Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page

Voting in the Age of Spin

Having read the news from Catholic Review of Baltimore which was reporting that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) would vote at their November general meeting in Baltimore on 4 items pertaining to the Roman missal, I wondered how much truth there was in the Roman Catholic Church in the age of spin. The Catholic Review of Baltimore was reporting in this edition that the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments was expected to “to give its ‘recognitio,’ following the U.S. bishops’ vote on the Roman missal, the ritual called the language of the Mass.

I would suggest that Mark Pattison do a bit more research when he writes the Roman Missal has not yet been given final approval for use in the United States. This BINDING revised Order the Mass was announced more than a year ago. Your parish priest has been practicing all of the changes. The Catholic Review of Baltimore should checkout the website:

http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/missalformation/OrdoMissaeWhiteBook.pdf.
http://www.adoremus.org/Arinze_June08.html

In advance of a vote, former chairman of the U.S. bishops’ liturgy committee, Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania, sharply criticized what he called the “slavishly literal” translation into English of the new Roman Missal from the original Latin during a lecture on October 22nd at Catholic University of America in Washington. Someone should tell Bishop Trautman the horse is dead that he is beating. The race was fixed.

There had been quite an internal debate within the United States Conference of Bishops that dates back to 2006. Until the release of the BINDING revised Order the Mass by the US Conference of Bishops in 2008 which had been withheld for two years. This is a done deal. In 2011 the Mass was changing as some kind of nostalgia from Rome for the old ways, as if the old ways, like old wine in new wineskins, would work to bring the youth back into the fold. With the release of the news of the revised Order the Mass, English speaking Catholics are going to have to learn to pray in a new way.

In his speech last week, The Catholic Review of Baltimore reported Bishop Donald W. Trautman said the “sacred language” used by translators tends to be “elitist and remote from everyday speech and frequently not understandable” and could lead to a pastoral disaster

I wondered if the Catholic Press was always this sloppy on historical accuracy as the Catholic Review of Baltimore, in their report of what would transpire at meeting of The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). With its traditional sensibilities receiving too little attention, the Congregation for Divine Worship had stepped in to take over the English liturgical translations from the International Committee on English in the Liturgy, with the lingering dispute over authority won by the Curia. With the assertion of control by Vatican officials, the Roman way to pray for the English speaking world was now a fait accompli. In the real old boy network, Pope Benedict had supported Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

The 2008 announcement of the revisions was: “Recently the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was granted the recognitio for the new English–language translation of significant parts of the Ordo Missae as found in the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, including most of those texts used in every celebration of the Holy Mass. The recognitio was granted in response to the request of the USCCB by Bishop William Skylstad, then President of the Conference, who informed Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in a letter dated July 29, 2006, that we, the Latin Church Bishops of the USCCB, approved the translation of the Ordo Missae at its plenary meeting on June 15, 2006.”

Someone in charge of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Francis Cardinal Arinze, had issued his binding orders long ago. The debate had already taken place. In June 2008, arguing that the new translation of prayers and other texts for the Mass is too awkward to be proclaimed effectively in parishes in the United States, Auxiliary Bishop of Milwaukee, Richard Sklba, said. “If I have trouble understanding the text when I read it, I wonder how it’s going to be possible to pray with it in the context of worship.”

Bishop Donald Trautman then used the example of the translation of the Latin “patibulum,” to translate the English “gibbet” as jut one oddity in the new text. In the end, The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), the translation body responsible for the Proper of Seasons, failed to gain a two-thirds vote from the bishops to approve the Proper of Seasons in Orlando. It did not matter. The collegiality of the Holy Sea however was missing when it came to the revision in the Order the Mass which was BINDING.

In his recent speech, Bishop Trautman talked of how Vatican II compelled the church to produce a translation of the missal that is accurate, inspiring, referent, proclaimable, understandable, pastoral in every sense – a text that raises our minds and hearts to God,” to be true to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. “Why do we now have a reversal? The Aramaic and Latin texts have not changed. The scriptural arguments have not changed, but the insistence on literal translation has changed.”

It is the re-translated version of the Nicene Creed that is sacrilegious, changing a communal prayer into some kind of Bull Durham “I believe.” Bishop Donald Trautman also objected to this in his recent speech to this change and opined that vocabulary used in BINDING revised Order the Mass is not readily understandable by the average Catholic, where the vast majority are not familiar with words of the new missal like ‘ineffable,’ ‘consubstantial,’ ‘incarnate,’ ‘inviolate,’ ‘oblation,’ ‘ignominy,’ ‘precursor,’ ‘suffused’ and ‘unvanquished.’

Bishop Trautman opined: “Since this is a creedal prayer recited by the entire assembly in unison, the use of ‘we’ emphasized the unity of the assembly in praying this together as one body. Changing the plural form of ‘we’ to ‘I’ in the Nicene Creed goes against all ecumenical agreements regarding common prayer texts,” he said.

Bishop Trautman quoted the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, which said rites and texts “should radiate a noble simplicity. They should be short, clear, free from useless repetition. They should be within the people’s powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.”

In Rome, the Constitution is not sacred, the press is not free, and elections are not fair. The race was fixed. The monarch of Vatican City was in charge.

POST SCRIPT from the USCCB website after Novemberr 19, 2009 gathering…..

BALTIMORE—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted to approve the last five pieces of the English translation of the Roman Missal during the November 17 session of the annual Fall General Assembly. Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, NJ, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship, called the bishops’ completion of their years-long work on the Missal “historic.”

