CDWDS Decree on Magnum Principium Introduction

Before we get to the meat of the document, let’s spend a bit of time with the introduction. Some background: in 2017 Pope Francis changed canon law, specifically parts 2 and 3 of number 838. That means that liturgical documents impacted by this must be revised to bring worship into harmony with church law. Additionally, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (referred frequently here by the acronym CDWDS) clarifies its role in setting out adjustments to liturgical law, working with conferences of bishops throughout the world.

Here we go.


Following the promulgation of Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio Magnum Principium, with which the norms of §§ 2 and 3 of can. 838 of the C.I.C. were changed, it is necessary that whatever is found to the contrary in the Institutiones generales and in the Prænotanda of the liturgical books, as well as in the Instructions, Declarations, and Notifications published by this Dicastery according to the old norms of §§ 2 and 3 of can. 838 of the C.I.C. 1983, be corrected. [Magnum Principium quibus nonnulla in can. 838 Codicis Iuris Canonici immutantur: AAS 109 (2017) 967-970.]

The footnotes produced in brackets are still in Latin. Even in the translated sections of the link below. The reference above is Pope Francis’ directive on adjustments in translation. 

This is especially true for the Institutio generalis Missalis Romani 2002 and 2008, for the Praenotanda of the second editions of the De Ordinatione Episcopi, presbyterorum et diaconorum, of the Ordo celebrandi Matrimonium and of the editions of the De Exorcismis and of the Martyrologium Romanum. It also applies in a particular way to the Instructions Varietates legitimæ and Liturgiam authenticam.

These documents, in plain English, are the most recent editions of the GIRM, the rites for ordination, matrimony, exorcisms, and the Roman martyrology. Those instructions will look familiar–these have been treated on this website in good detail.

Future revisions and translations of rites will be affected:

It must also be taken into account that whatever is said in the Decrees of promulgation of the individual liturgical books whenever reference is made to the authority or juridical competence of the Episcopal Conferences and of this Dicastery regarding adaptations and translations of texts in vernacular languages must be interpreted according to the letter and mind of the new canon 838. [Cf. Magnum Principium: AAS 109 (2017) 969: «Consequenter interpretari oportet sive art. 64 § 3 Constitutionis Apostolicae Pastor bonus sive alias leges, praesertim in libris liturgicis contentas, circa eorum translationes», “Consequently this is how art. 64 §3 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus as well as other laws are to be interpreted, particularly those contained in the liturgical books concerning their revision”]

That document Pastor Bonus was the 1988 apostolic constitution penned by Pope John Paul II that detailed how the Vatican would operate administratively.

Rolling back to this 2021 document, the CDWDS intends also to assist bishops:

In line with the aforementioned Motu Proprio, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has considered it its duty to interpret and, as far as necessary, clarify the liturgical laws that it has issued on this matter, so that it may “help the Episcopal Conferences to fulfil their task as well as working to promote ever more the liturgical life of the Latin Church”.

And a brief word on what lies ahead in this CDWDS decree, what this document will present and what we’ll discuss:

Therefore, in accord with the mind of the Motu Proprio, the first part of the present Decree reiterates, interprets and amends the norms, the discipline, and the procedures regarding the translation of liturgical books and their adaptation. It does so in particular with regard to the competence of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and of the Episcopal Conferences. The second part indicates some “variations”, following those already published in 1983,<[Cf. DecretumNotitiæ 19 (1983) 540-541] to be introduced in the new editions of liturgical books.

The link of the English translation is here

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Poke And Faint

Sharecare: Health &amp; Well-being - Apps on Google PlayI feel a certain sadness now and then as the years move along. Things once easily accessible to a younger body are beginning to slip out of reach. My phone’s health app assures me my biological age is seven years less than my chronological. However, when I did a blind-stand-on-one-leg test, it plunked me squarely back in the sixties. 

During the pandemic I renewed my yoga practice and my arms didn’t hold up well with side plank pose. Vasisthasana used to be well within my range for strength and balance, but my arms feel shaky when I’ve tried what used to be a simple pose.

