29 November 2013

Lukewarmness + doctrinal error + moral confusion

A Most Excellent Article on preaching over at the Homiletic and Pastoral Review by Fr. Gabriel de Chadarévian, O.P. of the Province of Canada

In my own teaching and pastoral experience, I have come to realize, more and more, that a great number of practising Catholics know little about the faith they profess, and whose Sunday Eucharist they more or less faithfully attend. Hence, the great responsibility for sound faith formation or catechesis (doctrinal and moral). I also quickly discovered that among practicing Catholics (including some clergy), few have developed a vital, intimate, and loving relationship with Jesus Christ; few have experienced a living and personal encounter with the Risen Lord in the Eucharist, in the sacraments, in their personal prayer, and their activities, choosing him as the true center, Saviour and Lord of their lives. The dearth and poverty of these two essential components in the life of many Catholics (knowledge of the faith and personal relationship with Christ) have led to a hemorrhaging out of the Church, especially in Europe and North America, and a lukewarmness combined with doctrinal and moral confusion in the lives of many practicing Catholics.

All this has made me firmly believe that, in our present age of indifference, increasing hostility towards Christianity (especially Catholicism) and rampant secularization, the Church urgently needs to rediscover the primacy of Kerygma, the fundamental proclamation of the Paschal Mystery, ad intra and ad extra.

Read the whole thing. . .give your pastor and deacons a copy!
Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

Evangelii Gaudium translation problems

Serious English translation problem with the original Spanish version of Evangelii gaudium:


No. 54 En este contexto, algunos todavía defien den las teorías del «derrame», que suponen que todo crecimiento económico, favorecido por la libertad de mercado, logra provocar por sí mismo mayor equidad e inclusión social en el mundo.


No. 54 In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.

The English translation renders "por si mismo" as "inevitably." It should read ". . .encouraged by a free market, will BY ITSELF succeed in bringing about greater justice. . ."

That's a HUGE change in meaning. 

Also, "mayor equidad" should be rendered "greater equity" NOT "greater justice." There's a huge difference in meaning btw "equity" and "justice" in the English.

As always, be very wary of official English translations of Vatican documents. They are almost always wrong. Whether this is an intentional mistranslation to push an agenda, or just a mistake, we may never know.

NB. The French, German, Italian, and Portuguese translations of the Spanish all get the phrase right. Now I'm wondering who was responsible for the English translation. . .


Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

The culture of prosperity deadens us. . .

"The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us" (Evangelii gaudium, no. 54).


And thus does a homiletic theme emerge for Advent. . .

Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

28 November 2013

On resisting certain temptations while reading Evangelii Gaudium

With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us and NDS out on break, I'm hoping to read the Holy Father's apostolic exhortation, Evangelii gaudium.

More than just read it, I'm hoping to spend some time contemplating it!

So far, Ive done a fair job avoiding the temptation to scan the document for confirmation/refutation of my hobby horse concerns. Fallen human nature and my own particular fallenness make that temptation very, very, very difficult to resist.

For my own betterment and maybe yours as well, here's what I'm struggling to avoid:

1. Hobby Horse Issues: scanning for Culture War hot-button issues to sling at my ideological opponents, i.e., abortion, contraception, women's "ordination," etc. (Confession: I saw the quote about the Holy Father's confirmation of the impossibility of women's ordination before I saw the document itself.)

2. Minimizing the Pope's Expertise: dismissing the Holy Father's teaching on issues where he has little or no technical expertise, i.e., finance, economics, etc. His lack of expertise on these issues shouldn't prevent a fair reading of his moral teachings when those teachings touch these issues. 

3. A Hermeneutic of Rupture: reading EG as if it were a wholly novel, purely innovative document written in an ecclesial vacuum; that is, pretending that the Holy Father is somehow unaware that previous popes ever wrote anything about evangelization, preaching, economics, etc. 

4. Jesuitical Suspicion: not ignoring my natural Dominican suspicion of all things Jesuitical but making an effort to set aside those prejudices and not write in the margins, "Such a Jebbie!"

