Program #0117 for August 19, 2011: Messages of Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Day

August 19, 2011

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Chip Hines

Today’s topics: Pope Benedict’s messages to young women religious, university professors, and the World Youth Day Pilgrims; Gospel reading for August 21st, 2011.

Summary of today’s show: Scot and Father Chip analyze Pope Benedict’s addresses in Madrid during World Youth Day and discuss this Sunday’s Gospel reading.

1st segment: Scot welcomed Fr. Chip back to the show, as he hadn’t been co-hosting in a while. Fr. Chip said the best thing to catch up on this week is football – he and Scot both agreed that the Patriots looked very strong in their pre-season game last night. Scot said that even though January 1st is the start of the calendar year, so many things start right around Labor Day. Fr Chip agreed, saying that at his parish the Director of Religious education and Confirmation class teachers are gearing up getting ready – very similar to how the teams are gearing up for the season, everyone at St Mary’s in Wrenthem is preparing for students to come back and programs to start up for the Fall.

2nd segment: Scot said that pilgrims at World Youth Day woke up early this morning in Madrid to attend a catechesis session with Archbishop Timothy Dolan from New York at a center sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. Scot also mentioned that the pilgrims very much enjoyed their time at the center – it is one of the few air-conditioned venues in Madrid! Scot noted that Pope Benedict’s first address this morning was to women religious from Spain and all over the world. Scot read a short excerpt from the speech:

In the
consecrated life, this means going to the very root of the love of Jesus Christ with an undivided heart, putting nothing ahead of this love and being completely devoted to him, the Bridegroom, as were the Saints,
like Rose of Lima and Rafael Arnáiz, the young patrons of this World Youth Day. Your lives must testify to the personal encounter with Christ which has nourished your consecration, and to all the transforming power of that encounter. This is all the more important today when “we see a certain ‘eclipse of God’ taking place, a kind of amnesia which, albeit not an outright rejection of Christianity, is nonetheless a denial of the treasure of our faith, a denial that could lead to the loss of our deepest identity.” In a world of relativism and mediocrity, we need that radicalism to which your consecration, as a way of belonging to the God who is loved above all things, bears witness.

This Gospel radicalism proper to the consecrated life finds expression in filial communion with the Church, the home of the children of God, built by Christ: communion with her Pastors who set forth in the Lord’s name the deposit of faith received from the apostles, the ecclesial Magisterium and the Christian tradition…

Fr. Chip said that he loved the idea of a “Gospel radicalism” – he said since the Gospel is the Truth, there is no mediocrity in it. The Gospel is both the central teaching of the Church and what we are supposed to live, and these women religious are living out the Gospel through their charisms and vows. Fr Chip said that the young women religious are a special witness to the faith. He continued, relating a story about an internet discussion about his hometown of Reading, Massachusetts. One poster said she remembered nuns walking in their habits back and forth from the parish at the center of town. A discussion ensued about the Church – even from that witness long ago. When the Pope brings up this witness up, Fr. Chip continued, it shows that the Pope knows this kind of witness needs to be more common in the world today. Scot noted that the word radical comes from “root” – and that a Gospel radical must be rooted well in the faith, the motto of this World Youth Day. Scot said what he found very compelling about Pope Benedict’s words is how he calls out exactly what he sees happening in culture – saying “we see an eclipse of God,” something that the Pope in the past has referred to as a practical atheism.

Scot said that there are many forces trying to encourage that eclipse of God, even in the United States – organizations like the ACLU claim that any mention of God or religion in the public square or a public school is forcing Catholicism on them, but at the same time they deny forcing their atheism on the general public. The Pope also talked about a general amnesia, Scot said, which seems to be making us forget our Christian roots in both the United States and Europe.

Scot then moved to the Pope’s message that relativism and and mediocrity have taken over in some areas of society. He said that relativism means that there is no objective truth – just our own subjective opinions. In a relativist society, there is no way to know what is really true. Fr. Chip said that we need to step back and realize that culture has compartmentalized truth as well – for example, he said, euthanasia or abortion aren’t murder, but if someone were to kill a pregnant woman they would be charged with two murders. Scot said that the secular trend towards doing the minimum or being mediocre has also infected our Church. Many people attend Mass every Sunday, but forget about their faith for the other 167 hours of the week, Scot said. We are all called to do well beyond the minimum in following Christ. Scot ended the segment by reading the end of Pope Benedict’s message thanking the young women religious for their dedication and witness, and asking them to challenge, nourish and illuminate young people with their lives.

