DPPL 279: Pilgrimage

STA altar at night smallLet’s explore the last main topic in the Directory, and one of my personal favorite expressions of my faith–the pilgrimage:

279. Pilgrimage is a universal religious experience and a typical expression of popular piety (Cf. Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerants, Pilgrimage in the Great Jubilee of 2000 (25.4.1998), Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano, 1998). It is invariably connected with a shrine, for which it is an indispensable component.* Pilgrims needs shrines, and shrines need pilgrims.

My sense is that the Christian life contains more pilgrims than just the ones who visit shrines. Traditional Catholicism sometimes speaks of “exile” in regard to life on Earth. But I think of myself more as a pilgrim than an exile. The notion of always being on pilgrimage suggests that I am always on the move, always prepared to encounter the Lord in a new and marvelous way. An exile can just sit like a Puddleglum. But a pilgrim is on the move, perhaps in her or his interior life as well: semper reformanda est. Thoughts? Disagreements? Other comments?

* According to the Code of canon Law, the frequency of pilgrimages is an integral element of the concept of shrine: “The term shrine signifies a church or other place to which the faithful make pilgrimages for a particular pious reason with the approval of the local ordinary” (can. 1230)

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

Posted in Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents | Leave a comment

Misericordiae Vultus 3: The Jubilee Opens

head of ChristWhy a jubilee? The first paragraph explains it:

3. At times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives. For this reason I have proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a special time for the Church; a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective.

The Church is called to a greater “effectiveness.” I think the term fruitfulness may also capture something of a desire that the Church would, somehow, have far more impact on believers, seekers, and non-believers alike. Will the year be experienced as a “special time”? Time will tell.

The beginning of the year is described, including the notion that a certain portal will not only be described by its sanctity, but also by mercy:

The Holy Year will open on 8 December 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This liturgical feast day recalls God’s action from the very beginning of the history of (humankind). After the sin of Adam and Eve, God did not wish to leave humanity alone in the throes of evil. So he turned his gaze to Mary, holy and immaculate in love (cf. Eph 1:4), choosing her to be the Mother of (our) Redeemer. When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy. Mercy will always be greater than any sin, and no one can place limits on the love of God who is ever ready to forgive. I will have the joy of opening the Holy Door on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. On that day, the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope.

As I look upon two vital qualities of this last sentence, I’m reminded of the topics of love and hope so well covered by the pope emeritus.

St Peter’s will not have the only door of mercy:

On the following Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Rome – that is, the Basilica of Saint John Lateran – will be opened. In the following weeks, the Holy Doors of the other Papal Basilicas will be opened. On the same Sunday, I will announce that in every local Church, at the cathedral – the mother church of the faithful in any particular area – or, alternatively, at the co-cathedral or another church of special significance, a Door of Mercy will be opened for the duration of the Holy Year. At the discretion of the local ordinary, a similar door may be opened at any Shrine frequented by large groups of pilgrims, since visits to these holy sites are so often grace-filled moments, as people discover a path to conversion. Every Particular Church, therefore, will be directly involved in living out this Holy Year as an extraordinary moment of grace and spiritual renewal. Thus the Jubilee will be celebrated both in Rome and in the Particular Churches as a visible sign of the Church’s universal communion.

Has this occurred in other jubilee years, the designation of doors at cathedrals, shrines, and other sites? Suppose your parish were asked to designate a mercy door. What would that look like? How would it be introduced? Would it be seen as a significant connection to the universal church? If so, how?

The highlighted text is © copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana. You can find the document in its entirety on the Vatican website here.

Posted in Misericordiae Vultus | 2 Comments

Humanae Vitae 7: Doctrinal Principles

sperm and eggHumanae Vitae is online at the Vatican site, and the text highlighted below is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

The first principle is that human beings are not just biological entities. Any serious theology must be rooted in the fullest picture of people, namely the whole person and the entirety of our mission and call as we have been made by God.

7. The question of human procreation, like every other question which touches human life, involves more than the limited aspects specific to such disciplines as biology, psychology, demography or sociology. It is the whole (person) and the whole mission to which (we are) called that must be considered: both its natural, earthly aspects and its supernatural, eternal aspects.

Yes, we must also consider the “supernatural, eternal,” the spiritual qualities of human beings as well as what can be scientifically quantified.

And since in the attempt to justify artificial methods of birth control many appeal to the demands of married love or of responsible parenthood, these two important realities of married life must be accurately defined and analyzed. This is what We mean to do, with special reference to what the Second Vatican Council taught with the highest authority in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today.

Others know that Pastoral Constitution as Gaudium et Spes, and it will be heavily referenced in the document to come.

Posted in Humanae Vitae | 1 Comment

DPPL 278: Ecumenism and Marian Shrines

STA altar at night smallIs the Blessed Mother a help or an obstacle? A few saints weigh in for our consideration:

278. Ecumenical endeavor in shrines dedicated to Our Lady pose special considerations. At a supernatural level, Our Lady, who gave birth to our Saviour and was the first and perfect disciple, played an important role in promoting unity and concord among the disciples of the Lord. Hence the Church refers to her as the Mater unitatis (Cf. Collectio missarum de Beata Maria Virgine, Form. 38: “Sancta Maria Mater Unitatis”; St. Augustine, Sermo 192, 2: PL 38, 1013; Paul VI, Homily on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, (2.2.1965), in Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, III (1965), Tipografia Polyglotta Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 1966, p. 68; John Paul II, Homily at the Shrine of Jasna Gora (4.6.1979) in Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, II/1 (19799, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 1979, p. 1418; Angelus discourse (12.6.1988) in Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XI/2 (1988), Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 1989, p. 1997). At the historical level, different interpretations of her role in the history of salvation have provoked divisions among Christians. On the other hand, it must be recognized that the Marian role is beginning to bear fruit in ecumenical dialogue.

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

Posted in Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents | Leave a comment

Sunset for CDF-LCWR Tussle

Most Catholics, including sisters and bishops, are likely relieved that a certain investigation has come to a surprise end. Sisters, bishops, and pope had a meeting this week. A release is out. All that is left is the political spinning.

A sample of headlines shows people are wishful:

NCReg: LCWR Accepts Vatican’s Reforms on Doctrine and Theology

NCRep: Vatican ends controversial three-year oversight of US sisters’ leaders

David Gibson at RNS: Vatican ends controversial investigation of US nuns with olive branch

Still, there are dissenters. Those who wanted to see heads roll got nothing. Those who think this is all a conspiracy against progressive Catholicism may continue to stew in self-made and unpleasant juices.

Is it a good result if a bunch of unrelated siblings have stomped off to the front porch together? My guess is yes.

Posted in Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

Misericordiae Vultus 2: Contemplating Mercy

head of ChristPope Francis urges us to look at mercy. It is something we must contemplate–that is, bring to our inner places, our mind and heart, and to encounter it in something different from a clinical and calculating mode.

It is also a quality that requires more than a special year. Mercy is something always before us. The Holy Father reminds us mercy is part of the very fabric of salvation. Strict justice might demand something totally different of believers, even. Where would we be without mercy? Likely very, very far from any sort of oasis.

2. We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it.

  • Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.
  • Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us.
  • Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life.
  • Mercy: the bridge that connects God and (people), opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.

What do you make of these four bullet points of definition? Mercy is a revelation, an act, a law, and a bridge. Mercy invites a person into something more grand than can be believed, and most unexpected.

The highlighted text is © copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana. You can find the document in its entirety on the Vatican website here.

Posted in Misericordiae Vultus | 1 Comment

DPPL 277: Sanctuaries and Ecumenical Commitment

STA altar at night smallShrines: not for Catholics only. I’d like to think it goes without saying, but the Church says it:

277. The shrine, as a place of proclamation of the Word, of call to conversion, of intercession, of intense liturgical life, and of charitable works, is, to a certain extent, a “spiritual benefit” shared with our brothers and sisters not in full communion with the Catholic Church, in accord with the norms of the Ecumenical Directory (Cf. Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Directoire pour l’application des Principes et des Normes sur L’Oecuménisme (25.3.1993): AAS 85 (1993) 1039-1119).

“Ecumenical commitment” is cited. What does that mean? How committed must we be?

In this sense, the shrine is called to be a place of ecumenical commitment, fully aware of the grave and urgent need for the unity of those who believe in Christ, the one Lord and Savior.
Rectors of shrines will therefore make pilgrims aware of that “spiritual ecumenism” of which Unitatis redintegratio (n. 8) and the Directory on Ecumenism (n. 25) speak, and which should be constantly remembered by the faithful in their prayers, in the celebration of the Eucharist and in their daily lives (Cf. Directory on Ecumenism 27). Prayers for Christian unity should therefore be intensified in shrines especially during the week of prayer for Christian unity, as well as on the solemnities of the Ascension and Pentecost, in which we remember the community of Jerusalem united in prayer while awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit to confirm their unity and their universal mission(Cf. Directory on Ecumenism 110).

This is nothing different and no less the commitment Catholics are urged to in our own parishes, families, and other faith communities. Shrines should take care to keep with the program–that is all.

Shrines should also be prepared to offer a more concrete witness, should The Holy Spirit nudge toward ecumenical prayer:

Were the opportunity to arise, the rectors of shrines should encourage prayer meetings for Christians from various confessions from time to time. These meetings should be carefully and collaboratively prepared. The Word of God should be preeminent in them and they should include prayers drawn from the various Christian denominations.

A good final point to keep in mind:

In certain circumstance, and by way of exception, attention may be given to persons of different religions: some shrines, indeed, are visited by non-Christians who go there because of the values inherent in Christianity. All acts of worship taking place in a shrine must always be clearly consistent with the Catholic faith, without ever attempting to obfuscate anything of the content of the Church’s faith.

Catholic shrines indeed attract a wide swath of people. We shouldn’t be surprised. We should also conduct ourselves in such a way as to welcome such persons, present the faith well, and be available for dialogue. Are we always prepared to accompany others? That’s a message not just for the shrine, but for the committed Christian. As with exemplary liturgy, shrines are called to do no less for the cause of ecumenism and Christian unity.

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

Posted in Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents | Leave a comment