Humanae Vitae 28: To Priests

sperm and eggHumanae Vitae is online at the Vatican site, and the text highlighted below is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

28. And now, beloved sons, you who are priests, you who in virtue of your sacred office act as counselors and spiritual leaders both of individual men and women and of families—We turn to you filled with great confidence. For it is your principal duty—We are speaking especially to you who teach moral theology—to spell out clearly and completely the Church’s teaching on marriage. In the performance of your ministry you must be the first to give an example of that sincere obedience, inward as well as outward, which is due to the magisterium of the Church. For, as you know, the pastors of the Church enjoy a special light of the Holy Spirit in teaching the truth. (See Lumen Gentium 25) And this, rather than the arguments they put forward, is why you are bound to such obedience. Nor will it escape you that if (people’s) peace of soul and the unity of the Christian people are to be preserved, then it is of the utmost importance that in moral as well as in dogmatic theology all should obey the magisterium of the Church and should speak as with one voice. Therefore We make Our own the anxious words of the great Apostle Paul and with all Our heart We renew Our appeal to you: “I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” (1 Cor 1. 10)

Some questions:

  • Was the Holy Fathers confidence misplaced?
  • Do people see clergy as givers of obedience or receivers of it?
  • Does the answer to the question above affect how people might be led?
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PS 31-32: Word and Music

Jesus arms outstretchedRemember, you can check the full document Paschale Solemnitatis on this site, among many on the internet.

A Word service should be celebrated in the absence of a priest:

31. Where the Mass cannot be celebrated, there should be a celebration of the word of God on the theme of the Lord’s messianic entrance and passion, either on Saturday evening or on Sunday at a convenient time. (Cf. Roman Missal, Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday), 19)

Though it seems that a procession is not provided in this instance. How would you interpret this, other than a sigh of relief for avoiding a significant liturgical production?

Back to the procession …

Music is proposed:

32. During the procession, the choir and people should sing the chants proposed in the Roman Missal, especially psalms (22)and (45), as well as other appropriate songs, in honor of Christ the King.

That first psalm is associated with the “Why have you abandoned me,” but its later verses are a hymn of praise. Given that Psalm 45 is for a royal wedding (Note its use on Assumption) I would take these choices to be more suggestive of the praise of Christ. New Testament texts might include the kenosis hymn of Philippians 2, or any of the other canticles used in Evening Prayer.

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Humanae Vitae 27: To Doctors and Nurses

sperm and eggHumanae Vitae is online at the Vatican site, and the text highlighted below is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Pope Paul addresses medical personnel:

27. Likewise we hold in the highest esteem those doctors and members of the nursing profession who, in the exercise of their calling, endeavor to fulfill the demands of their Christian vocation before any merely human interest. Let them therefore continue constant in their resolution always to support those lines of action which accord with faith and with right reason. And let them strive to win agreement and support for these policies among their professional colleagues. Moreover, they should regard it as an essential part of their skill to make themselves fully proficient in this difficult field of medical knowledge. For then, when married couples ask for their advice, they may be in a position to give them right counsel and to point them in the proper direction. Married couples have a right to expect this much from them.

Thoughts on this? Any medical folks in the reading audience with experience? Or people who have benefitted from good counsel from the medical professions?

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Too Strict?

The news collector Pewsitter linked a translation of Massimo Franco’s piece “Pope Seen As Too Strict.”

Bishops, particularly Italian bishops, have lost their compass bearings. 20-70-10: the percentages of bishops who support, are waiting for the next guy, and who are enemies of Pope Francis.

The episcopate struggles to pinpoint Pope Francis’s cultural coordinates and believes that the final, troubled years of Benedict XVI, with their Roman scandals and power struggles, have left behind a prejudice against all things Italian that is very hard to shift.

Not sure about this, speaking from the lay commentator’s perspective. In the big picture of Catholicism, Italy’s bishops are only a handful of the world’s billion Catholics. Italian bishops  and other Italian persons were at the center of scandals in the waning years of Pope Benedict. As long as people still appreciate Italian dining, museums, and scenery, I can’t believe we’re talking about more than that feeling of “depression.”

Bishops are big boys. Can I suggest that if Mr Franco is correct, it’s just time to “Get over yourselves.”?

Speaking as a lay person, I’ve lived through changes in pastors and bishops. And even a pope or two. One changes and adapts. One gets to know the new guy in charge. And frankly, my lay colleagues and I get with the program or we move on. End of story.

I recall much dismay among some of my friends when Joseph Ratzinger was elected Bishop of Rome. My advice to them was, “Chill.” (Though it was communicated in ecclesiastical terms.)

The bishops feel overshadowed and outclassed by Francis, pointing out a possible tendency to run the Church with a sort of shadow-government. Perhaps they ought to ask themselves whether the shadow-casting is not a consequence of failings by at least some of them.

I think that’s true.

My advice when life seems deeply troubled is to go on retreat. Even if only a single day can be managed somewhere. And if there’s a glimmer of interest in what Pope Francis is doing, or why, I suggest the Spiritual Exercises are a good place to start. The Holy Father is a living textbook on the spiritual tradition of St Ignatius of Loyola. Everything I see and read aligns with the Exercises.

