Dives in Misericordiae 13b: Centered on Christ

Divine_Mercy_Sanctuary_in_Vilnius4The heart of the Lord is more than a metaphor for love and mercy. It is an invitation to go deeply into the very mission of Christ:

“He who has seen me has seen the Father.”(Jn. 14:9) The Church professes the mercy of God, the Church lives by it in her wide experience of faith and also in her teaching, constantly contemplating Christ, concentrating on Him, on His life and on His Gospel, on His cross and resurrection, on His whole mystery. Everything that forms the “vision” of Christ in the Church’s living faith and teaching brings us nearer to the “vision of the Father” in the holiness of His mercy. The Church seems in a particular way to profess the mercy of God and to venerate it when she directs herself to the Heart of Christ. In fact, it is precisely this drawing close to Christ in the mystery of His Heart which enables us to dwell on this point-a point in a sense central and also most accessible on the human level-of the revelation of the merciful love of the Father, a revelation which constituted the central content of the messianic mission of the Son of Man.

The Father’s love is more than words, even inspired words in a sacred book. Jesus revealed the Father’s love most deeply in his encounters with people. He lived mercy in the Paschal Mystery. Speaking of mercy in the abstract is not enough to get the full experience as God offers us.

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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St Francis Xavier

SFX @ SJAI captured that image, right, two summers ago and blogged on it two years ago today. I pause whenever I see it on my phone. This work of art has great meaning to me.

What a world we live in, and what an existence: to be able to travel hundreds of miles in a day. What would the first Jesuits have thought of that?

Human-made objects can now travel half a million miles a day. How will we hold up when we human beings can be part of pilgrimages moving at those speeds and even greater? And what will be find at the end of these new pilgrimages to new planets? This, perhaps?

I like this quote attributed to him:

And if you wish to bring forth much fruit, both for yourselves and for your neighbors, and to live consoled, converse with sinners, making them unburden themselves to you.

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Laudato Si 46: Social Aspects of Global Change

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Here, a brief discussion of the effects of change on a large scale–not just climate.

46. The social dimensions of global change include the effects of technological innovations on employment, social exclusion, an inequitable distribution and consumption of energy and other services, social breakdown, increased violence and a rise in new forms of social aggression, drug trafficking, growing drug use by young people, and the loss of identity. These are signs that the growth of the past two centuries has not always led to an integral development and an improvement in the quality of life. Some of these signs are also symptomatic of real social decline, the silent rupture of the bonds of integration and social cohesion.

We have to come to terms with this accurate diagnosis. On one hand the quality of life for the wealthy has certainly improved in the past two-hundred years. And generally, there is great potential for others to realize a better life than previous generations. Still, there are social effects to technological and scientific progress. It may not be the “fault” of engineers or scientists, but people who can budge public policy may well have to admit that some aspects of the modern world are actually in decline.

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Worthy Is The Lamb

lambWhat do you make of this song? When I borrowed the SLJ’s massive four-lp set from the Newman Community and got to Jesuit Bob Dufford’s effort here, it sure got my attention. I’ve always thought of it as absolutely crazy song, and absolutely in a good way. The 1997 update has a lot of brass and percussion, but the polished arrangements and singing don’t have the same energy as the original.

We never attempted it in college, but my grad school parish pulled it out once or twice. When I was visiting some of my Baptist relatives in 1983, they wanted to hear some of the music played in my Church. One of my cousins noticed this title right away in my Neither Silver Nor Gold songbook and asked me to play it. All I had was my guitar and voice–no youthful sopranos or piano glissandos. She said it wasn’t anything like the one her church did.

Does this song fit the Jesuit motto of magis? Or is it just too much?

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Ah! Wilderness

A thoughtful post on “de-screening” made me think a bit about our cross-country trek. Night one was spent in a cabin. While cell phone reception was spotty and there was no wi-fi, the television did have cable channels. So on it went. “What do you want to watch,” they asked me. “Nothing,” I said. But the screen didn’t turn gray.

Do we have an addiction to hand-held screens? If so, blame our humanity and not the generation. I recall tv as a constant soundtrack in my home growing up. When I moved out on my own, I was de-screened for years. If European (or any) culture had had screens in a past age, they would have been using them. Whenever I call my mother, for example, I hear cable news or a soap opera in the background.

Indeed, last night’s stay was in a wi-fi-capable hotel, so I had to peel away from the book-sized screen last night to pray while the women went out for a late dinner. And I’m tapping away early today while they catch their last bits of sleep.

