Father Mazzuchelli book group to meet

Posted in Blog

SamuelMazuchelli BoccI have a go-ahead from the Madison Cathedral Parish to organize a parish book group at Holy Redeemer Church to read Venerable Fr Samuel Mazzuchelli’s Memoirs beginning in January. This will be an ideal way to observe the 150th anniversary of this great priest’s death, which falls on February 23rd of 2014. I am hopeful that a lot of grace may come from this study, which is oriented toward the New Evangelization. It is a parish program but I certainly would welcome people from outside the Cathedral Parish participating. If you are interested, watch the Cathedral Parish bulletin or website, or email me.

The Father Mazzuchelli Society has published an attractive new edition of Fr Mazzuchelli’s Memoirs at the lowest price ever, under the title Memoirs of a Frontier Missionary Priest. It is around $6 on Amazon–I don’t make a penny. This book is excellent, too little known, and deserves to be more widely read. It’s exceptionally inspiring and thought provoking for the New Evangelization especially in our lands where Father Mazzuchelli lived his mission. It is spiritual reading and frontier adventure all in one. THIS WOULD MAKE AN IDEAL CHRISTMAS GIFT and especially so for a priest or seminarian!

This entirely positive and evangelical trajectory is where I am really headed with promoting the legacy of Father Mazzuchelli. Our edition of the memoirs has nothing negative about the Sisters. The Report on the Sinsinawa Dominicans Today is a reform document, so it is more or less about understanding some of what is awry and what we are saying “no” to. And it is a cry from the depths of brokenness, an expression of the need for the Holy Spirit. The trajectory we need is really about what we are saying “yes” to and what we have to do with the good that Jesus wants to do for all people.

Here are some of my most recent thoughts regarding evangelization. Our city, our diocese is full of broken and hurting people. Jesus is the only healer of the deep woundedness of every person. I have been thinking and praying about evangelization, about my own experience as a former progressive of a typical Madison type, and I feel that the new evangelization needs the evangelization-minded faithful to be formed in a deep sympathy toward those we seek to evangelize and have a message and mission of healing.

We’re not the healers. Jesus is. We’re wounded people too. I am not going to get all Henri Nouwen (I haven’t read that book). But we have to be credible and attractive as His friends, witnesses to Him. Many know quite well that they are wounded and suffering but do not understand the whole nature of that or how they could be healed.

Some of you know my favorite Saint is John of the Cross–whose feast day is coming up in mid December. He’s the Church’s preeminent teacher of mystical theology, and someone who profoundly understood people, spiritually and psychologically. Imagery of the wound of love, cauterized and transformed by God is central to his teaching. God’s love and the very woundedness of the soul is in a way the reason for God uniting Himself with us–as in the Exsultet, “o happy fault, o necessary sin of Adam that merited for us so great a redeemer.” There is a greater good. There is good news!

The woundedness of the people in Madison cries out for Jesus and first of all we need to listen to their hurt, and then help people to recognize it can be healed only by God. We also need to care about people’s other problems, including the problem of material poverty (and selfishness) which for instance is one reason why people are afraid of marrying and having a family. Through my own experience I believe this approach of pity, mercy, sympathy with people’s deep interior suffering is something really essential for evangelizing the liberals. They’re looking for healing and love and solutions in all the wrong places. We in fact have the answer.

Therefore: let us watch our thoughts and tongues and not speak of them as the enemy or mock them or be angry… that is regarding them politically rather than humanly and from a supernatural perspective as people who need Jesus, who need to be in relationship with God, who need prayer and the Sacraments and the Church. How can we be more ready for the mission to the people of Madison? How can we be formed? How should we reach out and propose the good news?

I am looking forward to joining with other Catholics in reading Fr Mazzuchelli’s memoirs together and coming into a kind of dialogue with him about the Catholic mission in our own day.

(cross posted at my personal blog Laetificat)