It was a glorious beginning to the historic week in which the 8th World Meeting (WMF2015) is being hosted in Philadelphia, and in which Pope Francis visits our country. Denise D’Oleo, Kathy Wither, and Kathy’s husband Dave were at the WMF2015 for the opening ceremony which included among others, Archbishop Chaput, Archbishop Paglia, and Philadelphia’s Mayor Michael Nutter. This is also the same hall where the three Keynote addresses were held on Tuesday and Wednesday (with Bishop Robert Barron, Cardinal Robert Sarah, and Helen Alvare).
While Kathy and Dave came to participate in Tuesday and Wednesday’s WMF2015 events, travelling back to NYC for the Holy Father’s visit on Thursday, Denise was at the WMF2015 primarily to attend the First Hispanic/Latin-American meeting of families (PEHLF) that was sponsored by the USCCB.
May the fruit of Pope Francis’ visit here in the U.S. be a renewal of faith, hope and love in all the faithful. May the graces of the Holy Spirit rain down upon the Family Life/Respect Life Office, the Archdiocese of New York, and all of New York and the surrounding communities.
We are in the middle of National NFP Awareness Week (JULY 19 – JULY 25) in which the theme is: All Natural! Natural Family Planning – Good for the body. Great for the soul! Consider taking some time today and the rest of the week to explore, understand and share God’s beautiful plan for married love, a love which is called to be sacred, disciplined, pleasurable and fruitful! Visit http://www.usccb.org/…/natural-fam…/awareness-week/index.cfm.
Archbishop Kurtz encourages us to move forward in faith, hope and love. See his statement on the Supreme Court’s June 26th decision recognizing same-sex “marriage”: http://www.usccb.org/news/2015/15-103.cfm
When 94 year-old Mr. Ford Callis heard a scream from his beloved wife in the next room over, his leap from bed brought him smashing into his bed stand, and later landed him into the ICU for a bleeding stress ulcer, a blood clot in his left leg, and temporary kidney failure. Dr. E. Wesley Ely stated in his February 20th, 2015 Wall Street Journal article:
In the hospital our team of white coats swooped in to “save” Mr. Callis. Yet we later learned from what he told us that his real rescue, the one that mattered the most, had occured on a much higher plane, through a sacramental promise made many decades earlier.”
Dr. Ely describes the moving story of husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Callis, since they married at age 20 during the height of the Second World War. Despite Mr. Callis’ near-death experience when surrounded by German forces in the French Alps, no event nor injury has formed him as much as his marriage. Mr. Callis explains:
Having someone believe in me and waiting for me back home, that is what gives me purpose. I am more than myself because of our marriage.”
Dr. Ely admits that the story of Ford and Daisy made the rounds of the hospital, not for its military glamour or medical rescue, but for one simple reason: their marriage offered a glimpse of the “true north”, a witness when we are at our best serving another. Mr. Callis made sure to explain to his medical rescuers upon his release:
You know, it takes three people to stay married: Daisy, me, and God. This is not just a civil agreement; we are one.”
Mr. Callis echos the venerable champion of marriage, Fulton J. Sheen, who wrote the great work, Three to Get Married. Mr. Callis, however, brings these words to life. His 74-year marriage shows that God not only calls two for marriage, but sustains the love of two in marriage.
Read the rest of the article here.
(Subscription to The Wall Street Journal may be required)
Oct. 17-19, 2014
We’re looking for a few good men with chainsaws!
Villa Maria Guadalupe Retreat Center
159 Sky Meadow Dr. / Stamford, CT 06903
Conferences on Discipleship
Working in the Woods
Join us for a weekend retreat including conferences on discipleship of Jesus Christ, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and heavy labor in the woods.
Picture used with permission by the Harriet & Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center.
Never Forget – to a nation wounded by the dreadful consequences of evil, these words signify an oath. When the acts of evildoers take away the lives of some and tear at the livelihood of others, “We shall never forget” is the pledge to remain intact the one temporal element no evil can tarnish: our memories. September 11th, 2001 is one day scarred into the memories of our people, especially New Yorkers. We remember the terror that has branded that day, though many people remember more acutely the goodness in those who were among the first-responders, and among the dead.
