Four Principles

In a thread on married priests and reform2 at dotCommonweal, commenter Jack Rakosky applied an outline from Evangelii Gaudium suggesting this is how to read Pope Francis. In Chapter IV (EG 217-237) four principles are presented in part III, The common good and peace in society:

Time is greater than space [222-225]
Unity prevails over conflict [226-230]
Realities are more important than ideas [231-233]
The whole is greater than the part [234-237]

Mr Rakosky’s comments on each:

(Pope Francis) has begun reforming the Curia and bringing real government by synods. Unfortunately everyone is waiting to see how he will do this and how it will work out. This is a big mistake.

Agreed. Another mistake is using the seeming openness to input to recreate a blogosphere-style fog in the dialogue. The liturgical discussions will move forward, but without those who bring bile and resentment. A good spiritual director would urge a bitter person to resolve her or his own issues first, then deal with liturgy later when the internal churning is resolved.

What are some things to avoid: people with fixations, conversations that seem to surface a very long list of problems, one after the other. Early on, I realize the dialogue is not about liturgy, or even atheism or the Bible, but about the person. Then I tailor my expectations accordingly.

(P)eople are expecting (Pope Francis) to resolve the conflicts when he expect us to resolve conflicts by taking each other seriously and “walking together.” I see his remarks on the reform of the reform as opening up this encounter about liturgy by being honest about his thoughts rather than settling anything.

Liturgy, especially in the ancient forms, allows a person to mask more of the self, to hide in the exterior trappings. While the modern Roman Rite is bedeviled by performance-driven narcissism, it is also far more difficult to hide in it. Very clearly, a person’s preparation and preaching and human interaction with ministers and people will show deficiencies in maturity. Many “Benedictinisms” like the row of six candlesticks or facing East or declining to exchange peace with the laity are means of hiding in the liturgy. And hiding is as much a signal for narcissism as pretending to be a talk show host.

Notice the importance (Pope Francis) has placed on gathering data and having local discussions for the Synod on the family. People interested in liturgical renewal should be initiating discussions and gathering data at all levels (national,diocese, parish).

Do you suppose the internet would ever be a place for a serene discussion on liturgy? Looking at the core values–such as wonder–and exploring together where these emerge?

We should be open to ideas and trends from outside but the danger is “we risk falling into step after everybody else, admiring their glitter, and applauding at the right times.” A wonderful discription of liberal and conservative movements, liturgical and otherwise, since Vatican II. “The local keeps our feet on the ground” but without the global to challenge us we risk becoming museums.

Thoughts on this last one?

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Lenten Reflections: Wild Beasts and Angels

oryxYour parish cleric will proclaim one of the shorter Gospel readings in the Sunday Lectionary this weekend, just four verses of Mark 1, 12-15. At Mass last night I was struck by the companions of Jesus in the desert, according to that account:

He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. (1:13b)

In the time of Jesus there were dangerous predators in the deserts of Palestine. And the various other animals were not well-regarded either: unclean or such. The Lord seemed not to mind the contamination of life. Remember that very early in his public ministry Jesus actually touched a leper, and thus was rendered unclean himself. As a result, he was banished from open conduct in villages and towns.

Mark the evangelist does not shy away from presenting Jesus right away as a person who conducts himself rather differently than other teachers. What does this teach us?

That Lent is perhaps not such a respectable thing if we are concerned with the imitation of Christ. We are unafraid of wild things. Even sinners and heretics and the unclean. Will angels come to minister to us, too? I suppose that is up to God. As for the wild beasts, perhaps one fast we might consider this season is to refrain from too much respectability, especially where organized religion might judge it. Definitely the Temple Police.

Image credit.


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DPPL 230: Feast Days

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230. Both the Liturgy and popular piety attach great importance to the feast days assigned to the Saints. The “Saint’s day” is marked with numerous cultic displays, some liturgical, others deriving from popular piety. Such cultic expressions can sometimes conflict.

This is a topic I usually hit when I teach a parish class on prayer. Every good believer can identify their saint day and observe it: Mass, meal, special things with the family or one’s spiritual life. Parishes certainly should be attending carefully to patrons, founders, or other people connected to the faith community or the place where they are situated.

The Church expresses a concern about conflict:

Conflicts of this nature must be resolved by application of the norms contained in the Missale Romanum and in the Calendarium Romanum Generale on the grades assigned to the celebration of Saints and Beati. In this, account must be taken of the their relationship with a particular Christian community (principal Patron of a place, Title of a Church, Founder of a religious family, or their Principal Patron); the conditions governing the transfer of certain feasts to the subsequent Sunday, and of norms on the celebration of the feasts of Saints at certain particular times during the liturgical year(Cf. Calendarium Romanum, cit., Normae universales, 58-59; CDW, Instruction De Calendariis particularibus,8-12, in AAS 62 (1970) 653-654)).

It’s also important to note that parish patrons and dedication anniversaries can transfer to Sunday in many cases.

