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Exchange PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 30 November 2008 17:07
"Sanctity, then, is not giving up the world. It is exchanging the world. It is a continuation of that sublime transaction of the Incarnation in which Christ said to Man: "You give Me your humanity, I will give you My Divinity. You give Me your time, I will give you My eternity. You give Me your bonds, I will give you My Omnipotence. You give Me your slavery, I will give you My freedom. You give Me your death, I will give you My Life. You give Me your nothingness, I will give you My All." And the consoling thought throughout this whole transforming process is that it does not require much time to make us saints; it requires only much love."

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

HT: Pertinacious Papist
 
Keep Wales Tidy. Throw Your LItter in England. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 30 November 2008 16:16
Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the color of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smelt like Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlors, and we chased, with the jawbones of deacons, the English and the bears, before the motor car, before the wheel, before the duchess-faced horse, when we rode the daft and happy hills bareback, it snowed and it snowed. But here a small boy says: "It snowed last year, too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea."

"But that was not the same snow," I say. "Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely -ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards."


If you heard a lyrical Welsh lilt as you read the above, then you read it properly. Dylan Thomas's famous depiction of his childhood town, Swansea, at Christmastime. Flavored with a soupcon of mild, whimsical anglophobia.

Actually since Swansea is a sea-side town on the Welsh Riviera (and sports a few struggling palm trees) real snow there is like a major snow in Seattle - hard to come by. But reality never stopped a good Welsh story-teller.

But the snow is shawling out of the ground here in Colorado. It revved up a couple hours ago and we've probably gotten 8 inches by now.
 
Emmanuel Shall Come PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 30 November 2008 13:10
On this first Sunday of Advent, we have gotten our first real snow of the year. A solid 5 inches so far in the backyard. And blowing. A little blizzard wanna-be. Apparently, we are covered by a little winter cell all by our lonesome since Denver just got a dusting.

Locals are dusting off their snowshoes and sleds and cross-country skies and trying them out in the parks. Ski season is getting off to a slow start here and ski- fever is beginning to build.

Not exactly the sort of weather one associates with key lime pie but I had 11 good size fresh limes staring at me this morning after Mass. ( I over-estimated how many limes it takes to produce 3 tablespoons of grated peel for the scrumptious citrus-chipotle turkey I made for Thanksgiving and under-estimated the labor involved. After nearly two hours of grating, my arm was about to come off. The results were fabulous but there has to be an easier way!)

Anyway, two key lime pies are now cooling in the kitchen. Your classic Colorado apres-ski carb load. I live a low sugar, low-carb life so I haven't made a pie in 5 years. But this week, I broke down under the pressure of Thanksgiving and a sort of post-two-months-of-continuous-travel holiday euphoria. Now I just have to find enough people to eat it all. If I could e-mail y'all a piece, I would!

The unaccustomed leisure also seems to have given me new eyes. I had several illuminating experiences during my last trip and it seemed that I sat through Mass this morning with wholly new eyes and was flooded with ideas and connections. Need to write them all down before I forget.

When I've got a better handle on it all, I'll share some here as well.

As we sang this morning:

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
 
Under the Mercy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 29 November 2008 22:09
Pat Armstrong, beloved wife of Rich, poet and world traveler, dear friend of many including Fr. MIke, died this afternoon. I'm so glad that Fr. MIke was able to spend time with her last week and that her children were also able to be there.

I've heard so many stories about Pat and Rich from Fr. Mike over the past 4 years that I feel like I actually knew her although we never met.

Someday - under the Mercy - we will.

As always, your prayers for Pat and Rich and all who love them would be most appreciated.
 
Join the Advent Conspiracy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 29 November 2008 10:53
I entered the Church 21 years ago this coming December 20. It was what I think of as The Advent of the Three MIracles, that magical Advent when I entered the Church with my friend, Mark Shea. We had not finished RCIA, it was nearly Christmas, a horribly abused baby was dying, and the Holy Spirit was on the move.

Experiencing such an Advent leaves a permanent mark. That's one reason why I love this idea: the Advent Conspiracy.

Worship fully. Spend Less. Give more. Love all.

Exactly what I was feeling led to in this Advent of financial insecurity and trouble around the world.

Enjoy the video. Visit the blog. Talk to your friends, family, and fellow parishioners. Join the conspiracy. Give with trust in God. To hell with our anxieties. Literally.

Christmas can still change the world cause Jesus really is the reason for the season.


