Bad Bishops: “Bad Pope, Bad Catholics”

Jimmy Mac sent me this link. After pondering that some prelates were maybe slugging down too much anise aperitif, I was thinking about 89 pages. Is that all?

To be truthful: once you’re on a roll, why stop with 10.79 schismatic years per page? If you’re trolling internet sites opposed to Pope Francis, if not Catholics in general, there are tons of material out there. And that’s just the electrons. Imagine committing all that spit to paper.

Nothing like a bracing shot of anti-ecumenism. Only a short step to the antigospel from there.

Posted in Commentary, ecumenism, Hermeneutic of Subtraction | 2 Comments

Dies Domini 24-25: The Day of the New Creation

With these two sections, John Paul II looks at “The day of the new creation.” He cites Jewish/Christian connections in the Scriptures. Linking the Creation account with the Christological hymn of the letter to the Colossians.

24. A comparison of the Christian Sunday with the Old Testament vision of the Sabbath prompted theological insights of great interest. In particular, there emerged the unique connection between the Resurrection and Creation. Christian thought spontaneously linked the Resurrection, which took place on “the first day of the week”, with the first day of that cosmic week (cf. Gn 1:1 – 2:4) which shapes the creation story in the Book of Genesis: the day of the creation of light (cf. 1:3-5). This link invited an understanding of the Resurrection as the beginning of a new creation, the first fruits of which is the glorious Christ, “the first born of all creation” (Col 1:15) and “the first born from the dead” (Col 1:18).

A similar connection might be made with the incarnation as well–that’s fairly obvious (cf. the prologue of John’s Gospel, the opening verses of the Pentateuch and 1 John.)

Sunday moves to primacy because of the importance of the sacramental life we have in Christ:

25. In effect, Sunday is the day above all other days which summons Christians to remember the salvation which was given to them in baptism and which has made them new in Christ. “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Col 2:12; cf. Rom 6:4-6). The liturgy underscores this baptismal dimension of Sunday, both in calling for the celebration of baptisms — as well as at the Easter Vigil — on the day of the week “when the Church commemorates the Lord’s Resurrection”,(Rite of Baptism of Children, No. 9; cf. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, No. 59) and in suggesting as an appropriate penitential rite at the start of Mass the sprinkling of holy water, which recalls the moment of Baptism in which all Christian life is born.(Cf. Roman Missal, Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling of Holy Water.)

I’m not sure all liturgists and theologians would see the Sprinkling Rite as penitential–it’s clearly more baptismal. At any rate the suggestion is spot on that such an expression is wholly appropriate for Sunday Mass.

The Vatican site has Dies Domini in its entirety.

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The Worship of Hate

It’s no laughing matter, certainly, but the white supremacist in my former city seemed unable to shoot straight, murdering three Christians in an attempt to rid the world of Jews.

Or maybe he was shooting straight, or didn’t care. Daniel Burke makes the case the guy is a pagan. (Don’t know where the prefix “neo-” comes from. I think the Norse gods go back a millennium or two.)

Let’s just call it hate, and admit that in our own way we each surrender to it from time to time. What is the Christian response? “Thank God I’m not like that murderer?” What about just being angry with someone else?

My take is that justifying actions by calling on higher powers, politicians, celebrities, or even dead gods just shows how pitiable the indulgence of anger and aggression is. People are calling for the death penalty for the age-73 killer. May I suggest a diet of matzoh and gefilte fish? Maybe a bagel on Sunday.

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I See No Blood Upon The Moon

I hadn’t realized there was such a fuss about this morning’s eclipse. Of course the moon turns red. That’s a good sign: the Earth possesses an atmosphere. A black moon would be trouble–it would mean someone sucked all the air off the planet.

If that happens, feel free to panic.

(W)hat’s unusual this time around is that there will be four blood moons within 18 months — astronomers call that a tetrad — and all of them occur during Jewish holidays.

Doh, to use a theological and scientific term.

Passover is determined by the first full moon of Spring, and you can only have an eclipse when the moon is full. If you somehow saw an eclipse on a moon that wasn’t full, that would mean a sizable planet was somewhere in the Earth’s vicinity. And that would be bad. Eclipses are timed by the tilt of the moon’s orbit and happen on the half-years. A number of eclipses will time with Passover this century. That’s just the way it works. If suddenly, we got an unexpected lunar eclipse in June or December, that would be trouble. It would mean something or someone tilted the moon’s orbit out of whack. They couldn’t do that without throwing a large planet or a small star at the Earth. In which case, we would end up with a month of a different length. That kind of crap is indeed apocalyptic. Get worried if an eclipse turns up in June or December in the 21st century.

Folks, this isn’t the 21st century … BC. Time to step off the panic box. And not buy books from millennialists. Or listen to their podcasts. The world was in much worse shape in previous centuries when events like the Black Death wiped out double-digit percentages of European peasantry.

If you want to panic, think about climate change. You know: the things people do to the planet. Not the spectator events of heavenly bodies.

Posted in Astronomy | Tagged | 2 Comments

I See

I was thinking about Joseph Plunkett’s poem. I first read it in the poetry appendix of Christian Prayer more than thirty years ago. The musical setting I was first familiar with was that of Michael Joncas from his collection Every Stone Shall Cry, a small publishing house release around 1981. In trying to find it on YouTube, I was unsuccessful, but I noticed that many other composers have taken a try at the text, including Steeleye Span. Interesting.

The words seem enough for this week:

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

I was reading that part of Mr Plunkett’s education was with the Jesuits. The spiritual exercises this Lent have emphasized seeing. “I see,” the first line of two stanzas, leapt out at me. All the YouTube versions I heard seem to skip lightly over that verb.

Maybe I’m feeling particularly attuned to things Ignatian, but this poem has a very Jesuit feel to me.

Posted in Art, Holy Week | Tagged , | 1 Comment

EG 143: Connection and Conversation

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis urges a connection in preaching, not the simple presentation of ideas or even values unrelated to the people or the moment.

143. The challenge of an inculturated preaching consists in proclaiming a synthesis, not ideas or detached values. Where your synthesis is, there lies your heart. The difference between enlightening people with a synthesis and doing so with detached ideas is like the difference between boredom and heartfelt fervor.

If preachers feel they connect with their people by means of those detached ideas and values, the question might well be if the people are attracted to the preachers by personality or charisma.

Preaching is not easy:

The preacher has the wonderful but difficult task of joining loving hearts, the hearts of the Lord and his people. The dialogue between God and his people further strengthens the covenant between them and consolidates the bond of charity. In the course of the homily, the hearts of believers keep silence and allow God to speak. The Lord and his people speak to one another in a thousand ways directly, without intermediaries. But in the homily they want someone to serve as an instrument and to express their feelings in such a way that afterwards, each one may chose how he or she will continue the conversation. The word is essentially a mediator and requires not just the two who dialogue but also an intermediary who presents it for what it is, out of the conviction that “what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor 4:5).

A good question here: do homilies begin a conversation, or do they end it?

Evangelii Gaudium is available online.

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Reconciliation Lectionary: Psalm 31:10, 15-17, 20

mary-the-penitent.jpgWe treated the 31st Psalm earlier in this series, looking at verses 2 and 4-6. This psalm also appears as a suggestion for the sample penitential services in appendix II of the Rite of Penance under the title of “sin and conversion.”

Verse 15 gives us the antiphon for this selection:

My trust is in you, O God.

The three choices of Gospel readings for this theme are all chosen from the Passion. So perhaps there is no surprise that Psalm 31 is also utilized on Good Friday in the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion. Verses 15 through 17 are shared with that Lectionary. But verse 10 is prescribed for Penance:

Have pity on me, O Lord,
for I am in distress;
with sorrow my eye is consumed;
my soul also, and my body.

Psalms 22 and 31 each have verses which are connected to Jesus’ utterances during his Passion. Verse 10 seems more suitable for a penitent’s utterance than for Jesus to speak of in conversation with the Father, perhaps. But if sin has harmed us to the point of moving us toward conversion, this is a great text on which to reflect.

Stanza two shares verses 15-17 with the Triduum:

But my trust is in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
In your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your mercy.

If we have a sense of the evil one assailing us, perhaps these verses make good sense. I can certainly relate to a prayer to deliver me from my addictions and compulsions–the most demonic of my life’s experiences.

Stanza three is a final utterance of thanksgiving for God’s grace:

How great is your goodness, O Lord,
which you have in store for those who fear you,
And which, toward those who take refuge in you,
you show in the sight of (people).

These excerpts from a longer psalm are diverse and complex. They describe the experience of awareness of sin in terms of contrition and sorrow to the point of physical ailment. They suggest forces outside of ourselves that drive us or lure us into wrongdoing. And they complete the lament with a plea to God: praising him in confident hope.

If a parish were celebrating a communal penance liturgy during Holy Week, this Psalm, coupled with one of the Passion excerpts, seems appropriate. But if there is a thought of healing in the preaching of Penance, then Psalm 31 with these verses also seem appropriate. Though the 32nd Psalm is a bit more explicit in that regard.

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