One of the tasks we all have as adult Catholics is to deepen our faith by daily prayer and to form ourselves more fully in what the Church believes. That means we need to seek out and take advantage of learning opportunities that come our way. The archdiocesan Office of the New Evangelization, led by Meghan Cokeley, has done a great job of creating those opportunities. Two of them this week deserve our special attention.
Here’s the first opportunity. On Saturday morning, November 1 – All Saints’ Day on the liturgical calendar – I’ll celebrate the opening Mass of the 2014 Catholic Life Congress. The keynote speakers scheduled for the day are outstanding. They bring a wonderful dynamism and joy to their presentations. On the English-speaking track, Curtis Martin, founder of FOCUS (the Fellowship of Catholic University Students), will explore “A New Pentecost for a New Evangelization.” And Father Robert Spitzer, S.J., former president of Gonzaga University and now president of the Magis Center for Reason and Faith, will focus on “The Person and Mission of Jesus.”
Spanish-language keynoters will include Msgr. Eduardo Chavez Sanchez on “Our Lady, Star of the New Evangelization,” and Mother Adela Galindo, S.C.T.J.M., on “Marriage and Family in the New Evangelization.” A range of excellent breakout sessions will include, among others, EWTN host Father Timothy Gallagher, O.M.V.; Gloria Purvis, also an EWTN host and chair of Black Catholics United for Life; and Dr. Jeanne Heffernan Schindler of the Center for Cultural and Pastoral Research in Washington, D.C.
Congress registrations already exceed 900 and officially closed on October 24. But some spots may still be available, and I strongly encourage you to at least try to attend. More information can be had at http://www.phillycongress.org/. This annual gathering is one of the highlights of the archdiocesan calendar and well worth your time and attention.
Here’s the second opportunity. Each year, the Office for the New Evangelization and the Office of the Archbishop cosponsor a special “Archbishop’s Lecture Series” of distinguished national and international speakers. As part of this year’s cycle, Princeton scholar Professor Robert George spoke earlier this fall. Later this autumn the series will include talks by author Mary Eberstadt on “How the West Really Lost God” and Dr. David L. Schindler on the “Theology of the Body, Gender Distinction, and Religious Freedom.”
Each of these scholars does wonderful work. But this week, we have the special pleasure of welcoming one of today’s greatest Catholic scholars, the French philosopher Professor Remi Brague.
Brague is a co-founder of the French edition of Communio, the international theological journal started by Joseph Ratzinger, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Karol Wojtyla and others. He’s also the author of a wide variety of essays and books, for both academic and everyday audiences, including The Wisdom of the World, Eccentric Culture: A Theory of Western Civilization, The Legend of the Middle Ages and The Law of God: The Philosophical History of An Idea. His latest book in English – On the God of the Christians (And On One or Two Others) – explores how Christians understand the nature of God, and how we need to acknowledge the differences in Christian, Jewish and Muslim concepts of God before any meaningful dialogue can occur.
Professor Brague will speak on themes from his latest book this Thursday evening, 7 pm, October 30, in Vianney Hall at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. The general public is welcome and warmly encouraged to attend. Admission is free — but please call Ms. Donna Huddell this week at 215.587.4510 to register in advance.
I hope to see you there!