Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Keeping the Triduum

Keeping The Paschal Triduum
(All quotes and directives are taken from the Sacramentary)

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the days we call Holy Week which culminate in the "Triduum", the Latin word for "three days." These Three Days embody the whole meaning of Christian life. We process in with palms to welcome our King. The Passion narrative stirs up a multitude of feelings: shame for sin, guilt for our betrayals, joy in the gift of Eucharist, gratitude for the mystery of redemption. Life demands death; love requires self-donation; mercy necessitates divine compassion.

Holy Thursday is the day that God’s love is ritualized in a unique way. Jesus not only shares the intimacy of a meal, a last meal with his disciples, but he gives them a simple, clear example of what discipleship is all about: service. Washing one another’s feet, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked—here is the core of the Eucharist, our great miracle of love. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper is traditionally the only Mass celebrated in the parishes on this day. (The Chrism Mass, when celebrated on Holy Thursday is celebrated at the Cathedral) The Mass takes place in the evening with the "full participation of the whole local community and with all priests and clergy exercising their ministry." During the singing of the Gloria the church bells ring and then remain silent until the Easter Vigil. It is appropriate also for all but the most necessary musical accompaniment be refrained from during this time. After Communion the Eucharist for Good Friday is left in the ciborium on the altar. At the conclusion of Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession through the church, accompanied by a cross bearer, candles and incense, to the place of repository. After the repository is closed the altar is stripped and crosses removed or covered. The faithful are encouraged to spend some time in adoration which should conclude by eleven o’clock.

"According to the Church’s ancient tradition, the sacraments are not celebrated today or tomorrow." Good Friday’s readings portray what the day is all about the death of the king whose destiny is being fulfilled and whose hour of glory is the cross. In reading the account of the mystery of redemption, our faith is put to the test. Salvation coming through the cross? Life recovered through death? Our God crucified? The veneration of the cross is a powerful part of today’s ritual. It is a sign of love; of triumph; of our daily struggles to live this life of Christ. The altar is bare and without cross or candles. The celebration of the Lord’s Passion normally takes place in the afternoon. After the solemn reading of the Lord’s Passion, the deacon carries the cross from the door of the church, stopping three times to sing "this is the wood of the cross...." The cross and candles are placed in the entrance of the sanctuary for veneration. Holy Communion follows the veneration of the cross. All depart in silence.

On Holy Saturday, the Church waits in silent vigil at the Lord’s Tomb. Communion may be given only as Viaticum. "The Easter Vigil is arranged in four parts: a) a brief service of light; b) the Liturgy of the Word when the Church meditates on all the wonderful things God has done for his people from the beginning; c) the Liturgy of Baptism, when new members of the Church are reborn as the day of resurrection approaches; d) the Liturgy of the Eucharist..." The celebration of Easter Vigil ("the mother of all vigils") takes place at night - after nightfall and before daybreak. ‘Candles should be prepared for all who take part in the Vigil.’ Holy Saturday is the day we have been leading up to for all of Lent. The Church is darkened; a fire is kindled, the Easter candle is carried in procession into the darkness and our candles are lit. Our attention is focused on the readings that tell of our roots. At this liturgy, we celebrate new life in Christ in age-old symbols: new fire, new light, new water and biblical words about creation and recreation. Easter is a celebration of the Lord’s resurrection and ours. It is a feast of you and me, the baptized, in union with Him who gives us life. We welcome the new members into this wonderful Church of ours. Christ is the Light of the world. We must arise and go with the risen Lord toward the fullness of light and peace.

