Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Joaquin Navarro-Valls: Vatican Spokesman

Catholic News Agency
During his 22 years as spokesman for St. John Paul II, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls became somewhat of a legend in the Vatican – not only for his keen professional abilities and insight into the Pope's mind, but also for his genuine kindness and deep spiritual life.
In a word, most who knew the late Spanish layman, who died earlier this week, have referred to him as a “gentleman” who was elegant, professional, kind and incredibly savvy. 

John Allen
When I spoke to Navarro for the last time, I tried to tell him what he had meant to me, and how much he had helped me when I was just starting out. I’m not sure he took it all in, because by that stage in the conversation he was obviously fatigued and drifting in and out.
If he didn’t quite get it, let me say it now: I’m probably not here, writing this appreciation or doing anything else in journalism, had it not been for Joaquin Navarro-Valls. To quote Shakespeare, “Take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.”

New York Times
Navarro, as he was widely known, had little in common with the partisan attack dogs of modern-day political warfare.
“Grace under pressure,” Greg Burke, the Vatican’s current spokesman, wrote on Twitter upon his death. In a subsequent email, Mr. Burke attested to Mr. Navarro-Valls’s storytelling skills: “When talking about John Paul, he could have you hanging on every word.”
But Mr. Navarro-Valls’s influence extended beyond the press office.
In 1994, he led the Holy See’s delegation at a conference in Cairo, where he helped form an alliance of Catholic and Muslim nations to oppose the legal recognition of abortion as a human right. He challenged the Clinton administration’s position on the topic. 
National Catholic Reporter
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, who succeeded Navarro-Valls as Vatican press director beginning in 2006, remembered him as a "master in the way he carried out his service."
"Navarro always remained a friend for me, an example of discreet spiritual life, true and profound, fully integrated in his work, a model of dedication at the service of the pope and the church, a master of communications, although for me — as I have already said, but repeat — inimitable," Lombardi said in an editorial published July 6 on Vatican Radio.
Greg Erlandson, director and editor-in-chief of Catholic News Service, covered the Vatican for CNS from 1986-89. He said that as the first lay director of the Vatican press office, Navarro-Valls "was a groundbreaking figure in Vatican communications."
"He raised the level of professionalism at the press office and embodied that professionalism in his relationship with the world's news media. He exemplified the ideal that one could be a fully professional communicator and at the same time be a person of deep faith," Erlandson said in a July 6 statement.
"In this way, he was the perfect collaborator with the pope he so loyally served, St. John Paul II," he said.

Fr. Raymond de Souza, National Catholic Register
Joaquin Navarro-Valls, one of the most unusual figures in Curial history, died Wednesday and was buried Friday in Rome. St. John Paul’s longtime papal spokesman offered a most extraordinary — and successful — service, one that has lessons for today.
Navarro-Valls was a pioneer. His intimate collaboration with John Paul will unlikely be replicated in any other pontificate. John Paul was unusual, in that he entrusted his papacy over long years to a few key people who therefore were enormously influential: Navarro-Valls; his personal secretary, Stanislaw Dziwisz; his prefect of doctrine, Joseph Ratzinger; his vicar for Rome, Camillo Ruini.
Nevertheless, there are lessons for today from Navarro-Valls’ example.

First, a spokesman is only as effective as his principal permits him to be. A spokesman who does not regularly have direct access to the pope will be very limited in his effectiveness. The Vatican press corps must know that the press spokesman has sufficient access to the Holy Father and that his statements do in fact reflect the reality of the situation, and not merely his commentary upon it. When Navarro-Valls clarified something for the press corps, they knew that he was speaking the Holy Father’s mind.

That was not the case after Navarro-Valls retired. His successor, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, was a true gentleman, whose genial manner and generous spirit served the Church well in many difficult moments, but he did not have similar access to either Pope Benedict or Pope Francis. Thus his comments were too often regarded as attempts to spin the events, rather than an authoritative presentation of them.

Second, professional competence matters. It is not essential to have been a journalist to serve as an effective spokesman, but it is necessary to know what journalists need and how they think. That Pope Francis appointed Greg Burke, like Navarro-Valls a veteran journalist, to the post underscores that this lesson has been learned.

