Aparecida 132-133: The Family of Christ

Jesus offers a connection, something beyond that of servant, beyond the one who simply bows at his feet and submits.

132. With the parable of the vine and the branches (cf. Jn 15:1-8) Jesus reveals the type of bond that He offers and that he expects of his own. He does not want a bond as “servants” (cf. Jn 8:33-36), because “a servant does not know what his master is doing” (Jn (15:15). The servant does not have entry to his master’s house, let alone to his life.

Jesus offers himself as a friend and brother. How do we make that a deeper relationship than just the perfunctory way in which we sometimes treat those close to us? The Aparecida bishops suggest this relationship requires some “movement” on our part. We pay attention. We listen. We cross some threshold and “enter” into a new place: the reference is John 10:9; Jesus is the gate through which we enter into a privileged existence.

Jesus wants his disciple to be bound to Him as “friend” and as “brother.” “Friends” enter into his Life, making it their own. Friends listen to Jesus, know the Father and make his Life (Jesus Christ) flow into their own existence (cf. Jn 15:14), marking the relationship with all (cf. Jn 15:12). A “brother” of Jesus (cf. Jn 20:17) shares in the life of the Risen One, Son of the heavenly Father, and hence Jesus and his disciple share the same life that comes from the Father, although Jesus does so by nature (cf. Jn 5:26; 10:30) and the disciple by participation (cf. Jn 10:10). The immediate consequence of this type of bond is the condition of brothers and sisters acquired by the members of his community.

And to remember that God’s initiative is a preexisting condition of our movement:

133. Jesus makes them his family members, because he shares the same life that comes from the Father and asks of them, as disciples, intimate union with Him, obedience to the Word of the Father, so as to produce fruits of love in abundance. So attests St. John in the prologue to his Gospel: “he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name,” and they are children of God who “were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God” (Jn 1:12-13).

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

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More on Doxxing

A facebook friend linked to this thoughtful commentary on doxxing, and I found myself tipped to the non-dox side. Because of this:

Doxxing and social vilification complicates that. It’s harder to walk away from the group you’ve attached yourself to when you know (because everyone is telling you) that you’ve blown it – that you shouldn’t have a job; that you can’t be forgiven; that everyone needs to know who you are right now, so they can shun and disemploy you for the rest of your life.

The ultimate goal is not the purging of society–as many on the alt-right seem to desire as well–because we can never quite achieve a desirable uniformity. There will always be some poor sap who doesn’t quite align with the group. Soon, ideological cannibalism will result. The strongest one–emphasis on one–will remain standing.

My friends who still lurk here know I’ve been fairly consistent on my criticism of Catholic “orthodoxxing” over the years. The Karl Rove school of theology: get non-Republicans fired. These days, it happens for people lurking online to find out who’s been same-sex unioned, or who wrote a paper against theological sexism. not so many years back, it was the priest who was videotaped for not hewing to the red at Mass, the woman religious who listened to some non-Christian philosophy, or some bishop who thought that discussing optional celibacy was a good idea.

Let’s face it: many on the Catholic Right practiced doxxing with great glee. And many elements in the institutional Church encouraged it. It matters little that is was fishing through images online or scouring filing cabinets at theology schools or lurking on blogs. It was all sinful behavior.

I’m thinking I’d rather have misguided young men come to their senses. No need to go after jobs, families, or girlfriends. A reformed white supremacist always has a place in the human family. Young people doing senseless things is the backbone of the Gospel teaching on mercy. What is needed is mercy, not sass.

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Aparecida 131: A New Kind of Call

Today, we look at the distinctive call of the Christian. Unfortunately, Christianity is often presented “old-school,” in an antique way, as the Aparecida bishops describe how it used to be for pagans:

131. The call issued by Jesus, the Master, brings with it something very new. In antiquity, masters invited their disciples to be bound to something transcendent, and the masters of the Law proposed adherence to the Law of Moses.

