ZENIT – English https://zenit.org The World Seen From Rome Thu, 08 Dec 2022 14:31:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.12 https://zenit.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/8049a698-cropped-dc1b6d35-favicon_1.png ZENIT – English https://zenit.org 32 32 Renown Theologians and Catholic Jurists Host a Conference in Rome to Respond to the Pontifical Academy for Life https://zenit.org/2022/12/08/renown-theologians-and-catholic-jurists-host-a-conference-in-rome-to-respond-to-the-pontifical-academy-for-life/ Thu, 08 Dec 2022 14:26:41 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208242 Among the speakers are well-known and respected names of the world of Theology, such as Monsignor Livio Melina, Father José Granados, Australian philosopher John Finnis and Jesuit Peter Ryan.

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(ZENIT News / Rome, 07.12.2022).- A group of international Catholic theologians and other experts (priests and lay men and women) are hosting a conference in Rome from December 8-10, 2022. The aim of the conference is to “respond, in a spirit of respect and fraternity, to some of the issues raised in the recent publication of the Pontifical Academy for Life  entitled “Theological Ethics of Life: Scripture, Tradition, Challenges, Practice.” Among the questions to be addressed are those related to sexual morality, objective moral norms and conscience. In recent months, both the Pontifical Academy for Life (especially through its social networks) as well as its President, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, have made statements of doubtful orthodoxy. 

The Congress, organized under the auspices of the International Catholic Jurists Forum (ICJF), is co-sponsored by Ave Maria School of Law and Ave Maria University, both with headquarters in Florida, as well as the Ethics and Public Policy Center based in Washington, D.C.

Given the interest expressed in this conference, the organizers have decided to open the meeting to the public through a live broadcast on The Daily Compass’ Website. The program, including the conceptual note, the bibliography, the biography and the chronogram can be found here. It is hoped that the Conference will provide “a service to the Church and to Catholic scholars who are facing the same doctrinal, moral and social issues examined in the book ‘Theological Ethics.’”

Among the speakers are well-known and respected names of the world of Theology, such as Monsignor Livio Melina, Father José Granados, Australian philosopher John Finnis and Jesuit Peter Ryan.

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Violating students’ free speech costs University of Idaho $90K https://zenit.org/2022/12/07/violating-students-free-speech-costs-university-of-idaho-90k/ Wed, 07 Dec 2022 14:12:03 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208239 Three Christian law students are suing University of Idaho officials for violating their First Amendment rights by punishing them because of the religious content and viewpoint of their speech.

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(ZENIT News / Moscú, Idaho, 12.07.2022).- Three Christian law students and their faculty advisor favorably settled their lawsuit against University of Idaho officials and are free to speak in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs. As part of the settlement, university officials permanently rescinded the no-contact orders they had issued against Peter Perlot, Mark Miller, and Ryan Alexander, members of the Christian Legal Society chapter at the university, and Professor Richard Seamon, CLS’s faculty advisor, and paid $90,000.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the students and the faculty advisor filed the federal lawsuit in April after university officials violated the students’ First Amendment rights by punishing them because of the religious content and viewpoint of their speech.

“Today’s university students will be tomorrow’s leaders, judges, and school administrators, so it’s imperative that university officials model the First Amendment freedoms they are supposed to be teaching their students,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “We’re pleased to settle this case favorably on behalf of Peter, Mark, Ryan, and Professor Seamon, and we hope that it will encourage all public universities across the country to support the constitutionally protected freedom of students and professors to share their deeply held beliefs on campus.”

“If we are to repair the current culture of political polarization, conversations among persons with differing viewpoints are essential,” said Christian Legal Society attorney Laura Nammo. “University officials’ censorship of such conversations needlessly exacerbates polarization and harms all students’ ability to learn from one another.” CLS attorneys Laura Nammo and Jim Davids served as co-counsel for the students and the professor.

The case began when university officials issued no-contact orders against the students and Seamon after a law student asked the Christian students why their student group requires its officers to agree with the orthodox Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. Miller respectfully explained that the chapter requires this because it is the only view of marriage and sexuality affirmed in the Bible. Soon after, Perlot left a handwritten note for the law student, saying he would be happy to discuss further so that they could both be fully heard and better understand one another’s views.

