Aparecida 344: Formation For Ministry

As I read it, training for what we in the US tern the lay ecclesial ministers. It makes sense to connect these to institutes of higher learning.

344. In recent decades in Latin America and the Caribbean, we observe the emergence of different institutes of theology and pastoral ministry offering refresher courses aimed at the formation of pastoral agents. Along these lines, opportunities for dialogue, discussion and the pursuit of adequate responses to the enormous challenges faced by evangelization in our continent have been created. Countless leaders have likewise been trained for service to the particular churches.

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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On My Bookshelf: Daughter of Eden

CSee the source imageount me as an admirer of author Chris Beckett. The third in his Eden series has been on my bookshelf for some days. It’s a good conclusion to the good work begun in Dark Eden (reviewed here) and continued in Mother of Eden (reviewed here).

It’s hard to categorize these books as science fiction. They have a futuristic premise: a man and woman are stranded on a planet. They have kids. Generations that follow relive Earth’s Stone and early Bronze Ages. A once-close extended family begins to tear apart along the lines of the sexes, the haves and the have-nots, and are pressured by dwindling resources and genetic inbreeding.

Daughter of Eden follows a new narrative thread about ten years after book two. As with Mother of Eden, the reader follows a parallel narrative of Angie Redlantern. Chapters alternate between her life before bearing children and after. She is a protégé of a traveling religious figure. Mary’s motives seem mixed. Angie is perceptive enough to have doubts, but she also struggles with the human experience of faith: meditation, pilgrimage, listening for God’s voice, and placing oneself in the service of healing the hurts of others. Other critics have suggested a strong theological bent in these books, but I think this volume develops it the best. Still, the reader is left wondering with the protagonist: is religion just fakery? Can we trust the motivations of religious figures?

Halfway through the book, the narratives merge and the reader learns why Angie left the “religious” life and settled with a man to have a family. The backdrop of all this is that open warfare has broken out between two rival groups. Men are slaughtered on both sides and cruel punishments are meted out to the families of the vanquished. Refugees swarm into the original landing site just in time for a second Earth expedition to land. Advanced technology takes its toll on faith (the original mother, Gela, is revered as a goddess), gender roles (Eden’s societies are patriarchal and the mission commander is female), and the state of conflict between humans on Eden.

As with Mr Beckett’s other books, the characters are of mixed virtue. We wrestle with Angie and her misgivings about life as a wife of a deformed man, a mother to children (half of whom have survived infancy), a target of rape from her brother-in-law, and the dulling routine of life first as a member of the Bronze Age 99% and then as a homeless refugee from war. The most complex person is Mary, the traveling prophet. I didn’t like her at first, but as the encounter with the Earth explorers reaches a boiling point, I began to appreciate her viewpoint and her willingness to adjust her beliefs without abandoning them.

I can recommend this series–you can read this book on its own without losing more than a bit. But imagining the plight of Eden’s people is troubling. The stark realities of genetics, religion, technology (or lack thereof), abuse, gender conflict, class struggle, violence, and such can be difficult to absorb–certainly not cheerful reading. But it’s honest. And like the best science fiction, it provokes serious thought.

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Aparecida 343: University Campus Ministry

The Aparecida bishops make a case for a comprehensive campus ministry:

343. There must be a university ministry accompanying the life and journey of all members of the university community, promoting personal and committed encounter with Jesus Christ and multiple solidarity and missionary initiatives. It must also pursue close relations and dialogue with members of other public universities and research centers.

Not just students. And not just the institution, but relationships with other ministries in sister institutions.

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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The Holy Almighty Gun

From Exodus 32:2-4:

Aaron said to them, ‘Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from them, formed it in a mold, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’

These are your gods, O America, who keep you safe in your land.

A few of my facebook friends are inscribing gun-nut opinions on their pages and my posts. It’s illustrative that I no longer offer explicit suggestions for legislation. I’m convinced it is fruitless. But that doesn’t stop gun advocates. It’s a sadly amusing knee-jerk reaction to the phenomenon of group-think.

It’s not unlike my non-political pro-life approach. I’ve been a suspect for years among some pro-lifers, especially the anti-abortion set.

