Các linh mục không thể nào bỏ qua môn siêu hình học / Nguyên đại sứ Mỹ tại Vatican nhớ lại nhiều điều về Đức Giáo Hoàng Gioan-Phaolô II / Trung Tâm Maria Nadarét sẽ khai trương / Tác giả: Đức Giáo Hoàng Bênêđitô XVI không sợ gây ra khó chịu / Giáo phận Detroit ở Mỹ có hai giám mục phụ tá / Đức Giám Mục Aquila: Giáo Hội nên thi hành quyền bính thế nào? / Trang mạng Facebook của Đức Giáo Hoàng Gioan-Phaolô II lôi kéo 31.000 người xem / Quyển sách mới của Đức Giáo Hoàng trình bày chân dung sống động của Chúa Giêsu /Khoá giáo lý tăng cường tại High Noon / Xưng tội trước khi chịu phép Rửa Tội? / Giáo phận Hồng Kông phát hành cuốn cẩm nang giáo lý xã hội bàng tiếng trung hoa
Vatican: Priests can't skip metaphysics (Các linh mục không thể nào bỏ qua môn siêu hình học)
Calls for More Philosophy Study at Ecclesiastical Institutions
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 22, 2011 - With the human ability to think under fire from relativism, priests and theologians need to study more philosophy, the Vatican says.This was one of the main points of the "Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies of Philosophy," which Benedict XVI approved Jan. 28 (the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas), and Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, presented Tuesday.
The cardinal explained that the Church is always adapting to respond to the needs of changing historical-cultural circumstances, and that many ecclesial institutions today are lacking in philosophical formation.
This absence is particularly noteworthy at a time "in which reason itself is menaced by utilitarianism, skepticism, relativism and distrust of reason's ability to know the truth regarding the fundamental problems of life," he reflected.
New guidelines are in accordance with Pope John Paul II's "Fides et Ratio," the cardinal added, which notes that "theology has always had and continues to have need of a philosophical contribution."
Cardinal Grocholewski said the Church intends to recover metaphysics, namely a philosophy that will again pose the most profound questions of the human being.
The Vatican official stressed that technology and science cannot "satiate man's thirst in regard to the ultimate questions: What does happiness consist of? Who am I? Is the world the fruit of chance? What is my destiny? etc. Today, more than ever, the sciences are in need of wisdom."
He said that the "original vocation" of philosophy needs to be recovered: "the search for truth and its sapiential and metaphysical dimension."
The cardinal also emphasized the importance of logic, calling it a discipline that structures reason and that has disappeared because of the present crisis of Christian culture.
The rector of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Dominican Father Charles Morerod, added that there is no contradiction between philosophy and faith.
"Christianity presupposes a harmony between God and human reason," he said.
"The importance of philosophy is linked directly with the human desire to know the truth and to organize it," the rector explained. "Experience shows that knowledge of philosophy helps us to better organize, in cooperation with other disciplines, the study of any science."
"Metaphysics seeks to know the whole of reality -- culminating in knowledge of the First Cause of everything -- and to show the mutual relationship between the different fields of learning, avoiding any closing in on themselves of the individual sciences," he added.
Ecclesiastical philosophy degrees will thus increase to 180 credits, going from two-year programs to three-year. There will also be more stringent requirements for professors, with greater demands for doctors in philosophy, preferably with degrees earned from an ecclesiastical institution. Theology degree programs will not be longer, but will have more philosophy credits during the first years.
Former ambassador remembers John Paul II (Nguyên đại sứ Mỹ tại Vatican nhớ lại nhiều điều về Đức Giáo Hoàng Gioan-Phaolô II)
Raymond Flynn Speaks at Polish Parish Dedication
BOSTON, MARCH 22, 2011 - A former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican remembers many things about working with Pope John Paul II, but he says the Holy Father's personal kindness to his family is what he's most grateful for.
Raymond Flynn returned to the neighborhood of his birth last week to speak at the dedication of the Pope John Paul II Hall at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Flynn was the mayor of Boston from 1984 until 1993, when he was appointed ambassador to the Holy See, a post he filled until 1997.
He spoke of the Polish Pontiff's "remarkable legacy and record of courageous moral and political leadership in the world." noting how he "inspired the people of Poland to stand up to Communism and oppression, and in doing so, changed Eastern Europe and the world."
"I spoke with the Pope on numerous occasions and traveled to several countries with him, but his personal kindness to my family will be what I will always be most grateful for," Flynn said. "I was with him in Boston long before he became Pope, and was in Rome when he died."
Flynn stated that young people "need to be reminded of the very positive impact that John Paul II had on our culture and society. He spoke out on issues when it wasn't very popular, and reminded us about the dignity of every person."
"I was born in this Polish Catholic neighborhood of Boston, and have been able to achieve a number of things in life," the former ambassador reflected, "but knowing Pope John Paul II, will be one of the greatest honors in my life."
Mary of nazareth center set to open (Trung Tâm Maria Nadarét sẽ khai trương)
Jerusalem Patriarch to Inaugurate Complex on Friday
NAZARETH, MARCH 22, 2011 - On the feast of the Annunciation, just across from the Basilica of the Annunciation, an international, interreligious center dedicated to Our Lady is set to open.The International Mary of Nazareth Center will be inaugurated Friday by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal.
