Dives in Misericordiae 8b: Fulfillment

Divine_Mercy_Sanctuary_in_Vilnius4Is the Cross difficult to behold? Do we question the why of it? St John Paul invites us to consider our worst moments. God invites us to compare these to the sacrifice of the Son on Calvary. The invitation is to a more profound belief after havng confronted the worst that could happen to a person: betrayal, torture, and death alone.

The cross is the most profound condescension of God to (humankind) and to what (humankind)-especially in difficult and painful moments-looks on as (an) unhappy destiny. The cross is like a touch of eternal love upon the most painful wounds of (human) earthly existence; it is the total fulfillment of the messianic program that Christ once formulated in the synagogue at Nazareth (Cf. Lk. 4:18-21) and then repeated to the messengers sent by John the Baptist.(Cf. Lk. 7:20-23)

People who experience suffering, who deem themselves bereft of mercy can consider the prophet Isaiah, and the promise Jesus made as the fulfillment of God’s concern for the needy.

According to the words once written in the prophecy of Isaiah,(Cf. Is. 35:5; 61:1-3) this program consisted in the revelation of merciful love for the poor, the suffering and prisoners, for the blind, the oppressed and sinners.

Jesus on the Cross goes far beyond what was expected in the Messiah, and well past what would be expected of the Son of God:

In the paschal mystery the limits of the many sided evil in which (humankind) becomes a sharer during (our) earthly existence are surpassed: the cross of Christ, in fact, makes us understand the deepest roots of evil, which are fixed in sin and death; thus the cross becomes an eschatological sign. Only in the eschatological fulfillment and definitive renewal of the world will love conquer, in all the elect, the deepest sources of evil, bringing as its fully mature fruit the kingdom of life and holiness and glorious immortality. The foundation of this eschatological fulfillment is already contained in the cross of Christ and in His death. The fact that Christ “was raised the third day”(1 Cor. 15:4) constitutes the final sign of the messianic mission, a sign that perfects the entire revelation of merciful love in a world that is subject to evil. At the same time it constitutes the sign that foretells “a new heaven and a new earth,”(Rv. 21:1) when God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there will be no more death, or mourning no crying, nor pain, for the former things have passed away.”(Rv. 21:4)

Christian eschatology points to the end things. At the end mercy will be fully experienced and all will realize the final result of the love of God.

Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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PS 105: Blessing Homes at Easter

Jesus arms outstretchedRemember, you can check the full document Paschale  Solemnitatis on this site, among many on the internet.

105. Where there is the custom of blessing houses in celebration of the Resurrection, this blessing is to be imparted after the Solemnity of Easter, and not before, by the parish priest, or other priests or deacons delegated by him. This is an opportunity for exercising a pastoral ministry. (SRC, Decr. Maxima redemptionis nostrae mysteria (16 Nov. 1955), n.. 21, AAS 47 (1955), 847) The parish priest should go to each house for the purpose of undertaking a pastoral visitation of each family. There he will speak with the residents, spend a few moments with them in prayer, using texts to be found in the book (of Blessings) (Book of Blessings, caput I, II, Ordo benedictionis annuae familiarum in propriis domibus) In larger cities consideration should be given to the gathering of several families for a common celebration of the blessing for all.

Easter blessing of homes should take place during the Easter season, and not in anticipation of it: that seems logical. Some US parishes have thousands of households, so this could be a significant ministry of outreach. Where do you suppose the priority would lie: with regular parishioners or those in the fringes?

And for those larger parishes, that recommendation of a gathering of families: it seems rather timely, eh? Perhaps that is the ideal for solid parishioners, to invite them to the parish for a celebration.

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Laudato Si 17-18: A Fresh Analysis

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Chapter One’s title asks the question, “What is happening to our common home?” Forty-five paragraphs lead off promising a fresh analysis:

17. Theological and philosophical reflections on the situation of humanity and the world can sound tiresome and abstract, unless they are grounded in a fresh analysis of our present situation, which is in many ways unprecedented in the history of humanity. So, before considering how faith brings new incentives and requirements with regard to the world of which we are a part, I will briefly turn to what is happening to our common home.

This chapter explicitly provides an assessment of the world’s environmental situation. So for the next six weeks, we’ll look at the question of physical facts and human activities. This is pretty much how Paul VI approached the regulation of births in Humanae Vitae.

First concern: not only the nature of change in the modern world, but also the accelerated pace of change. Human beings are adaptable, but …

18. The continued acceleration of changes affecting humanity and the planet is coupled today with a more intensified pace of life and work which might be called “rapidification”. Although change is part of the working of complex systems, the speed with which human activity has developed contrasts with the naturally slow pace of biological evolution. Moreover, the goals of this rapid and constant change are not necessarily geared to the common good or to integral and sustainable human development. Change is something desirable, yet it becomes a source of anxiety when it causes harm to the world and to the quality of life of much of humanity.

Change is good, yet sometimes it can leave people behind who are slower to adapt. And while it is true some people are averse to change, there is an important consideration of the overall community. Change always benefits some. The question is: when does change benefit nearly all?

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Blue Cathedral

Some American music for the holiday: Jennifer Higdon’s Blue Cathedral by the San Francisco Symphony.

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The Armchair Liturgist: Clergy Out Front?

At PrayTell, check out a discussion on holding doors for people on the outside of the church building.

But here’s a question for you armchair liturgists: do you recommend your clergy–priests and deacons–greet people *before Mass* like Chuck Middendorf’s pastor?

Our pastor greets everyone outside: rain or wind or snow, assisted by one regular doorman. 30 minutes before Mass.

Parishioners love it. The pastor meets visitors. Learns parish news. Win win for everyone.

Plus a priest in his chasuble is the best free advertising in a busy downtown community.



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The title of the prayer is taken from Latin for “receive.” Saint Ignatius placed it in an appendix of sorts to his Spiritual Exercises.

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will. All I have and call my own, You have given to me; to you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me.

John Foley set it in an antiphonal style. Still a favorite despite a flaw or two. Others have set the text, chorally and for congregations. I go back to the first one I heard.

It takes great faith to say that love and grace are enough. For me, I can only hope to say it more frequently as I get older. And mean it a little more sincerely tomorrow than I did today.

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Dives in Misericordiae 8a: Love More Powerful Than Death, More Powerful Than Sin

Divine_Mercy_Sanctuary_in_Vilnius4Continuing our reflection on the Paschal Mystery, we begin section 8, “Love More Powerful Than Death, More Powerful Than Sin.”

The cross of Christ on Calvary is also a witness to the strength of evil against the very Son of God, against the one who, alone among all the sons of men, was by His nature absolutely innocent and free from sin, and whose coming into the world was untainted by the disobedience of Adam and the inheritance of original sin. And here, precisely in Him, in Christ, justice is done to sin at the price of His sacrifice, of His obedience “even to death.”(Phil. 2:8) He who was without sin, “God made him sin for our sake.”(2 Cor. 5:21)

The old idea that misfortune befalls those who have, in some way, transgressed. Jesus, of course, did not. He also belittled the idea.

Justice is also brought to bear upon death, which from the beginning of (human) history had been allied to sin. Death has justice done to it at the price of the death of the one who was without sin and who alone was able-by means of his own death-to inflict death upon death.(Cf. 1 Cor. 15:54-55) In this way the cross of Christ, on which the Son, consubstantial with the Father, renders full justice to God, is also a radical revelation of mercy, or rather of the love that goes against what constitutes the very root of evil in the history of (humankind): against sin and death.

I can accept the tradition voiced here. But has anyone ever wondered with Peter: was there any other way for mercy to be shown? I think the question is asked not because of some sense of avoidance of this great gift, but just as a curiosity.

Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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