Thursday, January 31, 2008

Are feelings bad?

In a comment on my previous post Sara asked:

"Is the answer to ignore emotions completely, turn them off? Something in me says 'no.' So what are feeling good for? How were they intended to be used by the One who created them in us?"

I would not dispute for one moment that our feelings, our affectivity, is part and parcel of being human, part of what we are made to be by God, our loving Father. Therefore, our emotions do have a positive role to play in our engagement with reality. As with all aspects of our personality, our emotions must be integrated. Besides, it is impossible to ignore emotions completely. Completely ignoring our feelings would reduce us to something less than human. A good analogy is human love, which we have reduced almost completely to emotion. Hence, love is not a choice, an act of the will, but a feeling. Do you think Jesus endured His suffering and death because it felt good, was personally affirming, or even what he really wanted (""My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will" (Matt. 26,39)? Now, all of this is not to say that affectivity has no role in a loving relationship, it is one dimension of a multi-dimensional reality, but it is far from the most the important one.

So, we do not live by emotion alone. Emotions are tricky, highly subjective and unpredictable. I can feel great one minute and lousy the next. Feelings can be and often are irrational and contrary to reality. To put it in the context of my initial post: Does God only love me when I feel loved? Am I forgiven only when I feel forgiven, especially after I have expressed true contrition? You get the idea. In living out our Christian lives we must not forget the fact of Christ' becoming man for us, living, teaching, suffering, dying, and being resurrected- for us. When it comes to our faith, we must not reduce it to feeling, to mere sentiment. Christ and our encounter with Him is not only real, but constitutive of reality.

Feelings can be good for us only when they are subject to reason, which, especially when broadened by reason, is the way we engage reality, and not be allowed to run amok. I am always reminded, when addressing this question, of Alasdair MacIntyre's book After Virtue. He masterfully diagnoses what happens when morality is reduced emotion, or sentiment. He goes so far as to say that we live in an "emotivist" society. Just as faith cannot be reduced to sentiment, or to emotion, Christian faith cannot be reduced to morality.

When morality is reduced to emotion, that is, not subject to reason, we lose the objectivity of morality. If it feels this good, how can it be wrong? and other such things become the basis of morality. This reduces us, just as we are reduced when we fail to realize the fact of our being loved by God so much that He gave us His only begotten Son and only believe it when we feel loved and become self-pitying when we feel otherwise. This love, which constitutes the very life of the Mystery (Father, Son, and Spirit) and is the very reason for creation, is the source of our deep joy because it is what is really real- the reason all things exist and are held in existence. Our lives must be illumined by this fact, not by how we feel about it. I may be pissed off about gravity when the apple hits my head, but that changes nothing, except maybe my determination to be more alert, especially when walking under fruit-laden trees.

"The drama that unfolds in the intimacy of each one's heart. . ."

Feelings, again . . . I know! I remember clearly Fr. Carron saying emphatically, "I don't care how you feel!" Another dear friend this week also corrected me, but it is not as easy as flipping the off switch. That brick wall at the end of alley that my feelings lead me down seems to work. When I reach that dead end, I am tempted to follow feelings again, feelings of despair, of having let the Lord down, of total inadequacy, of guilt. But these feelings just reveal, yet again, my overestimation of myself, the semi-Pelagianism toward which I tend. These feelings also reveal something else. They reveal my need for and my dependence on Him. My need and my dependence together constitute my desire. In other words, in it is in and through my need that Christ comes to meet me. Of course, it takes reason to sort all this out, to sift through the rubble, or pick through the wasteland, of feeling. I was praying all through Morning Prayer to engage this reality through an encounter. As I picked up the La Thuile exercises, Friends, That is, Witnesses, and began reading Fr. Carron's Synthesis.

"Who are you Christ, who once more have had pity on our nothingness, have taken the initiative toward each one of us and become present with all your power among us?" This is how his synthesis begins. Then, the much needed, even desired, correction: "How impressed we would be if we didn't take everything for granted!" How impressed I would be if I didn't hold myself in such high regard, instead of acknowledging my nothingness, my need for Him, my dependence on Him! Following up are the words I really needed, "Only He, with His power, restarts the game; with His power He frees us from our idols, into which we necessarily, inexorably fall again, if His power were not to go on showing itself among us." At last He shows His gentleness, His mercy, that spring from the infinite depths of His Most Sacred Heart, the well-spring of Divine Mercy, from which He keeps the event "happening now because when faced with our evil, our mistakes, our distraction, 'all our defilement,' as the psalm says, He never tires of taking the initiative."

Jesus, I trust in you, I hope in You. May I never hope in vain! May I live this day in the awareness of this encounter, in deep gratitude.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is it possible . . ?

Alex alerts us to Is It Possible to Live This Way?

Eastern Catholic Churches, again

Hearkening back to my late November post on Eastern Catholic Churches, something interesting was announced by the Holy See today, namely the creation of the Greek-Catholic Slovak Church as a sui iuris Metropolitan Church. The Slovak republic is the eastern and more Slavic part of the former Czechoslovakia. Czechs tend to be Roman Catholic, while Slovaks tend to look East and be either Orthodox or Eastern Catholic. The creation of the Slovak Greek-Catholic Church as a Metropolitan sui iuris Church necessitated the elevation of the eparchy of Presov to the status of a metropolitian see, with its Bishop, His Excellency Jan Babjak, S.J., becoming the metropolitan archbishop of the Church. The exarchate of Kosice for Catholics of the Byzantine rite was elevated to an eparchy (i.e., a diocese) and made a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Presov, with the exarchate's bishop remaining in place as eparchal bishop, Bishop Milan Chautur C.SS.R. Finally, a whole new eparchy was erected as a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Presov. Fr. Peter Rusnak, pastor of the Greek-Catholic parish of the Exaltation of the Cross in Bratislava and proto-priest of the proto-presbyterate of the same name, was named the first bishop of the new eparchy.

Monday, January 28, 2008

St. Ambrose

Posted by Msgr. Mark Langham, Administrator of Westminster Cathedral, London, is this study of St. Ambrose, which was executed by artist Sandro Kopp. It is based on the study of near-contemporary mosaics of this great bishop of Milano, home of Don Giussani, who, a dear friend reminded me this evening, told us that "feelings are like lenses have to have reason put them in the right place".