Though Navarro-Valls’ principal work was in the Holy See Press Office, he also was a key figure behind the professional training offered to Church communications personnel at the University of the Holy Cross, the Opus Dei university in Rome. Indeed, by sheer force of example, Navarro-Valls led a global shift in the way the Church approached communications. The Holy Cross courses were an institutional expression of it. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Strategic Directions of the Prelature of Opus Dei 2017: Action Items Relevant to Formators

Last March 3, the website of Opus Dei published the Letter of the Prelate of Opus Dei containing the resolutions of the General Congress which delineates the strategic directions of the Prelature under its new head, Msgr. Fernando Ocariz. 

Since the letter covers apostolic undertakings like schools and other educational initiatives, here is a list of the priority action items in outline form that are relevant to formators in schools whose inspiration comes from the teachings of St. Josemaria and Opus Dei. 



Action Items Relevant to Religion Teachers, Mentors and other Formators

St. Josemaria: not true that people are closed to the faith. To everyone, announce Jesus Christ.

All with Peter to Jesus through Mary
Reaffirm filial union with Pope

Build on rock
Renew desire to incarnate and communicate spirit of Opus Dei, the teachings of St. Josemaria 

Current Challenges in the Adventure of Formation
In the first place, the centrality of the Person of Jesus Christ.
This means:
Go deeper into contemplative prayer in the midst of the world, and to help others to walk in paths of contemplation;
Rediscover value of ascetical means;
Reach whole person: intelligence, will, heart, relationships with others;
Foster inner freedom, to do things out of love;
Help to think, so decide with personal responsibility;
Trust in the grace of God, to deal with voluntarism [relying on willpower alone] and sentimentality [influenced by feelings than by thought]
Expound the ideal of the Christian life not confused with perfectionism, teaching to live with one's own weakness and that of others;
Take on attitude of hopeful abandonment, based on divine filiation.

Seek resources for the development of apostolic work
Students must have great desires to build society
Promote in all a great professional drive
Renewed urgency: Promote many vocations
Dynamism of “going forth.”
More necessary: Give priority to personal dealings: brings greatest fruit

Giving and receiving formation
First place: supernatural means
Effort to (a) use understandable language, positive, encouraging, hopeful, (b) facilitate the active participation of those attending; (c) show the practical impact on family and social life, so that the unity of life grows
Sincere interest for others
Training and formation of those in personal spiritual direction, priests or laity
Strengthen the Christian identity of the undertaking, the quality of its management and the service offered to society

In the Church
Develop mutual appreciation among the faithful of the Church: relationship with people of other institutions and realities of the Church
Deal closely with Bishops and priests of geographical area, and to collaborate with them if possible
Collaborate in catechesis, premarital courses, social work, in parishes or other places that need it
 
New apostolic challenges
All including young to be protagonists of new culture, new legislation, new fashion. To overcome the contemporary relativist mentality
Continuous self-improvement in gift of tongues. Empathy: take into account concerns of neighbor; not to overwhelm, not to fall into monologue; respect the dignity of each person, over and above their errors
Get help of experts to understand complex areas. Demand for professional competency: to perfect creation
Form those experts
Develop, with prudence and with daring, a plan of formation adapted to each person
Train opinion leaders; to promote information initiatives
Importance of witness so as to be heard. Present attractive witnesses of Christian life.
Full support to undertakings [schools]. Through schools, make it possible that more people are dealt with
Start new educational centers from the earliest childhood: form parents and children.

Importance of family
Families to learn deep meaning of the virtue of hope
Study practical ways to support mutual love between spouses and Christian life in families, to promote the sacramental life of grandparents, parents and children, especially frequent confession [family catechesis]
Create public opinion in favor of large families and reinforce the attention to these families who are already in contact
Priority: Guiding and educating families [Educhild, etc]
Initiatives to reach many young families

Apostolate with youth
Young as apple of our eyes
Clear priority of formation of the young: Help to become souls of prayer, talk and listen to God
They learn value of true friendship, the importance of study, reading and professional excellence to serve the Church and society; fortitude, temperance, service
They learn to give reason for their faith
Help youth and their parents to value attractiveness of a total self-giving to God, and vocation to form a Christian family
Develop attractive ways to continue dealings with graduates (former parents and students): young professionals, single or newly married. Professionalize alumni associations
Young and married: do works of mercy, spiritual and corporal
Deep study of Social Doctrine of the Church, through courses and conferences
Promote research with wide impact. Collaborate with prestigious intellectuals 

