Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2020, Day 1

Image result for christian unityMany years ago, and for several years, our one-time collaborator Neil graced us with a daily series during this week. I confess my laxity in not maintaining this important tradition. I was daydreaming during Mass tonight, and thought, why not offer a renewed effort here?

I’d like to offer a series of suggestions as we journey through the Christian Unity octave (18-25 January). My first one will startle many pastors and most parishioners. I would suggest suspending the use of the Mass for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Now, don’t go changing things up tomorrow in a burst of energy. Plan for next year.

The rubric is in the Roman Missal, and we discussed it here.

This Mass may be used whenever there are special celebrations for the unity of Christians, provided it does not occur on a Sunday of Advent, Lent or Easter, or on any Solemnity.

That’s right. In 2021, boot out the regular Lectionary and Mass prayers and devote the community to the intercession for Christian unity. Here are my suggestions for the Liturgy of the Word:

Deuteronomy 30:1-4
Psalm 100
Colossians 3:9b-17
John 17:20-26

If you are looking for the prayers for the Mass, you’ll have to get close to the end of your Missal. But they’re all there.

Few Catholic communities dare to do this. But more could. As we progress through the week, I’ll offer a series of suggestions for different elements of the church–musicians, families, intercessors, and the like. We’ll see how it goes.

A final prayer for the cause:

For through him you brought us
to the knowledge of your truth,
so that by the bond of one faith and one Baptism
we might become his Body.

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Christus Vivit 265-266: More On Marriage

Today, more on marriage:

265. Marriage requires preparation, and this calls for growing in self-knowledge, developing the greater virtues, particularly love, patience, openness to dialogue and helping others. It also involves maturing in your own sexuality, so that it can become less and less a means of using others, and increasingly a capacity to entrust yourself fully to another person in an exclusive and generous way.

Each of the described elements here can be expanded upon in the preparation urged here.

Self-knowledge, for example, is not a narcissism, but an awareness of how one interacts in a meaningful way with loved ones.

Among those greater virtues, I recall a young college student who longed for a significant other. But the desire was expressed in terms of “someone to complete me, to make me the best person I can be.” It wasn’t totally inaccurate, but in terms of the marriage commitment it rung as somewhat self-centered. This person will mature, I thought, eventually. What my friend eventually experienced was indeed that maturity for the married beloved. Trusting that another will accept us, and that we can accept growth in the virtues with a partner … this can be difficult.

The Colombian bishops touch on this, I think. We lack perfection, but Christ’s perfection can assist the growth of the seed:

266. As the bishops of Colombia have taught, “Christ knows that spouses are not perfect and that they need to overcome their weakness and lack of constancy so that their love can grow and endure. For this reason, he grants spouses his grace, which is at once light and the strength enabling them to achieve progressively their ideal of married life in accordance with God’s plan”.[Episcopal Conference Of Colombia, Mensaje Cristiano sobre el matrimonio (14 May 1981)]

Any comments?

If you want to refer to the full Apostolic Exhortation check this link at the Vatican site. The text in color is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Christus Vivit 264: Opting For Marriage

Thoughts on marriage:

264. Today, a culture of the ephemeral dominates, but it is an illusion. To think that nothing can be definitive is a deceptive lie. “Today, there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion… In a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of ‘enjoying’ the present moment. They say that it is not worth making a lifelong commitment, making a definitive decision…

In my campus ministry experience, I definitely recall a certain hesitancy about making a commitment and keeping it. One reason: there are so many options. A second: noticing what happens when the choice for marriage fails, and people wanting surety beyond what the experience or even the beloved can offer.

Pope Francis suggests a plunge into the waters:

I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, I ask you to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, incapable of true love”.[Meeting with Volunteers, XXVIII World Youth Day in Río de Janeiro (28 July 2013): Insegnamenti 1, 2 (2013), 125] I have great confidence in you, and for this very reason, I urge you to opt for marriage.

I think it’s possible to work through difficulties and maintain a marriage in the face of significant trials. In nearly twenty-four years, my wife and I have weathered obstacles that have broken marriages of other people we knew. For us, it was a question of commitment and grace by faith.

Any thoughts?

If you want to refer to the full Apostolic Exhortation check this link at the Vatican site. The text in color is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Twelve Guns A Year

Arms dealers in Virginia are no doubt sad they can’t suck funding from white supremacists and other gun nuts to the tune of thirteen weapons-plus a year. News from the commonwealth:

The (Virginia) Senate approved … a bill that limits people to buying one gun each month.

I guess that keeps alive the gun-of-the-month club.

My father, a veteran, owned a pistol and for a time, a small collection of rifles. While among us children there was curiosity about them, where ammunition was kept, and how to shoot them, they were kept under tight wraps. We did not know where the bullets were kept and we were sternly warned against searching too diligently for things.

I think the statistics run that for every home intruder killed, five children are sacrificed at the false altar of self-defense.

