Interview: Cardinal Arinze on the Church, its sacraments and the Latin Mass
strengthen marriage and family in our society?
CARDINAL ARINZE: There are many steps. The first step is to find out what God wants for marriage and the family. It is not we who decided that one day there would be marriage and the family. It is God who made Adam and then made Eve and blessed them and said, "Increase and multiply." He blessed them as a couple. So, marriage comes from God. If we want it to go well we have to study the instructions. If you buy a computer and you want it to work well, you read the instructions.
CCH: Our diocese has broadened marriage preparation classes and has increased the time of marriage preparation to one year. What do you think of that more extensive marriage preparation?
CARDINAL ARINZE: I think it is excellent. Preparation is very necessary. To ordain a young man to the priesthood, we donít just pick him up and ordain him the following week. He has to be prepared; it is a very serious life commitment.
Marriage, too, is a very serious life commitment. Preparation for marriage is very necessary. Information from the point of view of church doctrine, from the point of view of even the doctor, from the point of view of fathers and mothers who run families telling the younger ones what makes a family.
There are many angles to that preparation. What many young people call love need not be love. It may be selfishness masquerading under the title of love. So, they need to be taught what real love means, how they can live together in harmony, accepting the other, self sacrifice, not insisting it is always the way you want it. Now you are going to be two living one life in a marriage situation. That is very important. They must learn to pray. They must learn to go to confession. They must learn to go to Mass and receive Christ together. The preparation for marriage is so crucial that many rushing into marriage without due preparation, the first obstacles they meet, the fall, they despair, they go to divorce as if that were the solution.
All of this is part of preparation and accompaniment from those who are already married because we donít learn it all at one time. We need ongoing formation, every one of us: bishops, priests, married persons, religious brothers and sisters.
CCH: You talked a lot about evangelization during your trip to Colorado Springs. How can Catholics go about evangelizing?
CARDINAL ARINZE: They will first be aware of how Christ sent the whole church. Then they will have to know what commitment baptism, holy Communion and confirmation give us: the three sacraments of Christian initiation, the three sacraments that insert us into Christ and the church, that incorporate us in full. Every one of us has a share. So, in that way they are well-informed.
Information is not enough. There is also necessity to make it yours ó to really accept it, to live it, to love it. Prayer becomes necessary. Going to the sacraments ó confession and holy Communion at Mass ó becomes necessary because Christ feeds us. None of us can do the whole thing by ourselves. We absolutely need Godís grace. Christ himself told us, "Without me, you can do nothing."
We learn how to evangelize by where we live. In the family, the parents evangelize their children. Also the children evangelize their parents in suitable ways. Where you work, you evangelize where you are. You are the witness of Christ there. You confess Christ there. Otherwise you are a runaway soldier. Our Christianity is not just on Sunday morning. There is also Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, every day; no holidays from religion.
So, we share our faith. That means everyone is called to spread the Gospel, in one way or another. What you can do, I cannot do. What I do, you cannot do. But if each of us does what is in front of us in our vocation and mission, the whole church will become like an orchestra where there are many players who produce beautiful music harmonized.
CCH: You mentioned the sacraments of initiation. How can Catholics keep the sacraments sacred?
CARDINAL ARINZE: Faith is necessary because without faith we cannot even begin. Knowledge is also necessary. It isnít everything, but it is one of the elements. There is the Catechism of the Catholic Church; this book has only 700 pages. If you read two pages a day you finish it in one year. You need to be well-informed. St. Peter said you must give to others good reason of the faith that is in you. We learn, and then we receive the sacraments to get faith. Knowledge is not enough. We also learn techniques of evangelization: how to do it. We need also some lectures, or help, or suggestions from other people. None of us knows the whole thing.
CCH: Do you have any recommended reading for Catholics?
CARDINAL ARINZE: Read the Gospels, that is the first. Fifteen minutes a day. It will nourish you. Also, you are a Catholic. Have a hand missal so that by next Sunday you read already everything the priest will say, and the readings. After Mass, you read them again. Gradually, you are being nourished. If you are the type who can go to Mass every day, better still.
I mentioned already the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Do not be afraid because it has 700 pages. You are not expected to read it in one sitting. You read that, and you are better informed. It helps all of us. I have used it for my own personal prayer.
Then there are many books that have been written by the popes. Your bishops may have published things. I do not ignore the theologians and Catholic writers, but choice of books is necessary because some people choose a book full of theories or opinions. Our faith is not based on theories or opinions. Our faith is based on a solid rock of Godís revelation: the holy Scripture, the tradition of the church, the teaching of the church which is alive in every age.
The church does not live in the museum. The church is alive today. Be with that church.
To hear an audio recording of Cardinal Arinze's lecture on "The Apostolate Specific to the Lay Faithful," given last month at Holy Apostles Parish in Colorado Springs, Colo., visit www.coloradocatholicherald.com.
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Republished by Catholic Online with permission of The Colorado Catholic Herald, the official publication of the Diocese of Colorado Springs, Colo. (www.ColoradoCatholicHerald.com).
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