The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. These are short sections, and this is a brief subheading in the final chapter. Let’s look at IX. Beyond the Sun. First, a cosmic and far-reaching vision of the future, not just in an eternal heaven, but in an immense and unimaginably vast universe:
243. At the end, we will find ourselves face to face with the infinite beauty of God (cf. 1 Cor 13:12), and be able to read with admiration and happiness the mystery of the universe, which with us will share in unending plenitude. Even now we are journeying towards the sabbath of eternity, the new Jerusalem, towards our common home in heaven. Jesus says: “I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). Eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place and have something to give those poor men and women who will have been liberated once and for all.
This vision of a future of glory does not mean passivity on our part. As good stewards, we have work to do, and we also continue to seek God in our earthly pilgrimage. I suppose we continue to seek, even if we think we know him well:
244. In the meantime, we come together to take charge of this home which has been entrusted to us, knowing that all the good which exists here will be taken up into the heavenly feast. In union with all creatures, we journey through this land seeking God, for “if the world has a beginning and if it has been created, we must enquire who gave it this beginning, and who was its Creator”.[Basil the Great, Hom. in Hexaemeron, I, 2, 6: PG 29, 8] Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.
God is the source of strength and tenacity needed to continue the great work with which we have been entrusted:
245. God, who calls us to generous commitment and to give him our all, offers us the light and the strength needed to continue on our way. In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone, for he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward. Praise be to him!
We continue to review Pope Francis’ address to the curia from this past December. This reflection on the word “misericordia,” or mercy proceeds today with a look at #3, two important qualities sometimes viewed with suspicion in some quarters.
3. Spirituality and humanity: spirituality is the backbone of all service in the Church and in the Christian life. It is what nourishes all our activity, sustaining and protecting it from human frailty and daily temptation.
The “spiritual-not-religious” folk get a lot of criticism. With way too many believers willing to cede the spiritual to those in religious life, I have a harder time mustering disdain for the meme.
Curial bureaucrat, parish priest, religious sister or brother, or lay person: what nourishes your daily activities and protects you from temptation? Willing to rely on the prayers of others? That’s not a bad piece–and its likely an effective, though unseen one. Service in the Christian life needs some measure of intent from any believer who considers herself or himself a true and fruitful servant of Jesus.
Read carefully, we are not called to renounce our very nature:
Humanity is what embodies the truthfulness of our faith; those who renounce their humanity renounce everything. Humanity is what makes us different from machines and robots which feel nothing and are never moved. Once we find it hard to weep seriously or to laugh heartily, we have begun our decline and the process of turning from “humans” into something else. Humanity is knowing how to show tenderness and fidelity and courtesy to all (cf. Phil 4:5).
A check on those three qualities: I have to consider it when my humanity is tested: people arriving late for choir practice and not paying attention, family members who don’t listen, and others I encounter in daily life. Tenderness I see as a quality that shows care in considering the position of the other person. Fidelity is simply following through on commitments I have made. Courtesy: a struggle for nearly all of us online.
A matter of daily vigilance:
Spirituality and humanity, while innate qualities, are a potential needing to be activated fully, attained completely and demonstrated daily.
The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Joseph of Nazareth is also a noble model and partner for those who aspire to care more deeply for the created universe:
242. At her side in the Holy Family of Nazareth, stands the figure of Saint Joseph. Through his work and generous presence, he cared for and defended Mary and Jesus, delivering them from the violence of the unjust by bringing them to Egypt. The Gospel presents Joseph as a just man, hard-working and strong. But he also shows great tenderness, which is not a mark of the weak but of those who are genuinely strong, fully aware of reality and ready to love and serve in humility. That is why he was proclaimed custodian of the universal Church. He too can teach us how to show care; he can inspire us to work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us.
I began reading this book well over two years ago. I described it here metaphorically as “fruitcake soaked in rum.” I set the treat aside for many months, returning to it occasionally, finally finishing it this past week.
I found the material thoughtful, scholarly, and deeply spiritual. As for that subjective assessment, make of it what you will. When I put the volume back on my shelf, I paused a bit, unable to decide to place it with books on christology or books about spirituality.
Outside of the Gospels, I found this to be the best book on Jesus I have ever read. Parts of it nudged me to leave aside everything and walk out of town westward on US-30. (And look where I ended up!)
The central theme here is the Reign of God. Professor Lohfink opines that is the centrality of what Jesus wanted. He takes the reader through the substance of Scripture to demonstrate how the Lord’s teaching unfolded and how people accepted the challenge to discipleship. Or not.
Linda Maloney manages to keep some of the sense of the German in her translation. Sometimes the material is accessible and easier. Sometimes it is quite dense and like other German theologians I’ve read, I had to take me time, retrace some steps, and go back a second or third time in order to check a point or absorb it. Often enough, I would pause and take time for reflection. This book challenged me to examine what I think about Jesus, and what he asks of me in my life.
I must thank the reader who sent me this volume back in 2013. His recommendation was spot-on. I urge any of you serious about Jesus (yes, even you, Max–some of your questions get answered here) to locate this book and read it.
The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Mary is not only queen in heaven, but in the universe:
241. Mary, the Mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world. Just as her pierced heart mourned the death of Jesus, so now she grieves for the sufferings of the crucified poor and for the creatures of this world laid waste by human power. Completely transfigured, she now lives with Jesus, and all creatures sing of her fairness. She is the Woman, “clothed in the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1). Carried up into heaven, she is the Mother and Queen of all creation. In her glorified body, together with the Risen Christ, part of creation has reached the fullness of its beauty. She treasures the entire life of Jesus in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19,51), and now understands the meaning of all things. Hence, we can ask her to enable us to look at this world with eyes of wisdom.
As queen, it is proper to seek her intercession to assist us and our virtuous impulses to save the environment.
From the Wisdom of Solomon:
For it is always in your power to show great strength,
and who can withstand the might of your arm?
Because the whole world before you is like a speck that tips the scales,
and like a drop of morning dew that falls on the ground.
But you are merciful to all, for you can do all things,
and you overlook people’s sins, so that they may repent.
For you love all things that exist,
and detest none of the things that you have made,
for you would not have made anything if you had hated it.
How would anything have endured if you had not willed it?
Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved?
You spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord, you who love the living. (11:21-26)
Checking my fb feed this morning and lots of friends are planning to run silent the next several weeks. I used to refrain from reading and commenting, but this blog has always been running daily, mostly.
Laudato Si’ will return tomorrow and wrap on Sunday, but I think you’ll continue to see almost daily postings here for a few more weeks. Perhaps I can say I’ll be giving up giving up blogging for Lent.
I hope to take a few prelude days before the Big Forty to discern my options. Any good ones in your corner this year?