Easter Sunday is the feast, which recognizes that Jesus’ gift of self to the Father was received, and that He and the Father are one. It is an acknowledgment that God is gathering those who share in the bread and the cup. It is a kingdom feast. We renew our baptismal promises and say: Yes, I believe, help my unbelief. For Catholics, these are the "High Holy Days" of our faith. Little unnecessary work should be done during the Triduum. We wait in silence as the Divine Mysteries unfold for us through these Liturgies. It is recommended that all the faith attend the services of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil, so that come Easter morning we may truly rejoice in the fulfillment of Salvation History.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Rights and Responsibilities

Rights and Responsibilities

“Woe to him who builds his home on wrong, his terraces on injustice; who works his neighbor without pay, and gives him no wages. Who says, ‘I will build myself a spacious house, with airy rooms,’ who cuts out windows for it, panels it with cedar, and paints it with vermillion. Must you prove your rank among kings by competing with them in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink? He did what was right and just, and it went well with him. Because he dispensed justice to the weak and the poor, it went well with him. Is this not true knowledge of me? Says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 22:13-16)

The third theme of Catholic Social Teaching is titled Rights and Responsibilities. We have, as St. John XXIII says, “the right to live. The right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, (we) have the right to be looked after in the event of ill health; disability stemming from work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment or whenever through no fault of our own we are deprived of the means of livelihood.” (Pacem in Terris) He goes on to say that all these natural rights have a corresponding duty to ensure these same rights to others. It does society no good at all if we claim rights for ourselves that we are not ready to work to ensure for all persons.

The Church calls for each of us to protect the rights of others as a way of protecting our own rights. “Every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency.” (Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops) We also have the responsibility to work so that these same rights are protected for others. The right to food, clothing, shelter, health care and to be cared for in our old age are not luxuries for those who can afford them. They are fundamental rights for each person. These rights must be vigorously protected and assured. When one claims individual rights for oneself but neglects, or even denies, these rights for others, such a person has denied the basic human dignity of the other.

“Open your mouth on behalf of the dumb, and for the rights of the destitute; open your mouth, decree what is just, defend the needy and the poor!” Proverbs 31:8-9

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Call To Family Community And Participation


(“We for our part, love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘My love is fixed on God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. One who has no love for the brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:19-21

The Second Theme of Catholic Social teaching is: “The Call to Family, Community, and Participation.”  Each person is not only sacred but also social. Human dignity is affected by how we structure our society, our economy, our political system, our judicial system. Our society must be structured in a way that allows the each person to grow to his or her potential. This begins with the family. Society must not only safe guard the family unit but also put forth policies that protect and strengthen the family. Each person, regardless of economic status or education  has right to participate in society.

The family is thus an agent of pastoral activity through its explicit proclamation of the Gospel and its legacy of varied forms of witness, namely solidarity with the poor, openness to a diversity of people, the protection of creation, moral and material solidarity with other families, including those most in need, commitment to the promotion of the common good and the transformation of unjust social structures, beginning in the territory in which the family lives, through the practice of the corporal works of mercy.” (On Love in the Family, Pope Francis)

In other words, our working toward the Common Good motivates our call to community and participation. The Church insists that our faith requires our commitment to building just structures and our focus on the corporal works of mercy; feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, welcoming the stranger. The family unit is the place to begin this novitiate of service when we learn as children that we are called to be people of service, especially to those who do not have enough of the world’s goods to take care of themselves.  Insofar as it is a ‘small-scale Church,’ the Christian family is called upon, like the ‘large-scale Church,’ to be a sign of unity for the world and in this way to exercise its prophetic role by bearing witness to the Kingdom and peace of Christ, towards which the whole world is journeying. Christian families can do this through their educational activity – that is to say by presenting to their children a model of life based on the values of truth, freedom, justice and love – both through active and responsible involvement in the authentically human growth of society  and its institutions, and by supporting in various ways the associations specifically devoted to international issues.” St. John Paul II Familiaris Consorto.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Life and dignity of the Human Person - part 2

Life and Dignity of the Human Person

“Look on the needs of the saints as your own, be generous in offering hospitality. Bless your persecutors; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same attitude toward all. Put away ambitious thoughts and associate with those who are lowly.  Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never repay injury with injury.” (Romans 12:13-17)

“Human persons are willed by God; they are imprinted with God’s image. Their dignity does not come from the work they do, but from the persons they are.” St. John Paul II On The Hundredth Year, Centesimus annus. #11

