TERESA OF AVILA: CONTEMPLATIVE AND INDUSTRIOUS
VATICAN CITY, 2 FEB 2011 (VIS REPORTS) - During his general audience, held this morning in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope spoke about St. Teresa of Avila, who lived from 1515 to 1582. IMAGE SOURCE:
Teresa de Ahumada was born in the Spanish city of Avila, said Benedict XVI. Although as an adolescent she read works of profane literature which led her towards a life in the world, she later turned to spiritual works which "taught her meditation and prayer. At the age of twenty she entered the Carmelite convent of the Incarnation, also in Avila".
St. Teresa saw her struggle against her own physical ailments as "a struggle against her weakness and resistance before the call of God. ... In Lent 1554, at the age of thirty-nine, Teresa reached the pinnacle of her fight against her own debilities".
"In parallel with the maturation of her interior life, the saint also began to give concrete form to her idea of reforming the Carmelite order. In 1562, with the support of Bishop Alvaro de Mendoza of Avila, she founded the first reformed Carmelite convent. ... Over the following years she continued to found new Carmelite convents, reaching a total of seventeen. Her meeting with St. John of the Cross proved fundamental and with him, in 1568, she founded the first convent of Discalced Carmelites, at Duruelo near Avila". Teresa died in 1582. She was beatified by Paul V in 1614 and canonised in 1622 by Gregory XV. In 1970 Servant of God Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church.
The Holy Father noted how "Teresa of Avila had no academic education, however she always gave great weight to the teaching of theologians, men of letters and spiritual masters". Her major works include an autobiography in which she presents her soul to St. John of Avila, and the "Way of Perfection" intended as a spiritual guide for her own nuns. However, "St. Teresa's most famous mystical work is the 'Interior Castle'", said the Pope, in which "she codifies the possible development of Christian life towards perfection. ... To her activity as founder of the Reformed Carmelites, Teresa dedicated another work, the 'Book of Foundations'".
Referring then to the spirituality of Teresa, the Holy Father made particular mention of her interest in "the evangelical virtues as the foundation of all Christian and human life". He also noted how she laid great emphasis on "profound harmony with the great biblical figures" and on "listening to the Word of God. ... The saint also highlights the importance of prayer", he said, "she teaches readers of her works to pray, and she herself prays with them".
"Another question very dear to this saint was the centrality of Christ's humanity. ... This lay at the basis of the importance she attributed to meditation on the Passion, and to the Eucharist as the presence of Christ in the Church, for the life of all believers and as the heart of the liturgy. St. Teresa's love for the Church was unconditional", said the Pope, identifying another essential part of her doctrine in "perfection as the aspiration and final goal of all Christian life".
The Holy Father concluded by saying that "St. Teresa of Avila is an authentic teacher of Christian life for the faithful in all times. In our society, often lacking in spiritual values, St. Teresa teaches us to be tireless witnesses of God, of His presence and His work. ... May the example of this profoundly contemplative and industrious saint, encourage us to dedicate adequate time to daily prayer, to openness to God in order to discover His friendship and so to discover true life. ... Time spent in prayer is not lost; it is a time in which we open the way to life, learning to love God and His Church ardently, and to show real charity towards our neighbours".
VATICAN CITY, 2 FEB 2011 (VIS) - Following his catechesis during this morning's general audience, Benedict XVI recalled the fact that today marks the Day of Consecrated Life.
"To your prayers I entrust those who, having made vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, strive after sanctity in the service of children, young people, the sick, the elderly and the lonely. We are grateful to them for their prayers and for the work they do in parishes, hospitals, care homes and schools. Their service represents a particularly precious gift for the Church. My heartfelt blessings go to all those who live in accordance with the evangelical counsels".
VATICAN CITY, 2 FEB 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Bishop Jean Legrez O.P. of Saint-Claude, France, as archbishop of Albi (area 5,780, population 363,000, Catholics 290,000, priests 175, permanent deacons 12, religious 519), France. The archbishop-elect was born in Paris, France in 1948, he was ordained a priest in 1976 and consecrated a bishop in 2003.
