EG 144: Speaking From An Enlightened Heart

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdaleneWhat does it mean to “speak from the heart”? Is it just enthusiasm and charisma? Pope Francis suggests something deeper: enlightenment.

I think the Holy Father is asking questions of the Church’s preachers. Are they aware of and formed by the Word? And not just the Word, or a specific interpretation of it, but by a wider view of the entire tradition. Certainly, it is impossible for any person to access all of Tradition. But is there openness to it?

144. To speak from the heart means that our hearts must not just be on fire, but also enlightened by the fullness of revelation and by the path travelled by God’s word in the heart of the Church and our faithful people throughout history. This Christian identity, as the baptismal embrace which the Father gave us when we were little ones, makes us desire, as prodigal children – and favorite children in Mary – yet another embrace, that of the merciful Father who awaits us in glory. Helping our people to feel that they live in the midst of these two embraces is the difficult but beautiful task of one who preaches the Gospel.

The image of two embraces: baptism and reconciliation. Do preachers cultivate these in their communities? Do believers see how each in turn comes to the fore at different times in their lives?

Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium is available online.

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The Armchair Liturgist Reminds Liturgical Ministers

One or two of my colleagues think I pamper my liturgical ministers. A person in an important role in worship should not need a reminder.

But on the sign-up forms, we give them an opportunity to check a box that reads “reminder by e-mail.” The last few minutes at the parish office today were spent sending lector assignments and links on the USCCB Bible page for the appropriate set of readings.

Sit in the purple chair and render judgment. Would your liturgical ministers get reminders? If so, how would you handle it?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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