In 2016 the parish celebrates the 50th anniversary of the consecration of the church building. The chosen theme for this celebration is from Psalm 6.4: ‘We are filled with the blessings of your house’. The celebration is not so much about a building, but about the people, the families and the generations that have worshipped and experienced God’s loving kindness and mercy in the house of God at St Charles over the past fifty years. The occasion is being marked by a celebratory mass at 10:00 on Sunday 29 May 2016, celebrated by His Grace Archbishop Buti Tlhagale OMI.
From the earliest days, the Church has faced the perennial temptation to deny the goodness of material creation in general and of the human body in particular. The Platonic notion of the body as a “prison” from which the soul must escape has cropped up repeatedly throughout the Church’s history, only to be condemned every time someone proposed it.
We see one particular form of this error, the denial that Jesus really took on flesh and blood, reflected in the New Testament, and it is condemned in no uncertain terms: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 Jn 7). What is it that drives this temptation? And what makes the idea derived from it so pernicious that St. John calls those who embrace it “antichrist”?
The answer to the first question stems from two factors: the majesty of God and the messiness of creation. In the early centuries, God was seen as totally other than creation, in the words of 1 Timothy, “immortal, invisible, the only God” (1 Tim 1:17). God transcends the world and, unlike us, is not subject to change, to corruption, to pain and suffering, to anything that belongs to this world. Contrast this picture of an ineffable God with creation, particularly after the fall: we are born, we grow old, we suffer, we die. To many it seemed unfitting for God to experience birth and to have his diapers changed, much less to endure the shame and torture of one of the cruelest forms of execution ever devised by men. This is one aspect of the scandal of the Incarnation: that the God who transcends creation has joined himself so fully to it that he knows first-hand our challenges and our trials.
St. Ignatius of Antioch, whom the Church commemorates tomorrow, meditated on this mystery as he was being led to Rome for his own execution, and he condemns the denial of Christ’s real flesh and blood as forcefully as the Second Letter of John. In one of his letters Ignatius explains the importance of Christ’s actual flesh and blood:
“But if, as some that are without God, that is, the unbelieving, say, that He only seemed to suffer (they themselves only seeming to exist), then why am I in bonds? Why do I long to be exposed to the wild beasts? Do I therefore die in vain? Am I not then guilty of falsehood against [the cross of] the Lord?”
There are at least two dangers in this denial of Christ’s real humanity and suffering: it empties Christian suffering of its purpose, and it implies deception on God’s part. To take the latter point first, if Jesus only appeared to be human and to suffer – if his looks are deceiving – then the Gospels lie to us. Jesus has nothing in common with us, and his life was a mere show – and a fraudulent one at that.
Closer to home for Ignatius, Jesus’ actual suffering in the flesh was closely bound up with his own impending martyrdom. In some mysterious way, Christ’s suffering takes up and incorporates the suffering of the members of his body:
“By [the cross] He calls you through His passion, as being His members. The head, therefore, cannot be born by itself, without its members; God, who is [the Savior] Himself, having promised their union.”
In his suffering and death, Christ manifests his solidarity with the human race, showing himself to be a God who knows our trials not in some distant, indifferent way, but personally and experientially.
If the sole purpose of the Incarnation were Christ’s solidarity with us in our suffering, then Christianity would be little more than divinely sanctioned masochism. But for Ignatius, suffering – both Christ’s and ours – is not an end in itself, but rather a bridge to eternal life. It is by our suffering that we participate in Christ’s own sacrifice and through it come to the glory of his resurrection. This is why one can rightly call a death at the jaws of lions a happy and peaceful one. The peace comes from the sure hope that death does not have the final victory – Christ has conquered it through the resurrection.
Most of us are probably not ready to offer our bodies to the lions as Ignatius did, but we must remember that it was not on the basis of his own strength that he faced his death. He drew strength from feeding on Christ’s own Eucharistic flesh and blood, which he called the “medicine of immortality.” By feeding on this medicine we too can be strengthened to face our own trials and, God willing, pass through a happy death to the glory of the resurrection.
