Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
September 28, 2009
Cardinal stresses theology's role in making faith come alive
Leading U.S. prelate helps kick off fundraising efforts for new seminary, theology college
Cardinal Francis George
During his visit, George spoke with reporters for half an hour and toured the construction site before speaking at the gala dinner.
He told the reporters, "What is impressive is the need for a new seminary. It means the faith is strong."
Six visiting bishops, along with Smith and Archbishop-Emeritus Joseph MacNeil, attended the banquet.
Deacon Paul Croteau, executive director of the Foundation of Newman Theological College and St. Joseph Seminary, said the event generated energy and enthusiasm.
"I think we have 900 ambassadors for the campaign and seminary and college," Croteau said.
The amount raised by the dinner, which also included silent and live auctions, won't be known for a few weeks, Croteau said.
In his talk, the cardinal spoke on the need for the new evangelization originally proposed by Pope John Paul II. For that evangelization to be authentic, it must be rooted in theology, he said.
Catholic spirituality can only develop appropriately if it has deep roots in the millennia of Catholic tradition, George said.
"Every Catholic is born 2,000 years old and has even earlier memories of the prophets that God sent to the Hebrew people."
Theology has always been a reflection on the life of faith guided by sources in Scripture, the writings of the Church fathers and in Church teaching, he said.
"Without those sources, we risk being captive of our own ideas and not coming to know the Christ who exceeds them all."
Catholic spirituality, the cardinal said, is also rooted in the life of the living body of Christ. It is centred on Jesus and is in union with the pope and the bishops.
"Christ never comes to us alone; we never return to him alone.
"He comes as part of a community; he comes with the Blessed Virgin Mary and with the saints of all the ages. We either go back to him in their company or we do not go back at all."
Further, Catholic spirituality draws upon the lives and writings of the saints, George said. Pope Leo the Great in the fifth century taught that our development in the spiritual life comes not only through study, but also through practice.
The saints "are witnesses, because of their holiness, to the transformation that is possible in Christ," the cardinal said.
Of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Pope John Paul said, "Everything I have taught, she has lived.
"She is the (Second Vatican) Council in action."
George said the unique qualities of Mother Teresa's spirituality were not understood until her diaries became available after her death. Those writings show she "identified totally with Christ abandoned on the cross."
Her love for Christ grew ever deeper, even though that deepening love was not reflected in her own feelings.
This is a reality that many Christians experience in their lives and should also feed our theological reflection, George said.
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