Sunday, December 13, 2015

Mercy!

The Year of Mercy/Jubilee of Mercy started on Tuesday, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.1

In my home parish, it's also when we started receiving the Eucharist under both forms: our Lord's body and blood.

If you think that's sounds gory and repulsive, you're not alone. Following our Lord has involved public relations issues from day one:
"Whoever eats 19 my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.

"Jesus then said to the Twelve, 'Do you also want to leave?'

"Simon Peter answered him, 'Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

"We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.' "
(John 6:54, John 6:67-69)
Receiving under both kinds is a big deal for this parish, since our bishop had to sign off on the procedure, and we needed more servers. It'll continue for the duration of the Year of Mercy. After that, we'll see what happens.

Particularly since receiving our Lord under both forms is closer to what happened at the Last Supper, I like what we're doing now.

But I know "...that ... the true Sacrament, is received even under only one species, and ... those who receive under only one species are not deprived of any of the grace that is necessary for salvation...."2

We'll be using Latin for parts of Mass during Advent, too: which is fine with me. I like Latin. I can even understand a little of the language. Mercifully, though, most of the Mass is in my native tongue.3 — Which brings me back to the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis, and getting a grip.

Catholic, καθολικός, Universal: Really!



(From Calendar of Major Events, Jubilee of Mercy. (im.va))
(A few of the world's Catholics in St. Peter's Square, Vatican City.)

I'm not sure why some loudly-Catholic folks cannot abide much of anything that's happened since Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1965. That's when Pope Blessed Paul VI closed the Second Vatican Council.

I could get snarky about the universal call to holiness being unpalatable to folks with excessive self-esteem. Whoops: too late, I just did.

More seriously, I can't know what's going on in another person's mind. Some were probably upset about what they heard on the news about the "spirit of Vatican II," which didn't have much to do with the actual documents:
"Documents of the Second Vatican Council" is a link list for the documents' English translation. They're available in Byelorussian, Chinese, Czech, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swahili, too.

As I keep saying the Catholic Church really is catholic: καθολικός, universal: a united and diverse people, embracing all cultures and all times.

We are not an exclusive club of folks who yearn for a bygone era, or perfect people whose chief concern is remaining aloof from the rabble. Good grief, the Church let me join.

"Merciful Like the Father"



(From Pilgrim Registration, Jubilee of Mercy. (im.va))

Those folks were waiting to register as pilgrims at St. Peter's in Rome.

The Jubilee of Mercy Pilgrim Registration page's Registration link takes you to the Italian-language registration form. You can stick with Italiano, or use the language option menu to pick Polski, Español, Français, Deutsch, Portuguese; or my native language, English.

Wouldn't you know it, the Church has rules about registering:
"To participate in the Major Events of the Jubilee in Rome and to pass through the Holy Door of Saint Peter's Basilica, it is necessary to register. You can register through the page 'Pilgrim Registration' on the web site www.im.va.

"You can register as an individual pilgrim or as the leader of a group (even families or small groups of friends should register as groups, regardless of how many people they include)...."
(Pilgrim Registration)
The Jubilee of Mercy's logo comes with the motto in several languages. I picked the English one for obvious reasons. The motto, "Merciful Like the Father," is a close paraphrase of Luke 6:36. There's pretty good advice right after that:
"13 'Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.

"Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.' "
(Luke 6:37-38)
Getting back to the Jubilee logo:
"The logo and the motto together provide a fitting summary of what the Jubilee Year is all about. ... The logo - the work of Jesuit Father Marko I. Rupnik - represents an image quite important to the early Church: that of the Son having taken upon his shoulders the lost soul demonstrating that it is the love of Christ that brings to completion the mystery of his incarnation culminating in redemption. ...

"The scene is captured within the so called mandorla (the shape of an almond), a figure quite important in early and medieval iconography, for it calls to mind the two natures of Christ, divine and human. The three concentric ovals, with colors progressively lighter as we move outward, suggest the movement of Christ who carries humanity out of the night of sin and death. Conversely, the depth of the darker color suggests the impenetrability of the love of the Father who forgives all."
(Description of the logo, from im.va.)

Mercy and Forgiveness


It's the best news humanity's ever had: God loves us, and wants to adopt us. All of us. (John 1:12-14, 3:17; Romans 8:14-17; Peter 1:3-4; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 27-30, 52, 1825, 1996)

Because I believe that, trying to act like a member of the family seems reasonable.

I should love God, love my neighbors, see everybody as my neighbor, and treat others as I want to be treated. (Matthew 5:43-44, 7:12, 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31 10:25-27, 29-37)

I don't, putting it mildly, always live up to those standards. That's why we have the sacrament of penance and reconciliation: what my culture calls "confession." (Catechism, 1422-1470)

I've got the rest of my life for "working out my salvation," and that's another topic. Topics (April 12, 2015; November 23, 2014)

Where was I? Jubilee of Mercy, being Catholic, a motto, acting like God matters. Right.