A place for biblical reflection, the center puts technology at the service of the encounter with Mary and the discovery of the Christian faith.
During the inauguration, the Mary of Nazareth Association, which built the center, will hand the keys to Father Laurent Fabre, founder of the Chemin Neuf Community, which will manage the center.
At 5 p.m., an ecumenical celebration will bring together representatives of the Churches of the Holy Land. The following day, the center will open its doors to the public.
Pilgrims will be able to submerge themselves in "a multi-media show, with the aesthetic and pedagogical resources of modern audiovisual techniques, and to review on passing through its four great halls the essential moments of the history of salvation and the Virgin Mary's place in Scripture," explained Olivier Bonnassies, executive director of the Mary of Nazareth Association.
In an area of 4,400 square meters (43,000 square feet), one will be able to visit the Chapel of Adoration, which has a unique view of the Basilica, the biblical gardens in panoramic terraces that dominate the whole of Nazareth, the cafeteria recreated from a hall with arches, and a shop.
A statement from the association noted that during the construction and renovation, a unique archaeological discovery was made: a house from Jesus' time and several cisterns and hiding places excavated from the rock.
The International Mary of Nazareth Center has an ecumenical aim and promotes interreligious dialogue, showing in one of the rooms the way in which the Virgin Mary is perceived by the Eastern Churches, in the Quran and as a Jewish woman.
"This vocation of unity explains why the initiative is supported unanimously by the local Churches of the Holy Land," the association statement reflected. "Bishop Marcuzzo, who is supporting the project, has given his unwavering support to this work of unity, hope and peace."
Author: Benedict XVI is unafraid of causing discomfort (Tác giả: Đức Giáo Hoàng Bênêđitô XVI không sợ gây ra khó chịu)
Calls Pontiff Gentle and Humble, Plain-Spoken and Perturbing
ROME, MARCH 22, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is distinguished by gentleness and humility, but that does not stop him from touching the bare nerves of the world and the Church.
How does he do that? By proclaiming a God who is Love and who is Truth.
This is the observation made by Stefano Fontana in his book "L'Eta del Papa Scomodo" (The Age of the Plain-Speaking Pope), published by Cantagalli with the support of the Magna Carta Foundation.
Fontana, the director of the Cardinal van Thuân International Observatory for the Social Doctrine of the Church, presents in the book three years of articles (2007-2010) published on the Web site loccidentale.it.
He spoke with ZENIT about his view of Benedict XVI as a Pope who might shake people out of their comfort zone.
"By confirming that Christianity is the true religion, this Pope has caused two explosive consequences," he said. "The first is his having drawn the world to question itself about its own truth; the second is his having claimed a public role for the Christian religion. These are two exacting requests that many sectors, whether in the world or the Church, have trouble accepting and often openly oppose."
Presenting Christianity as truth, Fontana asserted, means that the world is "called to redo its reckoning of truth itself, in fact with the subject of truth as such, after thousands of philosophies have said, and continue to say, that truth doesn't exist."
Then, "to ask for a place for God in the world" goes against a view of politics without any absolutes," the author continued.
Challenging a widespread mentality is "difficult and painful," Fontana proposed, and that's why this Pope can cause discomfort, not only to the world, but also within the Church.
"Benedict XVI preaches two things: that God is love and that God is truth. He causes discomfort above all because of the second affirmation," Fontana said. "The world, in fact, accepts in some way that Christianity announce a truth proposed with love, but it does not accept that it proposes a love respectful of truth."
The Pontiff proposes "non-negotiables," the author told ZENIT, and this brings opposition, from society and churchmen both.
"[I]n present-day society there is nothing that is 'non-negotiable,' that is absolutely true or false, good or bad," he said. And "in order to have 'non-negotiable' principles there must be a place for God in the world. Without God everything is negotiable. For this reason the 'non-negotiable principles' of life, of the family, of liberty of education become continually grounds for this Pope's 'uncomfortableness.'"
Other reasons are more specific, Fontana proposed: "The subject of the liturgy, for example, or that of the evaluation of the Second Vatican Council, of the use of the condom in the fight against AIDS, and women priests. In the end, however, all these more specific topics, can lead back to those that I have mentioned above.
"The logic of the world would like to impede the logic of the Church from existing and would like her also to be conformed to the logic of the world. Is there equality of rights among men? Then why can a woman never become a priest? Is there the right of liberty? Why, then, can one not procreate as one wishes? Is democracy not a value? Then why can there not be a liturgical democracy with the individual communities inventing their own liturgy? As can be seen, the world does not accept that the Christian religion should express a truth and would like to extend to her the truth of the world.
"But the Pope says precisely the contrary. He does not deny the natural truths, but says that if they are deprived of supernatural light they also lose the way. Hence it is understandable that this Pope, though with the gentleness that distinguishes him, touches all the bare nerves of the world and also of so many sectors of the Church."
[Reporting by Antonio Gaspari]
2 auxiliary bishops named for Detroit (Giáo phận Detroit ở Mỹ có hai giám mục phụ tá)
Archbishop Notes "New Capacity" for Sharing Christ
DETROIT, Michigan, MARCH 22, 2011 - Benedict XVI named Monsignor Donald Hanchon and Father Michael Byrnes as auxiliary bishops of the Detroit Archdiocese.
