Reflection by Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv.


12 Days on Pilgrimage in August
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6).

Our Marian Franciscan pilgrimage took us through central Europe where several of our twenty-eight pilgrims have roots. We prayed and celebrated Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s favorite place in his beloved Bavaria. In this third essay, I turn to his thoughts on why Europe is a “stand in” for secular modernity. “If Europe is to survive, … it involves encountering with reverence that which is holy to another. We can and must learn from that which is holy to others, but it is our obligation both in relation to them and to our own selves to nourish our own reverence for the Holy One and to show the face of the God who has appeared to us, the God who cares for the poor and the weak, the widows and orphans and strangers, the God who is so human that he himself became one of us, a suffering man whose compassion with our suffering gives us dignity and hope.”[1]

Why is Europe a stand-in for secular modernity? Together with Pope St. John Paul II, Benedict lived through the horrendous consequences of the relativization of truth in our modern period. As we drove through Munich, the University and buildings that were home to the Gestapo, their court, prison, and execution place, tears flowed. I remembered the Second World War, in particular, the conviction and courage of Sophia Scholl and her circle of friends in the White Rose Movement. They dared to criticize the unjust regime and were decapitated on Hitler’s orders. Our guide did not mention that poignant fact. Sophia and friends[2] demonstrated their intent to get to truth and love for truth without insisting that they had truth in their back pocket. Today their graves nearby are covered with fresh white roses daily.

Students who refuse to live the lie counter modern reason that has given up on the search for truth and reduced it to only opinion. No doubt the White Rose circle was familiar with Plato’s Republic and its three phases: first, a generation that has shown a degradation of the search for truth; second, a new and young character to the politics without a commitment to truth; and, third, the failure to talk about truth which enables those who seek power to gain it then feel free reign to use power as they choose. John Paul II and Benedict lived with the consequences. Today, all with good sense ask: What are you going to do to prevent the world from being laid waste anew by hatred and violence and falsehood?

As storekeeper, so to speak, to Pope John Paul II, an incredibly engaged Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) had his hand in the writing of Fides et Ratio. The irony is that he wrote a commentary on Fides et Ratio about reason as subject to pathology, to a deformed version of reason. In 1999,[3] the future Pope Benedict already saw the pathology of faith in secular modernity with several forms in fundamentalism which is always around.

Pope Emeritus Benedict finds pathology in fundamentalism as a modern production which is doctrinaire and narrow. Both Christians and Muslims have been irrational and violent and done fanatical things. Reflect on reason that does not scrub away fundamentalist thinking or fanaticism. Fundamentalism produced by reason arises as a reaction formation. The problem links with the suggestion that every religion does not have conviction. Religion is substitutable or worthless. To put religion on hold as a person grows up in favor of personal preference is not the Catholic way of formation. Benedict adds that the pathology of believers, in any form, is spread by hyper-rationality. Evangelical forms of Christianity, for example, do not have doctrines that develop as Catholic doctrines do. Another example is evidence that anyone can be as apocalyptic as any subgroup of Muslims misguided by jihadism.

Pope Emeritus Benedict deals with these issues in the pattern of  the thought of St. John Henry Newman, who insists that there is a good account and a bad account of reason. Newman grew up in England in the nineteenth century, when the English religious ethos was not to believe too hard: i.e., Yes, God exists; yet, don’t ask if God is triune. Yes, Jesus lived in history; yet, don’t ask if he was human and divine. Don’t ask about claims that Mary was his mother. Don’t ask too much about his death on the cross and claim that Jesus is the savior of mankind.

Benedict follows Newman’s distinction between the extrinsic and intrinsic connection. There is an extrinsic not intrinsic connection that Christianity leads to violence. Newman recognized the pathology of fanaticism as insistence that one thing is absolutely true and ought to be imposed on others. Thinking that is not pure enough is worth fighting for. On intellectual grounds, that is how fundamentalist thinking is the fuel about what is true and not true. Catholics know many examples of historical difficulties when the Church allowed periods of disagreement with patience and forbearance. The first years after Vatican II were a time of “experimentation.”

The important point that Benedict is making about Europe as a “stand in” for secular modernity is that it has arrived on the scene out of the dark ages with a message of human rights, reason as not subject to a Church, and the need for a generic equality in economics, gender, ethnicity, and social equality. Secular modernity, democracy, or equality relate to justice. He asks: Is it a break from Christianity or funded by Christianity? The United States imported secular modernity from Europe, and it has less resistance; therefore has worked.

