Mutuae Relationes 67: A Pope’s Authority and Initiatives

SenanquecloisterYou can check the full document online here, but here is the last numbered section of Mutuae Relationes, which reminds us of the pope’s authority over the curia and the establishing of cooperation between bishops and religious on the level of the Vatican:

67. On the universal level, the successor of Peter exercises a ministry specifically his own on behalf of the entire Church; however “in exercising his supreme, full and immediate authority over the universal Church the Roman Pontiff employs the various departments of the Roman Curia” (Christus Dominus 9).

The Roman Pontiff himself has promoted some forms of cooperation of religious with the Holy See, by approving the council of the union of both men and women superiors general at the Sacred Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes (cf. Ecclesiae Sanctae II, 42) and by allowing the introduction of representatives of religious at the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (cf. ES II, 16) .

Thoughts or comments?

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DPPL 252a: Prayer Vigil

STA altar at night small

252. The Roman Liturgy, like other Latin and Oriental Liturgies, contains many and varied forms of suffrage for the dead.
The rite of Christian exequies consists traditionally of three parts. Because of the profoundly changed circumstances of life in the greater urban conurbations, these are often reduced to two or even only one part.

Often reduced, yes; but this is not ideal for the Church or the mourners.

Christian exequies: what are these? Simply the stages of the Order of Christian Funerals (OCF): Vigil, Funeral Mass, Committal. I’d like to tease out each of these three stages in the funeral rites over the next few days.

Why do Christians pray in vigil? The DPPL gives four reasons.

The rite of Christian exequies are:(Cf. OCF Praenotanda 4)
• prayer vigil at the home of the deceased, or somewhere else as circumstances permit, during which family, friends and members of the Christian community

  • gather to pray to God in suffrage,
  • to hear the “the words of life eternal”, and in their light, to see beyond this world by contemplating the risen Christ in faith;
  • to comfort those who mourn the deceased;
  • and to express Christian solidarity in accordance with the words of the Apostle “be sad with those in sorrow” (Rm 12,15)

(This vigil, which is still called a “wake” in English speaking countries, is an act of faith in the resurrection, even though it may have lost all theological and historical significance, and an imitation of the women in the Gospel who came to anoint the body of Christ, and became the first witnesses of the resurrection.);

Note the preference for a prayer vigil in a home. We’ve lost the sense of that in the US, where funeral homes provide admirable and devoted service to families. But in some ways we’ve lost something by not gathering in places where people lived and loved. Some parishes celebrate vigils on church premises–and sometimes that works well.

Note reasons two and three. We read Scripture, and hopefully sing it. We also comfort one another–this is where storytelling (not eulogies, necessarily) have a proper place. We speak of the dead not to lift them to sainthood in some wishful exercise, but to remind ourselves of the person we’ve lost and to share a mutual hope in our eventual reunion.

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

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Open Thread on the Future Here

Earlier this past evening, I completed essays for the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy. They’re all in the schedule queue, ready to displace some electrons and come to your viewing screen each morning around 6am. We’ll continue with them through to May 3rd, taking a break for the Triduum. There may be some liturgy documents in the future after that. I am not sure. You may notice we are very close to the end of Mutuae Relationes. There won’t be a document to follow that, not until after Easter at least.

It’s a good time to sit back and take stock of Catholic Sensibility, at least for me. Visitors and views continue to rise, but not because of anything I’m doing these days. Now this site gets about 4,000 views a day, almost all of which are for things I wrote about two to six years ago: wedding and funeral readings. Apparently the Google and other search engines consider this blog of value in some way. Either that, or somebody is getting money out of it.

Cynicism aside, I do feel a sense of accomplishment and perhaps some pride for the service I provide to engaged couples and mourners. I certainly appreciate the occasional comment and e-mail received.

A few events, both personal and ecclesiastical, loom as possibilities. The Jubilee of Mercy has sparked something in my imagination that other recent years for Paul, priests, religious, or the family have not.

The young miss will be shipping off to college and leaving that proverbial empty nest. That certainly gives me pause.

I have also been struggling with a personal discernment for the past several months, mostly as an aftermath of my Ignatian retreat and studies at Creighton University last summer. I will not be returning to school this year, and possibly not in the future. I have been strongly nudged to move on from my current home in central Iowa. Where this new pilgrimage will lead, I am not sure. I do know that my family has surprised me with a willingness to cast the net of discernment far and wide. I have already been blessed with a number of phone conversations and an interview in a new parish, so we will have to see where all that might lead.

After an initial sense of alarm (I hate moving, but I hate leaving behind good friends and colleagues quite a bit more) I feel a surprising and extraordinary degree of freedom and peace. That last bit, for the most part. Where the blog fits in with all this, I am not sure. People don’t make a living from writing on the internet. If they did, everybody would be doing it. And everybody’s clearly not blogging anymore.

So as the pilgrim way of Lent continues, I ponder another journey ahead. I hope you readers are finding a fruitful path for your spiritual journeys this 2015. Let’s remember to pray for each other, yes?

Peace to you all this day.

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Mutuae Relationes 66: Beyond Nations

SenanquecloisterThe bishops look to the possibility of large-scale cooperation in the Church, including women and men religious. They give few details for the “supra-national and universal level,” but here they are:

66. Regarding the international, continental or infra-continental sphere, among various countries united together, some form of coordination, both for bishops as well as for major religious superiors, can be created with the approval of the Holy See. A suitable liaison on this level of the individual centers of service helps a great deal towards achieving an ordered and harmonious action on the part of bishops and religious. In those areas where such forms of organization on the continental level already exist, this task of cooperation can be profitably accomplished by the permanent committees or councils themselves.

