Pope Francis, Vatican II show love for poor

Professor to discuss mission of Church, gift of Vatican II document

Nissa LaPoint
Professor Douglas Bushman of the Augustine Institute

What does the Vatican II document “Gaudium et Spes” (“Joy and Hope”) and Pope Francis have in common?

Both emphasize a commitment to the poor and see the human dignity in every person, said Professor Douglas Bushman of the Augustine Institute.

In the next Archbishop’s Lecture Series April 8 on the John Paul II Center campus, Bushman will speak about the pontiff’s focus on serving the poor and recognizing the God-given dignity in everyone, in particular those neglected by a world that values productivity and defines fulfillment in terms of material prosperity, he said.

He offered a glimpse of his upcoming talk with the Denver Catholic Register.

Blessed Pope John Paul II once said Vatican II and its documents are like a gift the Holy Spirit gave the modern Church, Bushman shared.

“Well, people love to open gifts, so they should open up the documents of Vatican II and read them,” Bushman said. “When my students study these texts, they always express their surprise at how profoundly relevant, biblical and spiritual they are.”

“Gaudium et Spes” is no exception, Bushman said.

In this document faithful may find one of the greatest gifts—the answer to many of life’s deepest and most profound questions like the meaning and purpose of life.

This answer, he said, lies in Christ.

“The main point of ‘Gaudium et Spes’ is that Christ is the answer to all of the questions that people cannot avoid asking about the meaning and purpose of life,” Bushman said.

The document states, “It is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear.”

And it’s precisely this message the Church wants to convey to people across the world. During his talk, Bushman said he will encourage faithful to help others discover the relevance of Christ’s life, teaching, mission and especially his death and resurrection.

This message can be kept alive.

He proposes raising these deepest questions of life among one’s neighbors.

Ask: “What is it that constitutes our ultimate fulfillment? What is love? What is justice? How can we make sense out of war and suffering? Why do I find it difficult to do what is good?”

This includes critiquing the modern world, he said.

“In families and among friends, Catholics should engage in a serious analysis of the news and discuss the issues of the day in light of faith. All of this will require a commitment to a life of prayer and examination of conscience,” Bushman said.

Bushman, who holds a licentiate in sacred theology from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, moved last fall with his wife and family from Green Bay, Wis., to teach at the Augustine Institute.

He is the author of several articles and books including “The True Spirit of Vatican II” on Catholic World Report Online.  He also holds the Pope St. John Paul II Chair of Theology for the New Evangelization and specializes in spirituality, Vatican II, Blessed John Paul II and pastoral theology.

His talk will conclude the four-part series on Vatican II. Advance registration for the lecture is not needed; seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Archbishop’s Lecture Series
Speaker: Professor Douglas Bushman, S.T.L.
Topic: Gaudium et Spes and the Apologetics of Meaning: Christ is the Answer to All of Man’s Questions”
When: 7 p.m. April 8
Where: Bonfils Hall, John Paul II Center campus, 1300 S. Steele St., Denver
RSVP: not required
Questions: Call 303-715-3230 or email info@archden.org.


COMING UP: ‘If it’s prayer, it works’: Cure d’Ars to hold prayer vigil in light of recent violence

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BATON ROUGE, LA - JULY 19: Millville, New Jersey police chaplain Bob Ossler (L) prays with Baton Rouge Police Department Corporal Trina Dorsey (C) and her brother Corporal Joseph Keller near a makeshift memorial for three police officers on July 19, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Three police officers were killed and several others wounded along Airline Highway Sunday when Gavin Long, who traveled from Kansas City, Missouri, ambushed the law enforcement officers. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

African-American liturgist Grayson Warren Brown often says, “If it’s prayer, it works,” and it’s by this principle that Cure d’Ars parish in Denver hopes to address the violence and hatred that’s been occurring throughout the country and around the world in recent weeks.

Cure d’Ars will hold a special prayer vigil for peace Aug. 4 at 7 p.m. in their church for the local Catholic community. All are invited.

A predominantly African-American parish community, a many of the parishioners of Cure d’Ars have ties to Louisiana. The recent killings in Baton Rouge of both Alton Sterling and the three police officers impacted their community greatly.

“There were so many people who were very worried because they have members of their family who are police officers,” said Cure d’Ars deacon Clarence McDavid. “Being a predominantly African-American community, were also worried because there are the issues of our sons, or the women’s husbands, or brothers or uncles. It’s doesn’t matter what their age is, they could be subjected to police violence.”

It’s not just happening outside of our town; we have lived this in our neighborhoods. We’ve got to turn to God for peace.”

Cure d’Ars has also witnessed firsthand violence in their own Park Hill neighborhood where they are located. Deacon McDavid recounted a time when the people had come out of church after Mass and saw crime scene tape across the parking lot because somebody was shot.

“It’s not just happening outside of our town; we have lived this in our neighborhoods,” said Cure d’Ars pastor Father Simon Kalonga. “We’ve got to turn to God for peace.”

Deacon McDavid said the vigil is meant to be time for prayer and also an opportunity for members of the community to speak and say how they feel about recent events. He also emphasized that politics will have no place at the vigil.

“This is about praying and sharing and praying some more,” Deacon McDavid said. “This is not a political event. This is not about one side blaming the other side. This is about saying that prayer is the only thing that’s going to make a difference.”

CURE d' ARS Mass #14

Cure d’Ars parish will hold a prayer vigil for peace on Aug. 4 at 7 p.m. The vigil was organized in response to the violence that’s been occurring not only around the world and country, but also here in Denver. (File photo)

The prayer vigil is being organized by Deacon McDavid, Father Kalonga and Sister Marion Weinzapfel, who is in residence at the parish. The patron saint of Cure d’Ars is St. John Vianney, so they decided it would be fitting to hold the vigil on his feast day, Aug. 4.

Deacon McDavid said that prayer is the greatest tool Catholics have, and that truly believing prayer will make a difference is the best thing people can do.

“One of the things we know is that when Christ went up the mountain to pray, his prayer was so fervent, so deep, so sincere, that he was transfigured right in front of his disciples,” Deacon McDavid said. “We probably can’t be transfigured, but we can be changed. If we change, then maybe somebody else will change.”

He recalled Grayson Warren Brown’s quote about prayer and said ultimately, that’s what they’re aiming for with the prayer vigil.

“One of the things he’s always says is, ‘If it’s prayer, it works,’ and that’s what we’re going off of. It’s going to be prayer, so it will work.”

Prayer Vigil for Peace

Thurs., Aug. 4, 7 p.m.
Cure d’Ars Catholic Church
3201 Dahlia St. Denver, CO 80207
For more information, visit curedarschurch.org

(Featured photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)