 
The Numbers Game PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 28 November 2008 06:45
I pity those standing in line at 4 am this morning to catch those post-Thanksgiving bargains. Cause it's white Friday around here (snowing) and I'm a bit dazed after two months of obligatory 4 am rides to airports all over the country. It really feels like a change to be sitting snugly at my dining room table looking out at the snow and feeling sorry for someone else. CSI: We put the "M" in Mendicant.

I wanted to share some of the other insights I gained last week on the differences between the Orthodox and Catholic experiences.

The first and most obvious is numbers. Fr. Gregory told me that the average Orthodox Church in America parish has 106 members and that the average Greek Orthodox church has slightly over 200. Holy Assumption parish which sponsored the workshop only had 43 adult members. The OCA is smaller than the Greek Orthodox Church but together they represent 60% of all Orthodox in the US. Orthodoxy includes 0.6% of all Americans and is smaller than Buddhism or Jehovah's Witnesses and about the same size as the American Muslim community.

After 11 plus years of teaching in Catholic parishes who describe their membership vaguely in terms of "thousands of families", I was taken aback. Only two weeks before, we (Fr. Mike and I) had been in LA where a recent synod estimated that the average parish boundaries in LA contains 19,000 Catholics, where they worried that only 40% of the 5 million Catholics in the archdiocese ever darkened the door, and where they had baptized 100,000 new Catholics in 2007. It was like being among Quakers again where little meetings of 35 or 50 supported a full-time pastor and his or her family.

While, as Fr. Gregory emphasized to me, there are very few significant theological differences between us (He quoted an Orthodox luminary who asserted that, apart from those places where we specifically disagree, St. Thomas Aquinas is a sure guide to the Orthodox faith - which made this Dominican-without-portfolio happy!) the numerical difference alone means that the life of the average parish and pastoral practice can't help but be profoundly different.

I asked Mary Jensen (Fr. Gregory's wife) what they would do when faced with a parish of 1,000 people. Break it into 5 parishes of 200 each - each with their own pastor - was her reply. Of course, that answer implied a couple things: that parishes of 1,000 are an anomaly and you only have to deal with one at a time and that you have 4 trained pastors at leisure, kicking their heels and ready to move. It means you live in a world where 3,000 potential parishioners don't just show up on your doorstep the moment you open a new parish as so often happens among Catholics.

In any case, the seminary training of Orthodox priests is much shorter than that of Catholic priests (3 years as opposed to 6 years (diocesan) or more for religious priests (OPs receive 8 years of training, Jesuits, 12 years). In fact, seminary isn't absolutely required among the Orthodox as Fr. Gregory told me about a very theologically sophisticated priest who never attended seminary and was more or less ordained on the spot. It sounded a great deal more like Catholic pre-Reformation practice than what we are used to today. To begin with, Orthodox seminarians do not have to spend two years studying philosophy.

Addendum: I should mention that 56 - 59% (I've seen slightly different figures) of Orthodox Church in America clergy are converts from other traditions: mostly evangelical or Catholic. This is very different from the situation within the Greek Orthodox Church where only 13% of priests are converts.

So I begin to understand the comments I had read from Orthodox bloggers that Catholics are good at creating structures and systems and i began to understand the comment one Orthodox woman made that the C & G was "business-like" - a response that is completely unique in my experience. Huge numbers require organization and a certain level of standardization. To enable 30,000 people to attend 380+ live workshops taught by 100 different trained teachers in 6 countries requires organization. If you are really small and local, you never have to wrestle with the same kind of issues.

In many ways, Orthodoxy in the US seems closer in culture to medieval Catholicism in Europe before the challenge of the Reformation, religious war, and modernity forced us to change our ways dramatically.
 
Together For the Life of the World PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 27 November 2008 15:41
Fr. Gregory Jensen of Holy Assumption Orthodox (OCA) parish in Canton, Ohio (and the Koinonia blog) writes thoughtfully about last weekend's Called & Gifted:

Sherry asked me to fill in for the absent Fr Mike and so I found myself in the interesting position of explaining to Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians the renewal in Roman Catholic thinking that came about as a result of the Second Vatican Council. In addition to a more Eucharistic view of ecclesiology, the Vatican II also presented a renewed understood the vocation of Catholic laity in the modern world.

Snip.

