Laudato Si 17-18: A Fresh Analysis

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Chapter One’s title asks the question, “What is happening to our common home?” Forty-five paragraphs lead off promising a fresh analysis:

17. Theological and philosophical reflections on the situation of humanity and the world can sound tiresome and abstract, unless they are grounded in a fresh analysis of our present situation, which is in many ways unprecedented in the history of humanity. So, before considering how faith brings new incentives and requirements with regard to the world of which we are a part, I will briefly turn to what is happening to our common home.

This chapter explicitly provides an assessment of the world’s environmental situation. So for the next six weeks, we’ll look at the question of physical facts and human activities. This is pretty much how Paul VI approached the regulation of births in Humanae Vitae.

First concern: not only the nature of change in the modern world, but also the accelerated pace of change. Human beings are adaptable, but …

18. The continued acceleration of changes affecting humanity and the planet is coupled today with a more intensified pace of life and work which might be called “rapidification”. Although change is part of the working of complex systems, the speed with which human activity has developed contrasts with the naturally slow pace of biological evolution. Moreover, the goals of this rapid and constant change are not necessarily geared to the common good or to integral and sustainable human development. Change is something desirable, yet it becomes a source of anxiety when it causes harm to the world and to the quality of life of much of humanity.

Change is good, yet sometimes it can leave people behind who are slower to adapt. And while it is true some people are averse to change, there is an important consideration of the overall community. Change always benefits some. The question is: when does change benefit nearly all?

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Blue Cathedral

Some American music for the holiday: Jennifer Higdon’s Blue Cathedral by the San Francisco Symphony.

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The Armchair Liturgist: Clergy Out Front?

At PrayTell, check out a discussion on holding doors for people on the outside of the church building.

But here’s a question for you armchair liturgists: do you recommend your clergy–priests and deacons–greet people *before Mass* like Chuck Middendorf’s pastor?

Our pastor greets everyone outside: rain or wind or snow, assisted by one regular doorman. 30 minutes before Mass.

Parishioners love it. The pastor meets visitors. Learns parish news. Win win for everyone.

Plus a priest in his chasuble is the best free advertising in a busy downtown community.



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The title of the prayer is taken from Latin for “receive.” Saint Ignatius placed it in an appendix of sorts to his Spiritual Exercises.

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will. All I have and call my own, You have given to me; to you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me.

John Foley set it in an antiphonal style. Still a favorite despite a flaw or two. Others have set the text, chorally and for congregations. I go back to the first one I heard.

It takes great faith to say that love and grace are enough. For me, I can only hope to say it more frequently as I get older. And mean it a little more sincerely tomorrow than I did today.

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Dives in Misericordiae 8a: Love More Powerful Than Death, More Powerful Than Sin

Divine_Mercy_Sanctuary_in_Vilnius4Continuing our reflection on the Paschal Mystery, we begin section 8, “Love More Powerful Than Death, More Powerful Than Sin.”

The cross of Christ on Calvary is also a witness to the strength of evil against the very Son of God, against the one who, alone among all the sons of men, was by His nature absolutely innocent and free from sin, and whose coming into the world was untainted by the disobedience of Adam and the inheritance of original sin. And here, precisely in Him, in Christ, justice is done to sin at the price of His sacrifice, of His obedience “even to death.”(Phil. 2:8) He who was without sin, “God made him sin for our sake.”(2 Cor. 5:21)

The old idea that misfortune befalls those who have, in some way, transgressed. Jesus, of course, did not. He also belittled the idea.

Justice is also brought to bear upon death, which from the beginning of (human) history had been allied to sin. Death has justice done to it at the price of the death of the one who was without sin and who alone was able-by means of his own death-to inflict death upon death.(Cf. 1 Cor. 15:54-55) In this way the cross of Christ, on which the Son, consubstantial with the Father, renders full justice to God, is also a radical revelation of mercy, or rather of the love that goes against what constitutes the very root of evil in the history of (humankind): against sin and death.

I can accept the tradition voiced here. But has anyone ever wondered with Peter: was there any other way for mercy to be shown? I think the question is asked not because of some sense of avoidance of this great gift, but just as a curiosity.

Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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PS 104: Easter Communion, Especially for the Sick

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

104. During Easter time, pastors should instruct the faithful who have been already initiated into the Eucharist on the meaning of the Church’s precept concerning the reception of Holy Communion during this period. (canon law 920) It is highly recommended that Communion be brought to the sick also, especially during the Easter octave.

A brief notice to remind people of the obligation to receive Communion during the Easter season. It always seemed a rather minimalist and lamentable approach until I learned of the infrequency of lay Communion in some past centuries, and that people actually needed to be ordered to express their faith sacramentally.

Does your parish ensure an Easter visit to the sick?

Other comments?

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Laudato Si 16: Eight Themes

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. In this section, Pope Francis offers eight themes which he will address throughout this document.

16. Although each chapter will have its own subject and specific approach, it will also take up and re-examine important questions previously dealt with. This is particularly the case with a number of themes which will reappear as the Encyclical unfolds. As examples, I will point to

  • the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet,
  • the conviction that everything in the world is connected,
  • the critique of new paradigms and forms of power derived from technology,
  • the call to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress, the value proper to each creature,
  • the human meaning of ecology,
  • the need for forthright and honest debate,
  • the serious responsibility of international and local policy,
  • the throwaway culture and the proposal of a new lifestyle.

These questions will not be dealt with once and for all, but reframed and enriched again and again.

Careful readers of Pope Francis will recognize familiar themes. The first and last strike me as frequently visited by the Holy Father. Perhaps you recall others. Comments?

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