Here’s a collection of what I tweeted as I read Pope Francis’ new encyclical Fratelli tutti this morning after its release…
“Francis felt himself a brother to the sun, the sea and the wind, yet he knew that he was even closer to those of his own flesh.” – FT, 2
“Francis did not wage a war of words aimed at imposing doctrines; he simply spread the love of God. He understood that ‘God is love & those who abide in love abide in God’ (1 Jn 4:16). In this way, he became a father to all and inspired the vision of a fraternal society.” – FT, 4
“As a result, there is a growing loss of the sense of history, which leads to even further breakup. A kind of “deconstructionism”, whereby human freedom claims to create everything starting from zero, is making headway in today’s culture… The one thing it leaves in its wake is the drive to limitless consumption and expressions of empty individualism.” – FT, 13
“The Holy Father on how those who seek to destroy history do so to ‘reign unopposed’ and are ‘the new forms of cultural colonization.'”
“Respect for [human] rights ‘is the preliminary condition… When the dignity of the human person is respected, and his or her rights recognized and guaranteed, creativity and interdependence thrive, and… creativity.. that further the common good.'” -FT 22 (quoting himself)
[COVID] “If everything is connected, it is hard to imagine that this global disaster is unrelated to our way of approaching reality, our claim to be absolute masters of our own lives and of all that exists.” – FT 34
37: Certain populist political regimes, as well as certain liberal economic approaches, maintain that an influx of migrants is to be prevented at all costs. Arguments are also made for the propriety of limiting aid to poor countries… great numbers of lives are at stake. Many migrants have fled from war, persecution and natural catastrophes. Others, rightly, ‘are seeking opportunities for themselves and their families. They dream of a better future and they want to create the conditions for achieving it.’
41: “I realize that some people are hesitant and fearful with regard to migrants…. part of our natural instinct of self-defence. Yet it is also true that an individual and a people are only fruitful and productive if they are able to develop a creative openness to others.”
43: Digital Communications “do not really build community.. they tend to disguise and expand the very individualism that finds expression in xenophobia and in contempt for the vulnerable. Digital connectivity is not enough to build bridges. It is not capable of uniting humanity.”
“Information without wisdom” 47-50 is golden. I will need to blog on this section.
56-60: Parable of the Good Samaritan… “Where is your brother Abel?”… Saint Irenaeus on harmony in music… Sirach “the compassion of the Lord is for all living beings”… Matthew “do to others as you would have them do to you.”
FT 79: “All of us have a responsibility for the wounded, those of our own people and all the peoples of the earth. Let us care for the needs of every man and woman, young and old, with the same fraternal spirit of care and closeness that marked the Good Samaritan.”
“The spiritual stature of a person’s life is measured by love… ‘the criterion for the definitive decision about a human life’s worth or lack thereof.’… Yet some believers think that it consists in the imposition of their own ideologies upon everyone else, or in a violent defence of the truth, or in impressive demonstrations of strength… All of us, as believers, need to recognize that love takes first place: love must never be put at risk, and the greatest danger lies in failing to love.'” – FT 92
“Love, then, is more than just a series of benevolent actions. Those actions have their source in a union increasingly directed towards others, considering them of value, worthy, pleasing and beautiful apart from their physical or moral appearances.” – FT 94
(Note to self: remember to quote this in any papers for Trinity & Salvation.)
101-102: Comparing the idea of “neighbor” with the modern idea of “associate” for business, political, or other gain.
“Individualism does not make us more free, more equal, more fraternal. The mere sum of individual interests is not capable of generating a better world for the whole human family. Nor can it save us from the many ills that are now increasingly globalized.” -FT 105
The common destination of created goods & the social purpose of all forms of private property, 118-120, is going to take a lot more prayerful reading to be sure I understand what he’s teaching. Remembering what we have is gift to be shared is my starting point.
Quotes JPII, though, in Centesimus Annus, “God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favouring anyone.”
