Aparecida 437c: Pastoral Proposals Involving Sacramental Preparation For Marriage

The Aparecida bishops give their people fourteen proposals for ministries to the family. Number three involves sacramental preparation:

c) Renew remote and proximate preparation for the sacrament of Matrimony and family life with pedagogical itineraries of faith.(Cf. Pontifical Council for the family, Preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage, 19, May 13, 1996; Familiaris Consortio 66)

Proposals I’ve seen usually advocate preventative measures, mostly along the cohabitation/divorce spectrum. The chief itinerary for the Aparecida bishops is evangelization, living out the faith to the fullest. In this context, how does marriage and family support this?

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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GeE 49: A Will Lacking Humility

See the source imagePope Francis titles the next few paragraphs “A will lacking humility.” What does he mean by that?

49. Those who yield to this pelagian or semi-pelagian mindset, even though they speak warmly of God’s grace, “ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style.” [Evangelii Gaudium 94]

The sticking point is not sticking to a particular style, but believing one’s style is best. It may be best for the individual … sometimes. It’s good to remember that catholic equals universal.

The problem expressed here is bullying:

When some of them tell the weak that all things can be accomplished with God’s grace, deep down they tend to give the idea that all things are possible by the human will, as if it were something pure, perfect, all-powerful, to which grace is then added. They fail to realize that “not everyone can do everything”,[Cf. Bonaventure, De sex alis Seraphim, 3, 8: “Non omnes omnia possunt”. The phrase is to be understood along the lines of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1735.] and that in this life human weaknesses are not healed completely and once for all by grace.[Cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 109, a. 9, ad 1: “But here grace is to some extent imperfect, inasmuch as it does not completely heal man, as we have said”.]

In other words, the project of ourselves will never be completed in this life. Another doctor of the Church, one of the original eight, counsels us to lean on God, not gurus:

In every case, as Saint Augustine taught, God commands you to do what you can and to ask for what you cannot,[Cf. De natura et gratia, 43, 50: PL 44, 271] and indeed to pray to him humbly: “Grant what you command, and command what you will”.[Confessiones, X, 29, 40: PL 32, 796]

You can check the full document Gaudete et Exsultate on the Vatican website.


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Aparecida 437b: Pastoral Proposals For The Evangelized And The Evangelizing

The Aparecida bishops give their people fourteen proposals for ministries to the family. The second is this brief, but essential one:

b) Encourage projects to promote evangelized and evangelizing families.

For most North American parishes and dioceses, an enormous challenge, and one we haven’t been up to for at least two generations. And likely far longer.

It’s a challenge because the Catholic church has largely been membership-focused. We promote “stewardship” (what many lay people perceive as “donating”) to permit the functioning of a parish and to a lesser extent, a diocese. We offer opportunities aimed at various groups. First, those preparing for sacraments: parents of infants, seven-year-olds, teens, and young adults. Second, activities often indistinguishable from “club membership”–dinners, fund-raisers, charitable opportunities, and even political action. Yes, there is Sunday Mass, but often enough, the non-ritual moments buttress the club approach: messages from staff and announcements of activities. Sunday Mass could be the focus and locus for the evangelical message, but too often the message is mixed.

What the bishops of the south suggest is twofold. One, an effort to support families already committed to the Matthew 28:19-20 mission of Christ. Two, to draw others in. Until dioceses, parishes, and their staffs recognize that the Great Commission should be at the forefront of everything else, we will be offering only a shadow of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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GeE 47-48: Contemporary Pelagianism

See the source imageCan people, by their own actions and will, effect their salvation? Jews and Christians would say no, but the tendency to earn one’s way into eternity remains with us.

47. Gnosticism gave way to another heresy, likewise present in our day. As time passed, many came to realize that it is not knowledge that betters us or makes us saints, but the kind of life we lead. But this subtly led back to the old error of the gnostics, which was simply transformed rather than eliminated.