A few days later, the law student and several others publicly denounced CLS’s religious beliefs at a panel with the American Bar Association. Alexander attended that meeting and explained his perception that the greatest amount of discrimination on campus was discrimination against CLS and its religious beliefs. When university officials issued the no-contact orders against the students three days later, they did not give the Christian students an opportunity to review the allegations against them or defend themselves.

In light of the favorable settlement in Perlot v. Green, ADF attorneys filed a stipulated dismissal of the case.

Matthew Williams, one of more than 4,600 attorneys in the ADF Attorney Network, is local counsel in the case on behalf of the students and professor.

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Jesuits Position Themselves with a Statement About Father Mark Ivan Rupnik, S.J. https://zenit.org/2022/12/07/jesuits-position-themselves-with-a-statement-about-father-mark-ivan-rupnik-s-j/ Wed, 07 Dec 2022 14:08:20 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208235 The Jesuits’ Delegation in Rome issued a press release that, in addition to offering more context, made known some more aspects, such as the measures applied to the known artist. 

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(ZENIT News / Rome, 06.12.2022).- As a result of the accusations of abuse against the renowned priest of the Society of Jesus, Slovenian Father Mark Ivan Rupnik, the Jesuits’ Delegation in Rome issued a press release in which, in addition to offering more context, make known some additional aspects, such as the measures applied to the known artist. 

Here is a translation into English of the press release.

* * *

In 2021 the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) received a complaint against Father Mark Ivan Rupnik, S.J., regarding his way of exercising the ministry. No minors were involved. The DDF requested the Society of Jesus to initiate a preliminary investigation on the case. The Society of Jesus appointed immediately an external investigator (A Religious of another Institute) for the investigation. Several individuals were asked to give a statement. The Final Report was presented to the DDF. After studying the result of the investigation, the DDF concluded that the statute of limitation had lapsed in regard to the events in question, hence, it filed the case at the beginning of October of this year. 

However, several cautionary measures were adopted against Father Rupnik in the course of the preliminary investigation: he was prohibited from carrying out the Sacrament of Confession, from giving spiritual direction and spiritual exercises of accompaniment. In addition, Father Rupnik was prohibited from taking part in public activities without the permission of his local Superior. These measures are still in force today, as administrative measures, including after the response of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. 

The Society of Jesus takes seriously any complaint against its members. The mission of the Society of Jesus is also a mission of reconciliation. We want to welcome everyone and receive everyone openly.

DIR-Delegate

Translation of the Italian original into Spanish by ZENIT’s Editorial Director and, into English, by Virginia M. Forrester 

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Statement of Slovenian Jesuits’ Provincial About Father Mark Ivan Rupnik, S.J. https://zenit.org/2022/12/07/statement-of-slovenian-jesuits-provincial-about-father-mark-ivan-rupnik-s-j/ Wed, 07 Dec 2022 14:05:33 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208232 Jesuit Father Miran Žvanut gives a Statement about another Slovenian Jesuit  implicated recently in allegations of abuse: the renowned Father Rupnik.

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(ZENIT News / Lublin, 06.12.2022).- Given its current interest, we publish the Statement of the Superior of Slovenia’s Jesuits, Father Miran Žvanut, about the “Mark Ivan Rupnik, S.J. case.”

* * * 

STATEMENT OF THE PROVINCIAL OF THE SLOVENIAN JESUITS ABOUT FATHER MARK IVAN RUPNIK

In recent days, we have seen articles about Father Mark Ivan Rupnik in various media. Unfortunately, as usual, they are quite inflated and include many falsehoods.

In 2021, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith received, in fact, a complaint against Father Mark Ivan Rupnik and requested the Society of Jesus to open a preliminary investigation on the case. It is a normal procedure. The complaint didn’t come from the nuns, as some media affirmed falsely. 

The Society of Jesus appointed an external investigator (a Religious of another Order), to investigate and several people were called to give a statement. The Final Report was presented to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith and, after examining the results of the investigation, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith concluded that the statute of limitation had lapsed in regard to the events in  question, and, hence, filed the case at the beginning  of October of this year.  

