Thursday, August 31, 2006

Lumen Gentium 20

Yet more on hierarchy. I laughed a bit over the comment about the ecclesiologist choking over this section of Vatican II. It's important to recall that many lay people have very negative experiences of clergy who have, let's say, mismanaged their role as servant. Christ chided the apostles for seeking a high place, and reinforced this with his example at the footwashing.

First, let's read that the apostolic tradition is not authoritarianism as the world is used to it, but leadership in the example of the Lord himself: That divine mission, entrusted by Christ to the apostles, will last until the end of the world,(Cf. Mt. 28, 20) since the Gospel they are to teach is for all time the source of all life for the Church. And for this reason the apostles, appointed as rulers in this society, took care to appoint successors.

Bishops are chief among the heirs of the apostles:

For they not only had helpers in their ministry,(Cfr. Act 6, 2-6; 11, 30; 13, 1, 14, 23; 20, 17; 1 Thess. 5, 12-13; Phil. 1, 1 Col. 4, 11, et passim.) but also, in order that the mission assigned to them might continue after their death, they passed on to their immediate cooperators, as it were, in the form of a testament, the duty of confirming and finishing the work begun by themselves,(Cfr. Act. 20, 25-27; 2 Tim. 4, 6 s. coll. c. I Tim. 5, 22; 2 Tim. 2, 2 Tit. 1, 5; S. Clem. Rom., Ad Cor. 44, 3; ed. Funk, 1, p. 156.) recommending to them that they attend to the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit placed them to shepherd the Church of God.(Cf. Act. 20, 28) They therefore appointed such men, and gave them the order that, when they should have died, other approved men would take up their ministry.(S. Clem. Rom., ad Cor. 44, 2; ed. Funk, I, p. 154 s.) Among those various ministries which, according to tradition, were exercised in the Church from the earliest times, the chief place belongs to the office of those who, appointed to the episcopate, by a succession running from the beginning,(Cfr. Tertull., Praescr. Haer. 32; PL 2, 52 s.; S. Ignatius M., passim.) are passers-on of the apostolic seed.(Cfr. Tertull., Praescr. Haer. 32; PL 2, 53.) Thus, as St. Irenaeus testifies, through those who were appointed bishops by the apostles, and through their successors down ln our own time, the apostolic tradition is manifested (Cfr. S. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. III, 3, 1; PG 7, 848 A; Harvey 2, 8; Sagnard, p. 100 s.: manifestatam.) and preserved.(Cfr. S. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. III, 2, 2; PG 7, 847; Harvey 2, 7; Sagnard, p. 100: . custoditur ,., cfr. ib. IV, 26, 2; col. 1O53, Harvey 2, 236, necnon IV, 33, 8; col. 1077; Harvey 2, 262.)

Service is underscored yet again:

Bishops, therefore, with their helpers, the priests and deacons, have taken up the service of the community, (S. Ign. M., Philad., Praef.; ed. Funk, I, p. 264.) presiding in place of God over the flock,(S. Ign. M., Philad., 1, 1; Magn. 6, 1; Ed. Funk, I, pp. 264 et 234.) whose shepherds they are, as teachers for doctrine, priests for sacred worship, and ministers for governing.(S. Clem. Rom., 1. c., 42, 3-4, 44, 3-4; 57, 1-2; Ed. Funk. I, 152, 156, 171 s. S. Ign. M., Philad. 2; Smyrn. 8; Magn. 3; Trall. 7; Ed. Funk, I, p. 265 s.; 282; 232 246 s. etc.; S. Iustinus, Apol., 1, 6S G 6, 428; S. Cyprianus, Epist. assim.) And just as the office granted individually to Peter, the first among the apostles, is permanent and is to be transmitted to his successors, so also the apostles' office of nurturing the Church is permanent, and is to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops. (Cfr. Leo XIII, Epist. Encycl. Satis cognitum, 29 iun. 896: ASS 28 (1895-96) p. 732.) Therefore, the Sacred Council teaches that bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, (Cfr. Conc. Trid., Sess. 23, ecr. de sacr. Ordinis, cap. 4; enz. 960 (1768); Conc. Vat. I, ess. 4 Const. Dogm. I De Ecclesia Christi, cap. 3: Denz. 1828 (3061). Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Mystici Cororis, 29 iun. 1943: ASS 35 (1943) p. 209 et 212. Cod. Iur. Can., c. 29 1.) as shepherds of the Church, and he who hears them, hears Christ, and he who rejects them, rejects Christ and Him who sent Christ.(Cf. Lk. 10, 16)(Cfr. Leo XIII, Epist. Et sane, 17 dec. 1888: ASS 21 (1888) p. 321 s.)

