Mount Saviour MonasteryApril 2005
Through the media, we were able to follow the events related to the death of John Paul II. The TV coverage allowed some of us to join the thousands of faithful in prayer and awe. The remarkable crowd of political figures gave us the scope of one man’s influence on society. Our friend and oblate, Dr. Anthony Cernera had the privilege to attend the funeral service and gave us his comments below.Gifts in kind to the monastery come in multiple ways: money, stocks, art works, furniture, etc. Recently, a llama to guard our sheep against predators was added to the list. It is already at work to protect some of the 213 new lambs. The one coyote that visited our sheep was eliminated before causing any damage.
For some time now, we have not been scheduling Retreats except for some groups that requested them. However we realize that people can use some input of prayer, spirituality, scripture or theology. Being able to join with us in prayer in the Chapel and the atmosphere of the monastery help to deepen the experience of the conferences. The Meaning of Advent was the topic in December; the Passion of Christ in March; Mary Our Mother the last of April and 20-21-22 May will be The Eucharist in Our Lives; finally 24-25-26 June, the Universal Love of Christ. People are able to come for the days and not stay over at the monastery. Please call Br.James Cronen 607 734 1688 or e-mail email@example.com forInformation or reservations. Since this has been designated The Year of the Eucharist, we hope to have one conference a week during July and August on the Eucharist.
The Third Damasus Winzen Memorial Lecture will be given at 4pm on Sunday, June 12th, by Nathan Mitchell.
Click here for more details and events.
A Papal Legacy: Do Not Be Afraid - Reflections of an Oblate of Mount Saviour
By Dr. Anthony J. Cernera
From any direction that one looked, there were people, tens and hundreds of thousands of them. They were young and old, rich and poor, the famous and those known only to their families and friends. Heads of state and ordinary citizens were there, united, to celebrate a great life lived. And of course the young people, who chanted many times today their profound love for him.
I was privileged to be among them at the wake and funeral of Pope John Paul II, representing both Sacred Heart University's Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding – a center he inspired – and the International Federation of Catholic Universities. Even more astounding, I was seated within 100 feet of the mortal remains of the Pope. There I was, a Catholic, standing in the midst of 25 Jewish brothers and sisters, praying for the leader of my church.
Not only were the leaders of the Catholic Church there but seemingly those of every major religion and nation. Why? Why such a public outpouring at the passing of the Bishop of Rome? Hadn't the most recent guru of things Catholic, Dan Brown, in his novel Angels and Demons painted a picture of the death of the Pope as being one in which no one in the world seemed interested? Why were so many people coming to pay their respects?
In one sense, it was obvious. Many had come to honor the man who for 26 years was the leader of the Catholic Church and its visible sign of unity. But it was more than that. These people had come here to the Vatican to remember and celebrate a person who reminded all of us of what is best in us as human beings. He had given us a legacy of hope and of human possibility even in the face of the fears, anxieties and sufferings of human life.
John Paul II embodied for countless millions the opening words of perhaps the finest document of the Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes: "The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ." These are words they may never have heard before, but he made them real because of how he lived. He constantly kept inviting all human beings to discover and affirm the dignity and value of human life and the way of love as the best way to live life well. He embodied courage, joy and hope – all of them rooted in his profound faith in God and in God's radical and unconditional love for each one of us.
It would have been understandable had Karol Wojtyla chosen otherwise. His mother died when he was 8, and his only brother, when he was 12. At 19 his father died, leaving him without any immediate family. The year his father died, the Nazis crushed Poland and began the systematic elimination of Polish Jews, among whom were his professors and friends. In the midst of all of this, he chose to study for the priesthood. Since the Nazis had deemed this illegal, he studied in an underground seminary.
After his ordination, he found himself working as a priest and then a bishop in a Poland occupied by the Soviet Union. In spite of all of this, or maybe because of it, he embraced life fully with a joy and hope and grace that was infectious to the tens of millions whom he touched during his long life. In the face of so many challenges, he could have been driven to despair and locked himself in a prison of fear. Rather than do that, he offered a profoundly simple message: Do not be afraid.Standing amidst the masses gathered to celebrate the Eucharist for John Paul II, I was struck deeply by the power of those four words. They are words rooted in the mystery of God among us - words that can free us from the chains of fear and despair in our own lives. Do not be afraid!