Is it just me, or does Kopp's Ambrose bear a striking resemblance to the brilliant actor, Daniel Day Lewis, the only bright spot in the otherwise unmemorable Scorsese film, Gangs of New York?

Where I am. Where am I going?

Well, here we in 2008! What a time! It has been a long time since I just sat and typed a post. Writing personally, I am in a funny place right now, a very restless place, which, I suppose, is typical for men in their early 40s. Most of us are still trying to figure out what we want to be when we grow up, what we want to do, to flirt with adolescent nonsense. Fortunately, I have my experience. It is my experience that tends to keep my expectations in line. Family, work, ministry, study at work, study for graduate school, etc. Last week I made the dire mistake of reading a book on the life of St. Francis of Assisi. My dear Francesco makes me want to leave it all and follow Christ, beg for food, take what the Lord gives, relying only on Him. It was bittersweet for me to see several Franciscan Friars of the Renewal at NYU a week ago Sunday. However, I know that I am not called to the life of a mendicant friar. I went a little way down that road, but was led to where I am instead.

Where I am instead; what a way to conceive of a life, my life, which has been so richly blessed! I think of my lovely wife, my four beautiful children, of the privilege of baptizing three precious children yesterday. Who am I that God can accomplish His purpose through me? What's wrong with God that He chooses not just an earthen vessel, but a cracked and chipped one? Once again the refrain of the Phil Keaggy song, When Will I Ever Learn to Live God?, comes to my mind:

"When will I ever learn to live in God,
When will I ever learn?
Cause He gives me everything I need and more,
When will I ever learn?"

I am wallowing in the Am I making any difference? silliness, even as regards blogging. This question, while seemingly humble, is arrogant in the extreme. What matters is to follow Christ. I am quite certain that I have followed Him and He has led me to where I am, shaped and formed who I am. So, it is not where I am instead, but where I am supposed to be, where I want to be. Nonetheless, I want to stop, to rest, maybe even quit and do what I want. But what do I want? I want to follow Christ, without Whom life has no meaning, no real purpose! Put simply, I want Jesus Christ! He always says, in His kind and loving way, His irresistible manner, "Scott, come and you will see". I am coming Lord, please do not walk too fast. Do not let me lose sight of you. If I do I am lost.

This brings to my mind words from another song, Hold Me Jesus, one from the late and greatly missed Ragamuffin, Rich Mullins:

"So, hold me Jesus 'cause I'm shakin' like a leaf/You have been King of my glory/Won't You be my Prince of Peace?

President Gordon B. Hinckley, LDS leader, passes away

Writing from Salt Lake City I cannot help but note the passing last night of LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley. President Hinckley was the fifteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and led the LDS for 12 years. President Hinckley was ninety-seven at the time of his passing, which was due to causes incident to age. The Church-owned Deseret Morning News has many articles on the life and contributions of President Hinckley. We have also posted condolences on our parish blog, The People of St. Mary Magdalene.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Year A, Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Isa. 8,23 - 9,3; Ps. 27, 4.13-14; 1Cor. 1, 10-13. 17; Matt. 4, 12-23

Our Gospel today consists of two parts: Jesus’ initial preaching of the Kingdom and his call to discipleship of four of the twelve, two sets of brothers: Peter and Andrew and James and John. In St. Matthew’s chronology of the life of Jesus, these connected events occur after Jesus’ baptism, which marked the beginning of his public ministry, after his forty days and forty nights fasting and praying in the desert, and after the arrest and imprisonment of John the Baptist, his herald. It was Jesus’ anointing by the Spirit upon his coming up out of the waters of the Jordan that his identity was made known, he is the Christ, which means the anointed One, the Messiah anxiously awaited by Roman subjugated Israel.

It is for this reason that the author of Matthew goes to great pains, both in this passage and throughout the book, to demonstrate from scripture that Jesus is the Messiah, the fulfillment of the prophecies, like that from Isaiah in today’s passage, which was also our first reading. The expectation of the Messiah at the time was that he would come from the holy city of Jerusalem. Instead Jesus of Nazareth is an itinerant preacher who comes from Galilee, which is separated from Judah by Samaria. He comes to Jerusalem from Galilee, a place that Isaiah, in our first reading, refers to as the "District of the Gentiles" (Isa. 8,23). What we glean from this is that God’s Kingdom is not a place, but a person.

That Jesus is the Kingdom of God in person is called by Origen, the great Church father, autobasileia. In his book Jesus of Nazareth the Holy Father, commenting on this insight, writes: "Jesus himself is the Kingdom; the Kingdom is not a thing, it is not a geographical dominion like worldly kingdoms. It is a person; it is he". He continues, "Jesus leads [us] to realize the overwhelming fact that in him God himself is present among [us], that he is God's presence" (pg. 49). It is for the furthering of the Kingdom, for the on-going healing, that is conversion, of a fallen and broken world, that Jesus calls disciples, an act through which he establishes the Church, the ekkelsia, the assembly of disciples.

Jesus’ announcement of God’s Kingdom is simple: "Repent" (Matt. 4,17). What does it mean to repent? Does it merely mean being sorry for my sins? Well, that is contrition, which is a necessary, but not sufficient part of repentance. The Greek word used in this passage is met-an-o-eh’o, which literally means a change of mind, or, more precisely, to perceive anew. Met-an-oeh’o is a compound word consisting of the preposition meta, meaning beyond and the verb no-eh’o, which means to perceive in a new and different way, to gain deeper understanding. This change of mind/change of perception is what we call conversion, which comes through faith, the gift of God that is truly knowledge, a way of engaging reality. To convert is to change from one state to another. Changing in this way, becoming like Christ, is the means of fulfilling our deepest desire. St. Augustine expresses this human desire in a letter written to a widow: "We want only one thing, the life which is simply life, simply happiness."

