23 December 2011

"It is good that you exist..."

Who said this? Benedict XVI, of course (in his Christmas address to the Roman Curia)! Read more:

"Finally, I would like to speak of one last feature, not to be overlooked, of the spirituality of World Youth Days, namely joy. Where does it come from? How is it to be explained? Certainly, there are many factors at work here. But in my view, the crucial one is this certainty, based on faith: I am wanted; I have a task in history; I am accepted, I am loved. Josef Pieper, in his book on love, has shown that man can only accept himself if he is accepted by another. He needs the others presence, saying to him, with more than words: it is good that you exist. Only from the You can the I come into itself. Only if it is accepted, can it accept itself. Those who are unloved cannot even love themselves. This sense of being accepted comes in the first instance from other human beings. But all human acceptance is fragile. Ultimately we need a sense of being accepted unconditionally. Only if God accepts me, and I become convinced of this, do I know definitively: it is good that I exist. It is good to be a human being. If ever man’s sense of being accepted and loved by God is lost, then there is no longer any answer to the question whether to be a human being is good at all. Doubt concerning human existence becomes more and more insurmountable. Where doubt over God becomes prevalent, then doubt over humanity follows inevitably. We see today how widely this doubt is spreading. We see it in the joylessness, in the inner sadness, that can be read on so many human faces today. Only faith gives me the conviction: it is good that I exist. It is good to be a human being, even in hard times. Faith makes one happy from deep within. That is one of the wonderful experiences of World Youth Days."

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

22 December 2011

Something Lost

“namely, the innocence that accepts (the Mass) as something God-given, something that comes down to man as a gift from heaven.”

Maybe we are starting to rediscover this innocence in the new translation of the Mass? I would suggest that we need to accept so much more as God-given and coming down from heaven, beginning with our own lives! Obedience then becomes so much easier.

Thanks to CeeCee for the quotation!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

16 December 2011

To University Students From the Holy Father

"Be steadfast, brothers, until the coming of the Lord." (James 5:7)

With these words the Apostle James indicates the interior attitude necessary to prepare ourselves to hear and welcome again the proclamation of the birth of the Redeemer in the stable of Bethlehem -- ineffable mystery of light, of love and grace. To you, dear university students of Rome, I affectionately offer my greeting: I receive you with your desires, your expectations, your worries as Holy Christmas nears; and I also greet the academic communities that you represent. I thank the rector, Prof. Massimo Egidi, for the courteous words that he addressed to me in your name and with which he highlighted the delicate mission of the university professor. I greet with lively cordiality the minster for universities, Prof. Francesco Profumo, and the academic authorities of the various athenaeums.

Dear friends, St. James exhorts us to imitate the farmer, who "steadfastly waits for the precious fruit of the earth" (James 5:7). To you who live in the heart of the cultural and social world of our time, who experience the new and ever more refined technologies, you who are the protagonists of an historical dynamism that sometimes seems overwhelming, the Apostle's invitation might seem anachronistic, almost an invitation to leave history behind, to fail to see the fruits of your labor, of your research. But is this really how it is? Does the invitation to wait upon God draw us outside of time? And we might ask ourselves, even more radically: what does Christmas mean to me? Is it really important for my life, for the building up of society? There are many persons in our time, especially in the halls of the universities, who ask whether we are to expect something or someone; whether we must look for another messiah, another god; if it is worthwhile to entrust ourselves to that Child whom we find in the manger between Mary and Joseph on Christmas night.

The Apostle's exhortation to patient steadfastness, that might somewhat perplex the people of our time, is in fact the path toward a profound acceptance of the question of God, the meaning it has in life and history, because it is precisely in the patience, fidelity and steadfastness of the search for God, in the openness to him, that he reveals his face. We do not need a generic, indefinite god, but the living and true God, who opens the horizon of man's future to the prospect of a firm and sure hope, a hope that is rich with eternity and that permits us to face the present in all its aspects with courage. But we must ask ourselves then: where does my seeking find the true face of this God? Or better still: where does God himself come to show me his face, revealing his mystery, entering into my history?

Dear friends, St. James' invitation to us -- "Be steadfast, brothers, until the coming of the Lord" -- reminds us that the certainty of the great hope of the world is given to us and that we are not alone and that we are not the only architects of history. God is not far from man, but has descended and has become flesh (John 1:14), that man might understand where to find the solid foundation of all things, the fulfillment of his deepest longings: in Christ (cf. post-synodal apostolic exhortation "Verbum Domini," 10). Patience is the virtue of those who entrust themselves to this presence in history, who do not let themselves be overcome by the temptation of placing all hope in the immediate, in the purely horizontal perspective, in technically perfect projects, but which are far from the deepest of realities, that which gives the human person the highest dignity: the transcendent dimension, being a creature in the image and likeness of God, carrying in the heart the desire of ascending to him.

There is, however, another aspect that I would like to underscore this evening. St. James said to us: "Look at the farmer: he steadfastly waits" (James 5:7). God, in the incarnation of the Word, in the incarnation of his Son, experienced human time, his growth, his immersion in history. That child is the sign of the patience of God, who is the first of the patient, the steadfast, faithful to his love for us; he is the true "farmer" of history, who knows how to wait. How many times have men tried to build the world without or against God! The result is marked by the tragedy of ideologies that, in the end, showed themselves to be against man and his profound dignity. Patient steadfastness in the construction of history, both at the personal and communal level, is not the same as the traditional virtue of prudence, which is certainly necessary, but is something greater and more complex. Being steadfast and patient means learning how to construct history together with God, because the edifice will stand only if it is built upon him and with him; only thus will it not be instrumentalized for ideological ends but be something truly worthy of man.

