Devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary: Its Origin and History
Alliance of Two Hearts & Immaculate Mediatrix
In Sacred Scripture
The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are mentioned
explicitly only briefly in the text of the New Testament. Nevertheless
the many references to the love and compassion of Jesus and Mary, as
well as implied references to their Hearts, provide a vivid revelation
of the Two Hearts. It is remarkable that the few explicit references
all bear upon the work of redemption. Some of the more important
Matthew 11:25 — "Learn from Me for I am meek and
humble of heart."
This passage refers to Our Lord's invitation to
imitate the dispositions and virtues of His own human Heart, reflecting
upon His ineffable humility in becoming man and being born in a stable;
His remarkable patience in living a hidden, obscure life for 30 years;
His unsurpassed charity in preaching, teaching, working miracles,
healing the bodies and souls of believers and unbelievers; His perfect
obedience to the Father in enduring without complaint the bitter agony
and infamy of death on the Cross.
Luke 2:19 — "Mary kept in mind all these things,
pondering them in Her Heart."
This passage refers to the visit of the
shepherds to the Child Jesus in His crib at Bethlehem. It refers
directly to what they reported regarding the heavenly host of angels
that came to announce the birth of the Messiah, and how all marveled at
what the shepherds had reported.
Luke 2:51b — "His Mother kept all these things
carefully in Her Heart."
This passage refers to the events surrounding
the loss of Jesus for three days during a visit to Jerusalem, and how
Mary and Joseph found Him teaching the doctors of the Mosaic Law in the
Temple, to the amazement of all who heard Him.
Luke 2:35 — "Your own soul a sword shall pierce,
that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
This passage is spoken by the old man Simeon on
the occasion of Mary bringing Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to offer
Him to God according to the custom of the Mosaic Law. In it Simeon
prophesies that Mary will share in the salvific sufferings of Her Son.
John 7:38b — "From His Heart will flow rivers of
This reading is based on the most reliable texts
of the Gospel of St. John. It refers directly to the Heart of the
Messiah, and recalls the prophesies of Isaiah (Isaiah 12:3) And St.
John goes on to explain in verse 39, that Jesus was referring to the
Holy Spirit, which He Himself will give, from His Heart, to those who
believe in Him. The reading which is found in most
translations-referring to the hearts of believers-is a variant believed
to have its source in a textual mistake by Origen, a famous theologian
who complied a multi-lingual edition of the Bible in the Third Century,
John 19:34 — "One of the soldiers opened His
side with a lance, and immediately there came out blood and water."
This passage refers to the piercing of Christ's
Heart as He hung in death upon the Cross. The blood and water have
always been seen by Roman Catholics to mystically symbolize and effect
the origin and the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. It was at the
piercing of Christ's Heart in death that Mary's Heart was pierced in
spirit, thus fulfilling Luke 2:35 (cf. above), and exemplifying the
profound mystical union of the Heart of Jesus with the Heart of Mary in
the work of our redemption. This union began when by the power of the
Holy Spirit Mary conceived the Heart of Jesus beneath Her own Heart. It
is consummated when at one and the same time these Two Hearts are
immolated for our salvation. And now in heaven it continues forever as
the sole source of mankind's salvation and sanctification.
Each of these passages are very significant, for
they clearly indicate that Admirable Alliance of Hearts, which worked
the salvation of the whole world: the Heart of Jesus, which suffered to
the point of being pierced so as to pour forth upon all who believe in
Him, the grace of the Holy Spirit, which makes them partakers of the
Holy Eucharist in the communion of fellowship in the Catholic Church;
and the Heart of Mary, always focused on Her Divine Son, which was
predestined by God to suffer with Him for the salvation of mankind.
In the Fathers of the Church
"The holy Fathers, true witnesses of the
divinely revealed doctrine, wonderfully understood what St. Paul the
Apostle had quite clearly declared; namely; that the mystery of love
was, as it were, both the foundation and the culmination of the
Incarnation and Redemption. For frequently and clearly we can read in
their writings that Jesus Christ took a perfect human nature and our
weak and perishable human body with the object of providing for our
eternal salvation, and of revealing to us in the clearest possible
manner that His infinite love for us could express itself in human
terms. (from Hauretis Aquas by Venerable Pope Pius XII, n. 44)
Likewise these same Fathers of the Church often
meditated and praised the singular love and faith of the Blessed Virgin
Mary, who so generously offered Herself to God to fulfill His plans for
our redemption, and who so steadfastly persevered with Her Son Jesus
Christ in His ignominious crucifixion and death.
In both these approaches the Fathers of the
Church laid the foundation for true devotion to the Sacred Hearts of
Jesus and Mary by clearly indicating the union of charity which bound
Them both in the work of redemption.
In the Writings of the Saints
Chief among the saints of the Catholic Church
who fostered devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary are St.
Bonaventure and St. John Eudes.
St. Bonaventure, a Cardinal and Doctor of the
Roman Catholic Church, was a learned theologian and bishop of the
Franciscan Order in the 13th Century. He wrote extensive theological
works and is considered by the Papal Magisterium to be one of the two
primary Doctors of the Catholic Church since the patristic era. St.
Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican priest and contemporary of St. Bonaventure,
is the other.
St. Bonaventure's writings on the Sacred Heart
of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary are scatter throughout all
his works, but a passage on the Sacred Heart that is particularly
poignant is found in his devotional work The Mystical Vine, a
description of the Passion of Jesus Christ. This passage is found in
the Liturgy of the Hours for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart in June.
St. John Eudes (1601-1680), however, is the
founder of the modern public devotion to the Two Hearts. It was his
mission to organize the scriptural, theological, patristic, and
liturgical sources relating to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and
to popularize them with the approbation of the Church. His chief
writings on this topic were: The Admirable Childhood of the Most Holy
Mother of God, The Admirable Heart of the Mother of God, the Life and
Kingdom of Jesus, The Sacred Heart of Jesus, The Admirable Heart of
Mary. Included among his works was a mass and office for the Sacred
Heart of Jesus, and one for the Admirable Heart of Mary. He was the
first to dedicate churches in the world to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus
St. Albert the Great, St. Gertrude, St.
Catherine of Siena, Bl. Henry of Suso, St. Peter Canisius, and St.
Francis of Sales also did much to propagate and promote devotion to the
Sacred Heart of Jesus; and Eckbert of Schonau, who wrote the first
extant prayer to the Heart of Mary, St. Mechtild of Hackeborn, St.
Gertrude the Great, St. Bernard, St. Herman Joseph, St. Bridget of
Sweden, St. Bernadine of Siena and St. Francis de Sales also did much
to promote devotion to the Heart of Mary.
In the Nineteenth Century the Abbe Desgenettes
consecrated his parish church, the Notre Dame des Victoires, in Paris,
to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and founded the Archconfraternity in
Her honor. Later Father William Chaminade, founder of the Society of
Mary, as well as St. Anthony Mary Claret, the founder of the
Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, did much to promote
devotion to Mary's Heart.
In the Liturgy
Even before the beginning of private revelations
of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in modern times, St. John Eudes
had obtained permission from the ecclesiastical authorities to
celebrate the Feast of the Heart of Mary liturgically. This was done
for the first time at Autun, France, on May 8, 1648 A. D.. In 1799 Pope
Pius VI permitted religious societies in the archdiocese of Palermo,
Sicily, to celebrate a similar feast. In 1805 Pope Pius VII extended
this permission to all religious societies and dioceses throughout the
world. On July 21, 1855, the Sacred Congregation of Rites approved for
the universal Roman Catholic Church an Office and Mass in honor of the
Most Pure Heart of Mary. It was Venerable Pope Pius XII who had the joy
to institute the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the
universal Church in 1945 A.D..
St. John Eudes also obtained permission to honor
the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the liturgy. This was done for the first
time at the Grand Seminary of Rennes, France, on August 31, 1670 A. D..
This liturgical commemoration of the love of the Redeemer began just
two years or so before Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alaqoque,
asking her to reveal His Heart to the world. These celebrations thus
served Divine Providence, for they drew down upon the world a new era
of Mercy and Grace. Spurred on the Revelations to St. Margaret the
liturgical celebration of the Sacred Heart gradually grew in popularity
throughout Europe. At the request of innumerable petitions, in
particular that of the entire Polish hierarchy, Pope Clement XIII
requested the Sacred Congregation of Rites to examine the devotion. On
January 25, 1765 A. D., devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was
formally approved. Venerable Pope Pius IX extended the Feast of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus to the entire Catholic Church in 1858 A. D.. And
Pope Leo XIII approved the litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Consecration to the Two Hearts in Papal Teaching
In 1864 A. D. Cardinal Gousset of Rhiems,
supported by Archbishop de la Tour-d'Auvergen of Bourges, Bishop
Mermillod and other bishops of France and Spain petitioned Venerable
Pope Pius IX to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Archbishop of Bourges renewed this petition at Vatican I. During
the council Father Pere Henri Ramiere, S.J., the great promoter of the
Apostleship of Prayer, presented a request to consecrate the whole
Church to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This petition was supported by 272
Bishops, but was not acted upon due to the outbreak of the
Franco-Prussian war. In 1874 A. D. Cardinal Desprez, the archbishop of
Toulouse, France, wrote to all the bishops of the world to promote once
again the petition of Father Ramiere. By April of 1875 A. D., Father
Ramiere was able to present this petition to Venerable Pope Pius IX
along with the names of 534 Bishops and 23 superiors general of
Religious institutes. In response to this petition, the pope had the
Sacred Congregation of Rites compose and publish an "Act of
Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus" and he himself invited all
the faithful to consecrate themselves on the 200th anniversary of Our
Lord's apparition to St. Margaret, June 16, 1875 A. D..
