Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page

Hot Flashes in Vatican City

One year later, that Arab Springs has come to Vatican City. The Swiss Guards have been instructed to be on the lookout for anyone dressed up in a habit carrying a gas can.

In the Islamic revolution in Iran, the shah at the time had the fifth largest army in the world, as well as the largest air force in the Middle East in 1980. With a political vision for pan-Islamic, Ayatollah Khomeni had more power than the shah ever had.

In Sept 1978, Khomeni was expelled from Iraq and lived in exile in Paris, with his appeal directed at the peasants and uneducated. Living previously in exile, Khomeni under Iraq’s protection?

Before the religious purge. Taking names and ending the lives of those in religious opposition. Then getting involved in politics, like in the history of the Roman Empire. Trying to get involved with secular power. Like now William Levada? Like over the question of who loves God the best? Or who knows God best?

William J. Byron writes: “It is no secret that increasing numbers of baptized Catholics in the United States never or rarely attend Sunday Mass. In the late fall of 2011, we asked some of them a simple question: Why?”

“At the request of Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., of Trenton, N.J., (the former president of Catholic University of America) we surveyed” the registered parishioners who are no longer showing up. The responses indicate that relatively few indicated that they simply “drifted away.”

“Diocesan officials are,” William J. Byron writes, “taking notice of topics that call for better explanation. As they do, we hope that they will bear in mind the comment cited by one man, who said that ‘every time you ask a question, you get a rule.’”

From where I come from there was an evangelism by blood — to celebrate holidays with religious meaning – which gave meaning and purpose to human life. When love and sex and blood has always been the manner of passing on shared belief. And in the age of divorce there were new challenges in this evangelism by blood. For those who believed that God is Love, and that God could be found in the torture of love.

When things come back. Boomerangs and your sins. In your progeny. The size of the crimes. The slow and deliberate challenge in the forgiveness to children from their parents. The stress in the stories. Of capitalism, of communism – bigger, stronger, faster. Of religious wars — The Great Crusades — taking the Lord thy God’s name in vain. For only myself. Again and again, religious war. And the fear of the non-believers in the story. With a missing forgiveness involved in the mystery of Love.

In these too well-educated times. Artificial intelligence. The printing press. In the switch from oral education to one centered on reading, there was the de-leveraging going on, with this accompanying privatization. Like after the Soviet Union fell. And now the challenge trying to pray in the digital age.

When you have lost touch. When you lost your balance. When you have lost your sensation. As you got old. About measuring the quality of institutions of modern women religious. When the numbers showed that modern women drifted into the thoughts of the modern world. When some men tried to measure the reasons why registered parishioners were no longer showing up. And others tried to impose their will on those who did.

And so the response – going through the motions, which began about forty months ago, after the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life had issued a decree that they would conduct a comprehensive study to look into the quality of institutes of women religious in the United States and the life of the members of these religious institutes. Because no one was becoming a nun any more. (No comprehensive study as to why no one was joining the nunneries of Europe. No comprehensive study was announced concerning why the fall-off in men joining the priesthood.) This was an American problem? Or an American plot?

Separate from this Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life inquiry was a “doctrinal assessment” of the Leadership Conference of Women religious by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed up by the American cardinal William Levada. This was just an updated version of a purge by the same body of the church which had conducted the Inquisition about the time Columbus set off to discover America. When in those days a lot of Europeans felt the need to get out of Europe.

About human pride. Being the best. Being the smartest. Being the strongest. Over who loves and cares the best? In sharing a past, whose ritual was the strongest? On issues of sacrifice? In the need for ritual, whose interpretation was the strongest? When eventually blood got involved in the competition. Over the kids. In the vanity argument of what had worked for the longest, and what was not now working? For the next generation?

