PS 26: Covering Images During Lent

Jesus arms outstretchedRemember, you can check the full document Paschale Solemnitatis on this site, among many on the internet.

Bishops’ conferences determine if images of Christ and the saints may be covered:

26. The practice of covering the crosses and images in the church may be observed, if the episcopal conference should so decide. The crosses are to be covered until the end of the celebration of the Lord’s passion on Good Friday. Images are to remain covered until the beginning of the Easter Vigil. (Roman Missal, rubric Saturday of the fourth week of Lent.)


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Free At Last!

Brittany senior yearWordPress didn’t like the file name of the graduation announcement, so here’s the text that went out with this picture of the young miss:

You’d be laughing too if you were graduating from high school. May 17th 2015.

I get a rare Sunday off to spend with family, friends, and especially my high-school-graduated daughter.


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No Dread, No Fear

At a job interview last month, one of the committee asked me for one-word answers to two final questions. What can you offer us, he asked. The other question was, “What can we offer you?” I don’t know what put it into my mind, but I said, “Trust.”

Why would I say that?

When I was reviewing some material on the Spiritual Exercises earlier today, I ran across some suggested Scripture passages for the theme of trust. Trust in God, of course. What do you make of the Israelites blanching at the prospect of invading Palestine, and God’s response:

Have no dread or fear of them.
The Lord your God, who goes before you,
is the one who will fight for you,
just as he did for you in Egypt
before your very eyes,
and in the wilderness,
where you saw how the Lord your God carried you,
just as one carries a child,
all the way that you travelled
until you reached this place. (Deut 1:29b-31)

It seems difficult enough to trust someone we can see, touch, and love. Even after twenty years of marriage, I still find myself looking over my shoulder on one or two small points now and then. I’m sure the young miss thinks the same way of her parents. How can we put our trust in an unseen God?

Consider also “this place” at which the Israelites have arrived: the doorstep of an already-occupied country. Why couldn’t the Promised Land have been empty and ready for settlement?

Often when we turn to God, we find ourselves in an untenable place: perched on the edge of death or disaster. God carried us all this way just to be dropped on our bottoms in the middle of trouble? Any hands for “No thanks!”?

Trust involves remembering. Can we conduct a remembrance of the good times? Are we in the habit of conducting a Daily Examen, especially mindful of that second step? After the stillness, the quieting down, it is time to be thankful. My suspicion is that Saint Ignatius has a carefully constructed activity in the everyday examination of one’s life. Quiet down from the clamor of life. Chill in the face of fear and dread.

When crisis hits, that would likely not be the optimal time to begin a practice of gratitude. In fact, a spiritual neophyte may well slap anyone talking such nonsense.

The key seems to be the cultivation of stillness, gratitude, and internal honesty. When we have taken the time with that–and it might take forty years–then I think the believer is more prepared to trust. To see how God has carried us, has gone to battle for us, and will do so again.

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Misericordiae Vultus 24abc: Turning to Mary

head of ChristOf course, the Blessed Mother features in the thinking of Pope Francis. Indeed after the title of “Queen,” we address her second as “Mother of Mercy” in the Salve Regina.

24. My thoughts now turn to the Mother of Mercy. May the sweetness of her countenance watch over us in this Holy Year, so that all of us may rediscover the joy of God’s tenderness. No one has penetrated the profound mystery of the incarnation like Mary. Her entire life was patterned after the presence of mercy made flesh. The Mother of the Crucified and Risen One has entered the sanctuary of divine mercy because she participated intimately in the mystery of his love.

Chosen to be the Mother of the Son of God, Mary, from the outset, was prepared by the love of God to be the Ark of the Covenant between God and man. She treasured divine mercy in her heart in perfect harmony with her Son Jesus. Her hymn of praise, sung at the threshold of the home of Elizabeth, was dedicated to the mercy of God which extends from “generation to generation” (Lk 1:50). We too were included in those prophetic words of the Virgin Mary. This will be a source of comfort and strength to us as we cross the threshold of the Holy Year to experience the fruits of divine mercy.

