Sunday, October 19, 2014

Yeats, Cthulhu, and Synod 14

Some mainstream news isn't "journalistic infotainment-like art-product," as Hyraxx, the alien reporter in Buck Godot, described her work.

That said, there's a reason for my concentrating on, the Vatican's official news source, for Synod 14 coverage.

Outfits like CNN, Reuters, BBC News, and Mirror Online, depend at least partly on advertising to pay their bills. I've got no problem with that, particularly since I couldn't afford 'pay per view' news services.

But since they rely on advertising, their editors are obliged to focus on what attracts the most viewers: and advertisers. Most folks aren't like me, thank God, so we get news that's full of drama and suspense.

Some news services lay it on with a trowel, embracing the if it bleeds, it leads philosophy. Others present their emotionality in a more genteel manner: with, I think, the same fervor.

Emotions are part of being human. We're supposed to feel happy, sad, or whatever. But God gave us brains: and expects us to think, too. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1704, 1731, 1762-1769, 1778, 1780, 1792, 1951)

I have no problem with emotions: which is a good thing, since I'm a very emotional man. I've enjoyed shows like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Revenge of the Cybermen, but that's entertainment.

I like my news, particularly news about anything I take seriously, to be heavy on facts and very light on feelings. That's why I've been following Synod 14 mostly through, and I'm back where I started.

More than You Need to Know About Cthulhu

"New game: when reading blog posts today about the Synod, replace 'Synod' with 'Cthulhu's Return' and 'Relatio' with 'Necronomicon.' "
(A tip of the hat to Jonathan Sullivan, on Google Plus (October 13, 2014))
For the benefit of folks who have better things to do than read the sort of stuff I do: Cthulhu is a cosmic entity imagined by H. P. Lovecraft, back in 1928. Cthulhu caught on, and has appeared in quite a few stories since.

In many stories, the problem isn't that Cthulhu doesn't like humans: it's that Cthulhu notices us the way we notice pond scum.

I think Lovecraft's fear of his civilization's imminent doom was understandable, that he deserves credit for imagining space aliens who didn't act like humans in monster suits, and that's another topic. (June 27, 2014)

"...Things Fall Apart; the Centre Cannot Hold..."

If I thought this world was perfect in the 1950s, I might feel like Yeats did:
"...Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity....
("The Second Coming," W. B. Yeats (1919))
Yeats had a point. It was the end of civilization as he knew it.

Some folks see today's problems, think it's the end of civilization as we know it: and feel that this is a bad thing.

I agree with them, sort of. I think it's the end of civilization as we know it: and about time, too.

You see, I remember the 'good old days,' and they weren't.

We don't live in a perfect world. Dragging the world back to an imagined 'Golden Age' isn't an option. But there's hope that we can build a better world. (August 31, 2014; August 3, 2014)

Waiting a Year

I'm looking forward to reading any documents that come from Synod 14: the finished documents.

I'm not very interested in details of who said what about whose ideas. That's because I don't plan on making a study of the psychology, planning strategy, or rhetoric, of the Synod.

I do plan to write about what comes from Synod 14. But since I don't make "journalistic infotainment-like art-product," I'll wait until the document or documents are released before writing about what they said.

I'll have to be patient, though. Synod 14's job was discussing "pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation," and drafting a document for the Episcopal Conferences:
" '...we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties....

"...'One year to work on the "Synodal Relatio" which is the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. It is presented to the Episcopal Conferences as 'lineamenta' [guidelines]...'."
(Pope Francis, from Vatican Radio, via (October 18, 2014))
That's right: folks will be working on the "Synodal Relatio" for another year.

I'm quite confident that we won't have nine, or 11, Commandments in November of 2015.

I'm also pretty sure that some folks will be very upset about what Synod 14 said, didn't say, or — in their opinion — said the 'wrong' way.

I put a few excerpts from at the end of this post.1 Believe it or not, I cut a lot out of the first excerpt, and even more out of the rest.

Small wonder that most news services snip out the juiciest bits for their Synod 14 coverage.

"Tensions and Temptations"

In Synod 14's closing speech, Pope Francis talked about "tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned." This is my quick paraphrase of the Pope's list of temptations to:
  • Hostile inflexibility
    • Wanting to close oneself within the written word
    • Not allowing oneself to be surprised by God
  • A destructive tendency to goodness [Italian, "buonismo"]
    • Treating symptoms, not causes
  • Transform
    • Stones into bread
    • Bread into a stone
  • Come down off the Cross
    • Pleasing people
      • Not God
  • Neglect the 'depositum fidei' [the deposit of faith]
    (Paraphrased from Pope Francis' remarks, via Vatican Radio/
That's a very quick paraphrase. There's enough in each of the five paragraphs I boiled down for another of these 'being Catholic' posts. At least.

Change Happens

This isn't the 1st, 11th, or 20th, century any more. Change happens, some things don't change, and that's yet another topic. Topics. (Catechism, 302, 1954-1960)

I said this last week: what the Church teaches hasn't changed in two millennia. How it's taught has been changing, and will continue to change.

Haven't had enough of me yet? There's more:

Excerpts from
"Pope Francis speech at the conclusion of the Synod"
Vatican Radio, via (October 18, 2014)

"At the conclusion of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, Pope Francis addressed the assembled Fathers, thanking them for their efforts and encouraging them to continue to journey.

"Below, please find Vatican Radio's provisional translation of Pope Francis' address to the Synod Fathers:

"Dear Eminences, Beatitudes, Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters,

"With a heart full of appreciation and gratitude I want to thank, along with you, the Lord who has accompanied and guided us in the past days, with the light of the Holy Spirit.

"From the heart I thank Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod, Bishop Fabio Fabene, under-secretary...

