Redemptoris Missio 53: Immersion and Translation

We continue an extended discussion of “Incarnating the Gospel in Peoples’ Culture,” a topic for sections 52 through 54 of Redemptoris Missio. Pope John Paul II gives essential advice:

Missionaries, who come from other churches and countries, must immerse themselves in the cultural milieu of those to whom they are sent, moving beyond their own cultural limitations. Hence they must learn the language of the place in which they work, become familiar with the most important expressions of the local culture, and discover its values through direct experience. Only if they have this kind of awareness will they be able to bring to people the knowledge of the hidden mystery (cf. Rom 16:25-27; Eph 3:5) in a credible and fruitful way.

What is also needed here is a deeper trust from those in the First World. Skeptics on inculturation and its manifestations really must take a second seat to the witness of people who have actually spent years living and working in mission lands. The less research and listening a person, even a prelate, has done, the fewer fruits will result from any kind of directive that impacts the mission of the Gospel in faraway lands.

We don’t give away all of what has formed us:

It is not of course a matter of missionaries renouncing their own cultural identity, but of understanding, appreciating, fostering and evangelizing the culture of the environment in which they are working, and therefore of equipping themselves to communicate effectively with it, adopting a manner of living which is a sign of gospel witness and of solidarity with the people.

As with so many things, this requires careful discernment. Simple things come to mind in the realm of liturgy: the colors of mourning, the use of images, texts of songs, and the level of language needed for translations of rites and Scripture. This last note is mentioned in the second paragraph of this section. Let’s keep reading:

Developing ecclesial communities, inspired by the Gospel, will gradually be able to express their Christian experience in original ways and forms that are consonant with their own cultural traditions, provided that those traditions are in harmony with the objective requirements of the faith itself. To this end, especially in the more delicate areas of inculturation, particular churches of the same region should work in communion with each other (Cf. Ad Gentes 22) and with the whole Church, convinced that only through attention both to the universal Church and to the particular churches will they be capable of translating the treasure of faith into a legitimate variety of expressions.(Cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 64) Groups which have been evangelized will thus provide the elements for a “translation” of the gospel message,(Ibid., 63: Particular Churches “have the task of assimilating the essence of the Gospel message and of transposing it, without the slightest betrayal of its essential truth, into the language that these people understand, then of proclaiming it in this language…. And the word ‘language’ should be understood here less in the semantic or literary sense than in the sense which one may call anthropological or cultural.”) keeping in mind the positive elements acquired down the centuries from Christianity’s contact with different cultures and not forgetting the dangers of alterations which have sometimes occurred.(Cf. Address at the General Audience of April 13, 1988)

My comments:

  • Addressing the “gradual,” we might ask, “How long?” Latin America first received the Gospel five centuries ago. Are we there yet? And if we are not, does that not condemn so much of the efforts linked with colonialism, evangelization, and other Western failures?
  • I believe the primary thought about “particular churches” mentioned here is on the diocesan level. But it doesn’t seem to exclude important exchanges between parishes, mission outposts, and important leadership below the circle of bishops.
  • Note the discussion on “translation.” First, we are not only talking about words to words, but expressions of culture. I would think of the arts and customs of people, but not exclude language. The long quote is from Pope Paul VI, and you can check the blog about it here from eight years ago. True and effective communication always involves three things: the speaker, the listener, and the message. The first two switch back and forth, of course. But if any of these three elements are missing, then nada.
  • And lastly, while the Holy Father is right to call out the “dangers of alteration,” he does miss the boat on the occasional inability of the institution to listen to newcomers and missionaries and to discount their witness. Sometimes that failure costs greatly. Discernment stretches across communities, and must include trust and a recognition of the desire for fruitfulness.

This document is available online here and is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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Before And After

Before, it looked like a landscaped side of a school gym, which is what is was built for:

The outside cross, if you can see it, left, was a later addition, I think.

The major construction is complete, and a drone’s eye view:

I’ll comment that the new shingles make the weatherworn bits on the north, west, and south sides look not so well by comparison. We were fortunate to scrape together the resources to bring the project to completion. If we had delayed another year, it likely would have been dead in the virus.

