Friday, June 8, 2012

The Pope; Vatileaks; Seven Gifts; and Looking Beyond the End of Time

Everybody has a vocation, a "calling or destiny we have in this life and hereafter." (Catechism, Glossary) Mine is being a married man, part of the laity. Besides being husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, and children, the laity are:
" the Church and in the world, their own assignment in the mission of the whole People of God.' 387 Finally, 'from both groups [hierarchy and laity] there exist Christian faithful who are consecrated to God in their own special manner and serve the salvific mission of the Church through the profession of the evangelical counsels.'388..."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 873)
Maybe that sounds highfalutin. I've been around long enough to know that fancy-sounding titles and important positions generally include work. Lots of work.

The New Evanglization and Me

One of the 'new' jobs for the laity is the 'new evangelization.' (April 12, 2012) It's not, really, all that new: just the latest wrinkle in the millennia-spanning "call for laypeople to publicly witness to their faith." (

I live too far away from America's major metropolitan areas to join the formal parts of this country's new evangelization. But that doesn't let me off the hook. Thanks to Information Age technology, I can share what I'm learning about my faith, and why it matters. Which is where this blog comes in. And my weekly 'my take on the news' post.

A Long, Hard Path: Surrounded by Beauty and Wonder

This week's news includes opportunities for me to get distressed, distracted, and dismayed. I could indulge in hand wringing: maybe even make it seem very 'spiritual.'

On the whole, though, I don't see the percentage in doing that. Particularly since I realize that if I lift my eyes from the path and look around: I'm surrounded by vistas of wonder. And the best is still ahead. (June 3, 2012)

Here's my take on this week's news:
  1. World Meeting of Families, 2015
  2. Vatileaks - The Butler Did It
  3. Called to Great Things

1. World Meeting of Families, 2015

CNA (Catholic News Agency) ran an article that's mostly about the next scheduled World Meeting of Families and Benedict XVI's plans for that get-together.

Since Philadelphia and Catholics are involved, Americans who follow the news are likely to remember a the recurring story of the pedophile priests. I might as well get that out of the way first:
"...The Philadelphia archdiocese faces continuing fallout from sex abuse scandals and has been forced to close dozens of Catholic schools because of a lack of financial resources...."
I've posted about what some priests did during the last half-century:
Moving on.

The Pope's Choice, Plans, and Hope

"Pope to attend World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia"
Kevin J. Jones, CNA (Catholic News Agency) (June 6, 2012)

"Pope Benedict XVI personally chose Philadelphia as the site for the next World Meeting of Families and, health permitting, will attend the 2015 event, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said.

"...He said he hoped to be there, but he reminded me he's 85 years old and he'd be 88 at that time, and God willing he will be with us,' Archbishop Chaput said. 'He's a man who trusts God's providence, and I do too.'

"The World Meeting of Families, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family, takes place every three years. It brings together hundreds of thousands of people to pray, celebrate and study marriage and family life. Archbishop Chaput and Pope Benedict attended the 2012 event in Milan...."
I hope that Benedict XVI will be with us for the 2012 World Meeting of Families. But if he's not, I'm about as sure as I can be that the authority held by the 265th successor to Peter will have been passed along - and that the Pope will be there.

"Hope" hasn't been fashionable for much of my lifetime. That's understandable, given the silly optimism about the "inevitability of progress" that came before.

I was cautiously hopeful before I became a Catholic. I'd noticed that, although there were setbacks on a scale of years, decades, and sometimes centuries: from millennium to millennium, on average, people learned more effective ways to:
  • Grow and distribute food
  • Deal with injuries and disease
  • Cooperate
After my conversion, I learned a bit more about why this has been happening, and that's another topic.

I've posted about hope, progress, and getting a grip, before:

Milan, Attendance, and Statistics

"...Archbishop Chaput attended the final Mass with a military family from South Carolina who represented the United States.

" 'Surprisingly, the six of them and myself were invited to lunch, and not only to lunch, but to the same table as the Pope,' he said.