- Appointed Bishop Raul Cecilio Berzosa Martinez, auxiliary of Oviedo, Spain, as bishop of Ciudad Rodrigo (area 4,264, population 45,016, Catholics 44,028, priests 75, religious 126), Spain.
- Appointed Bishop Francisco Antonio Nieto Sua, auxiliary of Bogota, Colombia, as bishop of San Jose del Guaviare (area 42,327, population 120,000, Catholics 112,000, priests 16, permanent deacons 2, religious 12), Colombia.
- Appointed Bishop Atilano Rodriguez Martinez of Ciudad Rodrigo, Spain, as bishop of Siguenza-Guadalajara (area 12,190, population 237,787, Catholics 211,630, priests 259, religious 403), Spain. He succeeds Bishop Jose Sanchez Gonzalez, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Bishop Fidel Leon Cadavid Marin of Quibdo, Colombia, as bishop of Sonson - Rionegro (area 7,300, population 601,000, Catholics 595,000, priests 279, religious 801), Colombia.
- Appointed Fr. Miguel Olaortua Laspra O.S.A., director of the "San Augustin" College in Zaragoza, Spain and provincial counsellor, as apostolic vicar of Iquitos (area 100,041, population 1,064,090, Catholics 895,830, priests 38, religious 71), Peru. The bishop-elect was born in Bilbao, Spain in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1987. He succeeds Bishop Julian Garcia Centeno O.S.A., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same apostolic vicariate the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Fr. Rosalvo Cordeiro de Lima of the clergy of the diocese of Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil, pastor of the parish of "Sao Jose" in Salesopolis, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Fortaleza (area 14,813, population 3,585,000, Catholics 2,536,000, priests 328, permanent deacons 19, religious 1,174), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Uniao dos Palmares, Brazil in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1992.
- Appointed Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra as apostolic nuncio to Pakistan.
CATHOLIC ONLINE REPORT: There are alternatives to Catholic schools but there are no real substitutes.
In this age of aggressive secularization, Catholic schools play a vital role in forming strong Catholic citizens who can help reclaim our society for Christ. They are the lifeblood of the Catholic community and they deserve the support of all Catholics. There are alternatives to Catholic schools but there are no real substitutes.
Catholic School children rejoice over winning an academic achievement award
PHOENIX, AZ (Catholic Online) - During Catholic School Week, it is a good time to consider why Catholic parents should more seriously consider sending their children to Catholic schools.
It is without question that Catholic schools have historically had a singularly important impact in strengthening the Catholic community. Catholic schools were viewed in the 19th century as a primary means of fighting widespread anti-Catholic discrimination. The vital importance of Catholic schools was such that leaders of the Church in this era often espoused the view that Catholic schools were more important than the parishes themselves, an opinion echoed recently by in an article by New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan.Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, The Catholic Schools We Need, America Magazine, Sept. 13, 2010.
Studies have shown that Catholic school graduates differ from Catholic children not enrolled in parochial schools in four critical areas: 1) fidelity to Sunday Mass and a keener sense of prayer; 2) maintaining pro-life attitudes, especially on the pivotal topic of abortion; 3) willingness to consider a religious vocation, and 4) continued support for the local church and community, both financially and through service projects, for the balance of their adult lives. Mary Gautier, Does Catholic Education Make A Difference? National Catholic Reporter, Sept. 30, 2005.
In spite of the vital role Catholic schools have played in the Catholic community, enrollment in Catholic schools has dropped significantly over the last four decades. A number of Catholic educators have posited that economic factors have caused the cost of Catholic schools to be placed beyond reach of many Catholic parents. Other commentators argue that the replacement of religious sisters and priests with lay teachers who are generally less knowledgeable about Catholic teachings has made the case for Catholic schools less compelling.
While many explanations are offered for this decline, Archbishop Timothy Dolan's diagnosis of the problem and prescription for revival of Catholic schools is enlightening.