This article was originally written by Br. Isaac Augustine Morales, O.P., who was born and raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago. He received a BSE in civil engineering from Duke University, an MTS with a concentration in biblical studies from the University of Notre Dame, and a PhD in New Testament from Duke University. Before joining the Order of Preachers, he worked as an assistant professor in the Department of Theology at Marquette University.
Walking into St. John of the Cross Parish office to deliver their marriage certificate this week, newly wedded Jack and Helen Trumble confirmed that Deacon Donald Mathers has, for some reason, an assistant.
“We were actually shocked when we learned he had a desk of his own,” said Jack Trumble. “But then we noticed he, God only knows why, actually had an office too…with his name on the door. We thought that was kinda weird seeing as how he’s, you know, a deacon. No offence or anything…I mean, I know it’s an important role and everything, but an office?”
“And that wasn’t all,” Helen Trumble continued in place of her baffled husband. “The man actually has an assistant. I mean, am I missing something here? He works fulltime as a checkout clerk at the grocery store down the street. And here he has an assistant? It’s like he has this alternate universe thing going on.”
At press time, the Mathers’ have overheard his assistant tell another visitor that the Deacon was booked for the day, but that the parish priest was free to speak with her.
“Still today there are so many martyrs, so many who are persecuted for the love of Christ. They are the real strength of the Church!”
That was the Tweet Pope Francis sent on August 14, 2018, from Pope Francis @Pontifex. The Holy Father has on numerous occasions cited the example of martyrs.
Two Colombian martyrs are examples of the nation’s desire to overcome divisions and violence, Pope Francis said in their beatification on September 8, 2017, during an outdoor Mass at Villavicencio, Colombia.
The Pope cited the text that begins and ends the Gospel of Matthew: “I will be with you always, to the close of the age.”
“This promise is fulfilled also in Colombia: Monsignor Jesús Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve, Bishop of Arauca, and the martyred priest of Armero, Pedro María Ramírez Ramos,” the Holy Father declared. “They are a sign of this, an expression of a people who wish to rise up out of the swamp of violence and bitterness.”
The Greatest Showman is a great movie. The cinematography, the choreography, and the music weave a beautiful tale…of communion and ultimately love. (Spoilers ahead.)
PT Barnum starts out life being slapped across the face by a man of higher social stature while his father looks on and does nothing. This is a great distortion of love for PT and his father’s lack of defense, and the other man’s malfeasance tells PT that money equals success and success equals higher stature and ultimately power.
Part of this distortion is clarified with his marriage to Charity—namely, her love for him. But then, his love for the power and notoriety almost lead him down a big and wide road of no return.
This seems to be how it all begins. A distortion and then all life is seen through that distortion, and clarity provides some relief but relieving a distortion requires not only suffering but also the will to accept that suffering. PT had suffered but he had not endured it.
Every character in the film is searching for communion, for acceptance, for love. PT in the arms of the world. Charity in the arms of PT. The circus acts (oddities) in the arms of whoever will take them.
The first song lays the groundwork: “This is the greatest show!…It’s everything you ever want. It’s everything you ever need. It’s standing right in front of you. This is where you want to be.”
One of the questions that we should all answer is: “If this was it, this moment right now, in this life, could you find God here? Could he be enough?” Phinneus (PT) had a beautiful wife, two beautiful girls, love that bound all of them together, and the necessities in life. Then, he couldn’t give his daughter ballerina shoes…that she wanted but didn’t need. His own woundedness drove him to fulfill a want based on his suffering.
This happens to all of us. If we are unable to surrender our suffering for Christ to redeem, then ultimately it drives our actions. The soldier that does not allow his wounds to heal as he proceeds into battle will weaken the entire army. Suffering that is not transformed is transferred.
We desire communion. This hasn’t changed for all eternity. This is fulfilled through a “we-communion,” side by side gazing at a third object or mutual admiration, or “I-thou communion,” gazing from one to the other in mutual, reciprocal admiration of the other fully seen in marriage. The highest goal is communion with our Creator, imago dei returning to the Source of our creation.