Jesus is the happiness for which we long, the life that is life. That this was recognized by Peter and Andrew as well as by James and John is indicated in our Gospel. Peter and Andrew left their nets at once "and followed him" (Matt. 4,20). Likewise, James and John, upon being called by our Lord "immediately . . . left their boat and their father and followed him" (Matt. 4,22). That we have been called by Jesus to follow him is a fact. It is something objective, not a discernment that needs to be made. The objectivity of our call is not something that is philosophically calculated, or theologically derived, but arises from our experience, the encounter that initiated us into the event of God’s Kingdom, our baptism. If you are baptized you are called. So, the only question is What is your response? Our Lord issues you a call that demands a response, to be given in freedom. An affirmative response is repentance, which consists of opening myself to what the Father is doing, through Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to me through the concrete, everyday, circumstances of my life.

Two suggestions for opening ourselves to what God is doing, to responding affirmatively to the call of Jesus Christ, are to get into the habit of examining our conscience every night before falling to sleep and to observe Friday as a day of penance. Nightly examining one’s conscience consists in honestly asking ourselves two simple questions: How was I faithful to Jesus’ call to repentance- how did I die to myself by reaching out to bring Jesus’ goodness to other people today? How did somebody bring the Good News of Jesus’ presence to me today? The second way, observing Friday as a day of penance, is simple too. While the strict obligation of Friday abstinence from the meat of warm-blooded animals was left to national conferences of bishops after the Second Vatican Council, the requirement to observe Fridays as days of penance in the universal Church was not changed. Therefore, each Friday is a day to unite with Jesus in his passion and death by keeping Friday as a day of either fast or abstinence and as a day for intensified prayer and charitable works. The tradition of first Friday is a beautiful way to bring this to its fullness, by attending Mass and perhaps going to confession. Friday prayer can be intensified by walking, even if only mentally, the Stations of the Cross, praying the Sorrowful mysteries of the rosary, or reciting the Chaplet of Divine of Mercy.

As regards our communion as disciples of Jesus Christ, St. Paul gives us much to work on. He tells the Church in Corinth that there are to "be no divisions among [them]" (1 Cor. 1,10). Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, former Dominican Master General, wrote that while the Church is fragmented in many parts of the world, it is nowhere more so than here in the United States. We usually think of the polarization in the Church today in terms "of left and right, progressive and conservative," Radcliffe writes. The problem with this way of thinking, he continues, is that "these categories are alien to Catholic thinking". Indeed, he goes on, these categories find their roots in the Enlightenment. Enlightenment thinkers "believed that the light had dawned because they had cast off the darkness of tradition . . . especially of Catholic dogma". In this they mistakenly believed that they had "liberated themselves from the past". But this belief pre-supposes a mutual exclusivity between tradition and innovation which is also alien to Catholic thought, just as we reject the opposition of faith and reason, two ways of knowing reality that are necessary not only for knowledge, but, more importantly, for wisdom (Overcoming Discord in the Church, NCR). After all, St. Paul was no mean innovator himself, challenging Peter and the Judaizers, as well as the Church in Jerusalem, led by James the Greater. It is arrogant to believe that we have plumbed the depths of the mysterium tremendum, just as it is hubris not adhere to the truth we know, the fact of Christ and all that it implies, as we encounter the Mystery together.

My dear friends, Jesus’ call to repent and follow him is a call to radical conversion, which means that it entails a commitment to changing from the very depths of our being, from our roots. It is a call that, when responded to in freedom, changes everything because it changes our perception of the world, of people, of ourselves. In this regard, the words of the Holy Father from the beginning of his first encyclical bear repeating: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (Deus Caritas Est, par. 1). Like the Galilean fishermen, our encounter with Christ, through which we are initiated into the event of God’s Kingdom, includes water, the water of baptism. We are drawn deeper into this event, this mystery, by our confirmation, through which, like Christ, our true identity is made known, and through this Eucharist, by means of which together we become one body, one spirit in Christ, an everlasting gift to the Father, a communion of persons, like the Blessed Trinity. As we approach the holy season of Lent, Jesus says to you and me again, "Repent and come follow me". What is your response?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

St. Paul and us: The event of an encounter along the way

Here is the promised, but overdue, post on St. Paul. This falls under the heading of being loyal to one's circumstance. It is neither necessary nor even desirable to change our circumstances to live as Christians, as people who have experienced the event of an encounter with Christ. To wit, I have no other circumstance, no other reality, than the one I am living. While it is true that I may wish for, or even work towards, changing my circumstances, it is necessary on my way from here to there (which is the best description of life- as journey or pilgrimage) to attend to and be aware in my present situation, that is be fully present, or loyal to my circumstance.

The Conversion of St. Paul by Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto (1518-1594)

The circumstance that Saul of Tarsus found himself in, which can be read about in Acts 9, was going from Jerusalem to Damascus to continue his persecution of adherents to the Way. After the event, that is his encounter with our resurrected Lord, Saul still went to Damascus, but this encounter on the way made it a very different trip. Instead of persecuting Christians, he went to the house of Ananias, who had been told in a vision where and how to meet Saul. Therefore, the Lord was not content only to show himself to Saul on the road to Damascus, but also in the person of Ananias and in the whole community of disciples in Damascus, who knew of Saul and his reason for setting out for Damascus and, while scared of this notorious persecutor, were loyal to their circumstances, which they lived in light of their encounter. The Christian- the Christ event- is on-going through many encounters.

We can verify what happened to Saul of Tarsus in and through our own experience. To do so, however, we must be loyal to our circumstances and not seek to live in a realm of fantasy, a realm that too many think faith requires. If we are loyal to our circumstances it will be for us as it was for Saul: everything will be changed, different, not because we enter a different set of external circumstances, but because along the way we have an encounter, enter into an event, that changes everything, an event that is on-going and that happens in our circumstances and that cannot possibly be conjured up, lest it be only an affective or emotional, to quote Von Hildebrand, "egospasm".

We meet people who forever change us, we read books, see films, hear music, view paintings, drink incredible wines, eat delicious meals, experience the profound beauty of creation and the wonder it thrusts upon us, all of which stir up desire and point us to the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty. We also experience loneliness, restlessness, fear, anxiety, and sadness that even lead at times to a kind of angst, which is also indicative of our desire, which is bigger than the world. Such circumstances force us to confront our contingency, our smallness, our mortality. Because we are changed by the event, which is on-going through many encounters, we can become a true friend- that is a witness- by living our circumstances in the awareness of Christ's merciful gaze, a gaze with which we, too, look at others with compassion. This is a fact, Christ is a fact. Therefore, this gaze is not a mental trick or in any way dependent on how we may feel about it in any given moment. It is real, it constitutes reality. Our witness, which is always a form of friendship, an open invitation to "Come and you will see", may even lead us to write books, compose music or paintings, direct films, cook meals, scientifically study creation, run for elective office, etc.