"The archbishop said a 'large number of people' usually attend the World Meeting of Families, and typically the Pope visits for the final days of the event. The closing Mass for the 2012 gathering in Milan was attended by 1 million people...."
Even by American standards, a get-together with 1,000,000 attendees is pretty big. But I suppose someone could draw attention that only about 1/1,000 of the world's living Catholics attended that Mass: and express either anguish or triumph, depending on personal outlook.

I think it's a fairly good turnout for this sort of an event. More topics.

The Pope's view of the Milan World Meeting of Families:

2. Vatileaks - The Butler Did It

"Cardinal Bertone speaks of 'ferocious' Vatileaks attack on Pope"
David Kerr, CNA (Catholic News Agency) (June 6, 2012)

"The Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, believes the continued leaking of confidential papal information to the media is 'ferocious, biting and organized.'

" 'Attacks have always existed, in all times' he told Italian television station RAI on June 4.

" 'This time, however, it seems that the attacks are more targeted, sometimes also ferocious, biting and organized.'...
I remember the trailing edge of McCarthyism. I grew up in an area where radio preachers were almost as enthusiastic about the communist menace as they were about the latest End Times Bible prophecy. With my background, someone expressing the idea that 'it's a plot' tends to make me dubious.

Still, the Vatican's Secretary of State has almost certainly been paying more attention to Vatileaks than I have: and has sources of information that I don't.Maybe there actually is an organized media attack on the Catholic Church. It's quite possible.

It's also possible that the Vatican's Secretary of State has slipped a cog, and will shortly be claiming that the Pope's being controlled by radio waves from outer space. Possible: but not likely. At all. My opinion.

Not Organized: Just Like-Minded?

I think it's possible for what appears to be an organized media campaign to happen, without being organized. my take on news, bias, and unconsidered assumptions, posted yesterday:
Basically, when a relatively small number of people who share very nearly the same assumptions and biases get the same information at about the same time: I'm not surprised that they all tend to report it pretty much the same way.

Vatileaks may be one of those unintended consequences of old-school assumptions colliding with Information Age technology. Sort of like the 'flash crash' of 2010. Or, not. Here's a pretty good analysis of what went wrong:

No, Really: The Butler Did It

"...This is the first time Cardinal Bertone has commented publicly on the so-called 'Vatileaks' scandal that has rumbled on since January 2012.

"So far, the only person charged by Vatican police as part of the ongoing investigation is the Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele. The Secretary of State's statement that the leaks are "organized" seems to suggest that he believes Gabriele was not acting alone....

"...The latest batch of leaked papal documents appeared in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica over the June 2-3 weekend. They included a confidential letter written by the American Cardinal Raymond Burke to Pope Benedict in January 2012...."
What interests me more than business-as-usual in news media is Cardinal Raymond Burke's letter, and related correspondence.

Correspondence, Clarification, and Getting a Grip

It's not that I enjoy reading other people's mail: this is an opportunity to see how the Catholic Church works.
"...In his correspondence, Cardinal Burke expressed surprise and dismay after receiving an invitation to an event that seemed to be celebrating the Vatican's approval for the liturgies used by the new movement, the Neocatechumenatal Way.

"He explained to the Pope that he did 'not recall having heard a consultation regarding a particular liturgy for this ecclesial movement' and that 'such liturgical innovations' do not seem 'coherent with the liturgical magisterium of the pope.'

"After reading the letter, Pope Benedict attached a handwritten note agreeing with Cardinal Burke's sentiments with the instruction that they should be passed onto the Congregation for Divine Worship.

"After the cardinal's letter was sent it emerged that the Vatican's approval only applied to non-liturgical prayers within the Neocatechumenatal Way's catechesis and not to the Mass or other liturgies of the Church."
I'm not shocked and horrified that a Cardinal wrote the Pope, expressing concern over the Vatican's apparent approval of an offbeat liturgy. Given screwball antics done 'in the spirit of Vatican II' in this country: I'd be concerned if a Cardinal didn't ask Rome what was going on.

This isn't 'dissension,' or 'chaos.' This is how a two-millennia-old outfit works: asking questions and getting answers. Or, in this case, a clarification.

