Sunday, January 24, 2010
Recently, Pope Benedict released the text of his message for World Communications Day. Here's the full text:
The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World:
New Media at the Service of the Word.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The theme of this year's World Communications Day - The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word - is meant to coincide with the Church's celebration of the Year for Priests. It focuses attention on the important and sensitive pastoral area of digital communications, in which priests can discover new possibilities for carrying out their ministry to and for the Word of God. Church communities have always used the modern media for fostering communication, engagement with society, and, increasingly, for encouraging dialogue at a wider level. Yet the recent, explosive growth and greater social impact of these media make them all the more important for a fruitful priestly ministry.
All priests have as their primary duty the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, and the communication of his saving grace in the sacraments. Gathered and called by the Word, the Church is the sign and instrument of the communion that God creates with all people, and every priest is called to build up this communion, in Christ and with Christ. Such is the lofty dignity and beauty of the mission of the priest, which responds in a special way to the challenge raised by the Apostle Paul: "The Scripture says, 'No one who believes in him will be put to shame ... everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? (Rom 10:11, 13-15).
Responding adequately to this challenge amid today's cultural shifts, to which young people are especially sensitive, necessarily involves using new communications technologies. The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more Saint Paul's exclamation: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16) The increased availability of the new technologies demands greater responsibility on the part of those called to proclaim the Word, but it also requires them to become more focused, efficient and compelling in their efforts. Priests stand at the threshold of a new era: as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word.
The spread of multimedia communications and its rich "menu of options" might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different "voices" provided by the digital marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.
Using new communication technologies, priests can introduce people to the life of the Church and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ. They will best achieve this aim if they learn, from the time of their formation, how to use these technologies in a competent and appropriate way, shaped by sound theological insights and reflecting a strong priestly spirituality grounded in constant dialogue with the Lord. Yet priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ. This will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a "soul" to the fabric of communications that makes up the "Web".
God's loving care for all people in Christ must be expressed in the digital world not simply as an artifact from the past, or a learned theory, but as something concrete, present and engaging. Our pastoral presence in that world must thus serve to show our contemporaries, especially the many people in our day who experience uncertainty and confusion, "that God is near; that in Christ we all belong to one another" (Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, 21 December 2009).
Who better than a priest, as a man of God, can develop and put into practice, by his competence in current digital technology, a pastoral outreach capable of making God concretely present in today's world and presenting the religious wisdom of the past as a treasure which can inspire our efforts to live in the present with dignity while building a better future? Consecrated men and women working in the media have a special responsibility for opening the door to new forms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interaction, and showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritual needs. They can thus help the men and women of our digital age to sense the Lord's presence, to grow in expectation and hope, and to draw near to the Word of God which offers salvation and fosters an integral human development. In this way the Word can traverse the many crossroads created by the intersection of all the different "highways" that form "cyberspace", and show that God has his rightful place in every age, including our own. Thanks to the new communications media, the Lord can walk the streets of our cities and, stopping before the threshold of our homes and our hearts, say once more: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me" (Rev 3:20).
In my Message last year, I encouraged leaders in the world of communications to promote a culture of respect for the dignity and value of the human person. This is one of the ways in which the Church is called to exercise a "diaconia of culture" on today's "digital continent". With the Gospels in our hands and in our hearts, we must reaffirm the need to continue preparing ways that lead to the Word of God, while being at the same time constantly attentive to those who continue to seek; indeed, we should encourage their seeking as a first step of evangelization. A pastoral presence in the world of digital communications, precisely because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, non-believers and people of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do not believe, the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute. Just as the prophet Isaiah envisioned a house of prayer for all peoples (cf. Is 56:7), can we not see the web as also offering a space - like the "Court of the Gentiles" of the Temple of Jerusalem - for those who have not yet come to know God?
The development of the new technologies and the larger digital world represents a great resource for humanity as a whole and for every individual, and it can act as a stimulus to encounter and dialogue. But this development likewise represents a great opportunity for believers. No door can or should be closed to those who, in the name of the risen Christ, are committed to drawing near to others. To priests in particular the new media offer ever new and far-reaching pastoral possibilities, encouraging them to embody the universality of the Church's mission, to build a vast and real fellowship, and to testify in today's world to the new life which comes from hearing the Gospel of Jesus, the eternal Son who came among us for our salvation. At the same time, priests must always bear in mind that the ultimate fruitfulness of their ministry comes from Christ himself, encountered and listened to in prayer; proclaimed in preaching and lived witness; and known, loved and celebrated in the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation.
To my dear brother priests, then, I renew the invitation to make astute use of the unique possibilities offered by modern communications. May the Lord make all of you enthusiastic heralds of the Gospel in the new "agorà" which the current media are opening up.