Every character in The Greatest Showman desires communion. While both forms of communion exist in every relationship, our initial cognizant expression of such is through the “we-communion,” which was lacking in the lives of the Oddities. Through one another they found “we-communion.” The “I-thou communion” was seen through the marriage of Phineas and Charity, which suffered a distortion when PT was “blinded by the lights” of fame and worldly notoriety.
I cannot fully listen to the songs from The Greatest Showman without returning to my desire for communion with God through tears and awe. The lyrics reach into my soul and awaken this desire for “we-communion” (“I know there’s a place for us for we are glorious”); for “I-thou Communion” (“Hand in my hand and you promised to never let go”); and essentially for communion with God (“When I stop and see you here, I remember who all this was for”).
While each lyric moves me, the upbeat tempo and playfulness of “The Other Side” managed to pause and reach into my heart through Phineas’ words, which I imagine to be the words of God beckoning me from the role I try to play each day. When I refuse him, as I often do when his way seems a little harder or a little more prone to pull me into my uniqueness, I hear these lyrics:
“But you would finally live a little, finally laugh a little / Just let me give you the freedom to dream / And it’ll wake you up and cure your aching / Take your walls and start ’em breaking / Now that’s a deal that seems worth taking / But I guess I’ll leave that up to you”
Though Barnum chose a life full of oddities through the circus, he didn’t know how to marry the life of worldly stature with the life of true fulfillment in his vocation as husband and father. When he returned home and ordered his priorities properly, he discovered the promise that he had offered in the song referenced above: freedom. This same promise is offered through Christ.
What we desire, at its core, is good…always. Every addiction, every wrong choice, every sin has at its core the goodness that is found in the heart of every human person. Our own humanity longs essentially for goodness, though we may distort that desire by disordered means. Communion reminds us of this goodness and ultimately draws us back to our innate desire to return to God, to go back home.
The Greatest Showman echoes this same desire for communion, our failure to find it, and the inner freedom which is found when we return “home”.
It’s everything you ever want
It’s everything you ever need
And it’s here right in front of you
This is where you wanna be
The pursuit of holiness…isn’t this the greatest show?
Cardinal Sean O’Malley Orders Investigation of St. John’s Seminary, Orders Rector to Take ‘Sabbatical’ – ZENIT
Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, is ordering an investigation of St. John Seminary in his city, stressing he is ‘very concerned.’
In the statement he released on Aug. 10, 2018, the Cardinal stated the current rector will effectively be on ‘sabbatical’ until after the investigations are completed.
“Earlier this week,” his statement began, “I was informed that two former seminarians of St. John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston had posted allegations on social media sites including the Archdiocese’s Facebook page that during their time at the seminary they witnessed and experienced activities which are directly contrary to the moral standards and requirements of formation for the Catholic priesthood. ”
At this time, he stated he was not able to verify or disprove these allegations.
“As Archbishop of Boston, with responsibility for the integrity of the seminary and its compliance with the Church’s Program for Priestly Formation,” he continued, “I am committed to immediate action to address these serious matters and have made the following decisions regarding St. John’s Seminary: First, I have asked Msgr. James P. Moroney, Rector of St. John’s, to go on sabbatical leave for the Fall Semester, beginning immediately, in order that there can be a fully independent inquiry regarding these matters. Second, I have appointed Rev. Stephen E. Salocks, Professor of Sacred Scripture, to serve as Interim Rector at St. John’s.”
The full statement is published below.
In response to national media reporting accusations of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexual improprieties with several adults and his criminal violations of the sexual abuse of minors, Cardinal O’Malley issued a July 24 statement condemning such “morally unacceptable” behavior, and stressed that it is “urgent” that the Church addresses such matters and protects victims.
In the statement, the Cardinal acknowledged these accusations are understandably a source of great disappointment and anger for many, saying he is “deeply troubled by these reports that have traumatized many Catholics and members of the wider community.”
