Posts Tagged ‘Pope Benedict XVI’

A busy week begins with a big shock

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Well, the pundits will be having a field day with the news of Pope Benedict’s resignation.  However, I think Father James Martin, SJ, has produced a thoughtful reaction to this event in America Magazine’s group blog, “In All Things”  He believes the Pope’s greatest legacy will be in his writings and I agree. I just reread the Holy Father’s encyclical  Caritas in Veritate for a catechist formation online course I facilitated last month. I commend it to you.  And then there are his volumes on Jesus of Nazareth.

Certainly, the Holy Father has earned a peaceful retirement. However – and I know I am being selfish- I hope he has one more book left in him to write.

Lent is upon us.  It’s not even two months since Christmas. But while the rest of us were catching our breaths from the holidays, the Catechetical Office’s intrepid webmaster, Jim Connell, has been busy creating a Lenten calendar titled “In Today’s Gospel”  on our website. Each day contains a small reflection and offers a question for us all to ponder.

This coming Sunday, Cardinal Dolan will accept as the elect hundreds of catechumens from all around the archdiocese, who are seeking Baptism and the other Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil. The Rite of Election is reserved to the Ordinary of a diocese, so all the catechumens  should be gathering at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Keep them in prayer and, with them, those candidates for continuing conversion, already baptized, but seeking full initiation in the Roman Catholic Church, also at the Easter Vigil.

Finally, many thanks and best wishes to Bishop Dennis Sullivan, vicar general of the Archdiocese, who becomes Bishop of Camden, N.J. on Tuesday, Feb. 12. He is a true pastor, as those of us who live downtown can attest, and he will be sorely missed here at the Cardinal Cooke Center.

Mary Magdalene. No she wasn’t…

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

…what some people, including some intelligent Catholics who should know better, say she was.

Is this ever going stop? Are people never going to get it through their heads that Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute, not the woman caught in adultery, not a lunatic, not the sister of Lazarus, and not the woman who dried Jesus’ feet with her hair?  I mention this because her feast day is July 22, which falls on a Sunday this year.

The mistake actually was an early conflation of Mary from the town of Magdala; Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus and Martha; and an unnamed woman in Luke’s Gospel, who bathed Jesus feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Also contributing to the confusion were the seven so-called demons Jesus drove from Mary Magdalene.  Demons often were used to explain symptoms of illness, physical or emotional, in Mary’s time.

Pope Gregory the Great is often blamed for officially turning Mary Magdalene into a notorious woman in a  sermon, but others made the mistake centuries earlier.

However, the fact is this: there is absolutely nothing in the Bible to suggest Mary of Magdalene was anything but a lady.  In spite of the fact that hundreds of artists have depicted her, we don’t know if she was young or old, good looking or homely, married or single or widowed.  And she wasn’t Jesus’ wife. If she had been, surely that news would have made it into one of the four gospels!

What scholars do know is that Mary must have been a woman of some high importance because both her name and her town were identified in the gospels. That was unusual. We also know that she, the Blessed Mother, and a few other women had the loyalty and courage to stay with Jesus through his crucifixion, after most of his male followers had run away. Interestingly, the Eastern churches never identified her as a fallen woman.

In 1969, the Roman Catholic Church began to rectify matters. The feasts of Mary of Bethany and Mary of Magdala were separated, making clear that they were two different people.  In both the Roman calendar and Roman Missal, there are now no references to Mary Magdalene as a public sinner.  And in his  apostolic letter, Mulieris Dignitatem (“On the dignity and vocation of women”), Pope John Paul II restored her ancient title, apostola apostolorum or apostle to the apostles.

Yet the mistakes about Mary Magdalene persist and, sadly, are perpetuated by some. I wish that Pope Benedict, who is such a great scholar and who currently is writing the third volume of his masterwork on Jesus, would promulgate a really strong official statement, clearing her once and for all.

Happy Feast Day, St. Mary Magdalene. I am proud to share a name with you.

It’s your Bible. Come celebrate it.

Friday, May 25th, 2012

For generations of Catholics, the least opened item on the bookshelf was the family Bible.  It would come out only when a name had to be inscribed as a birth, marriage or death.

Now, of course, many Catholics read the Bible, some daily. We owe this to the Second Vatican Council, which opened 50 years ago this coming autumn, and to a document from that council titled Dei Verbum, The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.  This constitution urged “all the Christian faithful… to learn by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures the “excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:8).  It stated unequivocally, “For ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”

The successors of Blessed John XXIII, the convener of Vatican II, have reinforced this message.  Just a few years ago, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI called a Synod on the Word of God. Afterwards, he wrote an exhortation titled Verbum Domini (The Word of the Lord). It would be great if you could read the whole document.  However, if you are pressed for time,  read this section.