When Christianity was called on to stand against the fanaticism of National Socialism and Communism, Catholics like Saints Maximilian M. Kolbe, Edith Stein, and others stood up. Conservative Protestants stood up as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who had been teaching at Union Theological in New York City. Liberal Protestants, on the other hand, had the view that faith is relative to the historical moment and offered very little resistance. Thoughts?

Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv. Univ of Notre Dame,


[1] Pope Benedict XVI, Values in a Time of Upheaval (San Francisco: 2006), 149, 150.
[2] Significantly, the White Rose students were reading about conscience in now St. John Henry Newman.
[3] Pope Benedict XVI, Truth and Tolerance (San Francisco: 2004), 183-209.

Fr. Edward J. Ondrako, OFM Conventual
Research Fellow Pontifical Faculty of St. Bonaventure, Rome
Visiting Scholar, McGrath Institute for Church Life
University of Notre Dame
Feast of St. Wenceslaus, patron of the Czech Republic and Slovakia
– September 28, 2022


Greeting and Message of the Minister General

Dear confreres, Peace and All Good!
At the beginning of this year, we put out some “guidelines,” as members of the Conference of the Franciscan Family, to help us carry out the Franciscan Centenary in the most meaningful way possible. The Centenary will culminate in 2026 with the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Easter of our Seraphic Father St. Francis. We said that this celebratory journey “offers us a valuable opportunity to invigorate the richness of our charism with a prophetic vision toward the future.” The core of our charism is, without a doubt, evangelical fraternity. This ideal is challenged by the current situation of the world, in which “the sense of belonging to a single human family is fading, and the dream of working together for justice and peace seems an outdated utopia” (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, 30). As we know, wars driven by various interests, often fratricidal wars, are proliferating around the world. Moreover, the power figures of the world persist in extending their domains, in spite of shedding innocent blood. However, it certainly must not be so among us: “whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all” (Mark 10:43-44). The only prophetic choice for us is called the “Gospel,” the Gospel “sine glossa,” but lived in an intelligent way. In celebrating our “Brother from Assisi,” I invite you to discern, in fraternity, how we should live intelligently in a way that is appropriate to our charism and our times. Let us keep in mind, however, that “prophetic vision” and “self-interest” are competitors, one at the expense of the other. The choice is ours. Let us choose to live our charism authentically and not let the logic of the world and of power permeate our hearts!
May St. Francis teach us the way!

News from the Novitiate

September 20, 2022: An Inter-Novitiate class was held at the Conventual Novitiate House of Studies, in Arroyo Grande, CA.  Our Franciscan Friars Conventual Novices were joined by the Capuchin Novices in study in California, for a class on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, presented by Friar Jude Winkler, OFM Conv. (2nd from left front). Friar Jude is not only a prolific author for all ages, a scripture scholar, and a well respected speaker on biblical theology, he is also a friar of our province serving our Order as an Assistant General (CFF).

Post on the Order’s Website

Fall Friars’ Days

2022 Fall Friars’ Days

Thursday, September 15 – Our Lady of Angels Care Center, Enfield CT
Saturday, September 17 – Saint Francis of Assisi Parish, Hamburg NY
Monday, September 19 – St. Philip Benizi Parish, Jonesboro GA
Thursday, September 22 – The Shrine of Saint Anthony, Ellicott City MD

Twice annually, during the Spring and Fall, the friars of the Our Lady of the Angels Province gather for a day of on-going formation and fraternity. Because of the tremendous geographical distance among the friars there are generally four planned days: metro-Baltimore, Western New York, Western Massachusetts and Connecticut, and either Georgia or North Carolina.

