All Weekly column from Archbishop Chaput Posts
Women are the irreplaceable heart and soul of every family, writes Archbishop Charles Chaput. So if we want to renew our Church and wider community, the best way to start is by offering women a way to strengthen each other in the faith, and to rediscover the meaning of their God-given feminine identity and gifts.
On Saturday, December 7, the archdiocese will host a uniquely important Catholic women’s conference. This will be a milestone in the life of our Church and a great way to begin preparing for the World Meeting of Families in 2015.
November is a time to recall in a special way the souls of the faithful departed who’ve gone before us. Martyrs are among those we venerate, and they came from all walks of life. They were men and women, old and young, laypeople, priests and religious. Martyrdom means bearing witness to Jesus Christ by living, and when necessary dying, for our faith in Jesus Christ.
Some years ago a friend told me that she secretly thought of the saints as boring. They smile at us sweetly from holy cards. Their lives can seem implausible compared to people more famous for their vices. And who would really want to be a saint, anyway? As Billy Joel once said, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun.”
But when we come to understand holiness rightly, we see that it’s anything but boring. Sanctity isn’t a matter of sentimental posturing or being nice. Sanctity is about being passionately in love with Jesus Christ.
In every age the Church has the task of learning from and respecting the past without being captured by it. As the world changes, so do the pastoral needs of the Catholic community. In a city as rich in Catholic history as Philadelphia, we need to treasure the saints and achievements of previous generations. But real faith is more than nostalgia. We need to look ahead. We need to carry the legacy of the Church in Philadelphia forward by thinking and building creatively for the future today.
Exactly 15 years ago this fall, America’s bishops issued a pastoral letter called Living the Gospel of Life. Even today, with the passage of time, this remains no ordinary Church text. I believed then, and I believe now, that it’s the best document ever issued by the U.S. bishops on the priorities of Catholic engagement in our nation’s public life.
October is national Respect Life Month. It’s a good time to remember the preciousness of all human life, beginning in the womb and continuing through natural death.
Over the centuries, the Church has needed new life many times. And God has always called up new men and women to do the work. From the early Benedictines in the sixth century; to the Dominicans and Franciscans in the Middle Ages; to the Jesuits at the time of the Reformation, God has used new forms of zeal and community to advance Catholic life.
One of the most dynamic of the new forms of life and service is the Neo-Catechumenal Way – or simply “The Way” as members know it. Six wonderful young men, seminarians assigned to our local Church from The Way, are coming to the new Redemptoris Mater missionary seminary being founded this year in Philadelphia at my request.
I had the gift of two unusual blessings last week. The first was a moment to greet Pope Francis in Rome after his Wednesday, September 18, general audience. We had met and served as delegates to the 1997 Special Assembly for America. Sixteen years have passed, but this Pope has a remarkable memory to match his generous spirit. He recalled a friendly conversation we’d had in great detail, and the events of those days that helped shape both of us as young bishops.
In his weekly column, Archbishop Charles Chaput reflects on the experience of Canada regarding religious freedom. If we don’t live our Catholic faith and defend our religious liberty vigorously, he writes, then sooner or later we’ll lose both.
For more than a year, America’s bishops have repeatedly stressed the coercive – even vindictive – nature of the current administration’s HHS contraceptive mandate.
If Catholics fail to resist this coercion, then more coercion will follow. It’s that simple.
Two years ago this week (September 8), I began my service here in Philadelphia as archbishop. Two years from now, this same week, we’ll be in the final stages of preparing for the eighth World Meeting of Families (September 22-27).
It’s a good moment to pause and reflect.
On September 4, tens of thousands of students across the Archdiocese of Philadelphia return to class for a new academic year in our 123 parish schools, 17 secondary schools and four schools for persons with special needs. Philadelphia rightly claims one of the finest Catholic educational systems in North America. Catholics across the archdiocese can take pride in its extraordinary achievements.
Nonetheless, our schools exist primarily to develop the whole human person with an education shaped by Catholic faith, virtue and moral formation. The goal of the Church, and by extension, the goal of all Catholic education, is to make disciples.