However, in the framework of the preliminary investigation, cautionary measures were taken against Father Mark Ivan Rupnik; I repeat, cautionary measures, and no sanction or prohibition was imposed by the Vatican, as we have seen in the media. Cautionary measures are something normal when there are complaints of this or similar types against a Religious. 

Hence, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith has not adopted any sanction against Father Mark Ivan Rupnik; it only informed the Society of Jesus that the case was barred by the statute of limitations.

Father Rupnik has not lived in Slovenia for over 20 years, so that, as Provincial [I can say], he is not directly implicated in this investigation. The one responsible at present is the Delegate of the International Houses in Rome but, of course, he keeps me posted on what is happening and I suppose that if he has any new information he will let me know. 

Allow me to stress that the Society of Jesus takes seriously any complaint against one of its members, and this complaint has also been taken very seriously. The mission of the Society of Jesus is also one of reconciliation and the search for truth, and I trust that the individuals to whom the handling of this case has been entrusted, will also reach the truth. 

 

Translation of the Slovenian original by ZENIT’s translation area.

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Cause of Beatification Opens of Carmen Hernández Barrera, Co-Founder of the Neo-Catechumenal Way https://zenit.org/2022/12/06/cause-of-beatification-opens-of-carmen-hernandez-barrera-co-founder-of-the-neo-catechumenal-way/ Tue, 06 Dec 2022 13:57:51 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208227 The official opening was held at Francisco de Vitoria University in the presence of Cardinal Carlos Osorio, two other Cardinals, 41 Bishops and at least some 2,000 people from various countries of Europe and the world.

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(ZENIT News / Madrid, 06.12.2022).- The diocesan phase of the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of Carmen Hernández Barrera, Co-Founder with Kiko Argüello of the Neo-Catechumenal Way — an itinerary of Christian initiation –, took place in Madrid on December 4. 

Opening of the Cause

The official Act of the Diocese of Madrid took place in the solemn framework of Madrid’s Francisco de Vitoria University, in the presence of Cardinal Carlos Osorio, two other Cardinals, 41 Bishops and at least 2,000 people from various countries of Europe and the world. The mission carried out by Hernández and Argüello includes 135 countries in five Continents; many wished to take party in this solemn opening. 

The ceremony unfolded as follows: first the greeting and a few words of presentation by Kiko Argüello, with a prayer and Reading from the Gospel of Mark (9:2-8) — the passage of the Lord’s Transfiguration (a page of the Gospel that was very dear to Carmen); then the opening session of the Cause, with the reading of the “Supplex Libellus,” namely, the Postulator’s petition — on behalf of the international team of the Way –, to the Diocese  to initiate the process; the reading of the “Nihil Obstat” of the Holy See’s Dicastery for the Causes of Saints to begin the process, followed by an invocation to the Holy Spirit to accompany all the work and the oath of the Archbishop of Madrid, with the acceptance of the formulated request and the establishment of a Diocesan Tribunal in charge of the whole process. One by one the Episcopal Delegate, the Promoter of Justice, the Notary (and her Deputy) and the Postulator of the Cause took the oath. The ceremony ended with the reading of the “Minutes of the Session” by the Chancellor-Secretary and Cardinal Osorio’s address. 

Then the Symphonic Orchestra of the Neo-Catechumenal Way played two symphonic poems composed by Kiko Argüello: “Aquedá” and “Daughters of Jerusalem.” The “Aquedá” makes present the sacrifice that Abraham was called to make on Mount Moriah of his son Isaac, who offered his throat voluntarily so that the sacrifice wouldn’t be invalid: this is how faith appears on earth; the second passage, “Daughters of Jerusalem,” is the encounter with Jesus, carrying the Cross, which He had with some women weeping for Him. The Lord says to them: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children . . . . For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23: 28.31). 

The Act ended with a few brief words, and the greeting of the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Carlos Osorio. 

Recent Statistics of the Neo-Catechumenal Way

Communities: 21,066

Dioceses in which it is present: 1,366

Parishes: 6,293

Nations: 135

Redemptoris Mater Seminaries (RMS): 121

Seminarians in RMS: 1,900

Priests formed in RMS: 2,950

Families on mission: more than 2,000 with some 6,500 children

1,000 Families are evangelizing  in 212 Missio ad Gentes  in 62 nations, together with a priests and some Sisters.

