Archive of September 23, 2007

Holy Father urges conversion in our use of material goods

Vatican City, Sep 23, 2007 (CNA) - From Castelgandolfo today, the Holy Father encouraged Christians to look out for the needy and homeless, to use worldly goods wisely, and to guard against an improper use of money that leads to a “blind selfishness”.

“Dear brothers and sisters!” the Holy Father began, “this morning I visited the diocese of Velletri…during the Eucharistic Celebration I had the chance to reflect on the correct use of worldly goods, which Luke the Evanglist has proposed for us.”

“It is Christ who teaches us the right use of money and worldly riches”, the Pope affirmed, “and that is to share them with the poor, thus obtaining their friendship, in sight of the Kingdom of heaven.”
Benedict was careful to point out that money is not dishonest in itself, “but more than anything else it is capable of closing man in a blind selfishness.”

Thus, the Holy Father noted that we need a kind of conversion with respect to money: “We must effect a type of ‘conversion’ of economic goods: instead of using them solely for our own interest, we must think also of the needs of the poor, imitating Christ himself.”

Christ’s gift of himself to man is a paradox: “as St. Paul writes—‘rich though he was, he became poor to enrich us with his poverty’(2 Cor 8:9).  It seems a paradox: Christ has not enriched us with his richness, but with his poverty, that is with his love that has impelled him to give himself completely to us.”

Benedict affirmed that in the world we find two economic mentalities: “the logic of profit and that of the just distribution of goods, which are not in contradiction with one another, as long as their relationship is ordered correctly.”

This correct relationship consists in giving priority to the equitable distribution of goods: “The Catholic social doctrine has always sustained that the equitable distribution of goods has priority.  Profit is naturally legitimate, and, in the right measure, necessary for economic development.”

Benedict cited his predecessor John Paul II’s Encyclical Centesimus Annus: “the emergency of famine and the ecological emergency denounce, with growing evidence, that the logic of profit, if it prevails, increases the disproportion between rich and poor in a a ruinous misuse of the planet.  When, instead, the logic of sharing and of solidarity prevails, it is possible to correct our course and orient it towards an equitable and sustainable development.”

Lastly the Holy Father invoked the help of Most Holy Mary, “who in the Magnificat proclaims: the Lord “has filled the hungry with good things  and has sent the rich away empty-handed”(Lk 1:53).

“May she help Christians to use with evangelic wisdom, that is with generous solidarity, their worldly goods, and inspire leaders and economists with far-seeing strategies that favor the authentic progress of all peoples.”

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Archbishop Chaput: Reclaiming our Catholic Mission

Colorado Springs, Colo., Sep 23, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver gave a talk at the Legatus Conference on Thursday in Colorado Springs.  He addressed the organization of Catholic business leaders and challenged them to reclaim the Catholic Mission.


The organization of Catholic businessmen, which takes its name from the Latin word for “ambassador”, hosted their fall summit September 20-22nd in Colorado Springs and offers a network of support for Catholics who influence the business world and are able to combine their faith with their work, families, friends and colleagues. 


The archbishop began his talk by explaining how the foundation of Catholicism, the Bible not only aims to make people wise, but it seeks to lead them to salvation.  The books of other great world religions are essentially wisdom literature.  Their goal is to help believers obtain happiness, but does not show them the true history of our world and where we are headed.


Archbishop Chaput began with the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis, “The first words are: “In the beginning . . . ”  The Bible begins with a step-by-step report of the first day in the history of the world.  The entire Old Testament is like that.  After telling us about the first man and woman and their descendants, it proceeds to present a historical account of God’s chosen people, the children of Israel.  The biblical narratives are filled with dates and geography, even the names of foreign rulers.”


He explained how the New Testament is a continuation of that history.  “It focuses on one particular child of Israel, Jesus of Nazareth, and the community he founded, the Church.  The story is told with lots of references -- some direct, others subtle -- to that earlier history.  Jesus is portrayed as fulfilling all that God promised in the Old Testament.  The Church is described as the new people of God, the final realization of Israel’s calling to be God’s light to the nations.”


The archbishop said, “[t]hat’s my first point today.  To be a Catholic is to be very unique among the world’s believers. To be a Catholic means believing that you are a part of a vast historical project.  And it’s not our project.  It’s God’s.  Being Catholic means believing that since the beginning of time God has been working out his own hidden purposes in the history of nations and in the biography of every person.  He’s still unfolding his purposes today, and each of us has a part to play in his divine plan.”


“He chose us before the foundation of the world, to be holy.  In love, he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ.”  St. Paul wrote those words to the first Christians.  But he meant them for us, too.  He created us out of love.  He made us for a reason: to be holy, to be his sons and daughters through Jesus Christ; to help him in his plan to share his love with the whole world.


“In his first homily as pope, Benedict XVI said the same thing.  He said: ‘We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.  Each of us is the result of a thought of God.  Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.’   This is a vital truth.  Every one of us is the result of an act of the creative imagination of God.”