This evening let us rekindle more fervently, then, the hope of our hearts, because the Word of God reminds us that the coming of the Lord is near, indeed, the Lord is with us and it is possible to build together with him. In the stable of Bethlehem man's solitude is overcome, our existence is no longer at the mercy of impersonal natural and historical forces, our house can be built upon the rock: we can plan our history, the history of humanity, not as a utopia but in the certainty that the God of Jesus Christ is present and walks with us.

Dear friends, we run with joy to Bethlehem, we embrace the Child that Mary and Joseph present to us. Let us begin again from him and with him, facing every difficulty. The Lord asks each of you to collaborate in the construction of the city of man, uniting faith and culture in a serious and passionate way. To this end I invite you always to seek the true face of God, helped by the pastoral journey that has been proposed to you this academic year. Seeking the face of God is the profound aspiration of our heart and it is also the answer to the fundamental question that always returns even in our contemporary society. You, dear friends, know that the Church of Rome, with the wise and solicitous guidance of the Cardinal Vicar and your chaplains, is near to you. Let us give thanks to the Lord because, as it was noted, 20 years ago Bl. John Paul II instituted the University Pastoral Care Office to serve the Roman academic community. The work undertaken promoted the creation and development of chaplaincies to connect with a well-organized network, where the formation programs of various public, private, Catholic and pontifical institutions can contribute to the elaboration of a culture that is at the service of man's integral growth.

At the conclusion of this liturgy, the image of the "Sedes Sapientiae" will be handed over by the Spanish university delegation to the delegation from La Sapienza University of Rome. A Marian pilgrimage will begin among the chaplaincies, which I will accompany with prayer. Know that the Pope is counting on you and your testimony of fidelity and apostolic initiative.

Dear friends, with confidence this evening hurry along our way to Bethlehem, bringing the expectations and hopes of our brothers with us, that all might encounter the Word of life and entrust themselves to him. This is my wish for the Roman academic community: that you proclaim that the true face of God is in the Child of Bethlehem, who is so near to each one of us that no one can feel excluded, no one must doubt the possibility of meeting him, because he is the patient and faithful God, who knows how to wait and respect our freedom. We want to confess with confidence to him the deepest desire of our heart: "I seek your face, O Lord. Come, do not delay!" Amen.

14 December 2011

All Over But the Shouting!

It is getting that time of the semester again when things wind down. To those of you who are still battling exams, count on my prayers! To those who are already wrapped up, have a merry, merry Christmas!

I am eager for a little break myself, including a silent retreat after Christmas. That is where I will be over New Years so I so don't look for me in Memphis at the Liberty Bowl. I am also sorry to say that I won't be here just when everyone gets back because I will be giving a retreat at the Josephinum, my seminary in Ohio. My holiday travels are thus to Ohio and Alabama!

I am not unhappy to say goodbye to this semester, and I am happy to be getting ready for the next one! It is going to be different, I am pretty sure. Could I ask you a favor? Please write to me about what you think that Vanderbilt Catholic does well and about what we could do better. Where should our priorities be, from your perspective? Please pray about the religious liberty issues here at Vanderbilt and about the future direction and staffing of Vanderbilt Catholic.

If all of that is not enough, I am also thinking that maybe we should change our name! I have to say that I do not really like giving Vanderbilt top billing in our name! I think that maybe we could use some "Catholic branding," as they say. I have an idea in mind that combines our past at Vanderbilt and links us to Catholic campus ministries at many universities throughout the English-speaking world. What would you recommend?

OK -- back to today!

11 December 2011


Today is one of my favorite days in the liturgical calendar: Gaudete Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Advent. It's the Sunday with the pink candle! "Gaudete" is Latin for "Rejoice." We are to rejoice always, according to St. Paul in the second reading for Mass today.

The Gospel is about St. John the Baptist. What does he have to say about joy? That He is near! That is what I forget when I become sad, discouraged, or tempted. Jesus Christ is near. Hang on for the joy!

Hang on because joy is near! This is very much the message that I see for Vanderbilt Catholic today. This semester has been for me a difficult one -- but one in which the Lord Jesus is very near. I really am in expectation of better things, even though I do not see them yet. Students especially are rising up in amazing ways to bring joy! Yesterday, there were students all afternoon cooking goodies in the Frassati House kitchen to give away in front of the library this afternoon. JOY! What a great way to celebrate Gaudete Sunday!

07 December 2011

Moving Forward!

I learned yesterday that our proposed constitution for Vanderbilt Catholic has been sent to the Office of the General Counsel of the university. Well, if we make it through this scrutiny, we know we are in the clear! And if the constitution is rejected, we know that a student organization that upholds its religious mission is not welcome at Vanderbilt.

So please pray that it is approved. I do not fear losing university recognition, but I do think that retaining it is the better way.

Once approved or rejected, we can move forward -- which is what I have every intention of doing! Watch out Vanderbilt! The Catholics are going to be loud!

04 December 2011


I have one question for the Vanderbilt administration. Did the Board of Trustees endorse the application of the non-discrimination policy to mean that religious organizations cannot have religious qualifications for leadership? If they did, tell us. If they didn't, quit trying to enforce it!