"...I can happily say that – with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality – we have truly lived the experience of 'Synod,' a path of solidarity, a 'journey together.'

"And it has been 'a journey' ... there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned:

" - One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – 'traditionalists' and also of the intellectuals.

" - The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the 'do-gooders,' of the fearful, and also of the so-called 'progressives and liberals.'

" - The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

" - The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

" - The temptation to neglect the 'depositum fidei' [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them 'byzantinisms,' I think, these things…

"Dear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted – and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) – His disciples should not expect better treatment.

"Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and appreciation – speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parresia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the 'supreme law,' the 'good of souls' (cf. Can. 1752). And this always – we have said it here, in the Hall – without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48)....

"...Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.

"One year to work on the 'Synodal Relatio' which is the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. It is presented to the Episcopal Conferences as 'lineamenta' [guidelines].

"May the Lord accompany us, and guide us in this journey for the glory of His Name, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph. And please, do not forget to pray for me! Thank you!

"[The hymn Te Deum was sung, and Benediction given.]

"Thank you, and rest well, eh?"

What you just read — or skimmed through — or skipped entirely — is a fraction of the transcript.

More excerpts, even more drastically cut down to size:
"Message of the Synod Assembly on the pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation"
VIS, via (October 18, 2014)

"This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the Message of the Third Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops...Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and president of the Commission for the Message and Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, India. The full text of the message is published below:

" 'We, Synod Fathers, gathered in Rome together with Pope Francis in the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, greet...

"...We offer you the words of Christ: 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me'....

"...We recognise the great challenge....

"...We remember the women who suffer violence and exploitation, victims of human trafficking, children abused by those who ought to have protected them and fostered their development, ... 'The culture of prosperity deadens us…. all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us'. We call on governments and international organizations to promote the rights of the family for the common good.

"Christ wanted his Church to be a house with doors always open to welcome everyone. We warmly thank our pastors, lay faithful, and communities who accompany couples and families and care for their wounds....

"...Father, grant that we may all see flourish a Church that is ever more faithful and credible, a just and humane city, a world that loves truth, justice and mercy'."

"Synod on Family shows Church whose doors are always open"
Vatican Radio, via (October 18, 2014)

"Bishops attending the Synod on the Family on Saturday concluded their two week meeting by voting on a final document which will form the basis for discussion over the coming year....

"...A lengthy standing ovation echoed around the Synod Hall as Pope Francis spoke of the journey that Synod participants have travelled since the opening Mass in St Peter's Basilica nearly 2 weeks ago. He talked of the enthusiasm and grace he'd experienced listening to pastors and to couples sharing their experiences of married life. And he talked of the disappointments, tensions and temptations that have been part of the conversations too. The temptation to be closed into the 'hostile inflexibility' of the traditionalist or the destructive temptation to be a liberal 'do-gooder.' But none of these temptations should discourage us, the Pope said, because this is the Church which is not scared of rolling up its sleeves to tend peoples' wounds, rather than standing aloof and passing judgements from an ivory tower. Following in Jesus' footsteps, it's a Church which is not afraid to eat with prostitutes and publicans, a Church whose doors are always open to help those in need....

"...'Keep in mind this is not a magisterial document….the Pope asked for it to be made available to show the degree of maturity that has taken place and that which still needs to take place in discussions over the coming year.'

"So that's all from the Vatican press office for the Synod on the Family for 2014 – now the real work begins of taking this document back to the dioceses and parishes, in preparation for the bigger and even more significant Ordinary Synod on the Family in October 2015."

"Card Napier: Synod document highlights all main concerns"
Vatican Radio, via (October 17, 2014)

"Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, Archbishop of Durban in South Africa, is one of the bishops participating in the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family that is coming to a close in the Vatican.

"He is also one of those appointed to the group drafting a final document for the Synod for submission to Pope Francis by Sunday....

"...In a conversation with Vatican Radio's Linda Bordoni, Cardinal Napier spoke of how the Synod has been an occasion to listen to differing ideas and concerns from across the world, and of how a climate of frank and open discussion has given life to a working document that reflects the core issues that have been addressed...."

"Synod on the Family: Reports of English language working groups"
Vatican Radio, via (October 17, 2014)

"Below we publish the texts of the reports presented for consideration in the drafting of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops’ final document or Relatio synodi from the English language Working Groups.

"Relatio - Circulus Anglicus 'A'

"Moderator: Card. Raymond Leo BURKE
"Relator: S.E. Mons. John Atcherley DEW

"I present this report of behalf of the English speaking group Anglicus 'A'. The group has suggested a number of amendments to the RELATIO POST DISCEPTATIONEM, some are major amendments and others quite small, nevertheless they have significant meaning attached to them. In proposing amendments we have shifted the focus from particular situations described in the Relatio to the people involved in the situations, concentrating on the goodness to be found in them.

"We believed that there needed to be a new introduction to the Relatio...."


George King said...

The Synod should include Mathew 22:12. The man with the wrong clothes are homosexuals. They are totally in the wrong with anything to do with sexual relationships. ie marriage between man and a woman.

Brian Gill said...

George King, I'm quite sure that the final document(s) from Synod 14 will cover what is necessary in relation to marriage, the family, and evangelization.

As for the parable of the wedding guests, which includes Matthew 22:12 ( ) - perhaps you were thinking of Deuteronomy 22:5 ( ).

For anyone who's curious about my take on clothing and culture, I've discussed it under the "Abraham, Zoot Suits, and All That" heading, back in 2012 (August 20, 2012)

Brian Gill said...

Another post of mine, about men, women, and getting a grip: "Are You a Boy, or Are You a Girl?" (September 26, 2009).

Bottom line, I take the rules about wearing clothing appropriate to my sex seriously. But I also realize that 21st century Minnesota isn't the Middle East in the days of Abraham.

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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.