I think Mr Franco is right: people who find themselves at odds with the pope, even if they long-considered themselves faithful, orthodox Catholics, might consider that two years of concern and dejection might be pointing a finger at their own personal failings.

And too strict? What!? This is the Catholic Church, for heaven’s sake. Our basic unit of exchange for the past twenty centuries has been strict. Get with the program, eh?

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PS 30: Alternatives to the Big Procession

Jesus arms outstretchedRemember, you can check the full document Paschale Solemnitatis on this site, among many on the internet.

There are two alternatives to the big procession. Though PS 29 provides for only one procession per parish, the document does seem inclined to urge pastors to avoid minimalism on this day:

30. The Missal, in order to commemorate the entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem, in addition to the solemn procession described above, gives two other forms, not simply for convenience, but to provide for those situations when it will not be possible to have the procession.

The second form seems to be preferred to the third:

The second form is that of a solemn entrance, when the procession cannot take place outside of the church. The third form is a simple entrance such as is used at all Sunday Masses which do not have the solemn entrance. (Cf. Roman Missal, Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday), 16)

The more northern climates might experience rain, cold, or even snow. Are these reasons enough to go to a default plan B or C?

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Not Disciples, But …

For those who have given up on Patheos because it’s too smarmingly self-orthodox, here’s a crude but hilarious wake-up call that takes a big poke at the so-called New Emangelization. One commenter there wrote:

Gee Larry, looks like you’ve struck a nerve.

Too straight.

Check out the comments, which are about as funny:

Doing your best to divide the church and ignore facts, history, prior infallible teaching AND current realities.

Done with Patheos. Spam box forever.

Can someone explain to me how “Larry D” is any different than a secularist?

The homosexuals that CAME IN in the 40’s and 50’s were quite eager to crush the Mass in the 60’s and turn it into a Protestant Lord’s Supper.

It’s hard to take a Novus Ordo Mass seriously when the altar looks like a Bed, Bath and Beyond display

Larry D seems like more a guy’s guy who isn’t going to chase men away from Catholicism. Unlike the self-righteous in his commentariat. (Now you know why they never invited me to write for Patheos–can you imagine them putting up with this every day? Their commentariat would want me off the planet–forget about excommunication.)

The blogger self describes as a “disciple of Jesus Christ, trying to be in the world but not of it, and doing his best to inject a little humor and fun into the New Evangelization.”

People without a sense of humor: by their own standards they may be faithful and they may be orthodox. But something essential is missing. Joy? Truth, likely, too.

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Petitioning God

How do we ask things of God? On his comment a bit earlier tonight Max asked:

I’m not angry. I’m not the one with power. I’m not (G)od. I can’t do anything to intercede on an attack on innocent children. If God exists he just watched the executions.

How do I ask (G)od to intercede to protect the children, if he is already watching the executions by himself?

When I work with writers of the General Intercessions, I’m cautious about how petitions at Mass are worded. Few statements raise the fur on my back more than something like this:

For the poor people of the world, that God will help them.

It turns the Mass into a feel-good exercise in apathy. Let’s remember people worse off than ourselves, and then turn them all over to God who should be, through other people, taking care of them. And we can move on with our disengaged lives.

To be sure, no single person or community can solve the problems of all the needy. A tenacious campaigner can make life miserable for politicians, to be sure. A quantity of people in an election, at a shareholder meeting, or active in their community can crank one issue now and then to the good.

Not to demean Sandy Hook or belittle Max’s life disruption over it, but more than twenty innocent children die all over the world each day. Thousands of lives are lost because politicians can’t remove the blockades to distribute food and medicine effectively and fairly. Overpopulation is not yet the human problem on this planet. It is politics. It is all in our hands, meaning the fourteen billion limbs with seventy billion fingers at the end of them.

What makes twenty Massachusetts kids the last straw more than a few thousand Africans?

Saint Ignatius would counsel people beset by discouragement and darkness to pray a bit more, to stay active, and to serve others.

I am sure that Max and likely many other atheists do get involved. They serve in soup kitchens, as tutors and big siblings, even as they care for the relationships within their own families. Good. I think this is a start.

Turning back to tragedies like mentally ill people getting their hands on guns, there are indeed ways to lobby, fuss, protest, and make an unholy nuisance of oneself. If I felt with Max’s depth, I wouldn’t be blaming God. I might sit in front of the gun store where Adam Lanza’s firearm was purchased with a simple sign “Remember Sandy Hook.” Maybe I would sit there sawing plastic water pistols into small pieces. Maybe I would volunteer at a psychiatric hospital.

After our own hearts have been moved from desolation into doing something, perhaps we can keep a closer watch over our prayers. God isn’t going to suspend the laws of nature, just to wave a magic wand to clean up a mess we’ve had a hand in making. God’s agency is through people. Teresa of Avila’s credo is almost a cliché, but perhaps it bears reminding just who God’s agents are on this planet.

For the poor people of the world, that they will know love, fulfillment, and friendship, from the people God sends to help them. And God help us, if we are unwilling.

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