Cardinal O’Malley stressed his “conviction” that the following three specific actions are required at this time:
- First, a fair and rapid adjudication of these accusations
- Second, an assessment of the adequacy of our standards and policies in the Church at every level, and especially in the case of bishops
- Third, communicating more clearly to the Catholic faithful and to all victims the process for reporting allegations against bishops and cardinals
“Failure to take these actions will threaten and endanger the already weakened moral authority of the Church and can destroy the trust required for the Church to minister to Catholics and have a meaningful role in the wider civil society.”
“In this moment there is no greater imperative for the Church than to hold itself accountable to address these matters, which I will bring to my upcoming meetings with the Holy See with great urgency and concern.”
These cases and others, Cardinal O’Malley stressed, require more than apologies. They illustrate, he noted, that when charges are brought regarding a bishop or a cardinal, a major gap still exists in the Church’s policies on sexual conduct and sexual abuse. “While the Church in the United States has adopted a zero tolerance policy regarding the sexual abuse of minors by priests we must have clearer procedures for cases involving bishops.”
“Transparent and consistent protocols are needed to provide justice for the victims and to adequately respond to the legitimate indignation of the community,” the President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors said, adding: “The Church needs a strong and comprehensive policy to address bishops’ violations of the vows of celibacy in cases of the criminal abuse of minors and in cases involving adults.”
Stressing that his experience in several dioceses and his work with the members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors had brought him to this conclusion, he said: “The Church needs to swiftly and decisively take action regarding these matters of critical importance.”
“In every instance of claims made by victims of sexual abuse, whether criminal violations or the abuse of power, the primary concern must be for the victim, their family and their loved ones. The victims are to be commended for bringing to light their tragic experience and must be treated with respect and dignity.”
Here is Cardinal O’Malley’s full August 10 statement:
Earlier this week I was informed that two former seminarians of St. John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston had posted allegations on social media sites including the Archdiocese’s Facebook page that during their time at the seminary they witnessed and experienced activities which are directly contrary to the moral standards and requirements of formation for the Catholic priesthood.
At this time I am not able to verify or disprove these allegations. As Archbishop of Boston, with responsibility for the integrity of the seminary and its compliance with the Church’s Program for Priestly Formation, I am committed to immediate action to address these serious matters and have made the following decisions regarding St. John’s Seminary.
First, I have asked Msgr. James P. Moroney, Rector of St. John’s, to go on sabbatical leave for the Fall Semester, beginning immediately, in order that there can be a fully independent inquiry regarding these matters.
Second, I have appointed Rev. Stephen E. Salocks, Professor of Sacred Scripture, to serve as Interim Rector at St. John’s.
Third, I have appointed the Most Rev. Mark O’Connell, Auxiliary Bishop of Boston, Dr. Francesco Cesareo, President of Assumption College and President of the USCCB National Review Board, which advises the USCCB on matters of child and youth protection policies and practices, and Ms. Kimberly Jones, CEO of Athena Legal Strategies Group to oversee an inquiry into the allegations made this week, the culture of the seminary regarding the personal standards expected and required of candidates for the priesthood, and any seminary issues of sexual harassment or other forms of intimidation or discrimination. The inquiry will be staffed by Mark Dunderdale, Esq., Director of the Archdiocesan Office of Professional Standards and Oversight.
I have directed this group to proceed with due seriousness of their assignment and as soon as possible to submit to me the findings of the inquiry and a set of recommendations to assure appropriate standards of professional behavior in compliance with Church teaching at all levels of seminary life. The faculty, staff and students at the seminary will be advised of my expectation that they will fully cooperate with the inquiry.
The allegations made this week are a source of serious concern to me as Archbishop of Boston. The ministry of the Catholic priesthood requires a foundation of trust with the people of the Church and the wider community in which our priests serve. I am determined that all our seminaries meet that standard of trust and provide the formation necessary for priests to live a demanding vocation of service in our contemporary society.