Perhaps the anniversary of September 11th teaches us how suffering caused by all the notorious evil acts of modernity demands our respectful remembrance. Of those we remember are the Comfort Women, the 200,000 Korean girls enslaved during the Second World War and the millions of Jews victimized at Auschwitz and other death camps. The list continues into far less notable, but equally devastating acts of evil known to man. “Never Forget” is our pledge to honor the dead by honoring the history that defined their lives.
Less than one week following the 13th anniversary remembering the September 11th attacks, many New Yorkers still possess a raw remembrance of that chilly Tuesday morning that chills our hearts. Since its opening last May, the 9/11 museum has attracted nearly one million visitors. It doesn’t take advertisements on the MTA to convince people to remember 9/11 – they remember because the suffering remains so close.
Suffering: A Great Mystery
Suffering is itself a great mystery to humanity. No man, woman or child can escape the painful experience of suffering despite how desperately our culture attempts to escape its reach or subdue its effects through addictions and consumerism. St. John Paul II gave us a wealth of insight in his apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris, where he states, “Human suffering evokes compassion; it also evokes respect, and in its own way it intimidates” (4). The intimidation of suffering ought to remind us that sin is real, as damaging as ever, and continually calls for a society that unequivocally recognizes objective truth, a truth that judges personal actions and cultivates a well-formed conscience in its people. When as a society, we forget to acknowledge the reality of sin – whether personal sin or social sin – we simultaneously forget how the touch of sin victimizes others, and even ourselves.
St. John Paul II tells us that suffering evokes compassion. Since the horror caused by ISIS displaced over one million Iraqis amidst the persecution of religious minorities and in particular, Christians, the social conscience of the world has been disturbed. Our response to the person marginalized by the evil acts of another cannot suffice as merely a sympathetic sigh or a transitory sentiment of sorrow, while our lives continue as though the suffering of the marginalized person does not exist. Rather, suffering demands compassion, or better “co-passion” when the onlooker willingly becomes a partaker in the passio of the suffering Iraqi Christian woman or Yazidi child. Through prayer & fasting, remaining mindful of those suffering, and attempting to stop the cause of suffering with the means available to us, we are capable of responding compassionately.
Finally, St. John Paul II tells us that suffering evokes respect. A recent 20th century theologian, Johann Baptist Metz writes, “The essential dynamism of history is the memory of suffering as a negative awareness of the freedom that is to come, and as a stimulus to act within the horizon of this history in such a way as to overcome suffering.” This understanding of suffering qualifies the phrase, “Never Forget”: our remembrance of suffering conditions our actions so to never again recommit or allow such crimes. Never forgetting does not simply engage the mind, but engages both spiritual powers of the human person: mind and will.
The respectful remembrance of suffering is an engaging, self-limiting remembrance that demands justice for the marginalized. One particular organization, the Harriet & Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center, has sought to manifest this kind of remembrance of the greatest hate crime ever committed by modern civilization: the Holocaust. Under the direction of Dr. Arthur Flug, the Center has for seven years provided internships for dozens of students annually to study the Holocaust through interviewing survivors and re-telling their stories to our current generations of young people. In the last few years, the Center has undertaken an internship program directing students to encounter an oft-unnoticed group of survivors: Comfort Women.
Comfort women are those who in the 1930’s were hopeful teenagers in Korea, but soon 200,000 were enslaved by the invading Japanese army and forced into sexual slavery. By the end of World War II, less than 100,000 of these women remained alive, and despite crying out to the world for justice, the crimes committed against them were denied or ignored. Now, more than 70 years later, fewer than 100 of these surviving women remain, some within the Korean community in Queens. The Harriet & Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center has teamed up with this community and is having their student interns become first-hand witnesses of the stories told by Comfort Women survivors.
Students interested in this internship should visit the Center’s website, and consider applying by following the instructions posted. Application deadline is September 26th 2014.
Our remembrance of those victimized by evil cannot, however, bring back the dead. The answer, we believe by faith, lies upon the now empty Cross of Jesus Christ. Yesterday, on the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, we sang triumphantly for the victory won on the Cross. The Cross from which hung the “Suffering Servant”, the crucified form of Jesus Christ, now exists as a sign of hope. For when we believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, we also believe that the man, woman, and child victimized by evildoers shall also rise on the last day.