We read of the importance of the bishops as part of an uninterrupted apostolic tradition. Funny how nothing yet is mention of the curia.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Climate Change: Plug Your Ears, Sing La-La-La
I found a typical thread on another blog yesterday. Lots of chiming in against global warming. As if it were a political opinion of which one could be in favor or not. Conservatives (betraying their name, in this instance) seem unimpressed with watching record temperature blurbs on the Weather Channel. So what, they say, if ski resorts have shorter seasons. Or if it was only a drizzle in South Florida. They'll go hunting instead. This site has some interesting information. The hear-no-evil's were unimpressed with my warnings about a shift in Atlantic Ocean currents and the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Those changes might happen much faster than gradually higher high tides. You might have time to swallow that last piece of cheesecake, but maybe not. Today I suggested that climate change might not be as mellow as watching the evolution of the world record for the 100-yard dash. Remember all the mammoths found frozen in ice with food in their mouths? Climate disaster can hit hard and fast as we found out a year ago. Like the kind of event that a fiftieth millennium archaeologist might understand when she uncovers a flash frozen SUV filled with Republicans. The concern with global warming is not as exact a science as mixing two chemicals and waiting for the boom. It will more likely be an unexpected last straw. You punch somebody in the stomach and there's a higher likelihood a fist, not a belly, will hit back. You'd think it would make sense to wean the public off hydrocarbons and get into American-made energy sources. You'd think that conservatives would prefer to tell fossil fueled Muslims to take their oil and make cosmetics. You'd think that W has learned Reagan's lesson about getting into bed with oil-rich dictators who boil, burn, gas, or otherwise maim their constituents. But I think the Republicans are singing a tune with their fingers in their ears, too.
Non Sum Dignus
What's that? Don't know the Latin? It's what you say before receiving Communion (unless you're a St Joan's parishioner):
Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.
Don't misunderstand me. The gospel account (Matthew 8:5-10) reveals a man of deep faith and confidence:
When he entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully." He said to him, "I will come and cure him." The centurion said in reply, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come here,' and he comes; and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, "Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith."
In Luke's gospel (7:3), the centurion sends Jewish elders and does not even meet Jesus himself. For a long time I've looked at that passage as more of a missed opportunity. The centurion was satisfied to keep Jesus at a distance. Like many people who are afraid of what terrible thing God will ask of them. I also think of Catholicism having such a rich tradition of incarnation, I can't help but wonder what more profound graces are available when we do let God in under our roof. Was the centurion afraid of letting God in? On the other hand, it is an American sensibility to think we have earned our share of grace. Our unworthiness before the altar of God? Theoretically so. But non sum dignus may also be a veneer of false humility on top of a sense of entitlement. I can't say if that's the case with St Joan's foregoing the given wording. From a spiritual view, despite being literally contrite, I think the "non sum dignus" is a little too narcissistic. Unlike many expressions of worship, it puts an individual (not a community) as the subject of speech and God is the object. Is it any worse to pray, "Lord have mercy as I receive you; only say the word ..." If you pressed me (and you won't have to press hard) I'll tell you there might be a better utterance to make before we receive Communion. Maybe just the Agnus Dei with the prayer "... have mercy on us" is sufficient. Nothing more. Keep it uncluttered. Non sum dignus isn't even a prayer, really. It is two declarative statements merged together. And while they are both true enough, they've never captured the full essence of what the Christian should be about at that time of the liturgy.
Lumen Gentium 19
More on hierarchy from Vatican II. First the Scriptural foundation for it: The Lord Jesus, after praying to the Father, calling to Himself those whom He desired, appointed twelve to be with Him, and whom He would send to preach the Kingdom of God;(Mk. 3, 13-19; Mt. 10, 1-42) and these apostles(Cf Lk. 6, 13) He formed after the manner of a college or a stable group, over which He placed Peter chosen from among them.(Cf. Jn. 21, 15-17) He sent them first to the children of Israel and then to all nations,(Rom. 1, 16) so that as sharers in His power they might make all peoples His disciples, and sanctify and govern them,(Cf. Mt. 28, 16-20; Mk. 16, 15; Lk. 24, 45-48; Jn. 20, 21-23.) and thus spread His Church, and by ministering to it under the guidance of the Lord, direct it all days even to the consummation of the world.(Cf. Mt. 28, 20) And in this mission they were fully confirmed on the day of Pentecost(Cf. Acts 2, 1-26) in accordance with the Lord's promise: "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria, and even to the very ends of the earth".(Acts 1, 8) And the apostles, by preaching the Gospel everywhere,(Cf. Mk. 16, 20) and it being accepted by their hearers under the influence of the Holy Spirit, gather together the universal Church, which the Lord established on the apostles and built upon blessed Peter, their chief, Christ Jesus Himself being the supreme cornerstone.(Cf. Apoc. 21, 14; Mt. 16, 18; Eph. 2, 20)(Cfr. Liber sacramentorum S. Gregorii, Praefatio in Cathedra S. Petri, in natali S. Mathiae et S. Thomas: PL 78, 50, 51 et 152. S. Hilarius, In Ps. 67, 10: PL 9, 4S0; CSEL 22, p. 286. S.Hieronymus, Adv. Iovin. 1, 26: PL 23, 247 A. S. Augustinus, In Ps. 86, 4: PL 37, 1103. S. Gregorius M., Mor. in lob, XXVIII, V: PL 76, 455-456. Primasius, Comm. in Apoc. V: PL 68, 924 BC. Paschasius Radb., In Matth. L. VIII, cap. 16: PL 120, 561 C. Cfr. Leo XIII, Epist. Et sane, 17 dec. 1888: AAS 21 (1888) p. 321.) Of course, Lumen Gentium has already underscored the principle that all believers share a responsibility for evangelization. Many of the Scriptural references speak more of spreading the Good News than who spreads it. Anybody with a few thoughts?
Lovers of the Place Rocco Palmo, as well as other writers, have reported on the death of Dom Francis Kline, abbot of Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina. Dom Kline, a Trappist, will be buried tomorrow. Rocco also linked to an article in the State that contained an excerpt from Dom Kline's book, Lovers of the Place: Monasticism Let Loose in the Church. Here is the excerpt: In the monastery where I now live, many people who come to make retreats ask: ‘How can I share more deeply in your life without actually living here? Are a couple of retreats a year enough?’ I have developed answers to these questions in numerous interviews with people whose grace I cannot deny. The Holy Spirit speaks through them and I can no longer avoid certain affirmative answers about the sharing of the monastic charism, certainly by the baptized, and even by the married. Then there is my beloved community of Mepkin, whose distinctive style of hospitality has shown me how involved retreatants can become with a community without affecting adversely its grace and prayer. Mepkin, not without purpose in the Spirit’s plans, I’m sure, is located in the Diocese of Charleston, whose bishop, David B Thompson, convoked a most extraordinary synod in 1990. It concluded in 1995, but only after including me and some of the community in the most challenging debates I have ever known. For it was a question not of preaching monasticism, but of struggling with difficult contemporary Church problems and searching the monastic tradition for answers, as well as the wider and more recent tradition. As I came to appreciate the superabundant grace bestowed on the baptized during the synod, I saw the vision which must have inspired the writers of Lumen gentium and Gaudium et spes, a cloud of witnesses summoned from every walk of life in a universal call to holiness. In the crucible of hard work done reluctantly apart from monastery concerns for the sake of the Church, I feel that the Spirit has offered to me something new for my own monastic life, which has always been refreshing and new for me.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Armchair Liturgist: Readings at Liturgy
They're having a grand old time* at open book today hammering away on St Joan's. Amy wonders about the phenomenon of the blogosphere and how today we know all about many parishes--good and bad--thanks to the internet. My sense is that while the technology has upgraded, we're essentially talking about plain ol' fashioned gossip and detraction. Just like parish coffee hours and other gatherings in your average parish ten, fifty, or a few hundred years ago. Isn't it interesting how a mob can just generate enough energy to go off half-cocked and get all full of themselves? The parish in question substitutes a non-Scripture reading at Sunday Mass, a practice I confess is pretty silly, but suddenly it becomes cause for an ecclesiastical condemnation. The pastor explains this past weekend's submission choice here, by the way. Listen in on one comment:
The praxis of elevating non-canonical readings at Mass - giving them the same weight and prominence as Holy Scripture is an indication of a heretical denial of divine revelation.
Not quite. You don't convict in ecclesiastical court (or most any court except a kangaroo) on indications alone. I mentioned on the thread that I don't think the Office of Readings as celebrated in monasteries is indicative of monks and nuns denying Divine Revelation. There is good spiritual wisdom outside of the Bible. Many St Bloggers hawk it (in their books), and this is as it should be. A sensible approach is for the person preaching to tie a non-Scriptural message into the homily instead, right? We get jokes, anecdotes, and parish announcements; I tend to doubt a bit of non-Scripture in the right place isn't going to lurch us on the road to hell. As for the armchair, consider it a judge's bench. I'm assuming a baseline that we accept the Lectionary assignment as a given and any extra reading is truly an extra. Scripture only at Mass and nothing else? Or can some other spiritual source be considered as an addition at the homily or elsewhere? *I'd say "gay old time," but Rich would accuse me of bringing the sex abuse situation up again and he'd miss the Flintstone's reference.
Lumen Gentium 18
The curialists were wondering when they'd get around to the big cheeses, but here it is just eighteen sections into the document. Chapter III begins here, "On the hierarchical structure of the Church and in particular on the episcopate."