Facing banishment. Old nuns, because of simple ministry rather than proselytizing. Actions stronger than words. Care-givers. When the sisters were beyond the reach of the U S Conference of Bishops – because of the Code of Canon law – and these bishops wanted to look into the habits of the nunneries. With only non-binding guidelines to offer the nuns, the bishop of Toledo went plotting to go to someone who had power over the nunneries on “matters of theological orthodoxy.” Benedict XVI has written in the past that he prefers a leaner, smaller, purer church, and here seemingly was the path to put his own beliefs into practice.

And so the decision last week by Cardinal William Levada who, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, lived in an apartment which was 524 square metres — roughly 5,640 square feet. William Levada’s decisions was that the Vatican would be taking control of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Levada has been since November 2000 a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It was in 2001 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had asked the nuns to promote “Ordinatio sacerdotalis,” a 1994 Apostolic Letter which represented Church teaching on the sacramental priesthood and restate the church’s position that ordination of women was not gonna happen. So the announced purge is consistent with the pope’s thinking, before he was pope. (In the way of fact finding, the duty of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is to promote and safeguard the doctrine on faith and morals .)

Forty months later, the Vatican is now taking control, with hope that in five years to put the Leadership Conference of Women Religious on a different track. Consistent with the theology of Benedict espoused before he became pope that the Roman Catholic Church was in need of pruning. And so the spring pruning of American nuns whose perspective he seemed not to share. Based upon their vow of obedience, either comply with the order or face ouster as a Vatican-recognized representative of sisters in the United States. Extinguish the charism.

Notice the missing leadership in the Pontiff in allowing these American bishops to get involved in power issues, not ones of significant doctrine. Letting your colleague, like Cardinal Levada, decide since it was his nation, even if he never really returned much to his home land. Because when you were eighty-five, you would just rather pray. And so the pope had left the decision in the hand of the now seventy-five year old American who has been the prefect running the goings-on at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Because this pope — Cardinal Levada had come to learn after his long association — who prefers a leaner, smaller, purer church, would now just rather pray. And Cardinal Levada was seemingly on a path to put the beliefs of this pope into practice.

The palpable sadness in the story – in pruning back part of the story – was when you have lost touch with women. When you consider only your own view of the world. When you actually took the Lord thy God’s name in vain – only for myself, or with only those who shared my perspective of this God. The bad guy in all of this was Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo who manipulated his friendship with William Levada. Blair has been a a member of Committee on Doctrine of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops , the bad institution in all of this. The U S Conferences of Bishops was the organization of bishops and archbishops which had for years left the aging nuns with their own financial deficits. And now they were leading the nuns up on Mount Moriah, like Abraham once had taken Isaac.

As the nuns face mostly end of life issues. On the issue of support. Based upon their financial need, with the vows of poverty, facing over the next ten years more than $20 billion in unfunded retirement liabilities, including medical costs, in a nation with more nuns over the age 90 than under age 60, per the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. With no kids of their own to turn to, based upon their vow of celibacy (with mostly missing claims of sexual abuse), now losing their spiritual life? When somehow you had made enemies and arch-enemies. Like Jesus. Based upon the demographics available through the Retirement Fund for Religious, in 2010 the total cost to care for women and men religious past age 70 exceeded $1 billion. Of 572 religious communities submitting data to the National Religious Retirement Office in 2010, 171 are adequately funded for retirement, with 148 communities less than 20 percent funded. It is worth noting ninety-five percent of the nation’s 63,032 nuns belonged to the Leadership Conference of Women religious. From a total nun population of 135,00 in 1975 in the United States, with a lot less working nuns. It sounds like the Social Security crisis.

In extinguishing the charism, the decision letting Levada decide what to do, in safeguarding the doctrine on morals, would seem to cast doubt in the “extraordinary power” of nuns. Theologically, this was announced in the Easter season, almost 40 days before the celebration of Penecost. When this was just a conflict over issues of job descriptions? When Levada’s job included a duty to promote and safeguard the doctrine on faith and morals, and the nuns had never submitted their job descriptions, or passed out the keychains? Or the American bishops like Leonard Blair of Toledo, who knew ninety-five percent of the nation’s 63,032 nuns belonged to the Leadership Conference of Women religious, saw a way to get out of a financial obligation to women who had contributed to the faith their entire lives.

