MR Prefaces: Common Preface VII

The English translation of the Roman Missal Second Edition labeled seven prefaces “for General Use.” One more than in the Missal currently in use. ICEL included what appears to be an original composition. What do you make of this text? I like the repetition of three verbs at the end: to embody, to breathe, to walk–a lovely reflection of God’s act of Creation:

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Jonah’s Lament

Image credit: By Diliff, CC BY 2.5,

I was thinking of the prophet Jonah earlier today. Specifically, his psalm that is featured in chapter two of the book of that name.

In liturgy, how would this lyric fit? It doesn’t appear in the Sunday or daily Lectionary of the Roman Rite. It’s not part of the Roman Liturgy of the Hours, though I believe the Anglicans use the text.

If we’re aware of the state of mind of the prophet, maybe this passage is good for reconciliation–in Jonah’s admission of fault for running away from God. As an expression of rescue, maybe it fits for pastoral care of the sick.

I’d attach the frequently heard antiphon from Psalm 116:9:

I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

Out of my distress I called to the LORD,
and he answered me;
From the womb of Sheol I cried for help,
and you heard my voice.

You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the sea,
and the flood enveloped me;
All your breakers and your billows
passed over me.

Then I said, “I am banished from your sight!
How will I again look upon your holy temple?”
The waters surged around me up to my neck;
the deep enveloped me;
seaweed wrapped around my head.

I went down to the roots of the mountains;
to the land whose bars closed behind me forever,
But you brought my life up from the pit,
O LORD, my God.

When I became faint, I remembered the LORD;
My prayer came to you in your holy temple.
Those who worship worthless idols
abandon their hope for mercy.

But I, with thankful voice,
will sacrifice to you;
What I have vowed I will pay:
deliverance is from the LORD.

(2:3, 4, 5-6, 7, 8-9, 10)

Maybe because the lyric is similar to previous laments in Psalms 40, 42-43, 69, 116. Maybe because this expression of thanksgiving is buried in a prophetic book. Given the repetition we see often in psalm repeats through the Lectionary and the Hours, I think it’s a worthy addition. Verse 7 stands out for me: a real expression of hitting bottom. You can’t get lower than the roots of mountains and still be in the Earth’s crust.

Some Scripture scholars see this as an older psalm inserted into the scroll of the reluctant prophet. Maybe I would say a brief meditation touching on small excerpts of psalm texts. Or not. I think the book of Jonah is older than the last few books of the Psalter. The best fit for genre is a thanksgiving. The psalmist relates an experience of falling so low it is nearly a time of death. Certainly it is a humiliation. But God lifts us up, rescues us, gives us reasons to be grateful.

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On Reconciliation and Penance

What to look at next on this site? I suppose I could focus exclusively on the “Way of Beauty” document from 2006. That will continue daily for an estimated two to three months. It’s a good document; quite interesting. A good companion and follow=-up to Pope John Paul II’s Letter To Artists. I hope y’all are reading along.

I was looking over that list of apostolic exhortations, an overlooked set of documents that followed up the synods of the last half-century. Except perhaps when Pope Francis pokes the bear. These documents have an outsized effect on the Church. Evangelii Nuntiandi, for example, I think is one of the most significant writings to come out since Vatican II, possibly equaling the insights of any of the massive encyclicals that came from Pope Paul VI’s three successors. The only problem is that Roman Catholicism continues with a sense of entitlement and apathy when it comes to the importance of evangelization.

Back to that list, I was struck by 1984’s Reconciliatio et Paenitentia. It’s a massive 30,000 words, including footnotes. Perhaps that document is done a disservice by the pope’s clamping down on Penance form III. It’s not the only liturgical moment in the piece. And liturgy is a prime interest here, even if it’s shared a seat with other concerns as of late.

The Holy Father takes a piercing look at the phenomenon of sin in the world. I’m interested in seeing how the synod and its follow-up document have fared in the last four decades. The Church’s mission has been hampered by sin and scandal in our midst. It’s been less about the bogey-figures of 1978-2013, and more about the institution. A lot of questions. How do we move forward?

If I do start this document, it will like be in a week or so.