People seem happy that the church “looks like a church.” I hope we can keep the mission going and get the people looking like the Church too.

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Redemptoris Missio 52cde: More On Inculturation

Today, we have more on “Incarnating the Gospel in Peoples’ Culture.” Inculturation, in other words. A lot has been written and spoken on this topic over the past few decades, and John Paul II gives us a lot of citations. It’s been on his mind through the 1980’s, for sure:

Through inculturation the Church makes the Gospel incarnate in different cultures and at the same time introduces peoples, together with their cultures, into her own community.(Cf. Catechesi Tradendae (1979), 53; Encyclical Epistle Slavorum Apostoli (1985) 21) She transmits to them her own values, at the same time taking the good elements that already exist in them and renewing them from within.(Cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 20) Through inculturation the Church, for her part, becomes a more intelligible sign of what she is, and a more effective instrument of mission.

This sums the point with help from Paul VI. The point is not to make new believers in mission lands wear the same country club jackets and dresses as the rest of us. It is okay to borrow some of their expressions and add to our own richness. Importantly, we want to cooperate with God’s grace to make his will and mission known as best as we can:

Thanks to this action within the local churches, the universal Church herself is enriched with forms of expression and values in the various sectors of Christian life, such as evangelization, worship, theology and charitable works. She comes to know and to express better the mystery of Christ, all the while being motivated to continual renewal. During my pastoral visits to the young churches I have repeatedly dealt with these themes, which are present in the Council and the subsequent Magisterium.(Address to the Bishops of Zaire, Kinshasa, May 3, 1980, 4-6: AAS 72 (1980), 432-435; Address to the Bishops of Kenya, Nairobi, May 7, 1980, 6: AAS 72 (1980), 497; Address to the Bishops of India, Delhi, February 1, 1986, 5: AAS 78 (1986), 748f; Homily at Cartagena, July 6, 1986, 7-8: AAS 79 (1987), 105f; cf. also Encyclical Epistle Slavorum Apostoli, 21-22)

Modern things like social media are part of inculturation. Old pagan things like evergreen trees and Saturnalia. Once we look more carefully at our Christian trappings, we might be surprised to find many incultured things to which we’ve become quite accustomed and which have been long-considered associated with God.

As with many things of late, Vatican II started it all:

Inculturation is a slow journey which accompanies the whole of missionary life. It involves those working in the Church’s mission ad gentes, the Christian communities as they develop, and the bishops, who have the task of providing discernment and encouragement for its implementation.(Cf. Ad Gentes 22)

Or, well, recovered and continued it.

This document is available online here and is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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We Have Met The Baptist, and He Is We

Even my wife was asking me about this resolution from the CDF on baptism.

That is what the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith affirms in response to two questions regarding the validity of Baptism conferred with the formula, “In the name of the father and of the mother, of the godfather and of the godmother, of the grandparents, of the family members, of the friends, in the name of the community we baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. The responses from the CDF were confirmed by Pope Francis at the end of June and published on Thursday.

To cite a post-conciliar theological term, that formula is pretty far out. I’ve never encountered anything like it. And in forty years of liturgical ministry, I’ve seen a lot. I would never say that I’ve seen it all. Especially after a story like this. The official line on question #1:

Whether the Baptism conferred with the formula «We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit» is valid?

RESPONSE: Negative.

A lot of recent focus has been on how the Trinity is expressed in “adapted” form. Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier, and the like. That question, I’m sure, has been settled a long time ago. I don’t know that many people have paid attention to the subject of the ritual sentence. But they should have been.

My sense on the pastoral ministry end of this is that “we” have stuff to do, and don’t need to fuss about changing the liturgical particulars at the “magic moment.” Just say the words–these are easy. The hard part is making of the newly baptized what Christ intends them to be. That is lifelong. And a whole lot harder. In a way, these adaptations might reveal what my wife often refers to as “Vatican II done in a Vatican I way.”

