Laudato Si 13: The Pope’s Appeal

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Pope Francis devotes the final four paragraphs (13-16) of the introduction to a personal appeal. First, there is gratitude for those who work for the challenge of a better stewardship of the natural environment:

13. The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. Here I want to recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share. Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.

And he acknowledges that young people (and of course many people older) seek to have the suffering of people and the environment relieved. And doubtless, many people of all ages have labored long and hard in order that we might achieve some measure of fruitfulness on this issue.

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Tales From The Money Pit

I never liked the Tom Hanks/Shelley Long farce. Even before I bought my first house. I don’t like when misfortune piles up on the unsuspecting.

I thought today was going to be a simple day. Long day, but simple. Took some vacation to clear things from sunrise to sunset. After the former, I started noticing the butterflies outside our bedroom window. Rather than take out all the wildflowers behind the house, I opted to keep the milkweed. The young miss attempted to sow wildflowers last summer, inspired by her environmental science course. We also had some nettles, which were attracting even more Red Admirals. So I saluted, and set to hacking out fledgling maple trees and fixing up the peripherals: hoses, burn chamber, and the deck.

By mid-morning, the sun was getting too high. My wife was up and we made a run to the hardware store to pick up a neat appliance which does a fabulous job on tar paper under carpeting. We had just emptied the bedroom, and I was about to unpack my new toy when I went to the basement to retrieve a claw hammer to deal with an odd nail or two.

It’s never a good sound to hear splashing liquid in one’s basement. The young miss had run a load of wash while we were out. And Gambit was spooked as I was. Double hit: wash water spurting up out the drain pipe and toilet backed up in the neighboring downstairs bathroom. I hate it when sewage takes a wrong turn and thinks my basement is a treatment plant.

That only set us back a few hours. Four loads on the wet vac to clean up. Then the repair crew arrived. Later they offered to have a look at a slow draining sink upstairs. Turned out the sink drainpipe was mostly being held together with a clog. They ran their rooter, and the pipe fell apart. It’s plumber time! But not till tomorrow.

As of 8pm, the bed is still disassembled. My wife is mopping the floor with a vinegar solution after the steam treatment and my scraping and sanding of the window. I made tomato/spinach/black bean burgers for the young miss and me. Wife settled for PB&J and a pepsi. I think a nice beer would go down well for me about right now. But ice tea will have to do. I think anything with alcohol content would put me out at this point. And I’m too pooped for a liquor store run at this point.

Good news is we got everything on today’s checklist punched out. And a few more things. Bad news is we’ll have to delay listing the home a day or two into the weekend. I don’t see us being ready by Thursday to receive potential buyers. Come by Sunday or Monday.

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Palliumania, Part 1

palliaToday’s feast of Peter and Paul is a big thing in Rome. And for the world’s newest archbishops. There’s a change in procedure on the docket for this year. The pallium, that woolen badge of an archbishop’s office, was blessed in Rome today. The conferral of it will be conducted in the home diocese of the archbishop. A good explanation is here.

It is the responsibility of the Nuncio to determine with the Metropolitan Archbishops the most opportune date, circumstances and manner to publicly and officially invest him with the pallium by mandate of the Holy Father, and with the participation of the Suffragan Bishops of that particular Province (ecclesiastically geographic area).

The pallium ceremony will continue to symbolize communion between the See of Peter and the Successor of the Apostle and those who are chosen to carry out the episcopal ministry as Metropolitan Archbishop of an Ecclesiastical Province, and it will encourage the participation of the local Church in an important moment of its life and history.

Seems like a good development to me. What do you think would be the best way to carry that out in the archdiocese? Is the Eucharist a given? Evening Prayer? Some special feast of the archdiocese, perhaps its patron? Any readers hear of any plans for part two in your archdiocese?

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Dives in Misericordiae 7c: The Fullness of Mercy

Divine_Mercy_Sanctuary_in_Vilnius4Encountering the Lord in the Garden of Olives, accompanying him before the Sanhedrin and Pilate, and standing before the Cross is more than a reenactment of history. It’s not a you-are-there moment. That is why the attraction to the gruesome is misplaced, I think. Instead, perhaps we might consider ourselves witnesses to the love of the Father and Son, and invited into the grace of that relationship.

Christ, as the man who suffers really and in a terrible way in the Garden of Olives and on Calvary, addresses Himself to the Father- that Father whose love He has preached to people, to whose mercy He has borne witness through all of His activity. But He is not spared – not even He-the terrible suffering of death on the cross: “For our sake God made him to be sin who knew no sin,”(2 Cor 5:21) St. Paul will write, summing up in a few words the whole depth of the cross and at the same time the divine dimension of the reality of the Redemption.

We are reminded of this each Ash Wednesday. And it leads us to a deeper understanding of God. Mercy gives us a glimpse into the mind of God. Let’s attend to how justice and love fit into this seeing:

Indeed this Redemption is the ultimate and definitive revelation of the holiness of God, who is the absolute fullness of perfection: fullness of justice and of love, since justice is based on love, flows from it and tends towards it. In the passion and death of Christ-in the fact that the Father did not spare His own Son, but “for our sake made him sin”(Ibidem)- absolute justice is expressed, for Christ undergoes the passion and cross because of the sins of humanity. This constitutes even a “superabundance” of justice, for the sins of (people) are “compensated for” by the sacrifice of the Man-God.