In 1891 A. D. the archbishops of Milan and Turin
led a movement to consecrate the dioceses of Italy to the Most Holy
Heart of Mary. In September, 1898 A. D., the Marian Congress of Turin,
at the promptings of Pope Leo XIII, unanimously approved to petition
Pope Leo XIII to this effect. On December 12, 1989 the Sacred
Congregation of Rites approved a formula for diocesan consecration to
the Heart of Mary.
After the letters of Mother Mary of the Divine
Heart (1863-1899) requesting, in the name of Christ Himself, that Pope
Leo XIII to consecrate the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy
Father commissions a group of theologians to examine the petition on
the basis of revelation and sacred tradition. This investigation was
positive. And so in the encyclical letter Annum Sacrum (May 25, 1899 A.
D.) this same pope decreed that the consecration of the entire human
race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus should take place on June 11, 1899 A.
D.. In this encyclical letter the Pope attached Later Pope Leo XIII
encouraged the entire Roman Catholic episcopate to promote the devotion
of the Nine First Fridays and he established June as the Month of the
Sacred Heart. Pope St. Pius X decreed that the consecration of the
human race, performed by Pope Leo XIII be renewed each year. Pope Pius
XI in his encyclical letter Miserentissimus (May 8, 1928 A. D.)
reaffirmed the importance of consecration and reparation to the Sacred
Heart of Jesus. Finally Venerable Pope Pius XII, on the occasion of the
100th anniversary of Pope Pius IX's institution of the Feast,
instructed the entire Catholic Church at length on the devotion to the
Sacred Heart in his encyclical letter Haurietis aquas (May 15, 1956 A.
It was Venerable Pope Pius XII who first
consecrated the Church and the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on
October 31 and again, solemnly on December 8, 1942 A. D.. In recent
times, moved by millions of petitions and by the occasion of the
attempted assassination of his own person on the Feast of Our Lady of
Fatima, May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II consecrated the world and every
nation to the Immaculate Heart in 1982, and repeated this act in union
with all the Catholic Bishops again in 1983 A.D.
The Catholic Origins of Manliness
Michael P. Foley
In his fascinating book Manliness, Harvey
Mansfield identifies Achilles as a paragon of virility. He is right to
do so, for the rash and rebellious, boasting and body-dragging Homeric
hero is not only an unforgettable Western archetype but the
quintessential he-man, the larger-than-life warrior that is sung in
virtually all cultures and climes. We Christians should not forget
Achilles, for he inversely reminds us of a paradox that comes to light
only when we compare such a man to the central figure of the New
Testament: sometimes, the one thing greater than the he-man’s heroism
is the decision to reject it. Our Lord could have easily humiliated His
foes the way Achilles did Hector, but He chose instead to be humiliated
by them, a move that took real courage. When Christians call Christ the
New Man (or Adam), they mean it in more ways than one.
Christ’s manliness transformed man’s
understanding of manhood, and it is this transformation that, through
the development and mediation of the Catholic Church, became a new
Western ideal. This is obvious when we consider two areas typically
associated with manly life: chivalry and sports.
Chivalry began as an attempt by the Church to
curb the anarchy and bloodshed of feudal conflict in the Middle Ages,
but it ended as something much more. The so-called Truce of God limited
violence by prohibiting, on pain of excommunication, armed engagement
every Thursday through Sunday and during the holy seasons of Advent and
Lent. This pious restraint was sharpened by the Crusades, which upheld
a new code of knighthood aimed not at personal glory (Achilles again)
but the protection of the weak and oppressed. When a knight was
consecrated or “dubbed,” the bishop prayed that he would become a
defender of “churches, widows, orphans, and all those serving God.”
This was obviously the instantiation of an important biblical virtue
(Judas Maccabeus, the Old Testament prototype of the medieval knight,
is described in II Maccabees 2:38 as providing for the widow and
orphan), as was the care extended to another group: women.
Though the chivalrous regard for the welfare of
women would later become subject to all sorts of romantic distortions
(hence the parodies of love-stricken knights in Chaucer and Cervantes),
even here there lies the kernel of a uniquely Christian insight. When
St. Paul tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church
(Eph. 5:25), he is essentially telling them to put the welfare of their
spouses high above their own, even to the point of death.
Today the concept of “ladies first” is more
often than not condemned as quaint or chauvinist, but when it is
properly understood and practiced it reflects this Christ-like
conversion of male power and aggression to the selfless service of
others. It presupposes that if a Christian man is designed to rule, he
is to exercise that rule paradoxically by serving, just as Christ
exercised his lordship paradoxically by humbly washing the feet of his
apostles (John 13:4–16). This insight is well-reflected in the famous
medieval legend of the Holy Grail as told by Chrétien de Troyes.
When Perceval the knight is about to part from his mother, her last
words to him are: “Should you encounter, near or far, a lady in need of
aid, or a maiden in distress, make yourself ready to assist them if
they ask for your help, for it is the most honourable thing to do. He
who fails to honour ladies finds his own honour dead inside him.”
Over time, several customs developed from this
transfiguration of male honor. Simple gestures such as opening doors or
pulling out a chair for a lady bespeak a gentleman’s humble respect for
women and a recognition of his responsibilities. Particularly
noteworthy in this regard is the practice of tipping one’s hat to a
lady. Given that a man’s hat is a traditional symbol of his rank and
authority, the gesture is essentially a ritual acknowledgment of the
fact that his position is in some crucial respects ordered to the
service and regard of women.
It is generally not the function of a religion
to create new forms of competition, yet the Judeo-Christian
proclamation of the sanctity of human life led to far-reaching changes
in the way that Westerners played games. After the Roman Empire
embraced Christianity, a successful war was waged against the old
athletic festivals and gladiator games, all of which were inherently
tied to death cults, animal sacrifice, and even human sacrifice. But
the Church never opposed athletic competition per se, and so the field
was cleared for new and more wholesome forms of sport to emerge. Of
course, this is not to say that the games were more effete. The
proto-Christian Duke in “The Knight’s Tale” by Chaucer turns a battle
into a tournament in order to prevent the loss of life, but this does
not stop bones from being “bashed” and “bursts of blood in streams of
sternest red” (l. 1752).
In some countries, Catholic life played a
discernible role in shaping specific athletic tastes. My favorite
example is Switzerland’s popular schützenfeste. These shooting
competitions began as training exercises for marksmen who were to
protect the procession of the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of Corpus
Christi from violent Protestants! In the same feisty vein is the humble
sport of bowling, believed by some to have begun as a religious
ceremony held in the cloister of a church. As far back as the third or
fourth century, peasants may have placed their clubs (which, like the
Irish shillelagh, they carried with them at all times) at the end of a
lane. The club was called a kegel in German and was said to represent
the heathen, to be toppled, we conjecture, by the rolling stone of the
Gospels. Over time the clubs developed into pins, but the association
lingered: to this day, a bowler is sometimes referred to as a kegler.
Finally, mention should be made of the motto of
the modern Olympic games. Citius, Altius, Fortius (“Faster, Higher,
Stronger”) was coined by Dominican friar Henri Didon, prior of
Albert-le-Grand College in Arceuil, France. A well-known educator with
a penchant for sports (he himself had won many a prize in his youth),
Didon encouraged athletic competition at his school as a way of
building character. It was at a sports meeting in 1891 that he ended a
speech to his pupils with the stirring admonition: Citius, fortius,
altius. The motto was eventually adopted by the father of the modern
Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, with one exception. While Fr. Didon had
placed the word fortius, or “stronger,” in the middle of the phrase to
stress the moral significance of athletics, Coubertin ominously changed
the word order to stress the “freedom of excess,” which he praised over
and against “the unnatural utopia of moderation.”
Coubertin’s misappropriation of Fr. Didon’s
motto is also fairly emblematic of the plight of Christian manhood in
the modern age, which is one of the reasons why we even need to speak
of the Catholic contribution to manliness as if it were something
forgotten. Nevertheless, the testimony of Our Lord shall not be
effaced. Jesus Christ the New Man gave us a counterintuitive yet
ultimately greater model of manhood, one that has the chutzpah to beat
down one’s own vainglory for the greater glory of God and for the sake
of defending His most helpless creatures. The result is a blend of
solicitude, gentleness, and toughness that makes Achilles’ egotistical
bravado look puerile. And for that we can be profoundly grateful.
Michael P. Foley is an Assistant Professor of
Patristics at Baylor University. He is the author of Why Do Catholics
Eat Fish on Friday? The Catholic Origin to Just About Everything (NY:
Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).
© Catholic Men's Quarterly
Filling the Psychological Void With Charity
Jesslyn McManus on Replacing
Hatred With Love
ARLINGTON, Virginia, SEPT. 9, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The cultivation of
Christian charity in the wake of forgiveness can go a long way to
improving mental health, says a Catholic doctoral extern therapist.
So says Jesslyn McManus, of the Institute for the Psychological
Sciences, who presented her research on forgiveness therapy for the
Society of Catholic Social Scientists at its last national meeting. In
this interview with ZENIT, McManus shares her views on working through
hatred and resentment in order to build a sense of self rooted in love.
Q: Many would agree that it is good to forgive one's enemies, and that
forgiveness contributes to mental health. So why is it sometimes
difficult to let go of anger or hatred toward those who have hurt us?
McManus: In recent years, forgiveness has come to be seen by many as an
effective means to bring about psychological healing to those who are
suffering from the effects of an injustice.
Anger, whether outwardly expressed or defensively denied, is a
reoccurring theme in psychotherapy.
Forgiveness therapy models, such as those offered by Robert Enright and
Richard Fitzgibbons; E. Worthington; and F. DiBlasio, offer an
alternative to common methods for dealing with anger and resentment,
which rely primarily upon _expression and/or the use of medication.
Forgiveness therapy is used in order to help people gradually let go of
resentment and hatred, which causes stress and psychological pain.