With your personal theology on display. In his book Defying Hitler, Sebastion Haffner cited Bismarck’s remark about the German people: the scarcity of moral courage among Germans – and the complete lack of it among Germans who put on vestments and/or uniforms. Bismarck thought this characteristic made Germany unsuitable for democratic government.

Long before he became pope, I was not a fan of Joseph Ratzinger. And I wonder about a colllege of cardinals that can elect a candidate on record of discussing a need to prune back, when the mission statement was always about salvation. I am not sure Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger caught, during the era of his youth, the need for a wider peprspective on issues of superiority and authority.

And so the alienation of affection. Not just of my affection but the younger generation for the distortion of the concept of the Roman Catholic God, pursued with the air of infallibitlity. Caught up on the cause of religious freedom as a basic human right, this pope was oppressing a certain wing of his own church with his pruner.

When you theology was on display. In choosing a God. In choosing a lifestyle. In the manner you choose to love. Blind to the difference between choosing and being chosen. And then all of the vanity about being right.

Satan, with his role in human pride. Being the smartest. The strongest. Who best serves. When the first commandment involved KNOWING God. It was not to be a contest over who knew God the best — which was a sin of pride and vanity.

With your life of humility, losing your facilities. Perhaps you have forgotten the embarrassment to be poor; the strong responses in the embarrassment to be powerless, to those without power. Perhaps you have forgotten the strong human feelings – anger, fear, apathy – but with spiritual direction which led to religious life, to the dedication of lives in response to the poor, to the disenfranchised. Perhaps you have forgotten the charism. Or perhaps you have forgotten just one commandment – like Thou shall not take the Lord thy God in vain. Or in modern parlance, “Thou shall not prune.”

Perhaps those who believe not only in the message of the Gospel but in the financial support of local institutions – those men and women who in their own marriages lived with change – might, instead of joining a Facebook protest, begin to send checks to the order of nuns in their own community, instead of the parish priest. In Solidarity with the nuns. To the one who once had educated them, instead of the local parishes that the archbishop claimed dominion over – with the rights to close and consolidate parishes. Perhaps checks to the like of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet, or Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, or the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinnawa. Or the ones in your American community, serving without regard to race, color, or creed. Until someone in Rome reined in Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo , in purging the opposition, like in Iran or in Syria where there was no real religious liberty. And you somehow thought you were allowed to consume your own flesh and blood.

Discipline. Suppression. Banishment. So this was how the Jesuit Suppression of the eighteen century happened? As kings collaborated with popes, starting when the aged Pope Benedict XIV collaborating with the King of Portugal. This Jesuit Suppression spread throughout the world, lasting until 1814. How fast the world could change. But good things come back, in stories of boomerangs, care-givers, and nuns. And Jesuits.

To the hymn Salve Regina.

To thee we cry, poor sons of Eve, O Maria! (The Church of Rome’s English translation)
To thee we sigh, we mourn, we grieve, O Maria!

Triumph, all ye cherubim, Sing with us, ye seraphim,
Heaven and earth resound the hymn:
Salve, salve, salve Regina!

.

The Retirement Fund for Religious is the annual appeal sponsored by the National Religious Retirement Office, under the auspices of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Concerning the US Conference of Catholic Bishops — with their $39 million annual budget to operate an office in Washington, I have personally known five or six with miters who, with true lives of humility, were really good guys – mostly serving in a part of the country where they grew up. That model has been smashed when the pope from Poland went to Rome. Because when in Rome, everyone had to do like the Polish do. And you seldom ever heard a priest ever dare quote anyone except a living pope, thereafter.

When the woman you married did not seem the same. When I was not the same. When even God seemed to change so much over a lifetime, in papal standard mean time. If you ever were deeply invested in a relationship of love.