“On an even broader scale, Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb and I have observed that ‘good relations between East and West are indisputably necessary for both.'” – FT 136
“Life without fraternal gratuitousness becomes a form of frenetic commerce, in which we are constantly weighing up what we give and what we get back in return. God, on the other hand, gives freely, to the point of helping even those who are unfaithful.” – FT 140
“In some areas of our cities, there is still a lively sense of neighbourhood. Each person quite spontaneously perceives a duty to accompany and help his or her neighbour. In places where these community values are maintained, people experience a closeness marked… by gratitude, solidarity and reciprocity. The neighbourhood gives them a sense of shared identity. Would that neighbouring countries were able to encourage a similar neighbourly spirit between their peoples!” – FT 152
“The development of a global community of fraternity based on the practice of social friendship on the part of peoples and nations calls for a better kind of politics, one truly at the service of the common good.” FT 154
“The biggest issue is employment… promotes the good of the people… the opportunity to nurture the seeds that God has planted: talents, initiative, innate resources. This is the finest help we can give to the poor, the best path to a life of dignity.” – FT 162
“True charity is capable of incorporating all these elements in its concern for others. In the case of personal encounters, including those involving a distant or forgotten brother or sister, it can do so by employing all the resources that the institutions of an organized, free and creative society are capable of generating. Even the Good Samaritan, for example, needed to have a nearby inn that could provide the help that he was personally unable to offer.” FT 165
“The marketplace, by itself, cannot resolve every problem, however much we are asked to believe this dogma of neoliberal faith. Whatever the challenge, this impoverished and repetitive school of thought always offers the same recipes.” FT 168
“Charity needs the light of the truth that we constantly seek. ‘That light is both the light of reason and the light of faith,’ and does not admit any form of relativism.” – FT 185
Dignity & education, subsidiarity & solidarity (187); fundamental human rights vs. ‘throwaway culture’, calling for effective solutions & naming big problems affecting human dignity today (188); elimination of hunger as a biggest goal & step to universal human rights (189)
“Approaching, speaking, listening, looking at, coming to know and understand one another, and to find common ground: all these things are summed up in the one word “dialogue”. If we want to encounter and help one another, we have to dialogue.” – FT 198
“Dialogue is often confused with something quite different: the feverish exchange of opinions on social networks, frequently based on media information that is not always reliable. These exchanges are merely parallel monologues.” FT 200
“Authentic social dialogue involves the ability to respect the other’s point of view and to admit that it may include legitimate convictions and concerns. Based on their identity and experience, others have a contribution to make, and it is desirable that they should articulate… their positions for the sake of a more fruitful public debate. When individuals or groups are consistent in their thinking, defend their values and convictions, and develop their arguments, this surely benefits society” – FT 203
“That every human being possesses an inalienable dignity is a truth that corresponds to human nature apart from all cultural change.. human beings have the same inviolable dignity in every age of history… The intellect can investigate the reality of things through reflection, experience and dialogue, and come to recognize in that reality, which transcends it, the basis of certain universal moral demands… To agnostics, this foundation could prove sufficient to confer a solid and stable universal validity on basic and non-negotiable ethical principles that could serve to prevent further catastrophes… As believers, we are convinced that human nature, as the source of ethical principles, was created by God, and that ultimately it is he who gives those principles their solid foundation.” – FT 213-214
“When one part of society exploits all that the world has to offer, acting as if the poor did not exist, there will eventually be consequences. Sooner or later, ignoring the existence and rights of others will erupt in some form of violence, often when least expected… Liberty, equality and fraternity can remain lofty ideals unless they apply to everyone. Encounter cannot take place only between the holders of economic, political or academic power.” – FT 219
Recovering Kindness (FT 222-224) may be the basis for my Virtue/Gifts of the Spirit focus (Kindness) for our Young Disciples Society at my parish this coming week.
Calling out learnings from Bishops of South Africa & South Korea in how to achieve reconciliation & peace (FT 229)
Fixing inequality, providing = opportunities, “When a society, whether local, national or global, is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programs or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance can indefinitely guarantee tranquility.” FT 235
Forgiveness, the memory of harms done, moving on, (236-254)
“Revenge never truly satisfies victims. Some crimes are so horrendous and cruel that the punishment of those who perpetrated them does not serve to repair the harm done. Even killing the criminal would not be enough, nor.. any form of torture… Revenge resolves nothing.” -FT 251
On war and the death penalty, including great new language to try to bring people along on the injustice of capital punishment, FT 255-270. *
On the church’s (& her members’) rightful participation in political life: FT 276
@pontifex ends his reflection on universal fraternity recalling Saint Francis of Assisi, but also Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Mahatma Gandhi… and Blessed Charles de Foucauld. “Only by identifying with the least did he come at last to be the brother of all.”
Now that we’ve had our homiletics course, we’re preaching at various liturgies outside of Mass for practice, and we’re recording them and sharing them with our brother classmates for feedback. I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to preach reflections in communion services in my parish assignment. This morning, I accepted our deacon director’s suggestion that if we felt comfortable, we try preaching a reflection without a manuscript. Here is a transcript of what I delivered from a rough outline:
Traditionally this week, Wednesday, Friday, and today – Saturday – are Ember Days, days of fasting in the Church. After the Exaltation of the Cross there are the fall days of fasting, the Fall Ember Days. And then traditionally, this weekend, in many places, especially where farming is a key part of life, there’s still a Mass of thanksgiving for the goodness, of the fruits of the harvest.
