Dives in Misericordiae 8d: A Perfection of Justice

Divine_Mercy_Sanctuary_in_Vilnius4In the last paragraph, St John Paul suggested having mercy on Christ. How is this accomplished? It seems the Lord has already invited us to do so:

Christ, precisely as the crucified one, is the Word that does not pass away,(Cf. Mt. 24:35) and He is the one who stands at the door and knocks at the heart of every (person),(Cf. Rv. 3:20) without restricting (our) freedom, but instead seeking to draw from this very freedom love, which is not only an act of solidarity with the suffering Son of man, but also a kind of “mercy” shown by each one of us to the Son of the eternal Father.

Does it seem our participation in the Lord’s mercy is less a command and more an invitation? It really couldn’t be different; a commandment can’t make people into the kind of community that truly reflects the fullness of the Lord and his mission. Human freedom and choice are respected. But the invitation to imitate Christ, and to show him mercy means we must move beyond expectations.

Even those who recognized Jesus as Messiah and Son of God were unwilling to listen to some aspects. Jesus went too far. Heaven forbid that bad things would happen. So too, we must imitate the surprise and the “going too far” of the program of simple religious commandments.

In the whole of this messianic program of Christ, in the whole revelation of mercy through the cross, could (human) dignity be more highly respected and ennobled, for, in obtaining mercy, He is in a sense the one who at the same time “shows mercy”? In a word, is not this the position of Christ with regard to (people) when He says: “As you did it to one of the least of these…you did it to me”?(Mt. 25:40) Do not the words of the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy,”(Mt. 5:7) constitute, in a certain sense, a synthesis of the whole of the Good News, of the whole of the “wonderful exchange” (admirable commercium) contained therein? This exchange is a law of the very plan of salvation, a law which is simple, strong and at the same time “easy.”

The Father recognizes human beings have the potential to imitate Christ. He created us.

And the relationship of justice and mercy is presented not as an antagonism, but as a progression toward divine fulfillment:

Demonstrating from the very start what the “human heart” is capable of (“to be merciful”), do not these words from the Sermon on the Mount reveal in the same perspective the deep mystery of God: that inscrutable unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in which love, containing justice, sets in motion mercy, which in its turn reveals the perfection of justice?

Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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PS 107: Pentecost

Jesus arms outstretchedRemember, you can check Paschale Solemnitatis on this site, among many on the internet.

107. This sacred period of fifty days concludes with Pentecost Sunday, when the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, the beginnings of the Church and the start of her mission to all tongues and peoples and nations are commemorated. (Cf. General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar 23)

And so Pentecost crowns Fifty Days, rather than initiates a period of eight.

The prolonged Pentecost Vigil is recommended:

Encouragement should be given to the prolonged celebration of Mass in the form of a Vigil, whose character is not baptismal as in the Easter Vigil, but is one of urgent prayer, after the example of the Apostles and disciples, who persevered together in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as they awaited the Holy Spirit.*

*It is possible to combine the celebration of first Vespers with the celebration of Mass as provided for in the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours, n. 96. In order to have a more profound knowledge of the mystery of this day, it is possible to have several readings from Holy Scripture, as proposed in the Lectionary. In this case, after the collect the reader goes to the ambo to proclaim the reading. The psalmist or cantor sings the psalm, to which the people respond with the refrain. Then all stand and the priest says: Let us pray, and after a short silent pause, he says the prayer corresponding to the reading (for example, one of the collects for the ferial days of the seventh week of Easter).

Evening Prayer plus an extended Liturgy of the Word would make for a delicious evening of liturgy: a fitting celebration of the forty-ninth evening after the Vigil.

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A Costly Enrichment


A parable at work, but it’s doubtful our corporate masters are heeding the tale.

Image credit.