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Insurrection

Chase Nordengren writes in the National Catholic Reporter a piece about Good Friday, with respect to the impact of Christianity upon the world. “With the transforming trauma of Jesus’s death with the cross,” author Peter Rollins argues in Insurrection, “comes ambiguity and mystery face-to-face as God loses the security of God.” When doubts, for Rollins, are the center of a life of faith. The contemporary church, Rollins argues, robs the crucifixion of its truth by imagining the perfect church as an absolutely secure one, per Nordengren’s piece.

The conflict of the past with the future. Crime and punishment. “Official church history is one of alienation from God through the gradual strengthening of appearance … the progressive removal of God … by a monstrous doctrinal system with an incalculable host of preachers and professors.” At a Seder dinner this week, I learned that Hell was a Christian construct, as the Jewish tradition does not promote a concept of hell.

The impact of Christianity upon the world: “The illusion of masses of Christians, of a Christian nation, of a Christian ‘people,’ is no doubt due to the power that numbers exercise over the imagination. “Official church history,” 19th century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard writes, “is one of alienation from God through the gradual strengthening of appearance … the progressive removal of God … by a monstrous doctrinal system with an incalculable host of preachers and professors.” With fire and brimstone.

The conflict of the past with the future. In the ideology of capital punishment, to somehow take away the future – to take away a life. Show me a nation with a dwindling population rate, with smaller and smaller families, and I will show you a nation that has a harder and harder time playing in groups — and praying together. With so little examination – as the world became more and more urbanized – of the role that fertility played in this story of Jesus and his followers … as they moved into the capital city.

Politics and religion: “”Why is it,” Kierkegaard asks, “that people prefer to be addressed in groups rather than individually? Is it because conscience is one of life’s greatest inconveniences – a knife that cuts too deeply? We prefer to ‘be part of a group,’ and to ‘form a party,’ for if we are part of a group it means goodnight to conscience.”

Crime and punishment. The wars of liberation. For power to rule our own land; or had it been about a place to worship? For Truth.

“Truth,” Kierkegaard writes, “is not a sum of statements, not a definition, not a system of concepts, but a life. Truth is not a property of thought that guarantees validity to thinking. No, truth in its most essential character is the reduplication of truth within yourself, within me, within him.”

Truth was somehow tied to your own fertility. If you used your own fertility –the reduplication of truth within yourself – for a greater purpose, like for the future. Instead of for selfish purposes, in the present. And so the Truth in the foundation of Judaism in the traditions so casually set aside by the evolving generations of Christianity.

Even when it had came to be in popular thought, as you moved closer into the capital city, that fertility was a victimless crime? Truth, even for urban people, in its most essential character is the reduplication of truth within yourself, within me, within Him.”

The illusion of masses of Christians, of a Christian nation, of a ‘Christian people’ was that fertility was a victimless crime? In college, in Omaha, I took a sociology course called “Alienation and Society,” focused upon what happened earlier in history when people in rural America left farms and moved into the city with all of the immigrants from Europe.

Whether on issues like gay marriage or abortion, the masses had a difficutl time getting their arms around the conflict of the present with the future when it came to victimless sins, if not victimless crime. And then the ensuing issues like corporal punishment. Or capital punishment.

If God so made the world, wasn’t the Crucifixion really a victimless crime, except for the individual named Jesus? The illusion of masses of Christians, of a Christian nation, of a Christian ‘people,’ is no doubt due to the power that numbers exercise over the imagination. And that same illusion would come to nations which believed in nothing. The frightening part when the majority believed in nothing was in their illusion, of massive illusion, no doubt due to the power that numbers exercise over the imagination. And how much did this explain the situation of Europe, with regard to their currency issues? When a nation tried to maintain their values through a currency. In Europe, where more and more, it seems there was no THERE there. The missing belief had created a void not only in their currency, but as reflected in the lack of leadership from one nation to the next, including the German pope. As fascism is defined as institutionalized violence: violence in the name of institution and the act of hiding behind an institution. Germany had come into this place of dominance again, without ever really being punished for the deeds of the Third Reich.