After working through each of the phases in the "forgiveness model,"
the client is able to make a moral response of goodness toward the
However, when anger and hatred come to take on a central role in one's
life, problems may arise even when one has successfully worked through
the forgiveness stages and the dispositions are abandoned. These
difficulties, which may become apparent in "post-forgiveness therapy,"
need to be addressed with empathy, genuine care and skillful guidance.
Given its vivacious quality, hatred has a powerful attraction which is
difficult to resist. Although forgiveness contributes to mental health,
it is sometimes difficult to let go of anger or hatred toward those who
have hurt us because of the psychological "benefits" these emotional
Pain or hurt is usually underlying anger or hatred. Therefore, hatred
can be seen as a way to protect oneself from damage to one's self-image
or concept. However, these "rewards," which are associated with
egocentric gratification, only perpetuate hatred and impede
psychological and spiritual health.
Q: What kinds of psychological benefits does hatred provide on a
short-term basis that makes it difficult to let go of?
McManus: As psychologists Paul Vitz and Philip Mango point out, hatred
can be used to defend against painful memories and emotions.
As long as one hates, he or she does not have to confront or experience
the underlying pain and suffering caused by the offender. It also keeps
one from recognizing that one's self is flawed and that others have
In addition, hatred may become so pronounced that it comes to provide a
sense of meaning or purpose in one's life and makes one feel alive and
In cases where intense hatred persists over a long period of time, it
may also come to serve as a means of self-identification.
A person may come to define himself in a negative way, by contrasting
himself with the one he hates. Those who find themselves in this
situation may experience an existential crisis and psychological pain
manifested in the form of profound feelings of emptiness, upon letting
go of the hatred.
Q: What is it about our postmodern culture that leads people to latch
onto hatred for a sense of identity, and how can a person move toward
an accurate sense of self devoid of negative attitudes?
McManus: In its forms of deconstruction as well as its rejection of
universal truths, postmodern culture produces a society in which
"knowing oneself" proves to be a difficult task.
The absence of tradition and shared meaning and values characteristic
of postmodern society has resulted in a fragile, empty sense of self.
This condition leads people to turn to such things as consumerism to
fill the vacant self as Phillip Cushman states.
This lack of rootedness, combined with a fragmented sense of reality,
makes it difficult for one to establish a firm sense of where one came
from and who one is today.
This sets up a context in which self-identification through hatred will
A person can move toward an accurate sense of self devoid of negative
attitudes by fulfilling their vocation as relational beings, who are
made for love.
Q: What is the next step, after letting go of anger and hatred? What is
the significance of "filling the void"?
McManus: As was previously stated, successful removal of the hatred may
produce an existential void and the loss of sense of self.
The hatred must be replaced with something engendering self-worth,
namely, altruism -- that is, living a life of true Christian charity.
The next step after letting go of anger and hatred, therefore, is to
redefine oneself as a person who loves rather than one who hates,
through acts of self-giving. The significance of "filling the void" is
to provide the person with newfound meaning in their lives and a source
of identity through love.
Q: In what sense do you equate altruistic activities with the virtue of
Christian charity, or love?
McManus: Both altruism and Christian love involve self-giving, moving
away from the self and toward others. This love was perfectly
exemplified in Christ Jesus.
Q: How has altruistic behavior proven successful in improving mental
McManus: Many studies have shown that altruistic emotions and behaviors
are associated with psychological health and well-being. In his article
"Altruism, Happiness and Health: It's Good to be Good," Stephen Post
provides a summary of the literature in this area.
Some of the factors which have been found to help bring about these
psychological benefits are enhanced social integration, distraction
from the agent's own problems, increased perception of self-efficacy
and competence, and enhanced meaningfulness.
Q: On what level could secular psychology adopt this theory, and how
does our Catholic faith imbue it with a deeper dimension?
McManus: This theory may be formalized in a clinical program in which
self-giving love is actualized in overt altruistic acts. This
therapeutic program may be implemented once the forgiveness process is
The program would resemble the following:
The client would be encouraged to choose a person whom the client feels
is having a difficult time and is need of care, and to do specific acts
of kindness for him or her. This may consist of running an errand,
cooking a meal or simply calling the individual often to see how they
In addition, the client will be asked to choose a secondary group or
organization to which he can offer his time. For example, the person
may choose to volunteer at a soup kitchen, visit the elderly in a
nursing home, or work with disabled children.
They will keep a journal in order to track their progress in their
altruistic activities. They will record what each act was and for whom
each was done. They should also include the feelings they experience
and any feedback they receive.
While these acts may not be altruistic in the true sense of the word in
the beginning -- since they are done as part of a therapeutic program
-- they will lead the client to understand the merit of living
selflessly. This will, in turn, lead the person to do truly altruistic
acts on his or her own initiative as time goes on.
Theologically, the idea that people are fulfilled in and through
community with others is based on the idea that we are created in the
image and likeness of a triune God whose very being is self-giving love.
Therefore, this type of program would not only be effective in that it
would bring about psychological benefits for the client. It also would
enable people to fulfill their vocation as persons made for self-giving
and relationships with others.
Furthermore, in helping others to cultivate the virtue of charity, the
therapist plays a role in bringing about the Kingdom of God on earth.
Thinking About Heaven
Interview With Father Z.
Kijas, Author and Dean
ROME, SEPT. 3, 2006 (ZENIT.org).- The dean of the Theological Faculty
of St. Bonaventure has written a book on heaven, inviting readers to
have a fresh vision of a central mystery of the faith.
Polish Father Zdzislaw Kijas, dean of the Seraphicum, wrote "Il Cielo,
Luogo del Desiderio di Dio" (Heaven the Place of the Desire for God),
published by Città Nuova and now available in Italian bookstores.
ZENIT spoke with Father Kijas, a Franciscan Conventual -- who has been
professor of systematic and ecumenical theology at Krakow's Pontifical
Academy of Theology -- to understand how heaven appears today to the
eyes of the believer.
Q: Let's begin with the central question: What is heaven?
Father Kijas: First of all, as seen with the eyes of faith, heaven
exists as union with God, a union that must be seen from the point of
view of the sacred texts, specifically, with the help of the Old and
However, heaven is something more profound than this union. Its
characteristics can be deduced from the biblical data and also from our
experience, from the special moments of life, when we experience
tranquility, serenity, [and] absence of evil desires and fear.
Heaven is not a material or geographic place, it is more than a state
of spirit, it is our interiority, our spirit which is at peace with
itself; it is to experience authentic peace, to live the joy of the
richness of life with peace of heart.
Q: Are you saying that every one has his heaven?
Father Kijas: Every man has his personal heaven because he is like a
microcosm; he has been created in the image and likeness of God. Jesus
died and resurrected for each man; each man has his own richness, his
Believers should tend to personal enrichment, in the search to fulfill
their own lives, plans which are essential in the life of each one, of
each couple, of the consecrated and of communities.
Basing oneself on the biblical data and on one's own vocation, on the
universal call to holiness, with the help of God and of his grace, each
one is called to this optimum state of his life, to a more perfect,
personal union with God.
Here is heaven itself: the holiness of God personalized, embodied in
one's life. A personal union that leads to full development of the
likeness with him.
Every age has its challenges, its appeals. Art, music and literature as
expressions of one's state of life; they reflect in visible and
figurative language one's state of spirit and the characteristics of
one's union with God. So the way of expressing oneself, of making art,
becomes a mirror of the relationship between the artist and God.
Q: How can one respond to this "desire" for heaven?
Father Kijas: In my book I speak of responding to the desire for
heaven, of reviving it -- not by limiting oneself to look for heaven on
earth in relationships we experience in the world even if they are
These relationships are important, as it is important to make an effort
to read the seeds of the paradisiacal state now here in this life. But
what counts is to understand that here on earth there are only pale
reflections of those to which we are really called.
The strength to change the everyday, the courage to face problems, the
desire to live more profoundly our human vocation, our work, human
relationships, does not come only from the freshness of the desire of
union with God which for us, believers, is heaven.
Herein lies daily creativity in relation to paradise. Without being
separated from the earthly reality, efforts must be made to change
everything with the force of the desire for heaven, to shape our daily
reality in view of paradise, transforming the earth with the desire for
Q: What is your idea of heaven?
Father Kijas: Heaven is not something static; even our own imagination
does not understand it as something static. It is a continuous
happening, a growth that advances with our call, our desires, our
The idea I have, common to many, is that of a reciprocity made up of
dialogue, a never feeling well alone but in dialogue, a reflection of
the life of the Trinity, a communion of people who love one another and
give themselves abundantly.
This is the paradisiacal state, never to possess, but to be open to the
other's need, to his good -- a response of love to someone else's
request for love.
Heaven and paradise are as synonyms, a being well together, a
consequence of being well with God, convinced that he alone makes us be
well in community. Heaven is communion of friends, never a boring
reality, a richness enriched by others. The Church invites us to open
to this dialogue that gives a foretaste on earth of the taste of the
joy of heaven.
On the Sacred Heart as Antidote to Pride
Interview with Jesuit Cardinal
ROME, JULY 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Devotion to the Heart of Jesus is a
lesson in humility, complete renunciation to violence and generous love
which speaks to the men of today, says Jesuit Cardinal Albert Vanhoye.
In this interview with the Apostleship of Prayer, the new cardinal, 82,
professor and rector emeritus of the Pontifical Biblical Institute,
explains why Benedict XVI has re-launched this "essential" devotion for
Q: You have placed in your cardinal's emblem the motto "Cordi tuo
unitus" (United to your Heart). Is there a special reason?
Cardinal Vanhoye: There are two reasons: one personal and one
apostolic. The personal goes back to my childhood. I was educated in a
Sacred Heart institute from 4 to 11 years of age, and later in the
minor seminary of the diocese of Lille, in northern France, where they
did the daily offering of the Apostleship of Prayer. Precisely in this
period began my devotion to the Heart of Jesus which later was
reinforced with the vocation to be a Jesuit.