For the nurturing and constant growth of the People of God, Christ the Lord instituted in His Church a variety of ministries, which work for the good of the whole body. For those ministers, who are endowed with sacred power, serve their (brothers and sisters), so that all who are of the People of God, and therefore enjoy a true Christian dignity, working toward a common goal freely and in an orderly way, may arrive at salvation.

Hierarchy is established first for serving others, second provides dignity and order in achieving spiritual goals, so that ultimately, all may be saved. We have a reiteration of the basic thrust of Vatican I:

This Sacred Council, following closely in the footsteps of the First Vatican Council, with that Council teaches and declares that Jesus Christ, the eternal Shepherd, established His holy Church, having sent forth the apostles as He Himself had been sent by the Father;(Jn. 20, 21) and He willed that their successors, namely the bishops, should be shepherds in His Church even to the consummation of the world. And in order that the episcopate itself might be one and undivided, He placed Blessed Peter over the other apostles, and instituted in him a permanent and visible source and foundation of unity of faith and communion.(Cfr. Conc. Vat. I, Sess. IV, Const. Dogm. Pastor aeternus. Denz. 1821 (3050 s.).) And all this teaching about the institution, the perpetuity, the meaning and reason for the sacred primacy of the Roman Pontiff and of his infallible magisterium, this Sacred Council again proposes to be firmly believed by all the faithful. Continuing in that same undertaking, this Council is resolved to declare and proclaim before all ... the doctrine concerning bishops, the successors of the apostles, who together with the successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ,(Cfr. Conc. Flor., Decretum pro Graecis: Denz. 694 (1307) et Conc. Vat. I, ib.: Denz. 1826 (3059)) the visible Head of the whole Church, govern the house of the living God. Comments? Don't be bashful; these are bishops we're talking about.
Brother Roger and Reconciliation I am, as usual, behind with everything. Thus, I am a little late in posting this very moving article on Brother Roger, written by Monsignor Gérard Dancourt, Bishop of Dancourt, and originally published in La Croix on August 16 (it is reprinted on the Taizé website) . The Bishop asks about the late founder of Taizé, "Do we agree at least to let ourselves be questioned? Do we agree at least to wonder whether this 'exception' is not called one day to become less exceptional, and to open up the way for many others?" We are often averse to being questioned and hostile to anything that seems like an "exception" to what we imagine to be the completedness of our institutions and theological ideas. Please read the article: On 16 August 2005, when Brother Roger, at prayer with his brothers and with thousands of young adults, was struck by absurd violence, Taizé was struck at the heart of its vocation, in this church whose very name recalls that vocation: the Church of Reconciliation. In my youth,” writes Brother Roger, “I was astonished to see how Christians - who nevertheless live from a God of love – use so much energy to justify their separations. So I said to myself that it was essential to create a community where people search to understand one another and to be reconciled with one another always, and through this, to render visible a little parable of communion.” What followed is well known: attracted by the simplicity of the prayer and the life of the community, touched by the trust of the Brothers, tens of thousands of young adults come to Taizé every year, to ask their questions, to cry out their suffering, share their hopes, discover that Christ loves them, learn to live in the communion of the Church and to become makers of peace. Thus the community and the young people seek to manifest the reconciliation to which Christ calls us, between Christians and with all our fellow human beings. The Brothers are not unaware of the laborious theological dialogues nor of the meetings – official and often significant – between Church leaders, but they have first of all to propose the Good News to the young people and means for them to experience it. Brother Roger was filled with a desire for reconciliation that touched the depths of his soul and impelled him to create breaches. Setting out on a way that was both discreet and personal, he humbly shared this experience and this conviction. “I have found my identity as a Christian in reconciling within myself the faith of my origins with the mystery of the Catholic faith, without a breakdown of communion with anyone.” Certain theologians knitted their brows at this; others said that Brother Roger was no theologian. Some Church leaders demanded an ecclesial identity that was official and, according to them, more precise. Brother Roger loved all of the Body of Christ and he said so with all of his life. Without disowning his background, without confronting anyone, he wished to integrate and reconcile in himself all that the one Lord gives in Churches that are nevertheless still separated. Recognising the necessity of the ministry of universal communion of the Pope, he also adhered to the Eucharistic faith and practise of the Catholic Church and at the same time lived from the riches with which the Lord has gratified the Orthodox and Protestant Churches. Neither without tension nor without suffering, he lived the reconciliation of the Churches in all his being. Does it suffice for us to take note without judging and to say that what we have here is an exception, and to look for reasons to show that it can not be adapted? Do we agree at least to let ourselves be questioned? Do we agree at least to wonder whether this “exception” is not called one day to become less exceptional, and to open up the way for many others? Listening to Brother Roger, we can remind ourselves that our separations are in conflict with the will of Christ, that ecumenism is an exchange of gifts, that we need one another, that reconciliation is not just peaceful coexistence, but trust, mutual enrichment and collaboration. Then perhaps we will know how to help our Churches to be less caught up than they are at present in drawing back into their own identities. I am speaking personally, because the Brothers of Taizé have never wished to give lessons to anyone and still less to be “spiritual masters”, even of ecumenism. When John Paul II visited them in 1986, he said to them that the vocation of their community is “in a certain sense, provisional”. In his fine book on Taizé, Professor Olivier Clément spoke of a “state of continual foundation”. The brutal death of Brother Roger one year ago, at the heart of Taizé’s vocation, is part of this “dynamic of the provisional”. Through the voice of their new prior, the Brothers of Taizé are saying to us that they do not consider themselves to be the only actors of that dynamic. “We are poor men who need the communion of the Church in order to go forward in faith.” Brother Alois and his brothers continue to go forward on the way marked out by Brother Roger. They are already living something of the Church that is visibly one and they are leading young people to go to the sources of faith together.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Lumen Gentium 17
After this piece, I'm all caught up on my Lumen Gentium post-a-day commitment. Scintillating excitement tonight on the evangelization front:

As the Son was sent by the Father,(Cf. Jn. 20, 21) so He too sent the Apostles, saying: "Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world".(Mt. 21,18-20) The Church has received this solemn mandate of Christ to proclaim the saving truth from the apostles and must carry it out to the very ends of the earth.(Cf. Acts 1, 8) Wherefore she makes the words of the Apostle her own: "Woe to me, if I do not preach the Gospel",(I Cor. 9, 16) and continues unceasingly to send heralds of the Gospel until such time as the infant churches are fully established and can themselves continue the work of evangelizing. For the Church is compelled by the Holy Spirit to do her part that God's plan may be fully realized, whereby He has constituted Christ as the source of salvation for the whole world. By the proclamation of the Gospel she prepares her hearers to receive and profess the faith. She gives them the dispositions necessary for baptism, snatches them from the slavery of error and of idols and incorporates them in Christ so that through charity they may grow up into full maturity in Christ. Through her work, whatever good is in the minds and hearts of (people), whatever good lies latent in the religious practices and cultures of diverse peoples, is not only saved from destruction but is also cleansed, raised up and perfected unto the glory of God, the confusion of the devil and the happiness of (people). The obligation of spreading the faith is imposed on every disciple of Christ, according to his state.(Cfr. Benedictus XV, Epist. Apost. Maximum illud: AAS 11 (1919) p. 440, praesertim p. 451 ss. Pius XI, Litt. Encycl. Rerum Ecclesiae: AAS 18 (1926) p. 68-69. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Fidei Donum, 21 apr. 1957: AAS 49 (1957) pp. 236-237.) Although, however, all the faithful can baptize, the priest alone can complete the building up of the Body in the eucharistic sacrifice. Thus are fulfilled the words of God, spoken through His prophet: "From the rising of the sun until the going down thereof my name is great among the gentiles, and in every place a clean oblation is sacrificed and offered up in my name".(Mal. 1, 11)(Cfr. Didache, 14: ed. Funk I, p. 32. S. Iustinus, Dial. 41: PG 6, 564. S. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. IV 17, 5; PG 7, 1023; Harvey, 2, p. 199 s. Conc. Trid., Sess. 22, cap. 1; Denz. 939 (1742).) In this way the Church both prays and labors in order that the entire world may become the People of God, the Body of the Lord and the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and that in Christ, the Head of all, all honor and glory may be rendered to the Creator and Father of the Universe.

It seems fairly straightforward, doesn't it? We're all obliged to participate in the task of spreading the Gospel. Evangelization is an apostolate, first of all, for the laity.

Lumen Gentium 16
Non-Christians get a look by the council bishops, starting with Judaism: Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God.(Cfr. S. Thomas, Summa Theol. III, q. 8, a. 3, ad 1.) In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh.(Cf. Rom. 9, 4-5) On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues.(Cf. Rom. 11, 28-29); ... then those who share belief in the same God: But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge (hu)mankind. The bishops remind us that God's initiative is present among those who do not profess belief in the Creator: Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all (people) life and breath and all things,(Cf. Acts 17,25-28) and as Saviour wills that all ... be saved.(Cf. 1 Tim. 2, 4) Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.(Cfr. Epist. S.S.C.S. Officii ad Archiep. Boston.: Denz. 3869-72.) The living of a good life is groundwork for the Good News: Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel.(Cfr. Eusebius Caes., Praeparatio Evangelica, 1, 1: PG 2128 AB.) She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all ... so that they may finally have life. Most troubling are those believers who have forsaken God for other gods, as well as those who have given in to a "final despair." But often (people), deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.(Cf Rom. 1, 21, 25) Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Nothing we've read exempts any believer from missionary effort, no matter where they live or what their state of life may be: Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, "Preach the Gospel to every creature",(Mk. 16, 16) the Church fosters the missions with care and attention. Comments?
Et Tu, Reggie?
Eyewitness account of Father Reginald Foster, the papal Latinist and tireless promoter of the language of Rome, and his speaking engagement at Notre Dame. On one topic the Catholic Right wished he had left alone:
At some person's request, however, he did talk, but this is not the topic on which you want to hear Reggie discourse, because his liberal ideology leads a very smart man into saying stupid things like, for one, defending the older translation of the Novus Ordo Missae as, for example, on the grounds that "Et cum spiritu tuo" just means "And also with you." Which is a complete pile of garbage, and the Latin certainly doesn't mean that, and the expression is so obviously a Christian one, and so obviously a theological one - do you think that Cicero went around greeting his neighbors, "Et cum spiritu tuo!" - "And with your breath!" "And with your wind!" or some other such nonsense?
And Rock asks:
However, it raises an interesting question: if the Holy See sought accurate, faithful, doctrinally precise and aesthetically pleasing translations of the editio typica in the native language of the church's leading Latinist, then why on earth was said Latinist not consulted?
Good question.
Bury the Hatchet
Last year, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Austria butchered a public handling of evolution. Scientist Kenneth Miller is able to recognize good theology and bad science and succinctly captures the cardinal's problem here. This year, his position is more sensible and appropriately balanced. Here's the CNS link, plus a timely quote:
"(T)he cardinal said he did not regret writing The New York Times piece, but said that in retrospect he might have been more nuanced. 'Perhaps it was too much crafted with a hatchet,' he said."
Since an individual hatchet is not likely to evolve, perhaps one might say this change is more indicative of intelligent design. Pope Benedict's reunion with some former students will tackle the question of "Creation and Evolution," as John Allen (and others) have reported. One critic of John Paul II suggests that an Enlightenment mentality has infected certain writings. I'm not surprised at the claim. I'd claim that modern thinking saturates much of the American Catholic Right today. Some folks might be farther adrift from a traditional Catholic sensibility that they suspect. Liturgical neo-rigorism would be one trait suggestive of this.
Some Choir Questions
Somebody from my hometown got the published question of the week in Zenit's Liturgy Q&A feature. I'm curious about which parish this might be, but here's the query:
It is my understanding that the choir should be located where visible to the congregation, but not so as to distract from the Mass itself. In our church the organ, organist (and music director) along with the entire choir are up in the sanctuary with the main altar at which Mass is celebrated.
Sounds like a church too narrow and long. You can read Fr McNamara's reply on the first link, but in a traditionally-shaped church, one of the two long ends, preferably elevated, is the best acoustical location. If this choir uses microphones, this is a doubly bad situation.
The choir dresses in white-cassock style robes with a cloth accessory which is similar to the stole a priest wears when celebrating the liturgy.
Fr McNamara didn't seem to catch it, but liturgy geeks know the priest's stole is meant to be worn inside the chasuble, not out. These people don't look anything like proper presiders.
Second question: What is the proper position for the choir in the entrance procession for Mass, especially on solemn feast days such as Easter and Christmas? Our choir processes in, leading the procession ahead of even the cross bearer, thurifer, acolytes, lectors and celebrants/concelebrants. Is this correct?
How many parishes have choir processions? I'm not a big fan of choir robes, processions (except for Palm Sunday, Stations, or maybe Corpus Christi), or a music location on this line of sight. But maybe others have different experiences of it. Oh ... and just a note on choir dress. Our parish children's choir does have a dress code. For most Sunday Masses, the expectation is white top, black pants or skirt. This year's first practice saw 63 choristers, plus sixteen others signed up, but excused. (One of the choir moms runs the volleyball team and decided to move practice to accomodate her daughter, plus a handful of others.) Sometime soon, I think we'll break last year's record of 82. But I must confess that the only way to accommodate them in our nave is to spread them out from the front-right music area behind the altar. The choir loft is way too small for any group approaching sixty, and our church building, though only twenty years old, isn't designed for this level of success.
The Armchair Liturgist: Submission Tackled or Dodged?
So what did you hear this weekend? Anything on submission? The Pontifical Household Preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, had some reflections on it:
Reading Paul's words with modern eyes, one immediately sees a difficulty. Paul recommends to husband that they "love" their wives (and this is good), but he also recommends to women that they be submissive to their husbands, and this -- in a society strongly (and justly) conscious of the equality of the sexes -- seems unacceptable. In fact, it's true. On this point St. Paul is conditioned in part by the mentality of his age. However, the solution is not in eliminating from relations between husbands and wives the word "submission," but, perhaps, in making it mutual, as love must also be mutual.
You're the liturgist, so what do you say? Preach on it or tell your pastor to preach it? Or is it better to avoid it?
Lumen Gentium 15
It's nice to take a weekend off from blogging, but let's get back to one of Vatican II's hallmark documents. Where we left off Friday, LG 14 spoke of the issue of membership of catechumens in the Church. The council bishops turn to an issue unforeseen in the early Church, namely Christians who profess Christ but have maintained traditions despite up to a millennium of separation from Rome: The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. (Cfr. Leo XIII, Epist. Apost. Praeclara gratulationis, 20 iun. 1894; AAS 26 (1893-94) p. 707.) For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. (Cfr. Leo XIII, Epist. Encycl. Satis cognitum, 29 iun. 1896: ASS 28 (1895-96) p. 738. Epist. Encycl. Caritatis studium, 25 iul. 1898: ASS 31 (1898-99) p. 11. Pius XII, Nuntius radioph. Nell'alba, 24 dec. 1941: AAS 34 (1942) p. 21.) They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God.(Cfr. Pius XI, Litt. Encycl. Rerum Orientalium, 8 sept. 1928: AAS 20 (1928) p. 287. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl Orientalis Ecclesiae, 9 apr. 1944: AAS 36 (1944) p. 137) They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ's disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. (Cfr. Inst. S.S.C.S. Officii 20 dec. 1949: AAS 42 (1950) p.142.) Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth. Vatican II laid the groundwork for the Catholic effort of the modern ecumenical movement. Three things are asked of Catholics: - The pursuit of Christian unity - This pursuit should be marked by prayer and work, as well as an expectation of hopefulness - Renewal benefits from the effort of purification and renewal Many consider that ecumenism has lost its verve in the past decade or two. But I'd hazard the suggestion that liberals have lost hope and patience for the long view, substituting instead gestures that are too leader-heavy and too insubstantial. And many conservatives have simply neglected the Church's teachings, substituting instead the demand for a practical reunion we may still be decades away from. Evidence would be satisfaction with the SCGS* model of Catholicism. And sorry, but prominent non-Catholics "swimming the Tiber" isn't worth crowing about. Your average suburban parish draws more numbers, and there are a few thousand of them at least. Vatican II asks, "What have you done for Christian unity lately?" * Small Church Getting Smaller