Here are a few photos from the Thursday, September 22nd session, held at The Shrine of St. Anthony, in Ellicott City, MD:

XV Ordinary Chapter ~ Provincial Custody in Brazil

September 13-16, 2022: Our Lady of the Angels Province Minister Provincial, Fr. Michael Heine, OFM Conv. joined our friars in Brazil to facilitate the XV Ordinary Custodial Chapter, of our Custódia Província Imaculada Conceição (Provincial Custody of the Immaculate Conception). With him, serving as a translator, was Fr. Emanuel Vasconcelos, OFM Conv., who is also one of our province Vocation Directors.
Read More

As stated in the Convento S Boaventura Franciscanos Conventuais Facebook Post

Que as bençãos de Deus sejam derramadas sobre nossos frades.
E que o Espírito Santo possa direcioná-los.
Que Nossa Mãe a Senhora dos Anjos possa interceder por cada um deles.
Rezemos por eles. Paz e Bem

[English Translation: “May God’s blessings be poured out on our brothers,
and may the Holy Spirit direct you.
May Our Mother, the Lady of the Angels,
intercede for each one of them. Let’s pray for them.
Peace and good

The Installation of our new Custódia Província Imaculada Conceição (Provincial Custody of the Immaculate Conception) Custódio Provincial – Frei Carlos Roberto de Oliveira Charles, OFM Conv., at the hands of our Minister Provincial ~ Fr. Michael Heine, OFM Conv.

CONGRATULATIONS to the newly elected!
Custódio Provincial – Frei Carlos Roberto de Oliveira Charles, OFM Conv.
Vigário Custodial – Frei Fábio Soares da Silva, OFM Conv.
Secretário Custodial – Frei Willian Gomes Mendonça, OFM Conv.
Tesoureiro Custodial – Frei Luis Henrique Nascimento Lima, OFM Conv.
Definidor Custodial – Frei Ronaldo Gomes da Silva, OFM Conv.
Definidor Custodial – Frei José Pinto Cardozo Junior
Link to photos of those elected

Friday, September 16, 2022 Homily of the new Provincial Custos: Homilia de Frei Carlos Charles, Custódio Provincial na missa da Impressão das Chagas, antecipada para a véspera, abrindo seu governo custodial.



Congratulations St. Paul School, Kensington

Pictured left to right: Julie DelMartino Scalora (Director of Advancement), State Representative Donna Veach (a former school parent), Jill Conaway (principal), Fr. Joseph Benicewicz, OFM Conv. (pastor), Fayne Molloy (former principal), Julia Lawson (Class of ‘20) and Elijah Hairston (grade 8 student) and Kelly Esposito (Admissions Director)

On Monday, September 12, 2022, St. Paul School, the parish school of our Kensington, CT pastoral ministry ~ St. Paul Catholic Church, celebrated their 65th Anniversary. During the presentations, much was said about the history and impact Saint Paul School has had in the community for 65 years. Many more photos from the day are posted on the school’s Facebook page, including a sincere “Thank You!” “to all the amazing teachers for their dedication, and to the families for their on going support. Together everyone works so hard to keep our wonderful school going strong for all the students!

A Friar’s Desert Experience

I found the desert canyons to be a lot like the spiritual life: a place of unknowns, uncertainty, and possibly even some danger. But lived in, with the help of a community, dedicating some time to enter the canyon, asking for God’s help, the canyon taught me a lot. And I think the same is true for the spiritual life.”

Two part reflection by Fr. Nick Rokitka, OFM Conv. presented via Franciscan The hyperlink for each part can be found by clicking the title or the image.


Part I: The Spiritual Life And The Desert Canyons Of Utah

Part II: The Desert Canyons Of Utah

Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Nick Rokitka, OFM Conv. professed his Simple Vows of poverty, chastity & obedience, as a Franciscan Friar Conventual, on July 16, 2010, and his Solemn Vows on August 06, 2014. He was Ordained to the Priesthood on June 25, 2016. Since his ordination, Friar Nick has served as a high school instructor, in formation, and in administration for the province. He now serves as Parochial Vicar for our Point Pleasant Beach, NJ pastoral ministry ~ St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church.

Strong Friar Presence – Syracuse, NY

On September 11, 2022, several of our friars living in our St. Francis Friary, in Syracuse, NY, were on hand for the community’s Northside Festival (Franciscan Northside Ministries). Many of our Syracuse ministries were represented. FrancisCorps FC24 members were there to not only enjoy the fair but also to provide sidewalk chalk as an activity for those who attended (photo cred). Our province’s pastoral ministry ~ Assumption Church ~ was well represented with a booth providing parish information & giveaways, manned by Our Lady of the Angels Province friars: Friar Jude DeAngelo, OFM Conv. (Pastor), friar Joseph Krondon, OFM Conv. (Apostolic Year of Formation) and Friar Jim Moore, OFM Conv. (Director of The Franciscan Place, in Destiny Mall, USA). Read more about the parish and how they minister to the people of Syracuse.