800 Families are in various countries to reinforce the local communities, supporting them in their journey of faith.

Over 300 are families that, along with a priest and a youth, make up an evangelization team, responsible for a nation or different regions. 

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French Bishops’ Response to Abuses: National Canonical Criminal Tribunal Begins Its Functions https://zenit.org/2022/12/06/french-bishops-response-to-abuses-national-canonical-criminal-tribunal-begins-its-functions/ Tue, 06 Dec 2022 13:54:16 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208224 This new Tribunal is an unprecedented institution: it doesn’t exist in the Church in this way and with this field of competence, in any other Episcopal Conference in the world.

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(ZENIT News / Paris, 06.12.2022).- On Monday, December 5, the Catholic Church in France established officially the functions of the National Canonical Criminal Tribunal . It is an internal criminal court of the Catholic Church in France, which will be concerned with canonical crimes committed by clergymen or laymen. The new Tribunal is replacing, in criminal matters, the diocesan and inter-diocesan tribunals that exist in France. Its jurisdiction will extend to the whole national territory. 

The creation of this Tribunal was voted on by all France’s Bishops during their Plenary Assembly, held in March 2021. In keeping with the recommendations of the CIASE Report (in particular n. 40), its functioning is based on collegiate trials and on the integration not only of expert priests but also judges and other lay collaborators that are especially formed. 

The new National Canonical Criminal Tribunal is an unprecedented institution: it doesn’t exist in the Church in this way and with this field of competence in any other Episcopal Conference in the world.

For additional information on this new Tribunal consult the French Episcopate’s Website.

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John the Baptist’s Secret: The Pope’s Second Advent Reflection During Sunday’s Angelus https://zenit.org/2022/12/05/john-the-baptists-secret-the-popes-second-advent-reflection-during-sundays-angelus/ Mon, 05 Dec 2022 23:34:02 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208219 The Holy Father’s address during the Angelus of Sunday, December 4 in Saint Peter’s Square

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, o4.12.2022).- At least 25,000 people gathered in Saint Peter’s Square at midday on Sunday, December 4 to listen to the Pontiff, to pray the Angelus with him, and to receive his Sunday greetings. Liturgically, it was the Second Sunday of Advent, so the Pope reflected further on the Gospel of that day

Here is the text of the Holy Father’s second Advent meditation.

* * *

Today, the Second Sunday of Advent, the Gospel for the Liturgy presents the figure of John the Baptist. The text says that John “wore a garment of camel’s hair,” that “his food was locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4), and that he was inviting everyone to conversion. And he was saying this: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” (v. 2) And he was preaching the nearness of the Kingdom. In short, he was an austere and radical man, who at first sight might appear to be harsh and could instil a certain fear. But then again, we can ask ourselves why the Church proposes him each year as our primary traveling companion during this Season of Advent. What is hidden underneath his severity, behind his apparent harshness? What is John’s secret? What is the message the Church gives us today with John?

In reality, the Baptist, more than being a harsh man, is a man who is allergic to duplicity. Listen well to this: allergic to duplicity. For example, when the Pharisees and Sadducees, who were known for their hypocrisy, approach him, his “allergic reaction” is quite strong! In fact, some of them probably went to him out of curiosity or to gain something because John had become quite popular. These Pharisees and Sadducees believed they had it all together and, faced with the Baptist’s blunt appeal, justified themselves, saying: “We have Abraham as our father” (v. 9). Thus, because of their  duplicity and presumption, they did not welcome the moment of grace, the opportunity to begin a new life. They were closed in the presumption of being right. So, John tells them, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance!” (v. 8) This is a cry of love, like the cry of a father who sees his son ruining himself and says to him, “Don’t throw your life away!”

In essence, dear brothers and sisters, hypocrisy is the greatest danger because it can even ruin the most sacred realities. Hypocrisy is a serious danger. This is why the Baptist — as Jesus would be later — is harsh with hypocrites. We can read, for example, the 23rd chapter of Matthew where Jesus speaks really strongly to the hypocrites of that time. And why do the Baptist as well as Jesus do this? To shake them up. 