Friday, August 25, 2006

Lumen Gentium 14
Who's in? Who's out? Lumen Gentium 14 answers it:

This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism(Cf. Mk 16, 16; Jn. 3, 5) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door (people) enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. The bonds which bind (people) to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion. (One) is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. (That one) remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a "bodily" manner and not "in (the) heart."(Cfr. S. Augustinus, Bapt. c. Donat. V, 28, 39; PL 43, 197: Certe manifestum est, id quod dicitur, in Ecdesia intus et foris, in corde, non in corpore cogitandum. Cfr. ib., III, 19, 26: col. 152; V, 18, 24: col. 189; In Io. Tr. 61, 2: PL 35, 1800, et alibi saepe.) All the Church's children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.(Cfr. Lc. 12, 48: Omni autem, cui multum datum est, multum quaeretur ab eo. Cfr. etiam Mt. 5, 19-20; 7, 21-22; 25 41-46; Iac., 2, 14.)

A few comments ... This section leaves untouched the notion of those who are incorporated, though in less fully a way. This section also condemns the lack of charity in a believer. A fate worse than unbelievers awaits, according to St Augustine, at any rate.

Catechumens who, moved by the Holy Spirit, seek with explicit intention to be incorporated into the Church are by that very intention joined with her. With love and solicitude Mother Church already embraces them as her own.

And if catechumens, why not others?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pluto Gets The Boot
The IAU says so, but astronomers worldwide and Pluto fans are upset. I suppose if you're upset too, find some internet voting booth and register your displeasure. After last week's 12-planet proposal, I thought Pluto might get grandfathered in, but apparently not. Read up on Pluto's Kansan discoverer, Clyde Tombaugh, if you wish. Dan Falk's recent article in the February 2006 issue of Astronomy was also excellent.

Wings at Fenway
My hometown baseball team plays at Fenway Saturday night as part of a minor-league doubleheader. That would be cool to see. They've sold 33,000 tickets for the event.
One Book
One book that changed my life: Logical Chess Move By Move by Irving Chernev. It was this book plus one other whose title I can't recall that finally unlocked the secrets of the game for me when I was fifteen. I played tournament chess regularly for about ten years after that.

One book that I've read more than once: The Lord of the Rings was the first book or series I read more than once

One book I'd want on a desert island: the most voluminous almanac in print

One book that made me laugh: This is tough; I don't read much comedy, but I did laugh out loud through most of the Yule Ball chapter in Goblet of Fire.

One book that made me cry: Random Harvest by James Hilton

One book I wish had been written: my first science fiction novel

One book I wish hadn't been written: Another toughie. Everybody's entitled to an opinion, but maybe I'd say Thomas Day's book Why Catholics Can't Sing.

One book I've been meaning to read: Don Quixote by Cervantes, and for about seven years now.

I'm thinking this could be adapted for "song" instead of "book." Might need some tweaking, so give me a few hours to ponder it.

It's A Lovely Day
I've not really been an Irving Berlin fan, but my musical wife stuck one of his tunes in my head this morning as we were on the way to school/work. I had to have her sing it to me again this afternoon on the way home from our daughter's choir practice. I've not really ever been an Ethel Merman fan either. A few months ago Anita brought home this dvd from the library, and against my own prejudice, I enjoyed it very much. So if you're looking for something light and fluffy, and musical theatre is your bag, indulge.
Lumen Gentium 13
We continue to read from Chapter Two, more on the notion of the "People of God." First, that the Church sees all human beings as urged toward or called to belong to the People of God. It is part of our created nature:

All ... are called to belong to the new people of God. Wherefore this people, while remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and must exist in all ages, so that the decree of God's will may be fulfilled. In the beginning God made human nature one and decreed that all His children, scattered as they were, would finally be gathered together as one. (Cf. Heb. 1, 2) It was for this purpose that God sent His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, that be might be teacher, king and priest of all, the head of the new and universal people of the sons of God. For this too God sent the Spirit of His Son as Lord and Life- giver. He it is who brings together the whole Church and each and every one of those who believe, and who is the well-spring of their unity in the teaching of the apostles and in fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers.(Cf. Acts 2, 42)

Christ is the Father's agent in restoring the intended unity among all human beings.

A bit of a clarification follows, namely that the expression of the people of God does not impinge on human activity in the world. The Church accepts and adopts that which has been proven good, a rather Gaudium et Spes way of thinking. Yet these efforts are intended to achieve the spiritual unity of every thinking being under Christ.

