Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 20, 1971 when parishioners settled on a site for the new St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Oxford.
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 Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith) constitutes the opening phrase of Pope Francis’ first encyclical, dated 29 June, the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. The expression is Biblical. Christ our Lord uses it of himself, for example (Jn. 12:46). It is cogently instructive, even in our Age of Absurdity and Chaos, wherein white is black, and up is down. Pope Francis recalls the illusory light kindled by Friedrich Nietzsche, who viewed faith as an illusion blocking the “faith of liberated humanity to its future” – in the Pope’s words. (Sec. 3)

Faith is a unique light; without it, “everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere.” (Sec. 4) Was it not the “God-intoxicated” Russian, Feodor Dostoyevsky, who concluded that if God does not exist, then everything is permissible?

Faith, moreover, goes hand-in-hand with reason; indeed, Pope John Paul II wrote an encyclical on this topic. Since God is all Truth, and since reason and Revelation are the doorways to Truth, any real contradiction between the two sources is an impossibility. If ever there were a doubt about this, it was dismissed forever by St. Thomas Aquinas.

As faith and reason thrive, both also have grown. Dante Alighieri, in his masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, describes his own faith as a “spark, which then becomes a burning flame, and like a heavenly star within me, glitters.” (Paradiso, 24)

This year, Pope Francis reminds us all, was designated by his predecessor Benedict XVI, as the Year of Faith; in fact, Benedict had almost completed a first draft of an encyclical about faith when he vacated Peter’s Chair. (Francis admittedly took over the project, and added to it; see Sec. 7.) This year marks the 50th anniversary of Vatican Council II; here it provides a graced opportunity for emphasizing faith and “the vast horizons which faith opens up.” (Sec. 5)

For one thing, faith illumines the “way before us and accompanies our steps through time.” (ibid., 8) Unaided reason, as noble as it can be, cannot of itself ensure certitude in the journey of life. In the ultimate analysis, St. Augustine’s caution at the beginning of his Confessions guides us on; namely, “We were made for you, O Lord, and we shall never rest until we rest in you.” The same Doctor of the Church adds this warning, cited by Pope Francis: “Do not turn away from the one who made you, even to turn toward yourself.” (De Continentia)

Furthermore, Augustine demonstrates in his life’s story the truth that faith and/or reason can work together, one confirming the other.

Also – and we tend to forget this theologism – faith yields a certitude regarding many concrete aspects of daily life, especially in our age of absurdity and chaos. Yet “one who believes,” he writes, “may not be presumptuous; on the contrary, truth leads to humility” precisely because faith “sets us on a journey” and enables us to dialogue with all. Even the “gaze of science,” he adds, benefits the person of faith because it “awakens the critical sense by preventing research from being satisfied with its own formulae and helps it to realize that nature is not always greater.” If nothing else faith stimulates wonder concerning the mystery of all creation.

The mother of our faith is, of course, the Catholic Church. Through the Church faith is transmitted over time, and is passed on in every age by persons of belief who embrace Christ in the Church. And since “faith is born of an encounter which takes place in history and lights up our journey through time, it must be passed on in every age.” This is to say that it is “through an unbroken chain of witnesses that we come to see the face of Jesus.”

One principal means by which this transmission of the faith occurs is through the celebration of the sacraments, by which the Church “hands down her memory.” Two other aspects of this transmission of faith are The Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments – the Decalogue.

That this transmission of the faith will continue is secured by the doctrine of Apostolic Succession. Which leads us back to the signature at the close of this encyclical; namely, Pope Francis, and to a litany of names in the Papacy before him, especially Benedict the Theologian, John Paul the Great, Paul VI and Good Pope John. What a treasure with which we have been gifted by Christ to safeguard the truths of our faith!

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.