Monday, March 4th, 2013
4 March 2013
Posted by catholicsensibility under Rite of Penance
, Scripture Leave a Comment
Jesus tells a delicious parable at Mass tomorrow. Fifteen verses are more than you care to read or that I might care to cut and paste into this post, but you all know what I’m talking about. Read up on it here.
Peter presents the question we’ve heard before, but one we all want to ask. We want to be relieved, some of us, of the burden and demand of forgiving people who repeatedly offend us. The question and answer are rather straightforward:
Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
In addition to giving us a real encounter with the Lord, Peter is also something of a symbol for all of us. “My sister sinned against me. I mean: she really sinned. What are you going to do about it, Lord?” And Jesus will tell us the same thing he said in the parable:
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
The act of mercy didn’t quite sink in. Another person in debt to the servant is treated harshly. Have you ever noticed that it is the others in the community who bring this to the master’s attention?
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
Serious sin disturbs other people. That’s why conspiracy and fraud are so damaging to the public trust: we call to mind the possibility that if a public leader, a parent, or a bishop has behaved badly toward someone, what if it happened to more people? And more so, God gets truly angry with hypocrites:
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother (or sister) from your heart.
Learn mercy from God–this is what Jesus seems to be saying. We are offered a lot of lessons in the life of faith. It would seem that being able to offer forgiveness and reconciliation to others is part of our own healing process. We can rightly ask if we’ve truly experienced deep reconciliation, deep conversion, if we stand ready to hammer a sister or brother for something they have done to us.
4 March 2013
Too much for sure from the Vatican’s viewpoint. The Frequently Misspelled One broadcasts that the Vatican wanted him to come to Rome. Insisted:
Without my even having to inquire, the nuncio in Washington phoned me a week or so ago and said, “I have had word from the highest folks in the Vatican: you are to come to Rome and you are to participate in the conclave.”
I’m not sure this is a good thing, especially for the Vatican. Minds have been made up on the retired Los Angeles archbishop. But for him to suggest publicly that “the highest folks” wanted him in Rome–that strikes me as a public relations blunder. Maybe minor. Maybe not.
The comment from the Vatican’s Father Federico Lombardi:
(Cardinal Mahony’s statement) can be understood in light of the communique of the Secretariat of State that insisted on the importance of not giving in to external pressures that might limit the freedom of the electors and the conclave.
Said document criticizes a potential influence of “public opinion that is often based on judgements that do not typically capture the spiritual aspect of the moment that the church is living.”
Fair enough. And yet, the “public opinion” is grounded in a morality that embraces responsible management, truthfulness, and cooperation with the rule of law. The public, especially the Catholic laity, have moral reasons for being critical of the man. They don’t strike me as especially political. Except in the sense of the relationship between two church factions: the Vatican bureaucracy and the American laity.
On the other hand, a moral equivalency might be for the laity to tell the bishops they don’t wish themselves to give in to external pressures. What might that mean if it gets thrown back into the laps of the episcopacy? I suspect it already has.
I’m actually starting to worry about Cardinal Mahony. Every public statement coming from him these days strikes me as cringeworthy. He doesn’t get the gravity of the consequences of his actions. The “highest folks” share that blindness. These are the people who will select the next pope. Maybe we should be worried … a little bit.
4 March 2013
Posted by catholicsensibility under Lent
, spirituality Leave a Comment
In many previous Lents, I’ve left the car radio dial alone. cd player too. It’s an offshoot of my longtime practice of heading home from retreat in a silent car. This year, too, but with an addition.
I’ve always been struck by the contrast between my nervous need to fill up a road trip with sound and the calm trek home after several days of quiet. Granted, there are times when you need a good driving song played loud and sung along to, like this one from the 70′s, or this one from the 80′s. That latter one came on the radio when I was driving I-90 between Buffalo and Erie on July 9th, 1988. My first car. My first move from the ancestral hometown–all my possessions in the backseat and trunk. A nice bright summer Saturday morning. A radio dial turned up. Figuring out how to “play” guitar on my steering wheel. Without weaving.
Today is the twentieth day of dialing it down. This Lent, I’ve found it fruitful to use that silent time, sometimes fidgety, to pray for others. For those of you who ask me to pray for you, I confess: I often forget. But I have a particular prayer I use these days to at least place a name in a context. I’m remembering far more often. Perhaps like those adventurous trips on the open road, I feel like filling my small car with sound. I can fill it with prayer these days, more readily with this opportunity.
This all came back to me when I read Michelle Francl-Donnay’s reflection on PrayTell.
What if instead of fasting on Lenten Fridays, I elected instead to pay extraordinary attention to God’s presence in my everyday life? In my kitchen, as I dice carrots for dinner; in my classroom, confronted by confused students.
Am I letting myself off too easy? I think not. As the people of Nazareth so dramatically demonstrated, it can require heroic attention to recognize the face of God when we see it every day.
Last Friday night, coming home from a party, my wife was driving us through Campustown. One apparently drunken student ignored safe traffic behavior and challenged two lanes of cars. We were at the head of one of those lanes. When presented with everyday opportunities outside the soundtrack of my life, I certainly try to pray these days. Even if it’s a little less alcohol consumption, and a little more prudence crossing the street on the way home at night.
Driving a car is something I do a lot. Picking up the young miss from an after-school activity, working some pastoral errand. All of those little pilgrimages are opportunities, just like chopping vegetables or when student conversations drift into my office. Maybe this is a practice I can adopt and maintain into Easter and beyond, not as an intrusion into silence, but as part of the journey into silence.