GeE 63-64: In The Light Of The Master

See the source imageChapter Three treats the theme “In The Light of the Master.” We turn from warnings against pelagians and gnostics to what constitutes real holiness. In this chapter (63-109) the Holy Father will take us through the Beatitudes (65-94) and examine with us this crucial meditation from the Sermon on the Mount.

63. There can be any number of theories about what constitutes holiness, with various explanations and distinctions. Such reflection may be useful, but nothing is more enlightening than turning to Jesus’ words and seeing his way of teaching the truth. Jesus explained with great simplicity what it means to be holy when he gave us the Beatitudes (cf. Matthew 5:3-12; Luke 6:20-23). The Beatitudes are like a Christian’s identity card. So if anyone asks: “What must one do to be a good Christian?”, the answer is clear. We have to do, each in our own way, what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount. [Cf. Homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta, 9 June 2014] In the Beatitudes, we find a portrait of the Master, which we are called to reflect in our daily lives.

64. The word “happy” or “blessed” thus becomes a synonym for “holy”. It expresses the fact that those faithful to God and his word, by their self-giving, gain true happiness.

Would you agree happy, blessed, and holy are all related?

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


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Aparecida 441ef: Pastoral Suggestions For Ministry To Children

Let’s read two more of the Aparecida bishops’ suggestions for ministry to children:

e) Support pastoral experiences of care for early childhood.

f) Study and consider suitable pedagogies for educating children in the faith, especially as related to Christian initiation, with emphasis on the time of first communion.

Pastoral experiences, yes. The Church’s ministry to children must be conceived as something more than mere education. Once adults place themselves in the role of teachers, it is hard to get out from under that burden. We also outsource much of the formation of children to “professionals.” Instead of mentoring, apprenticing young people, we treat religion as exclusively a thing of the mind. Sacraments are experiences that lead us deeper in our relationship with Christ. When we speak of experiences in the faith, we can look deeper into liturgy, prayer, and Christian mysticism.

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

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The Armchair Liturgist: Starting a Wedding Liturgy

With wedding season in full flower, how about some questions about the Rite of Matrimony?

In my current parish, the pastor emeritus gave couples the option of making a brief welcoming statement after the entrance procession. It’s still on the books, but I have only encountered one bride and groom that wanted to do it. They were widowed and in their 70s. Would you offer the choice?

I have long recommended couples program a song or hymn after the procession. The last pastor for whom I worked advocated it on his end. One visiting priest: “Why would we bother with it?” Would you bother with it?

The new Rite of Matrimony calls for the utilization of the Glory To God when Mass is celebrated. Let’s set aside the issue of adhering to rubrics as given. Are some celebrations of the Wedding Mass more appropriate in terms of including the Gloria? If music is not prepared, does recitation present any problems?


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GeE 61-62: Seeing God’s Face

See the source imagePope Francis makes the case for finding God less in rules, regulations, and such; we behold his face in people:

61. In other words, amid the thicket of precepts and prescriptions, Jesus clears a way to seeing two faces, that of the Father and that of our brother. He does not give us two more formulas or two more commands. He gives us two faces, or better yet, one alone: the face of God reflected in so many other faces. For in every one of our brothers and sisters, especially the least, the most vulnerable, the defenseless and those in need, God’s very image is found. Indeed, with the scraps of this frail humanity, the Lord will shape his final work of art. For “what endures, what has value in life, what riches do not disappear? Surely these two: the Lord and our neighbor. These two riches do not disappear!” [Francis, Homily at Mass for the Jubilee of Socially Excluded People (13 November 2016)]

Last advice on the emergence of old heresies:

62. May the Lord set the Church free from these new forms of gnosticism and pelagianism that weigh her down and block her progress along the path to holiness! These aberrations take various shapes, according to the temperament and character of each person. So I encourage everyone to reflect and discern before God whether they may be present in their lives.

Self-discernment is the starting point, but effective and honest reflection may need to be assisted by the input of a trusted companion or two.

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


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Aparecida 441d: Pastoral Suggestions Regarding Rights Of Children

Let’s read the Aparecida bishops’ fourth suggestion for ministry to children:

d) Protect the dignity and inalienable natural rights of children, without detriment to the legitimate rights of parents. Assure that children receive education adequate to their age in the realm of solidarity, emotions, and human sexuality.

Issues of rights are very much with us this past century or two. Rightly so, so to speak. Where children are concerned, the issue is a bit wider. Let me offer one word: responsibility.

In that regard, parents have perhaps more responsibility where their children are concerned. Mainly, to oversee and protect the rights of their children. Other aspects of society also have responsibilities with regard to children as a whole.

The bishops here speak of a narrow range of items: “education … in the realm of solidarity, emotions, and human sexuality.” Education–formation, too, if you will–is pfairly far-reaching in the complex societies of the twenty-first century.

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

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The Visit


See the source imageOne of the more intriguing depictions of today’s feast is here by the American-born artist Brigid Marlin.

Most parishes will probably stop at the first reading from Zechariah and not consider the option from Saint Paul, which reads in part:

Brothers and sisters:
Let love be sincere;
hate what is evil,
hold on to what is good;
love one another with mutual affection;
anticipate one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:9-10)

It’s a curious thing that part of this reading is also an option for the Wedding Lectionary. What are the commonalities in the relationship between Elizabeth and Mary and married spouses?

Some spouses I know are competitive. Limited to the realm of fun and games, perhaps this is a good thing. But there may be a better way, outside of sporting considerations.

Mary, thought to be an adolescent in Luke 1, goes out of her way to visit her older cousin and offer service to her. Mary anticipates, and the question for husbands and wives with respect to the other, do we anticipate needs, see them ahead of time? The hill country of Judea (Cf. Luke 1:39), imaged above, does not always allow one to see what is ahead. Unlike the open ocean or the wide stretches of farms on plains. Caring for the beloved, do we think to look ahead, to scout beyond the next hill or peek into some hidden valley? Are we seeking potential opportunities? Avoiding dangers before they surface?

Image credit.

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GeE 60: The Summation of the Law

See the source imageThree paragraphs explore the basic commandment, and the one like it. The title you expect: The summation of the Law. The orientation of the disciple: faith, hope, and love. Especially … well, you can read it:

60. To avoid this, we do well to keep reminding ourselves that there is a hierarchy of virtues that bids us seek what is essential. The primacy belongs to the theological virtues, which have God as their object and motive. At the center is charity. Saint Paul says that what truly counts is “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). We are called to make every effort to preserve charity: “The one who loves another has fulfilled the law… for love is the fulfilment of the law” (Romans 13:8.10). “For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:14).

If we are assessing Church rules, policies, laws, and their applications, the first measuring stick could involve that of the essential virtues. Does the institutional Church inspire prudence, justice, temperance, and courage–not to mention faith, hope and love?

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


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