Thursday, May 31, 2012
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Not everything out of the Vatican represents its official stance. That may strike one as odd, even contradictory. However, as Mr. John L. Allen Jr. makes clear in a recent All Things Catholic post,
the pontifical academies, which are scholarly bodies devoted to topics such as the sciences, Mariology, the fine arts and archeology. ...their debates, while fascinating, don’t necessarily have any direct correlation with Vatican policy. After all, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has been hammering away in favor of GMOs [genetically modified organisms] for years, and that’s still not the official line.This background is by way of saying that one should not make too much of a recent contretemps at the Pontifical Academy for Life, because it’s not really as if the fate of the Vatican hangs in the balance.
Mr. Allen offers “three recurrent tensions in Catholic life, with consequences far broader than the immediate future of one pontifical body:
- European vs. American sensibilities vis-à-vis the “life issues”
- Prophets vs. team players
- Dialogue vs. debate in engaging those who don’t share church teaching.”
He elaborates on each, in his characteristically illuminating fashion.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
In an engaging way NYT columnist David Brooks described U.S. society and where it could be in his 2012 The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement. He embeds facts within the story of a couple as children and as adults. His books points to possibilities, suggested by his subtitle.
Published just days later, Richard Sennet offered an analysis relating to some of what Mr. Brooks described. Of Mr. Sennet’s Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation. In ThinkingFaith John Battle wrote
that it sounds as if it should provide a handy manual of how to proceed. This book, however, is far more challenging than that; Sennett provides a deep critique of the way our societies are developing in the twenty-first century. Sennett’s starting point is his assertion that modern society is actively de-skilling people in practising cooperation: ‘...We are losing the skills of cooperation needed to make a complex society work.’ ...‘Cooperation oils the machinery of getting things done and sharing with others can make up for what we may individually lack. Cooperation is embedded in our genes but cannot remain stuck in routine behaviour, it needs to be deepened and developed.’
One reader suggested on Amazon.com that Mr. Sennet’s volume needs a workbook. Many “far more challenging” analyses of this sort often do. Perhaps Mr. Sennet or someone else will provide one. Read Mr. Battle’s review.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Recreated To Transform our World
Pentecost (27 May 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
One may briefly—and faithfully—say scripture recounts in various ways God’s relationship with humans. God began the relationship; humans rebuffed God over and over; yet God never ceased to welcome humans into relationship with God, God’s reason for creating us.
St. Ignatius of Loyola noted our creation was both the divine purpose and goodwill toward us:
Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by means of doing this save their souls.
The other things on the face of the earth are created for the human beings, to help them in the pursuit of the [goal] for which they are created.1
Those of us who grew up long after St. Ignatius but before the Second Vatican Council recognize the saint’s expression in the response we learned to the question, “Why did God make me?”
God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.2
All created things are gifts of God to help us better to know, love and serve God now and enjoy divine life for ever. Creation is a constellation of created gifts to help us live godly lives, our most important reason to care for it.
Above all created gifts is one gift without par, divine life. We celebrate God’s rich, powerful, vital life as a Person of the Trinity. Pentecost celebrates Holy Spirit as the gift of gifts, the Consoler,3 the Lord, the giver of Life, as we profess in the Nicene Creed.
Like ordinary gifts the divine gift of Holy Spirit is unearned. The graciousness of God is something we humans from our beginnings have been slow to appreciate. Early in scripture’s account of human development the Tower of Babel vividly described human striving and our stubborn wills to achieve soaring heights and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.4 We recall their striving made names for them quite different from what they desired: scattered and confused. Scattered and confused are not the Trinity’s desire for us.
Pentecost reminds us that God in Jesus by their Spirit ends confusion and unites peoples by the bond of Holy Spirit, more powerful and vital than blood-ties. The condition and attitude of disciples were drastically different from ambitious striving. Jesus had told them to go Jerusalem and stay in the city until they were clothed with power from on high.5 We easily overlook the disciples’ attitude of attentive waiting because waiting is not comfortable and society shapes us to gratify ourselves at once. Instead, we are prone to marvel at the driving wind and the tongues as of fire.
The disciples’ posture of waiting dramatically reminds us we cannot coerce the Uncreated Gift, who is freely given to us for the sake of the world. As God breathed life into the first humans at the dawn of creation, Jesus continues breathing new life into all his disciples, commissioning us to proclaim his peace with our lives.
Pentecost completes Easter’s season by rehearsing the awe, the doubt, the presence—mysterious and concrete—of the numerous exchanges risen Jesus had with his disciples. Pentecost celebrates what God began with us, of what Jesus accomplished for us, of what their Holy Spirit continues in us and, miraculously, through us. The Trinity lavishes us with their recreating love, though we are not always aware or even welcoming of our triune God’s living activity within us.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
- Allow yourself to feel and savor the light and loving warmth of the Trinity, creating you each moment.
- Ask the disciples and Mary to present you to Jesus.
- Praise him for rising from the dead for you, and ask him for a share in his joy.
- Consider with Jesus how you have experienced his Spirit in the last 24 hours; then resolve to be more attentive and more open to the ways Holy Spirit prompts you to live as Jesus’ friend and coworker.
- Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Saying it teaches us how to wait for the Lord to give; to live as people, who count on Jesus’ graciousness, and who are recreated each moment by his forgiving, empowering Spirit.
Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
- Spiritual Exercises, 22.
- Baltimore Catechism4, Part 1, Q&A 6.
- Or Advocate: John 14.16, 26; 15.26; 16.7. The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers this succinct insight: “When he proclaims and promises the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus calls him the ‘Paraclete,’ literally, ‘he who is called to one’s side,’ advocatus. ‘Paraclete’ is commonly translated by ‘consoler,’ and Jesus is the first consoler. (#692).