Both clergy have been serving in that archdiocese under Archbishop Allen Vigneron, and will receive their episcopal ordination on May 5.
Bishop-designate Hanchon, 63, has most recently been serving as episcopal vicar for the archdiocese's Central Region, and pastor of Holy Redeemer parish.
Ordained a priest in 1974, he has also been the archdiocesan coordinator for Hispanic ministries.
Upon hearing of his appointment, Bishop-elect Hanchon stated, "I renew my confidence in God's grace, and humbly accede to the Holy Father's wish to appoint me as a bishop to work under Archbishop Vigneron."
He added, "I promise obedience because I believe that the God who began this good work in me all those years ago will indeed bring it to fulfillment."
Bishop-designate Byrnes, 52, has been serving as vice rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary and pastor of Presentation/Our Lady of Victory Parish. He was ordained in 1996.
The bishop-elect stated: "I am honored that the Holy Father and Archbishop Vigneron have such confidence in me to make this appointment. I will do my best not to let them down."
He continued, "I love being a priest of Jesus Christ, and I have loved my work helping young men discern and prepare for the priesthood, and as the pastor of Presentation/Our Lady of Victory Parish to enable the ministry of administrator Deacon Hubert Sanders."
"Archbishop Vigneron mentioned to me that my assignment as auxiliary bishop will entail 'helping parishes and helping priests,'" Bishop-designate Byrnes said. "I place my trust in God's providence that these experiences, along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, will help me to do that."
Archbishop Vigneron affirmed, "It's a great blessing for the archdiocese to have auxiliary bishops to lead two of the pastoral regions, as well as to perform other pastoral duties inherent in a bishop's role."
He added, "More than an honor, it's about new capacity for sharing Christ with others."
The Detroit Archdiocese has 1.5 million Catholics, with 641 priests, 191 permanent deacons, and 1,552 religious.
Bishop Aquila: how should the Church exercise authority? (Đức Giám Mục Aquila: Giáo Hội nên thi hành quyền bính thế nào?)
Urges Clergy to Uphold Truth Despite Unpopularity
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, MARCH 22, 2011- The bishop of Fargo, North Dakota, is urging clergy to imitate Jesus' exercise of authority and to be unafraid of correcting others in service of the truth.
Bishop Samuel Aquila made this appeal Friday in Philadelphia during his keynote address at the 10th Annual Symposium on the Spirituality and Identity of the Diocesan Priest, which was co-sponsored by The Institute for Priestly Formation and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.
"Since the Second Vatican Council both the world and the Church have lived through times that question authority and make the exercise of authority taxing," the prelate affirmed.
He noted, "Today there is skepticism, doubt, dissent and challenges which continue to go against the exercise of authority."
"Within the Church, this proves especially difficult as the secular culture undermines any authority attributed to God, and makes man into god," the bishop acknowledged.
"While we are in the world," he continued, "we are not of the world, but of Christ, and authority must be exercised as Jesus exercised it -- in service to the Father, to the truth, and to those entrusted to our care."
Bishop Aquila affirmed, "In living the teaching authority of Christ, the bishop and priest have the responsibility to know and love the Scriptures as well as the Catechism, teaching with clarity and faithfulness what has been received from Christ and handed on to the Church."
Communion with Christ
He noted that this must be done "in profound inner communion with Christ," which means "putting aside one's personal opinions and seeing with the eyes and heart of Christ."
"Jesus at times was direct in calling people to conversion -- to change their way of acting and thinking," the prelate observed. "This directness makes many of us uncomfortable today."
He urged: "We should follow his example and language, even if we do not use his precise words.
"His language is good to contemplate and definitely should challenge us to look at how we correct the faithful, including priests and bishops, and speak the truth especially with those who say they are with Christ and the Church but do not accept the teaching of Jesus and the Church."
"Bishops and priests, as an act of loving obedience to Christ, must return to a full exercise of the governing authority of Christ witnessed in the Gospel," the bishop asserted.
He added, "If we do not exercise that authority, are hesitant to exercise it, or doubt it, then it only leads to the father of lies taking hold of the minds and hearts of the faithful, and their continuing to act in the ways of man and not the ways of God."
"Jesus is the shepherd who teaches us as bishops and priests and future priests how to shepherd, how to live his own pastoral authority bestowed upon us by him and the Holy Spirit on the day of our ordinations," Bishop Aquila affirmed.
He stated: "The authority that Jesus exercises is received from the Father. He is at the service of the Father."
"In listening to the voice of Jesus," the prelate said, "we observe that at the heart of authority are obedience and love."
He encouraged particular attention to the "formation of the seminarian's heart" to "help them to receive the desires of Jesus in their own hearts, and prepare them to receive, in obedience, the authority that Christ will hand on to them on the day of their ordination."
The bishop outlined "four practical ways for seminaries to form hearts receptive to the desires of Jesus:" lectio divina, the school of Nazareth, the sacrament of reconciliation and the daily celebration of the Eucharist.
"The seminarian, in having the desires of Jesus, is called to desire to make himself a total self gift to the Father and the Church," he affirmed.
