Christus Vivit 176: Swimming Against The Tide

176. The importance of witness does not mean that we should be silent about the word. Why should we not speak of Jesus, why should we not tell others that he gives us strength in life, that we enjoy talking with him, that we benefit from meditating on his words? Young people, do not let the world draw you only into things that are wrong and superficial. Learn to swim against the tide, learn how to share Jesus and the faith he has given you. May you be moved by that same irresistible impulse that led Saint Paul to say: “Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16)!

It is often suggested a person needs knowledge about Jesus, usually deep theological knowledge to talk about him. What is most important is the ability to relate personal experiences. Theology is fine as an academic discipline, but a good disciple can find life experiences and events that relate to the Gospel and share with seekers on a level they can appreciate.

The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on this link at the Vatican site.

Any comments?

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Aperuit Illis 9: Scripture on Scripture

We turn our attention from Emmaus to a strand of advice to Saint Timothy from his mentor. If it rings familiar, it was proclaimed at Mass this weekend:

9. In the Second Letter to Timothy, which is in some ways his spiritual testament, Saint Paul urges his faithful co-worker to have constant recourse to sacred Scripture. The Apostle is convinced that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (3:16). Paul’s exhortation to Timothy is fundamental to the teaching of the conciliar Constitution Dei Verbum on the great theme of biblical inspiration, which emphasizes the Scriptures’ saving purpose, spiritual dimension and inherent incarnational principle.

The Word of God was one of the four most important themes addressed at Vatican II. Well worth reading.

First, recalling Paul’s encouragement to Timothy, Dei Verbum stresses that “we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully and without error, teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the sacred Scriptures” (No. 11). Since the Scriptures teach with a view to salvation through faith in Christ (cf. 2 Tim 3:15), the truths contained therein are profitable for our salvation.

This is a key commentary from Pope Francis:

The Bible is not a collection of history books or a chronicle, but is aimed entirely at the integral salvation of the person. The evident historical setting of the books of the Bible should not make us overlook their primary goal, which is our salvation. Everything is directed to this purpose and essential to the very nature of the Bible, which takes shape as a history of salvation in which God speaks and acts in order to encounter all men and women and to save them from evil and death.

Another important commentary on how God uses a human tradition–that is, language–to further the mission of salvation:

To achieve this saving purpose, sacred Scripture, by the working of the Holy Spirit, makes human words written in human fashion become the word of God (cf. Dei Verbum, 12).

The role of the Holy Spirit is a continuous and persistent one, not confined to a moment of human composition, or of a narrator whispering in a writer’s ear:

The role of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures is primordial. Without the work of the Spirit, there would always be a risk of remaining limited to the written text alone. This would open the way to a fundamentalist reading, which needs to be avoided, lest we betray the inspired, dynamic and spiritual character of the sacred text.

Hence, the Bible speaks to people today. God permits history, poetry, teaching, law, and even human conversations and foibles to guide an  individual or community to new insights and a closer relationship with Jesus.

As the Apostle reminds us: “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:6). The Holy Spirit, then, makes sacred Scripture the living word of God, experienced and handed down in the faith of his holy people.

Thoughts?

The full document can be read here. The text reproduced from it is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

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Beatitudes For The Weary Christian


One of my colleagues on Liturgy Commission shared Katie Cook’s “Beatitudes for the Weary Christian” from Seeds of Hope.

I was thinking as I read the title of the handout, “I’m tired today. I really need this.” The one bit that struck me:

Joyful are you who meet with hatred
because of your stand for justice,
Your reward will not be the punishment
of those who abuse you;
Instead, you will long for their redemption.

I don’t think my stance for justice is all that powerful. I lead music people want to sing. The lyrics are not all that scary–not unless you go deeply into texts like Luke 1:46-55 or Psalm 34 or Psalm 146.

But I have to admit I do like to win an argument, and that can be punishing enough.

How many of us can say we think about another’s redemption, much less find ourselves longing, desiring, and praying for a change of heart?

Image credit: James Tissot, 1890 (Jesus preaching the original Beatitudes.)

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Christus Vivit 175: Courageous Missionaries

Chapter Five’s last theme is Courageous missionaries.” What does that mean? Catholics of all ages will find brave people in their midst. It’s not easy to care for sick loved ones, to stand up for our values, or to remain faithful to our commitments. But many of us manage it some of the time.

To be a missionary means to align one’s life with the mission of Jesus. We don’t need to volunteer to journey to a faraway land to do that. It takes real courage to do it wherever we find ourselves today, in the present time and place. It involves asking, “What can I do for you today, Lord.” Pope Francis begins by saying it begins with love, and by aligning our actions with the values of Jesus:

175. Filled with the love of Christ, young people are called to be witnesses of the Gospel wherever they find themselves, by the way they live. Saint Alberto Hurtado once said that “being an apostle does not mean wearing a lapel pin; it is not about speaking about the truth but living it, embodying it, being transformed in Christ. Being an apostle does not mean carrying a torch in hand, possessing the light, but being that light… The Gospel, more than a lesson, is an example. A message that becomes a life fully lived”.[Ustedes son la luz del mundo. Address in Cerro San Cristóbal, Chile, 1940. The text can be found at: https://www.padrealbertohurtado.cl/escritos-2/%5D

The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on this link at the Vatican site.