The gaze of Christ is so powerful that it blinded Saul, a blinding that could only be taken away, just as it occurred, in real circumstances. In this case, the circumstance took the form of a compassionate touch, given by Ananias, and which was yet another encounter, an encounter for both Saul and Ananias. The touch was accompanied by these words, spoken by Ananias over a man who had come to Damascus to persecute and maybe kill him: "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 9,17 ESV). By this act, Ananias is a friend, that is, a witness, as was Stephen, whose prayer, uttered while being stoned to death at Saul's instigation, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them," is partially answered by these encounters, all of which are constitutive of the event.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hierarchy update

It almost escaped my notice that yesterday the Holy Father appointed Msgr. James Vann Johnston of the clergy of Knoxville, TN as the bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. MO. Msgr. Johnston succeeds Bishop John J. Leibrecht, whose resignation, submitted when he turned 75 more than two years ago, was accepted by the Pope.

This appointment brings the number of ordinaries serving beyond the mandatory retirement age of 75 down to nine. These prelates are Cardinals Maida and Egan of Detroit and New York respectively, as well as Archbishops Hughes of New Orleans; Lipscombe of Mobile, AL and Curtiss of Omaha, NE. The others are Bishop D'Arcy of Ft. Wayne/South Bend; Mengeling of Lansing, MI; Murray of Kalamazoo, MI, Moynihan of Syracuse, NY.

The sede vancante dioceses in the United States are Charleston, South Carolina; Msgr. Johnston's native Knoxville, Tennessee; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Des Moines, Iowa; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Shreveport, Louisiana; Juneau, Alaska; Little Rock, Arkansas; New Ulm, Minnesota.

"While every line speaks the language of love"

It was good to take a week off from blogging. I am back with our Friday traditio. The CL National Diaconia was great. I will post something later from my notes about the conversion of St. Paul, the feast of which we celebrate today. In the meantime, just as with The White Stripes last week, I have been eager to post this song by my dearly beloved Beth, whose music and lyrics are so expressive and have a depth that probably keeps her from becoming a major star.

And I cant decide over right or wrong.
I guess sometimes you need the place where I belong

While on the subject of things musical, Sharon has posted over on Cahiers (our CL community blog) a picture and link about the concert we all attended in Manhattan, held in the Cooper Union Grand Hall, last Saturday evening, featuring Vaneese Thomas. On percussion was our own, much loved, Riro Maniscalco, whom several of you here in Salt Lake met back in September when he visited and taught Sunday morning Adult Rel/Ed. My group arrived to the concert so early that we were not allowed in yet. So, we sauntered down the street to a little bar. We sauntered back to this same little bar after the concert, too. I still have one question, "When does the R train arrive?"

My dear friend Rocco over at Whispers has a great post on our gathering in NYC this past weekend for CL's National Diaconia, at which my friend Carlo provided me with the great pleasure of meeting Fr. Julían in person. Rocco posts specifically on the conference at NYU on Sunday afternoon in which the question Can Faith Broaden Reason? was addressed as a way of launching the publication in English of the book by Don Gius, Is It Possible to Live This Way?, which will be what we will read in School of Community beginning shortly. For those interested, our newly formed SLC SoC will meet at 7:30 PM at the Cathedral of the Madeleine next Wednesday, 30 January. We will gather in the Our Lady of Zion chapel at 7:30 PM for the recitation of the Angelus.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Learning to love with The White Stripes

Great video for a snowy day here along the Wasatch Front. So, enjoy the traditio and I'll be back probably next week.

If you never criticize
You just keep on repeating
All those empty 'I love yous'
Until you say you deserve better
I'm gonna lay right into you

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wisdom for a Thursday

AsiaNews has today published the complete text of the lecture that His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, was to deliver today at Rome's La Sapienza University. Despite his not giving the address in person, the Holy Father still provides the faculty and students of La Sapienza University (sapienza- this is one for the Ironic Catholic- means wisdom) a wise mediation on both the papacy and the university. In other words, he speaks on one of his favorite themes, the relationship between faith and reason, both of which are needed to attain true knowledge, or, put more precisely, to arrive at a knowledge of the Truth. In his beginning to answer two questions: "What is the university? What is its purpose?", the Pontiff writes:

"It is a huge question which I can only answer once again in almost telegraphic style by making just a few observations. I believe that it can be said that the true intimate origin of the university lies in man’s craving for knowledge. He wants to know what everything around him is. In this sense the Socratic questioning is the impulse that gave birth to the Western university. I am thinking here, just to mention one text, the dispute that sets Euthyphro, who defends mythical religion and his devotion to it, against Socrates. In contrast Socrates asks: 'And do you believe there is really a war amongst the gods, with terrible feuds, even, and battles . . . Are we to say that these things are true, Euthyphro?' (Euthyphro, 6: b and c). In this apparently not very devout question—but which drew in Socrates from a deeper and purer sense of religiosity, one that sought a truly divine god—the Christians of the first centuries recognised their path and themselves. They accepted their faith non in a positivist manner or as a way of getting away from unfulfilled desires but rather as a way of dissolving the cloud that was mythological religion so as to discover the God that is creative Reason as well as Reason-as-Love. For this reason, asking themselves about the reason for the greater God as well as the real nature and sense of being human did not represent for them any problematic lack of religiosity, but was part of the essence of their way of being religious. They therefore did not need to solve or put aside the Socratic dilemma but could, indeed had to accept it. They also had to recognise as part of their identity the demanding search for reason in order to learn about the entire truth. The university could, indeed had to be born within the Christian world and the Christian faith. We must take another step. Man wants to know; he wants the truth. Truth pertains first and foremost to seeing and understanding theoria as it is called in the Greek tradition. But truth is not only theoretic. In correlating the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mountain and the gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Isaiah 11, Augustine asserted the reciprocity of scientia and tristitia. For him just knowing is source of sadness. In fact those who only see and learn all that happens in the world end up becoming sad. But the truth means more than knowledge. The purpose of knowing the truth is to know what is good. This is also the sense of Socrates’ way of questioning: What good thing makes us true? Truth makes us good and goodness is true. This optimism dwells in the Christian faith because it was allowed to see the Logos, the creative Reason that, in God’s incarnation, revealed itself as that which is Good, as Goodness itself."