Personally, I don’t see the use for military weaponry in the hands of citizens or police. The silly gun nuts think their stockpile of weapons will save them from government conquest, or whatever they call it. The truth is that if push comes to shove, if white, they will hold out for weeks and get a quiet but insistent takeover. If black, their neighborhood might be leveled by bombs and even the innocent won’t escape.

Aside from use for hunting, sport, or self-defense, I think the arms industry is driven by racism. It’s in our history. White people can’t reasonably deny it, unless they choose to be ignorant of the strain of white supremacy on our continent.

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Christus Vivit 262-263: Family Difficulties

Having a family might be aVocation.” But a vocation doesn’t always mean smooth sailing. What happens when waters get rough?

262. The Synod insisted that “the family continues to be the principal point of reference for young people. Children appreciate the love and care of their parents, they give importance to family bonds, and they hope to succeed in forming a family when it is their time. Without doubt, the increase of separation, divorce, second unions and single-parent families can cause great suffering and a crisis of identity in young people. Sometimes they must take on responsibilities that are not proportioned to their age and that force them to become adults before their time. Often, grandparents are a crucial aid in affection and religious education: with their wisdom they are a vital link in the relationship between generations”.[FD 32]

I’d say it’s also important to see how second unions and single-parent families fared in prior centuries when life expectancy was lower and it was more a case of the widowed finding themselves parenting alone or in a blended family. The sense of loss and trauma for children and adults was no less severe. Today’s Catholics perhaps suffer a certain myopia in assuming that the “death” in “till death do us part” was always a faraway thing. In many situations, it wasn’t.

263. It is true that the difficulties they experience in their own family can lead many young people to ask whether it is worthwhile to start a new family, to be faithful, to be generous. I can tell you that it certainly is. It is worth your every effort to invest in the family; there you will find the best incentives to mature and the greatest joys to experience and share. Don’t let yourselves be robbed of a great love. Don’t let yourselves be led astray by those who propose a life of rampant individualism that in the end leads to isolation and the worst sort of loneliness.

This is a good encouragement in any sort of vocation: work, education, art, etc.. Not allowing ourselves to be swayed by negative voices is vital for us to find our own voice, our own place. Any thoughts?

The text in color is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Remember, the full Apostolic Exhortation is at this link at the Vatican site.

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Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano September 2015-1a.jpgThe celibacy kerfuffle continues to burn in the hearts and computers of some Catholics. I wonder if it’s not much less of a concern than some make it out to be. John Allen muses on it here, and I wonder if he’s three, four decades behind the times.

Those speaking out most loudly seem more interested in scoring political points than establishing the truth, and in the end, ordinary onlookers are left utterly unsure of what to believe.

Cardinal Sarah, and others, perhaps politics are part of it. A lot of ordinary onlookers, I suspect, look with amusement on a lot of it. Many Catholics have already decided what they think about optional clerical celibacy. For these people, it’s more about the players. Pope Francis is either bad or slow to change. The retired pope is either valiant or way behind the times. And others ask, “Who is Cardinal Sarah?”

From Mr Allen’s conclusion:

First, the affair can’t help but seem a blow to the Church’s credibility, since an impression has been left of power politics, infighting, and cynical manipulation.

Not so much.  I think credibility is already at an all-time low. This episode just reinforces beliefs about Pope Francis. The pope emeritus, we already know about.

Second, this situation is a reminder that the institution of a “pope emeritus” remains entirely new in the life of the Church, and there may be the need for some further reflection among canon lawyers, theologians and others on the role and functions of a retired pope, given that this is unlikely to be the last time we face such a scenario.

If we think of the pope as the CEO of True Christianity, then perhaps yes. If we see the figure as the Bishop of Rome, then the matter has a foundation in place. How do retired bishops function? Do they write books and teach? Do they move out of the cathedral dwelling? Are they assigned sacramental duties in the diocese? A good question would seem to be: How do they serve?

Third, the situation also would seem to beckon an examination of conscience among those who engage in public discussion about the Church.

What!? Be nicer. Less mean. Less political. That will take more than a roomful of popes, I fear.

Can we be a better, more attractive Church? Undoubtedly. That’s not coming from the top, but from the roots.

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Christus Vivit 261: Sexuality

261. Here, we need to remember that God created us as sexual beings. He himself “created sexuality, which is a marvelous gift to his creatures”.[Amoris Laetitia 150] Within the vocation to marriage we should acknowledge and appreciate that “sexuality, sex, is a gift from God. It is not taboo. It is a gift from God, a gift the Lord gives us. It has two purposes: to love and to generate life. It is passion, passionate love. True love is passionate. Love between a man and a woman, when it is passionate, always leads to giving life. Always. To give life with body and soul”.[Address to Young People from the Diocese of Grenoble-Vienne (17 September 2018): L’Osservatore Romano, 19 September 2018, 8]

This seems a positive teaching, as well as a more complete one than most people remember. Giving life is biological, but it also involves the soul. So sexuality involves a higher realm than merely what other living things do to procreate. Any thoughts?

The text in color is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana. If you want to refer to the full Apostolic Exhortation check this link at the Vatican site.

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