring." - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
The complete text of the Rite of Eucharistic Devotion, with prayers and responses.
The term ritualism means the conducting of religious worship according to a code of ceremonies. It may also mean the observance of external forms in the church liturgy or excessive devotion to such forms and to ritualistic detail. Ritualism as here used means the recent development of a liturgical emphasis in every major religious body derived from the Reformation. One of the dominant features of the ecumenical movement among Protestant Christians is their reexamination of the role of the liturgy in the full concept of the church, and their desire to restore something of the ritual heritage that had been the common possession of Christianity before the sixteenth century.
"If there was one fact of our Christian faith which needs to be stressed today it is the need for a father in the family. At the center of the social revolution today is the attack on men, as husbands and fathers of families. Behind this revolution is the philosophy of Karl Marx. According to Marx, families are the invention of dictating males who created, what we call the family, in order to dominate women in human society." - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
"Our title for this conference is unusual. We are not speaking of the family
in the third millennium. That would be prophetic because only God knows
the future. We are speaking of the family for the third millennium.
What do we mean? We mean that family life in the closing decade of the second
millennium must be stronger, more solid, more secure than ever before since
the dawn of Christianity. Why? Because family life in the Western world
is faced with challenges which threaten its very survival." - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
The role of the family in education is an ocean. We could begin by saying that the family is indispensable for education. We could also say the family is the most important source of education. We could even say there is no real education without the family. What we need to do, therefore, is to be more specific as to how the family and education are related. To do that we must first explain what we mean by the "family," and what we mean by "education."
"Until recent years, we would hardly have written on a subject like "The Roman Primacy and the Spiritual Life." But much has happened to call for some inquiry into the relationship between faith in the papal primacy and growth in the spiritual life. We now know, more clearly than ever before, that not only progress in the spiritual life depends on people's faith in the supreme authority of the Bishop of Rome. The very survival of Christian spirituality is at stake." - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Of all the possible subjects dealing with the religious life, the most unlikely would seem to be "Rome and the Religious Life". Why talk about this especially today, when there are so many deep issues being voiced and so much turmoil and tension about the very meaning of a life under vows? Why this subject? Because in my estimation the relationship of Rome to the religious state is at the heart of the present turmoil, and on the proper understanding of this relationship depends, in large measure, the future well-being of men and women religious in the Catholic Church.
There are so many wonderful things we can say about the Rosary that I thought we should focus on what I sincerely believe. The Rosary is necessary in order to obtain from God the miraculous graces that the world so desperately needs in our day. The moment we say the modern world needs miraculous graces we imply that these graces are indeed to be obtained from God; but they must come through the intercession of the Mother of God.