The latest humiliation involves donating blood. I’ve done this since I was 17. I’m not typically squeamish about it. I laughed when my college chum Dave spoke up in a room of about six or so of us with blood draining out of our arms, “Did you ever wonder if they could take the bag and squeeze it all back into your arm?” That one sent the nurses into action with wet compresses and all. I laughed about it.

I’ve had two bad experiences where the personnel flubbed and poked the needle right through my vein. Modestly painful, but on #2 a few years ago I told them we could try the other arm. They declined.

Each of the last three times I’ve donated–light-headedness. The day before yesterday was particularly discouraging. I did my due diligence: lots of water and tea during the day: about two quarts. Moderate-sized breakfast and lunches. A snack before giving. I brought a small bag of peanuts for my post-donation snack. No idea why I felt so light-headed the rest of the evening. I got home about 6 and napped for a bit more than an hour.

I did a little “research” later that night. The red cross doesn’t think age is necessarily an impairment. I hope they’re right. And it’s just something in the air. 

Giving blood is like a lot of things I’ve valued as a citizen over the years. Voting. Demonstrating. Holding doors for people. Making charitable donations. Tutoring people. Parking no closer than the second-closest open spot. The days for some of those might be ending sooner than I’d want.

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Via Pulchritudinis: The Beauty of Christ, Pastoral Proposals, Part 5

As we discuss Pastoral Proposals for the The Beauty of Christ, Model and Prototype of Christian Holiness, we return to the liturgy. The Council for Culture recognizes that you can’t teach being an open liturgical celebrant. Liturgy as a member of the assembly isn’t just following along; there are things to look for.

Liturgy is not what (people do), but is a divine work. The faithful need to be helped to perceive that the act of worship is not the fruit of activity, a product, a merit, a gain, but is the expression of a mystery, of something that cannot be entirely understood but that needs to be received rather than conceptualized. It is an act entirely free from considerations of efficiency. The attitude of the believer in the liturgy is marked by its capacity to receive, a condition of the progress of the spiritual life. This attitude is no longer spontaneous in a culture where rationalism seeks to direct everything, even our most intimate sentiments.

I think the emphasis for leaning on intellect has been an impurity for both progressives and traditional-leaning folks in liturgy. Do the art of liturgy well, and trust that people will experience the presence of Christ and his beauty. Even this affirmation of good art and architecture references “authentic meaning.” Some of the liturgy, yes, has a specific meaning. But inspiration at worship can happen on a front needed by particular persons at this particular time. Liturgy, even bad liturgy, can be God’s tool for grace in human beings.

No less important is the promotion of sacred art to accompany aptly the celebration of the mysteries of the faith, to give beauty back to ecclesiastical buildings and liturgical objects. In this way they will be welcoming, and above all able to convey the authentic meaning of Christian liturgy and encourage full participation of the faithful in the divine mysteries, following the wish often expressed during the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist.

Certainly the churches must be aesthetically beautiful and well decorated, the liturgies accompanied by beautiful chants and good music, the celebrations dignified and preaching well prepared, but it is not this in itself which is the via pulchritudinis or that which changes us. These are just conditions that facilitate the action of the grace of God. Therefore the faithful need to be educated to pay attention not merely to the aesthetic dimension of the liturgy, however beautiful it may be, but also to understand that the Liturgy is a divine act that is not determined by an ambiance, a climate or even by rubrics, for it is the mystery of faith celebrated in Church.

This last one is the important realization. I’ve taught new liturgical ministers their primary role is to be a doorkeeper, no matter what their specific duties are. They stand at the door and gesture to it gently. They open the way and urge people to enter. This is true not only for those involved in physical hospitality in a building with doors and other passageways. Doorkeepers are not just decorations or functionaries. They should be transparent so as to allow the fullness of Christ to shine through the experience for others.

The full document is here.

Image: the rose window at Notre Dame in Paris, By Zachi Evenor based on File:North rose window of Notre-Dame de Paris, Aug 2010.jpg by Julie Anne Workman – CC BY-SA 2.0,

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Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 11: The Church, the Great Sacrament of Reconciliation

The classical definition of a Sacrament is a sign instituted by Christ to give grace. By calling disciples who were the first “members,” Jesus has, in a way instituted a sign to give grace. It’s not a strange thing to call the Church a sacrament. And so, John Paul II did to make a point:

11. The church has the mission of proclaiming this reconciliation and as it were of being its sacrament in the world. The church is the sacrament, that is to say, the sign and means of reconciliation in different ways which differ in value but which all come together to obtain what the divine initiative of mercy desires to grant to humanity.