The bishops approved the Proper of Saints with 195 in favor, 23 opposed and 4 bishops abstaining. The bishops approved the Commons with 200 bishops in favor and 19 opposed. They approved the Roman Missal Supplement with 203 in favor, 15 opposed and 3 abstaining. They approved the U.S. Propers with 199 in favor, 20 opposed and 1 abstaining. They approved the U.S. Adaptation to the Roman Missal with 199 in favor, 17 opposed and 1 abstaining.

These items will now go to the Vatican for recognitio, or approval, which Bishop Serratelli said is expected sometime in 2010. Once the new translation is approved in its entirety, the materials for its implementation at the parish level will be ready in approximately a year.

Keywords: Roman Missal, English translation, ICEL, Proper of Saints, U.S. Propers, Commons, U.S. Adaptations to the Roman Missal, recognitio, implementation

An announcement in 2008 by the US Conference of Bishops about the revisions read: “Recently the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was granted the recognitio for the new English–language translation of significant parts of the Ordo Missae as found in the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, including most of those texts used in every celebration of the Holy Mass. The recognitio was granted in response to the request of the USCCB by Bishop William Skylstad, then President of the Conference, who informed Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in a letter dated July 29, 2006, that we, the Latin Church Bishops of the USCCB, approved the translation of the Ordo Missae at its plenary meeting on June 15, 2006.”

In the end, The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), the translation body responsible for the Proper of Seasons, had failed to gain a two-thirds vote from the bishops to approve the Proper of Seasons in Orlando. The approval of the US Conference of Bishops had been withheld for two years. However, Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments who does not even speak English, had issued his binding orders in 2008. Any collegiality of the Holy Sea when it came to the revision in the Order the Mass was missing. This new translation was binding. Thus the perfunctory re-vote in Baltimore last week.

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Spinning

“Honestly, I want love. That is the truth inside.” I once heard the female proclamation. It came with a foreign accent. What happened to a woman over time? The truth inside?

About that mate. The soulmate that those women magazine stories were about. The “soulmate.” What most impressed you about him/her? What was he/she after? What did she/he see in me? What did I really have to offer him/her?

In the way of plagiarism, with full disclosure, I was reading some stranger’s blog. I cannot immediately find the blog again, to give a proper attribution. The piece left the wafting scent, as if I had gotten on an elevator where a young woman had left. I had copied and pasted what she wrote, in her own e e cummings style, to interpret what was between the lines. And here is that translation. My translation of the temporal gap between the sexes.

“I have come here to love. It is now the time. The time to release myself. To release myself from all the hurt and anger, the pain and sorrow. It is time to commence life. Because I have a need to love and be loved.

“I wonder why I desire. For him to know about me. I wonder why I desire for him to have pity. I wonder why I desire his pity, for him to feel sorry for me. And in that way, help me. It is a bit sickening to me. For this desire is not me. For it is not me truly to desire so crazily. It is just a thought. It is okay that I am just releasing a thought. The thought may be a feeling of insecurity. It is me stripping away delusions. They say it stems from low esteem.”

This girl concludes that her poem is acknowledgment of desire which stems from low self esteem. “Because in the end all that is necessary is connection. Because you cannot make anyone feel anything, you cannot make anyone do anything. Connection is not about giving or taking. Connection is about everything. Connection is about extending. Every soul makes a decision for itself. The decision is to extend, to connect. That is the choice. That is the purpose.”

Love and that strange mixture of enmity and esteem. Exposed to the secrets within, he did not understand true expression? When all that she asked was, “Why don’t you do it first? And I will follow.”

This connection. She was asking for his connection to her? Low esteem that was once named humility. Call me Stingo but her poetic voice sounds a lot like Merle Streep as Sophie, in Sophie’s Choice, with a Polish accent.

The relationship? “This relationship. Why can’t I be a leader? Why must it be like this? Why can’t I be a leader and a follower equally?”

About the extension needed in a connection: “When you extend nothing can be taken away. If hearts connect, then your being is heading in the right way. Negative emotions are also not devastation. You are wrong (how you do it) but you need not feel like a complete failure because of that. Accept your short comings. Not the whole world will hate you because of that.”

“You know imperfect you are, so there is a problem when you cannot be perfect in every way? This all comes back to humanity’s purpose. And everyone out there.”

Humanity’s purpose. Humility? Recognizing humility? Now called low esteem.

And then her lover speaks. Or the object of her desires.

“You don’t get to have love. So stop whining like a bitch.”

“I am not whining. I just don’t feel well. That is the reality. It might not be real in the ultimate sense. But I feel this way and I don’t feel I can quite make it.”

Despite that this is a lie, in some way, she writes. The relationship? When hypocrisy is a charge leveled when someone fails to live up to the virtuous standards being expounded. When she settles for less?

“I know I will be okay.”

“It may be true that I will never need love, sexual expression, happiness, and everything else that is part of the healthy development for a human being. I guess that ultimately I am not asking for anything. For in truth, I have everything. It is only that my perception of everything is a bit messed up. Spinning. That spinning feeling which comes from the emotions felt.”

“They may go someday. The spinning. The emotions. And maybe one day one feeling, only love in me. Love. I desire for that to be love. I desire that feeling called love.”

Connection. “Would be love.”
(from http://trpimir.blogspot.com/2009/10/stripping-away-delusions.html)

Call me Stingo. For overhearing all of this. And providing the translation.

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Opening Doors

Thomas Merton related that a Tibet monk is to have replied to the question about how they train and form their novices in contemplative prayer that for the first year they are taught how to close doors. Those 365 days seemed a long time to learn all about closing doors, writes Larry Gillick this week.

Contemplative prayer. I continue to read this month that story of Abraham and Isaac. Over and over. The same biblical account that is read at the start of the Jewish High Holy Days. Year in and year out. As God wanted a stake in His Chosen People, in the human race, so Jews needed a stake in the world and all of its problems.