Thinking of Sherry's presentation, I am reminded of the words of Metropolitan Jonah at the All-American Council. To the degree that the Church becomes is an end in itself, to the degree that it becomes "just for us' and not "for the life of the world," to that degree we lose a part of the joy that should be ours. Or, as His Beatitude put the matter,

"Being Orthodox is not about what we do in church, that's maybe 5%. Being an Orthodox Christian is how we live. It's how we treat one another. It's our self-denial and our self-giving. It's our self-transcendence. And, ultimately, what does that lead to, but the complete fulfillment of our personhood in Christ, so that we become who God made us to be in a communion of love with one another. One of the most important things, so far as tasks go that I think it's a vision that we can embrace as a community."

That 5% is important, critical, essential, but it is only the starting point. We need that 5%, but, we also need to keep our priorities in order. As Jesus says in the Gospel:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Mt 23.23)

Metropolitan Jonah and Sherry were both touching on a theme near and dear to Schmemann's heart: the temptation to "secularism." When the Church becomes an end in itself, it becomes merely a part of life and not life itself and as a result, we live lives that seek always to Christ and the Gospel neatly in their places so that we are not disturbed and we can go about our lives.

Secularism, our neglect of our baptismal call and the gifts we have received in Holy Baptism is antithesis of what we mean when as Orthodox Christians we speak about theosis, of our coming to participate in divine life. As iron in the fire takes on all the qualities of fire and yet remains iron, so we take on all the qualities of God and remain human. This is what we mean when we say, as Catholic or Orthodox Christians, that Christ has redeemed us. He has redeemed all of human life or none of it. Again, as Schmemann says, "the term 'sacramental' means that for the world to be a means of worship and a means of grace is not accidental, but the revelation of its meaning, the restoration of its essence, the fulfillment of its destiny." (For the Life of the World, p. 121)

There are many blessings that came out of this past weekend. One of the chief though is that it demonstrated, to me at least, that Catholic and Orthodox Christians can assist and sustain each other as we strive to be faithful to Christ and His call to us. Yes, certainly we disagree on some points. But there is much we share and that we can do together that does not betray our respective traditions.

Several of the Orthodox participants were so impressed that they asked if we might tailor the "Called & Gifted" Workshop for use in an Orthodox context. I spoke with Sherry about this and she is certainly open and supportive of such a project. My own view is that there is relatively little that would need to be done.

Snip.

Grounding our vocation not in our conformity to an external standard but to the prompting of grace in our hearts and confirmed by the Church is something both perfectly compatible with Holy Tradition and often sadly lacking in our work with people in the parish and the seminaries. St Anthony the Great says somewhere that if I would know God I must first know myself. The "Called & Gifted" Workshop is I think a valuable aid in helping Orthodox Christians fulfill the saint's advice to us.

Fr. Gregory was amazingly unflappable upon finding out that he was going to get to substitute for Fr. Mike with only 24 hours to prepare! He did a remarkable job considering the circumstances and I often caught myself thinking "I must remember that." as he talked. Like him, it gave me a strong sense of the possibilities of an ecumenism focused primarily around our common mission to be Christ to this generation. I felt privileged to be there and warmly welcomes by Fr. Gregory, his wife, Mary, and many parishioners and visitors.
 
In Heaven it is Alwaies Autumne PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 27 November 2008 08:47
Happy Thanksgiving.

It's is coldish (28 F) and grey this morning in Colorado Springs. There is a chance of snow.

I turned on the radio a few minutes ago to provide a background for the chore of grating 12 limes and a couple oranges for the turkey glaze. They were playing the Hallelujah Chorus.

I was instantly transported back in time. At home, my father always cooked the Thanksgiving turkey himself and played the whole Messiah over and over as he did so. It was due to my dad's efforts in cooking, music, and decorating that we always had a festive Christmas. He was a perfectionist about the Christmas tree, seeking out beautifully shaped Noble firs even when we lived in Mississippi; trees that took full advantage of our 9 foot ceilings.

Dada died two years ago suddenly while I was teaching a Making Disciples seminar and I couldn't get home in time to see him again. So this morning I am thinking of Dad, giving thanks for my father and praying for him. At his funeral, one of his old working buddies told how my father's life of discipleship had drawn him to Christ and changed the course of his life. May the same be said of all of us.

On this day of feasting and gathering and poignant memories for many of us, it is so comforting to be able to entrust our present and our futures and those of those we love to a God whose love cannot be defeated by death. We live in a world where Resurrection and Mercy is the deepest truth, deeper than any loss or separation we can experience in this life.

