DPPL 4: Nature and Structure of the Document

STA altar at night smallLet’s examine the “Nature and Structure” of the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (DPPL).

4. This Directory contains two parts. The first, entitled Emerging Trends, provides the elements necessary for the harmonization of Liturgy and popular piety. It draws on the experience which has matured during the long history and emergence of the contemporary problematic (Chapter 1). The teachings of the Magisterium are systematically restated since they are indispensable for ecclesial communion and fruitful action (Chapter 2). Finally, the theological principles, according to which difficulties concerning the relationship between Liturgy and popular piety are approached and resolved, are stated (Chapter 3). The possibility of realizing a true and fruitful harmonization of Liturgy and popular piety can only be achieved by a wise and committed respect for these presuppositions. Conversely, overlooking them leads to nothing but reciprocal and futile ignorance, damaging confusion and contradictory polemics.

This first part will cover sections 22-92. History will be summarized in DPPL 22-59, the Magisterium in 60-75, and finish up with the theology of popular piety in 76-92. If we maintain daily posts, that should take us well into the Fall.

The second part, entitled Guidelines, offers a series of practical proposals. It does not claim to be able to include every usage or practice of popular piety to be found in particular locations throughout the world. Mention of particular practices or expressions of popular piety is not to be regarded as an invitation to adopt them where they are not already practised. This section is elaborated in reference to the Liturgical Year (Chapter 4); to the special veneration given by the Church to the Mother of our Saviour (Chapter 5); to devotion to the Holy Angels, the Saints and the Beatified (Chapter 6); to suffrage for the dead (Chapter 7) and to pilgrimage and examples of popular piety connected with shrines (Chapter 8).

In numbered sections, these topics will cover DPPL 94-182 (the Liturgical Year), 183-207 (the Blessed Mother), 208-247 (angels and saints), 248-260 (the dead) , and 261-287 (shrines and pilgrimages), leaving DPPL 288 for a conclusion.

The purpose of the directory is outlined, to offer guidance and keep believers largely to the straight and narrow:

The object of this Directory is to offer guidelines and, where necessary, to prevent abuses or deviations. Its tone is positive and constructive. In the same context, it provides short historical notes on several popular devotions in its Guidelines. It records the various pious exercises attached to these devotions while signalling their theological underpinning, and making practical suggesting in relation to time, place, language and other factors, so as to harmonize them with the Liturgy.

What do you think so far?

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EG 259-261: Spirit-Filled Evangelizers

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdaleneLet’s begin the fifth chapter of Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, and let’s take up the topic of “Spirit-filled evangelizers.

259. Spirit-filled evangelizers means evangelizers fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost, the Spirit made the apostles go forth from themselves and turned them into heralds of God’s wondrous deeds, capable of speaking to each person in his or her own language. The Holy Spirit also grants the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel with boldness (parrhesía) in every time and place, even when it meets with opposition. Let us call upon him today, firmly rooted in prayer, for without prayer all our activity risks being fruitless and our message empty. Jesus wants evangelizers who proclaim the good news not only with words, but above all by a life transfigured by God’s presence.

Many introverts protest they are not called to do bold things. But boldness is not just a matter of frequent and significant conversations with many people. A disciple can be bold in many ways, and Pope Francis reminds us that a transfigured life is what the Lord wants most of all.

What not to expect from the EG 259-288:

260. In this final chapter, I do not intend to offer a synthesis of Christian spirituality, or to explore great themes like prayer, Eucharistic adoration or the liturgical celebration of the faith. For all these we already have valuable texts of the magisterium and celebrated writings by great authors. I do not claim to replace or improve upon these treasures. I simply wish to offer some thoughts about the spirit of the new evangelization.

What is expected? Consider that no single individual can accomplish a spirited evangelization on her or his own. The activity of the Holy Spirit is essential. If we’re not sure we have it, and not sure the Church has it, then the solution is to pray for it.

261. Whenever we say that something is “spirited”, it usually refers to some interior impulse which encourages, motivates, nourishes and gives meaning to our individual and communal activity. Spirit-filled evangelization is not the same as a set of tasks dutifully carried out despite one’s own personal inclinations and wishes. How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelization full of fervor, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction! Yet I realize that no words of encouragement will be enough unless the fire of the Holy Spirit burns in our hearts. A spirit-filled evangelization is one guided by the Holy Spirit, for he is the soul of the Church called to proclaim the Gospel. Before offering some spiritual motivations and suggestions, I once more invoke the Holy Spirit. I implore him to come and renew the Church, to stir and impel her to go forth boldly to evangelize all peoples.

Pope Francis’ own desire is spelled out: “How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm …” The Spirit provides such words for him, as she does for any of us.

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Welcoming A New Pastor

Frequent commentator Jimmy Mac sends this video link of the welcome of their new pastors. The un-mic’ed one is Fr Jack McClure, once a colleague of mine at the student center a few years back and a fellow refugee from Kansas City.

I will confess: Jack is a good guy. I also laud the use of the hymn tune Thaxted. Overall, I think Jim’s parish does a great job with liturgy–from what I can tell from this video.

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What About Beatitudes?

TissotBeatitudesIn the Friday round-up, David Gibson at RNS noted this image captured at a South Carolina McDonald’s. Which leaves some questions in my mind …

Does remembering the Sabbath to keep it holy have any impact on how a fast food restaurant does business on Sunday? I mean: one might suggest it close for business, but at the very least do employees get time off to go to church? Super-sized lunch breaks at mid-morning?

When a manager authorizes this, does it represent a personal commitment to virtue, or is it just a publicity statement? Or worse, is it a suggestion that other people need to beef up their morality?

Do you smell a lawsuit coming?

About a decade ago, a parishioner tried to foist a pre-fab Ten Commandments monument on the parish. With Knights of Columbus funding, he was successful. But I wondered then, as I wonder now, why so many Christians aren’t on a bandwagon for the Beatitudes?

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EG 257-258: The Social Message is Inescapable

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium, speaks of the important relationship between Christians and those outside of religious faith who share convictions for various human endeavors:

257. As believers, we also feel close to those who do not consider themselves part of any religious tradition, yet sincerely seek the truth, goodness and beauty which we believe have their highest expression and source in God. We consider them as precious allies in the commitment to defending human dignity, in building peaceful coexistence between peoples and in protecting creation. A special place of encounter is offered by new Areopagi such as the Court of the Gentiles, where “believers and non-believers are able to engage in dialogue about fundamental issues of ethics, art and science, and about the search for transcendence”.[Cf. Propositio 55] This too is a path to peace in our troubled world.

258. Starting from certain social issues of great importance for the future of humanity, I have tried to make explicit once again the inescapable social dimension of the Gospel message and to encourage all Christians to demonstrate it by their words, attitudes and deeds.

This concludes chapter four on “The Social Dimension of Evangelization.” Startign tomorrow, we’ll look, with Pope Francis, at “Spirit-filled Evangelizers.” Whom do you suppose he has in mind?

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Interviewing Vatican Astronomers

vatican observatoryAmerica has a nice brief interview with two American Jesuits in Italy, at the Vatican Observatory at Castel Gandolfo. Astronomer Guy Consolmagno is the recent recipient of the Carl Sagan Medal. Paul Mueller is the head of the Jesuit community at the observatory. The two collaborated on a forthcoming book, “Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? and Other Questions from the Astronomers’ In-box at the Vatican Observatory.

Does science disprove the Bible?

Guy: Science doesn’t prove. Science describes. The Bible isn’t a book of propositions to be proved or disproved; it’s a conversation about God. So that question presupposes a radically false idea of what science is, and what the Bible is.