About the Archdiocese of Boston: The Diocese of Boston was founded on April 8, 1808 and was elevated to Archdiocese in 1875. Currently serving the needs of 1.8 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 289 parishes, across 144 communities, educating approximately 38,000 students in its Catholic schools and 156,000 in religious education classes each year, ministering to the needs of 200,000 individuals through its pastoral and social service outreach. Mass is celebrated in nearly twenty different languages each week. For more information, please visit www.BostonCatholic.org.
One of my favorite subjects to read about and investigate is what might aptly be named ‘self-improvement’ or ‘character building’. To be sure, there are several works which aren’t worth the ink spent to print the books. However, there are a few which bases the majority of their influence on the great minds of the past, and these, I have found, come with wisdom, wit and a sense of higher purpose. More than simply ‘thinking positive’ or ‘becoming in touch with the universal force of success’, these books look at the lives of those who lived with purpose and tenacity and became successful in whatever way they might have defined it, biographical texts which unveil the lifestyles and philosophies of those who have made a positive impact on the world. Put this in line with the vast stories of saints and blessed men and women who were indeed successful for the highest purpose, and there seems to be a reoccurring theme.
You see the common misunderstanding of successful people, whether through spiritual triumphs, business ventures or even battlefield resilience, people mistakenly view these individuals as those who have something that they were simply born with. An erroneous thought that the greats of the ancient and modern world were given some great gift or quality that isn’t something we can work for. The problem isn’t that we have recognized a certain charism or quality that they contain, it is that most people will identify such a quality and then make an excuse for not being as driven by thinking ‘well, I could never do something so great’. We often might sit back and give ourselves a justification for living a less heroic life. However, this surely isn’t a biblical or Christian principle. The consistent message of the Church and that of the prophets of old is that we were made for conquering the world through love and mercy and one simply cannot do that unless they are willing to be great. The consistent theme that I have come to distinguish as the foundation of living a heroically great life is that many of the saints and those who the world has come to hold in high regard for virtuous lives failed, and not just once or twice but again and again. The major difference between them and us is that they were totally committed to the mission and thus their failures were not stumbling blocks but rather a constant school from which they learn how not to live in order to realize their dream.
Think about it. The only difference between St. Peter and Judas Iscariot was that Peter was willing to get back up, beg for forgiveness and get right back into the mission. Because of this willingness to recognize his fault Peter lived on to be one of the greatest martyrs of the Church. Success in life, whether spiritual or physical, is not about never failing. We are human beings, failing is part of our life whether we want it to be or not. No, success is an understanding of where failure fits into the bigger picture. I often come across stories of saints who revealed how many times they would go to confession about the exact same sins over and over and felt that they would never be able to defeat this fault that they struggled with. They may have even gone to their death beds still struggling with some small vice which they consistently battled day in and day out. The light within this seeming darkness of fault is found in the fact that they did not recline to such a failing, instead they fought on. They may not have moved toward perfection by way of a smooth sailing trip, but they expressed and increased their heroic virtue by fighting off that major dragon within their lives. And in this, I find courage.
Too often we believe that we deserve comfort. Our natural instinct is to find shelter and build comfortable lives. And indeed there is something innate within us to want to strive for success so that life is a bit more comfortable and that is a good thing. However, comfort can also act as a tangent from our higher calling. We should want to be successful in order to provide for those in our care and for the community at large, but we should never resign ourselves to think that comfort is the ultimate end. Truly successful people are those who stay hungry, those who could easily retire and yet push forward to their next adventure. It is the same in our spiritual lives and is reflected by the great saints of our Faith. St. Isaac Jogues, who through natural human reason could have decided to resign his mission after having his fingers chewed off by the very Huron he was bringing Christ too, instead went back to Europe and begged for a companion to join him so that the Eucharist could continue to be elevated for the people he came to love. We wouldn’t have blamed him for not wanting to go back but instead, he fought on and did not see enduring this incredible suffering as a failure, instead he focused on the mission and pushed forward. He didn’t desire comfort; he desired souls, which means that failure and hardship are simply necessities for success.
