Monday, May 27, 2013


Like priests my age and older who are malformed and don't like the wonderful new English translation of the Mass and told Praytell so, now they won't like Pope Francis denigrating artificial birth control and divorce but in a nice sort of way.

Actually the Holy Father gives priests who are young and young at heart like me (striving to overcome the malformation of the 1970's) a way to teach Humanae Vitae and the Church's teaching on divorce. Take a look at the portions of the homily the Holy Father gave at the chapel of his place of residence at the Vatican Motel 6:

Jesus asked a young man to give all his riches to the poor and then to follow him. But when the young man heard this, he went away sad. Pope Francis’ homily found inspiration in the well-known episode narrated in the Gospel, and he underlined that “riches are an impediment” that “do not facilitate our journey towards the Kingdom of God”. And he pointed out: “Each and every one of us has riches”. There is always, he said, a richness that “stops us from getting close to Jesus”. And this must be singled out. We must all, he continued, examine our conscience and pinpoint our riches because they stop us from getting close to Jesus on the path of life”. And the Pope focused on what he called two “cultural riches”: the first, a “culture of economic wellbeing that causes us to be lacking in courage, makes us lazy, makes us selfish”. Wellbeing, he said, “anaesthetizes us, it’s an anaesthetic”.

[AND NOW THE BLAST AGAINST ARTIFICIAL BIRTH CONTROL:]“No, no, not more than one child, because otherwise we will not be able to go on holiday, we will not be able to go out, we will not be able to buy a house. It’s all very well to follow the Lord, but only up to a certain point. This is what economic wellbeing does to us: we all know what wellbeing is, but it deprives us of courage, of the courage we need to get close to Jesus. This is the first richness of the culture of today, the culture of economic wellbeing”.


There is also, he added, “another richness in our culture”, another richness that prevents us from getting close to Jesus: it’s our fascination for the temporary”. We, he observed, are “in love with the provisional”. We don’t like Jesus’s “definitive proposals”. Instead we like what is temporary because “we are afraid of God’s time” which is definitive.

“He is the Lord of time; we are the masters of the moment. Why? Because we are in command of the moment: I will follow the Lord up to this point, and then I will see… I heard of a man who wanted to become a priest - but only for ten years, not any longer…” Attraction for the provisional: this is a richness. We want to become masters of time, we live for the moment. These two riches are the ones that, in this moment, prevent us from going forward. I think of so many men and women who have left their land to work throughout their lives as missionaries: that is definitive!”.

And, he said, I also think of so many men and women who “have left their homes to commit to a lifelong marriage”, that is “to follow Jesus closely! It’s the definitive”. The temporary, Pope Francis stressed, “is not following Jesus”, it’s “our territory”.

And yesterday during the Angelus, the Holy Father condemned the Mafia in no uncertain terms and called them to repent and conversion of heart, men and women mafioso and mafiosa!


Anonymous said...

"This is what economic wellbeing does to us: we all know what wellbeing is, but it deprives us of courage, of the courage we need to get close to Jesus."

Hence, Jesus said to the well-off young man, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

And the man went away sad . . .

Carol H. said...

Jesus said give to the poor, not give to the nanny state.

Dymphna said...

Okay, so should I quit my job and ask the Church to feed me?

rcg said...

this morning I was contemplating this question. It seems to me very closely related to the question, "what is poor?" If I accumulate wealth, I only have what I can hold onto. If I create wealth, well being, for others, I have a limitless source of wealth.

In 2008 I decided my hobby was to find as many jobs for people as I could. Many were simple referrals, but many were in my own company by me finding work and money for projects. I only picked the best workers I could find, and that made more people want us to do their projects. Eventually, I had jobs even for the less the best. I only employed about 150 people when it was done, but I do count their families and the roughly same number of subcontractors and teammates. I didn't ned the money, but it has come to me in truck loads. I work with the local Credit Union to help people get their debt straight and live within their means. This is not me blowing my own horn, I know I am not the best person, really a jerk in many ways. But what I am saying is that if you think of yourself as the productive man in the parable of the talants and invest it to help God's people (since he died for everyone, that's pretty easy to do) the money flows, heck, it will find you, and you will never want.

Anonymous 2 said...

The Ancients might have thought of the problem as being the unwise, immoderate, craven, and unjust satisfaction of appetites or desires due to their insufficient guidance by reason and will. With the eyes of faith we see the problem essentially as the sinful failure to follow the reason and will of God as expressed in divine and natural law and the solution as requiring the assistance of divine grace and divine forgiveness.

And we need that grace and forgiveness because it is so difficult to become “unattached” from the many forms of “richness” we enjoy. Bodily appetites, creature comforts, and material acquisitions are already a major challenge for most, if not all, of us, given the richness or abundance of stimulation from our hedonistic and hyper-consumerist culture. Add to that the desire for power, or the desire for fame or praise, arising from, as the case may be, our richness of intellect or wit or spiritual insight or other virtues or whatever, and the situation might appear hopeless, were it not that Jesus then explains to the disciples that all things are possible for God. And thank God for that.