With this confidence, I invoke upon you the protection of the Mother of God and of the Holy Curè of Ars and, with affection, I impart to each of you my Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 24 January 2010, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Posted by Fr. Gene Vavrick at 5:42 PM
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Today, I got a last-minute invitation for dinner with Bishop Gerald Dino, the Byzantine Bishop of Van Nuys, CA, who was home in New Jersey, visiting some old friends. I volunteered to bring the wine for dinner (thank you TRADER JOE'S).
At any rate, we were 7 for dinner at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Rahway, NJ., and we had a wonderful evening and dinner, and conversations.
Truth be told, I'm still not "really comfortable" having a real friend as a Bishop!
But, Bishop Gerry was very informal, and very gracious, and really a lot of fun....just like he used to be.....before he became a Bishop!
I look forward to being in contact with Bishop Gerry, and my other friends in the Byzantine Church in the near future. I'm progressing very definitely toward seeking Bi-Ritual faculties to help the Eparchy of Passaic by getting bi-ritual faculties to celebrate in both rites!
Posted by Fr. Gene Vavrick at 1:45 AM
Thursday, January 21, 2010
National Catholic Educational Association
This evening, our Parish DRE, Janice Santanello called to convey the good news that our parish is to be the recipient of the NCEA's Mustard Seed award. Here's a brief description:
The Mustard Seed Award is given to parishes that exemplify active parent participation in their religious education programs. Through the outstanding efforts of the DRE, supported by the pastor, these parishes empower families and offer significant, creative, dynamic and consistent resources to encourage faith growth in parish and family settings.
Congratulations to Janice Santanello, Barbara Mullin, and to all of the wonderful, creative families involved with the many religious education programs of the parish. A special thanks to the Education Committee of the Parish Council, who are always "Dreaming" and "Visioning" new and effective ways to reach out to the families of our parish in their very busy circumstances. The Education committee is a real blessing to our parish community, and I am most grateful for their committment to spreading the Gospel.
Posted by Fr. Gene Vavrick at 9:46 PM
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tonight, St. Anselm hosted a small, but very interesting gathering of representatives from several local parishes with the Director of the Office of Pastoral Planning, Mrs. Terry Ginther. Terry is a great facilitator, and she got us all sharing about what's going on in the Diocese about the need to come together, and to share ideas, and plans for moving into the future.
Specifically, she encouraged us all to go back to our parish pastoral councils with some fresh ideas about putting together do-able objectives that will respond to our goals as outlined in our Diocesan Pastoral Plan, as well as our Parish Pastoral Plan.
Thanks to Terry for coming back to St. Anselm, and thanks to all parish leaders who helped to host this gathering. LET'S DO THIS AGAIN!
Posted by Fr. Gene Vavrick at 11:06 PM
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Tonight we had a good meeting of the Board for NPM Trenton, the organizaton for clergy and church pastoral musicians. Mike Zorner, our parish's Director of Music, and I joined a very interesting group of talented musicians from all over the Trenton diocese. As I was reflecting on the people at the meeting, and the many hours of service that they regularly give to the vibrant worship-life of the diocese, I was very moved with a great sense of thanksgiving and admiration.
We're planning several different musical events for the upcoming year, designed to help parish musicians grow in their skills, and to promote vibrant worship experiences all over the diocese. Also, we're preparing for the national NPM Convention, to be held in Detroit, Michigan this July. I hope to be able to go to the national convention, and I look forward to learning more about the upcoming new Roman Missal.
Posted by Fr. Gene Vavrick at 10:06 PM
Monday, January 18, 2010
This is a very disturbing video. Please be warned that it contains very graphic images of the dead bodies in Haiti. Let's listen to "The Cry of the Poor" as we watch this video, and together pray, in the words of Psalm 34, that God will "hear the cries of the poor."
I'm reminded of the tremendous poverty that existed in Haiti just before the earthquake hit. As a friend says, this isn't about the earthquake, it's about the poverty that existed, unexcusably, before the earthquake.
And I ask, can we make a new start of this poor country? Can we build a new, better, and more just society? Can we effect a TRUE change in HAITI? Let's pray....
Posted by Fr. Gene Vavrick at 10:26 PM
Sunday, January 17, 2010
A colleague from the Worship Office in the Diocese of San Jose, CA, has written this beautiful prayer. Please thank Diana Macalintal for these beautiful thoughts at this difficult time.
A Prayer After the Earthquake in Haiti
Lord, at times such as this,
when we realize that the ground beneath our feet
is not as solid as we had imagined,
we plead for your mercy.
As the things we have built crumble about us,
we know too well how small we truly are
on this ever-changing, ever-moving,
fragile planet we call home.
Yet you have promised never to forget us.
Do not forget us now.
Today, so many people are afraid.
They wait in fear of the next tremor.
They hear the cries of the injured amid the rubble.
