Program #0046 for Thursday, May 12, 2011: Immigration reform, prayer for vocations, Pope Benedict on prayer

May 12, 2011

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Susan Abbott

Today’s guest(s): Gregory Tracy, Managing Editor of The Pilot newspaper, and Father Roger Landry, Executive Editor of The Anchor newspaper.

Today’s topics: Immigration reform, World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Benedict on prayer, and more

A summary of today’s show: Scot and Susan talk with Fr. Roger Landry and Gregory Tracy about a Catholic response to the political question of immigration reform; Pope Benedict’s advice on how dioceses should approach praying and preparing for vocations; the Holy Father’s ongoing catechesis on prayer; and more in the news from The Pilot and The Anchor.

1st segment: Scot welcomes Susan back to the show. Susan said she enjoyed yesterday’s show on adult faith formation and would like to re-visit the topic of the US bishops’ document on the subject again on the show some day. She’s also getting involved in budget process for her office of Religious Education. The Archdiocese’s fiscal year begins on June 1 and all the ministries are preparing plans and budgets for next year.

2nd segment: Scot and Susan welcome Gregory and Fr. Roger back to the show. President Obama made a speech on May 10 in El Paso, Texas, and released a 34-page blueprint for immigration reform. He emphasized federal responsibility for immigration; to hold employers responsible for hiring illegals, create a system that provides for the demands of employment and family unification, and to hold people in the US illegally accountable for their action before enabling to get them on the right side of the law.

Gregory said the Church has always had a great interest in immigration reform, ensuring that whatever reforms are made respect human dignity.

Scot said the President accused Republicans of moving the goal posts so that whatever Democrats offer, the Republicans always want more. Republicans shot back that the mission of securing the border has never been accomplished.

Susan said we are all descendants of immigrants and need to welcome people, but we also need to be responsible. Sometimes when immigration is discussed, an elitist mindset comes out and that’s not who we are as Catholics.

The chairman of the US bishops’ committee on immigration is Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, who is himself an immigrant. Fr. Roger said Gomez says we are talking here about brothers and sisters in Christ and we need keep that in mind in any conversation about immigration reform. He also says the Church is not a political party and we’re not advocating any particular policy, but we’re promoting an attitude of respect and welcoming. Archbishop Gomez also said that anti-Hispanic bias is a factor in some of the conversation about reform.

Scot said Archbishop Gomez’s letter last year said 10 million illegals are in the country, so what we do we do with them. While we have to uphold our laws, we have to ask what is proper and just. From a moral standpoint, he concludes that deporting immigrants is too severe a penalty. He suggests intensive long-term community service. Gregory thinks it’s a reasonable suggestion and it’s important to remember that this is a question of civil law, not criminal law.

Susan quoted a priest from Fall River who said, “If you are baptized, you are home.”

Fr. Landry said we have to treat them like human beings rather than treat then like they’re doing something horrible by trying to work and feed their kids. This is their experience in New Bedford after the big immigration raid on a Defense Dept. contractor in 2007 that resulted in the arrests of dozens of undocumented aliens.

3rd segment: Fr. Roger’s editorial this week in the Anchor is on the World Day of Vocations, which is this Sunday. This year, the Holy Father’s message speaks of the work of dioceses in forming and recruiting vocations.

Fr. Roger said the day normally occurs on Good Shepherd Sunday, which is now the fourth Sunday of Easter. Jesus knew there would always be a vocations crisis, which is why He told us that the harvest is great and the laborers are few. Pope Benedict describes the vitality of a local Church as being seen in the ability to foster vocations. He notes that in certain places vocations are thriving and in others they are sterile.

Pope Benedict said:

  1. Pray
  2. Train young people a total commitment to Christ and in love
  3. Help young people to hear the voice of God in the cacophony of the world
  4. Take advantage of every opportunity to promote vocations: in families, in parishes, and in our communities. Fostering vocations starts with forming your children from a young age.

Scot said Cardinal Seán always says that vocations are everyone’s business, not just priests or bishops. Susan said our religious education programs promote the call to vocation at all ages. We have to ask the question of the young people we meet because God’s voice is being drowned out and so they need to hear from us. One of the best advertisements for vocations is seeing a priest so in love with his ministry. But we have to raise the topic with the young men in our lives.

Gregory said vocations don’t come from a vacuum. It’s particularly important to understand the connectedness to the vocation of marriage. When a couple truly lives the vocation of marriage, their children will see the importance of vocation, whether it be marriage or religious life or priesthood and it’s not a foreign concept to them.

4th segment: In his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Benedict gave the second installment in what will be a long series of catechetical talks on prayer in the Christian life.

In our catechesis on Christian prayer, we have seen how prayer is part of the universal human experience. Our own age, marked by secularism, rationalism and an apparent eclipse of God, is showing signs of a renewed religious sense and a recognition of the inadequacy of a purely horizontal, material vision of life. Man is made in the image of God; a desire for God is present in every heart and man in some way knows that he is capable of speaking to God in prayer. Saint Thomas Aquinas tells us that prayer is the expression of our desire for God, a desire which is itself God’s gift. Prayer is first and foremost a matter of the heart, where we experience God’s call and our dependence on his help to transcend our limitations and sinfulness. The posture of kneeling at prayer expresses this acknowledgment of our need and our openness to God’s gift of himself in a mysterious encounter of friendship. Let us resolve to pray more frequently, to listen in the silence of our hearts to God’s voice, and to grow in union with the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, with the One who is infinite Love.

Susan recalled St. Augustine’s quote: “You have made us for yourself O Lord and our hearts will not rest until they rest in you” and thinks it echoes with Pope Benedict’s quote of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Gregory was struck by the statement that to really pray is hard work. We have to consciously listen to God. It’s hard to set aside prayer time in our busy lives and it’s easy to say, “I prayed” with a quick tossed off prayer, but it’s hard to set aside time for serious prayer.

Fr. Roger said Pope Benedict also said in his audience that man is religious by nature. He is as much homo religiosus (religious man) as he is homo sapiens. To Pray is to feel that meaning in the world is outside the world. The school exists as a school of prayer to teach them to prayer. Prayer is faith in action and sometimes it comes in the least likely of circumstances. An anecdote of a man who said: “Lord, help me I don’t know how to pray.” The Lord replied, “You are already doing it.”

Scot highlighted the Pope’s further words from the audience:

Man bears within himself a thirst for the infinite,” he continued, “a nostalgia for eternity, a search for beauty, a desire for love, a need for light and truth, which drive him toward the Absolute; man bears within himself the desire for God. And man knows, in some way, that he can address himself to God, that he can pray to him.”
The Pontiff said that the attraction toward God “is the soul of prayer, which is cloaked in many forms and modalities according to the history, time, moment, grace and finally the sin of each one of those who pray.”
He added that prayer is a mindset, and not a “series of practices and formulas.” Prayer, he said, is “a way of being before God, rather than carrying out acts of worship or pronouncing words.”

Other great stores in the Pilot and the Anchor this week:

  • In the Pilot, Fr. Thomas Morgan passed to the Lord. He had been pastor in Salisbury since the mid-1970s.
  • In the Anchor, 75 years after “the Little Rose” died, many people are still working for her canonization.
  • In the Pilot, Fr. Dick Rieman, priest of Opus Dei, reflects on his personal experience of St. Josemaria Escriva.
  • Also in the Pilot, more info on Why Catholic?: Journey Through the Catechism
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