Pope Francis said what the Jubilee of Mercy/Year of Mercy is about. Who it's about, more precisely:
"Jesus Christ is the face of the Father's mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith...."
("Misericordiae Vultus,"4 Pope Francis)
It's been a few months since a few tightly-wound Catholics were going ballistic over the Pope's "changing stand" on abortion. What's changed are a few administrative details.

The Pope said sin can be forgiven. THIS IS NOT A NEW IDEA. (September 6, 2015)

John 8:3-11 ends with Jesus saying to the woman who would have been killed: "Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more." (John 8:11)

The example I used involved woman caught in adultery. Oddly enough, she was the one about to be stoned: not the man. Elsewhere our Lord points out that men are responsible, too, or should be:
"19 'You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery."

"But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
(Matthew 5:27-28)

Relying on God's Mercy


Back in the 1960s, quite a few folks around my age decided that a life devoted to buying stuff we don't need, with money we didn't have, to impress folks we didn't like, didn't make sense.

I was one of 'those crazy kids' who thought there was more to life than slithering up the career ladder. I still do, and that's yet another topic.

Somewhere between "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Harper Valley PTA," I realized that what's legal and what's right can be two very different things.

I've discussed natural and positive law, ethics, and Chickenman, before. (August 30, 2015; September 7, 2014; August 31, 2014)

Some reforms my generation worked for were long overdue, and some didn't turn out as I had hoped, but I do not miss the 'good old days.' My memory's too good. (August 30, 2015; May 3, 2015)

Being a man who at least looks English is no longer required for folks looking for the better-paying jobs, happily. The underlying biases may linger for decades or centuries, and that's yet again another topic. (July 5, 2015; October 26, 2014)

Not-so-happily, killing innocent people is legal, or at least tolerated, in America: provided that the victim is below an arbitrary age, or very sick. I think human life is sacred, so I can't approve. (Catechism, 2258)

I think all human life is sacred, which puts me in the awkward position of seeing capital punishment, euthanasia, and abortion, as bad ideas. That puts me at odds with an assortment of folks, but it can't be helped. (September 6, 2015; August 30, 2015)

I can't reasonably heap abuse on 'those sinners over there,' however. I remember our Lord's story about a Pharisee who 'prayed to himself:'
" 'Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.

"The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, 'O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity - greedy, dishonest, adulterous - or even like this tax collector.

"I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.'

"But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.'

"I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.' "
(Luke 18:10-14)
I'm like the Pharisee, sort of. I pray regularly, and have not committed any socially-unacceptable sins. But I have other items on my rap sheet, so relying on God's mercy makes sense. Besides, there's that pesky "stop judging" thing in Matthew 7:1-5. (March 15, 2015)

"...The Forgiveness of God Cannot be Denied...."


Having a conscience, learning to notice whether something I'm about to do will help or hurt another, is vital. (Catechism, 1776-1794)

We're social creatures, so I must think about the common good: which also involves using my conscience. (Catechism, 1905-1912, 1928-1942)

That can include situations like the old "friends don't let friends drive drunk" public service ads. It's a matter of showing love and respect for another person. (Catechism, 1929-1933, 2284-2301)

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 sets a high standard for that sort of love: and I'm drifting off-topic.

In the end, I must trust God's justice and mercy. (Catechism, 1861)

Bottom line? Forgiving others is vital.
"11 If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.

"But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."
(Matthew 6:14-15)

"1 2 'Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

"For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you."
(Matthew 7:1-2)

"Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."
(Luke 23:34)

"1 Therefore, you are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment. 2 For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things. ... There is no partiality with God."
(Romans 2:1-11)
Here's part of what Pope Francis wrote about forgiveness:
"...I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision.What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfil this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence...."
("Letter of the Holy Father according to which an Indulgence is granted to the faithful on the occasion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy," Pope Francis (September 1, 2015) [emphasis mine])
That seems reasonable to me. So does this:
"Lord, hear my cry! May your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.

"If you, LORD, mark our sins, Lord, who can stand?

"3 But with you is forgiveness and so you are revered."
(Psalms 130:2-4)
More of my take on following our Lord:

1 It's Mary's immaculate conception, not our Lord's. (December 9, 2011)

The Immaculate Conception is when Mary was conceived. She's as human as I am, with an extremely important distinction:
"Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, 'full of grace' through God,134 was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:
"The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.135"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 491)
2 More about Mass:
3 I can, with effort, translate Latin into my native language, so "Misericordiae Vultus..." wouldn't be completely inaccessible:
4 Mercifully the Church provides English translations for many of documents we've accumulated over the last two millennia; including these:

2 comments:

Brigid said...

Extra word: "but I do not miss for the 'good old days.'"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...

Oops. Thanks, Brigid! Found and fixed.

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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.