Dear Editor, On reading Fr Collin’s article (IC 26/09/19)) on the re-introduction of the prayer to St Michael after Masses in our churches, I was forcibly reminded of a recent report in your paper that the Head of the Jesuit Congregation has openly declared that Satan is not a real person but a metaphor for the evil present in the world.
It is certainly true that the 21st Century is not a place where talk of the Devil is easily tolerated. Indeed, the danger Satan presents to souls, despite being very real and present, is rarely if ever mentioned in Catholic pulpits. I wonder why? Perhaps there is some justification in the saying that one of the devil’s greatest tricks is to convince the world that he doesn’t exist.
Is the Devil real or symbolic? Is evil simply an element of our dysfunctional nature or something real and malignant outside of us? Nowhere is the answer laid out more simply or with more force than in an address of Pope Paul VI to a general audience in November 15th 1972: “One of the Church’s greatest needs is to be defended against the evil we call the Devil.”
He went on to add: “Evil is not merely an absence of something but an active force, a living spiritual being that is perverted and that perverts others. It is a terrible reality, mysterious and frightening…”
Thus I have to ask, how many of us actually know, despite the tendency of many modern theologians to fudge the subject, that the Vatican spells out that belief in the Devil is compulsory for Catholics.
Fr Collins is absolutely right to urge us, for our physical and spiritual protection, to re-learn and pray constantly, in our hearts and in our churches, the prayer to St Michael, archangel.
Dr Brian Hare,
History led Blessed John Newman to the truth
Dear Editor, On October 13, Blessed John Henry Newman will be canonised. The following is a little known prayer of his which your readers will like: “O my Dear Saviour You are in the Sacrifice of the Mass. You are in the Tabernacle, verily and indeed in Flesh and Blood. And the world not only disbelieves but mocks at this gracious truth. O, accept my homage, my praise, my adoration. The more men scoff, the more will I believe in You. Amen”.
When we remember that it was the Most Holy Eucharist which brought Cardinal Newman into the Catholic Church we can appreciate the significance of this prayer.
Being ‘steeped in history’ he discovered that the early Church Fathers (Justin Martyr, Ignatius of Antioch etc.) believed in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. And so he found that he had no option but to convert to Catholicism from Anglicanism in October 1845.
Prudence à la Pitt can help us hear voice of God
Dear Editor, I was pleased to read in your publication (IC 26/09/19) that the actor Brad Pitt has abandoned atheism and now reportedly “clings to religion”. In our day and age, young people don’t have enough role models to looks up to, especially our celebrity culture which celebrates violence, sex and drugs. To hear that one of the world’s most well-known movie stars no longer considers himself to be an atheist might well encourage other people to take the same journey he has undergone.
He said that he labelled himself as an atheist to be rebellious and that it felt “punk rock enough”. One should not adopt an ideological worldview based how socially acceptable or popular it is, but rather on whether it is coherent and true. Christianity is rooted in historically in the person of Jesus and is theologically sound. It is coherent and true.
Perhaps when the actor spoke of “feeling moved by the Holy Spirit” and the “Christian guilt” he has experienced in relation to moral decisions he made in his life,” that God and his conscience were speaking to him.
The comment seems appropriate given that this October is the canonisation of Blessed John Henry Newman who said that the conscience in the “aboriginal vicar of Christ”. When we listen to conscience with prudence, we can hear the voice of God.
Some clarity on the issue of the propaedeutic stage
Dear Editor, I read with interest Greg Daly’s call for clarity around numbers of vocations in Ireland. Perhaps a little accuracy in understanding and using the language of the Ratio Fundamentalis (2016) – the document which outlines how we are to form priests – may be helpful.
This document tells us that the propaedeutic stage (not year) should last “not less than one year or more than two” (No. 59). A simple word search of the document will reveal that the word ‘pre-seminary’ is not used at all as such a thing is not envisaged in the document. However, it does say, “After the first, indispensable vocational discernment, formation…can be divided into two principal moments: initial formation in the Seminary and ongoing formation in priestly life” (No. 54).
With great clarity the document continues, “Initial formation concerns the time leading up to priestly ordination, from the beginning of the propaedeutic period, which is an integral part of it.”
Propaedeutic seminarians are exactly that. To begin their formation with the propaedeutic stage they should have been judged worthy, able and disposed to the fullness of priestly formation by a one-time, robust diocesan accompaniment, discernment and selection process. Pre-seminaries, if they exist at all, are our parishes, homes and families.
Canon Paul Farrer,