Friday, September 18, 2015

Catholics USA

"Basilica of the National Shrine 
of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC,"
by Alchavers21 via Wikimedia Commons
There are different groups of inhabitants peopling our land and different stages in the making of our nation and of our local Catholic Church in the USA. All and each of us Catholic brothers and sisters have toned and shaped both negatively and positively this movement of Jesus among us.

In the formation of our nation, there are three groups of inhabitants: the natives; the colonists, who came principally from Spain, France, and England; and the slaves, who were brought here principally from Africa. Then, in our new nation, there are among the inhabitants citizens under George Washington, and this extended to slaves under Abraham Lincoln. Finally, there are inhabitants who are pioneers, extending frontiers, and immigrants, enriching our population with people from all races, continents, and nations. Rightly our national motto is "E Pluribus Unum": from many, one.

Some of our more celebrated Catholic brothers and sisters we remember and honor for their visible influence. In the wake of the Epiphany, the manifestation of Jesus to the nations, we honor on January 5 Elizabeth Seton, a laywoman, wife, mother, widow, and founder, and on January 6 John Neumann, an immigrant who became a priest here. Elizabeth (1774-1821), born in New York City, had a common, everyday way of following Jesus in his Church for his world. Her way was to do what the Lord wanted, as He wanted, because He wanted—very practical. Converted especially because of her attraction to Jesus in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, she started schooling Catholics and is the mother of our Catholic schools. John Neumann (1811-1860), from German-speaking Bohemia, became a priest here and later bishop of Philadelphia, and wanted to serve citizens and immigrants, especially in out-of-the-way places. He practiced and advocated daily Eucharistic adoration and the rosary. This man and woman lived in the early years of our nationhood.

We honor from before our nationhood Isaac Jogues (1607-1646) and Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) and Junipero Serra (1713-1784). Isaac, a Jesuit from France, worked among the natives and was martyred by some of them. He risked torture and death to bring Jesus in his Church to them. Kateri, a native in the New York area, was a devout virgin who braved tribal resistance to become a Catholic follower of Jesus. Junipero, a Franciscan from Spain, founded nine missions among the natives of California. He moved always forward in his drive to help these peoples.

We honor from after our nationhood Augustus Tolton (1854-1897) and Frances Cabrini (1850-1917). Augustus had parents who were slaves in Missouri, where he was baptized as an infant. He grew up in Quincy, Illinois, was ordained at St. John Lateran in Rome, eventually worked as a priest in Chicago. In spite of discrimination inside and outside the Church, he wanted to bring people, especially black, to Jesus in His Church. Frances, from Italy, founded missionary sisters to assist immigrants, often mistreated, with works of mercy in the form of schools, orphanages, and hospitals.

We honor from our own time Dorothy Day (1897-1980) and Fulton Sheen (1895-1979). Dorothy cared for workers, their rights, their needs. Fulton, a priest, later a bishop, was on fire to bring Jesus in his Church to people through speaking on radio and television and teaching at Catholic University in Washington, DC, and writing many books. To these we might add Mother Angelica and Francis George.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Our six main national holidays—Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year—highlight realities we appreciate with our neighbors and we transform as Catholic followers of Jesus. We remember our brothers and sisters, citizens and inhabitants who offered self for us—our heroes. We value our freedom to be a nation in the family of nations. We honor brothers and sisters working singly and together among and for and with us. We thank our merciful Father, especially as families, for the blessings of our land and people. We celebrate the birth of Jesus who frees us, enslavers and enslaved, to be brothers and sisters of our human family. We mark the march of time in our life and history.

We are thankful for the pilgrimage of four popes here: Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Francis. Mary Immaculate is the patron of our nation, Joseph of our immediate neighbors Canada and Mexico. Our Lady of Guadalupe is patron of America, embracing North, Central, and South America.

The Statue of Liberty is the symbol of welcoming the tired, the poor. For us as Catholics, the statue can symbolize Mary Immaculate, our humble and merciful Mother, welcoming and protecting us. She holds the torch of liberty for communion, the way of us brothers and sisters to be the family of friends of her and Joseph and their and our Jesus.

Father Don

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Vatican II: A Mercy Revolution

Holy Spirit window at St. Peter's Basilica,
via Wikimedia Commons.
Vatican II is an epic event in the life of the Church and the world. The following is my present position on its history, teaching, catechism, and theology, fifty years later: December 8, 1965 to December 8, 2015.

Vatican II is historically the center of a new mercy movement of Jesus in His Church for His world over an 87-year period. Two popes prepared this movement during the thirty years from 1928 to 1958: Pius XI with the creation of Vatican State, February 11, 1929, freeing popes to concentrate on shepherding, and Pius XII with the doctrinal declaration of the Assumption of Mary, November 21, 1950, emphasizing our everlasting destiny personified by her. Two other popes, John XXIII and Paul VI, celebrated the council from October 11, 1962, to December 8, 1965, and guided its inception and reception from 1958 to 1978, twenty years, proclaiming emphatically Jesus the good Samaritan, merciful to us His brothers and sisters in our need today. Four other popes implemented/interpreted the Council from 1978 to 2015, the remaining thirty-seven years of the fifty years after completion, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis. They have promoted the new evangelization for this second 500 years in America and these third 1,000 years in the world at large since the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus for our redemption, especially through the Passion and the Resurrection, Benedict focusing on the Catechism and the Council, and Francis on marriage and family.

Image from The Saint John's Bible
This historical perspective of preparation, celebration, and implementation/interpretation of Vatican II over the span of eighty-seven years (thirty/twenty/thirty-seven) guides us to appreciate better the teaching of the Council and the Catechism. The Council issued sixteen documents teaching Jesus gathers us, renews us, sends us. Jesus gathers us, His Church (Lumen gentium) through His Word (Dei verbum), Body and Blood (Sacrosanctum concilium), for us His world (Gaudium et spes), the import of the four constitutions. He renews us lay (Apostolicam actuositatem) and religious (Perfectae caritatis) and seminarians (Optatam totius) and presbyters (Presbyterorum ordinis) and bishops (Christus dominus) and twenty-three Eastern churches (Orientalium ecclesiarum), six declarations flowing from the constitution on the Church. He sends us to our brothers and sisters (Ad gentes) differently Catholic and Christian (Unitatis Redintegratio) and religious (Nostra Aetate), and human and secular, to invite them freely (Dignitatis humanae) to share the Catholic way of Jesus for the people today, especially through education (Gravissimum educationis) and media (Inter mirifica), three other decrees and three declarations likewise flowing from the constitution on the Church.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church presents the conciliar teaching of the Catholic way of Jesus for the people today. Part I is the beliefs; part II, rites; part III, commandments and precepts; and part IV, prayers. The whole charts our attitude and action of virtues, counsels. Part I is professing our trust and faith, part II is celebrating our trust and hope, and parts III and IV are respectively living and praying our love and justice.

Theology in the wake of the Council moves more from practice through doctrine to new practice, "see-judge-act." Gaudium et spes has been a particularly powerful influence. "See"—we start with people today in their need of heart and conscience, their every misery; they are differently cultured (Bernard Lonergan), differently enslaved (Gustavo Gutierrez). "Judge"—we interpret Jesus in His Catholic Church, humbly, mercifully freeing and uniting us to be his humble, merciful family of friends of Mary and Joseph. "Act"—we chart our pastoral decisions accordingly.

This is my humble view of the history, teaching, catechism, and theology of Vatican II as a way of Jesus setting His world on fire today (Luke 12).

Father Don