Australian Tom Roberts‘ aptly titled “Reconciliation,” above right, I’m considering for a visual “marker” on this. What do you make of the painting?

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Via Pulchritudinis: How can the Via Pulchritudinis be a Response? Part 3

As we examine the question, How can the Via Pulchritudinis be a Response? we read the concession that philosophy is part of, but not the complete way we encounter the Way of Beauty.

The way I read it: God made human beings to be attracted by beauty. When a person responds positively to their own truth, we will be drawn to God. This is basic metaphysics.

The via pulchritudinis is a pastoral way which cannot be exhausted in a philosophical approach. Yet the metaphysician is needed to help us understand why beauty is a royal way leading to God. In suggesting to us who He is, it stimulates in us a desire to enjoy the peace of contemplation, not only because He alone can fill our minds and hearts, but because He contains in Himself the perfection of being, a harmonious and inexhaustible source of clarity and light.

A lengthy commentary from Pope John Paul II’s 1998 encyclical:

To reach it, we need to know how to make the passage from phenomenon to foundation: “Wherever men and women discover a call to the absolute and transcendent, the metaphysical dimension of reality opens up before them: in truth, in beauty, in moral values, in other persons, in being itself, in God. We face a great challenge at the end of this millennium to move from phenomenon to foundation, a step as necessary as it is urgent. We cannot stop short at experience alone; even if experience does reveal the human being’s interiority and spirituality, speculative thinking must penetrate to the spiritual core and the ground from which it rises.” [JOHN PAUL II, Fides et Ratio 83. And he adds “therefore, a philosophy which shuns metaphysics would be radically unsuited to the task of mediation in the understanding of Revelation.”]

The full document is here.

Image: the rose window at Notre Dame in Paris, By Zachi Evenor based on File:North rose window of Notre-Dame de Paris, Aug 2010.jpg by Julie Anne Workman – CC BY-SA 2.0,

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Fratelli Tutti 281: Religion And Violence

Today, a brief word on the possibility of peace, and the deep, deep likelihood that we will find a surprising Matthew 21:31 moment at the end of time:


281. A journey of peace is possible between religions. Its point of departure must be God’s way of seeing things. “God does not see with his eyes, God sees with his heart. And God’s love is the same for everyone, regardless of religion. Even if they are atheists, his love is the same. When the last day comes, and there is sufficient light to see things as they really are, we are going to find ourselves quite surprised”. [From the film Pope Francis: A Man of His Word, by Wim Wenders (2018)]

Check the link for Fratelli Tutti. © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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The sorting is complete. I thought I’d try a new technique: after the dump, go through 1,026 pieces and screen for color.

As a further challenge, I never look at the box once I begin. For scenery, it’s easy to tell sky is up, flowers are down, and mountain is in the middle.

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All Symbols Matter

See the source imageI saw this bit on NCRep from the CNS on crucifixes in public classrooms. It’s Italy, not the US. But it brings to mind another occasional conservative vector that often makes me wonder, “Do we really want to go there?”

If a Christian symbol can be democratically elected to go on a wall, why not other non-Christian or non-religious symbols as well? From journalist Carol Glatz on the Italian judiciary ruling:

(A)ll religious symbols can also be “welcomed” as long as it is decided in a democratic, civil and “gentle” manner by students and faculty together.

That means, it said, all decisions regarding their presence must never be imposed and must seek “reasonable accommodation” between the different positions or convictions of people in the school community that includes respecting a person’s freedom of and from religion; in essence, decisions cannot come by a “tyranny” of the majority or the veto-power of one individual.

When I was in small-town Iowa, the issue of prayer with high school athletes arose amongst some parishioners. We Catholics were one of eleven churches in a town of four-thousand. I asked if coach- or chaplain-led prayers were really something to encourage. My question mystified some people. What if, I mused, one of our Catholic students wanted to lead the rosary, or even just a simple Our Father-Hail Mary-Glory-Be? One woman asked why would they want to do that? I kept further counsel to myself, knowing that my evangelical friends would likely be promoting (as I saw them lead prayer in our ecumenical conference) the closed-eye, head-bowed, off-the cuff, in Jesus’ name style. Not that this is bad. And it’s not completely unknown to Catholics, by experience or actual leadership. 