Jesus does it differently:

Jesus invites us to encounter Him and to bind ourselves closely to Him, for He is the source of life (cf. Jn 15:5-15) and He alone has the words of eternal life (cf. Jn 6:68). In daily shared life with Jesus and in confrontation with followers of other masters, the disciples soon discover two completely original things about Jesus. First, it was not they who chose their master; it was Christ who chose them. Second, they were not chosen for something (e.g., to be purified, learn the Law) but for Someone, chosen to be closely bound up with his Person (cf. Mk 1:17; 2:14).

The significance of this cannot be understated. The Master chooses us. Not just as a people, a privileged community, a Christian elite. Jesus chooses each person for who they are. And in turn, the disciple aligns not with a philosophy (like moral therapeutic deism, or Catholicism, or some spot on the liberal/conservative spectrum) but with a person.

Jesus chose them so that “they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach” (Mk 3:14), so that they could follow him in order to “be His” and be part “of his own” and share in his mission. The disciple experiences that the close bond with Jesus in the group of his own means participating in the Life that comes from the bosom of the Father; it means being formed to take on his own style of life and his same motivations (cf. Lk 6:40b), sharing his lot and taking on his mission of making all things new.

And what follows these choices is a mission.

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

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Things Understood and Not Understood

I can’t think of much to say about Charlottesville that others haven’t already said, and said well. Like here.

I understand how easily violence can break out. I don’t put the qualifier “these days” on that sentence, because I think it’s always bubbling under the surface of sinful humanity. Iraq. Some person of color deemed too “uppity” by a police officer. Any bullying situation in a school. Lynchings. Burning witches. Lots of video stuff–games and television. Don’t buy the line that these times are something special. They’re not. They’re making us a little more uncomfortable.

I don’t understand why so many white guys have been duped by some self-styled white elite. There are people who want them to be angry at women, blacks, and liberals. That means they aren’t angry at white guys gaming the system. Such folk often want to keep more money for themselves. It seems brutally obvious to me. Then there’s the spectacle of men of Slavic origin promoting a political ideology that sidelined their great-grandfathers eighty years ago. And buying Polynesian torches.

I understand that many people feel it’s important to stand up in public to oppose hateful demonstrations.

I don’t understand why more people didn’t bring supersoakers to dowse the backyard lighting decor.

I understand the public shaming of the pseudo-Nazis, and that people would want to see them lose their jobs, girlfriends, facebook friends, or whatever.

I don’t understand why job-sabotaging is important. Everybody needs a job. It’s often the main way a person contributes to society. Take that away, and misanthropes end up living in their parents’ basements and reading propaganda.

I wish I had the measure of the best response to white elite marches. I’d like to think that some degree of humor might defuse the situation. Yelling and screaming in reply arouses passions that can be put to use writing, giving, binding others’ wounds. A non-violent response doesn’t seem to make a dent. But we aren’t likely to make converts by getting them fired.

The white elites and counter-protesters were out in Seattle yesterday. I think if they came to my side of the Sound, I’d have to go.


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Aparecida 129-130: Vocation To Holiness

Today, we commence Chapter Four, exploring “The Vocation of Missionary Disciples To Holiness.” Paragraphs 129 through 152 will give us a window on the thinking of the Aparecida bishops as to this universal call to holiness. It may seem new to Catholics, but it is heavily referenced in the Bible, particularly the New Testament. We’ll call on major church figures to assist as well.

Let’s begin with the basics. Christ calls people. We respond. “Called To  Follow Jesus Christ” is our first topic. It begins with the initiative of the Father, and the experience Israel knew as a communion with a living God:

129. God the Father goes out of himself, as it were, to call us to share in his life and glory. Through Israel, a people he makes his own, God reveals to us his project of life. Whenever Israel sought and needed its God, especially in national calamities, it had a singular experience of communion with Him who had led it to share in his truth, his life, and his holiness. Hence, it did not hesitate to attest that its God—unlike the idols—is the “living God” (Dt 5:25) who liberates it from oppressors (cf. Ex 3:7-10), who untiringly forgives it (cf. Ex 34:6; Sir 2:11), and who restores the salvation lost when the people, caught “in the snares of Sheol” (Ps 116:3), address Him in prayer (cf. Is 38:16). Jesus will say of this God—who is his Father—that he “is not God of the dead but of the living” (Mk 12:27).