RaeAnn Kirk and Lucy Wilkerson are two of the five FrancisCorps current Volunteers.

Fr. Jude, Mr. Clint Mitchell (Parish Manager), and Br. Jim manning the Assumption Church stand.

Greeting passersby is Br. Jim, with friar Joe manning the booth.

Here is another photo, shared by FrancisCorps, of friar Joe, Br. Jim and Fr. Jude watching the Tae-Kwon-Do presentation. Br. Jim joined in the fun (see below).



Reflection by Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv.


12 Days on Pilgrimage in August
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life” Jn 14:6.

In my first entry, I ended with Kierkegaard’s story of the clown who shouted that the circus was on fire. The more he shouted, the harder everyone laughed until the circus and village were destroyed. As a Franciscan priest for fifty-one years, I have taught Catholic truth claims. At times I felt like the clown shouting to warn but to no avail. For thirteen years my Franciscan formators prepared me with the Marian integrating element in St. Francis’ life. They did not use the term post-Christian culture but perceived it on the horizon. Without apology, they insisted that the Franciscan way of life means that I can know truth and I am to teach truth because philosophy links with Revelation. The key is Christ as the way, the truth and the life.[1]

I join the generations who are growing up in post-Christian culture. E.g. At Notre Dame an open minded, inclusive  and critically engaged senior asked her philosophy and theology professor: “If I approach others who think differently than I do as a Catholic by saying, I have my truth and you have your truth, do I align with Fides et Ratio?” [2] In reply, the professor qualified that  the words my truth and your truth are consequences of language. To say my truth is no longer a truth claim. He explained that the implication is that truth is collegial which results in a “slippage.” If your truth is as valuable as my truth, are we not subverting truth?

Fides et Ratio pivots on the claim in John 14:6. Only if the Christian faith is truth does it concern everyone. If Christian faith is a cultural variant of the religious experiences of mankind that one tracks through history, with symbols that can never be deciphered or interpreted, then Christian faith has to come clean. It has to remain within its own culture and leave others to theirs. Fides et Ratio aims to rehabilitate the question of truth in a world that carries the weight of post-Christian culture. For me, that means to recognize many external factors, the temporization of authority, and inviting in ideas without the competence to regulate Christianly.

Catholic thought (doctrine) develops. Without giving anyone a pass, Catholics failed to act in a timely manner or made decisions that were incredibly poor in any given age.[3] Without denying the truth, Fides et Ratio opens the windows to the fresh air that faith breathes. The encyclical is a diagnostic of why faith is rational and scientific. One gains reflective courage for the adventure of truth in a post-Christian culture. Fides et Ratio is speaking beyond the sphere of faith and into the heart of faith which strengthens all Catholics who investigate, i.e. faith seeking understanding. In this context, to investigate is different from to seek. The latter starts with reason seeking faith. Take it or leave it. The former starts with faith seeking to know truth.

Spe Salvi facti sumus – in hope we were saved (Rom 8:24).[4] Deep thinking about Fides et Ratio by engaged students at Notre Dame unfolds the belief of others and enables them to hold on to their Catholic faith. By getting philosophy right, they discover Christian faith’s struggles with a certain type of modern culture as only one variety. They learn to diagnose well what presumes to be culture and how it can despise the human person. John Paul II’s call for fresh examination and discussion includes qualifying lawgiving in any society. To favor the convictions of the majority, to separate private conscience from public order,[5] shuts out any society from the truth. What is accidental and arbitrary threatens to be set up in place of being open to truth. The very capacity to know and to recognize truth needs science and scholarship. Nothing is left out when philosophy asks about the person, way towards life and death, God and eternity. We seek truth, to find the common dignity beyond the bounds of cultural settings.

Truth and tolerance need a starting point and a return, philosophy. Theology necessarily touches upon this starting point and return. In life, a person changes and becomes righteous.  In the modern debate about Christianity and world religions, the question about being saved and eternal salvation has a view that one attains salvation through all religions, a view  that corresponds to the idea of tolerance and of respect for others. A modern idea of God is that because persons know nothing of Christianity and happen to have grown up in other religions, God will accept their worship and religion as he does ours. The problem is contradicting things leading to the same goal. The theory of universal salvation is extended. Truth is replaced by good intentions for one cannot know what is objectively good and true.