The Holy Father concludes his lecture with these words on his universal ministry:
"What does the Pope have to do or say in a university? He certainly should not try to impose in an authoritarian manner his faith on others, which can only be freely offered. Beyond his ministry as Pastor of the Church and on the basis of the intrinsic nature of this pastoral ministry, it is his task to keep alive man’s responsiveness to the truth. Similarly he must again and always invite reason to seek out truth, goodness and God, and on this path urge it to see the useful lights that emerged during the history of the Christian faith and perceive Jesus Christ as the light that illuminates history and helps find the way towards the future" (emblodening and unerlining emphasis added).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"'If Benedict does not go to La Sapienza, La Sapienza comes to Benedict"

As I prepare to depart for the National Diacona, I am so proud of our CL young people in Rome. Following a letter written to the rector and signed by more than 60 professors of Rome's La Sapienza University opposing the Pontiff's visit, complete with "[b]anners decrying the pope [being] strung from buildings and posters plastered on walls," the Vatican "considered [it] "opportune" for the Holy Father "to skip the event".

In response today, at the Holy Father's Wednesday's audience, a very vocal group of supporters from the university showed up. The supporters, according to my dear friend Rocco over at Whispers, who is always in the know about Roma, "come from the ranks of [Pope Benedict's] beloved cielini". Here is the beginning of weekly AsiaNews report on the Holy Father's Wednesday audience:

"'Freedom, Freedom!': the shout raised by a group of university students of the Communion and Liberation movement, at the beginning of today's general audience, met with warm applause from the six thousand persons present in the Paul VI audience hall, and was an echo of the decision Benedict XVI took yesterday not to go to the La Sapienza university of Rome. The decision was due to opposition from a small group of teachers and students, against the invitation that had been extended to him to participate in the inauguration of the academic year. 'So there are three places where the pope cannot go: Moscow, Beijing, and the university of Rome', commented one of the young people present at the audience. 'If Benedict does not go to La Sapienza, La Sapienza comes to Benedict', read one of the banners that the young people raised."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Eastern Catholic Churches revisited

In my post Eastern Catholic Churches: An extended hierarchy update, among many things I touched upon the appointment of new bishops in patriarchal and major archepiscopal Eastern Churches in communion with Rome. Today's Vatican Information Service dispatch gives an example of how a major archbishop governs in his Church and how bishops are appointed by the synod and consented to by the Holy Father. In the Roman Catholic Church, only the Pope can erect a new diocese or elevate a diocese to an archdiocese, thus creating a new archdiocese complete with suffragan dioceses. This last happened in the U.S. on 29 December 2004 when the Holy Father elevated Galveston-Houston from a suffragan diocese of the Archdiocese of San Antonio to a metropolitan see with six suffragan dioceses, all of which were also taken from San Antonio. Here in Salt Lake City we are the eastern-most suffragan of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

VATICAN CITY, 15 JAN 2008 (VIS) - Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, major archbishop of Lviv of the Ukrainians, Ukraine, with the consent of the Synod of the Greek- Catholic Ukrainian Church and in accordance with Canon 85, para. 3 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, has erected the archiepiscopal exarchate of Lutsk of the Ukrainians (area 40,300, Catholics 4,000, priests 10), Ukraine

The Holy Father has given his consent to the canonical election by the same Synod of Fr. Josaphat Oleg Hovera, rector of the major seminary of Ternopil- Zboriv, Ukraine, as the first exarch of the new exarchate. The bishop-elect was born in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1990.

Bishop-elect Hovera is only 26 months older than I am!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Deacons are clergy, part III- A correction

Adrian writes regarding my post In the Catholic Church deacons are clergy:

"Hi Scott

I would read the note again. I think you will find it is suggesting you come, but not to bring anyone else."

I respond:

You know, I had not thought of that? You're probably correct. I readily admit to being somewhat easily put on the defensive as regards the status of deacons, which speaks to my insecurity and the employment of an ego defense. I suppose the reason I read the note the way I did is because I assumed up-front that the dinner is a men's only affair.

So, thanks Adrian for breaking me out of my ego and making things clearer. I am sorry for misreading the KofC note. I am now putting away my "jump to conclusions mat" (Office Space reference). While humbling, I am always grateful to be held accountable, especially by readers. My social graces, which I was raised sorely lacking, obviously need work! I still maintain the note was poorly worded precisely because it was open to a negative interpretation.

National Diaconia- anticipation

Msgr. Giusanni (l) w/ Fr. Carron
This weekend marks the annual National Diaconia meeting of Communion & Liberation in the United States. This will mark my first national meeting with the celini. So, I will be in Jersey City, New Jersey over the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. I look forward to meeting many people with whom I have corresponded and spoken on the phone. Since we are right outside of the city, I hope to make the journey to NYC.

It would be really cool to make it to NYU on Sunday, where a former Philosophy professor of mine now teaches, to the conference by Fr. Julían Carron, Msgr. Giusanni's designated successor who now heads up CL, on the subject of Can Faith Broaden Reason? I am quite certain that the answer will be a resounding YES!, but look forward to taking the journey, like a calculus or algebraic equation, from question to answer. Fr.Carron will also introduce the English publication of a book by Msgr. Giusanni, Is it Possible to Live This Way? during the presentation.