They roam the streets in shock at what they see.
And they fill the dusty air with wails of grief
and the names of missing dead.
Comfort them, Lord, in this disaster.
Be their rock when the earth refuses to stand still,
and shelter them under your wings when homes no longer exist.
Embrace in your arms those who died so suddenly this day.
Console the hearts of those who mourn,
and ease the pain of bodies on the brink of death.
Pierce, too, our hearts with compassion,
we who watch from afar,
as the poorest on this side of the earth
find only misery upon misery.
Move us to act swiftly this day,
to give generously every day,
to work for justice always,
and to pray unceasingly for those without hope.
And once the shaking has ceased,
the images of destruction have stopped filling the news,
and our thoughts return to life’s daily rumblings,
let us not forget that we are all your children
and they, our brothers and sisters.
We are all the work of your hands.
For though the mountains leave their place
and the hills be tossed to the ground,
your love shall never leave us,
and your promise of peace will never be shaken.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
now and forever. Amen.
Copyright © 2010, Diana Macalintal
Posted by Fr. Gene Vavrick at 12:04 AM
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Here is a copy of the letter from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to all dioceses and parishes of the United States. It authorizes an emergency collection at all Masses this weekend to be directed to Catholic Relief Services.
I've already received several emails and letters asking what we're going to do here at St. Anselm. Thank you for your generosity at this important time. Let's pray for our sisters and brothers in Haiti, and for a quick response to help them.
Our Church mourns the terrible suffering of our brothers and sisters in Haiti. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that ravaged Haiti on January 12, 2010 has already claimed thousands of lives including the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince. It has destroyed countless homes, churches, seminaries, schools, and other buildings and has left millions without the most basic necessities of life. Our faith compels us to pray for and reach out to our brothers and sisters in their time of suffering.
We invite you to encourage your pastors to take up a second collection for the people and Church of Haiti this weekend, January 16 and 17, 2010. These funds will be used to support the efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic Church, as they respond to immediate emergency needs for such necessities as water, food, shelter and medical care, as well as to the long term need to rebuild after widespread destruction, and to the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the Church in Haiti.
Catholic Relief Services is already mounting a major emergency response to this severe disaster and has committed an initial $5 million to fund relief efforts which are likely to go on for some time. Your help and the help of the Catholic people of the United States are urgently needed.
Next weekend January 23-24, many dioceses are scheduled to take up the Collection for the Church in Latin America. This Collection is vitally important for our ability to respond to the pastoral needs of the Church in Haiti and other parts of Latin America in the weeks and months ahead. We urge that you use both of these opportunities to express our solidarity and our loving support for our brothers and sisters in Haiti
and ask you not to substitute one collection for the other.
Additional information on the U.S. Catholic community’s response to this emergency and how U.S. Catholics can help can be found at CRS.org and USCCB.org
Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Chicago
Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan
Catholic Relief Services
Posted by Fr. Gene Vavrick at 6:27 PM
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Came across this cute video. Enjoy!
The new Papal M.C. really enjoys the "old-style" vestments for himself and his boss.
Recently he publicly came out as a supporter of the "Reform the reform" movement, which seeks to rollback the liturgical reform of Vatican II, which was called for by the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.
Check out this recent article from Catholic News Service:
Papal liturgist endorses 'reform of the reform' of the liturgy
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The pope's chief liturgist, Msgr. Guido Marini, endorsed calls in the church for a "reform of the reform" of Catholic liturgy. "For some years now, several voices have been heard within church circles talking about the necessity of a new liturgical renewal," Msgr. Marini said. A fresh renewal movement would be "capable of operating a reform of the reform, or rather, move one more step ahead in understanding the authentic spirit of the liturgy and its celebration," he said. Msgr. Marini, who has served as master of papal liturgical ceremonies since late 2007, spoke Jan. 6 to a conference of priests from English-speaking countries gathered in Rome to mark the Year for Priests. The conference was sponsored by the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy and the U.S.- based Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. The papal liturgist said the goal of the new reform movement "would be to carry on that providential reform of the liturgy that the conciliar fathers had launched" but which has "not always, in its practical implementation, found a timely and happy fulfillment."
Posted by Fr. Gene Vavrick at 11:02 PM
The staff of St. Anselm's has decided to focus some energy this year on how we celebrate Funerals here in the parish.
We want to get some coordinated vesture for Funerals, including Priest-vestments, Deacn vestments, and a matching Pall cloth to vest the deceased.
We also want to get ready for those funeral celebrations where the family is requesting a funeral mass in the presence of cremains. That means we need some new furniture for such celebrations.
I really think that if we celebrate weddings, funerals, baptisms, and confirmations well, then the everyday and Sunday celebrations will benefit greatly!
Posted by Fr. Gene Vavrick at 12:37 AM