As John Donne observed in his magnificent sermon for Christmas Day in the Evening:

In paradise, the fruits were ripe, the first minute, and in heaven it is alwaies Autumne, his mercies are ever in their maturity. We ask panem quotidianum, our daily bread, and God never sayes you should have come yesterday, he never sayes you must againe to morrow, but to day if you will heare his voice, to day he will heare you.

If some King of the earth have so large an extent of Dominion, in North, and South, as that he hath Winter and Summer together in his Dominions, so large an extent East and West, as that he hath day and night together in his Dominions, much more hath God mercy and judgement together.

He brought light out of darknesse, not out of a lesser light; he can bring thy Summer out of Winter, though thou have no Spring.

Though in the wayes of fortune, or understanding, or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintred and frozen, clouded and eclypsed, damped and benummed, smothered and stupefied till now;

NOW God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the Sun at noon to illustrate all shadowes, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries.

All occasions invite his mercies, and all times are his seasons.

 
Happy Thanksgiving PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Thursday, 27 November 2008 06:53

I am preaching this morning at Mass, so I thought I'd share my reflections with you. Have a blessed and thanks-filled Thanksgiving!

Satan in Scripture is often presented like a prosecuting attorney. That’s the role he has in the book of Job within the heavenly court – he proposes that Job is righteous solely out of self interest. God points out how righteous and God-fearing Job is, and Satan responds,
“Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?... you have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock are spread over the land.”
Satan bets that if these blessings are gone, Job will blaspheme God. The name Satan is really a title - ha satan - the accuser. That role is found in the book of Revelation explicitly:
“Now have salvation and power come and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night.”

But there’s another image that fits the Evil One, and it’s found in the first book in the bible: the Tempter. He approaches Eve and asks if it’s true that she and the man cannot eat from any of the trees in the forest. No, she replies, only one, but if they eat of it they will die. No, no, no, says the serpent, you will not die (not immediately); rather, you will be like gods, knowing good from evil – or, in our terms – you’ll know everything.

But see what the Tempter has done – he has both implied that God cannot be trusted and pointed out the ONE thing that’s beyond their reach.

I like to think of the serpent as the first successful marketer. Because that’s what marketing does – it focuses our attention upon what we lack. Marketing is intended to turn our attention from what we have. Marketing is about creating desire, even in the midst of plenty. Marketing can suck the joy and gratitude from our hearts. It’s ironic that the day after Thanksgiving is a national day of shopping. If we are truly grateful for all we have, how can we possibly indulge in an orgy of shopping for more?

What we need to heal our fallen hearts is God’s grace to first of all recognize the bounty in our lives, and then trust that God will continue to provide – not all that we want, but all that we truly need.
And sometimes what we need is need.
When we don’t have all that we want to live, our minds and hearts turn to God. Sometimes in anger, sometimes to ask, “why me?” sometimes to ask for help, sometimes to surrender ourselves to his will.

But always we should turn to God in trust. Isaiah the prophet gives us the reason for this trust. When we were in dire need, mired in the futile effects of the fall, “It was not a messenger or an angel, but God himself who saved us. Because of his love and pity he redeemed us himself” That redemption came through Jesus – God become human – suffering and dying for his obedience to the Father. That obedience which we could never muster is attributed to us by the Father because of Jesus’ humanity.

God has saved us – that is the first and foremost reason to be grateful.
It is also the first and foremost reason to trust Him.

You provide for your children, right? Jesus points out that if we can do that – in all our imperfections - “How much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him?” We can trust God to provide. Jesus told his untrusting disciples, still worried about food, shelter and clothing, “Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?” MT 6:28b-30

If we trust God’s provision, we don’t have to worry so much, and can focus on thanksgiving. I was told a little story about Rich Armstrong, who's holding vigil while his wife completes her slow exit from this life. They asked him, "what was the happiest day of your life?" He responded, "this morning I woke up around 3 a.m. and looked over at my wife, Pat. I saw that she was still breathing. This is the happiest day of my life."

It is fitting that Thanksgiving falls in the month in which we remember our dead and turn our thoughts to the life beyond this life. Those, like Pat and Rich, who are confronted with their mortality often are quite grateful for the simple, daily blessings that surround us. For them, this life is no longer about what has been collected – except for the collected memories, and the people who are a part of them.

