Wednesday, September 3, 2008

4 Nghìn Năm Văn Hiến

Số Phận

J'espère (Tôi Hy Vọng)

Pham Q. Anh & Marc Lavoine


The Language of Love

Gospel Commentary for 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap

ROME, AUG. 29, 2008 ( In this Sunday’s Gospel we hear Jesus who says: “Whoever wants to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. Because whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

What does it mean to “deny" yourself? And why should you deny yourself? We know about the indignation of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche over this the request of this Gospel.

I will begin answering these questions with an example. During the Nazi persecution, many trains full of Jews traveled from every part of Europe to the extermination camps. They were induced to get on the trains by false promises of being taken to places that would be better for them, when, in fact, they were being taken to their destruction. It happened at some of the stops that someone who knew the truth, called out from some hiding place to the passengers: “Get off! Run away!” Some succeeded in doing so.

The example is a hard one, but it expresses something of our situation. The train of life on which we are traveling is going toward death. About this, at least, there are no doubts. Our natural “I,” being mortal, is destined for destruction. What the Gospel is proposing to us when it exhorts us to deny ourselves, is to get off this train and board another one that leads to life. The train that leads to life is faith in him who said: “Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.”

Paul understood this transferring from one transport to another and he describes it thus: “It is no longer I who lives, Christ lives in me.” If we assume the “I” of Christ we become immortal because he, risen from the dead, dies no more. This indicates the meaning of the words of the Gospel that we have heard. Christ’s call for us to deny ourselves and thus find life is not a call to abuse ourselves or reject ourselves in a simplistic way. It is the wisest of the bold steps that we can take in our lives.

But we must immediately make a qualification. Jesus does not ask us to deny “what we are,” but “what we have become.” We are images of God. Thus, we are something “very good,” as God himself said, immediately after creating man and woman. What we must deny is not that which God has made, but that which we ourselves have made by misusing our freedom -- the evil tendencies, sin, all those things that have covered over the original.

Years ago, off the coast of Calabria in southern Italy, there were discovered two encrusted masses that vaguely resembled human bodies. They were removed from the sea and carefully cleaned and freed. They turned out to be bronze statues of ancient warriors. They are known today as the Riace Warriors and are on display at the National Museum of Magna Grecia in Reggio Calabria. They are among the most admired sculptures of antiquity.

This example can help us understand the positive aspect of the Gospel proposal. Spiritually, we resemble the condition of those statues before their restoration. The beautiful image of God that we should be is covered over by the seven layers of the seven capital sins.

Perhaps it is not a bad idea to recall what these sins are, if we have forgotten them: pride, greed, lust, wrath, gluttony, envy and sloth. St. Paul calls this disfigured image, “the earthly image,” in contrast to the “heavenly image,” which is the resemblance of Christ.

“Denying ourselves,” therefore, is not a work of death, but one of life, of beauty and of joy. It is also a learning of the language of true love. Imagine, said the great Danish philosopher Kierkegaard, a purely human situation. Two young people love each other. But they belong to two different nations and speak completely different languages. If their love is to survive and grow, one of them must learn the language of the other. Otherwise, they will not be able to communicate and their love will not last.

This, Kierkegaard said, is how it is with us and God. We speak the language of the flesh, he speaks that of the spirit; we speak the language of selfishness, he that of love.

Denying yourself is learning the language of God so that we can communicate with him, but it is also learning the language that allows us to communicate with each other. We will not be able to say “yes” to the other -- beginning with our own wife or husband -- if we are not first of all able to say “no” to ourselves.

Keeping within the context of marriage, many problems and failures with the couple come from the fact that the man has never learned to express love for the woman, nor she for the man. Even when it speaks of denying ourselves, we see that the Gospel is much less distant from life than it is sometimes believed.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

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Father Raniero Cantalamessa is the Pontifical Household preacher. The readings for this Sunday are Jeremiah 20:7-9; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27.

What Is Good Journalism?

Media Expert Says It's Communicating the Truth
By Marta Lago

MADRID, Spain, AUG. 29, 2008 ( Good journalism always seeks the truth, and not necessarily what serves the interests of consumerism and power, says journalist and author Gabriel Galdón.

Galdón is a professor of journalism and information ethics at Madrid's CEU St. Paul University, and the director of the Observatory for the Study of Religious Information. This fall the observatory will launch a master's in social and religious communication and information, which he will direct.

The professor is also the author of "Desinformación: Método, Aspectos y Soluciones" (Disinformation: Method, Aspects and Solutions), published by EUNSA. The book is only available in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.