By the way, I'm also not shocked and horrified that the Pope didn't rant about Satanic heretics who would go to Hell because they had new ideas. I've been over this before, too:

3. Called to Great Things

"Pope to Youth: God Calls You to Great Things Today" (June 4, 2012)
"Explains Holy Spirit's Gifts to Those to Be Confirmed"

"During his trip to Milan for the 7th World Meeting of Families, Benedict XVI reminded youth that God is calling them each day to something great. He exhorted them to have high ideals and to strive to be saints, saying sanctity is for everyone, also for the young.

"The Pope said this Saturday in an address to young people who are about to receive the sacrament of confirmation, or have recently been confirmed.

"His address centered on a brief explanation of each of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit....
ZENIT has what Benedict XVI said, full text, English, online:
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit:
  • Wisdom
  • Understanding
  • Counsel
  • Fortitude
  • Knowledge
  • Piety
  • Fear of the Lord
    (Catechism, 1830-1832)

Spiritual Mountain Climbing

"...'The Spirit's gifts are wondrous realities that allow you to form yourselves as Christians, to live the Gospel and to be active members of the community,' he told them.

"The Holy Father compared the whole of the Christian life to a journey, saying it is 'like climbing a path that leads up a mountain - and so it is not always easy, but climbing a mountain is something beautiful - together with Jesus; with these precious gifts your friendship with him will become still more real and intimate.'

"The Pontiff encouraged the youth to take advantage of Sunday Mass and the sacrament of confession, as well as daily prayer. Regarding confession, he said it is 'a meeting with Jesus who forgives our sins and helps us to do the good; receiving this gift, beginning again, is a great gift in life, knowing that I am free, that I can start over, that all is forgiven.'..."
I like that image of climbing a path up a mountain. I've seen mountains: the ones separating my part of North America from the west coast. Being partway up a mountain is "something beautiful," even when using a car instead of walking.

Forgiveness and Decisions

I also like " '...knowing that I am free, that I can start over, that all is forgiven.'..." In the 60 years since my birth, I've had to start over: fairly often. Happily, Catholics aren't expected to be perfect people. We're 'just' expected to work toward that goal. (Catechism, 309-314, 519-521, 1693, 1698)

I believe in "one baptism for the forgiveness of sin." But I also accept the idea that, even though I was baptized, I'm not likely "to escape every wound of sin." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 977-980)

Happily, there is no offense that the Church cannot forgive. (Catechism, 976-983) I can chose to turn away from from the Church, reject God: but that would be my decision, not an action by God or the Church. (Catechism, 1993) Telling God to leave me alone would also be an abysmally daft move.

"In Days to Come - - - "

'Climbing a mountain' is hardly a new way to look at moving toward God:
"2 In days to come, The mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it;

"3 many peoples shall come and say: 'Come, let us climb the LORD'S mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, That he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.' For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

"He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again."
(Isaiah 2:2-4)
It's been a long climb, since the days of Isaiah. Today, we're more than two dozen centuries closer to "in days to come:" but my guess is that we still have a lot more climbing ahead.

God willing, I'll spend the rest of my life climbing: and enjoying the view. Then it's particular judgment for me: and others will keep climbing toward a city with "no more death or mourning, wailing or pain."1

More, about Abraham, mountains, and an eternal covenant:
Related posts:

1 You've probably run into this before:
"I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people 4 and God himself will always be with them (as their God).

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, (for) the old order has passed away.' "
(Revelation 21:3-4)
I'm pretty sure that the "unfamiliar and extravagant symbolism" in The Apocalypse, or Revelation to John will make sense: when we get together after the Last Judgment. (Catechism, 1038-1041) Until then, I'm quite willing to let God handle the details.

I'm also pretty sure that the end of time and the new universe is coming "soon" - from God's point of view. Judging from the awesome scale of this creation, my guess is that God's "soon" could be a long, long way off by human standards.

I've posted about God, the universe, and size, before: More:
  • The Hope of the New Heaven and the New Earth
    (Catechism, 1042-1050)

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.