Who is “we”? The priest and Christ? The communal “we” does have significant responsibility: bringing children to liturgy, forming them in faith, giving them apprenticeships in charity, justice, prayer, and most of all, in discipleship. Let’s not forget Jesus’ mandatum in Matthew 28. Discipleship is the priority. Baptism happens alongside, or even afterward.

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit … (19)

There’s number two:

Whether those persons for whom baptism was celebrated with this formula must be baptized in forma absoluta?

RESPONSE: Affirmative.

In plain English, the CDF prescribes a do-over. The problem here is that parish baptism registries do not distinguish between the formal rite and form far out. Maybe in the past few years, people have captured this on their phone. Or it’s on social media somewhere. If 100% of Catholics read Vatican News or the CDF daily briefs, maybe there would be some checking. And calling the parish office.

If it were one or two individual priests doing it for years–more my suspicion on the truth of this–then the cleric responsible would be making calls for return appointments. Hopefully that doesn’t throw other sacraments into a whirlwind of scrupulosity. Thing is, I don’t know too many priests who would accept this judgment, and make moves to correct it. Too embarrassing. Too much horning in on local prerogative.

If baptism marked entry into a country club, then it wouldn’t really matter the words used, as long as the overall event was followed ritually and recognizably, and the registries filled with the right info. Thankfully, baptism is not rush week for the church. It is not about club membership. It is, as Saint Matthew relates Jesus telling us, all about discipleship. And there are a lot of people with perfectly valid baptisms who go about their lives as if they were baptized by “we.” Or worse.

I have nothing to offer constructively on this point. We are in the middle of a pandemic. We are having a heck of a problem scheduling normal baptisms as it is. I do not foresee clergy fessing up on this and turning on the liturgical sprinklers for the masses at the Masses. I don’t think every parent is going to bring their kid back to Church. They have membership. Nobody can tell them otherwise. I don’t think the Temple Police will be scanning baptism videos on social media. The only way out is forward.

Bottom line: will this scare a few wayward clergy into doing it rite/right? Likely the best we can hope for.

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Redemptoris Missio 52ab: Incarnating the Gospel in Peoples’ Culture

In three long sections, John Paul II discusses “Incarnating the Gospel in Peoples’ Culture.” We’ve had a lengthy discussion here on liturgical inculturation in the past. The discussion widens a bit here. While many aspects of culture, especially art and social mores touch on worship, the view is a bit wider here.

As she carries out missionary activity among the nations, the Church encounters different cultures and becomes involved in the process of inculturation. The need for such involvement has marked the Church’s pilgrimage throughout her history, but today it is particularly urgent.

The urgency thirty years after this was written remains real. One aspect of colonialism has been the attempt to impose European culture on non-European people. This was exactly what the most effective evangelizers of any age did not do. Read the summary of that key event in Church history in Acts 15:

It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell. (v 28-29)

Much abuse, pain, and ineffectiveness could have been avoided if missionaries attended more carefully to the witness of Saint Paul rather than monarchs, conquistadors, and business opportunists.

The process of the Church’s insertion into peoples’ cultures is a lengthy one. It is not a matter of purely external adaptation, for inculturation “means the intimate transformation of authentic cultural values through their integration in Christianity and the insertion of Christianity in the various human cultures.” ( Extraordinary Assembly of 1985, Final Report, II, D, 4) The process is thus a profound and all-embracing one, which involves the Christian message and also the Church’s reflection and practice. But at the same time it is a difficult process, for it must in no way compromise the distinctiveness and integrity of the Christian faith.

In a single word here, discernment. The institution must look at its own practices, and be honest about what is essential to communicating the Gospel message, and what is human culture, regardless of how old, honored, or widespread it may be. Truly, if a Christian is obstinate about shedding a non-essential, how can we expect others to follow a different example?

As for other cultures, patience would seem to be another virtue for the missionary and institution to embrace. The modern world expects immediacy in most everything. Politics. Sports. Economics and business. Compliance with orders. For true faith to take root, a deeper commitment to discipleship, we must be prepared to simply walk with people, be with them. We examine our own lives–part of a living example of how to be a Christian. Then we have faith it will work.

