GeE 172: Speak, Lord

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When we are silent in conversation, it inspires a friend or loved one to speak. Pope Francis knows that our discipline of silence invites God, and we need not even utter, “Speak, Lord.” When another human being talks to us, we listen, as a matter of courtesy and communication. If we aspire to discernment, the same politeness is extended to God:

172. Nonetheless, it is possible that, even in prayer itself, we could refuse to let ourselves be confronted by the freedom of the Spirit, who acts as he wills. We must remember that prayerful discernment must be born of a readiness to listen: to the Lord and to others, and to reality itself, which always challenges us in new ways. Only if we are prepared to listen, do we have the freedom to set aside our own partial or insufficient ideas, our usual habits and ways of seeing things. In this way, we become truly open to accepting a call that can shatter our security, but lead us to a better life. It is not enough that everything be calm and peaceful. God may be offering us something more, but in our comfortable inadvertence, we do not recognize it.

You can check the full document Gaudete et Exsultate on the Vatican website.

 

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Aparecida 553-554: Mary and Jesus

At the end, a plea for intercession to Mary, recognizing our common ground. She, as a pilgrim to Elizabeth. And we, joining with her in that most human of experiences, the journey from shadows to light, drawing closer to God with every step, every breath:

553. We are aided with the company, ever close at hand, full of understanding and tenderness, of Mary Most Holy. May she show us the blessed fruit of her womb and teach us to respond as she did in the mystery of the annunciation and incarnation. She teaches us to go out of ourselves on a journey of sacrifice, love, and service, as she did in the visitation to her cousin Elizabeth, so that as pilgrims on the road, we may sing the wonders that God has done in us as he promised.

The Aparecida bishops leave the last word to Pope Benedict XVI:

554. Guided by Mary, we fix our gaze on Jesus Christ, author and perfecter of faith, and we tell him with the Successor of Peter:

“Stay with us, for it is towards evening, and the day is now far spent” (Lk 24:29).

Stay with us, Lord, keep us company, even though we have not always recognized you. Stay with us, because all around us the shadows are deepening, and you are the Light; discouragement is eating its way into our hearts: make them burn with the certainty of Easter. We are tired of the journey, but you comfort us in the breaking of bread, so that we are able to proclaim to our brothers and sisters that you have truly risen and have entrusted us with the mission of being witnesses of your resurrection.

Stay with us, Lord, when mists of doubt, weariness or difficulty rise up around our Catholic faith; you are Truth itself, you are the one who reveals the Father to us: enlighten our minds with your word, and help us to experience the beauty of believing in you.

Remain in our families, enlighten them in their doubts, sustain them in their difficulties, console them in their sufferings and in their daily labors, when around them shadows build up which threaten their unity and their natural identity. You are Life itself: remain in our homes, so that they may continue to be nests where human life is generously born, where life is welcomed, loved and respected from conception to natural death.

Remain, Lord, with those in our societies who are most vulnerable; remain with the poor and the lowly, with indigenous peoples and Afro-Americans, who have not always found space and support to express the richness of their culture and the wisdom of their identity. Remain, Lord, with our children and with our young people, who are the hope and the treasure of our Continent, protect them from so many snares that attack their innocence and their legitimate hopes. O Good Shepherd, remain with our elderly and with our sick. Strengthen them all in faith, so that they may be your disciples and missionaries!(Benedict XVI, Introductory Address 3)

It’s been a long journey. Any final thoughts? Remember that an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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Marriage, Scratch, Matrimony

The former Rite of Marriage (1969) has been significantly revised and updated into the Order of Celebrating Matrimony (1991/2016). What was Rite is now Order. What was once Marriage is now Matrimony. Is that a significant difference? Stay tuned to see.

More than eleven years ago, we looked at the old Rite, and followed that with a long series, Bible Readings For Your Wedding. I think we’re overdue for a liturgical update on this site. We’ll be starting soon.

With new parish duties as the “first interviewer” for engaged couples, it seems time for me to familiarize myself with the new liturgical stuff. My cursory glance at the new rite has a lot of changes. Musicians and priests who continue on auto-pilot for weddings will be found disconnected from the Church’s intent. I work with mainly retired clergy here in the northwestern wilds. My new diocese is not quite as up-to-date as I’ve found the Midwest. I had a wedding out here where the priest insisted the Gloria was not to be done (the couple actually requested it) but insisted instead on the Confiteor and Kyrie. Go figure.

The praenotanda is vital; and we’ll look at that first, referencing back to the 1969 text. Some of the ritual elements are interesting too. I can’t promise daily posts at this point; we’ll see how it all works.

Meanwhile, any comments from the readers on what you’ve seen or not seen at weddings lately?

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GeE 171: Silent And Prolonged Prayer

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171. The Lord speaks to us in a variety of ways, at work, through others and at every moment. Yet we simply cannot do without the silence of prolonged prayer, which enables us better to perceive God’s language, to interpret the real meaning of the inspirations we believe we have received, to calm our anxieties and to see the whole of our existence afresh in his own light. In this way, we allow the birth of a new synthesis that springs from a life inspired by the Spirit.

Silence can be difficult for some. As a musician, I know there’s great temptation to fill certain moments with notes when perhaps the time suggests less. Or none. Getting used to prayer and easing ourselves into longer and longer periods–with silence–this is very important for the believer and aspiring disciple.

You can check the full document Gaudete et Exsultate on the Vatican website.

 

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Aparecida 552: Recovering Fervor

552. Let us thus recover our fervor of spirit. Let us preserve the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow.

How timely a thought, that we are in a season of scandal and deep disappointment. Many saints endured similar dark hours. Will we find the courage to continue, as they did?

May it mean for us—as it did for John the Baptist, for Peter and Paul, for the other apostles and for a multitude of splendid evangelizers all through the Church’s history—an interior enthusiasm that nobody and nothing can quench. May it be the great joy of our consecrated lives. And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the Good News not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ, and who are willing to risk their lives so that the kingdom may be proclaimed and the Church established in the midst of the world.(Evangelii Nuntiandi 80)

Let us recover apostolic courage and boldness.

Thoughts on this? Have we a hope for finding fervor in an age of discouragement?

For deeper examination, check an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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GeE 170: A Supernatural Gift

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Today, let’s look a bit more deeply into a supernatural gift:

170. Certainly, spiritual discernment does not exclude existential, psychological, sociological or moral insights drawn from the human sciences. At the same time, it transcends them.

Use reason, but don’t be enslaved to it. It’s a starting point, not the sole measure.

We must also move beyond Church guidelines. These too are a beginning, a blueprint. Not the final product:

Nor are the Church’s sound norms sufficient. We should always remember that discernment is a grace. Even though it includes reason and prudence, it goes beyond them, for it seeks a glimpse of that unique and mysterious plan that God has for each of us, which takes shape amid so many varied situations and limitations.

When Pope Francis mentions discernment, it might begin with an individual’s personal mission. But authentic discernment always connects a person to a greater plan:

It involves more than my temporal well-being, my satisfaction at having accomplished something useful, or even my desire for peace of mind. It has to do with the meaning of my life before the Father who knows and loves me, with the real purpose of my life, which nobody knows better than he. Ultimately, discernment leads to the wellspring of undying life: to know the Father, the only true God, and the one whom he has sent, Jesus Christ (cf. John 17:3). It requires no special abilities, nor is it only for the more intelligent or better educated. The Father readily reveals himself to the lowly (cf. Matthew 11:25).

You can check the full document Gaudete et Exsultate on the Vatican website.

 

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Aparecida 551: A Continental Mission

We’ve heard this theme, the notion that some efforts of faith, especially that of evangelization, must be tackled on a continental scale.

551. This missionary awakening in the form of a Continental Mission, the fundamental lines of which have been examined by our Conference, and which we hope will bring a wealth of teachings, guidelines, and priorities, will be considered even more concretely during the next CELAM Plenary Assembly in Havana.

The meeting referenced took place in 2007.

It will require the decided collaboration of the Bishops Conferences and of each diocese in particular. It will seek to place the Church permanently in a state of mission. Let us head out to sea in our boats, under with the powerful gust of the Holy Spirit, with no fear of storms, assured that God’s Providence has great surprises in store for us.

An image from John Paul II: setting out for the deep waters, unafraid of the distractions.

For deeper examination, check an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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