St. Patrick’s Day, an iconic feast day celebrated by Catholics and non-Catholics alike, has lately riveted an epicenter of opinions concerning its 2015 parade in New York City. Clergy and lay people alike have swarmed social media discussing the simultaneous decisions by parade organizers to open its ranks in next spring’s parade to a single gay group marching under its own banner, and His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s role as the parade’s Grand Marshall and calling the organizer’s decision wise.
The fact that a strong reaction by many fervent Catholics criticizing this chain of events has reached into my own email inbox is no surprise; however, the severity of condemnation toward all parties involved – by way of threats of withholding tithing, leaving the Church, or lining the streets of the parade with counselors to engage the gay group marching – has signaled an alarming need for each Christian to self-examine their own understanding and call to discipleship.
In April 2013, when I arrived in New York City for my final interview in my current position as the Assistant Director for the Family Life/Respect Life Office, I rode a bus next to a young man who after 10 minutes of conversation, shared that he was a strong advocate for the gay community, and a member himself. It wasn’t long after his inquiry of my reason for visiting NYC, that he discovered my faithfulness to the Catholic Church and love for Jesus Christ. Then, in the 10 minutes remaining while conversing with him before my stop, he and I reached a apogee of mutual understanding of our mutual difference of beliefs, and I prayed silently that for perhaps the first time of his life, he encountered a Catholic man in myself who respected him just as much as I respectfully disagreed with his lifestyle.
I am a sinner, though I hope that my encounter with this man and each person I meet can manifest the eyes, words, and touch of Jesus Christ.
The swarming criticism surrounding the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City should call every Christian to consider not what a gay group’s duty may be to renounce its lifestyle to follow the way of Jesus Christ and the Church, but instead, what a Christian’s duty is to examine his or her call to compassionately encounter every person – gay or not – as a person called to be a son and daughter of God. This role is the “missionary disciple” role that Pope Francis calls every person to in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. No person will find his home inside the Church attractive until he finds an attractive “home” in his friendship with a Christian who points the way.
This paradigm of encounter is the way St. Patrick himself walked in the fifth century. After escaping more than 5 years of captivity in pagan Ireland, the 20-year old Patrick received a dream of the people he left in Ireland, calling out to him “We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more.” After decades of studies and formation as a priest, and later ordained a bishop, Patrick returned to Ireland in 433 A.D. preaching the Gospel, bringing thousands to conversion, and building churches across the country. Just forty years of his presence in Ireland brought the country to a birth into the Church. St. Patrick manifested himself as a patriot of Ireland and a patriot for Jesus Christ.
How then should the Christian perceive its duty to the circumstances of the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City which, I may say, resembles a modern-day Ireland?
Perhaps, until we each personally find ourselves remaining faithful to the Gospel while approachable to every person, gay or not, we ought to more deeply commit ourselves to Christian discipleship. Until our gay friends beg us to walk with them equally as much as we beg they consider the Gospel message, we ought to examine how we may become compassionate messengers of truth. And when they encounter the truth of Jesus Christ through us, turning from the prevailing gay lifestyle to authentic Christian friendships, we can together with them praise the saving power of Jesus Christ.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is an opportunity to celebrate not only the Catholic heritage of this great saint, but also the example of Christian discipleship this patriot gave to Ireland. Let’s give the same heritage of fidelity and compassionate example to our neighbors this coming year.
On September 22-27, 2015, Philadelphia will welcome the 8th World Meeting of Families (#WMF2015), which is expected to draw a global audience. This is a historic event which will have dynamic and inspirational speakers, daily celebration of Mass, and evening and weekend events and festivities. Surrounding dioceses have been invited to both attend and volunteer. You can visit the official World Meeting of Families website for information on registering for the meeting, booking your stay in Philadelphia, volunteering, hosting families, etc.
The Archdiocese of New York and the Family Life/Respect Life Office is promoting this event and partnering with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in efforts to make this a successful event. Please continue checking back often on our website for updates. For more information, please contact Izabella Nagle at 646-794-3190, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
See below for Archbishop Chaput and Archbishop Paglia discuss World Meeting of Families at a Vatican News Conference.