Wanting a stake. Have you ever had to tell a girl you loved her? And in a case when there was a darn good chance she did not believe you. And to tell a lover like God that you loved Him? I always expected the same response. From God. From the girl. And if by some miracle you feel like you have developed some knowledge of this God, or the girl…well, I still did not feel real confident in my profession of love. I somehow always feel like I have fallen short. In what I have done and what I should have done. That was the human condition. That was the male condition in any relationship. To feel you have come up short. And say some pretty dumb things.

When there was pain in sacrifice. Made in seeking a stake in the world, through a girl. The girl seemed more interested in seeing something. Maybe with little real understanding how hard the business world was. The hours that went into buying a diamond. And having to listen to all of her small complaints?

What a struggle of every young guy, trying to communicate something. The ongoing struggle to profess an authentic love. And then to have your credibility judged.

Those professions of love. Like the struggle of every young guy, trying to communicate something, God seemed to have His own doubts. It seemed part of the struggle every person, guys from Mars any way, has with belief in each other. Doubts about the love professed.

Those professions of love at the end of life, to God, to loved ones. Abraham, the farmer. The nomadic farmer. In the pain of old age. Approaching a major sacrifice. If the theme of my life, like Abraham’s life, was all along all about passing on a way of life. In sacrifice. The ultimate sacrifice. The little real notice of sacrifice along the way…but one ultimate sacrifice like the great fireworks display, like a diamond, as the ultimate profession of love. In appreciation for the revelations of the mystery, about the unseen. Over what seemed to be, in my perspective, the Truth. The little really noticed mystery. By the secular world.

Doors. Opening and closing doors for contemplative prayer. For these times. Opening and closing doors to focus on meaning in our lives, With training to form the next generation in contemplative prayer “With a little more attentiveness to what we are shutting in and shutting out…a little more open to surprises and also the unsurprising,” writes Lary Gillick.

Of the two parts of being a rabbi, a Tibet monk, or a priest, there was the caring and comforting people, and shaking them up and moving them to another place. The prophet role. When the experience of young people form their ideas. In schools where they share experiences with strangers and become bound. When those ideas which nourish then sustain an identity.

So what had I set out to say in this piece of art called life? Who was going to try to interpret my work of art? How would I be judged?

Rabbi Max Shapiro, the senior rabbi from 1963 through 1985 at Temple Israel in Minneapolis, the 10th largest Reform congregation in the world who, within as well as outside his congregation, challenged people to fight anti-Semitism, racism and poverty, died on October 16, 2009 at his Minnetonka home. The obituary of Max Shapiro states that he was a lifelong member of the NAACP, and he served on a city civil rights council and the Urban Coalition. Under his leadership, the social action committee at Temple Israel sent a delegate to walk with Martin Luther King, Jr., resolved not to trade with any business with discriminatory hiring practices, and became the first in the area to teach a black history course. In a 1964 sermon, he explained his philosophy of religion and civic duty, of staking a claim in a city through professions of love: “It is not enough for us to applaud or even support civil rights legislation. Judaism instructs us to do more. It tells us to take the needy into our employ! It tells us to train him for a job! … It is a religious duty! And it is imperative! For no community, no city, no nation can long endure so divided — half affluent, half despairing.”

Those professions of love. So who was worthy of this inheritance? Of his religious tradition? In old age. Of those living in the harsh godless profane pagan world? In the present moment? With different degrees of hunger, in this secular world?

The Akedah story. Sacrifice. God. A spouse. And feeling so unworthy.

When life was a profession of love? Wanting a stake. To feel needed. Trying to tell God you loved Him? That feeling, somehow always that feeling, like I have fallen short. In what was the human condition. Feeling no confidence in a profession of love through your spouse and kids. That was the male condition in any relationship. The relationship. Wanting a stake in someone. Over and over trying to say in a new way, with some degree of confidence about my own profession of love, after contemplation, what exactly this love was. The relationship chosen, with some consequential movement in the story. The ONE relationship chosen. That same accounting, year in and year out. On anniversaries. On Valentine’s Day. At year’s end. I expect that even at an old age, there was a good chance, a darn good chance, if life was a profession of love that Abraham did not believe God believed him. Even after all the things that they had shared. To feel you have come up short. On the anniversary date, with those performance reviews. Having done some pretty dumb things. Was the Akedah story really about Abraham’s feeling of always feeling unworthy? In the Akedah story.

When life was a profession of God’s love? So who was worthy of this inheritance? When asked to sacrifice Sarah’s son, in the Akedah story, was the actual mystery about Abraham in a sense a Last Judgment scene? In the Akedah story was Abraham really asking God “Why did I have all this? And why was I losing it?” It was the “Why me?” question. Had he really been “chosen?” Was Abraham really asking God in the Akedah if he really had all along been chosen? By asking him to sacrifice the son of the women he most truly loved? Was this question challenging the meaning of his life—the meaning of his love—or challenging God for all that He had given to him? And had slowly been taking away? Slowly taking away all of these blessings—this was a profession of God’s love?

The Akedah story. Challenging the depth of belief? With the pain of old age, did God truly love Abraham? Was this Abraham challenging the meaning of his life, challenging God through the sacrifice of an animal, for all that He had given to him? Professions of love once made, in seeking a stake in the world, through the blood of the best animal. Professions of love now made through the sacrifice of the son of a woman he most loved? Or was the actual mystery in this Akedah story about God challenging Abraham about the depth of belief?

Abraham. All that time spent. Reflecting on the meaning of making some kind of an offering to God, when your relationships, based so much in sacrifice, with God, with your lover, with your kin, involved not only blood, but these strange profession of love. Professions made in seeking a stake in the world, through a woman. When the woman, the son, seemed more interested in seeing something—than hearing something. About belief.

Had Abraham in the first place ever been worthy? As Isaac might have finally wondered, might have asked his father about himself. The same question. And with the strange professions of love by Abraham, Isaac might have finally wondered —about his father’s witness or his own, in this Akedah story— ‘Who in the name of God do you think you are?’

These strange professions of love. Over and over. I continue to read the same biblical accounts. Over and over. Religion was not just a recognition of, an awareness, about God, man, woman, and the universe. It was about everything. Religion was about bindings. It was more about action than words. It was about ritual. And as was said of Rabbi Max Shapiro, in passing on a way of life, “He created the most wonderful community.”

Those courtships. Training and forming their Tibet novices in contemplative prayer, with those 365 days spent learning all about closing doors. Over and over. But wanting a stake in the outside world. Contemplative prayer, and looking for meaning, in the age old stories. Those strange professions of love at the end of life. To God, to loved ones. As God wanted a stake in His Chosen People. Being moved towards opening doors. Being moved to sacrifice. And trying to work on becoming more worthy. In sacrifice. In kinship to the God, and passing on that kinship. In these strange professions of love. By these religious nuts. Let loose once again in the outside world.

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The Cross of Gold

It was little more than one hundred years ago that William Jennings Bryan delivered his Cross of Gold speech at the Democratic convention in 1896.

The issues of the day revolved around deflation which the United States experienced from 1873 through 1896. The United States had abandoned a policy of bimetallism with the Coinage Act in 1873 and began to operate on a ‘de facto’ gold standard. The Democratic Party wanted to standardize the value of the dollar to silver and opposed a mono metallic gold standard in 1896. The resulting inflation from the silver standard would make it easier for debtors and farmers to pay off their by increasing their revenue dollars. The debate was about sustainability.

What you do and the decisions you make in history, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., wrote, have influence.

Creation. Creation and sustainability. Sustainability is about much more than concern about global warming and one’s carbon footprint. Sustainability was ultimately about a place on the tiny planet traveling through the solar system, and about living in right relationship with both the natural world and a social world. As individuals. In community.

“We all know the ramifications of running out of gas. Through miscalculation or negligence we end up by the side of the road, hoping that with a bit of luck and the kindness of strangers we can continue on our way. Gauges show that our use of the planet’s limited resources is increasing faster and faster. Both science and faith urge us to assess the present situation and make urgent practical changes,” states the webpage of the Siena Center of Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. Their lecture series this year looks at the issues of creation and sustainability.

What was called the triple double in the NBA…..the economic, social, and environmental bottom lines. Nuns talking about bottom lines. Oh how the world had changed.

“If there is some end of the things we do…will not knowledge of it, have a great influence on life? Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more likely to hit upon what we should? If so, we must try, in outline at least, to determine what it is.” —Aristotle

Religious life among women has undergone a cataclysmic evolutionary change, per a piece written by Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio in this weeks’ America. Unless you worked in the Vatican, it was hard to know what all those initials after her name meant.

Evolutionary change. The “Monkey trial.” When there was belief that evolution was largely to blame for the moral and spiritual decay of the youth of Tennessee. In Dayton, Tennessee.

William Jennings Bryan, after his failed presidential campaign in 1896, became a champion of other causes, speaking out against the repercussion of teaching evolution, with its influences, in public schools. He is portrayed in the movie “Inherit the Wind” as a bit of an old fool, though his campaign in 1896 was noted by the progressive mayor of Cleveland, Tom Loftin Johnson, as “the first great struggle of the masses in our country against the privileged classes.” In 1900 Harry Truman had served at 16-years old as a page at the Democratic National Convention. In Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman, Merle Miller asked about Bryan, and Truman replied that in his opinion, “If it wasn’t for old Bill Bryan there wouldn’t be any liberalism at all in the country now. Bryan kept liberalism alive, he kept it going.”

Bryan saw Social Darwinism or neo-Darwinism (emphasizing the struggle of the races) as a great evil force in the world, undermining the foundations of morality, especially promoting hatred and conflicts like the World War I. He had read British social theorist Benjamin Kidd’s The Science of Power (1918) where Kidd attributed the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche to German nationalism, materialism, and militarism as outworkings of Social Darwinism. He had read Vernon Kellogg’s 1917 book, Headquarters Nights: A Record of Conversations and Experiences at the Headquarters of the German Army in Belgium and France, which convinced him that neo-Darwinism had undermined morality in Germany. He had read The Belief in God and Immortality, where James H. Leuba showed during four years of college a considerable number of students lost their faith. Bryan’s fear was that the next generation of Americans might have the same degraded sense of morality that had prevailed in Germany and caused World War I. Thus, Bryan launched his anti-evolution campaign.

In 1920, Bryan told the World Brotherhood Congress that Darwin’s theory of evolution was “the most paralyzing influence with which civilization has had to deal in the last century” and that Nietzsche, in carrying the theory of evolution to its logical conclusion, “promulgated a philosophy that condemned democracy… denounced Christianity… denied the existence of God, overturned all concepts of morality… and endeavored to substitute the worship of the superhuman for the worship of Jehovah.” At the Scopes Trial, Bryan was quoted: “The contest between evolution and Christianity is a duel to the death… If evolution wins Christianity goes – not suddenly, of course, but gradually – for the two cannot stand together. They are as antagonistic as light and darkness, as good and evil.”

By 1921, Bryan saw Darwin’s theory of evolution making grounds as a major internal American threat not only in the universities but within the church itself. With many colleges still church-affiliated at the time, many clergymen were willing to embrace the theory of evolution and claimed that it was not contradictory with a Christian stance. The developments of 19th century liberal theology had left the door open to the point where this long serving Presbyterian elder decided to run for the position of Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. As was the 20th Century theme, he lost. Again.

Evolutionary change. The “Monkey trial.” It all sounded so funny now. Strangely, the case revolved around the personalities of Darrow and Bryan. Bryan got involved with the Scopes trial as an of counsel attorney, accepting the invitation from the Tennessee’s attorney general in the case. The 1925 trial was based upon the assertion that John Scopes had broken the written law of Tennessee. William Jennings Bryan was a man whose theology ran much deeper, based upon his life experience, than those of Clarence Darrow. He was troubled at the time by the fact that 40% of American college students considered themselves to be atheists or agnostics, one webpage states.

In the way of full disclosure, I was schooled by the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa. I happened to find their website for the first time showing a photo of the class of 1954 marking the 55th anniversary of what was called their profession, which I took to be profession of vows. When I left the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa, the nuns in my life were still wearing habits. Modified habits. (One thing you did learn from Dominican Sisters was that the word “nun” was not synonymous with “sister.” This piece is replete with mistakes.) Here could be some of my teachers but who had returned to using there regular names. Sisters who were regular people. Ruth Mary, Anna Maria, Mary Louise, Catherine, Marilyn, Joann, Martha, Ellie, Marian, Christiane, Clara, Catherine, Mary, Janette, Mary Catherine, Shirley, Liana, Denisia, Jeremiah, Juliana, Liz, and Anne. Only Sister Mary Marie had stuck with her Dominican name. The choice, like any woman getting married these days, was left to the sister to decide as a women religious risking their lives in services.

Dealing with change. With suffering and sacrifice a part of the evolutionary process. Evolution. Suffering. And the William Jennings Bryans of the world fighting against change. With sound reasoning.

Evolution undermining the foundations of morality? The Vatican now subscribes to the evolution theory. Any conflict along the way predates my education.

The Vatican had a current study underway to establish exactly what it meant to be a nun in American in 2009. The fact that there is an investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious would indicate Rome is unhappy with the evolution of post-Vatican II nuns who have donned secular clothes and abandoned traditional community life. To be fair, the issues seem to be larger than that. But every order of religious was under study, not so unlike the assertion that John Scopes had broken the written law of Tennessee. Only when a lot of Women Religious whose communities were dying out. Not surviving.

Evolutionary change. That Siena Center of Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois was established to engage the critical issues of church and society in the light of faith and scholarship. Of ongoing creation. Perhaps even the critical issue of man’s relationship with woman.

Evolutionary change. Change. Evolutionary change and the “why” question. Evolutionary change, with the identity question. Enforcing discipline. In studies. In curriculum. To help form a new identity. Of a new generation. Teaching in Tennessee. When the experience of young people forms their ideas. In schools where they share experiences with strangers and become bound. When ideas nourish and sustain an identity. When some did not survive with evolutionary change. The denial stage? The anger stage?

Evolutionary change. What an evolutionary process had been going on since 1965 for those sisters in the class of 1954. Or those priests in a minor or major seminary in 1954. As noted by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.,suffering and sacrifice are part of the evolutionary process.

In the post-Vatican II world, what difference does religious life make to the world? “Women religious have risked their lives in the pursuit of authentic truth that Catholic nuns believe was born in the Incarnation. Women religious have proclaimed prophetically that the love of God cannot be exterminated or suppressed.” Even amidst an evolution of evil, of selfishness, of sin. “They continue to fight for systemic change on behalf of oppressed people. Congregations may die out, but the paths inscribed in history by the women religious of Vatican II are nothing less than the evolutionary shoots of a new future,” wrote Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio.

“For many years,” writes Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio, “I wondered whether women religious had misread the signs of the time. Yet as I have pondered the mystery of God, I have come to believe that the evolutionary universe is moving forward in part because women religious are working in the trenches of humanity among those who are poor, oppressed and forgotten. Women religious are playing a greater role in the synthesis of a new religious consciousness, with all of the world religions. That is the evolutionary process.”

What was the price of all of this Truth? The projected budget of a three-year study of women religious congregations in the United States is $1.1 million.

The gold standard. The Monkey Trial. Evolution theory versus the Creation Theory. Another Monkey Trial? According to a July 14, 2009 letter obtained by the National Catholic Reporter, the head of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in the Vatican, Slovenian Cardinal Franc Rodé, has asked the bishops of the United States to provide funds to offset these expenses. (The last Vatican investigation of American seminaries in 2006 had concluded, “It was also noted that, in some academic centers run by religious, there is a certain reticence, on the part of both students and teachers, to discuss the priestly ministry. Instead, there is a preference for discussing simply ‘ministry’ — in the broad sense, including also the various apostolates of the laity — in part, perhaps, as a mistaken attempt not to offend those who judge the reservation of the Sacrament of Orders to men alone as discriminatory.” Anyone want to bet that a different conclusion will be arrived at here? But only after spending one million dollars.)

Creation. The Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin brought light to the creation question by understanding Christianity in an evolutionary universe.

Sustainability was ultimately about a place on the tiny planet traveling through the solar system, and about living in right relationship with both the natural world and a social world. These were the important, the critical issues, of church and society. And wanting to standardize the nuns engaged in the struggle of all people…with their diminishing number, like the diminishing number of priests, in an ever increasing world population, with suffering and sacrifice a part of the evolutionary process. People who elected not to procreate, to increase their numbers. What would be this evolution of Christianity, in such a growing hostile world to religions?

There was a lot of visible pain in religious life, on the shores of North America. Only the pain was suffered in a lot less silence. About living in right relationship. It was hard for the young to watch. For people who did not feel related. For the people who did, it felt a lot like divorce. Endings. The denial. The anger. People arguing over custody rights to God. With choices like one hundred years ago. About the use of the limited resources on this earth. Whether to follow a a de facto gold standard. Or silver. It all seemed a part of the evolutionary process. The evolutionary process and the “why” question. With this aging. And with change. With both science and faith urging that the present situation be assessed now, in order to make urgent practical changes.

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Service Engine Soon!

Mr Goodwrench Service engine. Soon! The The warning light. The fears. The knowledge that you forgot something, when that warning light came on. For two days last week, that warning light came on. Then it disappeared.

When I grew up there was this sense of belonging. I had always bought American cars, out of a sense of loyalty. Specifically either Pontiacs or Chevrolets. In an era when Japanese cars had been increasing their market shares.

When I grew up, the archbishop in Minneapolis-St. Paul was from here. I actually knew him. And then I moved to a different state where that local bishop was from my home parish. That sense of belonging does not happen much any more. Anywhere in the United States. Not since that college of cardinals started electing non-Italian popes. Not since those foreign cars came to America in great numbers. Since 1979, this was the same leadership model of the last two popes. Imports. In St. Paul, the archbishop was from Pontiac country, from somewhere in Michigan. But who really cared when the archbishop came from?

The Catholic News Service carried an Anchorage by-line on a story today, reporting that many young adults are arriving on campus increasingly having had no formal religion, without any language of faith, and expressing little interest in finding the ultimate truth. A study on religious affiliation by researchers at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut found that about 22 percent of adults 30 and younger identify themselves as “none,” not identifying with any particular religious group. The irreligious, unreligious, anti-religious, and anti-clerical now number 34 million, since 1990 having almost doubled. Not all of these “nones” are atheists. Many believe in God but don’t believe in the church, the temple, or the mosque. Barry Kosmin and and Ariela Keysar, the lead authors of the report, indicate Vermont is the state with the highest number of unaffiliated. “Every region and state in the country is showing the same trend,” said Kosmin. A large percentage of former Catholics, a disproportionate number of Catholic men, are in this category. Kids born since 1979. In a world of fast food franchises, people born in a particular place, where all thing once had been local, were reflecting the world that they grew up in.

Every five years bishops make Ad Limina visits to Rome. According to canon law Number 399, a bishop needs to report to the pope an accounting of the state of his diocese. The bishop delivers a written report on the state of his diocese as well as a renewal of his pledge of dedication to the Holy See. The Pope then delivers his own address to the bishop, offering his perspective on the challenges facing the Church in that diocese.

Service engine. Now! If the diagnosis is bad, the treatment plan is worse. About that warning light which had appeared in August. And the mechanic, from one of those franchised shops, found nothing and just turned it off. And now here I was dealing with all this. Again.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops had now announced they were turning back the clock to pre-1965, with the language of the Catholic Mass, come 2011. The pope did not care that these were the prayers used in the English speaking world for more than 40 years. Where was the owner’s manual? It had all the instruction. When leadership is imposed from afar, what was the appeal of such a world to the young. With indifferent leadership, who could identify? In their lifetime, the only thing local was the catcher who played for the major league team in town. At least this baseball franchise was locally owned, anyway.

Leadership had been from afar all of the lives of the young, with church leaders, a lot like most of the executive staff at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, coming from places far away, sent here. A lot like in the days of the British Raj, like the Brits had tried to rule India. Most of us went about our daily life not conscious of this. Who really cared when the editors and publisher came from? While the Minneapolis Star Tribune was coming out of chapter 11 bankruptcy this month. And who really cared when the archbishop came from? This was the “who really cares” generation. Because institutions no longer had a structure showing who really cared about anything except politics. Who was conservative? Who was liberal? Not since that college of cardinals had been stacked with appointments, with litmus tests over issues like Humanae Vitae. Who really cared about this community? Everyone just seemed power hungry. For their side of the tug of war. With a pope delivering his own address, offering his perspective on the challenges facing the Church in my diocese.

The declaration over time of an identity. While watching a child grow, a parent witnessed the development of an identity. It happened to people and it happened to institutions. That unstated conflict part of the institutional advancement. That part of the unstated conflict to become known. In branding. In becoming well known. Or not?

What exactly was the significance of the meaning of a brand? Now with General Motors bankrupt, what exactly was gonna happen to my brand? In the near future? Was it indifferent leadership to a changing world that had affected GM? What would happen to people in states with the highest number of unaffiliated? Getting their auto parts? What would happen to the community when government bodies like the Metropolitan Council tried to formulate plans for the future? For things like mass transit, limiting parking lots, creating green zones? When all politics was really local.

So God …. and this shared dominion that came invisibly after Creation. And through His vehicles to become well known. A God who desired a human population. The initial excitement of getting a license. Of having a car. The Model A. The Model T.

God and the movement in the story of God, with the crises to become well known. That was part of the unstated conflict in His story with his own Chosen People. In search of greater attention. It seemed a part of God’s own inner conflict. The ultimate in humbleness versus His exploding power of Creation. With the invasion of those cars from Asia. In the poetic connection of religions and the automobile.

And so God’s vehicles to become well known. In the green world … for those not realizing how you or they got here. And not realizing where you or they were going. With whatever vehicle which got your ancestors here … to this point. As it became time to choose your own model… Or not.

Limiting parking lots. Temples and churches and parking lots.

The warning light was flashing. Service engine. Soon! It once had been important to know where the mechanic came from. Did he know the Pontiac brand? In a world where once there was concern whether there would be any trained mechanics, for this part of a generation that was not choosing a model, with 22% not having any vehicle, the question was now one about movement. Yeah, the green movement had come to our shores. And in a strange way, these people were going to be going it alone. Without any kind of brand. But in need of a ride. Relying on mass transit, with no personal investment.

That Trinity College in Hartford had released a report on all of this which might suggest that this trend would have a large affect on the future of America. As General Motors goes, so goes the nation. When Your Jack Is Broke

Parking lots, temples, and churches. And increasingly, a larger share of the local population in need of a ride. But Who really cared? In a Creation when apathy was the opposite of love, what exactly would be carrying if not exactly moving this next generation and the following generations thereafter?

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Worried too much about the now of today, and about the future, not the past.

Theologians. Economists. Quantum physicists. How to become one?

Staring intently into the fires. Bonded. With bindings to something. What does it mean to be bound? When your behavior was bound?

Converting solid to mass. Converting gases into energy. Visible steam. Moving out of my morning tea. Quantum physicists. Gauging the speed of falls. Or the strength left in the mortar.

Calculating relationship of matter to gravity. The speed of falls.

Bindings. Money. Arranged marriages. The industrial revolution. Marriage. Independence. Divorce.

Bindings. Money. Since the industrial revolution, money tied us all together. It was a means of communication. And a source of friction.

A source of friction between a couple. In a world filled with fear. While dealing with wealth and money, it is of note that quantum physicists do not understand the relationship of matter to gravity. And men did not understand women.

Fear. Of hunger. Of cold. Of earth, wind and fire. True fear. Unemployment. Health care reform. Death. A day of remembrance. This week in Indonesia. in Samoa. Last week in Manila. Hennepin County Medical Center and their $43 million problem. It was a bad year to be in the hospital business. With money.

Fear and money. Wills. Insurance. Order. The developed world versus the Third World.

Fear. About the future. Currency concerns over the next 3 years. About money. But when believing in gold seemed like a pagan idea.

Time. Physics. Distance. 32 seconds per second per second. Gravity. Currency concerns. Falling fast. In a world without a gold standard. When quantum physicists still don’t know the relationship of matter to gravity. And economists?

Money. And the avoidance of suffering. When quantum physicists didn’t know the relationship of matter to gravity. And when male quantum physicists do not understand female quantum physicists.

Theologians. Economists. Quantum physicists. Staring intently into the fires. Bonded. With bindings to something. What does it mean to be bound? When your behavior was bound? To each other?

Becoming. Mostly you just read what prior theologians, economists, quantum physicists wrote. You went to schools where theologians, economists, quantum physicists were. You got certified. Then you went about doing what they all did.

In a world that wanted to deny any need for God, in a world filled with fear, how to become? Converting calories into energy. Contributing to order. How to convert the world’s chaos to peace?


Likeness

Last April I wrote a piece about Michelangelo and a piece of sculpture that I had seen in Florence in a museum behind the Duomo which was said to be a self-portrait in that Joseph of Arimethea-likeness. In lieu of the point of view of Abraham in that Akedah story, I thought of Michelangelo, as Yom Kippur approached. Michelangelo when he was 80-year old artist seemed a lot like Abraham. Both old men with the frailties of human nature, at the end of their life. Michelangelo had wanted to destroy this piece of marble which had worked on for eight years of his life. An artist wanting to destroy his own creation, like Abraham.

Was the actual mystery in the Akedah story about Abraham challenging the meaning of his life, challenging God for all that He had given to him? What was your point of view to this story? From your viewpoint, what was the age of this father who had been 99-years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, with a son born 13 years after his first son, and the youngest son was at least 22 if not over 30 years old. Abraham had to be over 130 years old. And here he was climbing a mountain in a 3 day journey? What 130-year old man did not wake up with stiffness … without climbing Mount Moriah? Yet making the trip with his son, like it was duck hunting season in Minnesota.

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And then there was Isaac. Yeah, the Isaac who was fooled by both his wife Rebecca and his own son, Jacob, when Jacob would reach maybe half this age. Hoodwinked actually. His challenge had been about a theme of recognition. Over birthright and inheritance. Or was Isaac blind in this story too? What was it like to have such an old father? With such old ideas. And was dementia a source of thinking about this Akedah story? Was the story about sacrificing his son, Akedah, any different than the same challenge Isaac would one day face over the issue of inheritance. The same stories, over and over, in the challenge in recognizing God?

When Michelangelo, when Abraham, were old men. Michelangelo had once written this line from Dante’s Divine Comedy on a drawing for a pietà. “One does not think how much blood it costs.” So what had he set out to say in this piece of art, about his life? At the end of life? Or Abraham, in his creation of a family? Either of them, about what they were leaving behind? What was their recognition? Or awareness? And then to contemplate destruction? It was like a Sunday walk in an art museum. What was the viewpoint that a 70-year old had of which a 27-year old could not conceive. Like a son with a old father who must not have witnessed the sweat involved in the accumulation of land and animals. A young son who through no fault of his own missed seeing all the hard work. Isaac thought it always was there? Isaac, born with a silver spoon in his mouth? A lot like the collection in the art gallery? Like all kinds of inheritance, or manna from heaven, it just fell to earth? His circumcised son, whose circumcision took place at an age when an infant had no memory. A lot like an age in the western world with no memory of suffering, of hard times. How did memory tie into the story?

Was Abraham, in his story, just a little more surreptitiously coming to grips with the question of inheritance, little different that the same challenge Isaac faced over the issue of birthright. Abraham, the farmer. The nomadic farmer. How different was his job description from the one that Cain had aspired to? So what was it like to raise food that people little really noticed until it was cooked and eaten. Or sacrifice? The little real notice of sacrifice. By other people. Or the little real notice of fathers, by sons. If Abraham died? Was Isaac, was anyone, worthy of any of this inheritance? What was his real point of view over financial success of an organization, a family, which would determine what the family would do in the future. Who was worthy of all of this? In lieu of the point of view, how about me? Was I worthy? After how hard I had worked?

When there was pain in sacrifice. Long forgotten suffering? The theme of Abraham’s life was all about passing on a way of life. In a failing economy. In lieu of point of view, where was I in the story? In a falling market. In 2009. With a falling dollar. The abyss. People do not want to look into the abyss. People do not want to look into the face of the poor. They did not want to see their own face there. Much less the face of a son. What mother could look? Hadn’t Abraham lived through all the suffering so that future generations did not have to?

Consider how much circumcision had been a lot more painful for Abraham than for Isaac. What could Isaac recall about his pain of circumcision at birth? In circumcision, Abraham was giving God his pain. And now on the surface, he was giving God his blood, somehow by giving God his son. Or was Abraham in this case really trying to fool God over this obsequious sacrifice, which ultimately may have been deferential but was not thought out.

Awareness: Isaac’s whose circumcision was all about passing on a way of life that recognized God in each day. In a way not really spoken about. About being different from other men. With no discussion in polite society, when you truly were marked with a sign of faith. About that circumcision, his wife must one day in the future really wonder about such an artist.

Awareness. Over a cup of coffee, an old man bemoaning the youth that hit him, a youth who failed to yield at the intersection of 62nd and Halifax. In my town. Bemoaning the lack of awareness of youth. It was before 1993, before I had been at DeMontreville. This old guy was driving there, at the time of his accident. To his Mount Moriah.

The conflict. Was it about awareness? The missing awareness of youth? Was Isaac worthy of any of this? Isaac and his entire generation? In a world full of pain that failed to recognize God.

At a point when Abraham had to be in the quiet pain of old age. When pain had become a way of life. It was no longer a question for Abraham if he ever died. It was only the question of when. Was Isaac ready to carry on? With the things which were important? Coming to grips with authority over the truth in the world? What was really his? As an old man late in life given finally a child, a son … but asked to kill Isaac. Facing the end of his line? Or the end of the line with progeny of the woman he really loved. The woman who allowed him to find the Truth about life?

Where was Abraham’s awareness of the conflict in the story. Over the pragmatic act of self-sacrifice, of Isaac, which went entirely against the passing on any inheritance. Over authority. When Abraham might have wondered, might have asked his son, “Who in the name of God do you think you are?” With this sacrifice, God seemed to have asked Abraham the same question. Abraham with all of his awareness. At the end. With a loss of vitality. With the suffering in old age? About everything? Was the actual mystery in the Akedah story about Abraham challenging the meaning of his life, challenging God for all that He had given to him? And slowly was taking away? Slowly taking away all of these blessings. Had he really been “chosen?” Was Abraham really asking God in the Akedah if he really had been chosen? By asking him to sacrifice his son?

One definition of “depression” involves the loss of vitality. When you are depressed, the past and the future are absorbed entirely by the present. A lot like the pagan world. Self-absorbed. A lot like living in a world full of profanity, in a pagan world. Absorbed by the pain of the present moment. So who was worthy of this inheritance? Of those living in the present moment? In the harsh godless profane pagan world? Had Abraham in the first place ever been worthy? It was the “Why me?” question. Why did I have all this? And why was I losing it?

When Isaac might have wondered, might have asked his father, “Who in the name of God do you think you are?” If there was not a bit of the spirit of vexation: damage which is suffered in consequence of the tricks of another, like getting him to go on this three day journey. When the sacrifice of his love of a son was being offered and given up to God?

As God seemed to answer the question at the same time. An artist wanting to destroy his own creation. Like Abraham. All that time spent. Reflecting on the meaning of making some kind of an offering to God, when your relationships, based so much in sacrifice, with God, with your kin, involved not only blood but love. And feeling so unworthy of that love?

Was the Akedah story really about Abraham’s feeling of always being unworthy. There seemed to be a reason that the Akedah was used on Rosh Hashanah, leading up to Yom Kippur.

Those official Days of Awe are over. “Who in the name of God do you think you are?” Finally deciding on the who. Kingship. Royal lines. Noble people. Reflecting on the meaning of making some kind of an offering to God, in sacrifice, when your relationships, with God, with your kin, were based only on blood. And love. Those official Days of Awe. Concerning that blood in the Jewish tradition, as in royal lines.

Concerning that blood. Judaism is all about awareness that affect every aspect of life, from morning til night. The awareness in relationships of the human. And the recognition of the divine. Finally deciding on the who. In kinship to the God who cannot die. In kingship. In royal lines, and passing on a way of life.

The misconception in the modern world, with a loss of collective memory about personal suffering, of the hard times. The misconception was that orthodox religions were just a set of beliefs. When Judaism is a comprehensive way of life filled with practices that affect every aspect of life, from morning til night. Personally. When Judaism was not based on any evangelical door to door knocking. When Judaism was based on bloodlines, on sacrifice, on a bond that same from shared suffering.

Religion was not just a recognition of, an awareness, about God, man, woman, and the universe. It was about everything. It was more about action than words. Religion was about bindings. Being moved to sacrifice. And trying to work on becoming more worthy. In sacrifice. In kinship to the God who cannot die. And passing on the bond which came from that kinship.

Copyright © 2009.

Burren 4

Lumang Tipan. kahulugan ng “kay Bera hari sa Sodoma, at laban kay Birsha hari sa Gomorra”
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