This document is available online here and is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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Office for the Dead

Some days ago, a commentator asked about the Office for the Dead. We blogged extensively on the funeral rites almost ten years ago. It seems that while I devoted a number of posts to the praenotanda, or instruction from the rite, I glossed over the actual celebrations of the Liturgy of the Hours here and here.

After a decade, perhaps it’s time to correct this. The Order of Christian Funerals does give pastors, ministers, and mourners a number of options. Rather than bewilder the point, I think I will focus more on what I would consider an ideal observance. Something streamlined, with minimal options to cloud the issue.

For either Morning or Evening Prayer, I would include a reception of the body. Why? Because these liturgies are best celebrated in the parish church or perhaps a chapel on the parish campus. From there, we’ll move to the psalms and the rest of the liturgy. A few dozen short posts over the next month. I might start up seriously in another few days. If you have topic suggestions or questions, feel free to write in the comments below.

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Redemptoris Missio 51c: Basic Communities In Communion

In writing of “Basic Communities” or small groups, Pope John Paul II mentions the importance of being in communion. He looks to the ideal Christian community described by Saint Luke and its focus on liturgy and charity as outward signs of a deeper and committed communion:

Every community, if it is to be Christian, must be founded on Christ and live in him, as it listens to the word of God, focuses its prayer on the Eucharist, lives in a communion marked by oneness of heart and soul, and shares according to the needs of its members (cf. Acts 2:42-47).

Roman Catholics would stress the importance of communion with a clerical hierarchy including local pastors as well as the teaching office of the Church:

As Pope Paul VI recalled, every community must live in union with the particular and the universal Church, in heartfelt communion with the Church’s pastors and the Magisterium, with a commitment to missionary outreach and without yielding to isolationism or ideological exploitation.(Cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 58) And the Synod of Bishops stated: “Because the Church is communion, the new ‘basic communities,’ if they truly live in unity with the Church, are a true expression of communion and a means for the construction of a more profound communion. They are thus cause for great hope for the life of the Church.”(Extraordinary Assembly of 1985, Final Report, II, C, 6)

In theory, this is excellent. With various strains operating in the hierarchy, sometimes we have confusion instead of communion. Some pastors and bishops are not totally on board with the form of discipleship needed to fulfill the missionary impulse of Jesus. The institution has replaced the Lord’s mandate, or been allowed to overshadow it. We also know that many small groups, adrift of serious spiritual direction and discernment, may easily go off in a dangerous direction, abusing members, losing a sense of mission, getting sidetracked in peripherals. Where there is trust between people who disagree, there would be the best ground on which to lay good foundations. Surface agreement doesn’t always mean the mission is on track.

This document is available online here and is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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Vote Center, Day 2

As a practice run for the November elections, our county auditor and team have set up a three-day presence at three vote center locations in our county. I’ve been moved off the second-shift ballot processing team for these three days. It’s much quieter than seeing thousands of ballots roll through our rooms at the county building.

The new Marvin Williams Recreation Center (above, right) near the Bremerton ferry port is our newest center. Here, tomorrow, you can visit between 7AM and 8PM to drop off a ballot, get a replacement for a lost or damaged ballot, or even register and vote on the same day.

We have a sensible approach to voting, as many states do. I did see a recent ignorant comment from a federal official who compared absentee voting with voting-by-mail. The former, supposedly personally useful and the latter untrustworthy. The individual did not realize the two are virtually the same, making the comment rather silly.

Sadly, a voter came by today with worries about the USPS being untrustworthy and wanting to make sure the vote counted. We were happy to serve. But the dissing of voting by mail is, quite frankly, un-American and unpatriotic, whether it comes from elected officials, Facebook University (FU) grads, or Chinese or Russian hires in social media.

My urging here is to remind readers that many local elections are on the line this year, not just those who will be sent to DC. Not just governors or state capitol servants. Most good public servants begin by serving in their communities, cities, and counties. That pipeline can be bypassed by gifted persons. (I don’t include celebrities of any kind in that category of “gifted.”)

