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This is what I mean by "missionary realism." It's the readiness to put a burning heart-and-will for Christ behind our words, no matter what the price. Nothing good or holy is had without a cost, and how much would we be willing to pay? What is our faith really worth-- and are we willing to prove that with our lives? If we want to be good teachers, we must be good missionaries. And if we want to be good missionaries, we must be willing to be martyrs. And if the circumstances of our lives do not require a witness in blood, we can still give freely of ourselves in service.
II. How do these thoughts apply to our vocation as Catholic educators, here and now? Well, we don't have to visit Africa or Asia to do the work of missionaries. Our mission territory is right in our own backyard, throughout the United States and here in northern Colorado. We find it in the families who send their children to our religious education programs and schools. It's true that we have a tremendous Christian heritage in this country, and obviously many millions of Americans still actively practice their faith. Many also witness their faith through charitable, social, and political action.†
But I suspect it's also true that religious sentiment is fading as a force in our behavior. So often today, religious affiliation is just a veneer that covers up a practical unbelief. And we all know one or two young adults who have just enough formal religion to be vaccinated against real faith. They were educated in the Church, and they think they know everything about her-- but they really know nothing at all. At the same time, Colorado is the third least "churched" state in the union. Many Coloradans have no formal ties to any religious body. So as a culture, we have the memory of faith and a kind of nostalgia for God, but we're losing our moral vocabulary as we pull away from our religious tradition.
None of this analysis, of course, should be classwork for your second or 4th or 7th graders. If you start rambling on about "alienation from our religious roots" and our "nostalgia for God", they'll look at you like you came from Mars. They may look at you that way already, but this would make it worse.† These observations are valuable, though, as background. It's important for us as adult Catholic educators to understand the terrain we're cultivating, so that we can cultivate it more fruitfully for the Lord. And in that regard, I want to briefly mention five main ideas or themes where we need to focus our special efforts as teachers.
The first is silence. Silence is holy. It's where God talks to the soul. We don't have enough of it, and we need to help young people recover it.. How many times have you seen teen-agers drifting through Cherry Creek mall with headphones wired to their ears?† Don't you wonder why they need the noise? What is it about the world around them which is so empty that it needs to be filled up artificially with the latest CD?†
I don't have any particular antagonism for rock music. Some of it sounds pretty good. I do think the lyrics are sometimes very disturbing, but that's not my point. You and I should be interested in what bores or frightens young people about the absence of noise. I have a fear that we've created a huge hole in the universe where the meaning of life used to be, and noise is the only thing now which keeps it from being completely empty. Noise is one of our drugs. It's how we avoid reflecting on important things too deeply.† Most you know C.S. Lewis, and many of you will remember his book, The Screwtape Letters. In that book, noise is the music of hell; it's what hell is filled with, and it's what the devil Screwtape wants to fill all creation with. I think if C.S. Lewis were alive today, he would say we've outdone Screwtape by our own free will. And the result is that we cannot hear God when He tries to speak to us.
TOMORROW: Part Three of this three parter by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap.
Consider, my Little Ones, that in Bethlehem, because the hour had not yet come for my Divine Son, God warned Joseph and we, the Holy Family, fled into exile leaving Bethlehem to suffer Herod'í slaughter of the Holy Innocents.
Now on this night we prayed, knowing that on the morrow we would leave, according to the Divine Will, not fleeing from the enemy, but embracing the cruelty of the enemy and his instruments - men.† It would be now the Slaughter of The InnocentóGod made Man, the Word Incarnate, Jesus Christ.
Here in Lazarusí home many would find comfort and spiritual strength. This was all according to the divine plan, for even though satanís power grew every hour and soon all of Jerusalem would be in his frenzied grasp, here at Lazarusí home a refuge was formed, and kept alight by the pure light of strong faith.
And, my Little Ones, I ask you each now to recognize your own vital need of a secure refuge.† Before y Divine Sonís heart was pierced by a lance on Calvary and oceans of Divine mercy were poured forth, my Divine Son established a refuge in this place where he was so honored, loved and served.
Thus, as you progress in your meditations I ask each of you to place yourselves willingly into the refuge of The Sacred Heart of Jesus through my Immaculate Heart.† Then, my Little Ones, you are each to become a place of refuge as Lazarus was.† It is not dependent upon a richly furnished home.† It is not a geographical location.† You are to be beacons of light guiding the lost flock back.† You are to open wide the doors of your loving hearts and by sharing your faith, strengthen both your own and that of your brother and sister.† When you do this, my Little Ones, you are at great peace.† And as the refuge of Lazarusí home remained untouched by all evil elements, so shall your souls remain pure and spotless in the time of great darkness.
Then shall God, in His power and glory, reveal His care for His Little Ones, just as My Divine Son prepared and cared for His flock as the darkness approached.
My Dear Children, my Divine Sonís passion, death and resurrection fulfilled the redemptive act.† But all mankind throughout all the ages must correspond, and unite with the redemptive act if salvation is to be won.
Ponder well your readiness to stand firm against the modernism, heresy, blasphemy and chaos which surround you everywhere.† Ponder well your littleness, and cast yourself at the foot of my Sonís Cross.† There is the refuge, the mercy, the strength that will not fail you, but lead you into the eternal embrace of God.
Pray! Meditate.† Walk with my Son in His holy passion.† The hour has come for all the world!† Heed my words which I give to you with immaculate love. Prepare!
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part One of Lesson 5: THE LAST SUPPER
Armey said Clinton still lacks a majority in the House and if he wants the IMF bill to pass he may have to agree to accept restrictions that ban the use of federal funds for groups that lobby foreign governments to allow abortion or provide abortion services, even if money for that purpose comes from other sources. "We are going to continue to press to relieve taxpayers of the burden of that kind of use of their money every place where we have an opportunity to do so," he said.
Clinton has asked Congress to approve $18 billion of additional funding for the IMF which has been depleted by economic crisis in southeast Asia. The controversy over abortion funding has also scuttled other foreign policy bills, including a plan to send $1 billion to the United Nations as payment for the United States' assessed dues in arrears.
The freed captives-- four monks and three medical workers-- had been taken from a hospital in the town of Lunsar on February 14. Their captors were troops loyal to the junta of Johnny Paul Koroma, which was forced from power in Sierra Leone in a February coup. Bishop Biguzzi told the Italian newspaper Avvenire that he was able, after "long and difficult" negotiations, to convince the soldiers that they should free the missionaries.
Bishop Biguzzi added that other Catholics in Sierra Leone had protected their priests from attacks. He said that virtually all Catholic churches, religious houses, schools, and hospitals in the country had been subject to some form of attack or vandalism in the latest outbreak of fighting. At the moment, he said, the country is largely controlled not by any form of government but by roving criminal bands; many missionaries have been forced to flee from their posts and take refuge in the forests.
Sir Sigmund Sternberg, 76, executive committee chairman of the International Council of Christians and Jews, was honored for his work in Jewish-Christian dialogue and working to include Muslims in the past year. "I am really a simple soul, a businessman, who, in a modest way, has been smiled on by fortune ... and who has tried to repay the blessings which have been bestowed on me by opening to others a sense of the goodness which lies in us all, regardless of our faith," Sternberg said today.
Among his accomplishments, Sternberg helped to resolve the conflict over a convent of Carmelite nuns that opened in 1983 near the Nazi concentrations camps where nearly a million Jews were killed, a controversy that ended on Monday with the handover of the convent to the Polish government.
The Templeton Prize was established in 1972 by investment manager John M. Templeton to recognize people who advance the world's understanding of religion. The prize will be awarded at a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace in May.