"In the exercise of the governing authority of Christ, we too, if we have the heart of Christ and the love of Christ, will end up on the Cross with Christ," Bishop Aquila stated.
He added, "Certainly this was the experience of St. Peter and St. Paul, St. John Fisher, and so many other bishop and priest martyrs throughout the history of the Church."
The bishop concluded, "Ultimately, living the pastoral authority of Jesus in loving obedience will lead us to the Cross as it led him to the Cross, for we will love the Father with the heart of Jesus."
John Paul II Facebook page draws 31,000 fans (Trang mạng Facebook của Đức Giáo Hoàng Gioan-Phaolô II lôi kéo 31.000 người xem)
Videos Offered in Various Languages
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 22, 2011- In less than a week, a Facebook page created for Pope John Paul II on the occasion of his upcoming beatification has already attracted almost 31,000 admirers.
The fans of the Facebook page, which was created by Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Center with the agreement of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, are growing in number every minute.
In just a few days, the videos published on the page as well as on a new YouTube channel have been watched 50,000 times; some have been accessed 113,000 times.
There have been more than 2 million visits to the Web page for access to its news.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Television Center as well as of Vatican Radio, said the Vatican is "very pleased with the way it's going."
"With this initiative," he added, "we have responded to all those who requested the use of the social networks to prepare the beatification," which will take place on May 1.
Father Lombardi reported that this week videos will be offered with the Pope's voice in various languages during his trips around the world and in the Vatican.
There are some 40 videos offered thus far. In addition, 25 video clips have been made to present significant and particular moments of the pontificate's trips.
Father Lombardi noted that at present, John Paul II's page on Facebook is the first to appear when one looks for his name with a search engine, "and this in itself is already an element of gratification."
Pope's new book offers vivid portrait of Jesus (Quyển sách mới của Đức Giáo Hoàng trình bày chân dung sống động của Chúa Giêsu)
Interview With Mark Brumley, President of Ignatius Press
By Genevieve Pollock
SAN FRANCISCO, MARCH 22, 2011 - Benedict XVI's newest book, which hit the New York Times bestseller list days after its release, paints a vivid portrait of Jesus for believers and nonbelievers alike, says Mark Brumley.
The president of Ignatius Press, the publishing company that released the English-language version of "Jesus of Nazareth Part II: Holy Week -- From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection" on March 10, explained to ZENIT that this book holds something for everyone.
In this interview with ZENIT, Brumley underlined the Pope's insights in this book that "refresh" the image of Jesus, and offer a new perspective to believers, nonbelievers, scholars, and all people.
He explained how the Pontiff challenges us to study the Bible from the viewpoint of faith, and not just historical-critical scholarship. In this way, Brumley affirmed, readers are offered the chance to know Jesus of Nazareth on a deeper level.
ZENIT: In what way should this text be read? As a meditational companion for Lent? A scholarly presentation?
Brumley: There is something for everyone in this book.
Certainly, this is a great book for anyone to read for Lent, especially for Holy Week.
Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Christians will find a presentation of the final week of the Lord's earthly life from which all can benefit and grow closer to Christ.
Believers who meditate on what Benedict says about the key moments in Holy Week will find their reading of the Gospel accounts transformed and deepened.
Unbelievers will be challenged to reassess their assumptions about Jesus of Nazareth.
Scholars can benefit from reading the book because the Pope has some profound interpretations of the Gospels and his basic method -- integrating faith and historical reason -- is the next step in the development of fruitful study of the Bible. It's the direction scholarship needs to move if it intends to remain relevant.
ZENIT: Benedict XVI likens his work to St. Thomas Aquinas' theological treatise on the mysteries of the life of Christ. What are the relevant points of comparison that can help us understand the Pope's purpose in writing this book?
Brumley: Just to be clear: Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two isn't really a theological treatise.
The Holy Father likens his book to St. Thomas' treatment of the mysteries of the Lord's life, but the style and mode of presentation are very different. The goal of both treatments is to help the reader understand the meaning of the various mysteries of the Lord's life.
In Benedict's case, though, his purpose is to make it easier for the reader to have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ through reflection on the biblical message.
St. Thomas is trying systematically to reflect on the mysteries of the life of Christ to provide an overall synthesis of theology. That goal presupposes that the reader already has personal knowledge of Jesus Christ.
ZENIT: Could you say something about the Pope's treatment of the controversial question, "Who is responsible for Jesus' death?"
Brumley: Pope Benedict's treatment reflects the established Catholic teaching that the Jewish people as a whole are not responsible for the death of Jesus. In this sense, what he writes is not new.
What is new is his treatment of New Testament passages commonly cited as blaming the whole Jewish people for Christ's death.
He shows how it is a misreading of these texts to assign collective responsibility to the Jewish people. He also shows how Matthew's description of Jesus' blood being on the whole people and their children (Mt 27:25), doesn't, from the Christian perspective, refer to a call for vengeance but for redemption.
Jesus' blood, Benedict insists, isn't poured out "against" anyone but "for" all.
ZENIT: What were some of the more striking insights into Jesus' life and message that you encountered in this book?
Brumley: Benedict manages to refresh the image of Jesus, so to speak.
Among the most interesting insights, in my view, is the Holy Father's treatment of the Last Supper. Scholars debate whether the Last Supper was a Passover meal.