Instead, those who sensed they were sinners went “out to him [John], and they were baptized by him, confessing their sins” (v. 5). Therefore, bravura is not important to welcome God, humility is. This is the path to welcome God. Not bravura — “We’re strong, We are great people!” No, no. Humility. I am a sinner. But not in the abstract, no — “because of this and this and this”. Each of us needs to confess our own sins, our own failings, our own hypocrisy. It requires getting off the pedestal and being immersed in the water of repentance.

Dear brothers and sisters, John and his “allergic reactions” make us think. Are we not at times a bit like those Pharisees? Perhaps we look at others from top to bottom, thinking that we are better than them, that we have our lives under control, that we don’t need God, or the Church, or our brothers or sisters on a daily basis. We forget that in only one case is it legitimate to look down on someone else: when it is necessary to help them get up. This is the only case; the others are not legitimate.

Advent is a moment of grace to take off our masks — every one of us has them — and line up with those who are humble, to be liberated from the presumption of the belief of being self-sufficient, to go to confess our sins, the hidden ones, and to welcome God’s pardon, to ask forgiveness from those whom we have offended. This is how to begin a new life. There is only one way, the way of humility — to be purified from the sense of superiority, from formalism and hypocrisy, to see ourselves, along with our brothers and sisters, as sinners, and to see Jesus as the Saviour who comes for us, not for the others, for us, just as we are, with our poverty, misery and failings, above all with our need to be raised up, forgiven and saved.

And let us remember one thing: with Jesus, there is always the possibility of beginning again. It’s never too late. There is always the possibility to begin again. Be courageous. He is near to us and this is the time of conversion. Everyone might think: “I have this situation inside, this problem that I am ashamed of.” But Jesus is next to you. Begin again. There is always the possibility of taking a step forward. He is waiting for us and never gets tired of us. He never gets tired! And we are annoying, but He never gets tired! Let us listen to John the Baptist’s appeal to return to God. And let us not let this Advent go by like days on the calendar because this is a moment of grace, a grace for us too, here and now! May Mary, the humble servant of the Lord, help us to meet Him, Jesus, and our brothers and sisters on the way of humility, which is the only one that will help us go ahead.

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Russian Soldiers Capture Third Catholic Priest. They Want to Extract Secrets of Confession from Them https://zenit.org/2022/12/04/russian-soldiers-capture-third-catholic-priest-they-want-to-extract-secrets-of-confession-from-them/ Sun, 04 Dec 2022 03:20:36 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208214 Father Maksym said to Tv2000: “Father Oleksandr, a young parish priest from Melitopol, was seized in his church and taken to an unknown location. According to the latest reconstructions, the priest was expelled from the Occupied Territories and is in Zaporizhzhia

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(ZENIT News / Rome, 03.11.2022).- “After the celebration oof Holy Mass, some Russian soldiers entered the parish and, after showing contempt for the Catholics, prayer and the fact of being together, seized and took Father Oleksandr Bogomaz, a young parish priest of Melitopol, to an unknown location,” said Father Maksym Ryabukha, new Auxiliary Bishop of the Archbishopric of Donetsk, in an interview with the Tv2000 news program. He is the third Catholic priest detained, in just a few days without charges, by the Russian Army. Father Oleksandr was taken by force in his church, in front of the petrified faithful. 

According to the latest reconstructions, Father Oleksandr was expelled from the Occupied Territories and is now in Zaporizhzhia. Moreover, two priests detained in Berdyansk are still in prison, accused by the Russian Army, without any proof, of having hidden weapons in the religious house where they live. 

“In fact, they are being tortured because they do not admit that they are guilty of hiding weapons in the premises of their religious house,” stressed Father Maksym. 

One of the hypotheses is that the Russian soldiers are torturing the two priests to extort and  obtain information from them received during the Sacrament of Confession. “The conscience of any priest of the world is very clear about the Sacrament of Confession and silence,” recalled Father Maksym in his interview with Tv2000. 

