Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 26: Catechesis, Part 7: Fasting, Almsgiving, Etc.

A couple of Lenten stand-bys catch the pontiff’s (and our) attention:

Catechesis is also expected on fasting: This can be practiced in old forms and new as a sign of conversion, repentance and personal mortification and, at the same time, as a sign of union with Christ crucified and of solidarity with the starving and suffering.

This isn’t really matter for clergy. It more rightly belongs to parents, godparents, and lay people who are visible leaders in a parish. Why would I say or even insist on that? Fasting is a matter of apprenticeship: people do it together. And if one is truly engaged with solidarity with those who are needy, then we must be prepared to connect it to others. Once we’ve washed our faces and combed our hair and all.

Charitable giving can be well-facilitated in the parish:

Catechesis on almsgiving: This is a means of making charity a practical thing by sharing what one possesses with those suffering the consequences of poverty.

One possible starting point from the realm of liturgy would be to devote liturgical collections for the poor, and reserve parish donations to online giving. But that might upset the whole applecart of church finances in some places.

Here’s a more difficult one:

Catechesis on the intimate connection which links the overcoming of divisions in the world with perfect communion with God and among people, which is the eschatological purpose of the church.

Catechesis on the concrete circumstances in which reconciliation has to be achieved (in the family, in the civil community, in social structures) and particularly catechesis on the four reconciliations which repair the four fundamental rifts; reconciliation of (the person) with God, with self, with (other people) and with the whole of creation.

These two I see related. The world’s divisions are certainly repeated in the Church, sometimes even perpetrated by its clergy. Here perhaps is an area in which pastors can indeed take an effective lead. Do parish dynamics lend themselves to examining these four rifts? Maybe we’ve improved somewhat with number 4, thanks to leadership both outside of the Church (say, in the green movements around the world) and in selected clerics within. Do pastors promote dialogue, openness, and conflict resolution to address #3? Do we look to psychology to help develop awareness in the second of these? Paired with the mentoring of lay people in the mystical life? If we took our own pain and sorrows into our prayer life, would that not be an opportunity of grace and conversion?

This document is Copyright © 1984 – Libreria Editrice Vatican. The link on the Vatican site is here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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