Laudato Si 169: Delays On Climate Change

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Climate change remains a locus of delay and obfuscation:

169. As far as the protection of biodiversity and issues related to desertification are concerned, progress has been far less significant. With regard to climate change, the advances have been regrettably few. Reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility, above all on the part of those countries which are more powerful and pollute the most.

Three qualities which reveal the moral fiber of those who dawdle on the issue.

The Conference of the United Nations on Sustainable Development, “Rio+20” (Rio de Janeiro 2012), issued a wide-ranging but ineffectual outcome document. International negotiations cannot make significant progress due to positions taken by countries which place their national interests above the global common good. Those who will have to suffer the consequences of what we are trying to hide will not forget this failure of conscience and responsibility. Even as this Encyclical was being prepared, the debate was intensifying. We believers cannot fail to ask God for a positive outcome to the present discussions, so that future generations will not have to suffer the effects of our ill-advised delays.

Note the request for intercessory prayer on the work needed to protect the planet–and us–from catastrophic climate change.

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On Long-Winded Prayers

This ongoing discussion at PrayTell illustrates the value of public intercessions at liturgy being non-specific. The bishops of England and Wales have a problem with the 2008 TLM rewrite of Good Friday, as translated:

Let us also pray for the Jews: That our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men.

Almighty and eternal God, who want that all men be saved and come to the recognition of the truth, propitiously grant that even as the fullness of the peoples enters Thy Church, all Israel be saved. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

The bishops there want this reworked. But I think it’s too many words, even for Good Friday. Maybe especially for Good Friday. Better for both forms would be:

For the Jewish people.

Period. Followed by a significant period of silence.

I’ve never been a fan of offering a prayer, then explaining it, as though God needs to take direction from people. Perhaps the anthropocentric impulse has infected the Catholic traditionalists. Why not mention the petition, then be done with it?

For the pope.

For bishops.

For clergy.

For all lay people.

For unity of Christians.

For all who believe in God.

For those who do not believe in God.

For missionaries.

For people preparing for baptism.

For the sick.

For the dying.

For refugees.

For victims of violence.

This is enough. Certainly for Sunday. Even on Good Friday. There is nothing magical about ten long-winded intercessions. Fewer words will even make the ritual more striking and noticeable. And possibly more meaningful, if the lector is skilled.

And if people want to add any specifics in their minds, silently, let’s give a good pause for silence.

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Laudato Si 168: Conventions

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website.

168. Among positive experiences in this regard, we might mention, for example, the Basel Convention on hazardous wastes, with its system of reporting, standards and controls. There is also the binding Convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora, which includes on-site visits for verifying effective compliance. Thanks to the Vienna Convention for the protection of the ozone layer and its implementation through the Montreal Protocol and amendments, the problem of the layer’s thinning seems to have entered a phase of resolution.

On that latter issue, as the ozone hole has widened over all of the Antarctic continent, we come to realize that resting on past accomplishments isn’t sufficient, and that due attention is needed even as we make good progress in some areas.

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Reconciliation Lectionary: Psalm 27: 1, 4, 7-10, 13-14

mary-the-penitent.jpgIf there is an “unsung” psalm in the Bible, it might be the 27th. It is one of the common psalms for ordinary time. It appears in the Sunday Lectionary three times in the three-year cycle–once in Easter, once in Lent, and once in Ordinary Time. If you go to daily Mass, you might sing it nine times in two years. It is an option for funerals. And one engaged couple I worked with years ago wanted it to follow the first reading at their wedding. Psalm 27 is a true “utility” player in the liturgy.

No surprise that it is an official option for the Rite of Penance. You’ll find it in the second appendix to the rite, used with Ephesians 1:3-7 and the Gospel account of the lost son in Luke 15. “Help” substitutes for “salvation” as we usually hear the antiphon:

The Lord is my light and my help.

The selection of verses should echo well for moderately active or attentive Catholics. Yet again, we see the counsel Ne timeas, or don’t be afraid. Pope Francis would approve, no doubt.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?

The psalmist reports on a certain singlemindedness where God is concerned.

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the LORD’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the LORD’s beauty,
to visit his temple.

The theme of our Jubilee surfaces, and the psalmist also reports on something of an inner colloquy. When urged by the Lord through our thoughts and imagination, do we respond? It is so easy to dismiss that voice, even as we impore God to hear our own.

Hear my voice, LORD, when I call;
have mercy on me and answer me.
“Come,” says my heart, “seek his face”;
your face, LORD, do I seek!

Do not hide your face from me;
do not repel your servant in anger.
You are my salvation; do not cast me off;
do not forsake me, God my savior!
Even if my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will take me in.

I believe I shall see the LORD’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD, take courage;
be stouthearted, wait for the LORD!

This final thought is also presented in the Church’s funeral liturgy. “I believe” is an act of the human will. But still, that is not enough. In waiting for God, we hope faith will take root. Faith is a divine gift, not something we enact on our own. Likewise, we bring the same mindset to Penance. We confess sins, but the action of doing so does not save, forgive, or involve a bargain or deral with God. Grace is something we wait for. Grace is something imparted to the single-minded. Grace is especially for those unafraid.

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Laudato Si 167: Rio in 1992

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Pope Francis mentions the gathering on his native continent:

167. The 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro is worth mentioning. It proclaimed that “human beings are at the center of concerns for sustainable development”.[Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (14 June 1992), Principle 1] Echoing the 1972 Stockholm Declaration, it enshrined international cooperation to care for the ecosystem of the entire earth, the obligation of those who cause pollution to assume its costs, and the duty to assess the environmental impact of given projects and works. It set the goal of limiting greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere, in an effort to reverse the trend of global warming. It also drew up an agenda with an action plan and a convention on biodiversity, and stated principles regarding forests. Although the summit was a real step forward, and prophetic for its time, its accords have been poorly implemented, due to the lack of suitable mechanisms for oversight, periodic review and penalties in cases of non-compliance. The principles which it proclaimed still await an efficient and flexible means of practical implementation.

Good ideas emerged, but political leaders have been slow to act, with the occasional local exceptions.

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Simple Gifts

Two artists of impeccable musicianship and sensitivity, plus sheer love of music render a classic American tune that strikes me as always appropriate for today’s US observance.

My parish sang this contemporary song with gusto at the close of the Thanksgiving Mass this morning. I think many of us struggle with gratitude. “Holiday” means leisure, even the fourth Thursday of November in America. Can we look around and be thankful for what we have? Do we draw God into the equation, and can we sing that difficult concept with sincerity?

Your grace is enough.

Let’s leave off today’s post with two works by the American great Charles Ives. His arrangement of a classic spiritual that riffs on the theme of what is enough for the Christian believer.

And “Serenity,” just because I like it.turkey

Blessings on your Thanksgiving, and your giving thanks, readers.

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Laudato Si 166: Popular Movements

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Praise for many environmental organizations:

166. Worldwide, the ecological movement has made significant advances, thanks also to the efforts of many organizations of civil society. It is impossible here to mention them all, or to review the history of their contributions. But thanks to their efforts, environmental questions have increasingly found a place on public agendas and encouraged more far-sighted approaches.

Not so much for international “summits.”

This notwithstanding, recent World Summits on the environment have not lived up to expectations because, due to lack of political will, they were unable to reach truly meaningful and effective global agreements on the environment.

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