Thursday, August 31, 2006
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
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."
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
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.
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.
Monday, August 28, 2006
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.
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.
"(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.
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.
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?
Friday, August 25, 2006
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.
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?
And if catechumens, why not others?
Thursday, August 24, 2006
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.
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?
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
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?
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
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.