Rand Richards Cooper touts many benefits of his two weeks (mostly) without the internet:

Most of all, de-screening spurs conversation.

And I give a skeptical “maybe” to the assessment. If people are inclined to talk, then yes, they will talk. But if people don’t want to talk–parishioners who want to go their own way, or family members simmering in a feud–then the lack of screens won’t help. Someone will just pull out a book, as I did when on vacation. Or take a lonely walk. Or drink to excess. This generation still does a lot of the latter–like all its predecessors.

I’m not convinced it’s a generational thing. If people are invited into significant conversation, it doesn’t seem that where their plug is plugged is a concern. Or their age. Or maybe that, as a minister, I’m in a position to have those fleeting conversations that others claim are disappearing into thumbs tapping on a screen carefully cradled between two hands.

Some of us might be relative neophytes at it, but I think conversation, person-to-person, is still available to us. At least until the process of evolution takes away our voice boxes and mouths.


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Dives in Misericordiae 13a: Profess and Proclaim Mercy

Divine_Mercy_Sanctuary_in_Vilnius4“The Church Professes the Mercy of God and Proclaims It.” So we head into section 13 with this title. St John Paul begins a final summary, having cited a number of Scriptural references, especially the parable of the two sons. We also looked a good bit into the theology of justice and mercy. Then we took stock of the 1980 world situation, which seems to have no lessening of anxieties in the intervening years.

If Jesus preached mercy, it is part of our mandate as Church to take up that task:

The Church must profess and proclaim God’s mercy in all its truth, as it has been handed down to us by revelation. We have sought, in the foregoing pages of the present document, to give at least an outline of this truth, which finds such rich expression in the whole of Sacred Scripture and in Sacred Tradition.

Liturgy is part of this:

In the daily life of the Church the truth about the mercy of God, expressed in the Bible, resounds as a perennial echo through the many readings of the Sacred Liturgy.

As is popular piety:

The authentic sense of faith of the People of God perceives this truth, as is shown by various expressions of personal and community piety. It would of course be difficult to give a list or summary of them all, since most of them are vividly inscribed in the depths of people’s hearts and minds.

The intellectual tradition of the Church has not neglected mercy:

Some theologians affirm that mercy is the greatest of the attributes and perfections of God, and the Bible, Tradition and the whole faith life of the People of God provide particular proofs of this. It is not a question here of the perfection of the inscrutable essence of God in the mystery of the divinity itself, but of the perfection and attribute whereby (humankind), in the intimate truth of (our) existence, encounters the living God particularly closely and particularly often. In harmony with Christ’s words to Philip,(Cf. Jn. 14:9-10) the “vision of the Father”-a vision of God through faith finds precisely in the encounter with His mercy a unique moment of interior simplicity and truth, similar to that which we discover in the parable of the prodigal son.

I think we’ve touched on this before, but mercy is not simply a theological or theoretical quality far beyond us. It is also a singular outreach from the Lord to every person. John Paul’s own philosophy of Christian personalism would not let this pass without comment. We were invited deep into the story of the lost son, and or those moments when we find congruency to that tale, we have the opportunity to enter more deeply into the experience of mercy. That would be in contrast to the elder son, who stands aloof, and for whom mercy is unknown as a personal experience.

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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Only three US states cover a larger geographical area. While I’ve visited two of them, I’ve never driven across an expanse quite like the state of Montana.

We picked up US route 212 in South Dakota yesterday morning, then cut across a twenty-mile corner of Wyoming. From there, it was almost 600 miles of the Treasure State before calling it a day in Missoula last night. I also understand why the moniker “Big Sky” is associated with this land.

We looked at the US 212 route for cutting about sixty miles off the trip between Rapid City and Missoula. We were glad we went that way. Some of the drive was through the Custer National Forest, and even though the evidence of fire was frequent, the shape of Montana’s land was impressive. Iowa is definitely a greener state, but there’s a beautiful alternative in the vast eastern Montana countryside. It’s not the Badlands, but there are breathtaking moments, all under a sky that does indeed seem bigger than what one sees back east.

Once past Billings, our afternoon drive found us at higher altitudes and surrounded by the state’s various mountain ranges. The young miss and the cats may have been affected somewhat by altitude sickness. As we approached our destination, it got rather quiet in the back seat.

I mentioned to the family that it feels like we are now in the real West, and we’ve taken the first step to becoming real American westerners.

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