We continue with the first theme of Catholic Social Teaching, Life and Dignity of the Human Person. In the first part we talked mostly about human life issues. This section we will talk about what we mean by the dignity of the human person. Each person is made in the image and likeness of God. Each person, therefore, has inherent dignity. This dignity does not depend on ethnicity, religion, or country of origin. Nor is it effected by job, financial status, or position in the community. Workers who labor at minimum wage have the same dignity and are due the same respect as corporate leaders. Nor can they be treated as “mere tools for profit.” Because of the dignity of each person, racism in all its forms must be fought against by all Catholics. People must not be separated into groups because of how they look, how they speak, and where they come from. No one has the right to treat others as inferior to them for any reason.

How we treat one another and how we will be judged by that treatment is summed up in the “Corporal Works of Mercy.” “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you comforted me, in prison and you visited me.” (Matt. 25:35-36) Thus the Church calls on societies and individuals to see that all have enough to eat, all have decent housing, all have adequate health care. They Church calls on society to treat prisoners with dignity, and to welcome strangers and refugees. How we treat each other, especially the poor, the sick, and the marginalized, is the measurement of the justice of a country and a community.

“All human beings, therefore, are ends to be served by the institutions that make up the economy, not means to be exploited for more narrowly defined goals.  Human personhood must be respected with a reverence that is religious. When we deal with each other, we should do so with a sense of awe that arises in the presence of something holy and sacred. For that is what human beings are.” The United States Catholic Bishops, “Economic Justice for All. #28

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Life and Dignity of the Human Person


“You are holy, for you are God’s temple and God dwells in you.” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

The first theme of Catholic Social Teaching is “Life and Dignity of the Human Person.” This is foundational. Unless we uphold up the life and dignity of the human person, no other aspect of the social teaching of the Church has merit. Human life is sacred and must be held so by all. Because life is sacred all persons must be treated with the dignity they deserve because they are created in the image and likeness of God. (Genesis 1:26-31). As St. John Paul II says in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, THE GOSPLE OF LIFE, “the Second Vatican Council, in a passage which retains all its relevance today, forcefully condemned a number of crimes and attacks against human life…I repeat that condemnation in the name of the whole Church, certain that I am interpreting the genuine sentiment of every upright conscience: ‘Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others like them are infamies indeed. They poison human society, and they do more harm to those who practice them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonor to the Creator.’” (Evangelium Vitae #3).

The sacredness of life begins with the right to life which belongs to each person once conceived in the womb. Therefore, abortion, in all its forms, is always wrong and always grave matter. There simply is no justification for taking the innocent life in the womb. Abortion is no more a woman’s right than killing a five-year-old child is a mother or father’s right. Each person has the right to life from conception to natural death. This includes a denunciation of all forms of suicide and euthanasia. One does not have a right to take one’s own life any more than one has a right to take another’s life. That right belongs to God alone. Nor does one have the right to assist in a suicide even in terminally ill persons. One has a right to medications to ease pain but not to medications specifically administered to cause death. There simply is not such thing as a “right to die.” Death is an unavoidable event but it’s time is not to be under the control of any individual or group of individuals. “We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2280)

The right to life is also extended to those who may have denied that right to others. The Catechism states; “Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”  (CCC #2267) Pope Francis has moved Church teaching further along by declaring the death penalty “contrary to the Gospel.” In a speech to cardinals, bishops, priests, nuns, catechists, and ambassadors from many countries on the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism Pope Francis stated, “however grave the crime that may be committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it attacks the inviolability and the dignity of the person.”
To be continued…

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Ideology vs Faith

What is your worldview and where did it come from? This is a question that few people take the time to ask. Americans like to think that we are free thinkers but in reality we are not. There are very few free thinkers in history. Most people get their worldview, how we look at the world, our society and what we hold as our core principles, from other people and other groups. This is true of Catholics as much as it is of everyone else. As the political ideologies become more and more polarized, it has become apparent to me that many Catholics do not get their worldview from the teachings of the Church or even the Gospels. They get their worldview from our political parties and our acceptance of liberal or conservative principles.