Benedict follows the view that the Last Supper occurred on the evening before the Passover meal would have been eaten.
The Lord and the disciples did not eat a conventional Passover meal. But Jesus transformed the meal into "his" Passover, anticipating that he would offer himself on the cross, on the following day, as the true Passover Lamb.
Another insight is the Holy Father's insistence that we take seriously the idea of Jesus offering an atoning sacrifice, an idea many modern theologians unjustifiably reject.
The Holy Father doesn't simply rehash ideas here; he points out that atonement is not simply something God demands in order to be appeased; it is something God himself does, in taking upon himself the sins of the world.
The Holy Father also underscores the centrality of the Resurrection: If Jesus did not rise from the dead, our faith is, as St. Paul notes, in vain, because we cannot take Jesus and his teaching as the standard by which we measure our lives. He is simply a human being, with a human message.
Only if Jesus rose from the dead has the human situation been transformed.
ZENIT: In this book, Benedict XVI encourages a certain method of hermeneutics, of studying and deepening in the figure and message of Jesus. Could you say something about this?
Brumley: He thinks that we need a way of interpreting the Bible that combines historical-critical scholarship and what he calls the "hermeneutic of faith" -- a way that casts light on the biblical text from the larger perspective of Christian faith and from the way the Bible has been read through the centuries by other believers.
Historical-critical scholarship is helpful, the Holy Father insists, but it has limitations. If those limitations are not appreciated, then distortion results.
The Holy Father thinks that Bible interpreters can overcome some of those limitations by incorporating a faith-based element of interpretation.
Of course he knows that someone who uses his method might come up with different interpretations of this passage or that. Still, the Holy Father thinks the basic image and message of Jesus will emerge by using this method, unlike what happens when the historical-critical method alone is used.
ZENIT: What in your opinion are some of the most important contributions of Benedict XVI in this book?
Brumley: The most important contributions of the book are, in my opinion, Benedict's method of reading the Bible -- combining a faith perspective and a historical-critical method -- and, ultimately, the vivid, personal portrait he paints of Jesus.
Believers and unbelievers alike can read this book and come away with the sense that they know Jesus in some way.
The believer, of course, will find this "knowing" to be a matter of knowing better someone he already knows and with whom he has a relationship.
The unbeliever will know something about Jesus as a person of history, but the unbeliever may also be challenged to consider whether Jesus is only a figure of the past or whether he is the living Son of God.
An intense catechism session at High Noon (Khoá giáo lý tăng cường tại High Noon)
Biblical Reflection for 3rd Sunday of Lent A
By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB
TORONTO, MARCH 22, 2011 - In order to grasp the meaning of today's first reading from Exodus 17:3-7, we must recall what transpires in the preceding chapter.
God's little flock faced the hardship of a lack of food and protested to Moses. Just as the Lord had heard the cry of the people suffering the oppression of slavery (Exodus 3:7), God now heard their cry of starvation and provided them with nourishment in the form of manna and quail. While their lack of food had been sated in Chapter 16, today's passage confronts them with a new and dire challenge: the lack of drinkable water.
In 17:1, the narrator states this simple fact as a preface to the people's quarrel with Moses. Perhaps taking a cue from the previous experience, Moses interprets their quarrel with him as a direct charge against God (17:2). He makes a similar move in Exodus 16:8: "What are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord."
While Moses' response centers on the conflict, God's reaction delivers compassion. The God of Israel never condemns the grumbling Hebrews, but rather simply instructs Moses to gather the elders, take them to a rock at Horeb, and strike it with the staff Moses had used to perform so many other miracles in Egypt. God grants Moses the reassurance of the Divine Presence: "I will be standing there in front of you" (6). In giving manna, bread from heaven, earlier, and now water (from an earthly rock), God provides for his people and shows his mastery over creation.
The two names -- Massah and Meribah -- become synonymous with the testing of Israel's God, "You shall not put the Lord to the test, as you tested him at Massah" (Deuteronomy 6:16; Psalm 81:7). When the people put God to the test it suggests that they need to see God's presence with them in a tangible fashion. The peoples' action in testing God is interpreted in Verse 7b as their lack of belief that God is with them. As soon as it gets difficult the people's immediate response is to doubt the presence of God.
The theme of thirsting and water continues in today's fascinating and evocative Gospel story of the woman of Samaria and her encounter with Jesus at high noon (John 4:5-42). The Samaritan woman is the most carefully and intensely catechized person in John's Gospel.
Today's story is fraught with many moments of irony and several things are wrong with the whole scene at Jacob's well, deep in the heart of Samaria. First of all, the well is a public space common to both men and women, but they ought not to be there at the same time. Why does this woman come to the well at noon? Likely, it's because the women of her village shun her for her shameless behavior. She has had five husbands and is now living with someone other than her husband (16-18). It sounds like a contemporary Hollywood epic!
For a man to speak to an unchaperoned woman in a public place is very suspicious. Jews regarded Samaritan women as ritually impure, and therefore Jews were forbidden to drink from any vessel the women had handled. The disciples are utterly shocked (once again) at Jesus' behavior.
