The New Gasparian
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A journal dedicated to the life and mission of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, and to a life lived in response to the call and the cry of the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our on-going mission is to share good news of hope and communion.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

I had some free time tonight and went to read some blogs I had not seen today, and lo and befold, the first two I visited had links to The New Gasparian. I am delighted that what I wrote hit a chord. More confirmation that the Pope's recent apostolic letter is right on the mark.

Check these guys out:
Good Form
Flos Carmeli

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 9:35 PM link
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Prayer or Action?

I have read the Popes new apostolic letter
ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE a couple of times and I must say that it is the best thing I have ever read on this subject. The document is both inspirational and practical. The Holy Father is concerned that this particular devotion has gone out of use, that it is no longer treasured or taught to the young, and that often it has degenerated into use as an amulet or magical device.

I am reading another wonderful book right now, “Earthen Vessels” by Gabriel Bunge, OSB (Ignatius). In this book he states that the perception that the faith is evaporating in this culture stems from the fact that the faith is no longer practiced in its most basic form, prayer. This is precisely the Holy Father’s concern in marking this as the Year of the Rosary.

John Paul II knows very deeply that this is a difficult time for our planet, that we are beset by many difficulties, and that there is much that needs to be done. He knows very intimately the history of this prayer and its effectiveness in previous difficulties:

At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, its deliverance was attributed to the power of this prayer, and Our Lady of the Rosary was acclaimed as the one whose intercession brought salvation.

This new document has received some curious reactions. Yes, many people have responded positively, but others have reacted in a dismissive and disinterested manner.

One correspondent wrote to me:

…when I heard about the five new Mysteries of the Rosary, I rolled my eyes. I have a couple of reasons for being shocked at the change in the Rosary, but those are the private thoughts of a conservative person. But I did think, "With everything we need done and addressed here...

Another wrote: ( I left out the part where he was disrespectful and called me a name.)

It's just that I grow weary of the Holy Father coming out with new devotions, more canonizations, new encyclicals -- all of which are perfectly wonderful in and of themselves -- but can be no substitute for ‘action’.

How might St. Gaspar respond to this?

"The more one prays, the more good can be done." 1821

"Let us develop everything by the use of prayer." 1821

"...for everything comes about through prayer." 1827

"All is to be decided through prayer." 1831

It seems that my correspondents are drawing a false boundary between action and prayer. For St. Gaspar, prayer was the first action. For Gaspar if you wanted to accomplish anything you had to chiefly depend on prayer.

The Holy Father seems to be following St. Gaspar’s example when he describes the Rosary as leading directly to action on behalf of those most in need:

When prayed well in a truly meditative way, the Rosary leads to an encounter with Christ in his mysteries and so cannot fail to draw attention to the face of Christ in others, especially in the most afflicted. How could one possibly contemplate the mystery of the Child of Bethlehem, in the joyful mysteries, without experiencing the desire to welcome, defend and promote life, and to shoulder the burdens of suffering children all over the world? How could one possibly follow in the footsteps of Christ the Revealer, in the mysteries of light, without resolving to bear witness to his "Beatitudes" in daily life? And how could one contemplate Christ carrying the Cross and Christ Crucified, without feeling the need to act as a "Simon of Cyrene" for our brothers and sisters weighed down by grief or crushed by despair? Finally, how could one possibly gaze upon the glory of the Risen Christ or of Mary Queen of Heaven, without yearning to make this world more beautiful, more just, more closely conformed to God's plan?

I believe these correspondents are simply frustrated because they do not see the Holy Father making the decisions or doing the things they think he should do. That frustration is a good and useful emotion. That emotion reveals a care and a love for the church, and a desire that the church be what it should be. I believe the Holy Father is doing more than we realize, and that he is asking action from us. The first action is prayer. In this we will become the Church we were meant to be and it will provide what we need to make this world the place that God created.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 11:34 AM link
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