Archbishop Chaput continued with his second point. “As Catholic laypeople, you have an ‘ecclesial’ being and identity.  You’re leaders by virtue of your vocation as parents and executives, and the Church is where you belong.  It’s where God has called you to be.  In the Church you will find God’s will for your life.


St. Maximilian Kolbe said that “Every man and woman in this world is assigned a mission by God.”


Archbishop Chaput made sure that the assembled business leaders really appreciated the weight of this belief saying, “that’s true.  It’s the teaching of the apostles, popes and saints.  But can we really believe it?  Do you really believe that God has a mission, some special task that he has given you -- and only you -- to carry out in this world?  Do you really believe that you are necessary to God’s plan for human history?”


Our divine mission is the same as St. Maximilian Kolbe’s in the Nazi concentration camp, “to love as Jesus loved, in all of the unique circumstances of our individual lives.  And by our love, to spread the love of God to the ends of the earth.”


It is important to realize that we are called to be missionaries – not necessarily like Matteo Ricci who evangelized China in the 16th century or more recently, Mother Teresa who served the poorest of the poor in India, God is calling us to be missionaries in our homes, our neighborhoods and workplaces. 


In our world today, it is necessary that we evangelize our world because it’s operating as if it has “no need for God.” 


How are we going to evangelize?  The archbishop suggests an answer straight from history.


We need to look at the early Church, “how did a handful of very ordinary men and women, disciples of an obscure man executed as a criminal, wind up changing the world -- conquering an empire and founding a whole new civilization on the cornerstone of that executed man’s life and teachings?  And they did it in just a few centuries, without armies, and usually in face of discrimination and persecution.”


A leading sociologist set out to prove that the Church did not succeed because it was God’s will for the world.  He studied the “material, historical, and sociological ‘reasons’ for Christianity’s ‘success.’”


The archbishop asked, “do you know what he concluded?  He found that the Church conquered the empire by the force of her beliefs and teachings.  The Church prevailed because people practiced what the Church preached.  It was that simple.  People lived out their faith.  And that living out of their faith had revolutionary consequences.”  The love of the early Christians enabled the faith to spread out to all regions of the world.


Archbishop Chaput’s final point was that “Christian love is not weak or anesthetic.  It’s an act of the will.  It takes courage.  It’s a deliberate submission of our selfishness to the needs of others.  And there’s nothing – and I mean nothing – more demanding and rewarding in the world.  That’s your vocation.  That’s what being a Christian means.  We are not powerless in the face of today’s unbelieving civilization.  We can turn this world upside down if only we’re willing to love – the kind of active Christian love that is vastly more powerful than just a sugary feeling; the kind of love that converts men and women into something entirely new; the kind of love that bears fruit in zeal, courage, justice, mercy and apostolic action.”


“So I leave you with this:  Be men and women who love well.  Be the adult Catholic leaders God intended you to be.  Be people of courage and fidelity to your God, your spouses, your families and your Church.  Put your belief into practice.  Do everything for the glory of God, even the little things you have to do each day.  Love those who don’t love you.  Love -- expecting nothing in return. Love -- and those you love will find Jesus, too.  Love -- and through your actions, God will change this world.”

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Dr. Dobson to Catholic leaders: don’t give up on fight for family

Colorado Springs, Colo., Sep 23, 2007 (CNA) - Dr. James Dobson, President of “Focus on the Family,” called on the more than 500 Catholic leaders gathered in Colorado Springs for the Legatus Fall Summit, not to give up in the fight for the sanctity of marriage and the family.


During a speech delivered on Friday morning at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Dr. Dobson described how marriage, as the life long union between one man and one woman, is being culturally and legally challenged across the United States, and said that “the country will tip one way or the other (in favor or against the sanctity of marriage) in the next five years.”


“At 71, the idea of retiring seems attractive to me, but I am being called by God to keep fighting,” Dobson said.


“So that is what I am asking you to do today: don’t give up in the fight for the sanctity of marriage, use your multiple resources to defend and promote the true biblical meaning of marriage and family,” he told the members of Legatus.


Explaining that the defense of marriage brings conflict, and even the difficulties of “hate and name-calling,” the founder and President of Focus on the Family compared it with working in a farm field all day long under the sun or in the midst of thunderstorms.

“Stay in the field, don’t go back to the house, stay under the sun working hard, don’t look now for the comfort of the shadow.”


The Legatus summit, which concluded Saturday evening, included speakers such as Cardinal Francis Arinze, Cardinal Francis Stafford, Archbishop Charles Chaput, Dr. Matt Daniels and Austin Ruse, among others.


Legatus is a network of Catholic business leaders that helps develop its members by providing spiritual formation, peer support and networking opportunities. Currently, Legatus serves over 1,800 businesses and has 60 chapters.


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