The startled woman asked Jesus if he thought he was greater "than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it with his sons and flocks" (12). The comic relief of the story comes to an abrupt end with Jesus' second command, "Go, call your husband." In the course of the dialogue with the Samaritan woman Jesus reveals that he is indeed greater than the patriarch Jacob in that he, Jesus, inaugurates a new covenant, a new cult, and a new revelation.
When Jesus offers the woman "living water," she replies that he doesn't even have a bucket to draw with. The woman thinks of "flowing water," so much more desirable than stagnant cistern water. But when she hears of the water welling up to eternal life, she understands enough to say, "Sir, give me this water." It is the water of life, i.e., the revelation that Jesus brings. The woman is invited by Jesus to see at a whole new level: there is water and then there is living water; bread and the food which is God's will; Jacob and Jesus; the promised Messiah and Jesus; notions about worship and genuine worship; and the list goes on and on. Jesus' worship "in Spirit and truth" (23) is not a reference to an interior worship within one's own spirit. The Spirit is the spirit given by God that reveals truth and enables one to worship God appropriately (14:16-17).
The woman, to whom Jesus revealed the truth in her life, left her water jugs behind and went into town to get people to come and see Jesus: "Come, look! Here is a man who told me everything that I've done. Is he not, maybe, the Messiah?" Wouldn't it also make sense for us, who have experienced faith to drop now and then, whatever we are doing in order to persuade others to come to him, the Source?
Who are the Samaritan women today?
Allow me to take the story of the Samaritan woman and apply it to some concrete situations today. In today's provocative Gospel, Jesus transcends cultural barriers to reach out to the unnamed Samaritan woman as an equal. Women like her are marginalized in many patriarchal societies. Women like her still do the most back breaking tasks of fetching water for their families and their animals. We see their images so often on the news, in pictures and images that cry out to us from the Third World. These women are responsible for hard domestic work.
In a way, the woman's request for living water in today's Gospel story can also be symbolically interpreted as an expression of her thirst, dryness and emptiness longing to be filled. The Samaritan's deep conversation with Jesus transforms her life totally. At the end, she leaves her jar -- the emptiness, dryness, thirst -- and went to the people from whom she is hiding. She shares with them her liberating encounter with Jesus the messiah. As a marginalized and perhaps excluded person, she thirsts for inclusion, and acceptance. She found in Jesus acceptance, and her true meaning and dignity for which she has searched so long!
Today, there are many "Samaritan women" in various forms longing to be liberated from life's burden. They thirst for understanding and acceptance of who they are in society. We need only think of victims of human trafficking, especially women and girls, who need people like Jesus to listen to them, speak for them and decriminalize them. Many people look on them as criminals, social outcasts, marginalized because they become illegal migrants in search of good jobs abroad in order to support their poor families. What are the terrible situations at home that compel them to go wandering? What are the sacrifices they are making for their loved ones? We need to help them reclaim their God-given dignity.
Today's story of the woman of Samaria is a metaphor for our own lives -- often lived in deserts of alienation, sinfulness, despair. During the season of Lent in particular, we long for the refreshing waters of repentance, forgiveness and wholeness. To repent is to acknowledge our own need of life in the midst of the desert, our need of breaking down barriers that exist among us, our need of finding the living water that will truly quench our thirst.
Lent invites us to join the woman of Samaria in today's Gospel and the women of Samaria throughout the world and all those so desperately in need of life. May the Lord give us the courage to reach out to them, listen to them, feed them, and share with them the waters of life.
In his Lenten message for 2011, Benedict XVI writes: "The question that Jesus puts to the Samaritan woman: 'Give me a drink' (John 4: 7), […] expresses the passion of God for every man and woman, and wishes to awaken in our hearts the desire for the gift of'"a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life' (John 4:14): This is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who transforms Christians into 'true worshipers,' capable of praying to the Father 'in spirit and truth' (John 4:23). Only this water can extinguish our thirst for goodness, truth and beauty! Only this water, given to us by the Son, can irrigate the deserts of our restless and unsatisfied soul, until it 'finds rest in God,' as per the famous words of St. Augustine."
Living Lent this week
1. View this video of the Woman of Samaria: "Lord, Give Me This Water." For what are you thirsting this Lenten season? Whom do you seek?
2. Reflect on these words by Jean Vanier in light of today's Gospel of the Samaritan woman: "Our brokenness is the wound through which the full power of God can penetrate our being and transfigure us in God. Loneliness is not something from which we must flee but the place from where we can cry out to God, where God will find us and we can find God. Yes, through our wounds the power of God can penetrate us and become like rivers of living water to irrigate the arid earth within us. Thus we may irrigate the arid earth of others so that hope and love are reborn."
3. Read "The Word of God and Christian Witness" in the postsynodal exhortation "Verbum Domini"
4. Reach out to someone on the fringe this week at high noon, perhaps not at a well, but in a coffee shop, over a drink, at your kitchen table, or in a town shopping mall or public square. Listen to the person's story of hurt, suffering, alienation, or fear. Allow the living water of Christ's compassion to flow through you to irrigate the desert of someone's life.
[The readings for the 3rd Sunday of Lent are Exodus 17:3-7; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42 or 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42]
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Confession before baptism (Xưng tội trước khi chịu phép Rửa Tội?)