What do you make of this superabundance? Justice that transcends sin to the point that love overwhelms.

Nevertheless, this justice, which is properly justice “to God’s measure,” springs completely from love: from the love of the Father and of the Son, and completely bears fruit in love. Precisely for this reason the divine justice revealed in the cross of Christ is “to God’s measure,” because it springs from love and is accomplished in love, producing fruits of salvation. The divine dimension of redemption is put into effect not only by bringing justice to bear upon sin, but also by restoring to love that creative power in (people) thanks also which (we) once more (have) access to the fullness of life and holiness that come from God. In this way, redemption involves the revelation of mercy in its fullness.

This would seem to suggest that mercy is not a one-time event on Calvary, but something that draws us into this certain “fullness of life” as a new way of life. The alternative is that Good Friday remains comfortably distant, that the Paschal Mystery has little impact in our lives beyond piety, a history lesson, or an image to behold.

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 97-98: Easter Day

Jesus arms outstretchedRemember, you can check the full document Paschale Solemnitatis on this site, among many on the internet. We’re now done with considerations of the Easter Vigil (PS 77-96), so we turn out attention to the next morning:

97. Mass is to be celebrated on Easter Day with great solemnity. It is appropriate that the penitential rite on this day take the form of a sprinkling with water blessed at the Vigil, during which the antiphon “Vidi aquam”, or some other song of baptismal character should be sung. The stoups at the entrance to the church should also be filled with the same water.

Remember this sprinkling on Easter morning takes place after the homily. It would seem the proper order would have the penitential rite omitted from the introductory rites.

98. The tradition of celebrating baptismal Vespers on Easter Day with the singing of psalms during the procession to the font should be maintained where it is still in force, and as appropriate restored. (Cf. GILH. 213)

Some places celebrate Mass in the evening, but yes, this would be a good tradition to restore. I wonder how religious communities celebrate this. If I lived close to a monastery, I think I’d prefer to visit and have someone else be responsible for this last Easter liturgy. What about you?

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Laudato Si 12: A Magnificent Book

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website.

12. What is more, Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world” (Rom 1:20).

Jewish wisdom and Pauline theology, not to mention many saints of than Francis have noted this.

For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty.[Cf. THOMAS OF CELANO, The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul, II, 124, 165, in Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, New York-London-Manila, 2000, 354] Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.

How often in our dealings with people we also see problems rather than opportunities for contemplation.

Your thoughts?

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Worthy Women: Gertrud Luckner

 Gertrud Luckner, an English born German, spent a year of her life living in England. That year was 1932, and by the time she returned to Germany, she found her country completely transformed. Gertrud was stunned and horrified, and realized very quickly what these changes meant.

At this time, the German clergy’s response to the rise of the Nazis was mixed, between “wait and see” and outright support. The Vatican signed a Concordat with Hitler shortly after his ascendency, thereby recognizing him as Germany’s legitimate leader. Gertrud Luckner’s own bishop vocally supported both the SA and the SS. Gertrud, on the other hand, was inspired by her faith to recognize the evil of Nazism. Gertrud Luckner worked to help Jews, and nearly paid for this with her life. In 1943, she was arrested and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Fortunately, she was still alive on May 3, 1945, when the Russians liberated the camp.

gertrud lucknerAfter returning to Germany, Gertrud Luckner began to work on reconciliation between Jews and Christians. Tensions between the two groups were understandably high. Jews who returned to their homes in Germany were greeted with demands that they pay backed taxes on their property, including property their neighbors had destroyed. Luckner, in contrast, convinced the German bishops to call for restitution to the Jews, as a matter of justice. She did not stop there. She wanted to rid Germany of anti-Semitism. Gertrud realized that this would not be possible without changing the way Jews and Christians related to one another.

To accomplish this goal, she purchased a theological journal, the Freiburg Circular, and became its editor. The journal’s mission was to expose and to oppose anti-Semitism, and she was very much alone in this task. She had no money to even pay writers for subscriptions. In an effort to gain support for her endeavor, she wrote to the Jesuit priest Robert Leiber, who was Pius XII’s personal secretary and confidante, asking the Holy See to acknowledge the importance of her work. The Holy See responded to Luckner’s request by launching a formal investigation. At the conclusion, the Vatican issued a monitum, an official warning. The Vatican accused Luckner and the Freiburg Circular of promoting religious indifferentism.

Luckner did not care. Instead, she continued cataloguing stories of Jewish cemeteries being defaced and religious processions that recalled ancient slanders against Jews. She joined forces with Jules Isaac, a Jewish historian who wrote extensively about Christian anti-Semitism. In time, Luckner began to win over the younger German bishops, bishops who later be called to the Second Vatican Council and spoke in favor of Nostra Aetate.

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