3rd segment: Scot reminded the listeners that the words of Pope Benedict at World Youth Day aren’t meant just for the young – they’re also meant for all Catholics all over the world of all ages. Scot said that the Pope also met today in Madrid with university professors today, the first time such an event has been part of a World Youth Day. Scot read excerpts from Pope Benedict’s message:

I have looked forward to this meeting with you, young professors in the universities of Spain. You provide a splendid service in the spread of truth, in circumstances that are not always easy… t where will young people encounter those reference points in a society which is increasingly confused and
unstable? At times one has the idea that the mission of a university professor nowadays is exclusively that of forming competent and efficient professionals capable of satisfying the demand for labor at any given time. One also hears it said that the only thing that matters at the present moment is pure technical ability. This sort of utilitarian approach to education is in fact becoming more widespread, even at the university level, promoted especially by sectors outside the University. All the same, you who, like myself, have had an experience of the University, and now are members of the teaching staff, surely are looking for something more lofty and capable of embracing the full measure of what it is to be
human. We know that when mere utility and pure pragmatism become the principal criteria, much is lost and the results can be tragic: from the abuses associated with a science which acknowledges no limits beyond itself, to the political totalitarianism which easily arises when one eliminates any higher reference than the mere calculus of power.

The authentic idea of the University, on the other hand, is precisely what saves us from this reductionist and curtailed vision of humanity. In truth, the University has always been, and is always called to be, the “house” where one seeks the truth proper to the human person. Consequently it was not by accident that the Church promoted the universities, for Christian faith speaks to us of Christ as the Word through whom all things were made and of men and women as made in the image and likeness of God. The Gospel message perceives a rationality inherent in creation and considers man as a creature participating in, and capable of attaining to, an understanding of this rationality. The University thus embodies an ideal which must not be attenuated or compromised, whether by ideologies closed to reasoned dialogue or by truckling to a purely utilitarian and economic conception which would view man solely as a consumer.

Scot said that before Pope Benedict went to Rome, he was a university professor in Germany, and probably still would be had Pope John Paul II not called him to lead the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In many ways, Scot said, the Holy Father was trying to help these professors to go beyond mediocrity in their profession. Fr. Chip said he went to a liberal arts school, and that he thinks there’s something important to understanding literature and politics, and not just being taught to be an accountant or a scientist. A broad, well-rounded education helps students be better citizens and better Catholics. Fr Chip said that students need to understand that going to college is not just about getting a professional degree, it’s about the process of learning and education. Scot said that the Holy Father wants the professors to view themselves as forming the whole person, not just passing on facts and allowing a relativistic perspective – no matter what discipline is being taught.

Fr. Chip said he finds it ironic that many of the secular humanists who populate universities these days tend to forget that the university system was a Catholic idea – they forget that some of the great theorists were Catholic priests. Scot read another segment from the Pope’s message that emphasized that professors need to “be a source of encouragement and strength… on the path to fullness and truth… a path of understanding and love, of reason and faith.” Fr Chip agreed, saying that the best professors he had throughout college and the seminary were the ones who took time to sit down and care about his learning progress and understanding of the material.

Scot related that one of his favorite professors from business school always said there was a difference between being a professor and a teacher – a teacher conveys not only course lessons, but life lessons too. One lesson Scot remembered was having breakfast with the professor and some classmates, and the professor explaining that men at work are always competitive, and to avoid bringing that need for a “score card” back home. Scot said that he agreed strongly – one can have little victories or achievements during the day at work, but home life or a relationship with a wife or children just can’t be measured the same way. Fr. Chip agreed, adding that a pastor’s work can’t be measured in the same score system either. The number of baptisms or confirmations is all well and good, but he said if all the pastor is worried about is numbers he’s missing part of the point. Fr. Chip said he’d rather just one person have a closer and better relationship with God than have the highest numbers any day.