Paul: We never ask if science disproves Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, though the play includes statements that are at odds with modern science. We never ask if science disproves Maximilian Kolbe’s self-sacrificing love, though his own knowledge of science would be seventy years out of date today. Lovers don’t look to science to prove the reality of their love. Why on earth would we want to go to science for proof of the reality of God’s love?

I really like Guy Consolmagno’s answer: “Science doesn’t prove. Science describes.”

For the answer to the question, “Would you baptize an extraterrestrial?” you’ll have to follow the link.

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DPPL 2-3: Councils, Popes, and Bishops on Liturgy and Popular Piety

STA altar at night smallLet’s finish up the introduction to the introduction of the curia’s Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (DPPL), looking at the relationship between liturgy (the Mass, the sacraments, and the Divine Office) and ritual expressions of piety among the laity.

The DPPL might have been three decades in coming from Vatican II, but it has not gone unobserved or unnoted by Rome …

2. In its constitution on the Liturgy, the Second Vatican Council explicitly touched upon the relationship between the Liturgy and pious exercises(SC 13). The question of popular piety has been more amply considered on various occasions by the Apostolic See(Cf. Eucharisticum mysterium 58-67; Marialis cultus 24-58; Evangelii nuntiandi 48; Catechesi tradendae 54; Familiaris consorti 59-62; General Directory on Catechesis 195-196.) and by the Conferences of Bishops (See, for example, III CONFERENCIA GENERAL DEL EPISCOPADO LATINO-AMERICANO, Documento de Puebla, 444-469, 910-915, 935-937, 959-963; CONFERENCIA EPISCOPAL DE ESPANA, Documento pastoral de la Comision episcopal de Liturgia, Evangelizacion y renovation de la piedad popular, Madrid 1987; Liturgia y piedad popular, Directorio Liturgico-Pastoral, Secretariado Nacional de Liturgia, Madrid 1989; CONFERENCIA GENERAL DEL EPISCOPADO LATINO-AMERICANO, Documento de Santo Domingo, 36, 39, 53.).

… or by conferences of bishops.

Saint John Paul’s thoughts from 1988, summarized:

In his Apostolic Letter Vicesimus Quintus Annus, John Paul II raised the question again in relation to the liturgical renewal and indicated that it remained among those to be addressed at a future date: “popular piety can neither be ignored nor treated with indifference or disrespect because of its richness and because in itself it represents an religious attitude in relation to God. However, it has to be continually evangelized, so that the faith which it expresses may become more mature and authentic. The pious exercises of the Christian people and other forms of devotion can be accepted and recommended provided that they do not become substitutes for the Liturgy or integrated into the Liturgical celebrations. An authentic pastoral promotion of the liturgy, will know how to build on the riches of popular piety, purify them and direct them towards the Liturgy as an offering of the people”(Vicemus Quintus Annus 18 ).

From a quarter century ago, the assessment was for piety to experience a “continual” evangelization. Ordinarily, one thinks of people and cultures in need of evangelization. Saint John Paul believed that popular piety was a way for human faith to deepen. But he seems to keep a respectful distance here, or at least he promoted a distance between liturgy and devotions.

In mission lands and other regions without the ministry of clergy, it’s hard to envision popular piety from taking a dominant role in Catholic life. Is it wishful thinking to assume the Mass, too, will be totally untouched by devotional rituals?

What do you make of the assessment that popular piety needs purification? Is that part of the post-conciliar suspicion of piety? Or has the criticism directed at some forms of piety after the Council perhaps been warranted?

3. With a view, therefore, to assisting the Bishops in “promoting and honouring the prayers and pious practises of the Christian people, that fully reflect the norms of the Church”(Pastor Bonus 70), in addition to the Liturgy, the preparation of this present Directory appears opportune to this Dicastery. In a general way, it considers the various connections between the Liturgy and popular piety. This Directory also reaffirms some principles and establishes guidelines for their practical application.

And so from here, we launch into the rest of the Introduction (4-21) in which we’ll look at specific issues to be covered in greater detail in the rest of the document (22-280).

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