Remember to vote this year. And every year. And every election in every year. Even if the number of races and candidates seems too large, you can always vote just the top spots, or just the locals.

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Redemptoris Missio 51ab: Basic Communities

We look at various manifestation of small groups, what Pope John Paul II referred to as “Ecclesial Basic Communities.” Are they “a Force for Evangelization” as the topic heading reads?

I suspect there are some differences between the small faith-sharing groups as they have formed in the First World around movements like Marriage Encounter, Renew, and other such efforts. Maybe there’s a sense of an edgier agenda for the groups that meet in regions without parish structures or a sacramental life. Let’s read the firtst two paragraphs of section 51:

A rapidly growing phenomenon in the young churches – one sometimes fostered by the bishops and their Conferences as a pastoral priority – is that of “ecclesial basic communities” (also known by other names) which are proving to be good centers for Christian formation and missionary outreach. These are groups of Christians who, at the level of the family or in a similarly restricted setting, come together for prayer, Scripture reading, catechesis, and discussion on human and ecclesial problems with a view to a common commitment. These communities are a sign of vitality within the Church, an instrument of formation and evangelization, and a solid starting point for a new society based on a “civilization of love.”

Much of what is described happens in more privileged and urban areas around the world. Some, like 12-step groups, operate mostly or entirely beyond the reach of organized Christianity. Yet their fruitfulness is undeniable.

These communities decentralize and organize the parish community, to which they always remain united. They take root in less privileged and rural areas, and become a leaven of Christian life, of care for the poor and neglected, and of commitment to the transformation of society. Within them, the individual Christian experiences community and therefore senses that he or she is playing an active role and is encouraged to share in the common task. Thus, these communities become a means of evangelization and of the initial proclamation of the Gospel, and a source of new ministries. At the same time, by being imbued with Christ’s love, they also show how divisions, tribalism and racism can be overcome.

This document is available online here and is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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Another Infection

It’s not an appropriate time to suggest, “I told you so.” Maybe it never is. When I saw the headline in my news feed, “D.C. pastor tests positive for coronavirus,” I was seriously thinking, ah, I hope it’s not him. The one who misunderstands prudence and calls it fear. I read the article. Sad to say, it was.

Sad to say, it also means two weeks of stay-at-home isolation and symptom monitoring for people who received the Eucharist from any of five Masses during the 25-27 July period. According to the WaPo:

He apologized for the “inconvenience” he had caused parishioners who were asked to quarantine.

I watched part of his video too, and by the five-minute mark the reassurance of his own better health outnumbered apologies 2-to-1. I’m not sure about the “alcohol” purification he cites. I trust it was part of a sanitizing gel or spray and not just oral medication.

On a serious note, I can remember to pray for the man. How about this litany:

  • I pray that you have no virus funeral this year for which to prepare a homily
  • I pray you don’t die from some time bomb killer anytime in the next decade
  • I pray for your ears to be open to criticism and the ability to receive it gracefully
  • Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for this man now, and all the days of his life


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Redemptoris Missio 50: Ecumenism And Missionary Activity

This solicitude (of Christ for his sheep; cf. RM 49) will serve as a motivation and stimulus for a renewed commitment to ecumenism. The relationship between ecumenical activity and missionary activity makes it necessary to consider two closely associated factors. On the one hand, we must recognize that “the division among Christians damages the holy work of preaching the Gospel to every creature and is a barrier for many in their approach to the faith.”(Ad Gentes 6) The fact that the Good News of reconciliation is preached by Christians who are divided among themselves weakens their witness. It is thus urgent to work for the unity of Christians, so that missionary activity can be more effective.

In some ways, the apostolic age had it better despite no internet, video, social media, television, radio, easy air and sea travel or printing press. Word-of-mouth got things started. Curious that we have so many more tools today, yet the task of kerygma has never been more daunting. The first centuries of Christianity, despite certain infighting, had a purpose that drove people beyond what drives many Christians today.