Christian mystics might say that we need to lose our false, culturally constructed selves and find our eternal true selves. I don’t know about you, but personally I find that my ego keeps on getting in the way. However, I take comfort in the well-known prayer that one of our Deacons quoted in a marvelous homily on Sunday: “May we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day” while emphasizing, as I recall, that this is the work of a lifetime.

Gene said...

Anon 2, Please find a better quote than that piece of garbage from Godspell, for Heaven's sake!

Anonymous 2 said...

What a wonderful initiative to bring blessings into so many lives, especially during these hard economic times, rcg. May many follow your example.

As for “I know I am not the best person, really a jerk in many ways” – which one of us couldn’t say that about ourselves?.

rcg said...

Anon 2, thanks, but seriously my point is that we all can do it as long as we give what we have and not worry about comparing ourselves to others in any regard. One of the 'events' that gave me insight into how this works is when I was asked to work on a project I detested. The project was OK, it was the kind of work I detested. I simply found a guy who was actually better at it than I am, who LOVED that sort of work (database programming) and everyone was happy. I could have taken a nap or whatever, but I figured out that I could keep doing that sort of 'placement' and before long people were coming to me to find other people and that is what I really liked.

It really isn't about me, but it really does benefit me.

Marc said...

Wait just a second... I think we missed something important and utterly unprecedented in Anonymous 2's comment:

A deacon gave a marvelous homily?

How did you avoid the pigs flying around long enough to listen to it?

Anonymous 2 said...

But I wasn’t quoting from Godspell, Gene. I was quoting from St. Richard, Bishop of Chichester (1197-1253), who was then quoted in Godspell (but you can’t blame St. Richard for that):

In contemporary English the full prayer is:

Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits which you have given us,
for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.

Marc: Yes, the Deacon gave a marvelous homily. He always does. Now what exactly is “utterly unprecedented” in this? You will have to help me out here.

Marc said...

I've never heard a good homily from a deacon. Hence, such an occurrence is without precedence.

Particularly when I was at St. Joseph, I found the deacons' homilies either banal or heretical (or both).

Gene said...

Now, see, I did not like that homily. Deacon homilies always end up being about "me." Too many of them end up being maudlin little confessions of their personal problems and conflicts. That is poor homiletics, plus it is utterly boring.
I agree with Marc, I hold my breath every time a Deacon gets up to preach.

Anonymous 2 said...

So Gene, is the quote still a piece of garbage?

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene: If you were not at the 5:00 p.m. Sunday Mass at St. Josephs, then perhaps we heard different “homilies.” If you_were_at that Mass too, then, we “heard” different homilies, which would be a matter of subjective experience. Now, I will concede a personal preference for hearing a homily from a priest rather than a deacon. That said, I have often been very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the deacons’ homilies.

In particular, I thought the one on Trinity Sunday was excellent. And I do not recall it being “about me” at all or as involving any confession of personal problems and conflicts. What I_do_recall is discussion of the mystery of the Trinity; of the recurrence of the number three in many different contexts in the Bible and in human relationships, including the family and in community; and the symbolism of the figure of the triangle (evoking for some of us Platonic forms in the mind of God) as being the strongest geometrical design and as representing the relationship of each of us to God and to one another in community (thereby reflecting the Great Commandment). I also recall the quoted prayer of course and, yes, an apologetic reference to Godspell and acknowledgment of the much older origin of the prayer with a saint who remained unnamed. Of course, I am sure there was more that I am not recalling at the moment.

So, Marc (or Gene): Please explain to me why this is banal or heretical. In doing this, please remember that the homilist is not addressing a group of advanced seminary students, so we should not expect a treatise on St. Augustine.

May I make a suggestion, with great diffidence: If you were just a little less critical and just a little more flexible and open (all within the limits of what is liturgically licit, of course), you too might find yourselves pleasantly surprised (even by joy). I really do believe that Pope Francis is trying to lead us in this direction, and I for one am very happy to try to follow him in this.

Anonymous 2 said...

Oh yes, Gene: I have now remembered some more of the homily: About Father Damien’s ministry to the lepers in Hawaii and how they only attended his church in significant numbers when he was able to say “We lepers” instead of “You lepers,” which reminded me immediately of Pope Francis’s call to his priests to go out among their sheep and get the smell of the sheep on them – a call to resist careerism one might say, and to live in solidarity with one’s flock, as to which see Father McDonald’s next post. Not much “about me” there I think.

So, again, Marc (and Gene): Banal? Heretical?

Anonymous 2 (really) said...

Gene: Just to clarify – I am not responsible for the post at 8:57 p.m. yesterday evening, even though it appears under my identifier for some reason. However, the question is an interesting one, whoever asked it.

Gene said...

Anon 2, I think we may have, indeed, heard different sermons. I was at 9:30 Mass.

Godspell is certainly garbage of the most obnoxious variety. The now cliched quote (the origin of which I did not know) is trite and self-congratulatory. I much prefer St. Francis' prayer, which has also become cliched in popular culture.

I am not inflexible as long as what I am being asked to consider is theologically and doctrinally sound. Critical? Yes, I have been taught through years of seminary, grad school, ministry and study to be a bit demanding as far as theological standards and argument are concerned. I'll just bet that, as a law professor and academic, you can be critical and demanding at times, as well. You are willing to listen longer to certain things than I am. You have a less active gag reflex.