Here’s a good Catholic reading:
Jesus said to the crowd:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world.”
The Jewish leaders quarreled among themselves, saying,
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,
and I will raise them on the last day.
For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in them.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
For good Catholics, there’s an obvious and expected connection between participation in the Eucharist and the eternal life promised by Christ to his followers. This reading makes less sense for those who are not regular churchgoers. But it makes a very traditional connection between eschatology (the end things) and the life-giving sacramental system.
Jesus’ dissenters don’t seem to get it. But what is described here is a deep intimacy with God. What God shares with us is something as close as the very substance of the divine makeup. If we were to imitate Christ in our relationships with others, it would be as if we were giving our very flesh, our very lives. And that theme is picked up by the Lord at the Last Supper.
John 6:51-58 may be a traditional reading, but it’s also a very dangerous one. Are we prepared to live our lives in imitation of the Lord? Taking his flesh and blood into our systems–that’s what it means. Not every mourning assembly is prepared for a message like this. But if we want to be inspired to follow in Christ’s footsteps, and those of the saints, perhaps a very good message.
At the Bench, Greg linked this column from Toledo bishop Leonard Blair on the doctrinal investigation of the LCWR.
(I)t is a great cross sometimes to know firsthand the actual facts of a situation and then have to listen to all the distortions and misrepresentation of the facts that are made in the public domain.
And yet it is undeniable that the CDF and the bishops made this a “public domain” issue by breaking the news of it. The secular world doesn’t understand the Church. Some people within and outside of the Church are deeply skeptical of the bishops and their moral conduct. Cardinal Rodé’s investigation was very poorly handled from the start and seemed to curl up quietly and die. One of the strongest objections to the CDF investigation is how the news was presented. It’s been a frequent CDF problem for decades now. The cross, in this instance, is a self-selected one.
Bishop Blair cites the four usual “causes for concern” we’ve seen elsewhere. I tend to skepticism when quotes are taken out of context. Dr Sandra Schneiders said
It can no longer be taken for granted that the members [of a given congregation] share the same faith.
That’s not good news, but it certainly may be true. I’m not deep enough into religious life to know for sure. I also don’t know if Dr Schneiders was speaking of people who have faith in someone other than Christ. Or if she was speaking about non-Catholic lay associates. Or if she was suggesting that people who share membership might have different styles of faith. If the CDF is concerned about people who have lost faith, then Dr Schneiders’ bearing when delivering this unwelcome news would be important: straight-faced lament, fist-pumping, or something else.
The LCWR’s Systems Thinking Handbook describes a hypothetical case in which sisters differ over whether the Eucharist should be at the center of a special community celebration. The problem is that some of the sisters object to “priest-led liturgies.” The scenario, it seems, is not simply fictitious, for some LCWR speakers also mention the difficulty of finding ways to worship together as a faith community. According to the Systems Thinking Handbook this difficulty is rooted in differences at the level of belief, but also different mental models—the “Western mind” and the “Organic mental model.” These, rather than Church doctrine, are offered as tools for the resolution of the case.
Given the context, I’m not sure I see the problem here. I had a friend in religious life a number of years ago who lived in a community in which a chaplain assigned to preside at Mass occasionally showed up inebriated or late. Women’s communities do not always have the access to priests who will collaborate on liturgy, as is often the case in parishes. In mission locations, there may be no clergy available. Lacking the ordination of women or married persons, there is no rejection of the Eucharist on the part of communities. The institution itself cannot provide for the sacramental needs of the faithful. Coming from a women’s ordination advocate, that might seem like a loaded criticism. But aren’t the words themselves true?
Four single speakers in fifteen years–I’m not sure I have a problem with these contrary examples. Maybe I’d have more of a concern if workshop attendees just swallowed everything they heard as gospel. The women religious I know have no problem sharing criticisms of convention speakers when we’ve gone to conferences.
Bishop Blair’s conclusion:
This situation is now a source of controversy and misunderstanding, as well as misrepresentation. I am confident, however, that if the serious concerns of the CDF are accurately represented and discussed among all the sisters of our country, there will indeed be an opening to a new and positive relationship between women religious and the Church’s pastors in doctrinal matters, as there already is in so many other areas where mutual respect and cooperation abound.
Mutual respect and cooperation indeed. We sure need more of that. I’m not attacking the LCWR for saying these are good words. Not at all.
As of 7:30AM this morning “Ubi Caritas” has edged “O Come O Come Emmanuel” 16-13. Thanks for all your voting and participation. If you want to review and recap the brackets, they are here:
If there are relics to be deposited, this is done after the Litany of Saints.
61. Then, if relics of the martyrs or other saints are to be placed beneath the altar, the bishop approaches the altar. A deacon or priest brings them to the bishop, who places them is a suitably prepared aperture. Meanwhile, one of the following antiphons is sung with Psalm 15:
Saints of God, you have been seated at the foot of God’s altar; pray for us to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The bodies of the saints are buried in peace, but their names will live for ever (alleluia).
Another appropriate liturgical song may be sung.
Meanwhile, a stone mason closes the aperture and the bishop returns to the chair.
The text of Psalm 15 is given in the 2003 ICEL draft (as are all the psalms).