Aparecida 407-408: Street People In Large Cities

The Aparecida bishops look to “Suffering Faces That Pain Us” in paragraphs 407 through 430. In turn, they will address pastoral challenges with the homeless, migrants, the sick, addicts, and those in prison.

8.6.1 Street people in large cities

407. In large cities a growing number of people are living on the street. They require special care, attention, and development work on the part of the Church, so that while they are provided the help that they need in order to live, they are also included in participatory development projects in which they themselves become active agents in moving back into society.

408. We want to urge local and national governments to design policies to encourage care for these human beings, while dealing with the causes of this scourge which affects millions of our people in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Homelessness is a complex issue. It requires that lay people discern many issues, often some that will be in conflict. The USCCB has a number of documents on this issue if you readers would like a sample of the approach in the United States. In other countries, particulars may differ. But integration into the working of society is always important.

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

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GeE 17: Opportunities For Continuing Conversion

See the source imageA different take on life’s challenges, that they offer an opportunity for continuing conversion. Many Christians see them as a things to be avoided. Pope Francis offers the witness of a few saints to bolster his premise. Let’s read:

17. At times, life presents great challenges. Through them, the Lord calls us anew to a conversion that can make his grace more evident in our lives, “in order that we may share his holiness” (Heb 12:10). At other times, we need only find a more perfect way of doing what we are already doing: “There are inspirations that tend solely to perfect in an extraordinary way the ordinary things we do in life”. [Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God, VIII, 11] When Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên van Thuân was imprisoned, he refused to waste time waiting for the day he would be set free. Instead, he chose “to live the present moment, filling it to the brim with love”. He decided: “I will seize the occasions that present themselves every day; I will accomplish ordinary actions in an extraordinary way”. [Five Loaves and Two Fish, Pauline Books and Media, 2003, pp. 9, 13]

When Christians see their relationship to God as a finished product, they might even see obstacles as works of the darkness instead of those opportunities for deeper relationship. how would you readers make the distinction?

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


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Aparecida 406: Globalization of Solidarity and International Justice

Today, a single section with five proposals that address the vast topic of international justice. Would you agree that bishops bear a responsibility for forming believers to act with virtue and ethics in society?

406. The Church in Latin America and the Caribbean feels that it has a responsibility to form Christians and sensitize them to the major issues of international justice. Hence, both the shepherds and the builders of society have to be alert to international discussions and standards in this area. This is especially important for lay people who take on public responsibilities in solidarity with the life of peoples. Hence we propose the following:

a) Support the participation of civil society for the reorientation and consequent restoration of ethics in politics. Hence, venues for the participation of civil society to make democracy effective, a true economy of solidarity, and comprehensive, sustainable development in solidarity are all very important.

North of the Rio Grande, deeply political people seem more concerned about ideology than ethics. But in the long run, in a society with balance between government philosophies, corruption is a far greater danger than extremist political views.

b) Shape a Christian ethics that sets as a challenge achieving the common good, creating opportunities for all, battling corruption, and enforcing labor and labor union rights. Priority must be given to creating economic opportunities for traditionally excluded sectors of the population, such as women and youth, based on recognition of their dignity. Hence, efforts must be made toward a culture of responsibility at all levels involving persons, companies, governments, and the international system itself.

Whatever one thinks of labor unions and how they have manifested poorly in history, the benefits have outweighed the negatives. There is little other place for democracy than in the union of workers within a business and across the lines of professions to ensure a needed corrective on runaway corruption in business.

In proposal three, foreign debt needs to be looked at:

c) Working for the common good means promoting just regulation of the economy, finances, and world trade. It is crucial that the burden of foreign debt be lifted in order to foster investments in development and social spending.(Tertio Millennio Adveniente 51, Santo Domingo Document 197) Global regulations should be devised to prevent and control speculative movement of capital, promote fair trade and the lowering of the protectionist barriers of the powerful, assure adequate prices for raw materials produced by impoverished countries and fair regulations for attracting and regulating investments and services, and so forth.

Looking seriously at how trade across borders affects people, and ensuring that more than the wealthy will benefit:

d) Examine carefully intergovernmental treaties and other negotiations over free trade. The Church in the Latin American country involved, taking into account all the factors in play, must find the most effective ways to alert the politicians responsible and public opinion to the possible negative consequences that can affect the most exposed and vulnerable sectors of the population.

And a task for all people, not just Christians:

e) Call on all men and women of good will to put into practice fundamental principles like the common good (the home is everyone’s), subsidiarity, and intergenerational and intragenerational solidarity.

Remember that these five points are intended to be a starting point, not a blueprint. It is up to lay people across the world to fashion particular initiatives in economies local, regional, and international that bring the greatest benefit to the world’s peoples.

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

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Hard Sun, Hard Violence

As I’ve encountered streaming series on hulu and amazon, I notice there’s a lot of boundaries pushed beyond what’s been aired on cable networks. Some of those boundaries are plusses–telling a story over a period of twelve hours, give or take. It seems like a lot of streaming tv providers are exploring good literary works. In speculative fiction, Philip K. Dick and Margaret Atwood have been personal favorites. Some are not really plusses, including the gratuitous sex and violence.

But consider me unimpressed with what seemed to be a promising concept handled in a very derivative way, BBC’s Hard Sun.

Elijahbaley.jpgIf the series creators wanted to do something derivative, they might have done better to tackle a classic, like Isaac Asimov’s Elijah Baley (imaged, left).