So while we might go through times in our lives when we feel like all we do is fail, we sin the same way over and over, we allow our fear to take over when spreading the Gospel message, we lose heart when considering the many dangers which await a true disciple of our Lord, courage can be found in the fact that failure is not the problem, giving up is what leads to the same end as Judas Iscariot. We all have that little voice inside of us begging us not to take the easy route; something within us beckons us to be great. And we all know that greatness is not easy, it requires one failure after another, however, through the grace of Christ and our own human drive, we can become what this world needs: men and women who have failed their way to sanctity.
Pope Francis presided over an especially large and youth crowd estimated at 90,000 to pray the noonday Angelus on August 12, 2018. The crowd included some 70,000 youth people from various dioceses of Italy, in Rome for weekend encounters with the Pope.
The events culminate a weeklong walking pilgrimage that some 40,000 young people began on August 3 through the territories of their dioceses, called “Per Mille Strade”, the Italian for “Across Thousand Roads”. The Pope joined the groud the evening of August 11, 2018, in Rome’s Circus Maximus. The gathering included questions from the young people, answers from the Holy Father, and musical entertainment.
The Holy Father’s Comments to Youth After the Angelus
In particular, I greet the young people of Italian dioceses, accompanied by their respective Bishops, their priests, and educators. Over these days you have shed your enthusiasm and your faith through the streets of Rome. I thank you for your presence and for your Christian witness! And in thanking you yesterday, I forgot to say a word to the priests, who are those closest to you: I thank the priests very much, I thank them for the work they do day after day, I thank them for their patience — because one needs patience to work with you all! The patience of priests . . . I thank them so much, so much, so much. And I’ve also seen many Sisters who work with you: I also thank the Sisters very much.
And my gratitude extends to the Italian Episcopal Conference, represented here by the President, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, who organized this meeting of young people in view of the forthcoming Synod of Bishops.
Dear young people, as you return to your communities, witness to your contemporaries and to all those you meet, the joy of the fraternity and the communion you experienced in these days of pilgrimage and prayer.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
One of the main missions of the Church here on Earth is to search for and promote beauty. Our universe, as it has been created and saturated with meaning, depth, and beauty, is a giant exploration map of beautiful and immeasurably fulfilling treasures. Over the past decade, I have found one of these treasures in the love, ire, and song of Frank Turner – a folk/punk musician from Hampshire, England.
Frank Turner, former lead singer of Million Dead – an English post-hardcore band – and current frontman of Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, is an outright and self-proclaimed atheist. Turner is a vagabond musician who picked up a guitar to write about his life playing for anyone who would listen. And his life is a crazy one, full of alcohol and drugs, promiscuity, sleeping on stranger’s floors, and endless escapades of summer music festivals. Yet, his music has reached the depths of my soul more than many outright Christian artists. This is because Mr. Turner has come to know and be transformed by beauty. Beauty is the one transcendental that immediately and without fail reaches the depths of the human soul.
As I said, I was initially drawn to Frank’s music because of its beauty. The mere sound of his voice and the strum of his guitar captured my attention as I was quickly drawn into the music. Then, AFTER my initial encounter with the musical beauty, I was brought to the lyrical beauty, the beauty about which he sang. But as a Christian, as a Catholic seminarian, where did I find the beauty in the music of an atheistic folk/punk musician?
Beauty transcends whether one believes in Christianity or atheism. Beauty is anthropological – it reaches us on a human level. Coming to see this reality after many situations and circumstances in his life, even ones of deep pain and darkness, Frank began to sing about the beauty of humanity. His songs are stories of anthropological poetry. In his songs, Frank dives into the heights and depths of human existence as encountered through his own experience. He explores what it means to be human through times of love and loss, of grace and sin. I have not found this kind of authenticity and depth in many other artists.
The beauty of Frank’s music comes, partly, from his acknowledgment of his own brokenness and failings in life. Whether you are Christian or atheist, you cannot deny that humanity is broken, fallen, not perfect. Some of my favorite songs that show this anthropological depth are: “Redemption”, “Tell Tale Signs”, “Casanova Lament”, ”Substitute”, “The Next Round”, “Father’s Day”, “Song for Josh”, and “Jet Lag”. These are emotionally heavy songs that deal with the everyday brokenness and imperfection of humanity. Yet, Frank performs them authentically, passionately, and beautifully.