48. The same power that the gnostics attributed to the intellect, others now began to attribute to the human will, to personal effort. This was the case with the pelagians and semi-pelagians. Now it was not intelligence that took the place of mystery and grace, but our human will. It was forgotten that everything “depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy” (Rom 9:16) and that “he first loved us” (cf. 1 Jn 4:19).

Part of the expression of human will is what we say and profess. The parable of Matthew 21:28-32 comes to mind. Not only do our actions betray us and God, but our words fail to live up to the promise of God’s grace.

Getting back to actions, many people involved with justice and charity can lose focus. Perhaps this has been rightly cited by the people who seem to take greater offense at Pope Francis. We indulge a possible blind spot by not checking ourselves against the tendency to pelagianism.

You can check the full document Gaudete et Exsultate on the Vatican website.


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Royal Wedding Liturgy Bits

Image result for harry and meghanI can thank the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for the busiest day on this site. More than four thousand searchers were sent here from the google to research the “royal” Scripture from Romans 12. No such bump today–only 16 visits–for the Song of Songs. At St George’s Chapel, they read a version abbreviated from the Catholic Lectionary choice. BCP, I presume:

My beloved speaks and says to me: ‘Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land.

The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance.

Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.

If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned.

My wife was noting the programming of the song “Stand By Me” as one of the musical items for the wedding. It’s a nice pop song. And like the passage from Song of Songs, focused on the lovers with no explicit mention of God. I don’t have a problem with that. The setting of a church wedding gives a context. A film or juke box, another. Not unlike the actual usage of the name of God. Church and prayer, one context. Personal disappointment, another.

My wife also reported the omission of a verse of a favorite hymn of mine, “Lord of All Hopefulness,” the last:

Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.

Does omission speak as much as inclusion? Or were three verses deemed adequate enough to fill the time allotted?

I didn’t view the liturgy. Perhaps that omission speaks of my priorities: that I will get up early for soccer, but not royal weddings. Anybody who did, anything noticed?

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Scripture for the Sick or Dying: Revelation 22:17, 20-21

Here is a short reading recommended for the end of a person’s life, and it comes from the end of the Christian Bible:

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
Let the hearer say, “Come.”
Let the one who thirsts come forward,
and the one who wants it
receive the gift of life-giving water.
The one who gives this testimony says,
“Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.

The prayer here for the coming of the Lord Jesus was likely intended to be a petition for the coming Parousia, a setting right of all things wrong. Certainly, human death so often seems wrong. We experience heart-wrenching separation, sometimes a long period of suffering across the realms physical, mental, and spiritual.

The unfulfilled promise of the coming of Jesus troubled Christians at the end of the Apostolic Era. That so many want the Second Coming and expect it, year after year, and seer after seer, shows we have not quite gotten over it.

For the dying person, she or he will likely encounter the Lord before any of us, so the invitation is apt: hear it, and if you desire it, come forward and receive it.

For an in-depth treatment of the Pastoral Care rites, check this page that outlines our examination from a decade ago.

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Aparecida 437a: Pastoral Proposals For Commitment To Families From Other Ministries

The Aparecida bishops give their people fourteen proposals for ministries to the family. Here is the first:

a) Bring about comprehensive and organic commitment to families from other ministries, and from marriage and family ministries, movements, and associations.

You could write a book.

If I were to think of liturgy for starters, certainly family opportunities beckon in music, welcome, or ministries of acolyte/server. I’ve also seen small family groups engaged in the ministry of sacristan.

In pastoral care, family visits to the elderly would seem most appropriate, more so than visits to the sick. Although I do recall a parish that offered an opportunity for teens to join parents in hospital and home visits to bring Communion.

Many parishes offer social opportunities for families. While there may be a need for couple-time and youth ministries, these could be well-balanced by offerings across generations. On this point, I remember an active youth committee resisting a proposal to bring LifeTeen to a parish. They were articulate in stating the value from attending Mass with their families; youth Masses had no appeal.

Other thoughts?

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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