When I studied philosophy I was part of a small group that reflected on
the different aspects of the same and at the end of the formation this
orientation was further consolidated. Then there is an apostolic reason
in the choice of motto: to suggest the same spiritual attitude to all
who read it.
"United to your Heart" expresses at the same time an intention and a
prayer. The intention to live united to the Heart of Jesus in thought,
action, affection and word and at the same time a humble and confident
invocation because we can't give ourselves this union, but it is a very
Q: After a great dissemination between the end of the 19th century and
the first half of the 20th, devotion to the Sacred Heart has been
considered by many to be surpassed. Does this objection have a biblical
Cardinal Vanhoye: The objections refer above all to a certain
sentimental devoutness, but I don't think they are founded, especially
if one speaks of true worship which is stimulation for the spiritual
and apostolic life. However, in a certain sense it isn't mistaken to
say that this devotion does not have sufficient biblical foundation,
though deep down it is false. It is correct to affirm that the New
Testament does not speak much of the Heart of Jesus. It is mentioned
only once, in Matthew 11, when Jesus says: "learn from me, for I am
meek and humble of heart."
The phrase, however, is very important because it is the only moment in
which Jesus describes the very qualities that we find in numerous
episodes of his life, and because it is in relation with a verb of the
Gospels, used only by Jesus, derived from the Greek word which means
"core" and that we can translate as "my heart is troubled." It is an
important allusion to human compassion and to Jesus' great sensitivity.
John the evangelist does not speak of the pierced heart but of the
pierced side, though it is quite evident that through the side the
heart is reached. On the other hand, if we take the whole of Sacred
Scripture into consideration, the foundation of devotion to the Sacred
Heart is very wide. The Old Testament highlights the importance of the
heart for the relationship with God, that is, of the human person's
interiority: memory, understanding, affectivity and will.
Q: Of what importance is this devotion at present?
Cardinal Vanhoye: Precisely in the union with the Heart of Jesus. It is
not a surpassed devotion; on the contrary, it is timely and also
essential if it is well done. Without this union we cannot live fully
the love that comes from God or succeed in being humble. On the
contrary, we run the risk of fuelling our pride and arrogance.
On the other hand, it is the Gospel itself that presents to us a
religion of the heart, far from exteriority. It must be said that
devotion to the Heart of Jesus has a popular form that does not always
correspond to this orientation, but I think that much can be done to
make it even more significant.
Q: Benedict XVI's message to Father Kolvenbach, general director of the
Society of Jesus, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Pius XII's
encyclical Haurietis Acquas on the Sacred Heart, has re-launched this
Cardinal Vanhoye: The Pope wished to underline the anniversary
forcefully precisely with a message because the Society of Jesus was
always active in promoting this fundamental devotion, above all thanks
to the Apostleship of Prayer and to its proposal of spirituality not at
all sentimental but which involves the whole of human existence.
Now in the encyclical Deus Caritas Est, Benedict XVI speaks several
times of the pierced side and of the Heart of Jesus, true source of
love. It is clear also in the Pope's words that the devotion to the
Sacred Heart cannot stay only with the humanity of Jesus, precisely
because the latter is _expression of the love of God for the world that
can be experienced and therefore witnessed only by looking at that
In this connection, in France, Jesuit Father Glotin has finished a
profound and extensive study on devotion to the Heart of Jesus that
will come out next year, to confirm the importance of calling people's
attention to this spirituality.
One cannot do without a relationship with the Heart of Jesus.
A Vow of Simplicity for Young and Old
By Stephen Hand
Blessed are the poor in
Sketch of Dorothy Day, artist unknown to us Money and things. We can't
take them with us. The rich or well-to-do who give alms to the poor,
however, are surely blessed, a blessing to the poor, and to the Church.
Humility, which is true self-knowldege, makes it imperative never,
ever, to think oneself better than anyone! The very idea is repugnant
to the true Catholic mind.
One person not long ago wrote to me scornfully "...and you can tell the
Houston Catholic Worker there is no such thing as 'lay monks'!" The
person was referring to an article she completely misunderstood. When
my wife, Diane (Dee), who has for 32 years been my spiritual teacher,
and I were first married we both started reading Dorothy Day,
Sojourners, and the Catholic Worker in earnest, though we had yet to
fully return to taking the Catholic Church seriously. It was Dorothy
who turned us from being 'Jesus Freaks' back home to the Catholic
Under Day's influence, we were determined to try not to live for the
pursuit of money, to the extent possible, while meeting our
responsibilities and not relying on spiritual teachers in simplicity,
Anna Hand, Diane Hand, Lena Martin the State and its welfare to take
care of us, but working with our hands and heads to feed, clothe and
house our children, striving for the same kind of dignity we had
observed in our grandparents.
My paternal grandmother, Anna Hand, was the true saint in the family,
equalled only by Dee, my wife. All her life she lived, worked and
suffered without complaint in a relatively small apartment in utter
simplicity and worked serving the very sick at a state hospital. But
her home had such a clean and holy dignity to it that my wife and I
were both charmed and inspired. My grandmother was not ashamed to put
up a crucifix and holy pictures. My maternal grandmother, Lena Martin,
though not as religious by any means, also seemed to utterly disregard
the materialism of the time. She was more concerned with keeping you
warm, loved, and well fed (too well fed!)
Living simply so that others may simply live. You can do worse than to
take a vow of simplicity which refuses, without judging others, to make
a life of chasing after angel teacher, 1980 superfluities, we came to
see. You can do worse than refuse to sell your soul for the Gross
National Product and the wars required to buttress it. You can do worse
than to wear older clothes as a protest against the slave labor of the
sweatshops abroad where we recruit new poor persons at woefully
inadequate wages to maximize profits for our CEO's, all the while
saying the workers over there "never had it so good," as has always
been said of "them", ad nauseum. It was these influences which inspired
us to think hard about what it meant to live. We knew that whatever we
chose to do in life would define who we wanted to be. The Catholic
Worker's Gospel simplicity, rooted in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount,
filled in so many other philosophical and theological reasons. Choosing
simplicity (again, this is not the monks vow of utter poverty) does not
make anyone good or righteous or---God forbid---better than your
neighbor. It simply is a conscious effort to try not to contribute to
the idolatry of materialism which sustains a world of wars and keeps us
running helter skelter for all the things we must inevitably surrender
when it is time for God to call us. 'Living simply so that others may
simply live' is the beginning, not the end, of a radical spiritual
life. It does not require us to be canonized saints, but only caring
The way of simplicity can take many creative forms, tailored to our
cicumstances and abilities. Dorothy Day never bought new clothes. That
is quite a witness (surely all can buy less and when necessary). She
wore clean clothes which were donated or bought them at Thrift stores.
She and Peter Maurin served the poor, the down-and-out, the
dysfunctional. Peter, the great philospher of the movement, was often
thought "a bum," such was his self-emptying (Phil 2:5-10, Mark 2:13-17)
in imitation of Our Lord. They saw Christ in all, and urged all those
who could to reserve a 'Christ-room' in their homes to serve as
temporary shelter in the parishes for those in need.
But it is not easy. Some will always secretly think you are nuts, or a
fake, or a self-righteous 'loser' trying to compensate for your
financial inadequacies with lofty religious sentiments. Such has it
always been, and, will be. So it takes courage too. The following
teaching of Our Lord is not a teaching of exclusion, but a positive
reminder of inclusion, inverting the way of the powers.
Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a
luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or
relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back
and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the
poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.
Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection
of the righteous." ---Luke 14:12-14
The last shall be first in the Kingdom which is present now among us.
We cannot dedicate ourselves to the works of greed, war ---and to the
works of mercy at the same time, Dorothy and Peter reminded us. We must
choose. To share in solidarity with the poor, the marginalized, the
"imperfect" (like ourselves), because we are all God's children is a
blessed call. That is the essence of the joy of simplicity.
St. Francis Peace Prayer
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy;
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love; for it is
in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying
that we are born to eternal life.
Importance of Devotion to the
Interview With Director of the
Apostleship of Prayer in Italy
ROME, JUNE 22, 2006 (Zenit.org).- This Friday's feast of the Sacred
Heart of Jesus marks the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII's encyclical
"Haurietis Aquas," on this devotion.
Benedict XVI has written a letter for this occasion to Father Peter
Hans Kolvenbach, superior general of the Jesuits.
In this interview with ZENIT, Father Massimo Taggi, national director
of the Apostleship of Prayer in Italy, talks about devotion to the
Sacred Heart as an effective means to counteract secularization.
Q: What is the meaning and importance today of devotion to the Sacred
Father Taggi: In a world that, on one hand, is characterized by
marvelous positive aspects, both at the scientific as well as the
technical, cultural and social level, with a strong desire for justice,
peace and solidarity, but which, on the other hand, seems terribly
ambiguous and confused, in a crisis of values, essentially
materialistic, devotion to the Sacred Heart offers a fundamental
indication to capture the true image of God and the profound meaning of
If what a French thinker says, wonderfully, that "the quality of life
depends on the quality of sentiments," a return to the heart --
understood in the biblical sense, as a person's center, where thoughts,
decisions and sentiments find their existential point of synthesis --
and specifically to the Heart of Jesus, Word incarnate, is the royal
road to "draw with joy the waters from the sources of salvation."
As the Holy Father Benedict XVI says in the encyclical "Deus Caritas
Est": "Anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift.
Certainly, as the Lord tells us, one can become a source from which
rivers of living water flow. Yet to become such a source, one must
constantly drink anew from the original source, which is Jesus Christ,
from whose pierced heart flows the love of God."
Q: Why has this devotion been lost over the past 30 years?