Here’s why. The section is one of the reasons that since 2010, the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office and our good friends at the American Bible Society have co-sponsored the annual New York Catholic Bible Summit. This summit looks at the Bible from many of the aspects that Pope described.

This year’s summit is on Saturday, June 16, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the New York Catholic Center, 350 East 56 Street in Manhattan. Our theme is “Joy and Hope in the Light of the Gospel.” It comes from another famous Vatican II document, Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope), The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.   We hope you will register for the Bible Summit and join us for an informative and inspiring experience.

We have two wonderful keynoters, Peter Cardinal Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican, and Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, president of the Latin American Conference of Catholic Bishops. Our topics include Scripture and the New Evangelization, the environment, spirituality, history, prayer, discipleship and much more.  Here are details on the topics and their presenters in English and Spanish. The apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, will be the principal celebrant and homilist at the opening Mass and our own archbishop, Timothy Cardinal Dolan will preside.

Hope you’ll join us on June 16.  We’ll be looking for you.

Now look who’s Tweeting!

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Good heavens. It’s the pope. Now if he can manage it, having just celebrated 60 years as a priest, you and I can do it. Check out Vatican Twitter.

It’s believed that another famous octogenarian already is quite at ease with today’s devices, technologies and social networks.  And you thought she had only a spare pair of white gloves in her handbag.

But seriously, we are all called to spread the Good News.  Jesus sought out people and went where he knew he would find them.  So did his followers, as we all know from the Acts of the Apostles.  We, the Church of 2011, need to do likewise, especially if we want to reach emerging Catholics (between 18 and 30 years of age) and young Catholics (up to age 40). We must use their networks of choice.

We also need to keep our websites engaging and updated. Nothing turns away a visitors like “same old same old.” Our wise friend, Father James Martin, SJ, has a really challenging article in America on this and other web-related issues.  Here it is.

Finally, deepest gratitude to all who attended and worked hard at our second annual New York Catholic Bible Summit last Saturday. It was a marvelous day with superb speakers and a beautiful liturgy. Thank you to all who made it such a great success,  including our sponsors from the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office, the American Bible Society and Fordham University. Special thanks to my co-chair, Oscar Cruz, director of Adult Catechesis and the Catechumenate, and to Daysi Guevara, our peerless registrar.  Onward to Bible Summit III next June.

Happy Independence Day from your friends in the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office.

Tolle lege! Tolle lege! Then come find out more about Scripture.

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

“Tolle lege! Tolle lege!” “Pick it up and read it. Pick it up and read it.” That’s what children’s voices said to St. Augustine of Hippo when he was in despair ’way back in the late fourth century. The “it” was the Bible. He took the advice, picked up the Sacred Scripture,  and started to read Romans 13, 13-14. It changed his life…and ours, too, for that matter. That’s because Augustine went on to become one of the most influential philosophers of Christianity and of western civilization.

As Father Anthony Ciorra, a great friend of the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office, reminded our staff the other day, this is good advice for all us. The Bible is not simply that book that we pull off the shelf to record family births, weddings and deaths. It’s not just a wedding or religious jubilee gift. It’s the living Word of God, emphasis on living.

Sacred Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak to all generations until the end of time. You could read the same passage on three different days or three different years, and discover each time that your understanding of that passage and of yourself is deepening.

Pope Benedict XVI, an admirer and scholar of St. Augustine of Hippo, released a wonderful exhortation recently, one that reminds us of the importance of picking up and reading our copies of the Bible. It’s called Verbum Domini and you might enjoy reading it.

Then do yourself a favor. Discover the liveliness, influence and relevance of the Word of God by coming to the Second Annual New York Catholic Bible Summit on Saturday, June 25, here at the Catholic Center and sponsored by the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office, the American Bible Society and Fordham University. It’s your chance to meet, hear and talk with some of today’s best scholars, historians, artists and musicians – a host of experts who will make Scripture a livelier experience than you ever dreamed. There will be workshops in both English and Spanish. Keynoters are the Rev. Donald Senior, CP, who edited the New American Bible and who is now president of the Catholic Theological Union; and the Rev. Gabriel Naranjo, CM, Secretario General de la Confederación Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Religiosas/os (CLAR) Bogotá, Colombia.  Among the many experts is New York’s’ own  Msgr. Robert Stern, president of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, who will speak about the Holy Land, ancient and modern. That’s a timely topic and will give added context to our reading of the Word of God.   Find out about the rest of our speakers and register today, so we can get you into the workshop of your choice. If you prefer registering by mail, you have that option, too.

Hope to see you there.