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Laudato Si 20: Pollution, Waste and the Throwaway Culture

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Let’s look at a summary of the issues of “pollution and climate change.” First, Pope Francis raises an issue not novel to him: the throwaway culture. First up, waste products from daily life:

20. Some forms of pollution are part of people’s daily experience. Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces a broad spectrum of health hazards, especially for the poor, and causes millions of premature deaths. People take sick, for example, from breathing high levels of smoke from fuels used in cooking or heating. There is also pollution that affects everyone, caused by transport, industrial fumes, substances which contribute to the acidification of soil and water, fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and agrotoxins in general.

What do you make of this diagnosis?

Technology, which, linked to business interests, is presented as the only way of solving these problems, in fact proves incapable of seeing the mysterious network of relations between things and so sometimes solves one problem only to create others.

One liturgy parallel that comes to mind is the reinforcing cycles of acoustical treatment in church interiors and more powerful sound systems. Sometimes the best idea is to simplify. That doesn’t always benefit technology or business persons, but the instinct not to pile on solutions is often worth serious consideration.

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More Jesuits On The Moon

Grimaldi CraterNear the western limb of the moon is a feature named for the Jesuit scientist Francesco Maria Grimaldi. Right, the basin is imaged from above by Lunar Orbiter 4 back in the 60’s. From the Earth, it appears as a dark oval on the left side of the moon.

Interesting that a low-lying figure would be named for a man whose astronomy interests with the moon involved measuring the heights of mountains. He can blame his Jesuit colleague Giovanni Battista Riccioli.

Fr Riccioli developed the system of naming craters. Ancient Greeks and Romans lent their names to craters north, east, and south on the moon. “Modern” scientists like Galileo, Tycho, and Copernicus–plus their lesser-known Jesuit colleagues–got craters in the west.

fyi, there is a crater named for the namer–smaller and less prominent than Grimaldi.

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Dives in Misericordiae 8c: Eschatological Mercy

Divine_Mercy_Sanctuary_in_Vilnius4The last paragraph of this section began to look at the conclusion of human need, the “end of time,” if you will. We are not yet at that point. St John Paul reminds us of the importance of mercy as a necessary impulse. Mercy reveals God and acts of mercy demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way. We live in a physical universe, after all. God made us to communicate through actions. Jesus demonstrated this in his public ministry as recorded in the Gospels. He also presents himself on the Cross.

In the eschatological fulfillment mercy will be revealed as love, while in the temporal phase, in human history, which is at the same time the history of sin and death, love must be revealed above all as mercy and must also be actualized as mercy. Christ’s messianic program, the program of mercy, becomes the program of His people, the program of the Church. At its very center there is always the cross, for it is in the cross that the revelation of merciful love attains its culmination. Until “the former things pass away,”(Cf. Rv. 21:4) the cross will remain the point of reference for other words too of the Revelation of John: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.”(Rv. 3:20) In a special way, God also reveals His mercy when He invites (us) to have “mercy” on His only Son, the crucified one.

Jesus beckons us into a companionship. We know from the Gospels that he invites us to take up our cross and follow him. To what limit will this imitation take us? What do you think it means to have mercy on Jesus?

Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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PS 106: Popular Piety During the Easter Season

Jesus arms outstretchedRemember, you can check the full document Paschale Solemnitatis on this site, among many on the internet. We discussed something of today’s topic in our examination of the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy. There is the principle that devotions should never overshadow the Mass:

106. According to the differing circumstances of places and peoples, there are found a number of popular practices linked to celebrations of the Easter season, which in some instances attract greater numbers of the people than the sacred liturgy itself; these are not in any way to be undervalued, for they are often well adapted to the religious mentality of the faithful. Let episcopal conferences and local ordinaries therefore see to it that practices of this kind which seem to nourish popular piety, be harmonized in the best way possible with the sacred liturgy, be imbued more distinctly with the spirit of the liturgy, in some way derived from it, and lead the people to it. (Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 13. Cf, CCD Orientamenti e proposte per la celebrazione dell’anno mariano, (3 Apr. 1987), nn. 3, 51-56)

My sense would be to carefully examine the celebration of Mass: do pastors and ministers put everything they can into it. especially during the Easter season?

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