Father Taggi: It hasn't really been lost altogether. Even in the
post-conciliar period, devotion to the Sacred Heart continued to exist,
especially at the level of popular religiosity and in very widespread
devotional practices, such as the daily offering prayer, promoted by
the Apostleship of Prayer, hours of adoration on the first Friday of
the month, etc.
At the same time, it is true that it has been questioned and
marginalized by the quite well founded criticism of falling prey to
"devotionism," or with the assumption, much less founded, that after
the Second Vatican Council there was no room for such things.
The real reason for the crisis is that it was not understood that it is
not a question of an optional, minor devotion, but of a spirituality, a
devotion whose foundation, as the Holy Father Benedict XVI has written
in his message to Father Kolvenbach on May 15, is as old as
Q: Why and in what way will the 50th anniversary of Pius XII's
encyclical "Haurietis Aquas" be observed?
Father Taggi: We have decided to hold a national congress of the
Apostleship of Prayer, for the 50th anniversary of "Haurietis Aquas"
for two reasons: because that encyclical was an important document,
which addressed in a complete and profound way the subject of devotion
to the Heart of Jesus, taking into consideration the objections that
were already arising and giving them an authoritative answer; and
because we are convinced that today's world is in great need of
discovering that God is love, that affectivity and not sentimentalism,
is an essential component of an authentic relationship with God in
Jesus Christ; that an attitude of mercy, accepted and given, is the
foundation of authentic peace at all levels, from the family to
interethnic and international relations, as clearly seen in the
teachings of John Paul II and now of Benedict XVI.
The Apostleship of Prayer was born in Vals, near Le Puy, in France, on
December 3, 1844, at the initiative of Jesuit Father Xavier Gautrelet.
The activity began as a proposal of spiritual life for a group of
seminarians of the Society of Jesus, and it spread immediately, like an
oil stain, to the different strata of the Church.
This development was given great impetus by another Jesuit, Father
Henry Ramiere, so much so that at the end of the 19th century there
were, both in and outside of Europe, 35,000 local centers -- parishes
and religious institutes -- with over 13 million registered devotees
It was very soon introduced in Italy by the Barnabites. In Naples,
specifically, it was widespread through the work of Blessed Caterina
The charism of the Apostleship of Prayer may be defined as living
"baptism consciously and actively, especially the common priesthood
which is proper to all the baptized."
It is lived through the daily offering of all one's personal
experience, in union with the Eucharistic sacrifice of Jesus and for
the special intentions that the Pope indicates every month at the
universal level; the spirit of reparation, which is translated also in
concrete actions at the social level; and with acts of consecration --
personal, of the family, etc. -- to the Heart of Jesus, as a specific
_expression of baptismal consecration.
In regard to followers, recent and reliable estimates indicate at least
50 million people in all the continents follow the Apostleship of
Interview With Psychologist
CORTLAND, New York, APRIL 8, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The goal of Catholic
character education is to form children in the character of Christ,
says a developmental psychologist.
Tom Lickona is a professor of education at the State University of New
York at Cortland, where he is the founding director of the Center for
the 4th and 5th Rs (respect and responsibility).
He is the author of seven books on character development in the family
and school, including the co-authored "Smart and Good High Schools."
In this interview with ZENIT, Lickona speaks about the role of parents
and educators in helping children to flourish and become persons of
Q: What is the reason for the growing awareness of the need for
character-education programs for children?
Lickona: I think there are at least six factors that have driven the
current character education movement:
One, the weakening of the family; as families do less character
formation, more kids arrive at school without social skills and a sense
of right and wrong, and schools have to take up the slack;
Two, the rise of the mass media and the popular and marketplace culture
as a powerful, largely negative influence on the values and character
Three, the perception of widespread moral breakdown in society; in one
recent poll, for example, nearly three of four American adults said
they believe people in general "lead less honest and moral lives than
they used to";
Four, troubling youth trends suggesting that societal moral breakdown
is particularly reflected in the values and attitudes of the young;
Five, the conviction that non-directive, relativistic approaches to
values education -- notably "values clarification" -- have been part of
the problem instead of part of the solution; and
Six, the recovery of the belief that there is common ethical ground
even in our intensely pluralistic society -- that there are basic
qualities of character such as honesty, hard work, justice and caring
that virtually all people agree we should teach in our schools,
families and communities.
Without the recovery of shared ethical wisdom, the first five factors
would not have been sufficient to bring about the renewal of character
Q: What are the most important strengths that you suggest forming in
children and adolescents?
Lickona: One of my recent books, "Character Matters," identifies 10
"essential virtues" that are affirmed by nearly all philosophical,
cultural and religious traditions: wisdom; justice; fortitude;
self-control; love; positive attitude, including hope and humor; hard
work; integrity; gratitude; and humility, which motivates us to strive
to be a better person.
In a recent report, "Smart and Good High Schools," Matt Davidson and I
suggest that it's helpful to think of two big parts of character:
performance character -- those qualities such as self-discipline and
perseverance that enable us to give our best effort and do our best
work in any performance context; and moral character -- those qualities
such as honesty, justice and caring that enable us to have successful
relationships, live and work in community, and assume the
responsibilities of democratic citizenship.
Bringing performance character into the picture helps schools see that
character development is essential for academic achievement.
Q: What are some ways that the Catholic faith shapes our ideal of
Lickona: Our Catholic faith would say that to be a good person, we need
to develop the 10 essential virtues such as wisdom, justice, fortitude
and so on.
These human virtues then give us a foundation for seeking to become not
only good but holy.
As St. Gregory reminded us, the ultimate goal of a virtuous life is "to
become like God." At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says,
"Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
The goal of Catholic character education is not simply "good character"
but the character of Christ.
That means developing not only the cardinal virtues of wisdom, justice,
etc., but also the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, and
the supporting spiritual virtues of prayer, frequenting the sacraments,
and a radical obedience, in imitation of Christ, that surrenders our
will to God.
These theological and spiritual virtues are essential for our
transformation in Christ -- our life's purpose as Christians.
As we become transformed in Christ, our task is to transform the world
-- into what John Paul II called "the civilization of truth and love,"
God's Kingdom on earth, as we pray in the Our Father.
In a Catholic school, that begins with creating a moral and spiritual
community in the school that is a living incarnation of Christ.
Sister Mary Carole Gentile describes beautifully how the award-winning
St. Rocco Catholic school in Providence, Rhode Island, does that
through a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; an annual school theme
-- one year it was "We are God's family of peacemakers"; a Good Deeds
Journal in which children made daily entries; community service; a
partnership with a sister-school for the deaf that pairs every St.
Rocco student with a hearing-impaired child for varied activities over
the school year; "school families," which group children across grade
levels for special events and promote a strong schoolwide sense of
community; and a peer-mediation program.
Many Catholic schools, sadly, are miles from this kind of intentional
and comprehensive character education.
A father told me of his ninth-grade daughter entering an area Catholic
school, being frozen out by the girls there, walking the halls alone at
lunchtime, and wanting, at year's end, to go back to her old public
Q: In a culture where the medication of children for depression or
behavioral problems is becoming more prevalent, where does character
education fit in?
Lickona: In some cases, medication for depression, hyperactivity, ADHD
[attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder], etc., may be helpful or
necessary, but even those children also need character education.
A simple definition of becoming "a person of character" is "becoming
the best person you can be."
How do we help every child do that -- in their families, schools, and
communities? By providing loving relationships, good models, high
expectations, firm and fair discipline that holds them accountable to
those expectations, and concrete regular experiences to develop and
practice the virtues.
No matter what a child's biology or handicapping conditions, they need
these supports for character building.
Q: How can the practice of excellence and ethics contribute to mental
health and the good of the person as a whole?
Lickona: When we strive for excellence, we develop our God-given gifts,
the talents that enable us to become fully the person God means us to
be and to contribute to the human community.
When we strive for ethical behavior, we exercise our God-given capacity
for goodness, and love each other in a way that reflects God's love. In
both these ways, we are being fully human -- the best way to be
Q: What advice would you give to parents with busy schedules and
educators with academic priorities, so as to not lose sight of the
importance of forming these character strengths in their children?
Lickona: For both families and schools, time can be the tyrant that
keeps us from living out our deepest values.
Deep down, most parents want their children to be moral people who use
their talents to help others.
Deep down, every educator wants to touch the lives of students in a way
that makes an enduring difference and that helps to build a better
If we keep these goals in mind, we will organize both family life and
school life to be character-centered. To see how to make this happen,
we can look to families and to schools that have made character
development a high priority. All of us learn from example.
There are now abundant good examples out there -- in books, Web sites,
curricular resources, and the regional and national organizations that
are providing leadership in character education.
On Prayer and the Magisterium
Father J. Castellano Gives an
ANCONA, Italy, DEC. 5, 2005 (Zenit.org).- In a congress on mysticism, a
priest pointed up the concern of the Holy See's magisterium for prayer.
"In the course of history there have been few authoritative
interventions of the magisterium on this topic, said Discalced
Carmelite Father Jesúús Castellano Cervera. He noted,
however, a shift that started in 1989.
The Spanish priest noted three key documents that illustrate the link
between prayer and the magisterium.
He cited "Orationis Formas," the Oct. 15, 1989, letter of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a document he contributed
to. He also cited the fourth section of the Catechism of the Catholic
Church, and Pope John Paul II's letter "Novo Millennio Ineunte."
For Father Castellano, the "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic
Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation," or "Orationis Formas,"
must be taken into account in order to understand the "criteria to
guide Catholic faithful in the face of the new methods of meditation,
as is the case of the techniques of the religious East."
In his address on Saturday to the congress on "Christian Mystical
Experience, Non-Christian Mysticism and New Religiosity in the West,"
Father Castellano, a professor at the Teresianum in Rome, revealed
details about the development of this document.
