11 November 2014

Abp. Viganó: You were born for eternal glory, not for glamour, or guns, or sensationalism!

His Excellency the Most Reverend Carlo Mario Viganó, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America, delivered an excellent address yesterday to open the General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

He spoke, principally, about the importance of looking to the example of the Saints because their varied witnesses to the joy of the Gospel inspired men and women to become saints themselves (with original emphases and with my emphases):
We remember that throughout history so many saints were first brought to conversion to Christ by their readings of the lives of the saints who came before them. A perfect example, as we know, is in St. Ignatius of Loyola, who, during his recovery from the severe wounds he suffered as a soldier, began his formation by reading the lives of the saints. His question still echoes down through the centuries: "If Francis and Dominic could do this, why can't I?" Yes, "Why can't I?"  This reference to the saints has been a major instrument in evangelization .Even spiritual growth takes place in the monastery through readings of the lives of the saints during meals. Look, for example, at the present age, to the experience of Edith Stein, a philosopher who became the Carmelite nun, sister Benedicta of the Cross, having been inspired by reading the great St Teresa of Avila. What courage she eventually found in the face of the horrors of World War II!

From my own experience, I can say that the life of a saint is an incredible way to comfort the elderly in approaching the final struggle and trial of death. I remember when I was reading the life of St. Frances Cabrini to my mother as I assisted her in her last days. What a contrast for someone who takes their own life into their hands, for example, through suicide and euthanasia, which leaves no hope and future for those who accept and submit themselves to the dark culture of our times.

The life and knowledge of the saints in this country may be of great help to our young people searching for meaning and inspiration in their lives. I think we should make a great effort to bring into full light and evidence the greatness, uniqueness, and courage of the first evangelizers of this country, those who were the extraordinary pioneers of faith. We should ask ourselves why young people, submerged into the culture of these times, so often called the "culture of death," are searching among the most excessive and challenging experiences which some of them imagine themselves to find, even as far as the aberrations of ISIS. Obviously, young America is searching for something, or perhaps someone, to lead them beyond the frustrations they experience every day. They are looking well beyond just so-called "happiness." They are searching for meaning and purpose to their existence. What meaning and purpose young people can find in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit! How much fruit can be borne through a complete and total self-donation for the Gospel and the poor. The magnificent words in the hymn of St. Bernard are always before us: "O Lord, how good you are to those who search for you.But what must you be for those who have found you!" (Jesu, Dulcis Mermoria). Our young people must be brought to a complete conviction of this reality in every aspect of life, but only because we ourselves are witnesses to this.

Recently, I had the sad duty to celebrate the funeral Mass in a diocese outside Washington for an adolescent, the son of a well-established professional family, who died of an overdose of drugs while "fooling around" with his friends. As I looked out upon the large crowded church filled with hundreds of young people who knew him, I could not help but notice the look of disillusionment as they stared into an empty vacuum of thought. How confused these young people seemed to be…They were lost, like "sheep without a shepherd" (Mark 6:34). Truly the lord had compassion on the people in that Church as he had upon the crowds who followed him two thousand years ago. Recently, as well, in another state, ten teenagers died together of an overdose.So much is covered over; so much is unknown; so many agonized and broken hearts are living through the results of catastrophes such as these.

Our young people today clearly are looking for a challenge, a goal, a purpose. They need to find meaning to their lives. They need to be attracted to Christ in positive ways by the example of so many declared and undiscovered saints living in the Church today in the United States. We have to let our young people know that their lives are worth living and that they were born for eternal glory, nor for glamour, or guns, or sensationalism. They are crying out to us. They desperately need to be inspired, to have the life of Christ breathed back into them. It is up to us to set the example, not just by doctrinal teaching alone, but by the teaching of our whole lives. Perhaps, and I know this might be hard to accept, in time the youth of our age may well behold the ultimate radical witness in faith that some may be called to give.
 Be sure to read the entire address.

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