Marketing gets us consuming, first of all a forbidden fruit, and since then fruits of our labor which are often unnecessary – something new and improved, or the latest “must have.” All this consumption requires us to work hard, usually away from our families and friends, in order to purchase the goods which we then give (in the Christmas season, at least) as a sign that we love and care for them. Why not just love and care for one another and spend time with each other instead? Why not make yourself a gift by putting on Christ’s heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience? Perhaps that kind of change, only possible with grace, is harder than working overtime or a second job.

Today when you’re being thankful, think first of the people in your life for whom you’re thankful. Because when our life ends, the new car stays behind, the house will be sold to someone else, your clothes will go to St. Vincent de Paul, and your money will be scattered to family, charity and the IRS. The only thing that endures from this life to the next is our relationships – and then, only what is good and whole and holy in those relationships.

If you have had a spat with a member of your family or a friend, celebrate Thanksgiving by reconciling, before it’s too late.
Build your relationships, don’t let them wither.

Make memories you can be grateful for on this day of gratitude. Consider your many, many blessings, and trust that like the slice of pumpkin pie at the end of your feast today, God’s got more where those blessings came from.
 
Raising Catholic Kids PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Wednesday, 26 November 2008 00:15
As Sherry mentioned, I skipped out on work to go to Oregon to be with my dear friends Pat and Rich Armstrong. Pat made it out of the hospital into a nursing facility, but she's not able to leave her bed and is alternately talkative and seemingly doing well and quite uncomfortable and very subdued. Please keep her, her beloved husband, Rich, and their three sons Mark, Scott and Tod in your prayers.

One of the blessings of being with the Armstrong clan was getting to know the boys better, and hearing some of the hilarious stories that are part of the family lore. The tales of around the world trips (including emergency plane landings in Africa), Rich's often destructive attempts to be "handy" around the house, and the incongruities of Guamanian culture kept me in stitches. Think "A Confederacy of Dunces," only non-fiction.

Mark and Scott and I talked about end-of-life issues surrounding Pat, and I hope to blog on that before too long. In the meanwhile, here's a link to Mark and Patti Armstrong's website, Raising Catholic Kids. They know a few things about it, since they are raising ten of their own - two of whom are AIDS orphans from Kenya. They take their role as Catholic parents very seriously, and are evangelizing their children as well as catechizing them. Patti is an accomplished writer, with over 400 secular and religious publications, while Mark was involved in broadcast journalism for 30 years. Sound like great communicators to me!
 
Cantonese PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 24 November 2008 02:21
Greetings from Canton, Ohio.

It's been a very busy, challenging, illuminating, thought-provoking, fruitful 8 days. Some of which I will be sharing here.

Fr. Mike had to fly to Eugene unexpectedly early Wednesday morning to be with his dear friend Pat Armstrong who is gravely ill. So your prayers for Pat, her loving husband Rich, and their family (which includes Fr. Mike) would be greatly appreciated. This has been a tough week for him with the unexpected death of a much loved community member as well (Sr. Renilde)

I carried on with the very capable assistance of Barbara Elliott and Fr. Gregory Jensen and everyone seems very pleased all the way round. The first Orthodox-Catholic Called & Gifted was a big hit.

It's 4:25 am and I'm packing -finally - to return home to Colorado where I will actually be staying put for a while.

Home soon. Blogging will follow.
 
What does a distinctively lay spirituality look like? PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 18 November 2008 13:01

Written by Joe Waters

This is a question that I have been interested in for a while. Of course, there can be just about as many spiritualities as there are people, but the idea of distinctive spirituality for the lay state and mission is something that the Church needs and, as with all schools of spirituality, it is the Church's saints that articulate it.

I have been reading The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day edited by Robert Ellsberg and have discovered in them a spirituality that bears reflection and possibly imitation for those of us who seek to live faithfully in the world. In late 1935 Dorothy wrote out a "rule" for 1936, which offers some fascinating insights. She pledged to go to Mass daily, make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, pray a portion of the Divine Office (the old morning office of Prime and Compline, which are most suitable for lay persons and families because of their brevity), pray the Rosary each day, to recollect midday for just few minutes, to do plenty of spiritual reading, "to practice the presence of God", make a daily examination of conscience, and "to be gentle and charitable in thought, word, and deed" (and that she certainly was!). This is a very simple rule and is accessible to people in all walks of life. It doesn't seek to imitate the life of a religious or remove her from the world, but takes the prayer and devotion of the Church right into the world in order to sanctify it. When we read what exercises she took on we must bear in mind her context: she was constantly surrounded and visited by the poor and destitute of New York who were often very far from the world of the institutional church.