"After several re-elaborations the text remained essentially as the
fruit of the mind and style of Hans Urs von Balthasar, with suggestions
from other experts," he explained.
The text tries to clarify what is specific about Christian meditation,
given the invasion and fascination of some Eastern meditation
For Father Castellano, it is important to highlight the originality of
Christian prayer linked to the structure and content of Christian
revelation, as well as "the criteria to guide an authentic exercise of
Christian meditation which involves the whole person praying, including
his body and feelings."
"It was not a letter censuring or condemning the well-integrated
Eastern methods in the Christian praxis of meditation," he said.
Rather, it is a document that offers "doctrinal criteria for an
authentic guide and for the discernment of current praxis of
According to this consultor of several Vatican dicasteries, including
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "The Eastern techniques
applied to Christian prayer have cause an awakening of Christian
In the congress on mysticism, organized by the East-West Center of
Studies, the expert in spirituality pointed out that the East has
contributed to Christian prayer "an appreciation of silence, greater
attention to the body in prayer which leads to a sensitivity for
harmonious integration and openness to a spiritual guide."
Father Castellano added that "Christian prayer is meditation which
tends to communion, not fusion, with the Triune God."
Temperaments and the Call to Holiness
Interview With Art and Laraine
BRISTOW, Virginia, NOV. 27, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Hippocrates defined the
four temperaments hundreds of years before the birth of Christ,
classifying a pattern of personal inclinations as choleric, sanguine,
melancholic and phlegmatic.
Now, modern Christians can use that ancient knowledge coupled with
Christ's call to perfection in understanding themselves and their
unique path to holiness.
The husband-and-wife-team Art and Laraine Bennett -- a marriage and
family therapist, and writer, respectively -- outline this Christian
view of personalities in their book, "The Temperament God Gave You: The
Classic Key to Knowing Yourself, Getting Along with Others and Growing
Closer to the Lord" (Sophia).
The Bennetts shared with ZENIT the importance of Christians knowing
themselves, and how the knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses can
help in their spiritual growth and personal relationships.
Q: What are the four temperaments?
Art: The four temperaments were originally proposed by Hippocrates --
the "father of medical science" -- 350 years before the birth of
Christ. Hippocrates used them to explain differences in personality,
based on the predominant bodily fluid; hence the rather unappealing
names: choleric, sanguine, melancholic and phlegmatic.
Even today these same terms are still used to describe temperament, by
which we mean the pattern of inclinations or a tendency to react in
certain ways that form a recognizable pattern over time.
For example, the choleric tends to react quickly and intensely, and to
take action immediately and decisively. The sanguine is your classic
"people person"; quick to react, but quick to forget; known for their
The melancholic is deeply thoughtful and analytic, slow to respond,
skeptical, sensitive and idealistic. The phlegmatic is slow to react,
with far less intensity, and is generally calm, cooperative and
Q: How important is it for Christians to recognize their own
personality traits, even as they strive to lose the "old man" and put
Laraine: Teresa of Avila wrote in the "Interior Castle" that we should
always pursue self-knowledge. In fact, without self-knowledge, we tend
to be like the fellow mentioned in Matthew 7:3 with the wooden beam in
his eye, who is forever pointing out splinters in others'.
Self-knowledge leads us to true humility, without which we cannot begin
to grow in holiness. As Christ pointed out in Luke 14:28-33, who would
build a tower without first calculating the cost? What king would go
into battle without first taking an inventory of his troops?
Understanding our temperament is like taking a personal inventory of
our natural strengths and weaknesses. We need to know what our
weaknesses are, so that we can "calculate the cost": what skills should
we develop and what virtues should we grow in, so that we can more
effectively serve Christ and his Church.
Q: How can knowing your temperament help you grow in your spiritual
Laraine: Study of the temperaments has a long and venerable tradition
within Catholic spirituality.
Many of the great saints, such as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis de
Sales, have written about the temperaments, and great spiritual
theologians, such as the late Reverend Adolphe Tanquerey -- author of
the spiritual classic "The Spiritual Life" -- and contemporary
theologian, Dominican Father Jordan Aumann, all write about temperament
and the spiritual life.
Understanding one's temperament gives us a clue about where to begin in
our quest for holiness.
Art: When we understand our temperament, we can identify our own
personal tendencies to react in certain ways. The temperaments tell us
which strengths to appreciate as gifts from God, and those areas in
which we need to prayerfully grow.
For example, if I am a melancholic, I discover that I am tempted to
focus on difficulties, and have a tendency to be judgmental. Knowing
this, I will endeavor to combat my timidity, build confidence in God
and in his instruments, and try not to "sweat the small stuff." I will
try to focus less on myself and grow in the virtue of supernatural hope.
A very peaceful and cooperative phlegmatic may find that he does not
need to work on the virtue of docility -- for he is naturally so -- but
perhaps should develop the virtues of audacity, fortitude and lack of
dependence on human respect.
Q: How does temperament play into marriages and families?
Art: The temperaments are extremely helpful in marital and familial
situations. With more than 20 years experience as a marriage therapist,
I have seen how understanding temperaments can help us grow in our
interpersonal relationships by fostering empathy, mutual appreciation
and admiration for the unique gifts of our spouse and children.
This mutual appreciation is vital in fulfilling the critical task of
creating the "communion of persons" in our family as John Paul II so
eloquently stated in "Familiaris Consortio."
Once we understand our temperament's strengths and weaknesses, we can
begin to appreciate our loved ones' special gifts and learn how to
encourage them in their weaker spots.
Laraine: I found the most beneficial use of the temperaments in
understanding -- and motivating -- our own children. When parents
understand how temperament governs their kids' instinctive reactions,
then we become much more capable of dealing with each child
individually instead of applying a "once-size-fits-all" parenting style.
As the Pontifical Council for the Family wrote, "Each child is a unique
and unrepeatable person and must receive individualized formation."
Armed with knowledge of temperamental differences, we can provide this
For example, our phlegmatic child never reacted well to strong
challenges. This only discouraged him. Instead, he required gentle,
confidence-boosting encouragement all along the way.
Our choleric child, at the other extreme, always loves a challenge or a
contest, and her confidence is rarely shaken, even with setbacks.
Our melancholic needed help initiating projects, but perseverance is
never an issue; on the other hand, our sanguine can come up with a
hundred new ideas, but needs encouragement in follow-through.
But each of them blossom, with individualized motivation and support.
Q: Are people ever tempted to use the temperament paradigm as an excuse
for their shortcomings?
Art: Any personal inventory can be used improperly, as an excuse.
For example, a choleric might say, "I'm just naturally argumentative
and controlling. Everyone else is going to have to learn to deal with
it." Or, "I'm just naturally impulsive. I'm a sanguine!"
What actually happens is that understanding the temperaments becomes a
springboard for growth. Knowing our human frailty, Christ told us, "Be
perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect." Christ calls each one of
us to holiness and the perfection of charity.
So, too, the temperaments can greatly help us by identifying our
natural tendencies -- both strengths and weaknesses -- and we can then
use this knowledge as a jumping off point for growth in virtue.
We also remind our readers that our temperament does not constitute the
totality of our person. There is also our character -- which can be
formed through our upbringing, our education, and our own free choices
-- and, of course, grace.
Q: Does every Christian's call to imitate Christ mean a loss of
individuality? How can we all be Christ-like but different?
Laraine: If we become more Christ-like, will we lose our individuality?
What about those peculiarities or quirks that seem to make us uniquely
who we are?
It is true that the saints are precisely those individuals who have
practiced heroic virtue to the point of becoming Christ-like. As St.
Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20, "Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ
lives in me."
St. Ignatius of Loyola was considered to be passionately choleric, yet
became so meek and so humble that those who just met him thought he was
phlegmatic, And St. Thééréése of Lisieux
had been a lively, impulsive and strong-willed child, yet many of the
sisters who lived with her never guessed what heroic struggles lay
hidden beneath her gentle, humble mien.
However, the famous axiom of the spiritual life is that grace never
destroys nature, but perfects it. Remember the story about St. Francis
converting the wolf of Gubbio. As Flannery O'Connor pointed out, even
after his conversion, the wolf was still a wolf.
Dominican Father Thomas Dubay wrote, "God takes our humanness
seriously." A talkative, lively, sanguine may not need to become a
cloistered monk with a vow of silence in order to grow in holiness and
the perfection of charity. On the other hand, a sensitive, deeply
thoughtful melancholic may very well be drawn quite naturally to
Thus, although we will always retain our unique personalities, we
should continually strive to grow in holiness and virtue.
In our book we offer tips for spiritual growth, based on the four
For example, if you are a very active choleric, you will want to make
sure you have set aside time for prayer each morning. If you are a
melancholic struggling to overcome despondency, you will want to
meditate frequently on God's personal love for you, and for the many
blessings he has given you.
Q: How is this book different than just another self-help book?
Art: Though we address personal growth, motivation, and problem
resolution, this is not a Pelagian "pull yourself up by your boot
The purpose of understanding ourselves and others is not merely to
achieve self-improvement on the natural level, but -- most importantly
-- to be better able to fulfill God's will as a loving and joyful
spouse, parent, friend and disciple.
Understanding temperament not only helps us become more capable of
controlling our emotions and moods, it helps us identify the most
effective means to grow in virtue and obedience to God's will, which
are not typical self-help themes.
Everybody has a vocation
“Holiness is not the sole domain of those called to
life or priesthood. While everyone is called to be a saint, all of us
a specific vocation through which we live out that call to holiness.”