Forgetting something. It’s always bothered me. I think because it’s a passive act. It feels like it’s out of your control (I didn’t intentionally ignore my friend’s birthday) but yet you also know that you could have done something more to remind yourself (cue smart phones and sticky notes). A priest once told me that some of the early Church Fathers described the original sin of humanity as being the sin of forgetfulness. Adam and Eve forgot who God is and subsequently forgot who they were. They forgot that God is their all-loving Creator and instead they gave into fear and mistrust. This resonated with me. So often I forget things that I’ve already learned. Sometimes I flip back in my journal and surprise myself when I read some thought or meditation that must have been divinely inspired. Right before I start congratulating myself on being so wise I realize I have since effectively forgotten it and not integrated it into my life whatsoever.
God’s Gift for Me
This happened to me today when I opened my journal and flipped to the pages I had written while on silent retreat the weekend before I was married. My spiritual director had instructed me to meditate upon the the Rite of Marriage (the prayers, the vows, etc.) as well as the readings we chose for our Nuptial Mass. While reflecting on the Gospel reading (John 15:12-16) I kept coming back to the words “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” I started thinking about how God had chosen Nathan and me, how it was God who brought us together and called us to the sacrament of marriage. Early on in our relationship it dawned on me that Nathan was the first guy that God had really chosen for me versus me picking someone out and saying: “I want him.” He wasn’t “my type,” I wasn’t sure, and I almost said no when he asked me out on a date except that I distinctly sensed the Holy Spirit asking me to be open so I said yes, albeit with some hesitation. Then a funny thing happened. Over the next few weeks as I got to know this mystery man, I was surprised and delighted by what I found. I felt as if God was slowly unwrapping a special gift right before my eyes. I began to experience a great peace and had a clear sense that God was orchestrating our relationship.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide ~Jn. 15:16
So as I sat reflecting on Jesus’ words “I chose you,” that would be read at our wedding in a few days, I recalled these memories and others that had served as stepping stones in my discernment process ultimately leading me to answer the call to the vocation of marriage and choose Nathan to be my husband. There is great hope and confidence in this truth that God chose us — my husband and me. When our differences in personality prove challenging, even painful, there is hope in the knowledge that this is God’s will for me. God has chosen for me a man who is practical, logical, who jokingly claims to “have no emotions” — someone for whom my sentimental, emotional, feeling self does not always make sense. And yet, this is who God has chosen for me and thus, this precise difference has a purpose and is ultimately for our good.
On the Road to Calvary, Together
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how many times I have already forgotten this in the three short months that we have been married. How easy it is to take offense and lament that my husband “just doesn’t understand me!” while the Enemy is only too glad to seize the opportunity to scatter little seeds of doubt and mistrust. Thankfully God always brings me back to my senses. That is, once I stop being stubborn and actually let Him come into my clouded mind, turn on the light, and ever so gently remind me of the truth. God chose me to be Nathan’s wife. God chose Nathan to be my husband. By a free act of our wills we said yes and entered into the sacramental covenant of marriage. This is our vocation and the path to sanctity that God has laid out for us. The path to sanctity is not a level path through meadows of daffodils. It is the steep, rocky road to Calvary. But here’s the trick: when we embrace suffering out of love for another what appears to be a miserable road on the outside becomes a beautiful rose-lined path in our eyes. At least that’s what the saints say and they tend to know what they’re talking about.
So when the next marital misunderstanding arises I’m hoping against hope that I will not fall prey to my forgetfulness, but will rather remember that God chose this man for me, that these differences in personality have a good purpose, that I am called to love Nathan selflessly and I should be jumping at the chance to suffer the loss of my ego for his sake. I’ll admit, there’s a voice inside my head right now telling me how naive I am to write such a thing, as if from now on I’m going to handle every disagreement perfectly. To that I will say: isn’t God in the business of working miracles and wouldn’t we be better off if we had more faith in His power to overcome sin in us? Yet I also know that conversion is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. So here’s to taking it one day at a time, believing that we’re made to be saints, that it really is possible–and surprisingly concrete. So I think I’ll go put a sticky note on the bathroom mirror saying: “I chose you.” You got to start somewhere, right?
