Coherence And Dispensation

See the source imageMy wife and I were discussing the feeling of absence from Sunday Mass. I wouldn’t share my wife’s specific feelings of loss.  Because of her medical condition, she hasn’t always been able to get out for Mass. (Though I will say the move to Minnesota has improved her health a good bit.)

I had a stint late last Fall where I missed two Sundays in a row due to interstate quarantine. It was my new parish, so I had no specific feeling of missing Mass. It was coming on the heels of a long limitation in which most of my parishioners were absent from in-person worship. Missing other people was worse than my absence. What do I make of that?

I feel an awareness of God’s presence often enough. I was fortunate to have church keys, so I can access a sacramental and devotional presence whenever I want to. I ponder the Scriptures and gaze at the skies. And there is music.

I would hope more people celebrate Mass. My sincere wish is that Holy Family Sunday and the 2nd Easter Sunday would be as packed as the previous day of church attendance. That wish has never been fulfilled.

So I see that “confusion” is sown because some politicians decline to criminalize abortion. I think the only confusion lies along the lines of this question: Why isn’t every Catholic a Republican? Frankly, I think the mainstream media is confused too. They think the bishops will embarrass President Biden. All they will accomplish is greater frustration and divides between lay people and their bishops.

Also, that the obligation to celebrate Sunday Mass returns. 

I predict a slow, possibly “confused” response from lay people. 

What I wish would be perhaps more of a pipe dream than packed churches the next time after Christmas and Easter. I wish the bishops would ignore the imposition of Sunday obligation. Let’s take a decade or so to improve preaching, train artists and hire music directors, and steal every idea from the evangelical churches on welcome and that relationship with Jesus. Otherwise, it’s just an obligation to mediocrity–in most places. 

Or maybe this: a Catholic is only obligated to celebrate Mass where the priest has a lay-authorized certificate of good preaching, where a professional music director is on duty, and the social media rating on welcome is above 80%.

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Populorum Progressio 35: Basic Education

Education, gathering information, learning to think and analyze, and appreciating knowledge–this is one important factor.

35. We can even say that economic growth is dependent on social progress, the goal to which it aspires; and that basic education is the first objective for any nation seeking to develop itself. Lack of education is as serious as lack of food; the illiterate is a starved spirit. When someone learns how to read and write, (she or) he is equipped to do a job and to shoulder a profession, to develop self-confidence and realize that (they) can progress along with others. As We said in Our message to the UNESCO meeting at Teheran, literacy is the “first and most basic tool for personal enrichment and social integration; and it is society’s most valuable tool for furthering development and economic progress.” (L’Osservatore Romano, Sept. 11, 1965; La Documentation Catholique, 62 (1965), 1674-1675.)

Governments do not stand alone:

We also rejoice at the good work accomplished in this field by private initiative, by the public authorities, and by international organizations. These are the primary agents of development, because they enable man to act for himself.

This encyclical letter is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, and can be found in its entirety at this link.

CC BY 2.5, Link“>The image is of Lady Justice at the Central Criminal Court of London.

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Fratelli Tutti 199: Social Dialogue For A New Culture

Chapter 6, topic 1: Social Dialogue for a New Culture.

199. Some people attempt to flee from reality, taking refuge in their own little world; others react to it with destructive violence.

To some extent, this happens across ideological boundaries, and in other ways, we can see it within like-minded groups.

Yet “between selfish indifference and violent protest there is always another possible option: that of dialogue. Dialogue between generations; dialogue among our people, for we are that people; readiness to give and receive, while remaining open to the truth. A country flourishes when constructive dialogue occurs between its many rich cultural components: popular culture, university culture, youth culture, artistic culture, technological culture, economic culture, family culture and media culture”. [Meeting with Brazilian Political, Economic and Cultural Leaders, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil(27 July 2013): AAS 105 (2013), 683-684]

This will take some convincing, even within the Church. So many topics over the past half century or so involved the closing down of dialogue: sex abuse and cover up, women’s role in the Church let alone the ordination issue, liturgical translation, finances, school closings and parish consolidations. We are years from this being a reality within our own bounds.

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Populorum Progressio 34: The Ultimate Purpose

Material wealth really must be accompanied by progress of people in their cultures.

34. Organized programs designed to increase productivity should have but one aim: to serve human nature. They should reduce inequities, eliminate discrimination, free (people) from the bonds of servitude, and thus give them the capacity, in the sphere of temporal realities, to improve their lot, to further their moral growth and to develop their spiritual endowments. When we speak of development, we should mean social progress as well as economic growth.

These are errors:

It is not enough to increase the general fund of wealth and then distribute it more fairly. It is not enough to develop technology so that the earth may become a more suitable living place for human beings.

A prediction on harm to come, from the perspective of 1967:

The mistakes of those who led the way should help those now on the road to development to avoid certain dangers. The reign of technology—technocracy, as it is called—can cause as much harm to the world of tomorrow as liberalism did to the world of yesteryear. Economics and technology are meaningless if they do not benefit (people), for it is (people) they are to serve. (We are) truly human only if (we are) the master of (our) own actions and the judge of their worth, only if (we are) the architect(s) of (our) own progress. (People) must act according to (their) God-given nature, freely accepting its potentials and its claims upon him.

It doesn’t seem like we’ve had enough progress on this point. Many aspects of the 20th century have continued to pollute the human race of the 21st.

This encyclical letter is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, and can be found in its entirety at this linkCC BY 2.5, Link“>The image is of Lady Justice at the Central Criminal Court of London.

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Fratelli Tutti 198: Dialogue And Friendship In Society

Today, we commence Chapter Six, “DIALOGUE AND FRIENDSHIP IN SOCIETY.” It’s a short chapter, only 27 sections. In it, Pope Francis writes of cooperation, consensus, and people working together. We begin with a good word, not a scary one: dialogue.

198. Approaching, speaking, listening, looking at, coming to know and understand one another, and to find common ground: all these things are summed up in the one word “dialogue”. If we want to encounter and help one another, we have to dialogue. There is no need for me to stress the benefits of dialogue. I have only to think of what our world would be like without the patient dialogue of the many generous persons who keep families and communities together. Unlike disagreement and conflict, persistent and courageous dialogue does not make headlines, but quietly helps the world to live much better than we imagine.

One excellent place to start is in one-on-one relationships, especially the ones between spouses. The Marriage Encounter movement gets it right. Its principles apply in all sorts of relationships–family, work, politics, church ministry, etc.. 

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Getting the Hand of Paint 3D

I confess I haven’t liked paint 3D for years. Now, maybe that’s different.

I think of this as something a super-Earth might look like. Not super-hot, but more temperate. No life, but a lot of rock and a little water.

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Populorum Progressio 33: Programs and Planning

33. Individual initiative alone and the interplay of competition will not ensure satisfactory development.

No, it won’t.

We cannot proceed to increase the wealth and power of the rich while we entrench the needy in their poverty and add to the woes of the oppressed.

Can’t do that either. Trickle-down has been exposed as a fairy tale.

Organized programs are necessary for “directing, stimulating, coordinating, supplying and integrating” (Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), 414.) the work of individuals and intermediary organizations.

It is for the public authorities to establish and lay down the desired goals, the plans to be followed, and the methods to be used in fulfilling them; and it is also their task to stimulate the efforts of those involved in this common activity. But they must also see to it that private initiative and intermediary organizations are involved in this work. In this way they will avoid total collectivization and the dangers of a planned economy which might threaten human liberty and obstruct the exercise of man’s basic human rights.

This encyclical letter is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, and can be found in its entirety at this link.

CC BY 2.5, Link“>The image is of Lady Justice at the Central Criminal Court of London.

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Fratelli Tutti 197: Questions For Better Politics

Chapter Five, A Better Kind Of Politics, wraps up here:

197. Viewed in this way, politics is something more noble than posturing, marketing and media spin. These sow nothing but division, conflict and a bleak cynicism incapable of mobilizing people to pursue a common goal.

Politicians and other civic-minded people might ask:

At times, in thinking of the future, we do well to ask ourselves,

  • “Why I am doing this?”,
  • “What is my real aim?”

For as time goes on, reflecting on the past, the questions will not be:

  • “How many people endorsed me?”,
  • “How many voted for me?”,
  • “How many had a positive image of me?”

The real, and potentially painful, questions will be,

  • “How much love did I put into my work?”
  • “What did I do for the progress of our people?”
  • “What mark did I leave on the life of society?”
  • “What real bonds did I create?”
  • “What positive forces did I unleash?”
  • “How much social peace did I sow?”
  • “What good did I achieve in the position that was entrusted to me?”

It seems to be that any worker might ask these questions. Asking them, then seeking the answer inside, might lead us to adjustments in our career or vocation. They might suggest moving on, or intensifying our good motivations.

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Populorum Progressio 32: A Task for Everyone

Don’t think that Pope Paul VI was totally for peaceable movement, no matter how long it took. He does use strong adverbs in stating that correcting wrongs simply must occur:

32. We want to be clearly understood on this point: The present state of affairs must be confronted boldly, and its concomitant injustices must be challenged and overcome. Continuing development calls for bold innovations that will work profound changes. The critical state of affairs must be corrected for the better without delay.

When a person can lead and set an example, they need to do so:

Everyone must lend a ready hand to this task, particularly those who can do most by reason of their education, their office, or their authority. They should set a good example by contributing part of their own goods, as several of Our brother bishops have done. (Cf., for example, Emmanuel Larrain Errázuriz, Bishop of Talca, Chile, President of CELAM, Lettre pastorale sur le développement et la paix, Paris: Pax Christi (1965).) In this way they will be responsive to (human) longings and faithful to the Holy Spirit, because “the ferment of the Gospel, too, has aroused and continues to arouse in (tThe human) heart the irresistible requirements of (human) dignity. (Gaudium et Spes 26)

I think everyone has a role to offer, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant.

