Friday, October 24, 2014

Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete 1941-2014

A photo of Msgr. Albacete I took at New York Encounter in 2012
At this talk given at New York Encounter in 2013, he relayed, in that deep, gravelly, raspy voice, and with that humor and authenticity that was so characteristic, his first encounter, as a young priest, with a visiting Polish Cardinal, the future John Paul II, the beginning of a beautiful friendship. 
The two soon discovered they had a great deal in common, including an interest in theatre, poetry and science. Fr. Albacete asked the cardinal what was the proper theological language in which to speak about the love of God. “Poetry,” he answered. “When you tell your girlfriend you love her, you send her a poetic love note, not a math equation.” A deep friendship grew from this encounter and continued when the cardinal was elected Pope John Paul II. Fr. Albacete received his doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome, in 1983.  [From his obituary, linked here.]
While at the Mount, my CL buddies and I talked briefly about trying to get him to come and speak. However, at that point, he was taking care of his sick brother, and was already in frail health himself.
If you have a moment, check out "God at the Ritz"
His very poignant and honest interview about 9/11, from PBS
To me, to distract one from this, to look for explanations, is obscene. It's an offense against the reality of what happened -- an offense against our humanity -- to look for political explanations, economic explanations, diplomatic explanations. "Oh, it's American foreign policy. It is the arrival into our shores of the Palestinian-Israeli fight. It is globalization. It is the cultural wars. It is American imperialism." All of that is proposed by the "Yes, but" brigade who got to work immediately after the explosion. It is obscene and irresponsible, because we were facing an attack, a hatred of humanity which is what we all have in common. It's our line of defense, our only one. And now that was gone. ... 
The people who did this, who planned it, who brought it about, I don't know what their theology or their ideology is. I take them at their word; they died with the name of God on their lips. People say they were sincere; well, yes, they were. They believed. This is an act for them that was a sincere act, the worship of their God. I take them at their word. Does that make them any less evil? Oh, but no, that precisely is the monstrosity. If they were not sincere, it would be a terrible thing, but ... it is the sincerity, it is the free will. I mean, they willed this to happen. They willed the destruction of humanity, of humanness, of everybody in that place on that day at the World Trade Center. This was a freely willed act, very sincere. And this sincerity is one of the horrible characteristics of the face of evil I saw that day. ...
People are like wingless chickens nowadays: interview with Robert Wright. [Verifying the religious sense, starting at 16m.] The impetus that drives humanity, this is religion. The passion for answering the existential question why? 

The story from the Vatican Insider, today. 
Therefore, Pope Francis’ words from Evangelii Gaudium are befitting our dearest Lorenzo: “Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone, not as one who imposes a new obligation, but rather as one who shares a joy, points out a beautiful horizon, offers a desirable banquet. The Church does not grow by proselytism but ‘by attraction.’” He was undoubtedly so captivating that he immediately became friends with anyone he met, because he was showing the beauty and usefulness of faith for facing life’s needs.With his tireless work, he witnessed to us how faith can become “intelligence of reality,” with his ability to recognize and embrace anyone without ambiguity, but for love of the truth that is present in every person. With his suffering, he has reminded us that there is no circumstance, not even the most difficult and toilsome, that can prevent the “I” from having a daily dialogue with the Mystery.
The funeral will be celebrated by Sean Cardinal O'Malley at St. Mary's Church in Manhattan on Tuesday, October 27. [Funeral arrangements at the CL website.]
What an amazing and great man. I am honored to have met him. 
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. I offered up my Mass today for the repose of his soul. 

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