The Church exists to fulfill this mission of Jesus and his desire to effect the reconciliation of humankind to the Father. One way we are a sign is by embracing our reconciliation with God and with one another:

She is a sacrament in the first place by her very existence as a reconciled community which witnesses to and represents in the world the work of Christ.

We also recount the narrative of salvation history for the benefit of those prepared to hear the Word:

She is also a sacrament through her service as the custodian and interpreter of sacred Scripture, which is the good news of reconciliation inasmuch as it tells each succeeding generation about God’s loving plan and shows to each generation the paths to universal reconciliation in Christ.

The Word is a means of God granting us grace, and certainly the Seven are as well:

Finally she is a sacrament by reason of the seven sacraments which, each in its own way, ” make the church. “(Cf St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, XXII 17: CCL 48, 835f; St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, III pars, q. 64, art. 2 ad tertium) For since they commemorate and renew Christ’s paschal mystery, all the sacraments are a source of life for the church and in the church’s hands they are means of conversion to God and of reconciliation among people.

There seems not to be a distinction between the sacraments in this context. At least there is no mention of “healing sacraments,” and drawing penance and anointing out as restoring the relationship between believer and God. They certainly do that, but the process of initiation is also a gesture of reconciling grace. Baptism forgives sin and confirmation is certainly linked closely there, at least in theory. The Eucharist is certainly an expression of forgiveness, reconciliation, and grace stemming from that. An interesting question for students might be: how do Orders and Matrimony express the saving action of reconciliation and penance?

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


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CDWDS Decree on Magnum Principium Coming Up

What do you know: we have a new liturgy document to examine. Starting sometime soon we’ll take a look at the 4300-plus words of the CDWDS DECREE giving effect to the dispositions of can. 838 of the Code of Canon Law.

Pope Francis’ revision of that canon numbered 838 alters the process for translating liturgical documents and how these are approved by conferences of bishops and in Rome. Supposedly, bishops have more authority and input during the process and at the end of it.

Let’s kick off with an outline. 

INTRODUCTION (unnumbered)



  • The Episcopal Conference approves the adaptations of the liturgical books according to the norm of law (cf. can. 838 § 2) (9-12)
  • Language (13-16)
  • The translation process (17-27)
  • The drafting of the liturgical book and its approval (28-33)
  • The request for “confirmatio” and “recognitio” from the Apostolic See (34-36)
  • The publication of the liturgical book (37-40)


  • The “recognitio” (42-44)
  • The “confirmatio” (45-49)


The link of the English translation is here

I’m not thinking this review will last 57 posts. Some of the numbered sections are rather brief, and some don’t have much on which to comment, so some chunks might be lumped together. I’ve already seen a few comments, but my preferred method with these is to read bit by bit, as you know, and come to my own conclusions independently of what others might say. What you commenters have to say is far more interesting.

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Moral Panic Explained

Mike Lewis at WPI explains the full episode behind the theft of statues at the Vatican’s Amazon synod two years ago. According to Vatican correspondent Austen Ivereigh, they didn’t even do “research”:

I noticed that they never actually asked an indigenous leader what the statuette symbolized. 

Maybe it was all about the money to be made from maintaining an anti-Francis narrative of their choosing. More from Mr Ivereigh:

EWTN decided to try to make a profit from their vast army of reporters on the ground in Rome by keeping them on the story, which never quite died down. I honestly don’t think the Holy See Press Office had any idea what they were dealing with. No one seemed to be able to give an authoritative declaration as to the meaning of the statues because, of course, there was no fixed meaning. For some, they symbolized fertility and life — in other words, God the Creator — while others referred to her as Our Lady of the Amazon, combining Marian devotion with local depictions of women as people have done for centuries. In the absence of a clear narrative from the Vatican, EWTN could just carry on …

Douglas Fir TreeSure. I can imagine the uproar in their homes in two weeks if those old pagan symbols from Pope Benedict’s 2nd century ancestors were thrown into a nearby river. There would be no story in that, I’m sure. The universal synod process beckons. Will the forces of EWTN/LSN/CNA assemble in an attempt to derail the discussion there? It can only hurt their point of view. The synod will proceed, and will in many places bear fruit. And with fruit comes a harvest and following that, consumption plus nourishment plus new energy for new horizons. 

