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Visiting Arizona… Cardinal Arinze Examines Challenges To Modern Families

May 1, 2018 Frontpage No Comments


GILBERT, Ariz. — An adviser to Pope John Paul II examined the challenges men face in modern society during a morning of reflection at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in this suburb southeast of Phoenix on April 21.
During a visit to this area, Francis Cardinal Arinze also spoke on the sacred liturgy at St. Paul’s Church in Phoenix on April 20, and at St. Anne’s on April 18.
The Wanderer will publish Arinze’s talk on the liturgy in its Shepherds of the Flock column, in the issue dated for May 10.
Immediately before the cardinal’s April 21 talk, Mike Phelan, director of the Office of Marriage and Respect Life of the Diocese of Phoenix, addressed the audience on Christian marriage and the culture. Phelan said he and his wife are parents of six children.
Phelan said the culture now is “so radically dark,” but he went on to recall that Catholics in Japan went underground to survive severe persecution from the 17th through the 19th centuries, then Japan reopened itself to the world and their status began to improve.
The Church will endure, he said, but we can’t foresee what happens in the near future.
An early morning opportunity for prayer in St. Anne’s Eucharistic adoration chapel preceded a nearly hour-long Mass celebrated by the Nigerian-born Arinze at 8 a.m. in the church.
An open-air continental breakfast followed, then talks of about an hour each by Phelan and Arinze.
As a sort of culmination of the morning’s reflections on family virtues, two marriage ceremonies coincidentally were scheduled at St. Anne’s later the same day, with the first one shortly after noon.
After Phelan’s talk, Arinze told the gathering of about 200 people, according to his prepared text, that “Christ was courageous. He proclaimed the truth. He was not afraid to give witness to it even in the face of fierce opposition, false accusations, unjust judgment and merciless crucifixion. He was master of the situation, not only when He was maliciously accused, but even while in agony on the cross….
“While contemplating the luminous example set by Christ on how to be and live as a man,” the cardinal continued, “the men of our times cannot fail to take notice of the culture prevailing…and to ask themselves what it says to them. In this culture, there are lights and shadows.”
Positive examples in current culture include statesmen, soldiers, “model husbands,” fathers, priests, monks, and physicians, he said.
However, Arinze said, “The prevailing culture of our time….also has quite a few negative elements. One thinks at once of religious indifferentism, agnosticism, materialism, or downright atheism. Men who do not care about God and religion, or men who hold that a good scientist has no time for such considerations, are not lacking.
“Modern culture in many countries often shows a wrong approach to sexuality, to marriage and to the family,” he said. “Divorce is regarded as a right. Contraception is considered a form of liberation. A dominating or exploiting attitude towards women and rugged individualism are sometimes regarded as signs of a tough man.
“A nonjudgmental attitude in matters of right and wrong, tolerance of pornography and a practical denial of God-given differences between men and women are sometimes considered marks of an emancipated or progressive man,” Arinze said.
“In short, modem culture often either discourages a man from practicing serious religion, or at least it asks him not to show it in the public square.
“It matters very much what men think of religion and how they practice it in their lives,” Arinze said.
“Religion is a theoretical and practical recognition of God as our Creator and Provider. Human beings are not necessary beings. They owe their existence to God the Creator who also is Providence, with His plan for the entire life of every man and woman, and with Himself as the final end of every human being.”
After reviewing the application of religion in an individual’s life, the cardinal said, “Love as a word and a concept has been misunderstood and abused by many. But not for this reason should it be passed over in silence. What does love mean for a Christian man? To be genuine, love has to mean wanting the good of the other. It can include readiness to suffer for another. . . . Let us take examples.
“If a husband loves his wife, he seeks what is good for her, is faithful to her and sacrifices himself for her good. If a young man loves a girl whom he regards as his friend, he looks for what is good for her and her future, he does not lead her into sin, and he may end up by desiring to marry her,” Arinze said.
“If a priest loves his parishioners, he prays for them, he sacrifices his comfort in order to celebrate the sacraments for them, and his joy is to see them grow in the love and service of God and neighbor,” he said. “A medical doctor who loves his patients seeks the best way to relieve them of their illnesses and helps them avoid such when possible.
“All men who love have as their model Christ Himself, who taught us that there is no love greater than that of the person who gives his life for those he loves,” the cardinal said.
He added that offenses against chastity “lead to selfishness, anger, hatred, strained relations between spouses, divorce, single parents, sins against nature and possibly diseases which need not be mentioned here.”
The cardinal noted challenges to fathers trying to live their roles correctly.
“Modern culture in many countries often undervalues fatherhood, or even mocks it and attacks it,” he said. “It often does not condemn the man who is selfish, who denies his fatherhood, or who runs away from his responsibility, leaving the woman to function as a single mother and the children wondering and asking who and where their father is.
“What image,” Arinze asked, “can such fatherless children have of God as their Father and how can they pray the Our Father?”
“Christian men have many men saints who can provide models for them,” the cardinal said, beginning with the time of Jesus and continuing into the present day.
“At the beginning of the work of our salvation is St. Joseph, head of the Holy Family of Nazareth. He distinguished himself by his faith, obedience, humility, chastity, and trust in divine Providence. St. John the Baptist was courageous, humble, and ascetic. St. Paul preached the Gospel with uncommon eloquence and underwent untold suffering in this vocation,” Arinze said.
Arinze closed by commending the pastoral letter that Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted addressed to men in his diocese, Into the Breach.
An article in Crisis magazine in February 2016 said, “One of Bishop Olmsted’s primary concerns in this document is for men to become aware of how extensive the attacks on fatherhood have become.”
Referring to Into the Breach, Arinze said, “Read it. Love it. Live it.”
After leaving the lectern, Arinze doffed his zucchetto in respect as he passed by a side altar of the Virgin Mary.

Passing On The Faith

In Phelan’s talk that preceded the cardinal’s, the Phoenix diocesan Marriage and Respect Life director said there are certain words wives need to hear from their husbands. “Even if you’re a man of few words, you’re called to have some words,” Phelan said.
Reminding his audience that the Lord actually is present in spouses’ daily life, Phelan asked, “How would you speak to your wife all day in the presence of the Lord?”
Women and men have different emotional lives, he said. “The woman’s soul is fashioned as a shelter” for others.
Among comments that women need to hear, Phelan said, are, “Can you tell me more about that?” “How can I pray for you today?” Or, “What can we pray about right now?” “Our children are blessed to have you as a Mom.” “You are beautiful. I love you.” “Please forgive me. I’d like to try again.”
Most women are called to motherhood, he said, but “Our culture is working as hard as possible to make that not so cool.”
Phelan then turned his attention to sufferings people may be called to endure on Earth, as illustrated by the Japanese government’s becoming hostile to its own Catholic citizens’ growing numbers after St. Francis Xavier, SJ, arrived there as a missionary in the 16th century.
Catholics were expelled, tortured, or executed, Phelan said, but some thousands endured through the decades there while quietly passing on the faith through marriages and Baptisms, two sacraments that can be performed without a priest.
Arinze’s Arizona visit was hosted by Catholics in Action, a lay organization, as well as the Diocese of Phoenix and St. Anne’s Parish.

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