Except for the Psalms and John’s Gospel, Romans is represented in the funeral Lectionary more than any other book. Possibly because of the apostle’s clarity of theology and teaching.
In chapter 14 of Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans, the apostle is addressing a particular situation in this community. Verses 1-6 argue for the community to be tolerant. This is followed by some more specific advice, with verse 10ab excised to give the whole text a rather general cast:
No one lives for oneself,
and no one dies for oneself.
For if we live, we live for the Lord,
and if we die, we die for the Lord;
so then, whether we live or die,
we are the Lord’s.
For this is why Christ died and came to life,
that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God;
for it is written:
“As I live, says the Lord,
every knee shall bend before me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.”
So then each of us shall give an accounting of ourselves to God.
The section in color is thought to be a possible ancient hymn fragment or a credal statement: three couplets with something of a poetic sense. Whether original to Saint Paul or not isn’t relevant. The apostle uses it as a springboard to remind his hearers that all believers are accountable to God. For those latched on to the idea of quoting ancient Christian hymns, this section has a sort of symmetry, if you will. The quotation marks outline a poetic prophecy to Cyrus in Isaiah 45:23. In Paul’s day, just as subjects of an emperor bent knee and acknowledged authority, so too Christians do likewise before the judgment seat of God.
When might this passage be selected? Where authority is valued–by either the deceased or community of mourners, perhaps. To underscore the centrality of God and of Jesus the Son in the funeral liturgy. I suppose if the first reading were more suggestive of the qualities of the deceased, this Scripture would tend to give more of a balance before heading into the Gospel.
It’s a passage that might comfort some–those who in their lives rely on God and acknowledge divine authority in their lives. But it’s a message of which we never hear too much.
Two of our students performing: Michael, a recent graduate, on piano and Jesse, one of last year’s graduates, on voice.
Ave Maria, Bach-Gounod setting
Musical prayer for a May day.
After deep-sixing Anna Maria College’s invitation to Victoria Kennedy to give a commencement address, Worcester Bishop Robert J. McManus finds himself disinvited too.
Raymond L. Delisle, a spokesman for the Diocese of Worcester, said Anna Maria President Jack Calareso and Sr. Yvette Bellerose, the chair of the school’s board of trustees, had a brief meeting Thursday at the chancery.
He said they asked the bishop to consider not attending and he agreed.
“They felt the bishop would be a distraction to the event,” said Mr. Delisle, who described the meeting as cordial. “He was going to attend but that’s not going to happen now.”
You readers know I’m a huge skeptic when it comes to the hermeneutic of subtraction. I think disinvitations are rude and lazy, usually. It should be no surprise to any of you I think both people should have been invited.
On the other hand, commencement is all about students. So maybe the AMC solution of having two students give addresses is a better solution all around.
At some point, the so-called adults in the chanceries and the university offices are going to need to sit down and get past all this nonsense.
The name is important. I’ve outlined the text here to bullet points:
4. Every church to be dedicated must a have a titular. This may be:
- the Blessed Trinity;
- our Lord Jesus Christ invoked according to a mystery of his life or a title already accepted in the liturgy;
- the Holy Spirit;
- the Blessed Virgin Mary, likewise invoked according to some appellation already accepted in the liturgy;
- one of the angels;
- or, finally, a saint inscribed in the Roman Martyrology or in a duly approved Appendix.
- A blessed may not be the titular without an indult of the Apostolic See.
A church should have one titular only, unless it is a question of saints who are listed together in the Calendar.
Now you know how and why those blessed popes and American saints are popping up associated with new parishes.
The Trinity is interesting: nothing for God the Father; nothing for Jesus Christ alone (Though I know of one parish called “Christchurch.” Perhaps that is more the mystery of Christ as the head of the Church.), but the Holy Spirit is okay–but no mention of titles.
And speaking of the Holy Spirit, what about a title taken from the liturgy? Lumen Cordium Church? (Holy Spirit, Light of All Hearts Parish).
For the Blessed Mother, I suppose one would need an indult for one, say, of the thousands of titles by which she is acclaimed in various litanies but for which there is no liturgical feast. (Seat of Wisdom, or Mystical Rose, for example.) Can you imagine Mary, Refuge of Sinners Parish? One unique Marian title is Our Lady of Nazareth in Roanoke, Virginia.