In his recent article in America Magazine, Archbishop Dolan doesn't mince words and places the blame on Catholics who have "disowned their school system, excusing themselves as in individuals, parishes or dioceses from any further involvement with a Catholic school simply because their own children are not enrolled there." Archbishop Dolan also notes the impact of the aggressive secularization of American culture that undermines the commitment Catholics used to make to Catholic schools. Dolan goes on to say that "The truth is that the entire parish, the whole diocese and the universal church benefit from Catholic schools in ways that keep communities strong. So all Catholics have a duty to support them."
In Arizona, where I live, many Catholic schools have been hurt by the increasing popularity of government funded charter schools. Over the years, increasing numbers of Catholic families have abandoned Catholic schools in favor of the free tuition offered by charter schools. A number of these charter schools do provide a good secular education. However, being government funded these schools are prohibited from providing religious instruction, including Catholic teachings, to their students.
The questions posed by this now unfortunately common anomaly - Catholic parents choosing government funded schools over Catholic schools - is whether this is best for our Catholic children?
I believe the answer to this question is a resounding no. As Catholic parents, we are the primary educators of our children. There is a big difference between entrusting our children to a secular school instead of a Catholic school.
According to the Second Vatican Council, Catholic parents have "the duty of entrusting their children to Catholic schools wherever and whenever possible and of supporting these schools to the best of their ability."Second Vatican Council, Declaration on Christian Education, Sec. 8 (Oct. 25, 1965).
More recently, the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education stated that it is the duty of Catholic parents to "arrange and even demand for their children to be able to receive a moral and religious education and advance in their Christian formation to a degree that is abreast of their development in secular subjects." Vatican Letter on Catholic Education, (Sept. 8, 2009).
As such, we Catholic parents should not take lightly our obligation to provide a Catholic education for our children.
On a personal note, I remember in my early years as a parent hearing the sermon of a local Catholic priest who, when pressed on why he stressed Catholic theology in his parish school, he proclaimed that "his job was to help get our children to Heaven not Harvard."
The good news is that Catholic children have great options to attend academically excellent Catholic schools where they are taught faith and reason, rather than just reason alone which is what government funded charter schools and public schools are limited to.
A case in point is the school my younger children attend. Ville de Marie Academy (www.vdmschool.com) is a non-Diocesan school in the Catholic tradition located in Scottsdale, Arizona. The school is academically challenging, the children attend Mass weekly and they receive daily instruction in Catholic theology. Our teachers are knowledgeable about the Catholic faith and many have graduated from leading Catholic colleges like Thomas Aquinas College, Franciscan University of Steubenville and Christendom College. Our graduating seniors this year averaged over $75,000 in college scholarship awards. I could go on and on but I think you get the picture. It's a great school where the children are being prepared to be successful in the important ways; spiritually, academically and socially.
UCAN REPORT: A Catholic priest in Bangladesh has condemned the banned practice of religious punishments, which recently saw a teenage Muslim girl whipped to death.
“Even though fatwas are banned in the country, people in rural areas still suffer from what is a serious violation of human rights,” said Father Albert Thomas Rozario, a lawyer and secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace
“People need to be aware that prevailing laws in the country don’t allow punishment according to Islamic laws,” he told ucanews.com.
Father Rozario was referring to the case of Hena Begum, 14 who was allegedly raped by her 40-year-old cousin on January 30 in Shariatpur district in central Bangladesh.
The next day, a fatwa (corporal punishment in Islamic law) was issued at a village arbitration ordering her to receive 100 lashes.
She lost consciousness during the punishment and later died in hospital.
Four men were later arrested in connection with the girl’s death
The girl’s father had accused 18 men of killing his daughter.
Meanwhile, district officials in Shariatpur have been ordered to explain why they failed to prevent the raped girl from being whipped to death.
Law enforcement agencies have also been ordered to submit a report to the High Court within three weeks detailing what steps they are taking to prevent future extra-judicial punishments.
Several human rights organizations have also expressed concern over the incident and demanded punitive action against fatwa imposers.
Presentation of Child Jesus in the Temple
Feast: February 2