This month, the entire Church is embarking on a two-year synodal journey. We are being given a prime opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to work miracles in our hearts and in the hearts of our fellow Catholics. Many people have told me that the work we did on this site to bring the truth about the Amazon Synod to light opened their eyes and snapped them out of their former mindset.

Sadly, destructive ideas and lies have become common currency in the Church and have swayed many ordinary Catholics. This is tragic because  narrative, which has tragically taken hold of the consciousness of so many Catholics. But I am encouraged by the words of Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti, “The heroes of the future will be those who can break with this unhealthy mindset and determine respectfully to promote truthfulness, aside from personal interest. God willing, such heroes are quietly emerging, even now, in the midst of our society.” Sometimes the division in the Church can seem hopeless, but the Spirit is alive. God calls us to continue to tell the truth and to pray and to have hope.

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Diocese of Rome Synod Address, Part 19: Take It Seriously

Let’s wrap up Pope Francis’ address to the Diocese of Rome last month. 

I came here to encourage you to take this synodal process seriously and to tell you that the Holy Spirit needs you. It is true: the Holy Spirit needs us. Listen to him by listening to each other. Leave no one behind or excluded.

Listening is emphasized yet again. If it is engaged by people, then other tasks will have the needed undergirding:

It will be good for the Diocese of Rome and for the whole Church, which is not strengthened simply by reforming structures (that is the great illusion!) or by giving instructions, offering retreats and conferences, by issuing guidelines and programs.

A good lesson for reformers of any ilk. Vatican II often failed when reform, instruction, retreats, conferences, programs, guidelines, organizations, and all had no basis in listening to people in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, or even this century. It is really like the seed on rocky ground. Good start, but no depth or staying power.

All those things are good, but as part of something else, namely our rediscovery that we are a people meant to walk together, with one another and with all humanity. A people that, here in Rome, embraces a wide variety of communities and situations: an extraordinary treasure, in all its complexity!

A concern to widen the listening beyond the churchgoers:

However, we need to pass beyond the 3 or 4 percent that are closest to us, to broaden our range and to listen to others; at times they may insult or dismiss you, but we need to hear what they are thinking, without trying to impose our own concerns: let the Spirit speak to us.

Can we believe God will act through people we deem the equivalent of pagans, prostitutes, tax collectors, publicans, and the like? The Gospel suggests we should. We will be surprised.

Consider the great needs of the world of 2021:

In this time of pandemic, the Lord is guiding the Church’s mission as a sacrament of care. Our world has cried out and shown its vulnerability: our world needs care.

Take heart and keep going! Thank you!

This speech is copyright © Dicastero per la Comunicazione – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Via Pulchritudinis: The Beauty of Christ, Pastoral Proposals, Part 4

Pastoral Proposals involving the Beauty of Christ discusses “education,” including in and about the liturgy.

An appropriate education helps the faithful grow in the life of prayer of adoration and worship, and fuller participation in the truth to a liturgy lived in the fullness of beauty which immerses the faithful in the mystery of faith.

I feel cautious about the use of the term “education” in this context. Book-learning for something that can’t be contained in books? Not hardly. It’s a matter of apprenticeship: guides who can show others where to turn their gaze, for what to look.

As for liturgy …

At the same time as re-educating the faithful to marvel at the things that God works in our lives, it is also necessary to give back to the liturgy its true “splendor”, all its dignity and authentic beauty, by rediscovering the authentic sense of Christian mystery, and forming the faithful so that they can enter into the meaning and beauty of the celebrated mystery and live it authentically.

I think the “give back to the liturgy” portion is an overstatement. Even in the best pre-conciliar parishes, there was but one High Mass per Sunday. Most Masses were Low, and if a believer wasn’t blessed with a place of worship that leaned to being an architectural wonder, the experience was more likely quite ordinary.

A better approach would be to turn the gaze forward and plan for the limit of what’s possible.

The full document is here.