It’s in this time of year that a lot of the Church readings start to turn back to the idea of the richness of the harvest, of the earth – the return from those things that we sow and we hear today the idea of sowing.
We just heard the word “sow” nine times, between the first reading to the Corinthians – the letter to the Corinthians – and this this Gospel.
We actually heard this Gospel about five weeks ago at Sunday Mass, from Matthew, and today, again in this fall season, the church calls it from Luke and we hear it again in Luke’s words.
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians was a letter to, what one of our Scripture textbooks called, the “Las Vegas” of the early Christian world. It was a center of trade, a center of great wealth and lavish living, which also made it a center of difficulty of choosing between good and evil and a moral life, and that manifested itself quite a bit even in the the emergent Church in Corinth that Paul had planted the seeds of.
And so he wrote to them, multiple letters, encouraging them in faith, encouraging them to choose Christ and to choose a moral life. In this first reading, he speaks of what is sown looking like one thing, coming up looking different. He speaks of Adam, who chose – and led to death, and our original sin, and he speaks of Christ who rose, and opens the doors for us to new life.
Paul sows Christ, Paul sows new life, Paul sows that message that Christ, the ultimate sower, gave as a gift to his Church, to his apostles, and to us the faithful.
Jesus is the master sower, and in the Gospel, He reminds us of the different types of soil that we might encounter in the world, world that today we might even say looks a little bit like that world of Corinth – a world of great wealth, a world of abundance, and a world where that can sometimes make it difficult to choose between the good and the evil, even in our own lives. Corinth, looking a little bit, perhaps, like today’s culture.
Which begs the question: What do we sow? In the soil around us in the world, the good and the bad. What are the little good things that we sow through the little actions of our daily life?
I’ll say one example that I just saw this morning, as our two servers were getting ready, and we all know how brothers and siblings can be, right? And so you never know as a parent what you’re going to get when your kids are getting ready in the morning. One of these guys decided to share the last little packet of mini muffins. He split it into two and got a bowl and a cup of milk ready for his little brother who was still getting ready. That’s a very simple act of sowing; of sowing God’s grace into this world today.
Last night we all got the news that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice of many decades, passed away, and we can all pray for the repose of her soul. Someone that we know did much to fight for justice, but also did so much damage to the natural law and the good and the sowing Christ brings into the world. While we can be sorrowful for some of the decisions that she helped to lead to, and some of the arguments that she made, we can realize the opportunity that we have still to sow that good seed in the lives of those around us, to try and encourage others to live lives of grace.
I read a beautiful story last night posted by the son of Justice Scalia, who oftentimes argued vehemently for the natural law and the good, against Justice Ginsburg in the court. And his son said that there was a time that his dad had a vase of two dozen roses in his office, and one of his aides was asking what that was for, and he said, “I’m going to take it down to Justice Ginsburg for her birthday.” And the aide made a comment that was like, “Well, I don’t know that that’s going to sway her vote or get her to go the way we would like her to on some of these cases.” And his line was, “Some things are more important than votes.” And I think that’s another example, too, of Justice Scalia sowing the good, regardless of what the outcome might be, regardless of what he thought the type of soil might be, in those situations.
So may God give us the grace to let the little seeds that we plant in our daily life, regardless of how they look at the moment, still be sown by us. May He give us the grace to still make that effort and trust that Christ will raise it into something new, something beautiful on the last day, much like He raises His own body. Much like He gives us the gift of His Eucharist, something that looks very different than what we know that it is, the gift that we come here today to receive.
I’m a HUGE fan of podcasts. I listen to at least 2-3 a day, sometimes more. When the pandemic stay-at-home kicked in, I fell behind on my podcast consumption for a while (I had mostly listened to them on plane flights and in the evenings in hotel rooms on work trips), but I quickly got into a better routine of carving out time for podcasts at home.
Here are my favorite faith-related podcasts at the moment, in case you want to check any of them out too. (In no particular order)…
The Catholic Man Show St. Michael Radio, Tulsa Still one of my favorites each week – Adam & David do a great job of building a community of Catholic men and helping them grow via their radio show turned podcast. “Promoting the virtuous life. Adam and David have been best friends for 30 years and love being Catholic, husbands, and fathers. They enjoy whisky, beer, bacon, flamethrowers, St. Thomas Aquinas, virtue, true leisure, and authentic friendship. The show is typically broken down into 3 segments – A drink, a gear, and a topic. We are on the Lord’s team. The winning side. So raise your glass. #CheerstoJesus”
Dive Deep Diocese of Springfield in Illinois From our own Catholic diocese, Dive Deep does just that with various aspects of living our faith as intentional disciples.