It follows that though there are many nations there is but one people of God, which takes its citizens from every race, making them citizens of a kingdom which is of a heavenly rather than of an earthly nature. All the faithful, scattered though they be throughout the world, are in communion with each other in the Holy Spirit, and so, (the one) who dwells in Rome knows that the people of India are ... members"(Cfr. S. Io. Chrysostomus, In Io. Hom. 65, 1: PG 59, 361.). Since the kingdom of Christ is not of this world(Cf. Jn. 18, 36) the Church or people of God in establishing that kingdom takes nothing away from the temporal welfare of any people. On the contrary it fosters and takes to itself, insofar as they are good, the ability, riches and customs in which the genius of each people expresses itself. Taking them to itself it purifies, strengthens, elevates and ennobles them. The Church in this is mindful that she must bring together the nations for that king to whom they were given as an inheritance,(Cf. Ps. 2, 8) and to whose city they bring gifts and offerings.(Cf. Ps. 71 (72), 10; Is. 60, 4-7; Apoc. 21, 24) This characteristic of universality which adorns the people of God is a gift from the Lord Himself. By reason of it, the Catholic Church strives constantly and with due effect to bring all humanity and all its possessions back to its source In Christ, with Him as its head and united in His Spirit. (Cfr. S. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. III, 16, 6; III, 22, 1-3: PG 7, 925 C-926 Aet 955 C - 958 A; Harvey 2, 87 s. et 120-123; Sagnard, Ed. Sources Chret., pp. 290-292 et 372 ss.)

Here we read that the Church embraces diversity--that's the literal word--in variety of peoples, but also in hierarchical distinction. This distinction is described in terms of duties, not governance. We also have a recognition of Churches different and distinct from the Roman Church, yet who accept the role of the "Chair of Peter" as an instrument of charity and unity.

In virtue of this catholicity each individual part contributes through its special gifts to the good of the other parts and of the whole Church. Through the common sharing of gifts and through the common effort to attain fullness in unity, the whole and each of the parts receive increase. Not only, then, is the people of God made up of different peoples but in its inner structure also it is composed of various ranks. This diversity among its members arises either by reason of their duties, as is the case with those who exercise the sacred ministry for the good of their brethren, or by reason of their condition and state of life, as is the case with those many who enter the religious state and, tending toward holiness by a narrower path, stimulate their (brothers and sisters) by their example. Moreover, within the Church particular Churches hold a rightful place; these Churches retain their own traditions, without in any way opposing the primacy of the Chair of Peter, which presides over the whole assembly of charity (Cfr. S. Ignatius M., Ad Rom., Praef.: Ed. Funk, I, p. 252.) and protects legitimate differences, while at the same time assuring that such differences do not hinder unity but rather contribute toward it. Between all the parts of the Church there remains a bond of close communion whereby they share spiritual riches, apostolic workers and temporal resources. For the members of the people of God are called to share these goods in common, and of each of the Churches the words of the Apostle hold good: "According to the gift that each has received, administer it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God".(1 Pet. 4, 10)

All ... are called to be part of this catholic unity of the people of God which in promoting universal peace presages it. And there belong to or are related to it in various ways, the Catholic faithful, all who believe in Christ, and indeed the whole of (hu)mankind, for all ... are called by the grace of God to salvation. Comments?
The Cross Today I will soon have to stop posting at the current rate. But, first, the BBC website has a very interesting feature by Michael Symmons Roberts about the meaning of the symbol of the Cross in an increasingly secularized Europe. The story contains excerpts of interviews with, among others, a fashion journalist, a lightning strike survivor, and a "maker of chocolate crosses." In the final excerpt, the film director Mark Kermode says, "The point of all this is no matter how poppy or trashy one's sensibility of the cross becomes, thanks to the Madonna videos and it turning up in horror videos and gangster movies, there is behind it, still, an absolute anxiety that it means more than that. ... People are more reverential about the symbol of the cross than perhaps the secular world that we live in would suggest." Here are a few more quotes: Writer and historian Ann Wroe I don't believe it shouldn't be a piece of jewellery. But if you have either no idea why it's important, or if you simply want to wear it because it looks nice with that particular dress, that's appalling to me, because there's a huge cosmic significance in the subject. Otherwise, you may as well just wear a gibbet round your neck, or an electric chair. And in fact if you look back at the history of the cross - that is what you're doing. So it has to mean something a good deal more than that to be something tolerable at all. Mother Claudia, Tyburn Convent In recent years there seems to have been a tendency to use the cross as a fashion ornament. I can only say that you cannot, you can never judge an individual person's reason for doing things. Because God is God... we can't hurt Him; He's beyond that. But He's always thinking of us and in human terms, if people in any area or any religion or belief take something that's sacred to a group or a religion and mock it, and use it in a sacrilegious or blasphemous way, then that's not a good thing. And it has repercussions - not so much hurting that group or religion - it hurts that person in their soul, in a way they're probably not aware of. That's why the Christian tradition would be quite wary of people maybe using it as a fashion symbol in a profane way. [Roberts then takes us to 1940, as the Anglican clergyman Philip Wales picks over the rubble of the bombed Cathedral in Coventry] Mary, daughter of Coventry Cathedral clergyman Philip Wales It was later exploring the ruins by himself that he found lying on the ground, under the burnt out beams, the enormous medieval nails which had held these beams in place - they are extraordinary - they are so large. I would say the one I'm looking at the moment are about 18" long and some are bigger than that. They are beautiful in their own right, as if a craftsman had made them. My father brought a handful of them home. Moving these nails around on the kitchen table, they seemed to move easily into place as a cross. My father found a firm in Coventry who were able to weld these nails together and another firm who put a coat of silver to cover them. When the designs were made for the new cathedral, it was decided right from the very beginning that these nails must have a special place in the new Cathedral. [Roberts writes, "The Coventry cross of nails came to symbolise not just the suffering of war, but also the hope of survival, of resurrection. Now, the Cross of Nails community at the rebuilt Coventry Cathedral takes its distinctive symbol to war-zones around the world, to inspire peace and reconciliation."] Canon Justin Welby, Cross of Nails community In that sense, the cross within Christian thinking marks the end of disruption of a relationship, and of a new future. And we see, in the work we do now in the Community of the Cross of Nails and in our reconciliation world-wide, that the cross is a powerful way of demonstrating hope. Because it speaks of the possibility of new harmonious and peaceful relationships. First with God and then with others. I work very often in areas of conflict. And you take people round the cross, or you talk about the cross of nails or allow them to hold the small cross of nails that we wear round our necks, you begin immediately to find a transforming of attitudes. There is a power within the cross which reaches deep into the human heart and into the human emotions, that challenges hatred and challenges unforgiveness, and challenges a commitment to violence.
Resolving Strife in the Parish In the latest issue of In Communion, Fr John Breck writes about the "parish ethics" that must underlie and shape the relationships and decision-making processes in a Christian community. His article includes a good deal of Scriptural exegesis and he even manages to discuss the seemingly ubiquitous problem of clericalism (when "the authority implied by each ministerial function is invested in the human cleric rather than in the divine Person that cleric is called to reflect and to manifest"). While Fr Breck obviously writes as an Orthodox priest and In Communion is a publication of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, I am sure that we Catholics and other Christians will find his words - especially his commendation of an inner transformation rooted in repentance and manifested in love - relevant to our own experiences. Here, then, is an excerpt: If needless tensions and disagreements arise within the local parish, often it is due to the fact that we take our church life for granted. The Church is the realm of the holy: we experience the joy and peace of God’s loving presence with us through the Liturgy and Sacraments. We are nurtured by the reading of Scripture and the celebration of its saving message. We are edified by the singing of hymns that instruct us in our faith and give expression to that faith. Icons remind us that we commune with the saints, asking their constant intercession on our behalf. Although we know that we are called to struggle against temptation and sin – what the holy Fathers refer to as the “passions” – we seldom take that struggle very seriously. Everything is given in the Church: the content of our faith, the presence of God, eternal life itself. So our tendency – our great temptation – is to perform the Church’s rituals, create a vigorous social life within the parish, and assume that we are fulfilling God’s will and our Christian vocation. Nevertheless, when ritual performance and social function occur above all in order to preserve our ethnic identity and cultural heritage, then we can only admit that we have betrayed both God and our vocation.