As it is, Hard Sun is a poor knockoff on the X-Files, a science-fiction-y take on a Big Government Conspiracy. What made the original work so well was the tension-plus-respect between its leading couple. The new series tries to sow suspicion within the law enforcement world, and the viewer gets a sense of everybody for themselves. More on that later.

BBC has done fabulous work with its crime series revolving around Inspectors Morse and Lewis, and others in the Masterpiece Mystery orbit as seen on PBS. So there’s a bit of that with this new series, but the mystery is less in the crimes and more with the big conspiracy. In the first two episodes I viewed, the detective work was another notch below other British police procedurals.

The science fiction premise is that at the show’s beginning, there are five years before something happens to the sun and human life on Earth is extinguished. Maybe there’s a way to tell if solar output can be extrapolated to such a precise level that merits a countdown. But I don’t think 21st century humans have that. A person stares at a sun on a flat screen with moving numbers and computer “art” at the peripheries: not impressive. Maybe in Britain where the sun isn’t seen every day, there’s some way to tell the sun is producing more energy. From what we know about stars, the premise is nearly impossible given today’s understanding of physics. And if, as the series suggests in its first two episodes, the sun is gradually increasing output, the countdown to five years is meaningless. Things will get very bad by years four, three, or even two.

The program’s biggest flaw is a Mel Gibson indulgence for cruel violence. In two episodes, Agyness Deyn (and better of the two lead actors by far) gets into three serious beatdowns, mostly losing two while her male partner limps away from his one. These filmmakers could take lessons from people like Hitchcock who could inspire a sense of dread and malice without being so obvious about it. When a braintrust handles women in film so weakly (it happens more often than not, network, cable, or whatever) I have to wonder about some of the personal indulgences that leak out of the fictional narrative.

BBC has done much, much better. The weird science has been done much better–if a series can’t untie the straps of X-Files sandals, why bother? And for good science fiction, take one idea and develop it. This show feels more like an indulgence for violence against women and for cramming too many “brilliant” ideas into too short a space. But there are all the film shots of the sun.

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VNO 48: In Any Need

“In any need” leaves the door wide open as to interpretation. Looking more closely, the revised Roman Missal gives two sets of options here. In the Lectionary edition a decade prior, this Mass is gathered with observances at a time of natural disaster or in prayer for a fruitful resolution to adverse conditions. Check this post earlier in this series for a brief summary of the readings assigned in the Lectionary.

Set A suggests relief from a long period of trial, physical or spiritual or both. It fits with natural disaster. It includes an uncited text for an antiphon at the beginning of Mass:

Entrance Antiphon

I am the salvation of the people, says the Lord. Should they cry to me in any distress, I will hear them, and I will be their Lord for ever.

Though uncited, these words would apply to any New Testament instance of return from Exile or perceived punishment from God. The Psalms that come to mind for me would be 27 or 62 or 63.

Communion Antiphon Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all who labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you, says the Lord.

A much loved passage, and maybe a good match with one of the more lyrical passages from Isaiah (25:6-9 or 40:1-11 or 55:1-5).

With the use of set B, worshipers acknowledge their need for God, and his mercy. This also fits with adverse physical conditions, but it might also apply to relief from a period of community worry or anguish:

Entrance Antiphon Psalm 44:26

Arise, O Lord, come to our help; redeem us with your merciful love.

Communion Antiphon John 16:23-24

Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.
Ask, and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete, says the Lord.

The Communion text is from the Last Supper discourse, which is full of lyrical passages for inclusion in the music. The canticle of Ephesians 1:3-14 is also a thought.

Some years ago, we blogged on Masses And Prayers For Various Needs And Occasions. In the GIRM, sections 368-378 cover the universal regulations on their use. You can check our brief comments here and here and here. The USCCB’s unannotated text on the matter is here.


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GeE 16: Four Practical Examples Of Everyday Holiness

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16. This holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures. Here is an example: a woman goes shopping, she meets a neighbor and they begin to speak, and the gossip starts. But she says in her heart: “No, I will not speak badly of anyone”. This is a step forward in holiness. Later, at home, one of her children wants to talk to her about his hopes and dreams, and even though she is tired, she sits down and listens with patience and love. That is another sacrifice that brings holiness. Later she experiences some anxiety, but recalling the love of the Virgin Mary, she takes her rosary and prays with faith. Yet another path of holiness. Later still, she goes out onto the street, encounters a poor person and stops to say a kind word to him. One more step.

Practical examples one would likely hear from any Jesuit. The key for those of us who do not have these contacts is to look for opportunities to be holy in ordinary life. What is it that the believer notices around her or him? After attuning to one’s first, best impulse, than act upon it. Then it comes to a routine practice–it’s less a matter of absorbing information, advice, or catechisms in order to be holy, but to practice virtue as if it were an art.

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


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Aparecida 405: Those Who Do Not Believe In God

Finishing up the topic of “Integral Human Promotion,” the Aparecida bishops share some words of Pope Benedict, suggesting that the basic human longing for meaning and purpose can be found in the search for God. While there are certainly self-motivated persons who soar through life without faith, many more struggle to make connections in the midst of the darkness of the world, and a sense of not being able to escape.

Let’s read:

405. Indeed, we cannot forget that the greatest poverty is that of not recognizing the presence of the mystery of God and his love in the life of the human being, which alone saves and liberates. In fact, “Anyone who excludes God from his horizons falsifies the notion of ‘reality’ and, in consequence, can only end up in blind alleys or with recipes for destruction.”(Benedict XVI, Introductory Address 3) The truth of this statement is obvious given the failure of all systems that put God in parenthesis.

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

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