5. Let the MSM Define What's Important: reading media accounts of the document before reading the document itself. I've already seen two reports in the UK press that predictably applaud the Holy Father for his "anti-capitalist" rhetoric. . .as if the Pope's principal concern is the macro-economics of Western liberal democracies. 

So, lots of things to avoid; lots of things to look forward to. . .especially the longish section on homilies and preaching!
Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

24 November 2013

The cross is his throne

Christ the King
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Our Lady of the Rosary, NOLA

Take a moment to consider the crucifix—a cross made of wood with a dead body nailed to it. What's so special about Jesus' crucifixion? In the world ruled by the Roman Empire, slaves, pirates, and rebels against the empire were routinely crucified. It was considered a dishonorable way to die. In 71 B.C., the Roman general, Marcus Licinius Crassus, finally defeated the gladiator army of Spartacus the Thracian, crucifying 6,000 rebellious slaves along the Appian Way. Just 17 years before this, the King of Judea, Alexander Jannaeus, crucified 88 Pharisees who opposed his rule, and five hundred years before this, King Darius I of Babylon crucified 3,000 of his political opponents. So, Babylonians, Jews, Romans all nailed or tied men and women to wooden crosses as a form of torture and execution. Why then do we make such a fuss about Jesus' execution? What's so special about a cross with the body of Christ hanging on it? Ask yourself on this Solemnity of Christ the King: how does Christ rule as a king while hanging dead on a cross? How does he rule in your life, your heart and mind?

We can start an answer to the first question—how does Christ rule as a king while hanging dead on a cross? —by turning to Paul and his letter to the Colossians. Paul tells us that God delivers us from the power of darkness—from ignorance, sin, and death—and then transfers us from this world's domination over to the kingdom—to the rule, the governance—of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, in whom and through whom we have redemption. And what is this redemption? The forgiveness of our sins. So, by forgiving our sins—apart from our good works, apart from our good intentions—God grants us absolute amnesty, free reign to abide in His kingdom as citizens and not only as citizens but as heirs as well! If we accept, if we receive his freely offered amnesty, we are “transferred” to another jurisdiction, to another governing power: the rule of Christ the King. And under his rule, we are brothers and sisters in the Holy Family of God. We live under a new dispensation, a new and eternal law of charity in hope with an abiding faith. Paul says, “. . .the Father who has made [us] fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.” And that is what we are here to do: share in the inheritance granted us by the death of Christ on the cross and by his resurrection from the tomb.

But this is only a partial answer to our first question. Christ rules a kingdom from his cross and an empty tomb, a kingdom to which we are heirs. But how does he rule? Who is he that he can do such a bizarre thing? We turn to Paul again. He writes, “[Christ] is the image of the invisible God. . .in [Christ] were created all things in heaven and on earth. . .all things were created through [Christ] and for [Christ]. He is before all things, and in [Christ] all things hold together. . .” Through Christ, for Christ, and in Christ “all things hold together.” All things. Including me and you. If “all things” hold together in Christ, then it follows that Christ serves as the organizing principle, the center, the underlying structure for all of creation. He was “at the beginning” with the Father; he is with us now, and he will be with us always. All of this tells us that Christ is God, so when we look at the crucifix, we see God hanging there. Dead. For us. And b/c Christ was both human and divine, we see humanity hanging there as well. Human nature. What you and I are are most fundamentally. Our natura, our essentia. But you and I aren't dead. We're alive. How does Christ rule from the cross? He rules through the redeemed human nature that you and I share. He rules—at least for now—through our free reception of his sacrificial love. We are his body and blood, his hands and feet, moving through creation.