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England and Wales: The State of Priestly Vocations in 2022 https://zenit.org/2022/12/04/england-and-wales-the-state-of-priestly-vocations-in-2022/ Sun, 04 Dec 2022 03:18:45 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208210 In 2021 there were 21 priestly Ordinations in the 22 dioceses of England and Wales.

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Elizabeth Owens

(ZENIT News / London, 03.12.2022).- The National Office of Vocations of England and Wales published data regarding priestly Ordinations in both countries: there has been a decrease for a third year. 

In 2021 there were 21 priestly Ordinations in the 22 dioceses of England and Wales, including the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Those 21 Ordinations contrast with those of the three previous years. 

2018: 35 Ordinations

2019 32 Ordinations

2020: 27 Ordinations

However, 2021 was not the year in which there were fewer Ordinations. The lowest number of Ordinations was in 2008 — only 15. In 2001 the extreme opposite was the case, when Ordinations reached a maximum of 44. The forecast for 2022 is that Ordinations will reach 26 to fall again in 2023 to 20. 

However, the Ordinations by dioceses show that there are very different situations of crisis. In 2021 the dioceses with more Ordinations were:

  • Westminster (north London): four Ordinations
  • Shrewsbury: three Ordinations
  • The Archdiocese of Southwark: two Ordinations
  • Portsmouth: two Ordinations (although a plan estimated that in 20 years priests would decrease by 63%)

Nine dioceses had no Ordinations in 2021. On this list are important dioceses such as Liverpool, Cardiff and Birmingham.

In 2021 there was a total of 18 new admissions to the Seminaries; in 2020 there were 30. In regard to vocational admissions, the dioceses reflect very different situations: Salford had three of the new 18 admissions, followed by Westminster. Nine dioceses had no admissions. 

In the diocesan Seminaries in England and Wales there is a total of 121 seminarians.  In 2020 there were 142. The average age of admission to Seminary is 36.2 years. Added to the 121 seminarians are 26 Religious (12 men and 14 women). 

Some 3.8 million people declare themselves Catholics in England and Wales. The most recent census shows that, in general, Christians are decreasing and Muslims and non-believes are increasing.

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How Can We Recognize That a Consolation Comes from God? Pope Explains It in Eight Points https://zenit.org/2022/12/04/how-can-we-recognize-that-a-consolation-comes-from-god-pope-explains-it-in-eight-points/ Sun, 04 Dec 2022 03:15:39 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208204 The Holy Father’s General Audience on Wednesday, November 30, on how to recognize true consolation?

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 04.12.2022).- In his tenth catechesis on discernment last Wednesday, November 30, the Pope reflected further on consolation and how to recognize what is truly a consolation. 

Here is the text of his catechesis, with headers and phrases in bold added by ZENIT.

* * *

As we continue our reflection on discernment, and in particular on the spiritual experience called “consolation,” which we spoke about the other Wednesday, we ask: how can we recognize true consolation? It is a very important question for a good discernment, so as not to be deceived in the search for our true good.

1st An Aid: What Saint Ignatius of Loyola Says

We can find some criteria in a passage from the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. “We ought to note well the course of the thoughts,” says Saint Ignatius, “and if the beginning, middle and end is all good, inclined to all good, it is a sign of the good Angel; but if in the course of the thoughts which he brings it ends in something bad, of a distracting tendency, or less good than what the soul had previously proposed to do, or if it weakens it or disturbs the soul, taking away its peace, [taking away the] tranquility and quiet, which it had before, it is a clear sign that it proceeds from the evil spirit, enemy of our profit and eternal salvation” (no. 333). 

2nd A Criterion: Where Does the Consolation Lead Me? 

Because it is true: there is true consolation, but there are also consolations that are not true. And therefore, we need to understand well the process of consolation: how does it come and where does it lead me? If it leads me to something wrong, that is not good, the consolation is not true, it is “fake”, let’s say.

3rd What Does It Mean That the Beginning Is Inclined to Good?

And these are valuable indications, that merit a brief comment. What does it mean that the beginning is inclined to good, as Saint Ignatius says of good consolation? For example, I have the thought of praying, and I note that it accompanies affection towards the Lord and neighbour, it invites gestures of generosity, of charity: it is a good beginning. It can instead happen that such a thought emerges to avoid a job or task that has been entrusted to me: every time I have to wash the dishes or clean the house, I have a strong urge to pray! This happens, in convents. But prayer is not an escape from one’s tasks; on the contrary, it is an aid in realizing the good we are required to do, here and now. This regards the beginning.

