Program #0068 for Monday, June 13, 2011: A New Pentecost, Cardinal Seán’s Pastoral Letter

June 13, 2011

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry

Today’s guest(s): Janet Benestad, Secretary for Faith Formation and Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Boston; Fr. Stephen Rock, Pastor of St Agnes Parish in Reading

Today’s topics: Cardinal Seán’s Pastoral Letter, entitled “A New Pentecost: Inviting All to Follow Jesus.”

A summary of today’s show: On today’s show, Scot Landry, His Eminence Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Father Stephen Rock, and Janet Benestad discuss the pastoral letter released yesterday for Pentecost.

1st Segment: Scot reminded listeners that today is the feast day of St Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost items, and wished a happy feast day to all St. Anthony of Padua parishes. Cardinal Seán’s pastoral letter, released yesterday on Pentecost Sunday, begins by highlighting that Pentecost is known as the “birthday of the Church” because it was the day that the early followers of Jesus began to proclaim the Gospel, fulfilling Jesus’ command to go forth and baptize all nations.

Scot explained that a pastoral letter is a method for bishops to guide those in their diocese in aspects of Catholic teaching, worship, or social concerns. Bishops have three responsibilities – to teach, sanctify, and govern the diocese. Issuing a pastoral letter is an important way for bishops to teach their clergy, religious, and lay people in the diocese. Cardinal Seán has written more than a dozen pastoral letters, and this is his first since 2005, and the first he has written translated into multiple languages.

2nd Segment: Cardinal Seán joined Scot via the phone to speak about his pastoral letter. Cardinal Seán said he wanted to write a pastoral letter on evangelization because it is the chief mission of the Church – and to make it clear that the Catholics Come Home initiative was about more than the television advertisements, it is about a continuing campaign to invite people to answer the call to discipleship in the Church. Scot and Cardinal Seán discussed various passages from the letter, including an analogy of a cancer researcher who would feel obligated to share a cure he found – we too should feel obligated to share the best thing we have, our relationship with Jesus, with our neighbors.

Pentecost is a good time to speak about evangelization because it was the beginning of the spread of the Good News of Jesus, Cardinal Seán said, and the beginning of the mission of the Church to spread the Gospel. At this time in the Church year, we should remember that Pentecost is where this all began, and that we continue the mission to spread the faith to the next generation of Catholics. Cardinal Seán quoted Pope Paul VI, that the activities of the Church are to announce the kingdom and to invite people to follow the Lord – therefore what we do and say must be part of the work of evangelization.

3rd Segment: Scot started by highlighting that the third section of Cardinal Seán’s letter says evangelization starts with each Catholic’s ongoing conversion. Janet explained that we can only share what we have received – we must know Jesus to be able to share His love with others. Scot emphasized that Pentecost is not a historical event, it is today – just as Jesus is not just a historical figure, He lives with us today.

Father Rock explained the process of the Envision program at St. Agnes parish in Reading. His parish has come together to grow in faith and make a plan of how they will evangelize their community as Catholics. Janet added that the Cardinal asked in his letter for us to focus both on Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy in our evangelization work – using the Latin phrase cur animarum, meaning “care of the soul.”

4th Segment: Scot explained that section 6 of the pastoral letter focuses on the parish as the chief venue of evangelization. The parish is the place where most Catholics experience the Church, and has the same duty as the universal Church. Father Rock explained that sometimes we tend to become congregationalist – only seeing the Church as who is in our Catholic community in our local parish. We need to remember that we are here for the whole Church as a universal body. Father Rock said that all it takes to start a new mission in the parish is a few parishioners having a common goal and asking the pastor for his blessing.

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