'Faithful to the teachings of the church and to the Gospel': Archbishop Gomez Takes LA
That's a good question. On some issues I'm traditional. On some issues I'm more - like, participation of the lay faithful, that's not typically considered a more conservative issue. I mean, what I'm trying to do is be faithful to the Gospel. The Gospel is both conservative and liberal.
Since the subject of Opus Dei came up, can I just ask you - what is your affiliation now with Opus Dei? Do you have a formal affiliation with them?
No. No, now my ministry is to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, so I don't really participate in the activities of Opus Dei. You know, obviously my spirituality as a priest is the spirituality of Opus Dei, but I don't actively participate in any of the activities of Opus Dei. My commitment is to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and I'm trying to minister to every single person in the archdiocese and every single religious community or movement or any people in the archdiocese.
I asked you the question about prayer.
I usually get up in the morning and have a holy hour, from, I guess, 7 to 8 every morning. And then during the day I try to be in the presence of God. You know, I usually try to pray the Angelus at noon, that's an old tradition of the church. And then when I can, I try to spend some time in prayer in the afternoon too, before the Blessed Sacrament, as I do in the morning. I celebrate Mass every day. We have a chapel there at the rectory, and when I don't have Mass outside I usually say Mass over there.
I try to read the Gospels every day, at least one chapter. It is so I will keep my spiritual life alert, thinking about it. I usually try to do some spiritual reading, depending on my schedule. Like, right now, I'm reading the book of the pope. ["Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times" by Peter Seewald.] And I just finished a book of St. Augustine, one of the biographies of St. Augustine, by Peter Brown. It's a huge book.
The Archbishop quickly exposed the utter inadequacy of political terms such as "liberal" or "conservative" as descriptive adjectives for discussing leadership in the Catholic Church. His simple response to this question reminded me of a response given by Francis Cardinal George at his installation in Chicago in May of 1997, "The faith is neither liberal nor conservative; the faith is true". However, it was the Archbishop's comment immediately after which sends a signal to the faithful, one which they should receive with great joy, "I'm as conservative as Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict."
His defense of the dignity of the human person is also instructive. At the heart of Catholic Social Doctrine is the bedrock truth that every single human person has an inherent dignity because they are created in the Image and Likeness of God. This is why we must defend the dignity of our first neighbor in the womb as well as the dignity of immigrants. He will not be categorized as a political "liberal" or "conservative", because he is first, last and all in between, a Catholic!
He describes his spirituality "as a priest of Opus Dei" - even though he made clear he is the Shepherd of all of the faithful. Again the faithful should be thrilled. Next to the soon to be declared Blessed John Paul II - whom Archbishop Gomez rightly extols - it is St Jose Maria Escriva who best exemplifies the universal call of all of the faithful to holiness and the invitation to a New Evangelization of the Church for the sake of the world.
Finally, this man lives in prayer, centered on the Eucharist, in an ongoing relational communion with the Risen Lord. His response brought to mind a passage on prayer which has always inspired me from Isaac of Ninevah , an early eighth century monk, Bishop and theologian. For centuries he was mostly revered in the Eastern Christian Church for his writings on prayer. In the last century the beauty of his insights on prayer are being embraced once again by both lungs, East and West, of the Church. He wrote these words in one of his many treatises on Prayer:
"When the Spirit dwells in a person, from the moment in which that person has become prayer, he never leaves him. For the Spirit himself never ceases to pray in him. Whether the person is asleep or awake, prayer never from then on departs from his soul. Whether he is eating or drinking or sleeping or whatever else he is doing, even in deepest sleep, the fragrance of prayer rises without effort in his heart. Prayer never again deserts him. At every moment of his life, even when it appears to stop, it is secretly at work in him continuously, one of the Fathers, the bearers of Christ, says that prayer is the silence of the pure. For their thoughts are divine motions. The movements of the heart and the intellect that have been purified are the voices full of sweetness with which such people never cease to sing in secret to the hidden God."
The faithful of the Archdiocese of the Angels have been given an extraordinary gift, a holy, faithful, courageous, joyful and dynamically orthodox new Shepherd to lead them at a critical time in Church history. Stay tuned, the real story on the appointment of the new Archbishop of Los Angeles has yet to be written. Faithful to the teachings of the church and to the Gospel, Archbishop Gomez takes the helm in the City of Angels.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, Cardinal Roger Mahoney, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, orthodoxy, orthopraxy, Opus Dei, Deacon Keith Fournier
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