But I was moderately concerned: would I want our teen parishioners influenced mostly by evangelical Christianity? Our parish had a fine youth group, so I wasn’t seriously bothered. 

In other places, Satan or spaghetti monster faith have lobbied for symbols in the public square. When they are in the clear majority, as in white rural Iowa, Christians are happy for religious symbols. Suppose in a few decades the nones have washed in. Suppose in some city neighborhoods, Islam becomes the majority faith. Will other symbols be welcome? Do they all matter? 

My view is that our symbols are better off on the property of buildings for worship, and out of public places. Sure: let’s wear our jewelry, clothing, baseball caps, and such as we wish. We have that freedom. Otherwise, are desirous of saying that all symbols matter?

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Via Pulchritudinis: How can the Via Pulchritudinis be a Response? Part 2

Our second part looking at section II-2, and the question: How can the Via Pulchritudinis be a Response?

This call to philosophers might surprise some people, but is not the via pulchritudinis also a via veritatis on which man engages to discover the bonitas of God’s love, source of all beauty, truth and good?

It is. But most people, including some philosophers, view beauty and the arts as a “fluffy” thing. Via veritatis, the way of truth, is often boiled down for many of today’s Catholics as a simple duality: yes or no, permitted or forbidden, virtue or sin, this or that. Beauty doesn’t seem to work that way. Not in art, anyway.

Beauty, as much as truth and good, leads us to God, the first truth, supreme good, and beauty itself. But beauty means more than the truth or the good. To say that something is beautiful is not only to recognize it intelligible and therefore loveable, but also, in specifying our knowledge, it attracts us, or captures us with a ray capable of igniting marvel.

Agreement here, at least from me. But a caution for the either/or crowd: that marvel-igniting ray might be coming from an unexpected place outside of perceived orthodoxy. The development of polyphony from plainchant, for example. What attracts some believers does not always beckon others.

Moreover, as it expresses a certain power of attraction, beauty tells forth reality itself in the perfection of its form. It is its epiphany. It manifests it by expressing its internal brightness.

An extensive footnote follows:

[According to St Thomas Aquinas claritas is one of the three conditions of beauty. In the part treating De Trinitate in the Summa Theologica, he examines the proper attributes of each Divine Person and attaches beauty to the Son : « Pulchritudo habet similitudinem cum propriis Filii ». And he indicates the three conditions of beauty to apply them to Christ : integritas sive perfectioproportio sive consonantia and claritas (Ia, qu. 39, art. 8).] If the good speaks the desirable, the beautiful tells forth the splendor and light of the perfection it manifests. [For a reflection on the philosophy of beauty and artistic activity see M.-D. PHILIPPE, L’activité artistique. Philosophie du faire, 2 vol., Paris 1969-1970, avec une importante bibliographie. For a theological reflection see Bruno FORTE, La porta della Bellezza. Per un’estetica teologica, Brescia 1999; Inquietudini della trascendenza, ch. 3 : “La Bellezza”, Brescia 2005, p. 45-55; La Bellezza di Dio: Scritti e discorsi 2004-2005, Cinisello Balsamo 2006]

In sum, I think beauty is not always recognized when it appears. God often brings that ray of insight from outside of human expectations. That clear line of melody and text is obscured in piles of counter-melodies and themes slowed down, sped up, and intertwined. And sometimes, sheer cold intellect is mistaken for beauty. Claritas can also apply to human expressions of logic and the re-telling of tradition. But not everyone sees the written page as an expression of beauty. Many of us want something more lyrical. And the catechism can’t always be set to music.

The full document is here.

Image: the rose window at Notre Dame in Paris, By Zachi Evenor based on File:North rose window of Notre-Dame de Paris, Aug 2010.jpg by Julie Anne Workman – CC BY-SA 2.0,

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All Eyes On Jupiter

Astrophotographer José Luis Pereira of São Paulo, Brazil took this photo - and video - of an explosion as an object, likely a giant rock, hit Jupiter's atmosphere on Monday night (Sept. 13, 2021).Literally. Amateur astronomers all over the world, most all the time, it seems.

