Continuing with Saint Paul’s Gospel of Hope (Romans 5-8), the Church gives us the second half of a comparison of two traditions. It’s not explicit in just this pericope, but the “one person” is Adam (See Romans 5:12-16). Or the joint transgression of Adam and Eve, if you prefer. Or humanity’s universal captivity to sin and death, if you demur on the mythology.
If, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ. In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all. For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous. The law entered in so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I’ve always found the connection of sin and death to be not quite a perfect one. Death is part of the existence of nearly all individual life on Earth. Cosmologically, things in the material world are born, live, and die. And not just life. Stars. Galaxies. The very nature of energy in the universe we know. All will run down. Is the death of a star due to human sin and transgression?
At any rate, while I might pick nits on the details on the sin-death connection, I’m far from dismissing the notion of the supremacy of Christ’s eternal legacy here. The point is that the Lord will raise up his brothers and sisters. We need not worry about the lasting effects of sin in ther world. Christ is in control. And the hopeful message for mourners is that their loved one will be caught up in the grace of Christ. It’s far bigger than just one person, righteous, troubled, or outright sinful. It’s a universal covenant between all believers, all God’s people, and the Savior. And God’s reaction to the increase of sin? Not more punishment. More grace. There’s a great dollop of hope for those in doubt or in mourning.
In my opinion it is sad, on the one hand, because Benedict XVI is expected to be more than ‘politically correct’ – he is expected to be a true pastor. On the other hand, the cardinals have their own interests at stake, including the Primate of Mexico (Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera), who defended Maciel to the end. Those directly victimized by the founder do not want to become pawns in what amounts to nothing more than a media game.
Political correctness–the worst sense of that term–can run both ways. There’s a certain pc-strain in churchmen who want nothing more for this scandal of abuse and cover-up to go away. Why does it have to drag on past the obligatory fifteen minutes? This nipping at the heels might well devour good efforts in the new evangelization.
But rather than view the situation in defensive terms, the Church could look upon this as an opportunity. Rather than an annoyance, it presents an opening to develop an apostolate or reconciliation, prayer, and giving a good example of asking forgiveness. Maybe the time is no longer ripe for evangelization–at least as the cover-story initiative of Rome. Maybe it’s time for penitence, sacrifice, and contrition.
Think about it: If the pope can’t himself tour the world to the sex-abuse hotspots of Kansas City, Philadelphia, the Netherlands, and the Maciel compound, send some people who will. To heck with the lawyers and just meet simply with the victims. Apologize. Pray. Meet till the anger and betrayal is talked out. Send a bishop or two, too. Better for them to get out an actually minister to harmed people rather than hole up in an Italian basilica.
When helping the young miss clean up her room last week, we uncovered a photo my wife took of her with one of Kansas City’s accused priests. Her “favorite” priest. Until last summer. It was a happier time, but when demons were sub-surface–and who would know from looking at the smiles what lay beneath them?
With our daughter’s permission, I was considering sending the image to Bishop Finn. And adding a tale about a young person who, last year, was still talking about being an altar server. And who now, won’t pick up the MR3 sheet in the pew, and put all the bishop trading cards from NCYC in the trash with that other photo. One of my staff colleagues tried to console me with the thought that “It could also be the age.” And it could be. But I have enough doubt about it to be troubled. Anyway, the post idea is trashed for now–literally. The young miss was only disappointed she didn’t think about burning the photo before tossing it away.
It may yet be that Pope Benedict will carve out some time for victims in his trip to Mexico. He could do worse.
I had a method to my madness on this music poll. Honest. But with this week’s crash, I know I wasn’t able to construct the brackets totally from memory. A seasonal song or two was dropped, and I looked at some new polling sites, not recalling all the places I visited setting up this tournament. But since I never posted the brackets, you won’t know the difference. I hope.
Let’s resume the dance with a red regional match up between an NPM top-ten, “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name” and a “seasonal” offering for all the saints:
Many Catholics are unaware that “Holy God” is a paraphrase of the classic hymn Te Deum. It likely wouldn’t pass muster in the age of Liturgiam Authenticam, but there’s no question it’s one of the top organ hymns in the contemporary Catholic consciousness. Somewhere in my personal music archives, I have a mimeographed copy, barely readable, of a St Louis Jesuit arrangement of the tune. No kidding. The text we know was originally German, and dates to the time of the American Revolution. According to hymnary.org, the Empress of Austria thought German Catholics needed a metrical setting of the Te Deum. Yet another musical priest, Ignaz Franz, published it as one of his forty-seven contributions to the 1774 hymnal, Katholisches Gesangbuch. German immigrants probably did the leg work getting it over to America from there. Clarence Walworth of upstate New York, is credited as “loosely” translating the German text. His life’s story, brief as it is given on the hymnary site, seems fascinating:
Walworth was born into a Presbyterian home. After studying at Union College in Schenectady, New York, he was admitted to the bar in 1841. His interest in theology led to studies for the Episcopalian ministry at General Theological Seminary in New York City, but under the influence of the Oxford Movement he became a Roman Catholic in 1845 and joined the Redemptorist Order. … One of the founders of the Paulist Order, he fought industrial abuses, took up the cause of Native Americans on the St. Regis reservation, and wrote poetry and hymns.
“For All The Saints” may be a lower seed, but it was written by a higher-up, an Anglican bishop, William Walsham How. It was first published during another American war, the Civil. Did you know the full original text has eleven verses? Me neither.
The Vaughn-Williams tune, SINE NOMINE, came about fifty years later, and I’ve never seen another melody attached to this text. It’s not one of V-W’s folk songs, I’m pretty sure. It has that modernish fanfare tone of many Anglican tunes. It’s also hard to find full SATB harmonizations.
Oh, and a note about one up-in-the-air poll from several days’ back. Since I wasn’t able to close the curtain on a strict 72-hour window, I find that Silent Night and Salve Regina are so close so as to consider them as going to “overtime.” I’ll give you voters till the end of today, midnight central time, to nudge the 18-17 result one way or the other.
It would be great if the wonder of the human imagination was acknowledged and encouraged more within the Church. Read the letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to Artists . He has such clear ideas about the importance of art to human society. [As he says] “The human craftsman mirrors the image of God as Creator.”
In the pamphlet, the pictures are called
… just a little idea for those Circle Line passengers who believe that pondering on the enormous mystery of Christ’s death [and mysterious enormity of His love] could be a good thing.
When the Church speaks of “different groups,” it does not mean self-selected church groupings. Let’s read this brief section:
191. Catechesis, today, is confronted by subjects who, because of professional training or more broadly cultural formation, require special programmes. These include catechesis for workers, for professionals, for artists, for scientists and for university students. This is warmly recommended within the common journey of the Christian community. Clearly, all these sectors demand a competent approach and language adapted to those being catechized, while always maintaining fidelity to the message which catechesis transmits.(Cf. Catechesi Tradendae 59)
Even large parishes may struggle to find the resources to address some of these groups. There’s something to be said for cooperation across parish boundaries, within a diocese, and even among them.
about Todd Flowerday
A Roman Catholic lay person, married (since 1996), with one adopted child (since 2001). I serve in worship and spiritual life in a midwestern university parish.
Neil has been a blogging collaborator for the past several years on Catholic Sensibility. He brings his unique experiences from theology, spirituality, and the ecumenical sphere. Pay special attention to each one of his posts.