Pope Emeritus Benedict diagnoses the problem of what is not being thought about. First, he sees the mistake that all religions (including agnosticism and atheism) are of the same kind, which is delusional for all religions. Second, he senses the complex error that the significance of religion for salvation and eternal life is being neutralized i.e., whatever heaven is, it begins on earth. Salvation does not lie in religions as such; religions need to be criticized. Third, the modern concept of conscience emphasizes autonomy and makes the claim that it is “impossible” to establish common moral and religious standards. Proof is in “pagan saints” who show a turn toward each other and towards God. He sees such proof as salvation by another means. Benedict critiques these errors with true recognition of God’s voice in conscience.

Without wavering, Benedict is resolute that none of us is God and how any person approaches God is God’s secret. Truth and tolerance call on a methodological suggestion: the idea of circularity. The relationship between philosophy and theology, faith and reason and their renewal benefit from a dynamic circular movement which means that theology must always start with the word of God. It is set in relation to the search for truth with the struggle of reason for the truth and in dialogue with philosophy. Our 12 day pilgrimage built upon this unifying intention.

Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv. Univ of Notre Dame,


[1] St. Bonaventure, Sermon, Christus Unus Omnium Magister, Christ is the One Teacher of All.
[2] Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, 1998. Does faith really need philosophy? If philosophy is just an academic discipline among others, faith is independent of it. The Pope understands philosophy in a broader sense and puts the question of whether a human person can know truth which is his worry.
[3] One example of many by Pope John Paul II stands out, Tertio Millennio Adveniente. Moreover, he was determined to canonize St. Edith Stein without harm to her Jewish origins.
[4] Pope Benedict’s encyclical, Spe Salvi, 30 November 2007, opens with these words.
[5] Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, no. 69 and 70.

Fr. Edward J. Ondrako, OFM Conventual
Research Fellow Pontifical Faculty of St. Bonaventure, Rome
Visiting Scholar, McGrath Institute for Church Life
University of Notre Dame
Holy Name of Mary – September 12, 2022


Reflection by Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv.

Several friars of our province {top row left to right}: Friar John Voytek, OFM Conv., Friar Mirosław Podymniak, OFM Conv., Friar Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv., Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv., Fr. Jobe Abbass, OFM Conv. and Fr. Bob Benko, OFM Conv.} on the Franciscan Marian Shrines of Europe Pilgrimage, from August 13 -25, 2022, including attending the Passion Play at Oberammergau, Germany. Pictured here at the Ettal Abbey, the largest Benedictine monastery, on the morning of the Passion Play.


12 Days on Pilgrimage in August
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life” Jn 14:6.

Can I know truth? Can I know fundamental truths about myself, my origin and future? Do I live in a twilight that cannot be illuminated? Must I restrict myself to what is useful and provable scientifically? These are fair questions for our age. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote Canterbury Tales, raucous stories told by pilgrims traveling to a sacred pilgrimage site in England. From Francis of Assisi to Vatican II, Catholics remember the theme of life as pilgrims.[1] In August, I joined twenty-eight pilgrims on a Marian Franciscan Pilgrimage.[2] Pilgrims share stories. The question about truth was the essential question I heard about challenges to Christian faith. Unwittingly, perhaps, the pilgrims were asking questions that have to do with philosophy.

To sketch the question of truth in our world characterized by relativism is the favorite phrase in the life’s work of the public theologian Pope Benedict XVI.[3] Happily, God aligned him with the philosopher Pope John Paul II who set out to reinstate the question of knowing truth.[4] The search is a rational and scientific task in our world which celebrates the positive developments of modern science. It is a doublet, however; for modern science, to a great extent, disqualifies the search for truth as being unscientific. We may not have known it, but the twelve days together in prayer was giving us more courage to embark on the adventure of seeking the truth and skills to articulate it to our families and communities with greater love.

Put another way, we pilgrims were discussing the need to make a bold account of Christian faith in a modern world that is not especially hospitable to it. We had a certain unity of themes about the Christian story from creation to last things that were taught to us from our youth. That is why I find the arc which Benedict’s career has given to theology accessible to the broad Catholic public, because it reflects the wisdom of the church tradition rather than his own creativity. I am setting out to provide a backdrop that will assist in reading his three encyclicals which have a different authority than the works he produced as an individual theologian.