And More on "Sunday Mass" on a Weekday
ROME, MARCH 22, 2011- Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: A young lady of about 13 years came to me for confession at a parish. She said that this was her first confession, and I asked her if she knew what it was all about. She said, "No" and then I asked her if she was baptized. She said, "No" also to this, whereupon I told her that she couldn't receive the sacrament, as of course she had not been baptized. She then said that she had been told that the teacher of the RCIA class had told her to come to me, as she was to be baptized at Easter (after three months of catechumenate). I tried to explain to her what the sacraments were -- to her great surprise, as she knew nothing about them! Off she went, and later on I understood that she had gone to the parish priest for confession. I saw him later about this, and he concurred that he had in fact told her to go to confession, even though she had not been baptized. His reason was that "I would not have had the time to hear her confession before the Easter ceremonies, and so I considered it better for her to go to confession now, rather than wait for after the Easter ceremonies." This whole situation was new to me, as I have been a priest for almost 40 years, and I have never had to face such a peculiar state of affairs. Have you anything to say about this? -- J.B., Province of Ontario
A: It would appear that the pastor is somewhat misinformed regarding the nature of the sacrament of reconciliation and of baptism.
First, the sacrament of baptism is the door to the other sacraments, and no sacrament can be validly received beforehand. Second, one of the primary effects of baptism is the total forgiveness and wiping out of all sins committed before the reception of the sacrament.
For both of these reasons, confession before baptism is both impossible and unnecessary.
The case is different for a person who has been already baptized in a Protestant denomination and is to be received into the Catholic Church. In this case confession is recommended before formal reception and confirmation.
It is also possible that an adult catechumen with a somewhat checkered history might desire to prepare for baptism by unburdening his conscience in a confessionlike dialogue with a priest. A priest may accept such a dialog as a pastoral measure but should make clear that it is not the sacrament of reconciliation and that absolution will not follow the conversation.
In the light of this question I would like to take up a related earlier theme. The following query arrived about a column on why deacons cannot administer the anointing of the sick (see Feb. 15 follow-up).
One deacon asked: "I have faculties to baptize adults. Does that act not forgive sin? If a layperson baptizes in extremis, does that act not forgive sin? This link of forgiveness to the priesthood is not exclusive."
A common legal principle is: "Distinguish the times and bring the laws into concordance." In other words, each sacrament must be taken in its own context, and what is true for one is not necessarily true for others.
Thus, as we saw above, one of the effects of baptism is total forgiveness of sin. This is in virtue of the sacrament and not the minister. The deacon and priest are ordinary ministers of this sacrament, though in extreme cases even a non-baptized person can validly baptize. In baptism the minister does not forgive sins: The minister baptizes and the sacrament has the effect of forgiving sins.
For post-baptismal mortal sin, however, the only ordinary minister of forgiveness is the priest. Venial sins may also be forgiven by acts of prayer, penance, sacrifice and other good works of Christian charity. It is true, furthermore, that in situations of grave necessity, when a priest is unavailable, God himself will forgive mortal sins to those who are perfectly contrite. This does not change the basic fact that the ordinary course for forgiveness is through the action of the priest.
Since one effect of the anointing the sick is forgiveness of all unconfessed post-baptismal sin, it follows that only the priest is a valid minister of this sacrament.
This doctrine was ratified in a Feb. 11, 2005 "Note on the Minister of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick" from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The note says:
"The Code of Canon Law, in can. 1003 1 (cf. also can. 739 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches) exactly reflects the doctrine expressed by the Council of Trent (Session XIV, can. 4: DS 1719; cf. also the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1516), which states that 'only priests (Bishops and presbyters) are ministers of the Anointing of the Sick.'
"This doctrine is definitive tenenda [definitively held]. Neither deacons nor lay persons may exercise the said ministry, and any action in this regard constitutes a simulation of the Sacrament."
A letter accompanying the note explains the theological logic behind the note and broadens some points:
"In these last decades theological tendencies have appeared which cast doubt on the Church's teaching that the minister of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick 'est omnis et solus sacerdos'. The approach to the subject has been mainly pastoral, with special consideration for those regions in which the shortage of priests makes it difficult to administer the Sacrament promptly, whereas the problem could be overcome if permanent deacons and even qualified lay people could be delegated to administer the Sacrament.
"The Note of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith intends to call attention to these trends to avert the risk of possible attempts to put them into practice, to the detriment of the faith and with serious spiritual damage to the sick, whom it is desired to help."
There follows a historical overview of the doctrine after which the document concludes:
"The doctrine which holds that the minister of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick 'est omnis et solus sacerdos' enjoys such a degree of theological certainty that it must be described as a doctrine 'definitive tenenda.' The Sacrament is not valid if a deacon or a layman attempts to administer it. Such an action would be a crime of simulation in the administration of a sacrament, to be penalized in accordance with can. 1379, CIC (cf. can. 1443, CCEO).
"To conclude, it would indeed be appropriate to recall that through the sacrament he has received the priest makes present in a quite special way the Lord Jesus Christ, Head of the Church.
"In the administration of the sacraments, he acts in persona Christi Capitis and in persona Ecclesiae. The person who acts in this Sacrament is Jesus Christ; the priest is the living and visible instrument. He represents and makes Christ present in a special way, which is why the Sacrament has special dignity and efficacy in comparison with a sacramental: therefore, as the inspired Word says concerning the Anointing of the Sick, 'the Lord will raise him up' (Jas 5:15).