That's who are we: the body and blood of Christ, his hands and feet, moving through creation. That is, that's who we are if and when we freely receive his sacrificial love and make that love manifest. Look at the criminal on a cross next to Jesus. The sign above Jesus' bloody head reads, “This is the King of the Jews.” Luke tells us, “Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, 'Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.'” In other words, prove your worth, King of the Jews! Prove that you are who you say you are! He almost dares Jesus to rescue them from their fate. The other criminal, traditionally named Dismas, somehow understanding who hangs next to him, rebukes the first, saying, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?. . .we have been condemned justly. . .but this man has done nothing criminal.” Seeing the scandal of Jesus' unjust execution, Dismas freely receives Christ's sacrificial love: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” In these two condemned men, we see all of humanity: those who dare Christ to save them from death and those who receive his salvation into eternal life. To the latter, Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Earlier, I asked you: how does Christ rule in your life, your heart and mind? One way to answer this is to think of yourself as Dismas, hanging next to Christ on your own cross. You have accepted death as punishment for your sins, and yet, seeing Christ dying unjustly, innocent of any sin, you call out, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He turns to you and says, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” From that moment, you are “transferred” to another kingdom to live under another law, the law of charity in hope with an abiding faith. You are pardoned, freed from the sentence of death, and let loose to thrive as an heir to the heavenly kingdom. Christ rules in your heart and mind as the sovereign of your every thought, word, and deed; as the sole ruler of everything you are and everything you do. In you, we see the hands and feet, the body and blood, the face of Christ. Through you, we witness the reign of Christ the King on earth. And with you, we live to bring to the fallen world the Good News of God's freely offered mercy to sinners through His Christ. How does Christ rule in our lives, our hearts and minds? If we receive him, he rules by teaching us to be servants, serving in sacrifice. 
By a show of hands, how many of you have a crucifix? At home? On you? A rosary, a necklace? Good! When you look at that crucifix, you see Jesus hanging dead on a cross. From now on, see a king on his throne, ruling your world, ruling you. See the prince of peace, dying to bring his Father's peace to your world, to you. See your Savior throwing open his arms to show you the vistas of Paradise, to guide you through to your inheritance. See the Judge of the Last Judgment showing you his Father's justice and then granting you His mercy. Imagine yourself on a cross next to him. And imagine all the steps you followed to get there. Look down, to the foot of your cross, and take every step back to the beginning, back to the very first time you said to Christ, “Remember me, Lord, when you come into your kingdom.” From that moment on, Christ has ruled you and through you. He has served you and through you he still serves. “Amen, I say to you, today you [are] with me in Paradise.”

Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

Postmodern Christianity: the flight from being

If you're a regular reader of HA, you've probably heard/read me blabbing on about postmodern-this and postmodern-that. Trying to define postmodernism is a lot like trying to nail Jell-O to a raging waterfall -- only more difficult.

Below is the first paragraph of an excellent article by Fr. Joseph R. Laracy from the Homiletic and Pastoral Review

Give it a read. . .it sorta proves that I'm not just making all this postmodernism stuff up.

The salient characteristics of postmodern philosophy can be seen in many aspects of contemporary culture. In particular, the “flight from being (or truth)” is particularly evident in the areas of politics, ethics, and religion and is not constrained by the principle of non-contradiction. The rejection of grand narratives, fragmentation of knowledge, loss of the human subject, and so-called “death of man,” have had particularly devastating consequences on both the academic study of theology, and the practice of religion. Philosophers, theologians, and indeed entire ecclesial communities have attempted to adapt the Christian faith to this new perspective.
Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

Go out to the existential peripheries!

Before the 2013 Papal Conclave that elected him to the Chair of Peter, Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio, S.J. offered his thoughts on the New Evangelization

Evangelizing Implies Apostolic Zeal 

1. Evangelizing pre-supposes a desire in the Church to come out of herself. The Church is called to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also the existential peripheries: the mystery of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and indifference to religion, of intellectual currents, and of all misery. 

2. When the Church does not come out of herself to evangelize, she becomes self-referential and then gets sick. . .living within herself, of herself, for herself. This should shed light on the possible changes and reforms which must be done for the salvation of souls. 

3. Thinking of the next Pope: He must be a man who, from the contemplation and adoration of Jesus Christ, helps the Church to go out to the existential peripheries, that helps her to be the fruitful mother, who gains life from “the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing.”

Given our relatively affluent, comfortable middle-class lifestyle, I wonder how many American Catholic preachers understand those who struggle at the existential peripheries of our culture?

Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->