- Genesis 11.4-9.
- Luke 24.49.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
The explosions, gunfire, the lack of water and food, the deaths and the funerals in Syria get more attention than the furtive living. Two Jesuits remain in Homs, actively feeding and teaching children (schools are closed).
‘Apart from humanitarian aid to the people who suffer in this situation, my priority is the education of the children. We must form a new generation in order to lessen the tension between religious groups.’
Read more of Jesuit Ziad Hilal’s words and about his mission.
Friday, May 25, 2012
Bubbles fascinate. Many adults seem to lose their childhood fascination with bubbles along with many others things. Put bubbles, needled syringe, knitting needles and microgravity together: they spell grown-up fascination, very high-up fascination. Watch.
Wiki-image of The Quest Joint Airlock is in the public domain.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Dorothy Day has more name recognition than her colleague at The Catholic Worker, “a newspaper dedicated to promoting a Catholic vision of the reconstruction of society.” Christopher Shannon, writing in Crisis Magazine: A Voice for the Faithful Catholic Laity, sketches Peter Maurin, who died in May 1949.
One of Mr. Shannon’s sentences echoes a theme in this year’s The Social Animal by David Brooks. “The social crisis [of the 1930s] was a spiritual crisis, and the solution was the re-establishment of small communities capable of sustaining truly human, personal relationships.”
Wiki-image of the cover of a collection of Maurin’s essays is in the public domain.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The struggle against sexual exploitation seems ever uphill. News from the Netherlands encourages; it also testifies to the power of social and religious institutions, as one story relates:
We knew that getting a hold on these [“Lover Boys”] would not only be a task for the police, but that it would require getting the inside track on them...Most of the young men involved in this form of criminality are not scared of a judge, the police or the prison system - but they are sensitive to the standards of honour within their own community and will listen to the imams; they are, after all, Muslim.
The first-person account is preceded by a video marked with apt warnings about viewing. The text is not gritty enough to warrant similar caution.
Wiki-image of satellite overview of Netherlands is in the public domain.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
What are its origins? What events led to it? Who has been associated with the history of Catholic Social Teaching? U.S. Catholic posted an attractive timeline with commentary for “busy Christians.”
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Easter Sunday7 (20 May 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.Jesus called individuals to join him. Jesus called individuals with different qualities and characteristics. Jesus valued their differences; Jesus never planned to have clones for his disciples. He desired they be his witnesses to continue his mission. During his Last Supper prayer for them—and for us contemporary disciples and witnesses to Jesus—he prayed his Father that they be one.
Unity, and Christian unity especially, involves a variety of things; sacrifice is one. Families know that. Families are united because one will fore-go some-thing for the good of one or all. Schools know that, too. School spirit is not magic; it is shaped by students, teachers and staff, who realize the school does not revolve around any one of them. Schools are as strong as each and everyone in them. Peter knew the same about the unity of disciples.
Peter remembered when Jesus had called him he left his things and joined Jesus and his other disciples. A verse missing from the lectionary’s first reading helps us appreciate that Peter recalled leaving his things to follow Jesus; and it helps us appreciate the phrase in the first reading, Judas turned away to go to his own place.
Judas, we heard, was numbered among [the Twelve] and was allotted a share in [their] ministry by Jesus. In the verse we didn’t hear, Peter recalled for his listeners how after betraying Jesus Judas had bought a parcel of land [his place] with the1 money he received for being the guide for those who arrested Jesus. From being with Jesus and the apostles to going away...to his own place is not merely external, physical movement in space. In the Acts of the Apostles the use of possessions points to abandoning faith in Jesus or cultivating it. Judas purchased his farm with blood money for handing over Jesus, and he left the company of the apostles. Judas left his place in the apostolic ministry in which he had a share for his own place; the opposite of Peter and the others, who left their things2 to take their place with Jesus, who chose them to be apostles.
Today some of us are called to leave our things in order to witness to Jesus. All of us are to use our possessions in ways which help individuals and the common good. Our Christian use of possessions not only unites us to Jesus and to one another. Our Christian use of possessions demonstrates faith. Our Christian use of
possessions embodies what we say we believe in the creed, I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Our place in the church helps us shape our use of our many gifts.
Risen Jesus continues praying for us to use our gifts well. Risen Jesus continues praying for us to be his apostles today. Genuine apostles willingly leave certain things, not just to endure hardship but to deepen unity and to make more credible to the world their living witness to risen Jesus. The church does not revolve around us, it revolves around Jesus; it is his body in the world.3 At the same time we are the church; we make Jesus present everywhere. We are the church more than we are in church when we gather around his altar: “The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s Passover, the making present and the sacramental offering of his unique sacrifice, in the liturgy of the Church which is his Body.”4
As we grow closer with Jesus, we grow in deeper union with one another and demonstrate more clearly our union by our faith put in action. Baptism not only began our union with Jesus, dead and risen, it began our apostolic life; eucharist not only deepens our union with risen Jesus, eucharist sustains what our baptisms began. Baptism began each one’s ministry, each one’s vocation, varied as ministries and vocations are. We not only serve the church and the world in our individual ministries. As we serve, we allow Jesus to place us with him and with each other in his living self-gift, his body, our church.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
- Desire the Trinity to refresh and renew you.
- Ask St. Peter to present you to Jesus.
- Converse with Jesus: praise Jesus for dying and rising for you and for giving himself to you in his sacraments and in ways unique to you.
- Ask Jesus for grace to be aware of your baptism into him as your apostolic invitation to take your place with Jesus.
- Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words, give us...our daily bread, call for his self-gift, which allows us to take our place with him, individually and as his body.
Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise