Aparecida 143-144: Sent To Announce the Gospel of the Kingdom of Life

Sections 143-148 address the third topic of the fourth chapter, “Sent To Announce The Gospel Of The Kingdom Of Life.” The bishops aren’t talking about biological life as such. They are discussing a new system in which God sets the path, and we follow. Following the Master does not require good understanding on our part. Sometimes, it happens in spite of our incompetence, our sinfulness, or our willful stubbornness. The Aparecida bishops are speaking of the Paschal Mystery. As a liturgist, this perks up my ears. Hopefully yours, too:

143. With words and actions, and with his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ, true man and true God, inaugurates in our midst the Father’s Kingdom of life, which will attain its fullness there where there will be no more “death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away” (Rev 21:4).

The Paschal Mystery, the Reign of God begins with the kerygmatic mission. It reaches fulfillment in the events we celebrate in the Triduum:

During his life and his death on the cross, Jesus remains faithful to his Father and to his will (cf. Lk 22:42). During his ministry, the disciples were not capable of understanding that the meaning of his life sealed the meaning of his death. Much less could they understand that, by the Father’s design, the Son’s death was the source of fruitful life for all (cf. Jn 12:23-24). The paschal mystery of Jesus is the act of obedience and love for the Father and of surrender for all his brothers and sisters, by which the Messiah fully bestows that life that he was offering on the roads and in the villages of Palestine. By his voluntary sacrifice, the Lamb of God places his life as an offering in the hands of the Father (cf. Lk 23:46), who makes it salvation “for us” (1 Cor 1:30). By the paschal mystery, the Father seals the new covenant and generates a new people, founded on his gratuitous love as saving Father.

This gratuitous love is often expressed in the parables of the public ministry of the Lord. Luke 15:11-32 illustrates all this in that great tale of forgiveness. Recall that both Adam and the younger son were more than willing to disregard their father to the point of taking over their own lives, to the point of wishing for their death (Cf. Luke 15:12a).

So Jesus calls us. What are we do to? Be loyal spectators? Internal participants of a clerically-enacted ministry? Not at all. We are given a mission:

144. In calling his own to follow him, he gives them a very precise mandate: to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom to all nations (cf. Mt 23:19; Lk 24:46-48). Hence, every disciple is missionary, for Jesus makes him (or her) participate in his mission, while also binding him (or her) to himself as friend and brother. Thus, as He is witness to the mystery of the Father, so the disciples are witnesses to the Lord’s death and resurrection until He returns. Fulfilling this duty is not an optional task, but an integral part of Christian identity, because it is the witnessing extension of the calling itself.

The Rebuilt guys ask one great question: Why do parishes bother with the expenditure of time and effort to craft mission statements when we already have one? Paragraph 144 tells us some remarkable stuff, and we should be making remarks to one another about it. Or at least conversations.

  1. Proclaim the message of Jesus
  2. Proclaim it everywhere
  3. Accept that personal relationship as friend and brother
  4. Be a witness–not just an observer, but a person who testifies to others
  5. This is not optional
  6. This is a required part of the Christian identity

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

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Pope Francis On Liturgy

I saw this link introduced at PrayTell, on an address on liturgy by the Holy Father at a conference on liturgy.

Pope Francis said, “there is still work to do in this direction, in particular rediscovering the reasons for the decisions made with the liturgical reform, overcoming unfounded and superficial readings, partial receptions, and practices that disfigure it.” He said that this is not a question “of rethinking the reform by reviewing its choices, but of knowing better the underlying reasons [for it]… [and] of internalizing its inspirational principles and of observing the discipline that governs it.”

I would like to see a full translation of the address. I often find small nuggets the press might miss. I think some of my colleagues would be dismayed at the implied criticism of “partial receptions.” I think liturgical reform in many places, even self-styled progressive places, might be more “partial” than some think.

The second of three main points dealt with this notion:

By its nature, the liturgy is “popular” rather than clerical; it is an action for the people, but also by the people.

A number of my colleagues across the spectrum would openly or internally dissent from this. We place a value on skill, competence, propriety … doing things right, in other words. However we determine what’s right.

There’s also a strong streak of professionalism in the modern liturgy. This expectation also comes from the people, not just clergy and musicians. People expect good preaching and music, and most know they have to hire well in the latter and get a good nod from the bishop in the former. Or good luck in either.

But popular liturgy? Isn’t a priest necessary? I remember some back-and-forth with a prominent priest-blogger about this notion nearly twenty years ago. My sense today is that the Holy Spirit is not confined by the human correctness or incorrectness of ritual in this world. The mission of the Church is to make disciples. Liturgy might help that. It could hinder. My take on Pope Francis’ address is that we need to take more time to explore how liturgy can and should make disciples, how it furthers the mission of Christ.

A lot of focus on the red-n-black might make for good liturgy. But it doesn’t guarantee discipleship. I think we need to go a bit deeper than that.

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Aparecida 142: Configuration Through Liturgy, Charity, and Justice

The Aparecida bishops also see “configuration” to Christ as an aspiration that comes from the liturgy. It’s not just the sacramental  life, but also the Scriptures. And more: also “solidarity”–one might say another kind of configuration–to the needy:

142. Numerous Christians in Latin America and the Caribbean seek to be configured to the Lord and to find Him in prayerfully listening to the Word, receiving his forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and his life in the celebration of the Eucharist and the other sacraments, in personal commitment in solidarity to the most needy brothers and sisters and in the life of many communities that joyfully recognize the Lord in their midst.

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

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Aparecida 141: Mary, Configured To Christ

The Blessed Mother demonstrates a life in configuration to that of her Son:

141. The Virgin Mary is a splendid image of configuration to the Trinitarian project, which is fulfilled in Christ. From her Immaculate Conception to her Assumption, she reminds us that the beauty of the human being is entirely in the bond of love with the Trinity, and that the fullness of our freedom is in the positive response that we give it.

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

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Aparecida 138-140: Love and Fate

Today, we continue on the theme of configuring our lives to Christ.

138. To be truly configured to the Master, the centrality of the commandment of love, which he expressly called his own new commandment, must be accepted: “love one another as I love you.” (Jn 15:12). This love, with Jesus’ own measure of complete gift of self, besides being the distinguishing feature of each Christian, cannot but be the characteristic of his Church, disciple-community of Christ, whose witness of fraternal charity will be the first and primary proclamation, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples” (Jn 13:35).

One telling and crucial evaluation, especially from non-members might be: do others identify me, and identify my parish, as being first and mainly about love for others? That identifying marker is laid down as the Last Supper discourse begins (see that John 13 reference above). It’s not a surprise that chapter begins with the Master’s expression of loving service to others. (Cf. John 13:1-15)

Are we meant to be perfect? Not at all. The Aparecida bishops remind us that first, this configuration must be learned. And then we practice it. Practice implies we are engaged in a process we might well get wrong sometimes. So we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, apologize to someone perhaps, and we try again.

139. In following Jesus Christ, we learn and practice the beatitudes of the Kingdom, Jesus Christ’s own style of life: his love and filial obedience to the Father, his tender compassion in the face of human suffering, his closeness to the poor and the insignificant, his fidelity to the mission entrusted to him, his servant love to the point of giving his own life. Today we contemplate Jesus Christ as the gospels transmit him to us to so we may know what He did and to discern what we must do in present-day circumstances.

So, we learn the Beatitudes. We watch the example of Jesus closely. How does this translate into our lives now, twenty centuries later? I believe the key here is contemplation.

We should have no blindness on this last point; truly imitating Jesus, and true configuration to the Master includes the way of the cross:

140. Being identified with Jesus Christ means also sharing his fate: “where I am, there also will my servant be” (Jn 12:26). The lot of the Christian is the same as that of the Lord, even to the cross: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mk 8:34). We are encouraged by the testimony of so many missionaries and martyrs of yesterday and today among our peoples who have gone to the point of sharing the cross of Christ and even surrendering their life.

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

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Aparecida 136-137: Configured To The Master

Once we have set ourselves on the journey to follow the Master (129-135) we align our lives to his (136-142):

4.2 CONFIGURED TO THE MASTER

136. Admiration for the person of Jesus, his call and his loving gaze, seek to evoke a conscious and free response from the innermost heart of the disciple, and commitment of the whole person, upon knowing that Christ calls him by name (cf. Jn 10:3). It is a “yes” that radically commits the disciple’s freedom to self-surrender to Jesus Christ, Way, Truth, and Life (cf. Jn 14:6). It is a loving response to the one who first loved the disciple “to the end” (cf. Jn 13:1). The disciple’s response matures in this love of Jesus: “I will follow you wherever you go” (Lk 9:57).

Don’t forget the Master’s response to this vow, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” In configuring our lives to his, we may well find ourselves without clarity in our direction or future. On the other hand, if all we have of surety is our self-deception and human aspirations to something greater, that may not have much life in it:

137. The Holy Spirit, gift to us by the Father, identifies us with Jesus-Way, opening to us the mystery of salvation so that we may be his children and brothers and sisters of one another; he identifies us with Jesus-Truth, teaching us to give up our lies and our own ambitions; and he identifies us with Jesus-Life, enabling us to embrace his plan of love and surrender ourselves so that others “may have life in Him.”

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

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Coverage of the Sun

Put up earlier on my facebook page.

Getting ourselves set up on the side porch. The young miss with NASA tv on the laptop. My half-broken binoculars projecting the sun’s image onto a clothing box:

My guess is that we were at about 9:20 above.

Our neighbors stopped in to view. Captured some images near local maximum where the sun was about 95% covered:

Around this time, the image was getting hard to focus. It took me a few minutes to realize the sun was passing behind a tree branch behind our home. Relocated briefly to the landing, then went inside to catch the coverage from around the country on the big screen.

I feel a bit sorry we didn’t go for the big adventure in Oregon. Between all the events of the last week: a death in the family, some bumps in the college application process, plus a super-busy week at the parish (two big funerals, a wedding, a holy day, plus the usual weekend schedule) none of us in the family were feeling up to chancing the traffic and the other unknowns of the trip. I thought we had a campsite lined up in central Oregon last month, but friends changed plans and we were left to our own resources.

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