I took the day off from work to get a few things done. And rest. The Florida shootings leave me strangely weary. And unsettled. In the US violence-worshiping culture, it’s really little different from any other school shooting. Innocent lives immolated on the altar of firearms and the pseudo-freedom offered by the golden, all-powerful gun.

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Aparecida 341-342: Catholic Higher Education

With this post we move from schools for children and teens to Universities and advanced institutes of Catholic education. Universities have a few more connecting threads to the larger culture than schools for children, which usually only reach into the neighborhood. Let’s read about some expectations:

341. By its very nature, the Catholic university provides important assistance to the Church in its evangelizing mission. It is a vital witness to Christ and his message institutional in nature that very necessary and important for cultures permeated with secularism. The fundamental activities of a Catholic university must be linked and harmonized with the Church’s evangelizing mission. They are carried out through research pursued in the light of the Christian message, which places new human discoveries at the service of people and society. It thus offers a formation given in a context of faith to prepare people capable of rational and critical judgment, conscious of the transcendental dignity of the human person. This entails a professional training that includes ethical values and the dimension of service to people and society; dialogue with the culture, which fosters better understanding and transmission of the faith; and theological research which helps faith to be expressed in language that makes sense to these times. Because the church is ever more aware of its saving mission in this world, it wants to feel these institutes close to it and wishes to have them present and operating in spreading the authentic message of Christ.(Ex Corde Ecclesiae 49)

The institutional church is concerned about something called “Catholic identity.” I think that is a start on this issue. But we’re looking at something a bit more broad, an identity that embraces fully the mission of the Church, according to Jesus’ mandate in Matthew 28:19-20.

Concerning dialogue:

342. Catholic universities, accordingly, must faithfully develop their Christian uniqueness, because they carry gospel responsibilities that other kinds of institutions are not obliged to fulfill. These particularly include dialogue between faith and reason and faith and culture, and the formation of professors, students and administrative staff through the church’s social and moral doctrine, so that they may be capable of commitment in solidarity to human dignity and to the community, and to display prophetically in the life of Latin American and Caribbean societies the newness represented by Christianity. Hence, care must be taken with the human, academic, and Christian profile of those primarily responsible for research and teaching.

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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Ash Wednesday

Roman Missal #2 offered a hymn as an alternative to the usual texts for the distribution of ashes. This rubric accompanied:

The following song is an alternative, metrically rhymed version of the Ash Wednesday antiphons and responsory. It is provided to accompany a prolonged giving of ashes. It is especially suitable in situations where there is no cantor or choir, since the melody would be repeated from one verse to the next and the whole assembly would be able to sing this hymn.

One of the following refrains is sung after each verse:

Spare your people, gracious Lord!

Parce nobis, Domine

Libera nos, Domine

Put on sackcloth, fast and mourn!
Marked with ashes, fit for scorn!
Cry until your hearts are torn!

Young and old and newly-wed,
Turn to God again and shed
Pomp and fashion, every shred!

Priests who serve the Lord, lament!
Cry aloud: O Lord, relent;
Pardon us when we repent!

On this day the Lord intends
All of us to make amends,
Now, before the daylight ends.

Death may take us unawares,
Busy with our own affairs,
Too preoccupied for prayers.

God our savior do not spurn
Sinners longing to return:
Must your wrath for ever burn?

Knowing our excuse is lame,
Still we ask you, end our shame
For the glory of your name.

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Aparecida 340: The Role of the State In Education

State guarantee, a plus:

340. Because of its significance and scope, this non-transferable right, which entails an obligation and expresses the freedom of the family in the realm of education, must be firmly guaranteed by the state.

State funding, a plus:

Hence, government, which is charged with protecting and defending the freedoms of citizens, in keeping with distributive justice, must spend public aid—which derives from taxes from all citizens—in such a manner that all parents, regardless of their social condition, may choose, according to their conscience, from within the wide range of educational options, the schools suited to their children. This is the fundamental value and the juridical nature that grounds aid to schools. Therefore, no educational sector, not even the state itself, may claim for itself the power to bestow on itself privilege and exclusivity for the education of the very poor, without thereby undermining important rights. The natural rights of the human person, peaceful co-existence of citizens, and the progress of all are thereby promoted.

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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