Every Knee Shall Bow (Your Catholic Evangelization Podcast) Ascension Presents I just discovered this one in the last few weeks, but in my role helping lead faith formation in the parish, this one has quickly become invaluable for keeping me centered and sharing good reflections and ideas. “Lay Catholic evangelists Michael Gormley and Dave VanVickle bring you a podcast series that teaches you how to confidently share your Catholic faith with your family members, friends, co-workers, and the strangers you meet on airplanes. Every episode, Mike and Dave give you five steps you can take each week to become an instrument God uses to spread the Gospel, heal hearts, and renew his Church. Be inspired by stories of miraculous conversions and be reminded that God still powerfully intervenes to transform people’s lives.”
Godsplaining Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph “A podcast featuring contemplative preachers and their contemporary age. Considering topics philosophical, theological, cultural, and beyond, Godsplaining presents ideas from the Church’s tradition and brings them to bear on our lives’ most urgent questions. Each week, join the Dominican friars as they muse on all things Catholic.”
The Liturgy Guys The Liturgical Institute “Christopher Carstens and Dr. Denis McNamara, faculty members at the Liturgical Institute, sit down with host Jesse Weiler every week to talk about Catholic Liturgy. At the end of each episode our Liturgy experts will take time to answer listener submitted questions.”
Pints With Aquinas Matt Fradd An “old standard” of Catholic podcasting. “If you could sit down with St. Thomas Aquinas over a pint of beer and ask him any one question, what would it be? Every episode of Pints With Aquinas revolves around a question, a question that St. Thomas addresses in his most famous work, The Summa Theologica. So get your geek on, pull up a bar stool, and grab a cold one. Here we go!”
Bioethics on the Air National Catholic Bioethics Center I was JUST introduced to this podcast by my moral theology professor, and am already really into it. “Host Jozef Zalot interviews prominent ethicists and medical professionals on the big issues facing health care today”
Catholic Economics leoinstitute.org This podcast combines two of my favorite areas of study: our faith and economics! “Improving economic policy is a key component of building a just society. Though Catholic Social Teaching has a lot to say about economic policy, there are relatively few outlets discussing the rich and beautiful tradition of economic theory and policy provided to us by the Church. Join economist Dr. Levi Russell as he discusses economic concepts and current events through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching.”
The Exodus 90 Show Exodus 90 “The Exodus 90 Show brings realities of masculinity to the light by sharing stories from around the world of people living Christ’s roadmap to freedom in their daily lives. Every show ends with real steps forward to pursue being better brothers, husbands, fathers, and friends.”
Square Notes: The Sacred Music Podcast Square Notes “You’ve got questions about sacred music? Here’s your chance to learn what the Church teaches and envisions for music in the sacred liturgy. Welcome to Square Notes: The Sacred Music Podcast with your hosts Peter Carter and Dr. Jennifer Donelson. We address topics of interest both to priests and liturgical musicians, as well as a general audience of Catholics interested in learning more about the Catholic Church’s teachings and treasury of sacred music. Our topics range from discussion of Church documents on sacred music, to the music of certain composers or eras, Gregorian chant, the role of music in Catholic education, and techniques for directing a better choir rehearsal.”
The Vital Masculinity Podcast Vital Masculinity “We provide modern men with direction by cutting through the noise and offering insightful commentary on classical masculinity with step-by-step guides designed to direct you on your path to noble manhood. Learn from your ancestors and forebears on what it means to be a man, including ways to forge a strong moral character, foster brotherhood and manly friendship, and pursue a strong and virtuous way of life.”
Bread Alive (of course I should include my own, right?) “Weekly Catholic reflection on the Sunday lectionary readings, or some other musing on life, based in my own journey, as a husband and father of four boys, and as a deacon candidate.”
Last week, my brother formation classmates and I each received letters from our Bishop in response to our recent letters to him.
Mine read, “I have received your letter… petitioning to be instituted in the Ministry of Acolyte and confirming your intention to continue formation for the permanent diaconate. I have also received the letter from your wife, Suzanne, endorsing your petition… After receiving the endorsement of your petition by those entrusted with your formation, I am happy to inform you of my intention to institute you in the Ministry of Acolyte on September 12, 2020.”