The ministry of the Son has brought humankind to a new era, and the clarion call of Christ to his followers is to be holy:

130. In these last days, he has spoken through Jesus his Son (Heb 1 ff), with whom the fullness of time arrives (cf. Gal 4:4). God who is Holy and loves us, calls us through Jesus to be holy (cf. Eph 1:4-5).


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

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Aparecida 127-128: The Continent Of Hope And Love

The Latin American bishops wrap up Chapter Three, a two-paragraph conclusion confident about their “Continent of Hope and Love.” The term is from the pope emeritus. And there are reasons for optimism and gratitude, first for a plenteous Christian identification through baptism:

127. We thank God as disciples and missionaries because most Latin American and Caribbean people are baptized. God’s providence has entrusted to us the precious legacy of belonging to the Church by the gift of baptism, which has made us members of the Body of Christ, pilgrim people of God in American lands, for over five hundred years.

Baptism isn’t enough, of course, if discipleship does not follow. But there is substantive witness to the Gospel in Latin America, and not just among the old:

Our hope is stirred by the multitude of our children, the ideals of our young people, and the heroism of many of our families, which despite increasing difficulties, remain faithful to love. We thank God for the religiosity of our peoples, which shines forth in devotion to the suffering Christ and to his blessed Mother, in veneration to the saints with their patron feast days, in love for the pope and other shepherds, in love for the universal Church as great family of God which can never and must never leave its children alone or in misery. (Benedict XVI, introductory address, 1)

The various ministries are also good indicators of spiritual health:

128. We recognize the gift of the vitality of the pilgrim Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, its option for the poor, its parishes, its communities, its associations, its ecclesial movements, its new communities, and its many social and educational services. We praise the Lord because he has made of this continent a place of communion and communication of peoples and indigenous cultures. We are also grateful for the active role being taken by sectors that were formerly cast aside: women, indigenous, Afro-Americans, small farmers, and those living on the outskirts of large cities. The entire life of our peoples founded on Christ and redeemed by Him, can look to the future with hope and joy, accepting Pope Benedict XVI’s call: “Only from the Eucharist will the civilization of love spring forth which will transform Latin America and the Caribbean, making them not only the Continent of Hope, but also the Continent of Love!”(Ibid., 4)

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

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Aparecida 125-126: Universal Destiny Of Goods And Ecology

Before Laudato Si’ the Aparecida bishops preached “Good News” on “the Universal Destiny of Goods and Ecology.”

125. With the native peoples of the Americas, we praise the Lord who created the universe as the realm of life and the shared existence of all his sons and daughters, and left it to us as sign of his goodness and his beauty. Creation is also the manifestation of God’s provident love; it has been entrusted to us so that we may care for it and transform it as a source of decent life for all. Although a greater valorization of nature has become more widespread today, we clearly see how many ways human beings threaten and are still destroying their habitat. “Our sister, mother earth”(St. Francis of Assisi, Canticle of All Creatures, 9) is our common home and the place of God’s covenant with human beings and with all creation. To disregard the mutual relationships and balance that God himself established among created realities is an offense against the Creator, an attack on biodiversity and ultimately against life. The missionary disciple to whom God has entrusted creation must contemplate it, care for it, and use it, while always respecting the order given it by the Creator.

Would you agree that “a human ecology open to transcendence” is more than a bit of theobabble?

126. The best way to respect nature is to promote a human ecology open to transcendence, which, while respecting the person and the family, environments and cities, follows Paul’s urging to recapitulate all things in Christ and praise the Father with Him (cf. 1 Cor 3:21-23). The Lord has entrusted the world to all, to members of present and future generations. The universal destiny of goods demands solidarity with both the present and future generations. Because resources are ever more limited, their use must be regulated according to a principle of distributive justice, while respecting sustainable development.

Comments, friends?

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

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