Perhaps this post will generate some discussion. What elements do lay spiritualities contain? What lay saints are you most drawn to? What is distinctively lay about their spirituality? How does our spirituality and spiritual practice as lay persons interact with the world we encounter when we leave the house in the morning?

 
Christifideles laici after 20 years PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 17 November 2008 12:20
Written by Joe Waters
Last week the Pontifical Council for the Laity hosted a conference in Rome on the theme "Twenty years after 'Christifideles laici': memory, development, new challenges and tasks." Pope Benedict met with the participants in the conference and had a bit to say. Here is the story from Zenit:

The Pope began by explaining how the Apostolic Exhortation "Christifideles laici" represents "an organic reassessment of Vatican Council II's teaching on the laity: their dignity as baptised persons, their vocation to sanctity, their membership of the ecclesial communion, their involvement in building Christian communities and in the mission of the Church, their witness in all areas of social life and their commitment to serve the integral growth of the individual and the common good of society".

The Exhortation serves as a guide "for discernment and for the intensification of the Church's lay commitment in the face of the social changes of recent years", said Benedict XVI. It also "indicates the 'criteria of ecclesiality' which are necessary, on the one hand, for pastors' own discernment and, on the other, for the development of associations of faithful, ecclesial movements and new communities".

"The current cultural and social situation makes this kind of apostolic activity even more urgently necessary, so as fully to share the treasure of grace and sanctity, of charity, doctrine, culture and works of which ... Catholic tradition is composed. The new generations are not only the chief recipients of such transmission, ... but also those whose hearts await proposals of truth and happiness to which to render Christian witness, as already happens in such a marvellous way. I myself was able to observe as much during the recent World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia".

Benedict XVI then went on to praise the Pontifical Council for the Laity for the importance it gives to "the dignity and participation of women in the life of the Church and of society" because "men and women, equal in their dignity, are called to enrich one another in communion and collaboration, not only in marriage and the family, but in all dimensions of society".

Finally, the Pope exhorted the pontifical council "to continue to show diligent pastoral care for the formation, witness and collaboration of the lay faithful in all those situations in which the authentic quality of human life in society is implicated".

He concluded: "I particularly reiterate the urgent need for evangelical formation and pastoral accompaniment of the new generation of Catholics involved in political life, that they may remain coherent to the faith they profess, uphold their moral rigour, capacity for cultural judgement, professional competency and passion for service of the common good".

I am moved to see that he is still talking about the experience of World Youth Day, which seems to have had a powerful effect on him.

 
Financial Crisis not only Financial PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 16 November 2008 11:39
I have an hour to cool my heels in the Phoenix airport - seemingly one of the busiest I've encountered in my years of hopping around the country. I slipped outside the crowded concourse and found a relatively quiet hall with an electrical outlet to re-power my Mac and go online. I found this interesting comment on the current global financial crisis from Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

"The crisis that the world is currently living is not just financial, and therefore the solution cannot be purely financial," he said. Instead, the economic crisis "verifies what the Church's social doctrine has said for a long time: When an economic-financial system goes into crisis, it is never due to economic or financial motives, but because in its origin, there has been a wound in the global moral system."

Part of the origin of the problem is a "crisis of trust."

"Everyone is speaking of it, of again establishing mutual trust so as to resolve the crisis," he said. But trust "is not an economic or financial element, but rather an ethical attitude.

"When the market erodes this ethical attitude, all of us know that it is no longer in a state of being reconstructed by itself."

Crepaldi contended that three elements are key for bettering the situation: "the market, on one side, the state on the other, and also civil society." According to the social doctrine of the Church, Bishop Crepaldi continued, "it is necessary to look with more wisdom at the market and the role that it can have."

"We would not have gotten to where we are now if we would have treated the market as a means and not an end."

In a fallen world in which human beings are prone to greed, self-absorption, and the tendency to treat other human beings as means to ends, rather than ends in themselves, any socio-economic system is going to be imperfect, and each will have its own aspects that can be turned to evil. All the more reason for Catholic lay people to choose to be out of step with the tired old "way we do things," to escape the tendency to groupthink, and to take the risk of putting their faith into practice in the marketplace in innovative ways that promote the common good.
 
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