Some priorities
Spread of the complete works of Saint Josemaria
First priority above all: union with God, starting with contemplating Jesus. Jesus in Bread and Word
Important: Accompany the family and the young
Urgent: enlarge the heart: tenderness to all poor, in need

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Adolescent girl on path to sainthood


 21 montse grases 215

By Scottish Catholic Observer

Vatican today affirmed heroic virtues of the teenage Spanish Opus Dei member Montserrat Grases aka Montse

The cause of Beatification of an adolescent girl who bore painful cancer with extraordinary Faith has taken a significant step forward. Montserrat Grases, known as Montse, could soon be inspiring other teenagers after a Vatican declaration today has affirmed her heroic virtues. Montse would be the first Opus Dei lay person, and first woman of the prelature, to be Beatified.

Montse, who died in 1959 aged 17, was a lively, cheerful girl who was born into a devout Catholic family in Barcelona, Spain.

The second of nine children, her parents helped her to develop a trusting relationship with God and, in 1954, she began to attend a centre of Opus Dei. Aged 16, she began to feel that God was calling her to follow him in Opus Dei and after praying and taking advice she asked to be admitted into the Prelature as a celibate lay member. Shortly before turning 17, after returning from a skiing trip, she was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. The fatal cancer lasted nine months, causing her very intense pain which she bore with serenity and strength. Montse (above) brought many of her friends and classmates closer to God and found deep union with Christ and his Mother through her suffering.

The Archbishop of Barcelona opened the cause to investigate her life in 1962, four years after her death. On February 22, 1974, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued the decree on writings, and on May 15, 1992, the decree of validity of the process. Between June 10 and October 28 of 1993, a diocesan investigation took place to add new documents to the process. The Positio was submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in December 1999, to be studied for a proposal to the Vatican to authorize a declaration on her life and virtues. Today the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has declared the heroicity of her virtues, in a decree confirmed Pope Francis. A miracle is now needed for her to be Beatified but many already seek and have obtained her intercession for small and larger favours. It is hoped that, should she be Canonised, she can be a powerful intercessor and model for teenagers.

Mgr Javier Echevarria, the Prelate of Opus Dei, has welcomed the news pointing out how Montse ‘corresponded to God’s love at an early age and sought to be pious, and to work well with a spirit of service, forgetting about herself.’

“It is my hope that Montse’s example will continue to inspire many young women and men to embrace a life of generous self-giving to the Lord in marriage, apostolic celibacy, the religious life, or the priesthood,” Mgr Echevarria said.

Read the rest:  Scottish Catholic Observer

Friday, December 4, 2015

Christianize and empower lay Catholics

From SDE

Anthony Muheria, the Bishop of Kitui, is a University of Nairobi trained engineer who quit employment to serve the Church. He spoke to JOHN LAWRENCE on among others; his membership to Opus Dei, his CBK Governor brother and Pope Francis

You are a member of the Opus Dei. Has that influenced your work
First, I am a Catholic. Second, I am a Catholic Bishop and within that there is what I refer to as ‘a call within a call’ where you have a certain mission that you may require to accomplish. In Opus Dei, the mission has always been to try and encourage the lay people to lead a life in their fullness of Christianity by being in a society where they engage the society, Christianize and empower lay Catholics by assisting the word through living.

Opus Dei requires dedication to prayer, work, serious diligence by uplifting people and giving others hope so that people can realise their role in the world and seek to live an upright life. That is what I have been trying to do all my life since I became a priest in the Opus Dei.

The Catholic Church has several religious congregations, why did you settle on Opus Dei
The Opus Dei is not exactly a religious congregation but instead a prelature; an organisation in the Catholic Church of different nature to our congregations.
I came in touch with Opus Dei just before going to the university. I went to Strathmore College and that is when I saw the beauty of this new light of seeing how life lived as a lay person can be. But within that call, I realised that there was need for priest. That is something that happens in Opus Dei. I thought maybe God could be asking that I be one of those who can live out their priesthood serving lay people.
I thought about my classmates in the university who were having issues about their Christian life and perhaps not being reached easily by the ordinary priest or others. Then I said why can’t it be me in that process So, I told the Opus Dei Bishop that I wanted to be a priest and that is how I left my work and started the journey to priesthood.