In this interview with ZENIT, Galdón shares his views on what he thinks is the essence of good journalism, as well as the strength of Benedict XVI's communication style, and the importance of info-ethics.

Q: Where do you believe lies the strength of Benedict XVI's communication?

Galdón: More than ability, Benedict XVI has a gift of communication, different from John Paul II's, but of enormous effectiveness, because the message he gives always represents the essence of all good communication: the significant synthesis of knowledge at the service of society. In his communication, the Pope embodies this synthesis.

At times information is understood as something spectacular, something that attracts attention or certain gestures, forgetting that the principal thing is the message -- concrete, clear, precise -- that contains wisdom and usefulness for the citizens who wish to receive that message.

In the Holy Father's addresses, I stress, one always finds that significant synthesis of learning at the service of society, always thinking of the good of the people, of the whole of humanity, considering, moreover, the recipients not only as universal, but also concrete and in every circumstance.

His addresses likewise are suffused with a special clarity, in order that the whole world may understand the message they transmit.

Q: To affirm Benedict XVI's effectiveness of communication, it would also be necessary to verify how the message is received. But how can one do that when the media is in the middle and the message often doesn't arrive in it's entirety?

Galdón: Here is the problem, in the mediation of a press that carries out its function in a non-ethical way -- that is, not practicing the info-ethics of which Benedict XVI himself has spoken. The media often distort, sweeten or trivialize the papal message in general, and this something that is seen unfortunately in the largest media agencies. This happened with some television stations and newspapers in Spain during the World Youth Day in Sydney.

Q: Where and how do you suggest the implementation of the info-ethics that Benedict XVI requested on the last World Day of Social Communications?

Galdón: Just as there is a new science, bioethics, which was also stimulated by Catholic thought, there is now a need to configure a new Christian-humanist informative paradigm that pivots around ethics, because ethics is the essential part of information; it is its nature.

Journalism is prudential learning and, as such, it has, obviously, an ethical constitution because it has truth as its principle, which must be known to be free, the truth of which Joseph Ratzinger spoke -- before being elected Pope. Journalism's mission is to proclaim the truth that is good, the truth that serves for the good of society, and not every event whose usefulness is of no value.

One of the problems of journalism's objectivist paradigm is that there are million of events -- published daily as news -- that are of no use. They are ephemeral, vacuous and gobble up what is really essential. French writer Jean Guitton entitled one of his books "Silence sur l'essentiel" (Silence on the Essential). Often in the informative landscape there is silence on the essential and clamorous noise on the accidental and ephemeral.

Info-ethics calls, in the first place, for speaking about what people really need to know to be free and to struggle for their dignity. It is a different informative choice, but entails a radical change: from the "agenda setting" to the recipient.

It is urgent to form a critical sense in face of the media. Hence info-ethics includes the whole process: from the source of information to its reception, and traces a revolutionary horizon, in the best sense, for Catholic researchers and university faculties in regard to all that makes up the informative world.

Q: Objections might arise if the ethical practice of journalism is identified with faith, or if the mentioned informative choice is criticized as "censure."

Galdón: The choice of which I have spoken is identified with prudence and rhetoric, that is, every person must choose the best means to fulfill the best ends.

Obviously a newspaper or television news bulletin does not cover everything that has happened in the world. There must always be choice. That choice can be made with various things in mind: trends, looking to satisfy a certain audience, economic interests, power, a capitalist-consumerist paradigm, an objectivist paradigm, a sensationalist paradigm.

It can also be made by following the criteria that to seek truth is good, which citizens need to know to be freer and have more dignity. One can opt for a choice from a Christian-humanist paradigm, which, of course, is much better and it is what the media now needs, in my opinion.

Q: What place does info-ethics have at the observatory you direct?

Galdón: It's its essence. The object of the [institute] is the formation of journalists specialized in the realm of socio-religious information, to carry out precisely a journalism at the service of the dignity of persons, at the service of the truth, the good and the beautiful, and not at the service of the dominant powers.

Q: For which it's not necessary to be a believer, just honest. Right?

Galdón: The first condition of every journalist is intellectual and moral honesty, integrity. Intellectual integrity seeks the truth and in the end finds it: I am referring to Christ.

As a professor, I have known students who followed rather hedonist and consumerist criteria. However, through their interest in truth, to know things and be properly documented, in a word, because of their honesty, in some way they have found the truth in Christ.

With the criterion of intellectual honesty it is possible to engage in good journalism, but faith of course gives a light, and the profound union between faith and reason enables one to go deeper into good journalism, which always seeks man's good.