"The priest also acts in persona Ecclesiae. The 'presbyters of the Church' (Jas 5:14) pray on behalf of the whole Church; as St Thomas Aquinas says on this subject: 'oratio illa non fit a sacerdote in persona sua ..., sed fit in persona totius Ecclesiae' (Summa Theologiae, Supplementum, q. 31, a1, ad 1). Such a prayer is heard."
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Follow-up: "Sunday Mass" on Mondays
Quite a number of readers commented on the celebration of the Sunday liturgy on a weekday (see March 8). We will try to address them as succinctly as possible.
One reader wrote, "In your reply you did not question whether the local ordinary had allowed this for some legitimate reason."
I did not question this as I presumed that such a celebration had been authorized by the local ordinary, since a parish priest would not have the authority to do so.
However, even the local ordinary would need to consult with the Holy See if he desired to habitually authorize the celebration of the Sunday liturgy on a weekday. Permanent changes to the liturgical calendar do not fall under the exclusive competence of the local bishop.
Some of our correspondents mentioned authentic pastoral reasons that might allow for the celebration of the Sunday liturgy on weekdays, for example: rural parishes with many distant outstations, or hospitals where Mass can only be celebrated on a weekday.
However, even where permissions exist to repeat the celebration of the Sunday liturgy, the general rules of liturgical precedence must be respected as well as the integrity of the liturgical seasons. Likewise, the priest celebrant would always be free not to celebrate the Sunday liturgy on a weekday if he believed that the liturgy of the day would be of greater spiritual benefit.
In all such cases the change would only refer to the celebration of the liturgical formulas, not to changing the Sunday obligation. Although the Sunday liturgy is made available on a weekday, the faithful would not be obliged to attend since the obligation refers only to Sunday. And if Mass is unavailable on Saturday evening or Sunday, the obligation simply ceases to oblige according to the moral principle: "nobody is obliged to do the impossible."
This could help clarify the difficulty of another reader who wrote: "My daughter got a job about nine years ago as a registered nurse in a neurointensive care unit of the local hospital. She is required to work from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. three weekends a month. At the time, our parish priest told her that her only option to fulfill her Sunday obligation would be to find another job. She loves what she does, and is very good at it, so she left the Catholic Church and joined a local Episcopal church. She is very active in this church, acting as the parish nurse, attending Sunday [services] when she can, attending Wednesday [services] regularly, and bringing up her three boys in the Episcopal church. I praise God that she still has faith and tries to live that faith, but it tears at my heart that she is no longer Catholic, participating with my wife and I in our local Catholic parish. Is the information she was given about finding another job really Catholic Church policy?"
I find it sad that such consequences came from inaccurate advice. If this were truly Church policy, there could be no Catholic firefighters, police, soldiers, ambulance drivers, airline pilots, and a long list of other professions besides. The Church has always understood that there are some socially necessary professions which impede assistance at Sunday Mass for the sake of the common good. This has never been a problem. Catholics doing such work are encouraged to do all that is within their power to attend Sunday Mass as often as possible and attempt to sanctify the Sunday as best they can through prayer.
As mentioned above, when the obligation is impossible, the obligation ceases and so Catholics in such situations do not commit a sin by not going to Mass. Attendance at a weekday Mass in such cases is highly recommendable but not required. In the concrete case of our correspondent's daughter, she could have peacefully continued in the Church and her profession although with the intention of eventually seeking a more flexible schedule that would allow her to attend Sunday Mass more often. I hope this reply might be of some help in bringing her back to Christ's Church.
Hong Kong issues chinese social doctrine compendium (Giáo phận Hồng Kông phát hành cuốn cẩm nang giáo lý xã hội bàng tiếng trung hoa)
Cardinal Turkson Urges Parish Groups to Promote Teachings
By Francis Wong
HONG KONG, MARCH 22, 2011 - Parish-based groups that work toward the implementation of Catholic social teaching are the hands and feet of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, says its president.
Cardianl Peter Turkson said this Sunday in Hong Kong at the launch of the Chinese translation of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. The Compendium, prepared by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was released in 2004.
The event, which gathered some 200 priests, religious sisters and laypeople, was part of the cardinal's three-day visit to Hong Kong.
The cardinal said that Catholic social teaching is an "ongoing development," and that it has not come to its conclusion. He added that the doctrine must continually respond to ever-changing social realities.
The 62-year-old Ghanaian prelate urged Chinese-speaking Catholics to make the best use of the latest Chinese version of the compendium.
Cardinal Turkson emphasized that parish-based social concern groups and diocesan justice and peace commissions are the feet of the Vatican council to promote and to witness Catholic social teaching.
The Diocese of Hong Kong began to translate the compendium six years ago, under the advocacy of the then ordinary bishop -- also a well known human rights defender -- Cardinal Joseph Zen.
Franciscan Father Stephen Chan, who worked on the translation project, said to the gathering that the compendium is a timely gift to every Christian and all people, so "it is the responsibility of Chinese Catholics to make this teaching known among the Chinese population, wherever they may be."
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