Image: the rose window at Notre Dame in Paris, By Zachi Evenor based on File:North rose window of Notre-Dame de Paris, Aug 2010.jpg by Julie Anne Workman – CC BY-SA 2.0,

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Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 10: Reconciliation Comes from God, Part 2

Reconciliation Comes from God: do we need more convincing? Pope John Paul II cites a lot of Scripture, starting with the incarnation:

For, according to our faith, the word of God became flesh and came to dwell in the world; he entered into the history of the world) summing it up and recapitulating it in himself. (Cf Ephesians 2:4, 1:10)

Moving to the Last Supper and the Paschal Mystery:

He revealed to us that God is love, and he gave us the new commandment” of love, (John 13:34) at the same time communicating to us the certainty that the path of love is open for all people, so that the effort to establish universal (communion) is not a vain one. (Cf Gaudium et Spes 38) By conquering through his death on the cross evil and the power of sin, by his loving obedience, he brought salvation to all and became “reconciliation for all. In him God reconciled (humankind) to himself.”

What is our response to this? The first call of the Lord in his public ministry, as Saint Mark presents it:

The church carries on the proclamation of reconciliation which Christ caused to echo through the villages of Galilee and all Palestine (Cf Mark 1:15) and does not cease to invite all humanity to be converted and to believe in the good news.

The Church preaches this in a particular way during the season of Lent, as Ash Wednesday tells us:

She speaks in the name of Christ, making her own the appeal of St. Paul which we have already recalled: “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (Cf 2 Corinthians 5:20)

The intention of God was to expand a covenantal relationship beyond Israel to the nations, to all humankind.

Those who accept this appeal enter into the economy of reconciliation and experience the truth contained in that other affirmation of St. Paul, that Christ “is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility…, so making peace” that he “might reconcile us both to God.” (Cf Ephesians 2:14-16) This text directly concerns the overcoming of the religious division between Israel-as the chosen people of the Old Testament-and the other peoples, all called to form part of the new covenant. Nevertheless it contains the affirmation of the new spiritual universality desired by God and accomplished by him through the sacrifice of his Son, the word made (flesh), without limits or exclusions of any sort, for all those who are converted and who believe in Christ. We are all therefore called to enjoy the fruits of this reconciliation desired by God: every individual and every people.

A few things here:

  • The Great Commission was explicitly about taking the Good News to the nations (Cf. Matthew 28:19)
  • Yet the personal connections of Jesus in the Gospel narratives is something Pope John Paul II certainly appreciated in his priestly ministry. He understood the importance of the clergy as the front line of the Lord’s reconciliation of all humankind.

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


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Those Pesky Theme Masses

Red Mass, White Mass, Blue Mass. Mass of the Angels, Mass of Creation, Mass of St John Paul the Great. They could make a Dr Seuss rhyme out of the possibilities, musical and otherwise.

I remember the parish getting a new associate pastor when I was in the parish school, 7th or 8th grade. He met with classes to prepare school Masses. These were liturgies with themes. September I remember was “Love.” October was “Peace.” Typical, I guess for the younger brothers and sisters of what passed for the counterculture in mainstream America. I don’t remember if we suggested readings or prayers. Music, probably. It was the very early 70s, so there was that. I recall five or six of my class being enthusiastic about contributing ideas to these in class time.

Fast forward decades to today: lawyers, nurses, and even the Supreme Court, mostly Catholic these days, all get their special theme Masses. You wonder why the traditionalist-leaning folks are getting twisted about this one. A few samples:

… preposterous idea … the rancid mush of this idea …

And some sense:

When we immediately shut these kinds of ideas down, it is exactly what (evil) wants from us, to exclude youth, to make no effort to bring youth into the fold, to assume everyone is where we are in our understanding of the faith and if they aren’t then we ignore them and move on … Never scoff at these ideas, it is exactly what (evil) wants us to do.

Woven into the traditional observances of the Church are celebrations of Mass for all sorts of particular and special intentions. Intention-gathering is part of any parish’s routine. Votive Masses continue, and Masses for Various Needs and Occasions when the clergy read past their ordo or the USCCB website or the missalette.

The real question for Catholics is this: how special is a special intention? The difference among believers is not solemnity or appropriateness, but a difference of opinion on important things. What’s vital for some people–like devotion to the Blessed Virgin or playing basketball–can be irrelevant to others. Among courteous folk, people don’t usually diss what is important to others. When they do, it leads to things like marital break-up, business partnerships fracturing, and non-invites to nice parties.

As for the sensible comment at the CMAA forum, at least one person recognizes that liturgy is not always the end. Sometimes it can be a means to making connections of less-churched people to God. And that’s the Gospel point of it.

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Diocese of Rome Synod Address, Part 18, Prepare for Surprises

Next in Pope Francis’ address to the Diocese of Rome, some good advice, whether or not you’re in a synod: 

Don’t be disheartened; be prepared for surprises. In the book of Numbers (22:8ff.) we hear of a donkey who became a prophet of God. The Hebrews were about to end the long journey that led them to the promised land. Their passage through his territory frightened Balak, the king of Moab, who told Balaam, a seer, to stop them, in hopes of avoiding a war. Balaam, who was in his own way a believer, asked God what to do. God told him not to go along with the king, but since the king insisted, Balaam set out on a donkey to do as the king said. The donkey, however, turned aside from the road because it saw an angel with an unsheathed sword, representing the opposition of God. Balaam tugged at the reins and beat the donkey, but could not get it to return to the road. Finally, the donkey opened his mouth and spoke, the beginning of a dialogue that would open the seer’s eyes and turn his mission of cursing and death into a mission of blessing and life.

There’s a point to this charming story:

This story teaches us to trust that the Spirit will always make his voice heard. Even a donkey can become the voice of God, can open our eyes and change our course when we go astray. If a donkey can do that, how much more can a baptized person, a priest, a bishop, a Pope do it? We need but rely on the Holy Spirit, who uses all of creation to speak to us: he only asks us to clean out our ears, to hear better.

Listening: this is the key component of this or any synod process. Of any meeting, really. Check ourselves: are we formulating a reply instead of listening to the details of someone else’s narrative? Last night in our parish’s evening meeting, one of the participants got a little off track. Another person shared privately with me later that experience was annoying, someone trying to dominate the conversation. True, on one level. But I also heard what was behind the details of the conversation: someone who felt embittered by the changes in the Church over the last few decades. Sometimes, when we think we need to focus on the forest, the message is in the tree. And sometimes, instead of looking at the tree, our gaze should drift to the whole forest. Listening to what is going on: this is the synod process.

One more post tomorrow from this speech which is copyright © Dicastero per la Comunicazione – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Via Pulchritudinis: The Beauty of Christ, Pastoral Proposals, Part 3

Let’s continue with Pastoral Proposals for looking more carefully at the beauty of Christ. Today’s citations look at the Blessed Virgin and the saints.

Others have also been engaged in the via pulchritudinis in recent decades, for example Mariologists, especially since Paul VI spoke to the Seventh International Congress of Mariology on 16 May 1975. [Cf. Pontifical International Marian Academy, The Mother of the Lord. Memory, Presence, Hope, Vatican City, 2000, p. 40-42]

It is a matter of presenting with a language that speaks and is pleasing to our contemporaries and using the most apt means the precious witness given by the Mother of God, the martyrs and the saints who have followed Christ in a particularly “attractive” manner. Much is being done in catechetical programs to let the extraordinary lives of the saints be discovered.

Catechesis is one thing. But more hope can be placed in works of art, especially theater.

It is clear today that, for young people, saints are fascinating—think of Francis of Assisi and José of Anchieta, Juan Diego and Theresa of the Child Jesus, Rose of Lima and Bakhita, Kisito and Maria Goretti, Father Kolbe and Mother Teresa and the theatrical works, films, comic strips, recitals, concerts and musicals that re-create their stories. Their example calls each Christian to be a pilgrim on the pathway of beauty, truth, good, in journeying to the Celestial Jerusalem where we will contemplate the beauty of God in a relation full of love, face-to-face. “There, we will rest and we will see; we will see and we will love, we will love and we will praise. Such will be the end, without end.” [St Augustine, The City of God, XXII, 30, 5]

We can look to pilgrimage’s end. But meanwhile, when we stop for a respite, we can be reminded of others who have trod the path. Their lives are attractive, well-portrayed by writers, composers, playwrights, etc.. Can these artistic works spark the belief we are walking in their footsteps? Our destiny is to also cooperate with God’s grace as these pillars of faith did. Does art inspire new saints–men, women, and even children today?