Citizen (full-in-the-blank). Dislike that term. Citizen Journalist. Citizen Researcher. Citizen Kane. Citizen Mind-Your-Own-Business. I don’t mind calling myself an amateur astronomer. Or at least I did before I gave away all my telescopes on the last two moves.

Off that, there is this remarkable short video of something hitting Jupiter. Before the days of easy moving pictures, I wonder how many folks looking through their backyard device saw a flash on the moon or a planet and just rubbed their eye, put it back on the scope and considered it might be time to go in the house for the night. 

These days, a computer can track sky objects steadily and any sort of camera will keep its eye on the sky for you.

Oh, and that dark spot on the farthest right side of the planet? The moon Io was eclipsing the sun; it’s shadow appears on the cloud tops. Cool. Again, literally: the temp there is -280F

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Fratelli Tutti 280: The Intercession For Unity

Let’s not think of unity as an exclusively Roman Catholic thing in the face of real or imagined threats of schism, disagreements, a Left/Right divide, and so on. (Though that petition for confessional unity is important.)

280. At the same time, we ask God to strengthen unity within the Church, a unity enriched by differences reconciled by the working of the Spirit. For “in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12:13), in which each member has his or her distinctive contribution to make. As Saint Augustine said, “the ear sees through the eye, and the eye hears through the ear”. [Enarrationes in Psalmos, 130, 6: PL 37, 1707]

Jesus saw clearly in his farewell discourse the seeds of discord among his disciples–the Gospels don’t sugarcoat the differences among them, and the rest of the New Testament gives witness to difficulties in the early Church. How can we expect a difference today or in any age?

It is also urgent to continue to bear witness to the journey of encounter between the different Christian confessions. We cannot forget Christ’s desire “that they may all be one” (cf. Jn 17:21).

The check-up on this for any faith community: do you pray for it? Often? Regularly? With sincere intent?

Hearing his call, we recognize with sorrow that the process of globalization still lacks the prophetic and spiritual contribution of unity among Christians. This notwithstanding, “even as we make this journey towards full communion, we already have the duty to offer common witness to the love of God for all people by working together in the service of humanity”. [Common Declaration of Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Jerusalem(25 May 2014), 5: L’Osservatore Romano, 26-27 May 2014, p. 6]

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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One Down, One More To Go

For me, it’s usually a winter activity. But summer sunlight was helpful to solve the subtleties in the dark shades at the top. As you can see in the shine, all the pieces were the same pattern and many very nearly the same exact shape. A few spots had to be redone. 

Right, and so it begins…

My wife didn’t recognize the image on the box of this next one. Not right away. My old mountain from the Pac NW.

Might hold on to that one. 

How did this all start? My mom had a 350-piece of Paul Bunyan when I was a kid. I think I assembled it several times. She had two 650-piece jobs in the round. I started them and she, alas, would finish them off. 

Over the years, I get on a kick for a few puzzles at a time. They get returned to the thrift store, and then there’s a pause. As a boy, I used to imagine the scene in the puzzle as the whole universe, and ask myself: would I want to live within the bounds of this image? Maybe that’s why I gravitate to nature scenes, especially ones with mountains.

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St Charles, Visalia CA

The interior of the St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church construction site in Visalia, California, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. RNS photo by Alejandra MolinaI was alerted to my late friend Charles’ parish’s building project here. Considering his devotion to music, liturgy, and service, it is a worthy confluence of nomenclature. 

Image credit: Alejandra Molina, Religion News Service.

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A (Pope) Like That Won’t Tell You What You Should Do

Tell Her About It.jpgMore fuss on the Catholic Right about Pope Francis’ latest airplane presser. I’ve already seen anguish in some social media outlets about confession being out the window and the like. My thought? Let’s cop a riff from a fine Billy Joel song.

John Allen kind of spells it out as it happened. Are you confused? Tough issues should indeed have a back-and-forth quality about them. It shows we wrestle with the huge issues of the day.

Pope Francis spells out the thinking of a pastoral person. He models the behavior of a good priest. Good clergy are not the gatekeepers of the public practice of lay people. He includes the example of an innocent mistake, but a mistake nonetheless.

