|Father Alfred Bradley with Bishop Alexander Sample after Mass on our final morning.|
The guest speaker was Redemptorist Father Alfred Bradley C.Ss.R, Director and Pastor of the Shrine of St John Neumann in Philadelphia.
The theme of the New Evangelisation is very dear to the heart of the Bishop of Marquette, the Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample. Father Bradley covered key areas of the priest's role in the New Evangelisation:
On the New Evangelisation, Father Bradley described it as
- showing others the face of Christ (after John Paul II)
- witnessing by our lives that God exists (after Benedict XVI)
- showing people "the art of living" (after Benedict XVI)
Referring to the writings and sayings Pope Benedict (for whom he expressed the highest regard and admiration), he described the true problem of our times as a "Crisis of God", the absence of God which is disguised as an empty religiosity. Unfortunately, we Christians can also behave as if God does not exist.
We need to proclaim God as
- Judge (not a very popular notion).
Unltimately our work of evangelisation must be Theocentric, i.e. the basic thrust is that GOD EXISTS, and all that follows from this.
Key documents that Father Bradley referred to:
- Evangelii Nuntiandi (Paul VI)
- Novo Millennio Ineunte (John Paul II)
- Ubicumque et semper (by which Benedict XVI established the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation)
- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's Address to Catechists and Religion Teachers on the occasion of the Jubilee of Catechists, 12 December 2000
- Archbishop (now Cardinal) Donald Wuerl's pastoral letter Disciples of the Lord: Sharing the Vision. A Pastoral Letter on The New Evangelization.
Father Bradley quoted the well-known phrase from Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi n.41:
"Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses."Pope Paul VI elaborated on the importance of the witness of Christians in the midst of the world:
Through this wordless witness these Christians stir up irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live: Why are they like this? Why do they live in this way? What or who is it that inspires them? Why are they in our midst? Such a witness is already a silent proclamation of the Good News and a very powerful and effective one. Here we have an initial act of evangelization. (EN n.21)On Confession: Father Bradley said that the goal of any parish mission that Redemptorists carry out is to get people to go to Confession. He quoted extensively from Pope Blessed John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia and the priest's role as pontifex (bridge builder), describing the Church's mission as reconciling people with God, neighbour, themselves and creation. Father Bradley reminded us of the Pontiff's comment that, from seeing sin everywhere we appear to have passed to seeing it nowhere, and that the modern notion of respect for consciences appears to exclude the duty to tell others the truth, and that priests too can fall into this trap. Father Bradley reminded the priests that it is not possible to bear witness to Christ unless they reflect his image. Therefore priests themselves must celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, i.e. they must also go to Confession.
Father Bradley also spoke powerfully about the Eucharist and the sacrifices that have been and are made by men and women with real faith in the Eucharist. (For example the priests in Priest Block 25487 in Dachau, movie version The Ninth Day.)
Servant Leadership was also a theme that Father Bradley developed. In oder to be servant leaders, we priests need to be people of character
- able to make insightful, ethical, principle-centred decisions;
- honest, trustworthy, authentic, humble;
- leading by conscience and not by ego;
- filled with depth of spirit and enthusiasm;
- committed to desiring to serve something beyond oneself.
Father Bradley is rightly in demand as a mission preacher. He certainly inspired the priests at the convocation by his evident devotion to the Lord, real appreciation of the mystery and wonder of the priesthood, his frank description of some of the crazy things that have gone on in the past that undermined people's faith and particularly the priesthood.
Father Bradley also used some very moving youtube movies to inspire us or that might be helpful in inspiring others:
|Click on the picture to play.|
And what did the Bishop say? Another post will deal Bishop Sample's inspiring address on the final morning.
Meanwhile, if you want to see priests relaxing, visit my facebook page and that of Father Ben Hasse. My photo of a bald eagle on the Menominee River seems to have caught people's attention: