Aparecida on the Good News of the Gospel

brazil-popeThe central second part of the Aparecida Document explores “the Life of Jesus Christ in Missionary Disciples,” examining holiness, communion, and formation. But before it engages these discussions, its first chapter (chapter three of the document) is on “The Joy of Being Missionary Disciples to Proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The heart of these chapters is that the Gospel really is good news – the five main sections of the chapter examine different kinds of “good news”:

3. The Joy of Being Missionary Disciples to Proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ

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The Curé of Ars on “The Dreadful State of the Lukewarm Soul”

We often hear about St. Jean Vianney, the great parish priest of the small town of Ars in nineteenth-century France. But we rarely hear his words.

Here he is on passion in the spiritual life. Notice that he begins with passion in our heart of Scripture. But passion too in the desire to love better, a passionate embrace of the crosses God sends, and passion in facing hostility. Zeal is the heart of the spiritual life.

 vianney2I think, brethren, that you would like to know what is the state of the lukewarm soul. Well, this is it. A lukewarm soul is not yet quite dead in the eyes of God because the faith, the hope, and the charity which are its spiritual life are not altogether extinct. But it is a faith without zeal, a hope without resolution, a charity without ardour….

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The Heart – and Kidneys – of the Psalms

King David, Westminster Psalter

King David, Westminster Psalter

Our Psalm 26 continues, “Probe me, Lord, and test me. Prove my kidneys and my heart.”

We move to a different level of intimacy. So far the Psalm has been talking about justice and innocence, which would seem to be judged by deeds. But the Psalmist pushes deeper – literally: right into our guts! – and asks not just about what is in our actions, but what is in our hearts.

In fact, this gets us to the “heart” of why deeds matter. Ultimately, God does not care about our deeds at all. Our deeds can do absolutely nothing for him – God who made us can do anything we can do. What God cares about is us. It’s not the deed that he wants, but the doer.

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Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: The Power of the Word

St. Dominic, Fra Angelico

St. Dominic, Fra Angelico

WIS 12:13, 16-19; PS 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16; ROM 8:26-27; MT 13:24-43

Last Sunday’s Gospel emphasized our contribution to conversion. The same Word of God, sowed in different hearts, can bear thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold, or else end up snatched away by the evil one, withered by tribulation and persecution, or choked by the deceitfulness of riches. It seems that we make all the difference.

But this week, we hear the three parables that follow, which emphasize the strength of God’s word.

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Communion in Eucharistic Prayer

jesus-precious-bloodToday, in this month of the Precious Blood, let us pause to consider the theme of ecclesial communion in the Eucharist. Ecclesia de Eucharistia, St. John Paul II said: “The heart of the mystery of the Church” is that the Church comes from the Eucharist.

The Eucharistic Prayers are emphatic about this. We can pray them better if learn to hear this repetition. Again, we will focus on Eucharistic Prayer I, the Roman Canon, both lest we think there is anything un-traditional about this theology and because it is longer.

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Aparecida, Part Two: The Life of Jesus Christ in Missionary Disciples

brazil-popeNow that we have looked at how the missionary disciple looks at the world, we get to the heart of the Aparecida document, “Part Two: The Life of Jesus Christ in Missionary Disciples.” Part Three, “The Life of Jesus Christ for Our Peoples,” will take us into concrete applications. But first we take awhile to think about Jesus’s life for us.

The formation of the question is powerful. “I live,” says St. Paul, “yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). “As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eats me, he shall live by me” (John 6:57).

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Archbishop Chaput on Public Opinion

We must make sure our faith means more to us than public opinion. The public sphere so desperately needs the influence of true Christian faith.

chaputTocqueville saw public opinion as a great vulnerability for democracy. In a democracy – at least in theory – every man is his own final moral authority. But the reality is different. Men and women very soon discover how isolated and uninformed they are as individuals. In the absence of a strong religious or similar community, they tend to abdicate their thinking to public opinion, which is the closest that purely secular democracies ever come to a consensus. To the degree that public opinion can be manipulated, democratic life is subverted.

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The Psalms and the Demons

King David, Westminster Psalter

King David, Westminster Psalter

The third line of our Psalm 26 says, “trusting in God, I have not slid.”  But why do we need to trust in God?  Why do we slide?

The Psalms talk often about “the wicked,” and use a lot of military imagery.  (Also, as here, there is courtroom imagery: grant me justice!)   This adversarial language is for many people one of the greatest obstacles to falling in love with the Psalms.

But there is much to be gained from this warfare spirituality.  Today, let’s take some time to think about our spiritual enemies, the demons.

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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: the Grace of Faith

St. Dominic, Fra Angelico

St. Dominic, Fra Angelico

IS 55:10-11; PS 65:10, 11, 12-13, 14; ROM 8:18-23; MT 13:1-23

Our readings for this Sunday teach about the grace of faith: the gift that is God’s word, the gift of a heart open to receive it, and the goodness of faith.

The parable of the sower is worth endless meditation, but is straightforward enough that we needn’t dwell on the basic point:

“The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart,” etc.  There is a nice progression, from the word never sprouting at all, to it sprouting, but without roots, to it having roots, but being choked out by “worldly anxiety and the lure of riches.”

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“Accept These Sacrifices”: Our Offering of the Precious Blood

jesus-precious-bloodIn this month of meditation on the Precious Blood, we pause to consider the sacrificial aspect of the Mass.

In the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I, the longer, traditional one), the priest says:

“Be pleased to look upon these offerings

with a serene and kindly countenance,

and to accept them,

as once you were pleased to accept

the gifts of your servant Abel the just,

the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith,

and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek,

a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.”

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