The full document is here.

Image: the rose window at Notre Dame in Paris, By Zachi Evenor based on File:North rose window of Notre-Dame de Paris, Aug 2010.jpg by Julie Anne Workman – CC BY-SA 2.0,

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Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 10: Reconciliation Comes from God, Part 1

How can we say Reconciliation Comes from God? It seems easy to give and receive forgiveness when a relationship is on solid ground. The honeymoon phase. The achievement of a child. A success in business or sport. God does not change the divine orientation when we have strayed deeply into alienation. At our worst moments as a person, we might find ourselves abandoned by friends, coworkers, even our closest loved ones. God does not abandon. Even when we’ve badly abused our closeness, our friendship with God.

God is faithful to his eternal plan even when (people), under the impulse of the evil one (Cf Wisdom 2:24) and carried away by (their) own pride, abuses the freedom given to (them) in order to love and generously seek what is good, and refuses to obey (their) Lord and Father. God is faithful even when (people), instead of responding with love to God’s love, opposes him and treats him like a rival, deluding (themselves) and relying on (their) own power, with the resulting break of relationship with the one who created (them). In spite of this transgression on (a person’s) part, God remains faithful in love.

Looking to the earliest experience of the relationship between people and God:

It is certainly true that the story of the Garden of Eden makes us think about the tragic consequences of rejecting the Father, which becomes evident in (human) inner disorder and in the breakdown of harmony between man and woman, brother and brother. (Cf Genesis 3:12f; 4:1-16) Also significant is the gospel parable of the two brothers who, in different ways, distance themselves from their father and cause a rift between them. Refusal of God’s fatherly love and of his loving gifts is always at the root of humanity’s divisions.

Each of the brothers in Luke 15 has, in his own time and his own way, denied the love of the father. Jesus was deeply insightful of the human mind and our tendency for disorder regardless of the simple outward assessment of sin and division.

But we know that God, “rich in mercy,” (Cf Ephesians 2:4) like the father in the parable, does not close his heart to any of his children. He waits for them, looks for them, goes to meet them at the place where the refusal of communion imprisons them in isolation and division. He calls them to gather about his table in the joy of the feast of forgiveness and reconciliation.

This initiative on God’s part is made concrete and manifest in the redemptive act of Christ, which radiates through the world by means of the ministry of the church.

At our best, the Church gives witness to this. We can do better.

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

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Cigar Box Ray, Martyr, Pray For Us

rherman2Nearly missed a feast day today.

My friend John Donaghy wrote a good summary here eight years ago. 

All holy women and men martyred for their witness to Christ and to a faith of simplicity, advocacy, and generosity, pray for us.

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Family Editions of the Hours: Compline

If the institution was serious, they would consider extra editions of the new Liturgy of the Hours effort. For half a century, we’ve had the four volume set, which is luscious. There’s also the Christian Prayer edition. And the “Shorter” version of the latter.

I think Compline for children and parents would be a good way to go. It takes one element of the Divine Office and makes it accessible for families. I could see a one-week cycle for children up to about age ten to twelve-ish. Parent-led and composed for bedtime prayer. It would need to be well-illustrated, something like a picture book. Prayers well-adapted like the Children’s Eucharistic Prayer. Probably some freshly composed material.

Additional supplements to the prayer for the four special seasons, and perhaps other prayers for the various climatic seasons: winter and summer and the ones in between. Of all the Hours, Night Prayer strikes me as potentially the most family-friendly. The outline could be simple:

  • Sign of the Cross
  • Song
  • Brief penitential rite (good options would be a simple Lord Have Mercy or the Act of Contrition)
  • Psalm (I would include the classics–4, 91, and 134, but also Psalm 121 and especially 131.)
  • Reading (which I could see a new Lectionary including readings that mention young people like 1 Samuel 3 and Jeremiah 1)
  • Canticle of Simeon
  • Closing Prayer
  • Antiphon to the Blessed Virgin (options from the Hail Mary to the classic four)
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