My good friend Rocco, over at Whispers, has a very nice post on CL.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Today we mark the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. With this feast we bring Christmas to an end and embark upon a short season of Ordinary Time prior to Lent. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, in a sermon on this feast, tells us that, in light of our baptism, we "are to be radiant lights as [we] stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven. [We] are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now [we] have received - though not in its fullness- a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

In the Catholic Church deacons are clergy, part II

I read this just today in a post commenting on the refusal of communion to the excommunicated Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who attempted a marriage with a Korean woman, by a priest in Naples, Italy: "Unless, granted a rescript of laicization a cleric cannot enter a valid marriage." Just to be clear, this is not incorrect, but it does need some explanation and exposition, otherwise known as plain old canonical nit-picking. As per canon 266 §1, deacons are clerics. Any man who receives the sacrament of holy orders cannot marry once in the clerical state, which is entered upon reception of the sacrament of holy orders. For example, I was married prior to receiving the sacrament, but did not require special permission to enter the clerical state as a married man. Should I (God forbid) be widowed, I could petition the Holy See for permission to re-marry or petition for a rescript of laicization in order to do so. No doubt, a petition to re-marry and remain in the clerical state upon being widowed would rely heavily on the fact that I did not take a vow of perpetual celibacy upon entering the clerical state. Basically, this is also the case for married men who are ordained priests from Protestant ecclesial communions, who do not take a vow of celibacy as a condition of being ordained priests. I doubt that in either case such a petition would be approved because of the Roman proscription of clerics entering into marriage once in the clerical state.

Only Roman Catholic priests, upon being ordained (transitional) deacons and, again, when being ordained priests, along with unmarried permanent deacons, take vows of celibacy as part of their receiving holy orders. So, it seems that it is the vow of perpetual celibacy on the part of a cleric that absolutely requires a rescript of laicization to validly marry. A rescript of laicization can only be obtained from the Holy See. Archbishop Milingo would certainly require one. Without such a rescript, which returns him to the state of a layman, his so-called "marriage" is, canonically speaking, only an attempted marriage. Hence, it is not a marriage at all. Whereas, my ordination and marriage, along with those of my brother deacons and a significant number of priests worldwide, are both valid and licit, requiring no rescript of laicization.

This is all canonical as married men, according to The Code of Canon Law for the Eastern [Catholic] Churches, can be ordained priests in Eastern Catholic Churches, just as they can in Orthodox Churches, celibacy not being integral to the clerical state. Once again, if a cleric is to be married, either in the Roman Rite or the Eastern Churches, it must be prior to him receiving the sacrament of holy orders.

The communion of saints

(Photo courtesy of The Intermountain Catholic)

Here in our diocese the sanctuary of the parish church of St. Thérèse of Lisieux was recently destroyed by fire. Fortunately, nobody was hurt and the structure of the church remains sound. What is really sad is the sanctuary was just redesigned and refurbished two years ago. According to The Intermountain Catholic, "[a] quick inventory of the still-smoking sanctuary revealed an undamaged baptistry and tabernacle, and a large statue of the risen Lord badly in need of cleaning."

Referring to statues in the church Fr. Martin Díaz, pastor of St. Thérèse, said: "'Mary and Joseph survived, but they and the Stations of the Cross will need a lot of work. We’re blessed that the body of the church, the physical structure, is sound.'"

According to Barbara Stinson Lee, editor of our diocesan newspaper who reported on the fire, "St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish was founded in 1925 by Father (later Msgr.) Patrick Maguire. With St. Patrick Parish in Salt Lake City, St. Therese Parish has been a first parish for many of the immigrants who have settled in the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Today the parish has active Anglo and Spanish communities who together maintain an generous outreach to the poor."

I find the statement of Msgr. J. Terrence Fitzgerald, our diocesan Vicar General, about the fire very inspiring as it shows how our faith and the communion of saints to which we belong help us. He said that it was no doubt the powerful intercession of The Little Flower that made "certain no one was injured". Elaborating on this assertion, he stated, "I’m certain she sent down a shower of roses to help put out the fire and limit the damage to the building. She was a woman of strong prayer, and I’m sure her intercession on behalf of that parish was instrumental in keeping the situation from being much worse." Amen.

Friday, January 11, 2008

O clemens, o pia, o dulcis, Virgo María

Salve, Regína,
Mater misericórdiæ,
vita, dulcédo et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamámus,
éxsules fílii Evæ.
Ad te suspirámus geméntes et flentes
in hac lacrimárum valle.
Eia ergo, advocáta nostra,
illos tuos misericórdes óculos
ad nos convérte.
Et Iesum benedíctum fructum ventris tui,
nobis, post hoc exsílium, osténde.
O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo María!

The Salve Regina (i.e., Hail Holy Queen) is our Friday traditio.
Bad video, but decent sound quality.

A quick note: I am deliberately blogging a bit less these days. This will probably mean not having something new posted everyday, at least for now.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

In the Catholic Church deacons are clergy

Once in awhile I hear theological/ecclesiastical locutions that are in need of correction. One is saying something like clergy and deacons. Deacons are clergy! What prompts this catechesis is an invitation I received from our local Knights of Columbus Council, which, though only one council, is spread across several parishes, to their Annual Clergy-Past Grand Knights Dinner.

The invitation itself is fine giving the time, date, location, and RSVP information. However, there was a note in the invitation, printed on a white strip of paper that reads:

Deacon Scott

Thank you for your service. We hope you will come to our annual dinner, but please remember the evening is reserved for clergy of the diocese."

The note is not signed and is a rather uninviting invitation. It bears noting that I am both a 3rd degree Knight, but have not paid dues for quite a few years, and an insurance member. Here is the reply I am thinking about mailing, either that or showing up in a Roman collar, which I almost never wear:

"Dear Brother,

I would take this opportunity to point out that according to canon 266 §1 of the Code of Canon Law, deacons are clergy, having received the sacrament of holy orders by the laying on of hands. It may also be useful to know that within holy orders exist three separate orders: bishops, priests, and deacons. You can reference the appropriate canon for that by looking at canon 1009 §1 and §2. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in numbers 1569-1571, also gives insight into the sacramental nature of the diaconate.

Deacon Scott S. Dodge"

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

"I've got another confession my friend"

Okay, it's four days late, but here is last Friday's (intended) traditio, one of my favorites, the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl es increíble!