Fr Anthony Denton STL, Director of Vocations
AS YOU READ THIS, HUNDREDS of thousands of young
from around the world are making their way to the city of Cologne,
for the twentieth World Youth Day. Among the throng will be some 400
from the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Our pilgrimage to the Cathedral of
(which houses the preserved relics of the three Magi) might serve as a
useful metaphor for the pilgrimage of life that we celebrate during
Vocations Awareness Week (NVAW). As the three Magi set out from a
land to adore the Christ-child 2000 years ago, so today are we called
imitate their journey to come and worship Jesus and to become His true
NVAW takes place over two Sundays. The first serves
a reminder that everybody has a vocation, and so on 7 August the theme
is the general Christian Vocation. On this Sunday the specific
of marriage and single life, as well as the ministries of married and
people, are affirmed and emphasised. On the second Sunday, 14 August,
are encouraged to reflect upon and affirm the specific vocations of
(religious) life and the vocation to the Holy Priesthood, inviting
people to seriously consider the possibility that God may be calling
to be a priest, brother or sister.
A lot has been written in the last four decades
the Universal Call to Holiness: everyone has a vocation to be a
of Christ in virtue of our baptism. Baptism is the distinguishing mark
of Christianity: it wipes away original sin, it sets people apart as
of the Church and makes them children of God, within whom the Holy
dwells. The Second Vatican Council rightly re-emphasised a
reality that all Christians are called to the heights of sanctity – “Be
perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt 5:48) Holiness is
the sole domain of those called to religious life or priesthood.
While everyone is called to be a saint, all of us
a specific vocation through which we live out that call to holiness.
Church assures us that God calls every single one of us to serve Him
our neighbour through our particular state in life: marriage, religious
life, priesthood or single life – “Before I formed you in the womb I
you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jer 1:5) Unless we
see our state in life as a vocation willed by God, then the quest for
can seem to be a mere abstraction.
Married people are called to serve God and neighbour
the generous gift of themselves to each other. This is why human
is at the heart of Christian marriage as reflected in the high demands
that Christ places on Catholic spouses. There is much debate on the
of single life as a vocation. However, understood as a genuine
to communion with God, a single person may discern that God desires him
or her to choose neither married nor religious life, and indeed, there
are many examples of people who have lived fruitful lives of service as
A priest is called to be a man of God for others. He
a special call to live out pastoral charity; that is, to bring the
and love of God to the souls entrusted to his care. Religious men and
stand out among the four states in life for their special vocation to
This is one of the great gifts of the Church: that some men and women
chosen by God to dedicate themselves to what we might call “the art of
holiness.” By that I mean that through the grace of the evangelical
(poverty, chastity and obedience) the world is given concrete examples
of total dedication to God that will be the reality of life in Heaven,
our true home.
This year as we celebrate NVAW we are joined in
throughout the Archdiocese specifically for vocations to the priesthood
(See: www.catholicvocation.org.au). Where there is a strong sense of
importance of priestly vocations there follows naturally a greater
and appreciation of the other vocations. Pope John Paul II never tired
of reminding us that we all have a vocation to be saints. Do not be
to be the saints of the new millennium – Christ is counting on you to
His witnesses in the world.
By Fr Anthony Denton
Anger Management Infused With Faith
Ronda Chervin on Ways to Gain Peace
HARDY, Arizona, JULY 6, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Anger
often can stifle growth in the life of virtue, preventing the peace
So says Ronda Chervin, professor of philosophy at
College of Our Lady of Corpus Christi and
of "Taming the Lion Within: 5 Steps from Anger to Peace" (Café
Chervin shared with ZENIT how a self-help group and
strong faith life helped her heal -- and how others with tempers can
from anger to peace.
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
Chervin: Many devout Catholics have problems with
We overreact when we are right, or burst out
when we are frustrated or hold onto unforgiving resentment when we have
been hurt -- not forgiving our debtors.
We also try to avoid engaging in the sarcastic
that Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:22 can land us in hell. In spite of
efforts, our progress toward Christian virtues such as meekness and
is slow, if at all.
After years and years of struggle with anger issues,
ran into a self-help group for anger, fear and depression that provides
intriguing and successful techniques for overcoming angry impulses. For
the first time in 57 years I was able to smile instead of sputter,
instead of yell, excuse rather than accuse -- at least most of the time.
It became clear to me as I practiced the new
that these methods were closely related to our Catholic understanding
life. Undergirding the self-help group's psychological insights with
sacraments and prayer provided me with a synthesis in thought and
I found even more helpful.
"Taming the Lion Within: 5 Steps from Anger to
was written to reach out to other angry Catholics. In the year and a
the book has been released, I find that the Holy Spirit seems to be
my five-step approach with good results.
Q: What are the five steps from anger to peace?
Chervin: The five steps are these: admitting I am an
person; identifying my type of anger; understanding my anger; taming
lion day by day; the lion lies down with the lamb.
The following are key questions an individual could
based on these steps.
Am I in denial that I am an angry person even though
people tell me to lighten up or seem a little afraid of me? Could cold,
unforgiving resentment be just as bad as fits and rage are?
Does having an angry vs. a laid-back temperament
me from having to improve? Do I think it is outrageous if anyone
me, as if I were a kind of king or queen who everyone else should cater
Are there situations where I have to let go of
to win even if I am right -- choosing peace over power? What fears are
underlying my anger -- such as fear of seeming to be a failure or of
rejected? Does roaring like a lion attempt to hide my real lamblike
Q: How do an individual's faith, prayer and
life play into healing anger problems?
Chervin: In Scripture we have many instances of God
angry; Jesus is occasionally depicted as angry, as in the famous
of whipping the moneychangers in the temple. St. John Chrysostom wrote,
"He who is not angry where he has cause to be, sins."
Nonetheless, the preponderance of passages in the
about human anger -- such as Ephesians 4:29-32 -- are about the evils
anger for our victims and for ourselves.
Our natural impulse when thwarted is to retaliate.
course, we should always try to bring about justice, but in many cases
there is no way to achieve this goal. The greater our faith in our
with God's forgiveness and grace for an eternity of happiness, the more
we can forgo vengeance -- hot or cold.
Frequent reception of holy Communion and the
of confession are essential. Also necessary are two main types of
-- instant bringing of our daily emotions to the heart of Jesus so he
comfort and direct us, and long periods of quiet contemplation in a
adoration chapel, at home or on solitary walks.
Given the busy schedule most of us have, we are in
need of times alone with Jesus where we can let his love permeate our
angry or hard hearts. It is not possible to sustain anger when we are
in God's love -- known in a leap of faith or in an experience of
Q: What are some practical ways to change the
that prevent personal peace?
Chervin: In the self-help group that inspired this
the members are given tools -- phrases to repeat to ourselves that
us out of angry attitudes. Here are a few: "Expect frustrations every
minutes, you won't be disappointed"; "It's not a 911" -- the number
in the United States for emergencies; "Self-control is self-respect."
Central to the process of moving from anger to peace
overcoming perfectionism. Wanting everything to go smoothly and well
the time is unrealistic. In a Christian perspective, after the Fall
people are broken, not perfect.
Serene people expect life to be difficult and work
the average obstacles of each day without undue stress and fuming. They
don't grunt, rave, curse or withdraw every time someone or something
them up. Saintly people accept crosses and try to bring God's love to
whose actions and words are annoying or hurtful.
Q: How have you seen these steps bear fruit?
Chervin: Changing life-long attitudes and opening
angry little hearts to peace-loving ways is a long haul. Many think, "I
can't help being angry most of the time because everyone else is so
When we begin to see that it is not just others or
but our own attitudes that feed our anger, we are surprised and
in learning more. We realize that God can only help us become more
if we are willing to accept his permissive will in surrounding us with
imperfect people and situations.
How much better would it be for us and the world if
were more tamed felines and benign lambs than lions roaring at each
On the Origin and Meaning of
A Powerful Prayer, Says Archbishop Sorrentino
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 12, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The rosary
an "intensely contemplative" and powerful prayer with a long history,
a Vatican aide.
"Personally, I have seen miracles with the
of this prayer," said Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, secretary of the
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, in an interview on
He recalled encountering "people who have found in
prayer food for the soul and a reason for conversion."
At last Wednesday's general audience, John Paul II
the faithful in this "month of the rosary" to make the Marian devotion
"your daily prayer."
The recitation of the rosary began "in a very modest
in the first centuries of the second millennium," Archbishop Sorrentino
said in his interview.
"At that time, the Psalms were recited in their
organization, the Psalter with lauds and vespers, but there were many
could not pray ... in Latin, and the Psalms then began to be replaced
the 'Pater' and 'Ave' prayers, which little by little were given a
organization that varied according to circumstances," the archbishop
"Then, gradually, meditation of the mysteries was
he continued. "The prayer grew until it took on the typical form that
are used to reciting, and this occurred in particular with St. Pius V,
when he instituted the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which was then
linked to a special historical circumstance: the Christian victory over
the Ottoman menace."
"The Pope believed that this victory was due to the
prayer of Christians, through the intercession of the Mother of God,"
Since then, the rosary "has been recited by the
community following this scheme, until John Paul II, two years ago,
the Year of the Rosary," altered this prayer, "focusing more on its
and biblical aspect, in particular, by adding the 'mysteries of
the archbishop said.
"If it is well understood," it "is a prayer that
much," he said. The rosary is intensely "contemplative. The repetition,
which often from a distance might seem to be mechanical, in fact serves
as a breath of the soul which, gazing on Jesus Christ, assumes a
attitude through Mary's eyes and heart."
If understood from this perspective, one can
how this Marian prayer "can really give tone to the Christian spirit,
can help a Christian in his daily living to remain well anchored in the
mystery of our salvation, especially in Jesus Christ, who is the heart,
the center of the life of a Christian," the prelate said.
"Sadly, sometimes this prayer is recited in the
of its possibilities," he said. "It would be good if the People of God
became conscious of the potential of this prayer by following closely
suggestions made by the Pope."