4th The Role of the Middle in Consolation

Then there is the middle: Saint Ignatius said that the beginning, the middle and the end had to be good. The beginning is this: I want to pray so as not to wash the dishes: go, wash the dishes, and then go to pray. Then there is the middle: that is to say what comes afterwards, what follows that thought. Remaining with the previous example, if I begin to pray and, like the Pharisee in the parable (cf. Luke 18:9-14), I tend to be self-satisfied and to disdain others, perhaps with a resentful and sour spirit, then these are signs that the evil spirit has used that thought as a key to enter into my heart and to transmit his feelings to me. 

If I go to pray, and it comes to mind to do so like the famous Pharisee — “Thank you Lord, because I pray, I am not like other people who do not seek You, who do not pray” — that prayer ends badly there. That consolation of praying is to feel like a peacock in front of God. And this is the wrong way.

5th The Role of the End in Consolation

And then there is the end: the beginning, the middle and the end. The end is an aspect we have already encountered, namely: where does a thought take me? For example, where does the thought of prayer take me? For instance, it can happen that I work hard for a good and worthy task, but this pushes me to stop praying, because I am busy with many things; I find I am increasingly aggressive and angry, I feel that everything depends on me, to the point of losing confidence in God. Here, evidently, there is the action of the evil spirit. I start praying, but then in prayer I feel omnipotent, that everything must be in my hands because I am the only one who knows how to get things done: evidently there is no good spirit there. It is necessary to examine well the path of our sentiments, of consolation, at the moment in which we want to do something; at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end.

6th The Importance of the Examination of the Origin and the Truth of Our Thoughts

The style of the enemy — when we speak about the enemy, we speak about the devil, because the devil exists, he is there! — his style, we know — is to present himself in a devious, masked way: he starts from what is most dear to us and then, little by little, reels us in: evil enters secretly, without the person being aware of it. And with time, gentleness becomes hardness: that thought reveals itself for what it truly is.

Hence the importance of this patient but indispensable examination of the origin and the truth of our thoughts; it is an invitation to learn from experiences, from what happens to us, so as not to continue to repeat the same errors. The more we know ourselves, the more we sense where the evil spirit enters, his “password,” the entrance to our heart, which are the points to which we are most sensitive, so as to pay attention to them in the future. Each one of us has their more sensitive spots, the weak spots in their personality: and the evil spirit enters there, and leads us down the wrong path, or takes us away from the true, right path. I go and pray but he leads me away from my prayer.

7th The Importance of a Daily Examination of Conscience

The examples could be multiplied at will, reflecting on our days. This is why a daily examination of conscience is so important: before ending the day, stop a moment. What happened? Not in the newspapers, not in life: what happened in my heart? Was my heart attentive? Did it grow? Did it go through everything unaware? What happened in my heart? And this examination is important, it is the valuable effort of rereading experience from a particular point of view. Noticing what happens is important, it is a sign that God’s grace is working in us, helping us to grow in freedom and awareness. We are not alone: the Holy Spirit is with us. Let us see how things went.

8th Genuine Consolation Is a Sort of Confirmation That We Are Doing What God Wants of Us

Genuine consolation is a sort of confirmation that we are doing what God wants of us, that we are walking on His paths, that is, on the paths of life, joy, and peace. Discernment, in fact, is not simply about what is good or the greatest possible good, but about what is good for me here and now: this is what I am called to grow in, setting limits to other proposals, attractive but unreal, so as not to be deceived in the search for the true good.

Brothers and sisters, it is necessary to understand, to go ahead in understanding what happens in my heart. And this is why an examination of conscience is necessary, to see what happened today. “Today I got angry, I didn’t do that…”: But why? Going beyond the “why” to look for the root of these mistakes. “But, today I was happy but I was bored because I had to help those people, but at the end I felt filled by that help” — and there is the Holy Spirit. Learning to read what happened during the day in the book of our heart. Do it: it will take just two minutes, but it will do you good, I assure you.

 

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