Let’s begin by reflecting with Socrates, who told Phaedrus a story he had heard from the ancients who knew about truth. An Egyptian king was being told about the invention of writing. The king objected because he foresaw that it would be a means of recording and not remembering, that it would give the appearance of wisdom to pupils, but not wisdom itself. The king worried that people would hear much without learning anything and think themselves knowledgeable. He knew that in general they were ignorant and difficult people to deal with, for they appear wise but are not truly so.

Fast forward to our information age: no one denies the good associated with the explosion of information available in our world. In Phaedrus, Plato was warning about gaining information without working it into one’s thinking. Pope Benedict observes that a complex multi-cultural world, notwithstanding its claim to be neutral, is not always neutral. He asks: who is the referee? There are multiple religions. Are they equally valuable? Is one religion as good as another? Benedict, as a theologian, wants us to think deeply, to get to the truth. Christianity, to John Paul II who adopts philosophy finds ancient philosophy a help to get to truth. Philosophy costs us. Nihilism asserts that there is no truth and no meaning.  Autonomy is self-rule, seeking to be free from most laws and coercion. Do we need a God? To be as autonomous as possible is to act with responsibility such as to aging parents, to accept one’s own failures, and to receive love and support from others. To Benedict, autonomy is good until it is not.

Historically, Christianity has behaved “badly.”  To try to remedy by being nice is an unthinking response. To say I have my truth and you have your truth denies that there is such a thing as a truth claim. No claim to truth in favor of a common society is cleverness. There is a subversion of truth, a “slippage.” Catholic Christianity never threw philosophy overboard. Luther and the Protestant tradition does not have both, but either/or, either faith or reason. Catholicism always emphasizes “both/and” – both faith and reason.  Revelation answers the questions of the meaning of the world and of the existence of God. Philosophy can inform theology that deals with ultimate questions. Revelation has provided answers which can benefit philosophy. John Paul II and Benedict get philosophy right, the relation of philosophy to faith.

The aim of these Benedict-inspired reflections is retention. What set of questions is in his text, and how do we go about answering what he has lovingly written?  For example, Benedict points out what all twenty-eight of our pilgrims experienced. In the presence of family members or friends who are not thoroughly at home with ecclesiastical language and thought, sooner than later one gets the feeling that Kierkegaard sums up in his allegory of the clown and burning village. When a traveling circus caught fire, the manager sent the one already dressed to the neighboring village to fetch help. The villagers took the clown’s shouts as advertising and laughed till they cried. The more the clown tried to get the people to be serious that there was a real fire, the more they laughed. The circus and village were burned to the ground.

As a Franciscan, might some see my Franciscan habit and think of it as medieval or an old-fashioned clown costume? Might whatever I say about truth claims be classified as not to be taken seriously? The analogy applied to our pilgrims.  They are Catholic teachers and parents who speak to their children and grandchildren about Christ’s gifts, such as the seven sacraments. Do children dismiss parents, teachers and clergy as just giving a performance that has nothing to do with the reality of another generation which they see in themselves? That is precisely the point of a true pilgrimage – namely, our examination of conscience in this philosophical and theological call to keep going deeper.


Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv. Univ of Notre Dame,
[1] Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, ch. 7. The Mystery of the Church links with Gaudium et Spes,  the Church and the World. Vatican II is irreplaceable until it isn’t.
[2] 13-25 August 2022: Prague, Czech Republic; Altoting, Munich, Oberammergau, Ettal, Germany; Salzburg, Melk, Maria Zell, Vienna, Austria; Bratislava, Slovak Republic; Estergom, Budapest Hungary.
[3] Joseph Ratzinger was born in 1927 in Catholic Bavaria and loved the Shrine of Our Lady at Altoting. The Passion play at Oberammergau and many visitors to the Benedictine Monastery at Ettal, where Dietrich Bonhoeffer remained safe until his arrest at the end of World War II, are signifiers. As I traveled, I mused: how Catholic is Bavaria today? What is the status of Christianity in the first world today?
[4] Pope St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, 1998. One can make a claim in truth without noxious side effects.

Fr. Edward J. Ondrako, OFM Conventual
Research Fellow Pontifical Faculty of St. Bonaventure, Rome
Visiting Scholar, McGrath Institute for Church Life
University of Notre Dame
Holy Name of Mary – September 12, 2022