If and when we are united, it may well be a sign of grace:

At the same time we must not forget that efforts toward unity are themselves a sign of the work of reconciliation which God is bringing about in our midst.

It might seem that way sometimes, even within Christianity’s divisions, but we are not separated by irredeemable chasms, even in our present state:

On the other hand, it is true that some kind of communion, though imperfect, exists among all those who have received Baptism in Christ. On this basis the Council established the principle that “while all appearance of indifferentism and confusion is ruled out, as well as any appearance of unhealthy rivalry, Catholics should collaborate in a spirit of fellowship with their separated brothers and sisters in accordance with the norms of the Decree on Ecumenism: by a common profession of faith in God and in Jesus Christ before the nations – to the extent that this is possible – and by their cooperation in social and technical as well as in cultural and religious matters.” (Ad Gentes 15; Cf. Unitatis Redintegratio 3)

Indeed, the cooperation with the unity God desires has already happened. I would agree with John Paul II on this point:

Ecumenical activity and harmonious witness to Jesus Christ by Christians who belong to different churches and ecclesial communities has already borne abundant fruit.

Other groups are also preaching, making efforts toward gathering their flocks:

But it is ever more urgent that they work and bear witness together at this time when Christian and para-Christian sects are sowing confusion by their activity. The expansion of these sects represents a threat for the Catholic Church and for all the ecclesial communities with which she is engaged in dialogue. Wherever possible, and in the light of local circumstances, the response of Christians can itself be an ecumenical one.

This document is available online here and is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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A Brief Quiz On Today’s Feast

Today is the observance of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. I’m not feeling particularly philosophical or religious these days, so maybe a quiz is in order:

Cite his baptismal name:

  1. Ignacio
  2. Loyola
  3. Iñigo
  4. Suscipe

True or false: he once killed a Muslim in a duel

Cite the means of his injury that led to his conversion:

  1. sword
  2. cannonball
  3. musket
  4. mace

Name the image where, nearby, he hung up his weapons of war:

  1. An icon of Saint Ignatius of Antioch
  2. A crucifix
  3. A statue of the Blessed Mother
  4. A mosaic of Saint Peter

Cite the city where he founded the Jesuits:

  1. Paris
  2. Monserrat
  3. Loyola
  4. Rome

He visited three of the following locations. Cite the one he missed:

  1. England
  2. Jerusalem
  3. Cyprus
  4. Portugal

Three of the following men were his original companions. Cite the one who became a Jesuit later on:

  1. Francis Xavier
  2. Pierre Favre
  3. Peter Canisius
  4. Nicolas Bobadilla

In his autobiography, cite the title he used for himself:

  1. pilgrim
  2. student
  3. disciple
  4. soldier

Cite his cause of death:

  1. old age
  2. malaria
  3. plague
  4. malnutrition

Name the patron of the mother church of the Jesuits:

  1. Jesus
  2. Mary
  3. Ignatius of Loyola
  4. Francis of Assisi


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Redemptoris Missio 49bc: Missionary Churches

Let’s pick up on yesterday’s discussion on the universality of the Church’s mission:

Responsibility for this task (of establishing Christian communities everywhere) belongs to the universal Church and to the particular churches, to the whole people of God and to all its missionary forces. Every church, even one made up of recent converts, is missionary by its very nature, and is both evangelized and evangelizing.

I think Pope John Paul II is speaking of the theological definition of a church, an entity led by a bishop. In reality, every parish likely needs to ask this question. Are our people being evangelized? Do we have an outward focus too? Some churches would have to answer no to both. The pope would suggest those that do say no lack maturity:

Faith must always be presented as a gift of God to be lived out in community (families, parishes, associations), and to be extended to others through witness in word and deed. The evangelizing activity of the Christian community, first in its own locality, and then elsewhere as part of the Church’s universal mission, is the clearest sign of a mature faith.