Among all of us who share an Orthodox heritage, this is indeed the great temptation. The local parish, rather than being the Church, becomes our “possession,” a structure by which and in which we preserve our own heritage and promote our own agendas. Little wonder that we no longer perceive it to be a living and life-giving member of the universal Body of Christ, uniting the living and the dead in an eternal communion that reflects the boundless love of an infinitely merciful God.

It is no exaggeration to say that the vast majority of “problems” that arise within our parishes are due to this misperception concerning the nature of the local church. Problems between clergy and laity, between bishop and priest, and between various members of the community, can usually be traced to our sinful tendency to transform the parish from the Body of Christ into a kind of social organization whose purpose is to provide us with “spiritual” nurture and a communal identity, while imposing little or nothing upon us in the way of repentance, self-sacrifice and love. This situation represents a chronic illness within our church communities. But because it concerns basically our patterns of behavior, it signals as well an ethical or moral crisis.

... When the Prodigal repents of his arrogant profligacy and turns back home, he finds the father waiting for him with open arms. Willing to be taken in as a hired servant, he is instead embraced and showered with gifts, to celebrate his “repentance,” his return to the father’s house. The older brother, however, is filled with jealousy. He has remained “faithful” to the duties expected of a son. He has, we can say, played the role of the faithful Pharisee, respecting the rituals of daily life, including required chores and prayer. Yet he condemns himself by comparing his deeds and attitudes to those of his younger brother. Rather than rejoice at his brother’s return, he becomes sullen and resentful. “The household is mine,” he thinks to himself; “I have remained faithful to it, and this fellow who left it of his own accord has no right to be received back.” How many of us harbor similar thoughts and feelings regarding those of other Christian confessions, or of no confession at all? “They abandoned the faith,” we think to ourselves, “therefore they have no business coming into our church, our parish!” And in the midst of this hypocrisy, we wonder why the Church is not growing, why some are predicting that our parishes will simply wither away…

Hypocrisy, though, whether of the Pharisee or of the Older Son in Jesus’ parables, is rooted in a refusal to love. This is the most basic ailment affecting church life today. We have fashioned the parish community into our own image and likeness, creating a style of “Christianity” that is comfortable and undemanding. Would anyone, looking in from outside, ever see in our midst evidence of authentic repentance and a concern for active mission? Would they perceive that we are in fact “Christian,” given that true faith in Christ necessarily entails bearing his Cross for the sake of others? Would they be convinced that we have heard Jesus’ one commandment that sums up every other: “Love the Lord your God…and your neighbor as yourself”? Unless our parish life reflects at its deepest level that most fundamental concern for love, then we cannot claim that our parish is truly “of the Church” at all.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Lumen Gentium 12
Baptism marks us as priests, prophets, and kings. Lumen Gentium 12 examines that second role more closely. What do you make of this definition of the inerrancy of the entire body of the faithful? Is that the way it would have been expressed in 1870?

The holy people of God shares also in Christ's prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to Him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to His name.(Cf. Heb. 13, 15) The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,(Cf. Jn. 2, 20, 27) cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples' supernatural discernment in matters of faith when "from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful" (Cfr. S. Augustinus, D Praed. Sanct. 14, 27: PL 44, 980.) they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of (people) but truly the word of God.(Cf. 1 Thess. 2, 13) Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints,(Cf. Jud. 3) penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life.

Outside of the sacraments and offices of the Church, special graces are everywhere in the Church. It says so here:

It is not only through the sacraments and the ministries of the Church that the Holy Spirit sanctifies and leads the people of God and enriches it with virtues, but, "allotting his gifts to everyone according as He wills,(1 Cor. 12, 11) He distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank. By these gifts He makes them fit and ready to undertake the various tasks and offices which contribute toward the renewal and building up of the Church, according to the words of the Apostle: "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone for profit".(Cf. 1 Thess 5, 12, 19-21) These charisms, whether they be the more outstanding or the more simple and widely diffused, are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation for they are perfectly suited to and useful for the needs of the Church. Extraordinary gifts are not to be sought after, nor are the fruits of apostolic labor to be presumptuously expected from their use; but judgment as to their genuinity and proper use belongs to those who are appointed leaders in the Church, to whose special competence it belongs, not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to that which is good.(Cf. Jn. 11, 52) Note two things: - The importance given to the notion of "renewal and building up," as the purpose for the widespread gifts among the clergy and laity. - The role of church leadership: not to extinguish, but to test. Not bad for bishops, is it?
Pro-Life, Bullet, Rifle, Foot: You Put the Pieces Together
Pardon the gun oriented image there. Elections coming up soon. From what I've seen around the Church, it's time once again for me to wince as many pro-lifers fall all over each other to shoot themselves in the foot. I think the Vatican missed the boat by insisting on a mandatum for theology professors. I think one is desperately needed for many pro-life activists. Allow me to explain and illustrate. Case in point: Diocese of Duluth disinvites Helen Prejean and the open book posse goes ape (sorry, evolutionists) over it. It's a predictable thread. It's relatively easy to assess some facts, such as Prejean's gaffe in signing on to an ad before looking at the final draft. But unlike some bishops, she promptly admitted her error and clarified her position on abortion and detailed her reason for signing on in the first place. Personally, I think the whole idea of signing on to newspaper ads is dated, mainly for technological reasons. Number two because it's so boring and like last week's cause. The least you can do is be creative. I wouldn't be caught dead signing this particular piece, as it came out, and I dislike Bush at least as much as any of the signatories. In a way, the sentiment is very much like what passes for pro-life fervor these days: frustrated, angry people who would like to make a difference, but they find that politics, time, and conversion happens too darned slowly. I can appreciate. I'm raising a pre-pubescent daughter. Getting back to the predictable reaction from the St Blog's commentariat, listen in: "Promoters of the seamless garment theory have played no small role in distorting the Church's teachings ..." "... (Prejean) is heterodox ..." "Sr. Prejean is just ... another 'useful idiot.'" "Sr. Prejean doesn't feel herself bound by Catholic teaching ..." Fascinating. It so resembles our president waging the war on terrorism. Can't keep the focus on the real fight, so let's hop on a bandwagon and pound away with the rest of the mob of your choice. If this isn't ideological ADHD, I don't know what is. Almost as low on my list are bishops who seem intent on sabotaging the Gospel of Life. Duluth Bishop Schnurr could have explored the possibility of Prejean being misquoted; her advocacy of the seamless garment certainly includes opposition to abortion. I think it's gotten way too easy on bishops, if all they think they need to do to be pro-life is to issue a fiat. That said, let me state I know many fine pro-lifers who indeed manage to keep their peace, joy, and good humor after decades in the trenches. They are people one truly loves to associate with, be it at pro-life work, or socially, or at worship, or wherever. I knew a lady who was very active in Birthright. But she also visited the sick, she sang in the choir, was much loved by family and friends. And she always had a smile on her face. She was very earnest about Birthright and the work she did with them. But the plight of the unborn did not change her into a dour, sour person. Many pro-lifers cannot comprehend why they seem to get so little support from their parish priests. My pastor nailed it in his bulletin column. Here's what I posted on Monday:
I am not unaware - as some of you have noted to me and other priests - that those who serve on pro-life committees and who work for life causes in other arenas are among the saddest people in our parishes, looking dour, even angry, rarely smiling or reflecting the joy of life that they promote.
I wonder if these people see the harm they do. They leave the conversion of the hard-hearted entirely in the hands of some miracle of God. They underestimate the calm witness of a serene and peaceful person. A few people posted their positive personal experiences of Helen Prejean on that open book thread. Absolutely no comment on them. Missouri is voting on a measure to permit funding of embryonic stem cell research. I've heard it's favored in the polls and our state's pro-lifers have an uphill battle ahead. I've been asked to include a petition in every Mass from now till Election Day for every Catholic to vote "no" on ESCR. We had a speaker draw over a hundred to a forum on ESCR earlier this year. Our pastor is sending out a letter to all parishioners in a few weeks. But aside from these examples, and weekly e-mailed suggestions for the bulletin and the prayers at Mass, I've seen nothing else. No presence at parish activities. No tables with information after Mass. No plans for another speaker or any outreach to school parents. Nothing public with nearby parishes. I'm dismayed that some of our pro-lifers think the Mass and the Sunday bulletin are the only outlets for catechesis. I'm more dismayed at the lack of creativity generated in the face of this important ballot measure. I sure hope my parishioners aren't like the ones cheering Bishop Schnurr of Duluth for "disinviting" Helen Prejean. When you're facing the prospect of jobs, and life-saving cures for the elderly and children, you have to come up with something better than "All Catholics must vote no." Jesus told his disciples that he came that we might have life to the full. Let's start acting in the interests of the fullness of life and decline to give in to sullen pettiness.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Lumen Gentium 11