This is truly unfortunate because it renders the “Catholic vote”, if there is such a thing, moot and unimportant. Many Catholics run to the conservative Republicans because they at least pay lip service to anti-abortion causes. Many others run to the liberal Democrats because they seem to live up to, at least verbally, the corporal works of mercy. (see Matthew 25: 31-46) A Catholic worldview is not something in the middle of the conservatives and liberals, the Republicans and Democrats. A Catholic, Christian, worldview will at times seem radically conservative and other times radically liberal. A person with a Catholic, Christian, worldview will feel uncomfortable being labeled a conservative or a liberal. Part of the problem is that most Catholics don’t really have a firm grasp of what the Church teaches on most social issues. There will always be Catholics who pick and choose which teachings to adhere to, but it is a failing on the part of those of us who are charged with resenting the teachings of the Church that so many Catholics are not familiar with all the social teachings of the Catholic Church.

Therefore, over the next few weeks in this forum I will be presenting the social teachings of the Catholic Church. I will use as my approach the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching as presented by the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching are:
Life and Dignity of the Human Person;
Call to Family, Community, and Participation;
Rights and Responsibilities;
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable;
The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers;
Care for God's Creation.

Deacon Ed

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Just War and North Korea

President Trump has laid down the gauntlet with North Korea saying that if the North Koreans continue to make threats we, the United States, would unleash a "fire and fury such has never been seen in the world." This may just be Trump being Trump and exaggerating, but what if he means it? What if we will send a volley of nuclear weapons upon North Korea if they continue to threaten us? That is the only "fire and fury" that the world has not yet seen. We have seen firebombing of entire German cities in World War II in addition to the use of nuclear weapons against Japan.

The question for Catholics is, how does war with Korea measure up against the just war theory of St. Thomas Aquinas. Let's look at it.

The just war theory has two parts: "jus ad bellum" - justification for the war, and "jus in bello" - how the is conducted.

JUS AD BELLUM - Justification for going to war.

The war must a last resort. All other options must have failed or been proven to be ineffective. At this point it certainly is not the last resort. This was one of the issues that resulted in then Cardinal Ratzinger, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (later Pope Benedict XVI), to declare the Iraq war unjust in 2003. It was not a last resort war.

The war must be declared by a legitimate authority. One would assume this would be the case.

There must be a just cause. This would be debated on the reason for war. Is it just to be seen as being bold and powerful? That would not do. Would it be to strengthen a failing administration? Certainly not. Just cause amounts to an attack from an unjust aggressor. This is really the bench mark. A pre-emptive strike would not be a just cause. This is the other reason Cardinal Ratzinger declared the Iraq war to be unjust even before it began. There was no attack by an unjust aggressor. Vengeance is not a just cause.

Probability of success.  There must be real probability that the war will be successful in creating a peace that would exceed the peace that existed before the war.

JUS IN BELLO - Conducting the war in just manner.

Proportionality. The war must not create evils and disorders greater than the evil to be eliminated. Under this criterion, the Church is clearly stated: "Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation." (Gaudium et Spes: Second Vatican Council) This was meant to be a clear condemnation of the use of nuclear weapons. The Catechism further explains: "A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons - especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons - to commit such crimes." (CCC #2314) Nuclear, biological and chemical weapons are always a crime against humanity and rightfully condemned.  The use of nuclear weapons by one nation does not justify the use of nuclear weapons by another nation. The use of nuclear weapons because another nations has threatened to use them is beyond criminal. The annihilation of an entire country destroys the very concept of proportionality.

Distinction must be made between civilians and combatants. In modern warfare, this is this criterion that I believe renders almost all modern warfare as unjust.

One should remember that all these criteria must be met without question.  You cannot satisfy some or one or two and still have a just war. Violation of one of the criteria in the least renders the war unjust.

Looking at these criteria, for the United States to attack North Korea because of a threat to attack us would be unjust, Jus ad bellum.
For the US to use nuclear weapons at any point would render the war unjust, Jus in bello. This would be true if "fire and fury" means destroying the entire nation of North Korea with its population.