Monday, November 29, 2010

Where your treasure is....

This video shows a crowd of people in a store in Buffalo pushing and shoving each other to get in when the doors opened at 4 AM last Friday.

They wanted to get a good deal on buying some consumer item.

If people really understood what graces we receive from the sacraments, they would be fighting like this to get into the churches. Instead, in most dioceses in the USA today only about 20% of Catholics go to Mass regularly.

"Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be."

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Pope did not approve condoms

This article by George Weigel is a good explanation of what he actually said about it in his new book.

And this article is also helpful. Janet Smith explains more about what the Pope really said.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI's Verbum Domini summary continued Part One Verbum Dei

The document has three parts, and part one is titled Verbum Dei, the Word of God.

It has three main sections:

The God Who Speaks

Our Response to the God Who Speaks

The Interpretation of Sacred Scripture in the Church

Section one The God Who Speaks

Here Pope Benedict summarizes Catholic teaching about divine revelation. God reveals himself in many ways, and revelation comes to a high point in Christ. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, this revelation comes to us through the Church. The proper relationship of Scripture and Tradition is a key element. Here are the various parts under this first section. This will be a brief summary. I hope later to expand on some of these very beautiful points.

God in dialogue

God wants to speak to us. This dialogue comes to a high point in the Incarnation, when the Word became flesh. The Prologue of St. John's Gospel presents us with this beautiful gift of God's love.

The analogy of the word of God

The expression "word of God" has different meanings, since God reveals himself in different ways. Its high point refers to Jesus himself, the Word made flesh.
God also reveals himself through creation, the book of nature.
The history of salvation details the many ways God has spoken to us.
The preaching of the apostles and of the Church through the centuries is another facet.
Benedict makes the important point that "the Christian faith is not a 'religion of the book,'" as is sometimes said. Instead, "Christianity is the 'religion of the word of God,' not of 'a written and mute word, but of the incarnate and living Word.'" That is why receiving the Word within Tradition is so important. It comes to life especially when we hear it within the Church, in the liturgy in particular.

As an aside, sometimes it has happened to me that hearing a familiar Scripture text, one that I know very well, read in the liturgy puts it in a completely different light. Sometimes it's almost been as if I was hearing it for the first time. Those can be powerful moments when God calls us to a closer following of the Lord. Has that happened to you too?

I will add to this post later as there are more points to cover.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI Verbum Domini Summary : Introduction

In October 2008 there was a Synod of the world's bishops on the theme of the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church. Pope Benedict has released a very beautiful document summing up the fruits of the synod. In this post I will give a summary of what he says in the introduction of the document.

First he gives the background about the Synod. Here he reminds us that "we find ourselves before the mystery of God, who has made himself known through the gift of his word." The Word became flesh in Jesus Christ. This is the good news of our salvation.

In speaking about the joy experienced at the synod in sharing the word of God, Benedict wants to encourage all the members of the Church to renew our living relationship with Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Sharing in God's life is "complete joy." And it falls to us to communicate that joy and truth with the people of our own time.

The Bible in Catholic life
The Pope then traces some history of how the Church has grown in its appreciation for the Word of God. He points out that the Church has always "found strength in the word of God." And he goes on to speak of some important developments in the last century or so.
First, Pope Leo XIII wrote an important encyclical on Scripture, Providentissimus Deus. Later Benedict will say more about that and speak of other documents as well. For now he points out that this biblical movement culminated in the important document of Vatican II: Dei Verbum, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. This document is short yet holds a wealth of important teaching about Scripture in the context of divine revelation. Dei Verbum spurred an important movement in the Church toward a deeper appreciation of Scripture.

The experience of the Synod
In speaking about this, the Pope says,

Together we listened to and celebrated the word of the Lord. We recounted to one another all that the Lord is doing in the midst of the People of God, and we shared our hopes and concerns. All this made us realize that we can deepen our relationship with the word of God only within the “we” of the Church, in mutual listening and acceptance.

He'll develop that theme more later. He also points out that the synod took place during the year of St. Paul, the great Apostle to the nations. More than anyone, Paul's zeal for the spread of God's word is a model for the Church of today and always.

St. John's Prologue
Benedict says that throughout the document he will often refer to the Prologue of St. John's Gospel, "the Word became flesh." He sees in this profound Scripture a synthesis of the entire faith. The Pope also hopes that the synod will have a real effect in the life of the Church, on our personal relationship with the Scriptures, to liturgy, catechesis, and scholarly research.

That brings us to the end of the introduction.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Verbum Domini -- Some themes from theology of the body in Pope Benedict's new document

In reading the first part of Verbum Domini I couldn't help but notice some themes that relate to TOB. For example:

As his [Jesus'] mission draws to an end, according to the account of Saint John, Jesus himself clearly relates the giving of his life to the sending of the Spirit upon those who belong to him (cf. Jn 16:7). The Risen Jesus, bearing in his flesh the signs of the passion, then pours out the Spirit (cf. Jn 20:22), making his disciples sharers in his own mission (cf. Jn 20:21)....
The word of God is thus expressed in human words thanks to the working of the Holy Spirit. The missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit are inseparable and constitute a single economy of salvation. The same Spirit who acts in the incarnation of the Word in the womb of the Virgin Mary is the Spirit who guides Jesus throughout his mission and is promised to the disciples. The same Spirit who spoke through the prophets sustains and inspires the Church in her task of proclaiming the word of God and in the preaching of the Apostles; finally, it is this Spirit who inspires the authors of Sacred Scripture.

The first sentence above relating the giving of Jesus' life to the sending of the Spirit reminds me of the themes discussed in the previous post about the Easter candle. There I tried to show that the symbolism of the candle and the baptismal water represents Christ sending the Spirit on the Church. It's interesting that in this document, Pope Benedict draws a parallel between the Spirit overshadowing Mary to bring forth the Incarnate Word, and the Spirit overshadowing the Church in proclaiming the Word.

Pope Benedict goes further with this parallel when he speaks of biblical inspiration:

A key concept for understanding the sacred text as the word of God in human words is certainly that of inspiration. Here too we can suggest an analogy: as the word of God became flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, so Sacred Scripture is born from the womb of the Church by the power of the same Spirit. Sacred Scripture is “the word of God set down in writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.” In this way one recognizes the full importance of the human author who wrote the inspired texts and, at the same time, God himself as the true author.

This beautiful comparison also brings out the Marian dimension involved.

The Pope also speaks specifically about the nuptial mystery:

what we call the Old and New Covenant is not a contract between two equal parties, but a pure gift of God. By this gift of his love God bridges every distance and truly makes us his “partners,” in order to bring about the nuptial mystery of the love between Christ and the Church. In this vision every man and woman appears as someone to whom the word speaks, challenges and calls to enter this dialogue of love through a free response.

The theme of "gift" is a major theme of TOB. Pope Benedict is reminding us here that God is the source of all gift; before we can make a gift of self, we receive the gift of our own being from God as our Creator.

There's much more in this document. It's a real goldmine of Catholic teaching about the Sacred Scriptures.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Verbum Domini The Pope's new document on the Word of God

Pope Benedict has just come out with his Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, on the Word of God.
Pauline Books & Media will be publishing it in a booklet form as with other church documents.

In the meantime it's available at the Vatican website.

It looks like a great read. Pope Benedict is a marvelous teacher.