We’re excited for this next step in our formation, the formal rite by which we will be instituted as acolytes in service of the church. This is the third and final “minor order” to receive prior to diaconate ordination (the other two minor orders are the Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders and the Institution of Lector, both of which we have already received.)
What is an Acolyte?
Here’s some relevant information from the Ceremonial of Bishops:
27. In the ministry of the altar acolytes have their own proper functions and should exercise these even though ministers of a higher rank may be present.
28. Acolytes receive institution so that they may help the deacon and minister to the priest. Their proper ministry is to look after the service of the altar and to assist the deacon and priest in liturgical services, especially the celebration of the Mass. In addition, acolytes may serve as special ministers of the eucharist, giving holy communion in accord with the norms of the law.
When necessary, acolytes should instruct those who serve as ministers in liturgical rites by carrying the book, the cross, candles, or the censer or by performing other similar duties. But in celebrations presided over by the bishop it is fitting that all such ministerial functions be carried out by formally instituted acolytes, and if a number are present, they should divide the ministries accordingly.
29. So they may fulfill their responsibilities more worthily, acolytes should take part in the celebration of the eucharist with ever increasing devotion, as the source of their spiritual life and the object of an ever-deeper appreciation. They should seek to acquire an interior and spiritual sense of their ministry so that each day they may offer themselves wholly to God and grow in sincere love for the Mystical Body of Christ, the people of God, and especially for the members who are weak and infirm.
From the General Instruction for the Roman Missal (GIRM):
Additional responsibility at the altar, including purification of the sacred vessels is a key added responsibility as an acolyte.
190. If no deacon is present, after the Prayer of the Faithful is concluded and while the priest remains at the chair, the acolyte places the corporal, the purificator, the chalice, the pall, and the Missal on the altar. Then, if necessary, the acolyte assists the priest in receiving the gifts of the people and, if appropriate, brings the bread and wine to the altar and hands them to the priest. If incense is used, the acolyte presents the thurible to the priest and assists him while he incenses the gifts, the cross, and the altar. Then the acolyte incenses the priest and the people.
191. A duly instituted acolyte, as an extraordinary minister, may, if necessary, assist the priest in giving Communion to the people. If Communion is given under both kinds, when no deacon is present, the acolyte administers the chalice to the communicants or holds the chalice if Communion is given by intinction.
192. Likewise, when the distribution of Communion is completed, a duly instituted acolyte helps the priest or deacon to purify and arrange the sacred vessels. When no deacon is present, a duly instituted acolyte carries the sacred vessels to the credence table and there purifies, wipes, and arranges them in the usual way.
279. The sacred vessels are purified by the priest, the deacon, or an instituted acolyte after Communion or after Mass, insofar as possible at the credence table. The purification of the chalice is done with water alone or with wine and water, which is then drunk by whoever does the purification. The paten is usually wiped clean with the purificator.
Text for the Institution, from the Roman Pontifical:
Bishop: Dear sons in Christ, as people chosen for the ministry of acolyte, you will have a special role in the Church’s ministry. The summit and source of the Church’s life is the Eucharist, which builds up the Christian community and makes it grow. It is your responsibility to assist Priests and Deacons in carrying out their ministry, and as special ministers to give Holy Communion to the faithful at the liturgy and to the sick. Because you are specially called to this ministry, you should strive to live more fully by the Lord’s Sacrifice and to be molded more perfectly in its likeness. You should seek to understand the deep spiritual meaning of what you do, so that you may offer yourselves daily to God as spiritual sacrifices acceptable to him through Jesus Christ. In performing your ministry bear in mind that, as you share the one bread with your brothers and sisters, so you form one Body with them. Show a sincere love for Christ’s Mystical Body, God’s holy people, and especially for the weak and the sick. Be obedient to the commandment which the Lord gave to his Apostles at the Last Supper: “Love one another as I also have loved you.”
Brothers and Sisters, let us pray to the Lord for those chosen by him to serve in the ministry of acolyte. Let us ask him to fill them with his blessing and strengthen them for faithful service in his Church.
God of mercy, Through your only Son you entrusted the bread of life to your Church. Bless + our brothers who have been chosen for the ministry of acolyte. Grant that they may be faithful in the service of your altar and in giving to others the Bread of Life; may they grow always in faith and love, and so build up your Church. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Each candidate goes to the Bishop, who gives him a vessel with the bread or wine to be consecrated saying:
Take this vessel with bread (wine) for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and of his Church. Amen.
In your charity, please continue to pray for my brother classmates and me as we enter this final year of formation, and increase our ministry and service.