This encyclical letter is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, and can be found in its entirety at this link.

CC BY 2.5, Link The image is of Lady Justice at the Central Criminal Court of London.

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Fratelli Tutti 196: Sowing Seeds

More looking at the long game, or preparing future generations for good things:

196. For this reason, it is truly noble to place our hope in the hidden power of the seeds of goodness we sow, and thus to initiate processes whose fruits will be reaped by others. Good politics combines love with hope and with confidence in the reserves of goodness present in human hearts.

A lesson for our sad nation that isn’t likely to be universally adopted:

Indeed, “authentic political life, built upon respect for law and frank dialogue between individuals, is constantly renewed whenever there is a realization that every woman and man, and every new generation, brings the promise of new relational, intellectual, cultural and spiritual energies”. [Message for the 2019 World Day of Peace(8 December 2018), 5: L’Osservatore Romano, 19 December 2018, p. 8]

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Imaginary Planet

I hesitate to list this under “astronomy.” Pictures of dirt, really, run through various tweaks and dropped into paint 3d. After a few dozen planets, I’m getting more the hang of this.

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Populorum Progressio 31: More On Reform

31. Everyone knows, however, that revolutionary uprisings—except where there is manifest, longstanding tyranny which would do great damage to fundamental personal rights and dangerous harm to the common good of the country—engender new injustices, introduce new inequities and bring new disasters. The evil situation that exists, and it surely is evil, may not be dealt with in such a way that an even worse situation results.

We also know that without firm insistence on rights, justice, equity, and fairness, the 1% is drastically unwilling to cede power if they don’t have to do so. That said, I do lament that more movements don’t stick to the plan of non-violent non-cooperation. There is too much invested in big corporations and their profits for them to tolerate short-term disruption. The violence would certainly come, as it did in India, but it would be on the part of the rich and powerful.

This encyclical letter is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, and can be found in its entirety at this link.

CC BY 2.5, Link“>The image is of Lady Justice at the Central Criminal Court of London.

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That Phone Number, Please?

Honestly, the lack of knowledge demonstrated by some Republicans these days (not to mention finesse) makes me wonder. Governor Noem from twitter:

A little geography lesson, recalling that we often cite Columbus or Leif Eriksen as discoverers of “America,” despite the concession neither man nor their crews ever actually set foot in what became the United States proper.

There are other Americas besides southern North America, as shown below.

South America (orthographic projection).svg
To be sure, we all know when she and some others in her tribe say “Americans,” they really mean (mostly white) United States people.

Governor Noem, President Monroe is also interested in your number.

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Steps

Image result for sharecare iconSome weeks ago, my health insurance provider suggested I might like to save money on my parish’s twice-monthly premiums. So I signed on to the app that tracks my sleep. (Slightly creepy, and not really accurate–it doesn’t count naps. Plus, if I wake in the middle of the night for a bathroom visit, it doesn’t track that second chunk of dreamtime.)

I get to make daily entries on my alcohol and medication consumption, relationship levels, and meals. Once a week, it prompts me to weigh myself and check my blood pressure. I rather like this. My favorite aspect is tracking my steps.

One of my choir members in my last parish had a similar app. She used to move at practice between one foot and another to get her steps in for some kind of work challenge. Annoyed the heck out of my wife. I haven’t descended to that level. But I have been walking 3-5 miles most mornings. Last week’s heat wave in Minnesota scuttled that plan most days, but I’m still ahead of the June goal as it’s been set out for me.

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Fratelli Tutti 195: Great Goals and Small Acts

Is it possible to temper high expectations?

195. All this can help us realize that what is important is not constantly achieving great results, since these are not always possible.

Big results, well-publicized, get votes and possibly resources. The contrast in authentic pastoral ministry is what we often strive for, the small assistance of one person at a time:

In political activity, we should remember that, “appearances notwithstanding, every person is immensely holy and deserves our love. Consequently, if I can help at least one person to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of my life. It is a wonderful thing to be God’s faithful people. We achieve fulfilment when we break down walls and our hearts are filled with faces and names!” [Evangelii Gaudium 274]

Ken Untener’s famous text sums it up even better than Evangelii Gaudium:

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

The Holy Father offers the distinction between those who take the long view and those who aspire for a gratification more immediate:

The great goals of our dreams and plans may only be achieved in part. Yet beyond this, those who love, and who no longer view politics merely as a quest for power, “may be sure that none of our acts of love will be lost, nor any of our acts of sincere concern for others. No single act of love for God will be lost, no generous effort is meaningless, no painful endurance is wasted. All of these encircle our world like a vital force”. [Ibid., 279]

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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