I do wonder if the revision of Mutuae Relationes will make provision beyond this–the governance of the universal Church, including an appropriate participation in it. Thoughts or comments? Remember we are near the end of this series. You can consult the full document online here.

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DPPL 251: Behind Praying For The Dead

STA altar at night smallWhat is our interaction with the dead? Do we give up on them, forget about them, entrust them to God’s judgment? Pray for them daily, keep their pictures, and devote shrines to the special ones? Simple human compassion would indicate we keep loved ones in mind after they die. Does Christianity hold the soul is eternal? Indeed yes, last time I checked. Why would we treat them differently from the soldier who goes off to war, the student who leaves for study abroad, or the worker who must migrate to make a living for self and family?

Church teaching derives from two aspects of God: justice and mercy. Justice suggests that a sinner might not be totally prepared for heaven. Mercy suggests contrition and love will go a long way to influence the Almighty. The Bible indicates God has a few surprises for people who claim to know more about the afterlife and the consequences of this life.

Given all that, we probably should be praying …

251. The just encounter God in death. He calls them to himself so as to share eternal life with them. No one, however, can be received into God’s friendship and intimacy without having been purified of the consequences of personal sin. “The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent” (Catechism 1031; cf. DS 1304; 1820; 1580).

Do we influence God on behalf of the souls in Purgatory (whatever that might be)? Probably not more or less than we nudge the Lord on what we say we need in this life for ourselves and others.

Hence derives the pious custom of suffrage for the souls of the faithful departed, which is an urgent supplication of God to have mercy on the souls of the dead, to purify them by the fire of His charity, and to bring them to His kingdom of light and life. This suffrage is a cultic expression of faith in the communion of saints. Indeed, “the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honoured with great respect the memory of the dead; and ‘because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins’ (2 Mac 12, 46) she offers her suffrages for them”(Lumen Gentium 50). These consist, primarily, in the celebration of the holy sacrifice of the Eucharist (Second Council of Lyons, Professio fidei Michaelis Paleologi (6 July 1274), in DS 856: St. Cyrpian, Epistula I, 2: CSEL 3/2, Vindobonae 1871, pp. 466-467; St. Augustine, Confessiones, IX, 12, 32: CSEL 33/1, Vindobonae 1896, pp. 221-222), and in other pious exercises, such as prayers for the dead, alms deeds, works of mercy(Cf. St. Augustine, De curis pro mortuis gerenda,6: CSEL 41, Vindobonae 1900, pp. 629-631; St. John Chrysostom, Homilia in primam ad Corinthios, 41, 5: PG 61, 494-495; Catechism1032), and the application of indulgences to the souls of the faithful departed(Cf. EI, Normae de Indulgentiis, 3, p. 21; Aliae concessiones, 29, pp. 74-75).

That’s an impressive assemblage of saints who weigh in on praying for the dead. And let’s recall one important fact: praying for the dead is an option, not a requirement. The question is less one of influencing God on a judgment already made, but keeping the focus off ourselves and our occasionally petty needs and wishes. Speaking for myself, I can think of a lot worse ways to spend my prayer time.

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

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Minnesota Heading to MLS?

Minnesota_United_2014_svgMinnesota United has had me on their e-mail list since I visited there last summer to see Swansea City in person. They are excited about getting MLS team #24. Or 25. Or something.

As you may be aware, MLS executives have stated their plan is to announce the next expansion market in the 30-45 days.  MLS leadership is well aware that the passionate soccer fans in Minnesota combined with a world-class, soccer-specific stadium make the Twin Cities and our state a perfect home for the next MLS expansion team.

Probably true.

Yet I remember how the NASL ballooned from eight teams in 1972 to 24 less than a decade later. And then shut down in the mid-80’s.

Twenty-four or more teams seems like a lot. On the other hand, England has 53 million people and Wales adds another 3. That’s less than twenty percent of the population of the US and Canada combined. Seems like if there are twenty Premier League teams, we could have a hundred north of the Rio Grande, right?

Or not.

I doubt they’ll do it, but splitting up MLS into two divisions, and accepting promoted teams from lower leagues would be one way to go. Call the whole thing MLS and just set up divisions accordingly. Otherwise, a good but developing pro league might just fall on its face. That would be sad.

I think there’s something attractive about playing every other team twice, once in each home stadium.


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Cleaning Cloudy Glass

I usually leave the tough stains to the volunteers who know what they’re doing. But our archdiocesan liturgy director passed on advice to parishes in the latest communication from the chancery. I thought I would share with you readers, in case there are any sacristy hounds in our midst:

How to Clean Cloudy Cruets and Vessels: You will need vinegar, ammonia, dish soap, and a denture-cleaning tablet. Fill the empty cruet with vinegar or ammonia, and let it sit at least 30 minutes or overnight for tough buildup. For tougher stains, follow that up with lukewarm water and add a denture-cleaning tablet. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes or overnight. Rinse the cruet thoroughly with hot water and shake out any excess water.  You can clean tougher stains with lime cleaner (Lime Away) according to the package instructions. This can remove tough mineral buildup, but make sure to follow any safety precautions in the instructions for cleaning after using it. Rinse out cruet with hot water, and add 2 or 3 drops of mild dish detergent. Fill it with water and shake it to clean out the inside. You can add it to the dishwasher for a final cleaning.

It’s a good time of year to burnish vessels and clean up the sacristy. This week, we’ve replaced our three Lectionaries. After 17 years, they were looking pretty worn. It will be a nice surprise for our lectors this weekend–same edition, just with that new-book smell.


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