What were you doing before priesthood
I studied civil engineering at the University of Nairobi and after my graduation, I went to work as an engineer for years. I was working before I left that job, resigned and went to the seminary to study priesthood. I worked from 1984 up to mid 1989 when I answered my second call that is a story that the papers carried during my ordination. I think it is also good to focus about a person’s calling and this has nothing to do with an individual’s qualifications in terms of degrees. I have known many effective and holy priests who may not have been endowed intellectually but they are solid and I owe them a lot because some of them are able to run pastoral centres in an amazing way.

Your brother Dr Patrick Njoroge Central Bank of Kenya Governor is a member of the Opus Dei and has managed to transform the organization not only through his professional actions but also his way of life. Is it because of his belief and trust in the Opus Dei
Yes, as I told you earlier, Dr Patrick is my brother in a family of eight. He is the second born in our family and I would suggest that you get to him to ask him more about himself. It is only fair that I don’t talk for him, as I may also be very biased since he is my brother. All I can say is that I admire him and congratulate him.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

BEST CURE FOR OUR SEX-CRAZED WORLD

Proven way to be cured of the deadly sin that leads to hell "more than any other sin" (Our Lady of Fatima) and live a pure life of happiness!

By Dr. Raul Nidoy. Download the one-page Executive Summary here for mass distribution. 

Note: I know of  a number of people who used these teachings and have actually made breakthroughs in their struggle in purity. I was told of how the memory of Christ's passion, especially the images of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, "dissipates" the temptation to lust. 

All men are born wounded, inclined to evil, a tendency called “concupiscence”, a rebellion of the flesh against the spirit–the very root of the Culture of Death. 

To get cured we have to take three steps: 1) Go to the best doctor.  2) Take the best medicines. 3) Live a healthy lifestyle

By doing these, we grow in the beautiful virtue called chastity or holy purity.

GO TO THE BEST DOCTOR: Ask Jesus to heal you.

For any illness of the soul, there is only one best doctor: Jesus, who said, Without me you can do nothing. “It is not possible to lead a clean life without God's assistance. He wants us to be humble and to ask for his aid.”(St. Josemaria)  Beg Jesus to grant us the virtue of chastity, the intelligent leadership of our sexual desires and the freedom of true love.

"Purity is the fruit of prayer," taught St. Mother Teresa. To attain purity, we have to cease trying to rely on ourselves (Benedict XVI) and cast our cares on God. (St. Augustine) A short biblical prayer is “If you wish, you can make me clean.” In the net, you can find many prayers for purity. The key is to repeat them with the humility of a powerless child.

TAKE THE BEST MEDICINES: Allow Jesus to heal you.

Jesus’ most powerful remedy for lust is his wounds. “By his wounds we are healed,” says the Bible. To heal us, Pope Francis taught, “Jesus invites us to behold these wounds, to touch them as Thomas did.” St. Josemaria advised: “Enter into the wounds of Christ crucified. There you will learn to guard your senses. You will have interior life.” “If an impure thought strikes me, I resort to the wounds of Christ. If the heat of lust rises in me, it is extinguished by recalling the wounds of Christ. I have not found a more effective remedy. In them I sleep soundly and rest unafraid,” wrote Abbot John of Fécamp, the most popular spiritual writer during the Golden Age of Christendom.
Recalling the passion and the wounds of Christ gives us (1) contrition for our sins that caused those painful wounds, (2) gratitude for all the graces that come from those merciful wounds, the source of the entire Church, and (3) love, in return for God’s ultimate expression of love.

Purity is pure love. And the key to love, life’s most important subject, said Pope Francis, is not our loving, but “allowing ourselves to be loved.” So let us center our life on the one truth behind all that exists: God loves us, died to save us and rose to give us his life. Making our minds and hearts revolve around Jesus’ loving deeds in Calvary is the secret to the sweet joy of daily life and our deep conversion from lust.