At the foot of the cross, Mary, together with John, the disciple of love, witnessed the words of forgiveness spoken by Jesus. This supreme expression of mercy towards those who crucified him show us the point to which the mercy of God can reach. Mary attests that the mercy of the Son of God knows no bounds and extends to everyone, without exception. Let us address her in the words of the Salve Regina, a prayer ever ancient and new, so that she may never tire of turning her merciful eyes towards us, and make us worthy to contemplate the face of mercy, her Son Jesus.

Mary’s life is steeped in the mercy of God. I have little other comment here. The highlighted text is © copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana. You can find the document in its entirety on the Vatican website here.

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Celebrity Followings

st peters basilicaRobert Mickens compares Benedict and Francis on their fanboys and girls. Raul Castro and Al Gore get a lot of snickers in certain Catholic circles, but maybe it’s all in the head:

Interestingly, (Pope Francis’s) predecessor also had a following of celebrity non-Catholics and, indeed, non-believers (mostly in Europe and the West). But they were not so much interested in joining the Church. Called atei devoti (devout atheists), they were mostly conservative intellectuals who saw the preservation of Euro-centric Catholicism—which was at the heart of the last pontificate—as the last bulwark against the full collapse of the ancien regime.

Cultural non-Catholics?

Were they really interested in E-Catholic as much as the whole aristocracy/divine right thing? Last time I checked a good swath of the European 20th century was trashed because of adventurism on the part of the upper crust of western so-called civilization. Maybe it’s a good millennium to leave some of that old stuff behind.

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Snowflakes Everywhere

snowflakesAs I keep attempting to converse with Max, human interaction is often about context. The Anchoress fusses on super-sensitivity, “snowflake students.” It seems it was one student, who had a personal problem with the sub-unit of rape in pagan mythology. She didn’t seem to get a satisfactory hearing from a professor, so she went to a student board instead.

Between the student, the professor, and the committee, who knows what really transpired. Context is everything. Dwelling on stories of forced sex may well inspire admiration for the use of language. But such a focus might also suggest the teacher has his or her own thing about sexuality.

I suppose if Ovid is telling a few hundred myths with artistry, one might ask why Daphne and Persephone might stand out. On the other hand, Greek/Roman mythology always seems to be about some major god having sex with willing or unwilling persons.

I’ve long observed Patheos Catholic channel does deal with sensitivity to its own snowflakes. Ms Scalia introduced a new blogger with the reassurance that the author would offer “a clear communication of what Catholicism actually teaches.” Because heaven or committee forbid, that a discussion on a Catholic site might ever raise more questions than it answers.

Maybe Ovid needs an advisory or a rating. Do stories of kidnap and forced sex constitute pornography, even if they have artistic merit? Do Catholic bloggers likewise need advisories and ratings? I wonder what warning the board would give about this website.

My premise is this: modern society, helped somewhat by the phenomenon of the blogosphere, has encouraged complaint. Lots of people feel empowered to fuss about things, and expect the offenses to be fixed. Even really minor trespasses. Catholics are really little different. And to be sure, complaint isn’t always bad. But I do think it takes discernment to judge when a complaint is like a snowflake–fleeting and blowing away–or like a heavy snowfall. Because sometimes it is important for a problem to be heard about. And even a small matter might need a single attentive listening before moving on.

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PS 25: Laetare Sunday

Jesus arms outstretchedRemember, you can check the full document Paschale Solemnitatis on this site, among many on the internet.

Not only is the fourth Sunday potentially a John 9 day, but it also “lightens” up the Lenten journey with instrumental music and flowers.

25. On the fourth Sunday of Lent “Laetare” and on solemnities and feasts, musical instruments way be played and the altar decorated with flowers. Rose-coloured vestments may be worn on this Sunday. (Ceremonial of Bishops, 252)

How many parishes bother with this observance? My own sense is that the theme of the initiation Gospels is stronger. Why lighten up for one Sunday of Lent? That kind of question seems to invite more curiosity than edification. But I’m sure it is done well in some faith communities.

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