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Aperuit Illis 8: Deepening Connections To The Sacraments And To The Lord

8. The journey that the Risen Lord makes with the disciples of Emmaus ended with a meal. The mysterious wayfarer accepts their insistent request: “Stay with us, for it is almost evening and the day is now far spent” (Lk 24:29). They sit down at table, and Jesus takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it and offers it to them. At that moment, their eyes are opened, and they recognize him (cf. v. 31).

It’s an echo of Holy Thursday. It also exemplifies the earliest Christian tradition of the Eucharist: the sharing of the Scriptures followed by the Breaking of the Bread.

This scene clearly demonstrates the unbreakable bond between sacred Scripture and the Eucharist. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, “the Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she has venerated the Lord’s body, in that she never ceases, above all in the sacred liturgy, to partake of the bread of life and to offer it to the faithful from the one table of the word of God and the body of Christ” (Dei Verbum, 21).

It’s no accident the terminology used here is so similar: table, feeding, nourishment, breaking (open). From the earliest days of Christianity it was so.

Regular reading of sacred Scripture and the celebration of the Eucharist make it possible for us to see ourselves as part of one another. As Christians, we are a single people, making our pilgrim way through history, sustained by the Lord, present in our midst, who speaks to us and nourishes us.

Pope Francis concedes we need more than a single Sunday, no matter how much effort we put into it:

A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather a year-long event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the risen Lord, who continues to speak his word and to break bread in the community of believers. For this reason, we need to develop a closer relationship with sacred Scripture; otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut, struck as we are by so many forms of blindness.

From Scripture, we may find that close relationship with Jesus. And from there we will find how the sacramental life helps us in that regard:

Sacred Scripture and the sacraments are thus inseparable. When the sacraments are introduced and illumined by God’s word, they become ever more clearly the goal of a process whereby Christ opens our minds and hearts to acknowledge his saving work. We should always keep in mind the teaching found in the Book of Revelation: the Lord is standing at the door and knocking. If anyone should hear his voice and open for him, he will come in and eat with them (cf. 3:20). Christ Jesus is knocking at our door in the words of sacred Scripture. If we hear his voice and open the doors of our minds and hearts, then he will enter our lives and remain ever with us.

Thoughts?

The full document can be read here. The text reproduced from it is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

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Christus Vivit 174: Young And Committed

The final paragraph on the theme “young and committed,” includes a quote lifted from a World Youth Day address:

174. I want to encourage all of you in this effort, because I know that “your young hearts want to build a better world. I have been following news reports of the many young people throughout the world who have taken to the streets to express the desire for a more just and fraternal society. Young people taking to the streets! The young want to be protagonists of change. Please, do not leave it to others to be protagonists of change. You are the ones who hold the future! Through you, the future enters into the world. I ask you also to be protagonists of this transformation. You are the ones who hold the key to the future! Continue to fight apathy and to offer a Christian response to the social and political troubles emerging in different parts of the world. I ask you to build the future, to work for a better world. Dear young people, please, do not be bystanders in life. Get involved! Jesus was not a bystander. He got involved. Don’t stand aloof, but immerse yourselves in the reality of life, as Jesus did”.[Address at the Vigil of the XXVIII World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro (27 July 2013): AAS 105 (2013), 663] Above all, in one way or another, fight for the common good, serve the poor, be protagonists of the revolution of charity and service, capable of resisting the pathologies of consumerism and superficial individualism.

There’s a lot here. Taking action–thoughtful action–is important. Anybody can make a difference in their circle of live friends and contacts. That includes home, school, workplace, and neighborhoods. Those four areas alone will give plenty of opportunity for charity, love, and service.

Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on this link at the Vatican site.

Any comments?

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Aperuit Illis 7: Finding Christ in Scripture–Liturgy and Prayer

There’s a thought that all of the Old Testament speaks of and points to Christ. I wouldn’t outright disagree, but in the sense that the Bible presents a saving act by God toward all humankind, and this presentation culminates in the Incarnation, Mission, Passion, and Resurrection of Jesus, then yes.

7. The Bible, as sacred Scripture, thus speaks of Christ and proclaims him as the one who had to endure suffering and then enter into his glory (cf. v. 26). Not simply a part, but the whole of Scripture speaks of Christ. Apart from the Scriptures, his death and resurrection cannot be rightly understood. That is why one of the most ancient confessions of faith stressed that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas” (1 Cor 15:3-5). Since the Scriptures everywhere speak of Christ, they enable us to believe that his death and resurrection are not myth but history, and are central to the faith of his disciples.

And more important than history, the Paschal Mystery is a reality.

A profound bond links sacred Scripture and the faith of believers. Since faith comes from hearing, and what is heard is based on the word of Christ (cf. Rom 10:17), believers are bound to listen attentively to the word of the Lord, both in the celebration of the liturgy and in their personal prayer and reflection.

Liturgy and prayer, yes.

The full document can be read here. The text reproduced from it is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

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