Truth and reconciliation, since shame could not be inherited. Crime and punishment. To grow up in a culture of shame – over being chosen. “Guilt” is a poor synonym for the word “shame.” The response to seeing, in the sense a response of choosing, in the ideology of capital punishment, to somehow take away the future — to take away a life. And so the story in another Passover of God, and the impact of God upon the world. Passover and Good Friday were all about power. In first born sons and inherited birth right, somehow tied into the craziness of Abraham on Mount Moriah.

Passover. And so this story in another Passover of God, and the impact of God upon the world. Passover and Good Friday were all about power. If you used your own fertility –the reduplication of truth within yourself – for a greater purpose. When Moses had explained to Pharoah the reason that the Hebrews were leaving Egypt: It had been not so much about a power to rule “our own’ land, not with an ideology of capital punishment, but about a place to worship freely. The ambiguity and mystery were left for the temporal powers who saw an Insurrection, over the existing system. As the future was now, through the theme of divine power meeting temporal power head-on.

As today’s focus was in the absolute power in God’s own fertility, in some kind of relationship. When the craziness of Abraham in relation to his fertility was matched by the craziness of God in relation to His fertility, allowing this Messiah – the one and only, for all time – to be put to death. As God loses the security of God, replaced by the same Passover theme, and the power of prayer.

“At this late date, perhaps only a non-Western eye can see…the horror most Japanese feel at seeing a corpse displayed as a religious icon….The Crucifixion, the primal scene of Western religion and Western art, has lost much of its power to shock,” write Jack Miles in his book Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God.

And so the story of God, if you used Your Own fertility –the reduplication of truth within Yourself – for a greater purpose, like for the future, wasn’t the Crucifixion really a victimless crime, except for the individual named Jesus? As face-to-face contact with God is lost, the impact of human prayer, the impact of God upon the world, even with the progressive removal of God from this earth, was still left for humans — forced to imagine differently, with a certain desperation on the edge of loss, on the edge of faith, on the edge of death — to discover.

For Truth rediscovered, for future generation’ for the power to freely worship, in liberation movements. As God loses the security of God, in the story of God’s power in His Own fertility – replaced by the same Passover theme, and the power of prayer.

Power. Fertility. Over and over stories of first born sons and prophets. The power of high priests, if you used your own fertility –the reduplication of truth within yourself – for a greater purpose like a reduplication of truth within Yourself for a greater purpose, like for the future. When the future was now, and so many sons made modifications in the existing system.

Truth is not a property of thought that guarantees validity to thinking, in either politics or religion. Just as in Louis Begley’s Mistler’s Exit, the suffering of the son is the suffering of the father. A symphony has climaxed but there is unfinished business in all of this fertility. The power of God remains. The power of God is in His fertility, in life and in death. When you were born into something, so often the power of God remains to be seen. In the story of God’s Own fertility, the impact of God upon the world remains to be seen. Often in a discovery of the next generation, in the fertility of a new Spring. From Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God comes the shocking power of prayer, in the aftermath of the power of The Crucifixion. When the origin of the word Lent, in Old Middle English, meant Spring.

THE HUMAN FACE OF THE COMPOSER OF THIS LITURGICAL MUSIC

http://ncronline.org/blogs/young-voices/look-kierkegaard-and-his-infinite-passion-inwardness

Religion Blogs

http://www.happyeasterquotes.org

天主教教堂

Though part of North America, politically and culturally associated with Europe, in southern Greenland, most of the impact of climate change can be seen as things are just growing quicker; thawing of ice sheets has seen a boost in mining and oil exploration as well as an interest in agriculture. Summers are warmer, with less rain. The ice sheet is especially vulnerable to climate change near Ammassalik. In the 10th century Erik the Red arrived in the southern fjords, labelling ice-covered island “Greenland” to entice others to settle. The climate was warmer then, above and beyond an early instance of hype to lure unwary customers. The old stories about an earlier warmth allowed Viking settlements to grow crops for five centuries. Before evidence of another change. Religion in Greenland mysteriously was dying out. http://www.ibenedictines.org