You are truly the laborers cultivating the civilization of love.
Welcome to our Blog!
I must first share my incredible joy to provide this platform to voice our common experiences, our common battles, and our efforts/initiatives to cultivate the culture that we — families and individuals — live within, grow within, and seek daily to transform through our small, concrete decisions to follow the Good Shepherd. Our readers are truly the laborers cultivating the civilization of love. By the way they witness to the Gospel of Life, the way they love their spouses and families, the way they encounter their friends and neighbors, they make the love of the God of Salvation — the God of history — present, tangible, and convincing.
Take your Family to New Horizons
Just three months ago we finished the “Year of Faith” (October 11, 2012 – November 24, 2013), yet the spiritual fruitfulness and the effects of this year continue to cast our eyes upon the horizon of faith that will carry ourselves and the future of the Church into the third millennium. Many refer to this epic as the “New Evangelization,” while today we hear new jargon in news headlines calling attention to the “Pope Francis Effect.” Whether we interpret the movement of the Holy Spirit today under the etymological significance of these descriptions, or a “New Pentecost” or “New Springtime,” the object of this movement is the same: Encountering Jesus Christ through His Church. Classic doctrinal theory of God dictates (and history proves) that the mission of the Holy Spirit always carries out the mission of Jesus Christ — the two are intertwined — in the journey that all of humanity makes toward God in their lifetime. “Faith” and “journey” go hand-in-hand: a journey cannot proceed onward toward its destination without faith in that (1) the destination exists and is Good and (2) the way is trustworthy and secure. In his first encyclical Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis writes:
It is the light of faith that I would now like to consider, so that it can grow and enlighten the present, becoming a star to brighten the horizon of our journey at a time when mankind is particular in need of light. Lumen Fidei #4
This image of our present time and vision for cultivating the civilization of love sets the stage for our blog’s theme: “Take Your Family to New Horizons.” Horizon is a term familiar throughout culture and theology, perhaps most notably is the study of drama. Hans Urs Von Balthasar, in his masterpiece on theological dramatics, writes that drama “points toward the intention of the author, and beyond him to the horizon of all meaning whatsoever” (Theo-Drama: Theological Dramatic Theory, Vol. I; San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988; 314). When we consider our lives as possessing a coherent meaning all-throughout — a miniature “drama” in the great drama of human existence — we approach the Author of our lives asking for this meaning, who instructs us to have the faith to navigate well through life and be rewarded for our faith at the end (cf. Luke 7:50). The mountaineer who stays course traversing rugged terrain is aided with clarity and perspective when viewing the horizon in the distance. Likewise, faith provides the vision to view the common horizon for our lives.
What do we ask of our readers?
This blog is designed to stimulate thought and motivate action to cultivate the civilization of love. By virtue of our Baptism, we are called to help each other become saints by the grace of God. We do this intentionally. Intentional discipleship is at the heart of the Christian life. Jesus’s words to his disciples are bursting at the seams with intentionality: “He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying” (Jn. 1:39); “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mt. 16:24).
- The first task we ask of our readers is to be intentional readers and intentional doers of the inspiration gained from these articles. Let your thoughts flow into words, and words incarnate into action. Pope Francis calls us to “go out” to the peripheries, not simply viewing them on the evening news.
- The second task we ask our readers is to share your stories with others. Every man, woman, and child has a story — a miniature “drama” — that is a sort-of “script” to communicate the horizon of their daily life and choices to their neighbors. The fall-out of consumerism and relativism in today’s culture is an isolation and general mistrust that our lives are guided by the same reason, felt by the same emotions, and rooted in the same creed. People hunger for friendship beneath the constant motion of their daily schedules.
- The third task we ask our readers is to contribute to cultivating the civilization of love through being a “disciple of Nazareth” following the example of our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, being a co-worker in their local parish or church — the centers of evangelization for all peoples in a geographical area — and finally, joining the Family Life/Respect Life Office at our upcoming events, and leaning how you can get involved.
Take your family to new horizons! Let the light of faith be your guide. Join us and others throughout the archdiocese, country, and world in building strong families who live as disciples of Jesus Christ. You are truly the laborers cultivating the civilization of love.