"Has someone taken your faith?
Its real, the pain you feel
The life, the love you'd die to heal
The hope that starts the broken hearts
You trust, you must

Monday, January 7, 2008

A really long meme

1. Do you wear a name tag at work? Whenever I wear my uniform, which I avoid if at all possible.
2. What kind of car do you drive? A black 2000 Suzuki Esteem standard five-speed, station wagon.
3. What do you order when you go to Taco Bell? Unless they have one on Donner's Pass and I am stranded, I avoid Taco Bell.
4. Have you ever had a garage sale? No, but my wife has had several. I run errands.
5. What color is your iPod? Black.
6. What kind of dog do you have? An German Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix. She's a handsome creature.
7. What's for dinner tonight? Chicken enchiladas at Costa Vida.
8. What is the last alcoholic beverage you had? A glass of perfectly chilled Pinot Grigio.
9. Stupidest thing you ever did with your cell phone? Get one.
10. Last time you were sick? Thanksgiving weekend.
11. How long is your hair? Very, very short
12. Are you happy right now? Yes, very.
13. What did you say last? "Hey, quiet down!" to two siblings getting their two year-old brother wound up.
14. Who came over last? 7 seven friends and seven of their children for our annual Epiphany party last Saturday.
15. Do you drink beer? To quote a priest of our diocese: "Yes, it is required by my religion in Utah".
16. Have your brothers or sisters ever told you that you were adopted? No, but at times they have made wish I was.
17. What is your favorite key chain on your keys? My metal Miraculous Medal key chain.
18. What did you get for graduation? Assuming the question pertains to high school graduation, luggage. I left home for good a month to the day after my high school graduation. I got the message.
19. Whats in your pocket? A black plastic rosary.
20. Who introduced you to Dane Cook? I've been to Denmark quite a few times and love the cuisine.
21. Has someone ever made you a Build-A-Bear? No.
22. What DVD is in your DVD player? DVD one (of three) of the second season of Arrested Development.
23. What's something fun you did today? Went to supper with my youngest daughter at Costa Vida
24. Who is/was the principal of your high school? Donald Sant, Colonel, United States Army, retired
25. Has your house ever been TP'd? No.
26.What do you think of when you hear the word "meow"? Watering eyes, constricted respiration, and itching a lot.
27. What are you listening to right now? My children playing in the next room.
28. Drinking? A nice glass of Pinot Grigio.
29. What is your favorite aisle at Wal-Mart? I don't shop at Walmart.
30. When is your mom's birthday? 3 March.
31. When is your birthday? 11 November.
32. What's the area code for your cell phone? 801
33. Where did you buy the shirt you're wearing now? J.C. Penny.
34. Is there anything hanging from your rear view mirror? No.
35. How many states in the US have you been to? Thirty-seven.
36. What kind of milk do you drink? Skim or 1%.
37. What are you going to do after this? Pray with my family and then read.
38. Who was the last person you went shopping with? My oldest son on Christmas Eve.
39. What is your favorite fruit? Cherries.
40. What about your favorite dessert? Cherry pie, which I have instead of cake on my birthday.
41. What is something you need to go shopping for? Yes, pants.
42. Do you have the same name as one of your relatives? No.
43. What kind of car does one of your siblings drive? A Lexus. My younger sister is successful, which takes the pressure off.
44. Do you like pickles? Only dill pickles. I have no use for sweet pickles.
45. How about olives? Yes, but only green olives. My favorite pizza is with ham and green olives. Besides, I like my martinis dirty unless it's made with Grey Goose, extra dirty if the drink is made from sub-par spirits.
46. What is your favorite kind of gum? I do not chew gum.
47. What is your favorite kind of juice? Tomato.
48. Do you have any tan lines? Umm, no.
49. What hospital were you born in? The old Dee Hospital on Harrison Blvd in Ogden. It is now a park.

This is my first meme and, like going to a Chinese buffet once a year to remind myself why I don't go to Chinese buffets (I like Chinese food, but the buffets . . . - the Monty Python song performed by Eric Idle is now running through my mind), it will be the last for good , long while. Whoever digs the vibe, consider yourself tagged.

Year A, Feast of Epiphany Vespers homilette

Reading: Eph 3,2-3a.5-6

The mystery of God’s grace, we read from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, was made known to him "by revelation" What was made known to the author of this letter is the same mystery of grace made known to the Magi, the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. The word epiphany is one that we use in everyday language. An epiphany is a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something that allows us to immediately grasp reality through an event.

The event through which the Magi came to grasp the reality was their encounter with the Christ child. The event through which St. Paul suddenly perceived this same mystery of grace was his encounter with the resurrected and risen Lord as he made his way to Damascus from Jerusalem to continue his persecution of Christians. What is important about this is our encounter, the event that brings us to faith in Christ Jesus, our share in this mystery of grace that begins with baptism. Christ manifests himself in so many ways. Therefore, it is not a question of if we will have an epiphany, but how and whether or not we recognize these manifestations as such.

While Paul’s experience was explosive, the experience of the Magi was not. After all, the culmination of their journey following the star led them to the crib of an infant. What is so extraordinary or revelatory about that? Well, they perceived the relevance and it was for them an epiphany, a revelation, a manifestation of the Son of God. We encounter Christ each Sunday in the Eucharist, when he comes to us under the appearance of ordinary bread and wine. We also encounter Christ in our fellow human beings, who we see as children of God and, hence, as our sisters and brothers. Christ is present in what Blessed Teresa Calcutta termed his “distressing disguise”: those in need, in the sick, in the prisoner, in the widow and the orphan, in the hurting and discouraged. This great feast calls us to be wise, like the Magi, by seeking Wisdom himself, Jesus Christ. We seek him trusting in his promise that we will find him and that in finding him we receive the greatest gift of all, for he is the pearl of great price.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Hierarchy update III

I am nurturing my inner Church geek on this very snowy morning. Given the retirement of Bishop Yanta of the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, which the Holy Father accepted this week, I was interested in the bishops, in addition to the ten who are already over 75, who will reach retirement age this year. There are a total of six who will reach the age at which canon law requires they tender their resignations to the Holy Father, who is under no obligation to accept them right away. The six ordinaries of U.S. dioceses who turn seventy-five this year are: Bishop Saltarelli of Wilmington, DE, whose birthday is this month. Bishops Tafoya of Pueblo, CO and Cullen of Allentown, PA, who will reach retirement age in March. Archbishop Flynn of St. Paul-Minneapolis, whose successor is current co-adjutor archbishop, John Nienstedt, turns 75 in May. Bishop Higi of Lafayette in Indiana turns 75 in August followed by Bishop Harrington, of the Diocese of Winona, MN, whose birthday is in September.

