Thursday, May 17th, 2012
17 May 2012
Posted by catholicsensibility under Liturgy
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Depending on your diocese or nation, you have already celebrated the Ascension or you will wait till Sunday. A reader sent me this link with a video of a statue of Christ rising to and through a ceiling hole in Sts Peter and Paul Church in Mittenwald, Germany.
In my younger days, I probably would have thought an attempt at reenactment with a statue a little cheesy. Today, I wonder about the tradition: how it began, how it gets maintained, and how a shifting of pastors affects that. It reminds me a little of the Baby Jesus figure rappelling down a wire from the choir loft on Christmas Eve. Still, we are spared smoke, mirrors, and special effects.
17 May 2012
Jimmy Mac sent me this link to The Tablet with a legal defense for a British diocese:
The diocese of Portsmouth this week insisted that a priest accused of abusing a child was employed “in the service” of God, not by the diocese.
As it was a preliminary hearing on the case, the court was not tasked with judging the truth of the woman’s allegations, but ruled instead on the question of whether the relationship between a priest and bishop was akin to that between an employer and an employee.
I wonder how often the prosecutors bring up the Church’s own teaching. Christus Dominus 16 is sure to be an eye-opener for the legal world, not to mention a few bishops:
Let (bishops) be true fathers who excel in the spirit of love and solicitude for all and to whose divinely conferred authority all gratefully submit themselves. Let them so gather and mold the whole family of their flock that everyone, conscious of his own duties, may live and work in the communion of love.
Bishops should always embrace priests with a special love since the latter to the best of their ability assume the bishops’ anxieties and carry them on day by day so zealously. They should regard the priests as sons and friends (Cf. John 15:15) and be ready to listen to them. Through their trusting familiarity with their priests they should strive to promote the whole pastoral work of the entire diocese.
They should be solicitous for the spiritual, intellectual and material welfare of the priests so that the latter can live holy and pious lives and fulfill their ministry faithfully and fruitfully.
With active mercy bishops should pursue priests who are involved in any danger or who have failed in certain respects.
Here’s what I see in the bishop:
- They are tasked with being “fathers” in a “family” of members that “live and work in (a) communion.”
- Their relationship with priests is described as a mutuality not only in ministry, but of cares, of listening, and of respect.
- They share with the clergy “the whole pastoral work of the entire diocese.”
- Their concern is wide-ranging and goes beyond the work their priests do.
- A troubled priest is a target of “active” concern–even pursuit.
Is a bishop responsible? Darn right he is. It goes with the job, and it certainly is intimiately entangled with the nature of the episcopal ministry as the Catholic church teaches and understands it. Is the bishop an employer? That and much, much more. Bishop Hollis should know this.
17 May 2012
Posted by catholicsensibility under Science  Comments
I see Catholic comboxes are heating up over another commencement speaker. At the Bench, Greg Kandra picks it up from LSN, which gives its readers contacts at DePaul University for the registration of complaints.
I’d love to sit down with Dr E.O. Wilson and have a chat about science. But failing that, I’d like to address believers and others in the commentariat here.
Human overpopulation is a truth. Scientists, believers, and others only disagree on where the border lies.
- About one square mile per person is optimal–enough room for everybody to get lost. World population: fifty million, give or take.
- Today’s population of seven billion grows enough food to feed itself, thanks to the scientific advances in agriculture. Our real problems are political: distributing food and other resources so people can live and thrive.
- If every person had an acre of land (is that about right, sustenance farmers?) the world would have 32 billion people, give or take.
- If every person had a five-by-five foot piece of land to stand on, that takes us to fifty trillion human beings.
I’m not going to put it up in a poll–I’d like to see your responses a bit nuanced: between two and three, between three and four, leaning to three, less than one–stuff like that. Add also your theological and moral commentary on this. I’m most interested in hearing from people who think overpopulation warnings are overblown. I’m sure you would say that human being standing shoulder to shoulder in ten layers of floors (two to three quadrillion people) would be overpopulation. If human beings doubled their numbers every thirty years starting today we could achieve that in six centuries. What do you say?
17 May 2012
The core of the rite of dedication involves four actions, and section 16 of the RDCA Chapter Two’s introduction gives a brief background to each:
16. The rites of anointing, incensing, covering, and lighting the altar express in visible signs several aspects of the invisible work that the Lord accomplishes through the Church in its celebration of the divine mysteries, especially the eucharist.
- a) Anointing of the altar and the walls of the church:
The anointing with chrism makes the altar a symbol of Christ, who, before all others, is and is called ‘The Anointed One”’; for the Father anointed him with the Holy Spirit and constituted him the High Priest so that on the altar of his body he might offer the sacrifice of his life for the salvation of all.
The anointing of the church signifies that it is given over entirely and perpetually to Christian worship. In keeping with liturgical tradition, there are twelve anointings, or, where it is more convenient, four, as a symbol that the church is an image of the holy city of Jerusalem.
- b) Incense is burned on the altar to signify that Christ’s sacrifice, there perpetuated in mystery, ascends to God as an odor of sweetness and also to signify that the people’s prayers rise up pleasing and acceptable, reaching the throne of God.(See Rev 8:3-4)
The incensation of the nave of the church indicates that the dedication makes it a house of prayer, but the people of God are incensed first, because they are the living temple in which each fanciful member is a spiritual altar.(See Rom 12:1)
- c) The covering of the altar indicates that the Christian altar is the altar of the eucharistic sacrifice and the table of the Lord; around it priests and people, by one and the same rite but with a difference of function, celebrate the memorial of Christ’s death and resurrection and partake of his supper. For this reason the altar is prepared as the table of the sacrificial banquet and adorned as for a feast. Thus the dressing of the altar clearly signifies that it is the Lord’s table at which all God’s people joyously meet to be refreshed with divine food, namely, the body and blood of Christ sacrificed.
- d) The lighting of the altar, which is followed by the lighting of the church, reminds us that Christ is ‘a light to enlighten the nations’;(Lk 2:32) his brightness shines out in the Church and through it in the whole human family.
There’s a lot to talk about with each of these actions. Feel free to chime in on any one of them. I’ll offer some general thoughts, and perhaps Liam, Jeffery, or others visiting from PrayTell might zero in on what they see.
Each of these actions has a scriptural grounding. The three quotes cited are all New Testament images, but they also are rooted in the Psalms and the prophetic tradition of Judaism.
The focus is on the sacramental (signs instituted by Christ to give grace) and on communicating the reality of Christ and his people’s relationship with him. I’m not an expert in the preconciliar dedication liturgies. I noted a few comments at PrayTell suggesting the Tridentine Rite was superior to the reformed. Sight unseen, I would posit that the post-conciliar RDCA focuses less on the clergy and more on Christ. The trimming away of peripherals aims at making the presence and action of Christ more clear.
That said, I think having these four actions communicates a richness of tradition. Each could be explored in detail and would yield a mystagogical harvest in the hands of a skilled catechist.
In my present parish, after the stripping of the altar on Holy Thursday, it remains undressed until its preparation at the Easter Vigil. Given the order here, I’m wondering if we shouldn’t dress the altar first, then add altar candles last. Long parish tradition has been to walk in the free-standing candles first, then add the cloths. Worth a switch, or is it just a fussy consideration?
Have at it, people; what do you see? By the way, if I were getting more commentary on this series, I’d be inclined to split this post into four separate discussions on chrism, incense, cloths, and candles. I think we might do just as well saving the particular discussion of each action for the posts when we examine the rubrics and ritual texts.