The liturgists love this section; it is a good one, underscoring the role of the sacraments in building up and stengthening the Church. First, a reiteration of the initiation sacraments and their role in building up the Church:

It is through the sacraments and the exercise of the virtues that the sacred nature and organic structure of the priestly community is brought into operation. Incorporated in the Church through baptism, the faithful are destined by the baptismal character for the worship of the Christian religion; reborn as (children) of God they must confess before (others) the faith which they have received from God through the Church (Cfr. S. Thomas, Summa Theol. III, q. 63, a. 2.). They are more perfectly bound to the Church by the sacrament of Confirmation, and the Holy Spirit endows them with special strength so that they are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith, both by word and by deed, as true witnesses of Christ (Cfr. S. Cyrillus Hieros., Catech. 17, de Spiritu Sancto, II, 35-37: PG 33, 1009-1012. Nic. Cabasilas, De vita in Christo, lib. III, de utilitate chrismatis: PG 150, 569-580. S. Thomas, Summa Theol. III, q. 65, a. 3 et q. 72, a. 1 et 5.). Taking part in the eucharistic sacrifice, which is the fount and apex of the whole Christian life, they offer the Divine Victim to God, and offer themselves along with It.(Cfr. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Mediator Dei 20 nov. 1947: AAS 39 (1947), paesertim p. 552 s.) Thus both by reason of the offering and through Holy Communion all take part in this liturgical service, not indeed, all in the same way but each in that way which is proper to himself. Strengthened in Holy Communion by the Body of Christ, they then manifest in a concrete way that unity of the people of God which is suitably signified and wondrously brought about by this most august sacrament.

This is (no irony) rich: Baptism imparts a "destiny" to the believer. Through baptism they are made for Christian worship. It calls them, draws them to God and to one another. If Thomas Aquinas said so before the Reformation, it cannot be any less true today.

Confirmation binds us more closely to the mission of the Church. We are "strictly obliged" to witness by our words and example.

And though the priesthood of believers is distinct from that of Holy Orders, we laity offer the Sacrifice. Terminology such as "assisting at Mass" would seem to be completely out of the picture for being wholly inaccurate of what takes place at Mass. We have a reminder that the Eucharist is font and apex (source and summit). We have a definition of our role: we take part; we participate. Lay people are not passive spectators to a sacrifice being offered by a single priest. And lastly, one of the graces of the sacrament is unity.

Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from the mercy of God for the offence committed against Him and are at the same time reconciled with the Church, which they have wounded by their sins, and which by charity, example, and prayer seeks their conversion. By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of her priests the whole Church commends the sick to the suffering and glorified Lord, asking that He may lighten their suffering and save them;(cf. James 5:13-16) she exhorts them, moreover, to contribute to the welfare of the whole people of God by associating themselves freely with the passion and death of Christ.(Cf. Rom; 8,17 Col. 1, 24; 2 Tim. 2, 11-12; 1 Pet. 4, 13)

Note the council bishops have drawn the principle of charity into these two sacraments. Then a brief spot on orders and marriage:

Those of the faithful who are consecrated by Holy Orders are appointed to feed the Church in Christ's name with the word and the grace of God. Finally, Christian spouses, in virtue of the sacrament of Matrimony, whereby they signify and partake of the mystery of that unity and fruitful love which exists between Christ and His Church,(Cf. Eph. 5, 32) help each other to attain to holiness in their married life and in the rearing and education of their children. By reason of their state and rank in life they have their own special gift among the people of God.(Cf. 1 Cor. 7, 7) (I Cor. 7, 7: . Unusquisque proprium donum (idion charisma) habet ex Deo: alius quidem sic alius vero sic .. Cfr. S. Augustinus, De Dono Persev. 14, 37: PL 45, 1015 s.: Non tantum continenti Dei donum est, sed coniugatorum etiam castitas.) From the wedlock of Christians there comes the family, in which new citizens of human society are born, who by the grace of the Holy Spirit received in baptism are made children of God, thus perpetuating the people of God through the centuries. The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state.

A few words on marriage ... First note the aspiration to holiness listed first before the rearing of children. And second, note the last phrase and the easy conclusion at which one can arrive suggesting that the parental role is to foster vocation to a sacred state--nothing here suggests that is not marriage as well as religious life.

Fortified by so many and such powerful means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state, are called by the Lord, each in his own way, to that perfect holiness whereby the Father Himself is perfect.

Thoughts? Don't be bashful.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?