Some of these songs may even appear to be vulgar to a piously minded religious person, but I don’t think that truth, goodness, and beauty are found strictly within the walls of apparent piety. Truth and beauty exist in all kinds of places. Certainly, for the early Christians, the cross was not a place they expected to find beauty – it was the last place.
Despite the sins and failings of human beings, one can tell from his music and from his autobiography-by-way-of-tour-journal, The Road Beneath My Feet, that Frank simply loves human beings. He loves spending time with others and cherishes his encounter with them, searching for the good in every person he meets on the road. Furthermore, Frank tries to help people by giving them a sense of hope.
One of his newest records, duly named Positive Songs for Negative People, shows this hopeful approach to life, yet a life that will indeed come to an abrupt end. Hope seems to me to be an odd and even conflicting virtue for an atheistic mindset as death would be much more an intimidating reality to an atheist than a Christian. Why hope when the future doesn’t and can’t essentially look optimistic if death is an imminent and final end? However, as Frank sings in “Get Better”, one of the hit tracks off the Positive Songs record, he reminds people, “Come on now, let’s fix this mess. We could get better. Because we’re not dead yet.” According to Frank, and rightfully so, life is beautiful and worth living well, of which I would totally agree.
The beauty of Frank’s music also comes through in the love for his country, history, and culture. He always looks back to where he has come from and who has come before him. There is something that Frank loves about his English culture and history. History and tradition are indeed beautiful. Frank sings about the beauty of the English rivers and seas in a few songs, but particularly in “Rivers”. He sings about the beauty of where he grew up in “Wessex Boy” and dives into folk history in his a cappella rendition of “Barbara Allen”. Frank also alludes often of the beauty of artists who have come before him, such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Ernest Hemingway. Whether it’s by literature, song, history, or culture, all of these things are places where the beauty of humanity expresses itself to the Divine, the way humanity gives itself back to the Creator.
Even though Frank believes that there is no God – even unabashedly in his song “Glory Hallelujah” – I think that he searches for God much more than he knows. And I hope that would not be an offensive statement to him, but one of provoking conversation. In his songs, he is always searching for truth, beauty, and fulfillment.
I think Frank’s view of life falls in line more with a secular humanism than anything else. This brand of humanism, born out of a rejection of God and an undying love of humanity, believes in the uniqueness and sacredness of humanity by its own volition. It proclaims that everyone is good and you should treat everyone with respect and goodness just out of the mere goodness and beauty of humanity.
On one level I totally agree with this ideology. Human beings are unique and beautiful creatures with an inherent dignity, but I don’t think that humanity’s uniqueness and beauty come solely from itself. The question is: Where does humanity’s beauty come from?
The answer is that the true beauty of humanity necessarily has to come from a divine source, Jesus – the Son of God become man. The Incarnation is the answer to Frank’s question of humanity’s beauty. Think about this logically. A finite being cannot give itself infinite, transcendent beauty and be able to respond to infinite, transcendent beauty all on its own. Human beings are beautiful, not because of self proclamation, but because of divine endowment.
Furthermore, Jesus’s Incarnation not only gave humanity the fullness of it’s beauty, but Jesus throughout his life on earth went through the same sinful temptations that Frank talks about in his songs. Christ was fully human, yet he overcame every human temptation. Thus, in a very real way, Christ gave us the power to overcome temptation to sin as well.
In the Church’s proclamation of Christian humanism, the beauty of humanity doesn’t come from within, but from without. Christian humanism, supported by Karol Wojtyla and others, recognizes the uniqueness and beauty of humanity because of the Creation of God the Father, the Incarnation of God the Son, and the Sanctification of God the Holy Spirit. Humanity’s beauty is dependent on the beauty of God, who has created out of love and has given life and purpose to the universe. The beauty of humanity makes sense only in light of Christianity, not despite of it.