Always carry a crucifix and kiss it. Etch in your memory images and films such as the Passion of the Christ, which portray Jesus’ bloody sacrifice and console him, and rejoice in his rising. His passion and rising are made present in the sacraments, giving us grace. Go often to Confession and the Eucharist. At Mass, “in your mind’s eye transport yourself to Calvary,” (St. Padre Pio) the outpouring of God’s infinite love.

Included in Jesus’ healing love are the truths about sexuality. He teaches these through his Catholic Church’s Theology of the Body. We need to flush out the diabolical lies that poison our culture and instead remind ourselves many times of God’s liberating truths—about Happiness, Love, Bodies, Sex, Chastity, and Holiness (HLBSCH).

Truth 1: HAPPINESS only comes from true love. Not from selfishness. Selfishness only produces the sadness of guilt. God who is love and supreme joy made us in his image: with mind and freedom. We brim with supreme joy by loving intelligently and willingly, like God.

Truth 2: LOVE means willing the good of the other person and total self-giving. Not fleeting, selfish feelings. Not animal instincts. Practice self-sacrifice to always prevent evil and do good to another.

Truth 3: BODIES are persons  to be reverenced, served and saved. Not objects to be used for selfish ends. A look of lust, taught Jesus, is “adultery in the heart”. Let's see each body as made from the mold of Jesus Crucified and Risen, the first and ultimate form of man

Truth 4. SEX is a sacred gift that enables us in marriage to make a gift of ourselves and of immortal beings. Not a toy. Humans are incarnate spirits. So we express total self-giving love not just by our souls, but also by our bodies, and sexuality. In marital sex, one expresses this love in the life-long gift of self and in the gift of children, working with God himself who creates their souls, making them his children.

Truth 5: CHASTITY is a joyful Yes to true love freed from selfishness through self-mastery. Not a negative. Since you cannot give a gift that you do not have, you have to master your body to be able to give it freely as a pure gift. Chastity is intelligent leadership of our emotions and sexual urges. As we discipline our appetite intelligently by eating right to be fit and healthy, we channel our sexual urges to be able to give real, flourishing and joyful love.

Truth 6: HOLINESS is man’s great calling: to be one with God in the total gift of ourselves in marriage or in apostolic celibacy.
 
LIVE A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE: Live Jesus’ life of love.

Be immersed in God’s love. Center your heart on Jesus’ boundless love, engrave his truths in your mind, and live a Christian life: prayer, service, hard work, sobriety, sincerity in spiritual direction, and bouncing back at once after a failure since God's infinite mercy never wanes. St. Josemaria advised singing love songs to God.

Make a firm decision to choose purity over lust.  Eternal hell is not an option; while God is Infinite Beauty, Deepest Happiness, and the Sole Satisfier our hearts’ desires. And all the good things he created (family, friends, sports, good books and movies) bring joy.

Run away at once from impure temptations. “You do not win by resisting, because the more you think about it, the more it sways you. You win by fleeing, avoiding unclean thoughts completely,” (St. Thomas Aquinas) and running to embrace Jesus on the cross, where he won the final victory over evil. Our mother Mary hugs us there.

Identify the triggers to lust, and foresee how to prevent or respond to them. “Humility is the safeguard of chastity. There is no greater danger than not fearing the danger. When a person puts himself in an occasion of sin, saying, I shall not fall, it is an almost infallible sign that he will fall.” (St. Phillip Neri) Avoid images, sights, and places that start off lust. It is important to be ready with convincing reasons (e.g. an impure act is highly addicting) to trump false, permissive excuses to give in to them. Check the moral content of movies (e.g., free CNS movie guide) and use computer filters (e.g. K9 Filter is free).

Be an active advocate of the New Sexual Revolution of the Theology of the Body.  If you live to survive, you will fall off the edge pushed by the wild, raging current of the present Culture of Death. Take part in the exhilarating adventure of bringing about a new culture of true, total self-giving love. Read more about it (Chastity.org; Chastityproject.com). Spread it. You can, for example, spread the use of this article as a first step. :) 

Download the one-page Executive Summary here for mass distribution. 

RELATED ARTICLES:

Prayers for Purity: A Compilation

Giving Real Love to Your Child

Paschal Mystery: Center of the Christian Life