Obscure saints can be fun. I did a workshop once in a Fourteen Holy Helpers Parish outside of Buffalo. There’s a Saint Munchin in my old diocese in northwest Missouri.
Any thoughts on names?
The importance of the parish cannot be understated. According to Pope John Paul II, it is where we become aware that ew are people of God. Heady stuff:
257. The parish is, without doubt, the most important locus in which the Christian community is formed and expressed. This is called to be a fraternal and welcoming family where Christians become aware of being the people of God. (Catechesi Tradendae 67b) In the parish, all human differences melt away and are absorbed into the universality of the Church. (Cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem 10) The parish is also the usual place in which the faith is born and in which it grows. It constitutes, therefore, a very adequate community space for the realization of the ministry of the word at once as teaching, education and life experience.
Today, the parish is undergoing profound transformation in many countries. Social changes are having repercussions on the parish especially in big cities “shaken by the phenomenon of urbanization”. (Catechesi Tradendae 67b) Despite this, “the parish is still a major point of reference for the Christian people, even for the non-practising”. (Catechesi Tradendae 67b) It must however, continue ” to be the prime mover and pre-eminent place for catechesis”, (Catechesi Tradendae 67b) while recognising that in certain occasions, it cannot be the centre of gravity for all of the ecclesial functions of catechesis and must integrate itself into other institutions.
It is not reasonable to expect, however, that the parish must be all things to all people. Where is the difference to be seen? The parish exists to support parents and form them as primary catechists of their children. It sends young people out into the world as fully-formed adults in their faith. It can let go when it brushes up against forces it cannot budge: parental neglect, diocesan incompetence, or even apathy in its own leadership.
Wondering where to begin? What do you think of these?
258. In order that the parish may succeed in activating effectively the mission of evangelization, some conditions must be fulfilled:
a) Adult catechesis (The importance of adult catechesis is underlined in Catechesi Tradendae 43 and General Catechetical Directory 20) must be given priority. This involves “a post-baptismal catechesis, in the form of a catechumenate, …presenting again some elements from the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults with the purpose of allowing a person to grasp and live the immense, extraordinary richness and responsibility received at Baptism”. (Christifedeles Laici 61)
b) With renewed courage, the proclamation of the Gospel to those alienated or who live in religious indifference (Cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 52) must be planned. In this task, pre-sacramental meetings (preparation for Marriage, Baptism and First Holy Communion of children) can be fundamental. (Cf. General Catechetical Directory 96c)
c) As a solid reference point for parochial catechesis it is necessary to have a nucleus of mature Christians, initiated into the faith, for whom the pastor should have an adequate and differentiated pastoral care. This objective can be more easily achieved by the formation of small ecclesial communities. (It is important to state as Pope John Paul II does in Christifedeles Laici 61 the usefulness of small ecclesial groups in the context of parishes. They should not however be a parallel movement which absorbs the best members of parishes: “internal to the parish, especially if vast and territorially extensive, small Church communities, where present, can be a notable help in the formation of Christians by providing a consciousness and an experience of ecclesial communion and mission which are more extensive and incisive”)
d) While the preceding points refer mainly to adults, at the same time catechesis for children, adolescents, and young people—which is always indispensable—will also benefit greatly.
Parishes are doing fairly well on d), and probably neglecting the other three to some extent. Let’s look at these in a bit of detail:
a) The great mystagogues among the Doctors of the Church used the sacramental experience of the believer as the basis for a deeper entry into the mysteries of Christ. Homilies can and should be more mystagogical, but they also need to make connections with the lived life of the believers celebrating liturgy. For homilists, is there one simple mystagogical point to make about the Scriptures and liturgy? Two or more points are likely poorer than one. Remember what is said in GDC 257 and apply it: the homiluy cannot be center of gravity for all adult catechesis.
b) Young couples preparing for marriage and for the first sacraments of their children–face it: it’s when people are there who ordinarily wouldn’t be. Are the best catechists employed for these occasions? To use a baseball metaphor, when you need to get on base to get into a game, do you have your most reliable and speedy hitter leading off?
c) Small groups. Programs like RENEW and CRHP focus on these. They are designed by experienced catechists. Keeping small groups meeting for years sustains the faith of many parish adults for many years. And while most “programs” end after a set period of time, religious publishers offer many possibilities for ongoing faith formation of these groups. There is literally an embarrassment of riches on this front. Trust me.