Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Only one question really matters. Does God exist or not?"

Georges Bernanos

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin, the archbishop of Denver, gave a talk last Saturday in Philadelphia as part of the 2007 John Cardinal Krol Conference. The Capuchin Friars are a Franciscan renewal order to which Sean Cardinal O'Malley, O.F.M., Cap. also belongs, as did Padre Pio. The Capuchins are a Franciscan reform movement of the sixteenth century. A contemporary parallel is Fr. Benedict Groeschel's Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. I begin this post with Archbishop Chaput's summary and conclusion. I highly encourage reading the entire address, entitled Religion and the Common Good, which, according to His Excellency, we "most truly serve":

"by having the courage to be disciples of Jesus Christ. God gave us a free will, but we need to use it. Discipleship has a cost. Jesus never said that we didn’t need a spine. The world doesn’t need affirmation. It needs conversion. It doesn’t need the approval of Christians. It needs their witness. And that work needs to begin with us. Bernanos said that the 'scandal of Creation [isn’t] suffering but freedom.' He said that 'moralists like to regard sanctity as a luxury; actually it is a necessity.' He also said that 'one may believe that this isn’t the era of the saints; that the era of the saints has passed. [But] it is always the era of the saints.'"

The lecture is also endearing to me because, as the proud holder of a Philosophy degree, I can relate to Archbishop Chaput's introduction: "Sooner or later, every teacher hears the same old joke about the philosophy student and his dad.

"The dad asks, 'Son, what are you going to do with that goofy degree?' And the son says, 'I’m going to open a philosophy shop and make big money selling ideas.' I smile every time I hear it, because nobody yet has figured out how to get rich off the Sartre or Kierkegaard or Friedrich Nietzsche franchise."

Today is the liturgical feast of St. Mark, Evangelist.

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