It is safe to assume that the Holy Father will fill several of the nine current vacancies this year. The sede vancante dioceses in the United States are Charleston, South Carolina; Knoxville, Tennessee; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Des Moines, Iowa; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Shreveport, Louisiana; Juneau, Alaska; Little Rock, Arkansas; New Ulm, Minnesota. It is also a safe bet that he will name successors to at least a few of the bishops who are over seventy-five. Barring any unexpected events, this makes twenty-four (St. Paul-Minneapolis having a co-adjutor) of 177, or 13.5%, of Roman Rite dioceses in the U.S. either in transition, or close to transition, this year. All this before bringing up the issue, discussed in detail by my good friend Rocco, over at Whispers, in a post entitled Musical Vacancies, concerning the need for auxiliary bishops in larger dioceses. However, one of the topics of the consistory held in April 2006 was thet status of retired bishops. Specifically, how to use the experience, skills, and talent of these retired prelates who are still capable of serving the Church in some way. It seems these dedicated servants in the Lord's vineyard are being called upon, as their health permits, to assist the current ordinary of their former dioceses, or in other dioceses to help with confirmations, etc.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The coming year in religion

Writing over on dotCommonweal, the blog of Commonweal magazine, Peter Steinfels gives a month-by-month prediction of what he, with his tongue firmly implanted in his cheek, foresees as this year's biggest religious news stories. The one I find the most likely, perhaps because it would be, in the words of Yogi Berra, "like deja vu all over again," is his prediction for March:

"Two weeks before Easter, CNN broadcasts a special report on a newly unearthed 'Gospel of Joseph' revealing that Jesus was a troublesome teenager. Princeton University expert on early Christianity, Elaine Pagels, hails the document for making Jesus appear more human. Other scholars complain that the ancient manuscript appears to be written with a ball-point pen."

April's prediction, as Steinfels well knows, will happen:

"Pope Benedict XVI, during a brief visit to the United States, stuns reporters and commentators by indicating that he still believes in God, considers Catholic teachings to be true and opposes abortion and same-sex marriages. Consistent with four decades of findings, fresh polls of American Catholics confirm that they still revere the Pope but disagree with him about contraception, ordaining women and other issues. The newsweeklies detect a 'deep divide' and 'growing rift' between Rome and the American faithful."

While I am on media, also writing on dotCommonweal, Fr. Joseph Komonchak, professor of theology at The Catholic University of America, has some great thoughts on the Iowa caucus results, especially as regards the surprising diversity among Iowa's evangelical voters. On an unrelated matter, my Holy Family homily is now available for viewing on The Intermountain Catholic website.

Hierarchy update II

In a highly unusual step, Bishop Donald Pelotte of the Diocese of Gallup, New Mexico, has been granted a year's medical leave by the Holy See. His Excellency is still recovering from injuries sustained in either an attack or an accident (it is not clear what happened) at his home last year. Further, the Holy Father has appointed Bishop Thomas Olmstead of Phoenix as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Gallup until Bishop Pelotte's return.

I owe a lot to the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, who have loved and nurtured me over the years. Bishop Pelotte is a member of this religious order. So, please pray for his recovery, healing, and wellness, for the people of his diocese and Bishop Olmsted, who is shouldering a lot more responsibility.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Hierarchy update

This morning the Holy Father appointed the first bishop for the United States in this new year when he named Bishop Patrick James Zurek, auxiliary of the archdiocese of San Antonio, U.S.A., as bishop of Amarillo, Texas. He succeeds Bishop John Walter Yanta, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted upon his having reached the age limit.

The number of ordinaries serving beyond the mandatory retirement age of 75 remains at ten, with Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans turning 75, the age at which canon law requires bishops to submit their resignations, on 2 December 2007. This number also includes Cardinals Maida and Egan of Detroit and New York respectively, as well as Archbishops Lipscombe of Mobile, AL and Curtiss of Omaha, NE. The others are Bishop D'Arcy of Ft. Wayne/South Bend Bishops Leibrecht of Springfield/Cape Girardeau, MO; Mengeling of Lansing, MI; Murray of Kalamazoo, MI, Moynihan of Syracuse, NY.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


The reverent person's approach to the world, asserts Dietrich von Hildebrand, one of the twentieth century's most eminent and, without doubt, its most underappreciated, philosopher, in a book he co-authored with his wife, Alice, The Art of Living, "is free from egospasm, from pride and concupiscence. He does not fill world with his own ego, but leaves to being the space which it needs in order to unfold itself. He understands the dignity and nobility of being as such, the value which it already possesses in its opposition to mere nothingness. Thus there is a value inherent in every stone, in a drop of water, in a blade of grass, precisely as being, as an entity which possesses its own being, which is such and not otherwise. In contradistinction to a fantasy or a sheer semblance, it is something independent of the person considering it, and is something withdrawn from his arbitrary will. Hence each of these things has the quite general value of existence" (pg. 6).

Virtue: a habitual and firm disposition to do the good.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

From the Holy Father's Message for this forty-first World Day of Peace. This builds nicely on his remarks in his Sunday Angelus address, or vice-versa:

The family, society and peace

2. The natural family, as an intimate communion of life and love, based on marriage between a man and a woman, constitutes “the primary place of ‘humanization' for the person and society”, and a “cradle of life and love”. The family is therefore rightly defined as the first natural society, “a divine institution that stands at the foundation of life of the human person as the prototype of every social order”.

3. Indeed, in a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them. For this reason, the family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace. It is no wonder, therefore, that violence, if perpetrated in the family, is seen as particularly intolerable. Consequently, when it is said that the family is “the primary living cell of society”, something essential is being stated. The family is the foundation of society for this reason too: because it enables its members in decisive ways to experience peace. It follows that the human community cannot do without the service provided by the family. Where can young people gradually learn to savour the genuine “taste” of peace better than in the original “nest” which nature prepares for them? The language of the family is a language of peace; we must always draw from it, lest we lose the “vocabulary” of peace. In the inflation of its speech, society cannot cease to refer to that “grammar” which all children learn from the looks and the actions of their mothers and fathers, even before they learn from their words.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us as we enter this New Year. On this World Day of Peace, pray for families and for peace.

Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings: Hosea 2:16.17c.18.21-22; Ps 145:2-9; Matthew 9:18-26 Our Gospel today is Saint Matthew’s version of events first written about ...