The aforementioned norms should be respected not only from a sense of respect for the liturgical authority of the Apostolic See, but above all from a sense of reverence for the mystery of Christ and a desire to promote the spirit of the Liturgy.

Any saint so considered would probably urge the same. Most all would probably endorse this post-conciliar effort to move feasts out of Lent, but not suffer a degree of schizo-liturgy:

It is especially necessary to ensure that the reasons which have led to the transfer of some feasts, for example from Lent to ordinary time, are not nullified in pastoral practice: follow the liturgical celebration of the Saint on the new date while continuing to observe the old date in popular piety. Such practices not only severely affect the harmony that should obtain between the Liturgy and popular piety, but also create duplication, confusion and disorder.

Do people do this? Observe the saint on the old day during Lent? The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy is online at the Vatican site.

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wolvesI noticed the Vox Cantoris blogger has put up 66 links of support for generally being an internet stalker and insulting the EWTN Mother A corollary in Canada.

My sense is that this has gone from one guy nipping at a cleric’s heels to a whole pack of toothy canines swooping in. As with the predator vs prey fight card, once the latter shows weakness and bleeding, the former will flock to the scene.

I did notice one commenter describing the blogger as “private.” That’s not quite true. The list of support rather points out that the internet is not really a private place. At times insular. Much like a middle school clique. But not private. Not in today’s world.

Father Rosica, in his query, has cited something along the lines of a loss of reputation. Problem is, with sixty-six bloggers plus chiming in from all over the world, he has attracted much more attention than his single stalker could generate. In a way, the man has already lost.

Best case scenario is to win a lawsuit, but that will extract a price from everyone. And winning a suit is likely not guaranteed.

If I were Fr Rosica, I would lay low where legal matters are concerned. He’s attracted attention in the past for truth-telling: bloggers can be real a**es.

I’d kind of like to see what Father D would do with this. What do you think: a burst of humor?

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Swans Double On Man U

swan-in-attack-mode-2After this morning’s parish liturgy workshop, I caught most of the Swansea-Manchester United tilt. Yeah, Swans. 2-1. I couldn’t gloat too much at home; the young miss prefers the big-time side. You know how sensitive teen girls can get about their sporting preferences.

But here I can crow a bit. And with a few of our overseas students at Mass tomorrow.

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Mutuae Relationes 38: Responsibility of Religious Superiors

SenanquecloisterIt makes sense that leadership in religious communities also bears responsibility for a fruitful engagement of their members in the life and ministry of a diocese. Do you think bishops and superiors talk more than they did in 1978?

38. Major superiors will take great care not only to have a knowledge of the talents and possibilities of their religious but also of the apostolic needs of the dioceses where their institute is called to work. Wherefore it is desirable that a concrete and global dialog be carried on between the bishop and the superiors of the various institutes present in the diocese, so that, especially in view of certain precarious situations and the persistent vocational crisis, religious personnel can be more evenly and fruitfully distributed.

The document raises the concern of vocations. Large communities will have a widespread footprint in many dioceses, most likely. It seems to me that places where the Church is endangered or persecuted that communication and cooperation would be essential.

Your thoughts or comments? Remember, you can check the full document online here.

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DPPL 229: Some Pastoral Inferences

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229. From the foregoing reflection on the origin and development of the Calendarium Romanum Generale a number of useful pastoral inferences can be made:

The Church offers us four important thoughts based on DPPL 227-228. In essence these reflect the primacy of Christ and his salvation as lensed through the faith witness of saints:

• it is necessary to instruct the faithful on the links between the feasts of the Saints and the commemoration of the mystery of salvation of Christ. The raison d’etre for the feasts of the Saints is to highlight concrete realizations of the saving plan of God and “to proclaim the marvels of Christ in his servants”(SC 111); the feasts accorded to the Saints, the members of the Body of Christ, are ultimately feasts of the Head who is Christ;
• it is always useful to teach the faithful to realize the importance and significance of the feasts of those Saints who have had a particular mission in the history of Salvation, or a singular relationship with Christ such as St. John the Baptist (24 June), St. Joseph (19 March), Sts. Peter and Paul (29 June), the Apostles and Evangelists, St. Mary Magdalen (22 July), St. Martha (29 July) and St. Stephen (26 December);
• it is also important to exhort the faithful to have a particular devotion to the Saints who have had an important role in the particular Churches, for example, the Patrons of a particular Church or those who first proclaimed the Gospel to the original community;
• finally, it is useful to explain the notion of the “universality” of the Saints inscribed in the Calendarium Romanum Generale to the faithful, as well as the significance of the grades with which their feasts are observed: solemnity, feast and memorial (obligatory or optional).

On number 2, just noting two women out of twenty.

On number 3, personal patrons are no less important.

On number 4, instruction is less good than a careful celebration of the liturgy. Many priests, and as a result, many communities observe a two-fold distinction in observing Mass: Sunday and daily. Music, vestments, lighting, saint images, and overall, careful preparation will do more than imparting information that holds little interest.

The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy is online at the Vatican site.

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