Fr. Catalino Arevalo, S.J. on the Devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Secularization of Ateneo de Manila University

Last week, I was able to attend a novena mass for the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the Church of the Gesu at Ateneo de Manila University. The priest celebrating the mass is Fr. Catalino Arevalo, S.J. He is an old priest and a confessor to the late Pres. Corazon Aquino. A friend told me that when Cory died, Fr. Arevalo’s homilies for several days was about Cory Aquino.

Fr. Arevalo is a familiar face to me. He was also the one who celebrated a novena mass last year for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I think this devotion is very dear to him and I think he will spend the last of his days propagating this devotion.

The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is distinctively Jesuit devotion, because the confessor of the St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647–1690) is the Fr. Claude de la Colombiere, S.J., who made a consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and directed her to write an account of the apparition of our Lord to her. On May 15, 2006, also Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter to Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, on the 50th Anniversary of the encyclical Haurietis Aquas, about the Sacred Heart, by Pope Pius XII. In his letter to Father Kolvenbach, Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed the importance of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Wikipedia).  And the pope blessed the Jesuits:

“As I express the wish that the 50th anniversary will give rise to an ever more fervent response to love of the Heart of Christ in numerous hearts, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you, Most Reverend Father, and to all the Religious of the Society of Jesus, who are still very active in promoting this fundamental devotion.”

In his homily, Fr. Arevalo spoke some length about this letter by the Holy Father to the Jesuit Superior General.  Then Fr. Arevalo mentioned that there are some teachers in Ateneo de Manila University who taught that the Vatican II already removed these devotions.  This is not true, Fr. Arevalo said.  Vatican II only wishes to extend the work of salvation to the social order, but this does not mean we abolish the individual devotions.

Fr. Arevalo planned to lead the consecration to the Sacred Heart in the middle of the mass.  But when he found that the pamphlets were not given out, he decided to make the consecration at the end of the mass.  And Fr. Arevalo spoke against the growing secularization of the Ateneo de Manila University, which he said cannot anymore efficiently organize a novena to the Sacred Heart.

I think there were about thirty people who attended the 6 p.m. novena mass that day.  I was not able to attend the novena mass for the Feast of the Sacred Heart because our departmental meeting stretched from 4:30-7:00 p.m.  Fr. Arevalo should have been the presiding priest that day.

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Fr. Peter H. Kolvenbach, S.J. on the Difficulties of Dialogue with Islam

Giacomelli: Let’s go on to another frontline apostolate entrusted to you by the Pope: dialogue with non-Christian religions.  You’ve lived for twenty-fiver years in the Lebanon, you’ve had contact with Moslem believers.  Have you ever tried to hold a dialogue with the followers of Islam?  More Important still, is religious dialogue possible with Moslems?

Kolvenbach: Dialogue is possible, but clarity’s the think.  Dialogues begun by putting confidence in similarities accepted without much discernment can only lead to sentimental and superficial agreements.  If the dialogue is conducted without sincerity, there can be not true meeting of minds betweeen those taking part.  Manipulating Islam to make it a mirror-image of Christinaity impedes true contact and dialogue in depth with living, present-day Islam.  Moslems and Christians proclaim themselves to be children of Abraham, yet we are not in fact brothers in Abraham, but in Christ.  For Islam, Abraham is the first monotheist, while for Christians he is the father of the covenant between God and his people: and inconceivable thing for a Moslem.  Similarly, the Virgin Mary is venerated by Catholic believers and by Moslems.  Yet for Moslems she is only themiracle of God’s omnipotence: God can do anything, so why shouldn/t he be able to turn motherhood into virginity?  Whereas for Christians, Mary is the new creature who, through her free assent, was forechosen to be the Theotokos, the Mother of God.  thus Mary becomes the ikon of the Church, offering an ideal of consecrated virginity which is unthinkable in Islam.  To refuse, because of false sense of charity, to face up to Islam, with all the apparent, insuperble difficulties that acceptance of the truth entails, means taking the risk of depriving Moslems of the path to a true understanding of Christianity.

Giacomelli: We hear a lot about Islamic fundamentalism today, and religious and political agitation in the Arab world is attributed to it.  Should we lookon this fundamentalism as a passing phenomenon?

Kolvenbach: The intolerant and aggressive character of jihad has its source in a theological concept of the will of God.  Islam is faith in God and in his Book.  The Koran is not merely central to Islam: it is its essence.   For Christians, the Incarnate Word is the immediate Word of God, while the Bible is the mediated Word.  For Moslems, in contrast, the Koran as book is the immediate Word of God.  Christians wish the Bible to be translated into every language and spread throught the world; Islam find it hard to accept that the Koran, having been revealed in Arabic by God, can be prayed, read and written inay language other than the one in which god himself revealed it.   Now, the Koran, the essence of Islam, is a law.  Hence the ordinances found in it are divine and, since the explicity will of God are universally binding on everyone, everywhere.  the are definitive, having binding force to the end of time.  To take one example: the Ramadan fast hasn’t altered in thecourse of many hundreds of years.  the notion of renewal, of adaptation or revision, which in Christianty are the fruit of the Spirit, conflicts with the divine character of  every ordinance of Islam.

These points having been made, let me now give you an answer to your question.  What we call Islamic fundamentalism is not a passing phenomenon, nor is it the expression of some individual’s fanaticism: it is Islam as it’s supposed to be Hence the difficulty, for a Middle Eastern government, of opposing the will of God.  christians deeply believe that the Spirit guides the Church, by means of renewal, towards the whole, entire truth of god.  Islam has to follow an immutable datum, since that has been divinely revealed; hence its intolerant, fanatical and fundamentalist aspect, summed up in the unfortunate expression holy war. It’ clear I’m referring to the Islamic religion as sucn; I’m not passing judgement on the individual Moslem, nor on his faith in God, nor on his faithfulness to the Koran.

Source:

Peter H. Kolvenbach, S.J., Men of God: Meh for Others: The Jesuits, an Obedient Avant-Guard Confronting the Challenges of the Modern World, interviewed by Renzo Giacomelli, trans. by Alan Neame (Makati, St. Paul Publications, 1990), pp. 108-109.