And if a community does not evangelize? A prescription:

A radical conversion in thinking is required in order to become missionary, and this holds true both for individuals and entire communities. The Lord is always calling us to come out of ourselves and to share with others the goods we possess, starting with the most precious gift of all – our faith. The effectiveness of the Church’s organizations, movements, parishes and apostolic works must be measured in the light of this missionary imperative. Only by becoming missionary will the Christian community be able to overcome its internal divisions and tensions, and rediscover its unity and its strength of faith.

This is certainly true. We will always have disagreements, certainly. But parishes with a well-defined mission well-understood by most of its people will find a deeper fruitfulness than balanced budgets, filled pews, and the regard of neighbors.

Sometimes churches will share the people of their missionary apostolate with others.

Missionary personnel coming from other churches and countries must work in communion with their local counterparts for the development of the Christian community. In particular, it falls to missionary personnel – in accordance with the directives of the bishops and in cooperation with those responsible at the local level – to foster the spread of the faith and the expansion of the Church in non-Christian environments and among non-Christian groups, and to encourage a missionary sense within the particular churches, so that pastoral concern will always be combined with concern for the mission ad gentes. In this way, every church will make its own the solicitude of Christ the Good Shepherd, who fully devotes himself to his flock, but at the same time is mindful of the “other sheep, that are not of this fold.” (Jn 10:16)

Something missing from this is the call to form missionary disciples among the local people. The failure of many post-Patristic saints was the lack of understanding on this. Missionaries are not a specialized ministry in the Church. They lead others so that all may serve in some way. Just as the pre-conciliar Church was satisfied with a “professional” disciple class, our missionary efforts will never bear more than meager fruit by a satisfaction that outsiders must lead the way.

In fact, I would suggest that First Worlders must discern if their missionary calling is truly far away from home if their parish and diocese have yet to fully embrace discipleship as a way of life. Certainly some are called to travel far. And even stay in place. But that initial discernment is vital. There is much work to be done in many places I know: American schools religious and not, workplaces, parish committees, and many other overlooked areas.

Another problem is the importation of “experts” to serve in places with the assumption the people of those places cannot serve amongst themselves. How do foreign missionaries conduct themselves? That is another discernment point. Are they prepared to see their local friends and contacts take over their ministries as time goes by?

This document is available online here and is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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Inside Job

According to the AP, a parishioner started the fire at the cathedral in Nantes, France. He was charged with locking the building at night, and according to his lawyer …

He confessed to the allegations against him which, as the prosecutor indicated, are causing destruction and damage by fire. He regrets the facts. That is certain. He is in a sort of repentance.

It was a sadly familiar story. I once served a parish with an interior damaged by an arson attack by one of our community’s volunteers. On one hand, it was a very fruitful year in ministry, forcing us to look outside of our buildings to serve people and minister with them.

Image, right, shows the pipework and window destroyed by the fire. Credit: By GO69 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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Penny Lame?

With trillions going out to businesses, working-no-longer folk, and a few rich dudes, somebody’s thinking about saving a cent or two. Or not. This news item outlines the basic argument against minting the one-cent coin. Minting seven billion of the copper-coated zinc pieces cost the US Mint about $140M last year. Do the math and it seems the government spent two cents to make one, on average. Conservatives might find something to criticize and laugh at in that, but they don’t seem too excited about excising the smallest denomination of coin in the monetary family.

Don’t look now, but it costs just about five cents to make a nickel these days. If we were really ruthless in government spending, Thomas Jefferson would be relegated to the $2 bill.

Speaking of which, you might be interested that it costs about 12 cents to make a dollar coin, but only 4 cents to print a dollar bill. Why is the coin more economical, and something nearly every country has opted for in their chief unit of money? The lifespan of the paper $1 is about eighteen months, and the coin will last much, much longer. It’s not a surprise to find fifty-year old dimes and quarters in change these days. They will look worn, but far from the point of being unrecognizable.

Paper money is a pork thing for Texas, as I’ve been told. They say that US folk would rebel if they had to use dollar coins, but it might be more of a where-s-our-federal-handout thing for the Lone State state. Good thing we’re not into plastic, like Australia, eh?


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