Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Calling All Cooperators: Get on your horses & ride!

Fellow Cooperators, by now you have seen emails and Facebook updates from the Daughters about their Education Fund drive.

What you might not realize is, that THIS IS A BLITZ!

The Daughters of St. Paul Education Fund has ONLY until December 31, 2010 to match an anynonmous pledge of $100,000 - which, if matched, will be given in full to their Education Fund!

I admit I didn't realize the urgency. This time of year, I get so many requests for donations, my eyes kind of glaze over. I needed a personal invitation from one of the sisters before I realized that this is a matter of some urgency.

So, I am inviting all of us Cooperators to spread the word.

Here's what we can do:

1. Make our own donation at

2. Put an entry into our blogs. Provide a link to the donation page.

3. Post the following link to our Facebook profiles and urge our network to click and join:

4. Think outside of the box. I am going to offer my book-loving, book-buying public the opportunity to make a donation and get some free books or audio CDs.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I'm with Alberione, and so is my Kindle!

Sr. Wendy Beckett in front of portrait of Bl. Alberione

I heard that some of the Italian sisters were working on a digital database of Father Alberione's writings. So I went hunting today and found a treasure!

Check out . It will blow your mind!! Alberione texts in Italian, Spanish, Brasilian and English!

Most of the texts put online so far are in Italian. It is clear by the unlinked listings that this is an ongoing work that will see more and more of the Founder's writings available to one and all.

Here is what's up now in English:

ABUNDANTES DIVITIAE GRATIAE SUAE, 1953 (Charismatic history of the Pauline Family)

DONEC FORMETUR CHRISTUS IN VOBIS, 1932 (Until Christ Be Formed in You)

UT PERFECTUS SIT HOMO DEI (Instructions from a month-long retreat given by Blessed Alberione to senior SSP members in Ariccia, Rome in 1960)

The whole site, is a wonderful resource. Most of it is in Italian, but you can throw text into an Italian to English translator like the one at to see approximate translations of things like the FAQ.

The text files are offered in PDF and Word format. PDF can be downloaded and read on a Kindle, according to the Kindle manual, although I've not tried that yet.

At any rate, I say: Go, Go, Alberione! I love the Founder's writings and am elated to have discovered this.

(Now, it could very well be that this is old news for everybody, and that Sister Margaret or one of the other sisters sent word out about this project long ago. If so, please just indulge or excuse my enthusiasm, as I plead information overload.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On wine, wineskins, social media and Bishop Herzog

Our guest blogger today is Sister Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP, with some cogent commentary on Bishop Ronald Herzog's recent presentation to the USCCB's 2010 Fall General Assembly. You can also read the full text of Bishop Herzog's talk, titled Social Media: Friend or Foe, Google or Hornswoggle?

Sr. Margaret's commentary:

Nov. 15, 2010

On Nov. 15, 2010, Bishop Ronald Herzog, chairman of the USCCB Communication Committee, delivered a vital message—and monumental challenge—to his brother bishops at their Fall General Assembly, namely, to embrace social media and the ensuing culture in order to evangelize today’s world. Among other things, the bishop made a statement that raises a question: “The Church does not have to change its teachings to reach young people, but we must deliver it to them in a new way.”

Taken out of context, this statement suggests that all we have to do to bring young people—and lots of other people—into the Church is to pour the fine old wine of Jesus’ Gospel into new cultural wineskins. But the current situation does call for new teaching! In fact, Jesus described his message this way (Mt. 9:14-17), not vis-à-vis Judaism, but as an indication of the change of heart needed to understand it. Otherwise—to apply this Word to the issue under consideration here—we run the risk of losing both wine and skins, message and culture.

In fact, this is exactly what is happening. With data and concrete examples, Bishop Herzog makes that clear. There is a major disconnect between the two; the message is “dying” in the sense that it does not carry out the purpose it is sent for (cf. Is. 55:11), and the culture is impoverished, “divorced” from its spiritual roots, from what makes it truly human.

Certainly,Revelation remains intact, but in nuance, emphasis, and their very paradigms,the teachings need to change.

As a case in point, let's look at the egalitarianism that Bishop Herzog refers to. The singular status and role of the laity in the life of the Church, envisioned by people like Alberione, Escriva, and Lubich and mandated by the Second Vatican Council, has been gaining momentum over the past several decades, but it has required a watershed to turn it into a revolution. As nothing else before, the clergy sex abuse scandal and now the phenomenon of social media are each in their own way, calling upon laity to work side-by-side with clergy and religious in the Church's evangelizing efforts, equal in dignity and holiness.

This praxis has already begun leading to deeper theological reflection, the best of it building on the theology of the past several decades and taking new social realities into account. (I think, for example, of von Balthasar.) It has already been casting about for new language, new vocabulary; the old is no longer sufficient. New content generates new language, but new language also generates new content.

Social media give lay Catholics a new platform for asserting and exercising their baptismal right to evangelize sometimes on their own initiative, under the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Certainly union with their pastors is essential, as it is for all members of the Church, but they will not necessarily wait for direction or simply parrot what their pastors say. Nor should they, as long as ecclesial unity in essentials is safeguarded. Neither should their media initiatives take second place to any that religious or clergy carry out, or be limited only to what they might have to say to other laypersons.

This situation will bring about its own pastoral challenges, not the least of which are the urgent need for an extensive and practical faith formation and the need to determine anew who speaks for the Church and how. As the Church's dialogue with culture changes, so will her spokespersons need reconfiguring.

In reporting on a survey of diocesan communication directors, Bishop Herzog stated that they do not expect their bishops to learn Facebook or Twitter. The problem with this is that their bosses will be unable to offer the knowledgeable support that such staff do expect, because they will be unable to teach and lead within the new public relations paradigm set by social media.

Nowhere in Bishop Herzog's insights did I read that there would be no new teaching. In fact, I read the opposite. In support of this, he cited a one-time revolutionary teaching that “common folk should read the Bible.” Clearly, this issue of communicating one's faith in the Person of Christ within the digitally mastered culture is a matter of more than simple re-packaging. It is new wine.