4th segment: Scot started the segment by reading a short passage from Pope Benedict’s message to youth at World Youth Day after the Way of the Cross in Madrid:

As we were making our way with Jesus towards the place of his sacrifice on Mount Calvary, the words of Saint Paul came to mind: “Christ loved me and gave himself for me.” In the face of such disinterested love, we find ourselves asking, filled with wonder and gratitude: What can we do for him? What response shall we give him? Saint John puts it succinctly: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Christ’s passion urges us to take upon our own shoulders the sufferings of the world, in the certainty that God is not distant or far removed from man and his troubles. On the contrary, he became one of us “in order to suffer with man in an utterly real way — in flesh and blood … hence in all human suffering we are joined by one who experiences and carries that suffering with us; hence con-solatio is present in all suffering, the consolation of God’s compassionate love — and so the star of hope rises.” Dear young friends, may Christ’s love for us increase your joy and encourage you to go in search of those less fortunate. You are open to the idea of sharing your lives with others, so be sure not to pass by on the other side in the face of human suffering, for it is here that God expects you to give of your very best: your capacity for love and compassion. The different forms of suffering that have unfolded before our eyes in the course of this Way of the Cross are the Lord’s way of summoning us to spend our lives following in his footsteps and becoming signs of his consolation and salvation. “To suffer with the other and for others; to suffer for the sake of truth and justice; to suffer out of love and in order to become a person who truly loves — these are fundamental elements of humanity, and to abandon them would destroy man himself.”

Scot said that this was one of the most moving homilies he has heard about human suffering. Fr. Chip agreed, and said that one of his favorite parts of Lent is Friday night Stations of the Cross with his parishioners. He said it shows in a visual way what walking the path of suffering is like, but also can relate their own suffering to Christ’s – where he falls, but gets back up. Fr. Chip said that Pope Benedict’s message reminds us that we walk the Way of the Cross with Jesus – but that we don’t walk it alone. Scot highlighted the Holy Father’s question of what we give back to Jesus, and said that the only true response is to give ourselves back to Him.

5th segment:

Thus says the LORD to Shebna, master of the palace:
“I will thrust you from your office
and pull you down from your station.
On that day I will summon my servant
Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;
I will clothe him with your robe,
and gird him with your sash,
and give over to him your authority.
He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
and to the house of Judah.
I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder;
when he opens, no one shall shut
when he shuts, no one shall open.
I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot,
to be a place of honor for his family.”

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord
or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given the Lord anything
that he may be repaid?
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen.

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Scot said that he views the Gospel for this Sunday as four parts: the first as “who do you say I am,” the second as St Peter’s response to that question and Jesus changing his name, the third as the powers that Jesus gives St Peter, and the fourth as Jesus’ request for the disciples not to tell anyone he was the Christ. In the first section, Scot said, we answer that question every day as Catholics with how we live our faith. If we truly say that Jesus is God who sacrificed himself on the cross for us, Scot continued, then do we show others by our actions that we believe it? Or do we only say it for an hour on Sunday morning? Fr Chip said that the key to believing is living out our faith in both our words and actions, even though it is difficult and requires effort on our part.

Scot moved to the second part of the Gospel reading, where Jesus tells Simon/Peter that he is the rock the Church will be founded on. Jesus then gives Simon a new name – Scot said that in religious congregations then and now, when someone gets a new name it means they have a new mission or vocation. Simon was a friend or follower of Christ, Peter was at that moment the first pope. Fr Chip agreed, and said that even though Peter fails a bit by denying Jesus later on and being afraid, Jesus already knows that Peter has what it takes to shepherd the new Church. Fr Chip also reminded the listeners that this Gospel is also important in that it shows us the importance of sacramental confession. As successors of St Peter, the bishops and the men they ordain have the power handed down from Jesus to forgive in both Heaven and Earth. Scot joked that the last segment of the Gospel is the one time where we can forget what Jesus says in the Gospel – at the time, Fr Chip explained, Jesus was not quite ready to be too public and hence asked his disciples not to start spreading the news far and wide yet. Today though, Scot said, we need to tell everyone about the Good News that is Jesus Christ.

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