I’ve wanted to write something about Mr. Turner’s music for some time now, but I wanted to wait until I had something authentic to say about it, in the same way that Frank authentically reached me through his music. I pray that the Holy Spirit may inspire him to create further beauty and that he may come to know the source and summit of the beauty he chases, Jesus Christ God’s Incarnate Son, who has given us all a beautiful existence.
Pope Receives More From Chile at Santa Marta to Work Toward Preventing Abuses & Cover Ups in Future – ZENIT
Below is a working English translation of the declaration that the Vice-director of the Holy See Press Office, Paloma Garcia Ovejero, issued this evening, August 10, 2018, in Rome:
The Holy Father Pope Francis received this morning in his residence Domus Santa Marta Monsignor Juan Ignacio González, Bishop of San Bernardo (Chile), and Ana María Celis Brunet, President of the Chilean National Council for the Prevention of Abuses and Accompaniment of Victims.
The goal of the meeting was to collect information and exchange views on the steps that are being taken in Chile to deal with cases of abuse and to prevent them from happening again. An important point of the conversation has been about the suffering of the victims and their need to find consolation and healing.
Pope Francis, who follows with interest each step forward made by the Chilean Episcopal Conference, has expressed his wish that they continue to clarify all questions in order to be able to give an appropriate response to everyone.
[Working English Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov, Zenit Vatican Correspondent]
Today the Church celebrates the witness of Saint Lawrence, who was brutally tortured and killed because he would not renounce his Christian faith when commanded to do so during the reign of the Roman emperor, Valerian.
Tales are frequently told of St. Lawrence’s composure and wit, elements of his character that did not fail him even while he was under extreme duress. One such story, which details his response to being literally grilled by his executioners, provokes amazement and laughter to this day. As that tale has been shared so often, I will save it for another day.
However, I will call to mind the story that is told of St. Lawrence’s arrest.
After the arrest and imprisonment of the pope and many of the priests of Rome, Lawrence, a deacon, was summoned before a magistrate and ordered to turn over to him, in the stern judge’s words “the treasures of the Church.” Lawrence, interpreting the magistrate’s words with utmost seriousness, gatherered together the impoverished, the disabled, the widowed, the orphaned, the sick, and the elderly, and brought them before the court. The magistrate, enraged by the commotion, demanded that Lawrence explain himself, to which the deacon replied: “Sir, I have provided you with precisely what you have asked for.” And then motioning towards the people he had gathered, Lawrence exclaimed, “These are the treasures of the Church.”
There is a worldly impression that, because of the apparent wealth of the Church and the vast cultural riches in art and architecture that the Church has accumulated over time, the Church values, more than anything else, the worldly goods that show forth her culture and the resources she uses to accomplish her mission. (Critics are not convinced that the Church as a human society and a living culture must make use of real resources, nor do they believe that the majority of the Church’s material goods are given over to serving real human need.) However, as important as these things are, they do not in actual fact constitute what the Church values most in the world. The treasures of the Church are those successors to that band of the poor and afflicted that St. Lawrence gathered before a Roman magistrate centuries ago. The poor, as the privileged bearers of Christ’s presence in the world, are our greatest treasure. Serving them, loving them, we Christians truly believe that we are serving and loving Christ.
Christians cannot delegate to others their responsibility to serve and love Christ’s beloved poor. The Church’s mission on behalf of the poor cannot be viewed as the exclusive concern of distant government bureacracies or even religious organizations. All the baptized have a role to enact inasmuch as being a Christian means that you offer yourself in loving service to the Lord—not in the abstract but in the particular. The 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel presses upon every Christian with enormous gravity: as often as we did it, as we do it, for others—“you did it to me.”
But what should one do? So many are in need! Christ seems everywhere to be hungry, naked, imprisoned, and sick!
The answer to this challenge seems to be found in a careful consideration of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Use these as a guide, and discern through them where the suffering Body of Christ might be served and how the Man of Sorrows is making himself known. And pray that, when the moment comes and you are called to bring forward the treasures of the Church, you know as well as St. Lawrence did where precisely those treasures are to be found.