Satan's Strategy of
Interview With Father Mendoza Pantoja of Archdiocese
MEXICO CITY, SEPT. 16, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Satan
and his strategy is to confuse, says the exorcist of the Archdiocese of
Father Pedro Mendoza Pantoja was one of the
of Mexico's first National Meeting of Exorcists and Auxiliaries of
held Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at the headquarters of the bishops' conference.
meeting drew 500 participants.
Father Mendoza Pantoja coordinates the work of eight
one for each of the territorial vicariates of that diocese. He spoke of
his work with ZENIT.
Q: Who is an exorcist?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: He can be a bishop or a
designated by him, who by the mandate of Jesus Christ and in the name
God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit recites a prayer in which, in an
way, in the case of diabolic possession, orders Satan to depart from
one possessed and leave him in total freedom, or in a deprecating form,
that is, of intercession or supplication, asking that, by the precious
blood of Christ and the intercession of the Virgin Mary, a person,
house or object be liberated from every demonic influence, be it
obsession or oppression.
Q: Can anyone be an exorcist?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: No. According to the Gospel,
enriched his apostles with charismatic gifts when he sent them to
In Matthew 10:1 it says: "And he called to him his
disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them
and to heal every disease and every infirmity." See also Matthew
With that authority, it corresponds to bishops,
of the apostles, to exercise this ministry of expelling demons. But,
to Canon 1172, they can designate, to exercise this ministry in a
manner or for a special case, a "pious, learned, prudent priest with
of life." This is true for diabolic possessions and, therefore, for
itself, also called solemn exorcism.
But every priest through his ordination participates
the priesthood of Christ and, with him, has the mission to liberate the
faithful from all obsessions, oppressions or demonic influences, with
prayers of intercession and supplication, with evangelization and
of the sacraments, primarily penance and the Eucharist.
Similarly, all priests are exorcists in regard to
pastoral endeavor of liberation within their mission to evangelize, and
this is true, by the command of Christ; he does not need to be
to carry out so-called minor exorcism. Lay people cannot be exorcists.
Q: The meeting you organized also gathered
of Liberation." Who are these persons and what do they do?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: Auxiliaries of Liberation
priests who do not have the character of official exorcists; doctors;
religious; and lay people who help the exorcist priest in discernment
in the exercise of his ministry, either with prayer of intercession or
in different eventualities.
Priests help with prayer of liberation and the laity
prayer of intercession. A priest who is not an official exorcist can
out a minor exorcism, also called prayer of liberation, helped in turn
by all the laity who support him in discernment and with prayers of
The laity cannot recite prayers of liberation.
Q: If I am not mistaken, this was Mexico's first
of exorcists and one of the first of these characteristics in the
It seems that in the last 40 years the figure of the exorcist was
Is this an impression that corresponds with reality?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: Indeed, it is. The causes
varied, but we could say that they are included in the great challenge
that the second half of the last century presented to the Church in her
task of evangelization.
In the first half, Satan attacked humanity in the
of ideas and thought: rationalism, materialism, Gnosticism,
Rosicrucianism, sectarianism, Socialism, Marxism-Leninism, etc., which
separate man from God. On one hand, the negation of a personal God and
also the negation of the existence of Satan as a personal being,
the true God for an impersonal god that identifies itself with this
world and reducing Satan to a mere symbol.
Such an influence also infected our theologians, who
recent times no longer spoke of the devil or the angels.
But as a counterbalance, man felt nostalgia for God.
search for the supernatural, as a solution to the problems afflicting
because of his separation from God, made him fall into the clutches of
the New Age, which with its deceitful spiritualities and fictitious
and esoteric solutions has opened the doors to the manifestations of
devil in many persons who have fallen into New Age esoteric and magical
For this reason, in the permanent mission of the New
the Church has found it necessary to revive something that she felt was
of the past, but which is urgent in our times: to proclaim to those who
have fallen away the redemption of Christ who came to liberate us from
Q: It is said that in some countries the progress of
sects has not been addressed adequately by the Church for lack of
Do you think there is some truth in this?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: The answer to this question
related to the previous one.
Indeed, our faithful and priests themselves have
engulfed in the sea of confusions to which the New Age leads us with
mixture of ideas, deceits and lies, manipulating Eastern spiritualities
mixed with pantheism, as well as traditional medicines, which in
are a gift from God and have nothing diabolical, but whose efficacy is
used by promoters of the New Age to give themselves credit and make one
believe that everything they say is true.
It also took us bishops and priests by surprise,
knowing what to do or how to act in this sea of confusions. And some
filled with fear by the phenomenology presented in those affected by
devil. Or it led them to protect themselves in a crass skepticism in
face of these realities, attributing them to psychological problems or
illnesses that are difficult to cure and so did not attend to them.
Moreover, seminaries have not given preparation to
these problems. For all these reasons, through meetings and congresses
both at the national as well as the international level, we are seeking
formation both for ourselves, the official exorcists, as well as for
priests and for the laity involved in the pastoral endeavor of
Q: Many, perhaps even believers, deny that there can
people who are possessed by the devil. They think, rather, that it is a
question of psychological or psychiatric problems. How does an exorcist
distinguish between cases of possession and disturbances of another
Father Mendoza Pantoja: Canon law and the new
ritual itself, as well as the Catechism of the universal Church,
that, before carrying out a major exorcism, there must be discernment:
whether it is a question of a real possession or a simple diabolical
or oppression, making use also of the previous advice of doctors and
so that they can give their diagnosis, the priest always being the one
who must ultimately decide because, in addition, the ritual of
indicates which are the signs that can tell us or lead us to suspect a
real diabolical possession: to speak or understand unknown languages as
if they were one's own; to reveal hidden or distant things; to manifest
strength beyond one's age or physical condition, to vehemently separate
oneself from God, aversion to the most holy name of Jesus, of the
Mary, and of the saints, to sacred images, places and objects.
Q: For many people, however, these cases of
possession seem rather like Hollywood film stories. It seems that the
strategy is to make one believe he does not exist. As an exorcist, do
think this is true?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: In fact, as I see it, Satan
several strategies to separate us from God.
What the devil is interested in is to confuse us,
by making us believe that he does not exist and that, as he doesn't
neither do hell and heaven and so we need not be afraid of being far
Moreover, he manifests himself instead with
and obsessions to torment terribly those who have opened the doors to
so that they will be afraid of him and not try to close the doors to
and trust him.
This is how we can explain Satanic worship and holy
to obtain power, his favor and protection. Satan is the father of lies
Q: All ministries in the Church are a grace of God
a service to brothers. Do you yourself perceive the ministry of
as a grace for your life?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: My whole life is a grace
God: my baptism the gift that makes me a child of God, member of the
and co-heir with Christ of his glory; the priestly ministry, the gift
enables me to participate in his redemption and his work of salvation
service to my brothers.
The ministry of exorcist is also a gift of his grace
mercy, which in my littleness, insignificance and limitations, enables
me to experience, as his instrument, his liberating and salvific power
in the service of my brothers, which encourages me and impels me to
to him ever more to participate in his victory and, with it, in his
Q: What is the service of the exorcist to the Church
to your brothers like? In other words, is there a case you can tell us
about in which your ministry of exorcist enabled you to experience in
your vocation as man and priest?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: There are many cases in
practicing the prayer of liberation -- over the past 24 years, also
I was not yet an exorcist -- I have seen the power in which God makes
priests participants in the service of our suffering brothers. The
of faith with the prayer of healing, liberation, and forgiveness, with
which one succeeds in something that is impossible and not within the
of medical and psychological science.
Now, as an exorcist for the past six years, I have
several cases of diabolical oppressions and obsessions. Tormented and
despairing people, who after having gone to all kinds of specialists,
and medicine men, have worsened their situation.
They think they are diabolically possessed and ask
for exorcism. In some cases, there have been signs that have led me to
suspect a diabolical presence or possession and, even without being
to carry out the so-called diagnostic exorcism, that is, imperative
to succeed in making them enter a peace and tranquility without going
far as to have a full solemn exorcism, it being enough to continue with
the prayer of liberation.
It has been a great satisfaction to succeed in the
of my brothers, through the service of my humble ministry, by the power
of the prayer of intercession and to see the growth of their faith,
to an evangelization and catechesis that leads to their conversion, the
renewal of their faith, and their fuller adherence to the Lord, and to
see them continue their lives full of love and confidence in God.
Q: What should a person do who thinks he is a victim
diabolical possession or who knows someone who might be in that
Father Mendoza Pantoja: He must go to his parish
and make a good confession so that, in the first instance, that priest
can take care of him.
If his parish priest discovers that there is a
influence but no signs of diabolical possession, he must pray with him
supported by a liberation team and insert him in a group of
or growth in the faith or in some parish ministry.
If the parish priest perceives signs that make him
a diabolical possession or does not feel able to address the problem,
must then be directed to the exorcist of his diocese or the nearest
He must never go to medicine men or make use of magical cures.
A Tendency to Judge Is an Obstacle to Hearing God,
VATICAN CITY, JULY 20, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The
to judge others is the greatest obstacle in listening to God, says
of the Pontifical Household.
Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa made that
today in reference to John Paul II's affirmation Sunday, when the Pope
said at his Angelus address: "To listen to the Word of God is the most
important thing in our lives."
Father Cantalamessa told Vatican Radio: "In addition
the external obstacles imposed by the rhythm of modern life, there is
even more dangerous noise: the one which impedes our hearts from
to the Word of God when judging others."
This attitude "makes us judges who judge the whole
This silent 'noise' of the heart must be silenced in our minds -- at
even with violence," he said.
"Enough, enough of this sort of reasoning, of
the priest said. He said people must tell themselves: "I want to read
Word of God, I want to listen to the Word of God, I want to repeat
me the Word of God."
It is an exercise that helps "to pass from useless,
egoistic thoughts to thoughts that come from God," he added.