I think a lot of people are going to miss the point, if not the whole boat on this one. But adults dealing with adults aren’t going to tell people what they should do. Best practice is always to invite, and then, after listening carefully. People who want a leader to be on their side and cheer for what they already think? That leader is already inside their head.

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Via Pulchritudinis: How can the Via Pulchritudinis be a Response? Part 1

We begin five posts on the heading/question/section on II-2 How can the Via Pulchritudinis be a Response?

Reminding those following here, or especially if this discussion is new, that part II addresses the “proposal” that the Church consider the “Way of Beauty” as a means of presenting the Good News to the wider world. This document is squarely in the tradition of Gaudium et Spes, the Vatican II directive that we must explore ways of being more engaging, attractive, and fruitful in places we are called to move. These places are not always welcoming of Christians. Can Beauty help us? Some think so. First up, the last pope of the 20th century with a surprising call for philosophy, not a favorite subject of mine.

Pope John Paul II, an untiring scrutinizer of the signs of the times, indicates this way in his Encyclical Fides et Ratio: “I have unstintingly recalled the pressing need for a new evangelization; and I appeal now to philosophers to explore more comprehensively the dimensions of the true, the good and the beautiful to which the Word of God gives access.

My assumption is that this appeal is for philosophers within the Church, given the situation in 1998 (and now) that Christian cultures are hemorrhaging believers. The “newness” of evangelization is, in part, an attempt to address people who have been exposed to Christianity as a significant portion of their lives but, for whatever reason, have rejected it. It seems less likely that this is a uniform ignorance of beliefs. I’d say it’s more likely that bad behavior has turned off a significant portion of people who were once Christian or who have witnessed poor behavior of believers.

Pope John Paul II saw this as a serious challenge:

This task becomes all the more urgent if we consider the challenges which the new millennium seems to entail, and which affect in a particular way regions and cultures which have a long-standing Christian tradition. This attention to philosophy too should be seen as a fundamental and original contribution in service of the new evangelization.”[JOHN PAUL II, Fides et Ratio, 14 September 1998, n. 103]

His argument in this cited section, part of the document’s conclusion reads:

Philosophy moreover is the mirror which reflects the culture of a people. A philosophy which responds to the challenge of theology’s demands and evolves in harmony with faith is part of that “evangelization of culture” which Paul VI proposed as one of the fundamental goals of evangelization. (Fides et Ratio 103)

That evangelization of culture is footnoted in John Paul’s document here and here in Pope Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi 18-19.

The full document Via Pulchritudinis is here.

Image: the rose window at Notre Dame in Paris, By Zachi Evenor based on File:North rose window of Notre-Dame de Paris, Aug 2010.jpg by Julie Anne Workman – CC BY-SA 2.0,

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Gymnasts Go To Washington

U.S. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles is sworn in to testify during a Senate Judiciary hearing about the Inspector General's report on the FBI handling of the Larry Nassar investigation of sexual abuse of Olympic gymnasts, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., U.S., September 15, 2021. Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERSA sex offender embedded in the US Olympic system was bad enough. Yesterday and today, media mainstream and otherwise is all over the sensational testimony of abuse survivors who anchored some of the most amazing Olympic teams in history. McKayla Maroney tells a bit of it:

Not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said.

Lying. About gold-decorated athletes that could literally run circles and outperform nearly any law enforcement male on the planet. 

FBI head Chris Wray was appropriately contrite, but it seems there’s enough heat generated on this issue to force significant change all around. As well it should.

I don’t think women in charge would usher in an era of perfection, but it seems to me that men can’t be trusted to investigate sex abuse of women unless they have female supervisors. 

While it stokes my anger about what men in power do to women, I’m still on the don’t-fire soapbox on this. If agents can avoid criminal charges and prison time as accessories to rape and assault, I think demotion to the bottom of the chain, and reassignment to duties no other employee would take might possibly be in order. At the very least, real law enforcement people might need coffee fetched, dry cleaning picked up, and reports typed and printed and saved.

And while we’re at the idea of leadership, clearly the USOC has some answers to deliver too. 

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