April 20, 2006


The conclusion of his message on the occasion of imparting an Easter blessing urbi et orbi, "to the city and to the world".

May the Risen Lord grant that the strength of his life, peace and freedom be experienced everywhere. Today the words with which the Angel reassured the frightened hearts of the women on Easter morning are addressed to all: “Do not be afraid! ... He is not here; he is risen (Mt. 28:5-6)”. Jesus is risen, and he gives us peace; he himself is peace. For this reason the Church repeats insistently: “Christ is risen-- Christós anésti.” Let the people of the third millennium not be afraid to open their hearts to him. His Gospel totally quenches the thirst for peace and happiness that is found in every human heart. Christ is now alive and he walks with us. What an immense mystery of love! Christus resurrexit, quia Deus caritas est! Alleluia!

Do you want to read the whole message?
Click HERE for it.

April 19, 2006

Necessary Adaptations

Under the subheading, "Necessary Adaptations" in the Prologue of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, We read today in the Prologue of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
23 The Catechism emphasizes the exposition of doctrine. It seeks to help deepen understanding of faith. In this way it is oriented towards the maturing of that faith, its putting down roots in personal life, and its shining forth in personal conduct.

That packs a lot.

The first two points are that catechesis lays out the teachings of the faith for me with the aim of helping me deepen my understanding of the faith.

The last sentence has the heavy packages:
(1) mature knowledge of the faith;
(2) faith sinking deep roots into my life;
(3) faith shining out of the way I choose to live.

I'm going to take those three as applying to:
(1) my present;
(2) my past;
(3) my future.

the maturing of ... faith, its putting down roots in personal life, and its shining forth in personal conduct

Taking number 1 at face value. I am an adult. I need and esteem an adult's intellectual knowledge of the faith, as opposed to whatever I may have left behind or forgotten as soon the bishop's Chrism-bearing thumb departed from my forehead at my teenage confirmation. How have I used my mind since then? As far as my faith goes, have I read anything worthy of an adult mind, worthy of mature knowledge? If I did, or if I do, I may need to challenge not only the way I think about things, but also the way I feel about things. What I know or don't know--that is what calls up or calls on my feelings, particular feelings and the intensity or lack of specific feelings.

That is precisely where number 2 begins to happen. What I increasingly know begins to confront how I know and experience my past, my roots--my past thoughts and my past feelings (my present thoughts and my present feelings too). I may struggle emotionally with what I now increasingly know. I may face new sadness and old sadness as I meet God in Christ in the testimony of the Church. I may get angry. I may become fearful. I may also have moments of new rejoicing. My emotional past and present may begin to acquire new profiles. I could also just shut out this knowledge. Knowledge has roots that reach in and reach down. God's ancient people were aware that "knowing" is intimacy, even sexual intimacy.

Throughout numbers 1 and 2, I have also begun to engage number 3: conduct, choices ... shaping my present but especially shaping my future. Knowledge of (intimacy with) God's glory and the glory he gives me in Christ--this knowledge of what is "true, good, unified, beautiful"--how do I co-own this through my choices, and how do I let it co-own me through my choices? I am also free to let nothing change, to do nothing about and nothing for and nothing based on what I have come to know--and the One I have come to know.

What's a catechism supposed to do for me?

Whatever I let it do for me. "Necessary Adaptations" indeed!


I posted this earlier today on the Catechism Dialogue Blog.
Click HERE for it.

April 18, 2006

Church out of step with the times

A reader of the Catechism dialogue blog wrote to the editor.

"If Catholicism is not convenient as you say it is because the RC imposes ideas out of step with the present times...."
"... I suspect Americans (used to the idea of democracy) feel it's time for the people in the pew to have a say in what is decided."

I respond.

Jesus was out of step with his time.

Jesus did not give the people in the pews of his day a say in what is decided. Rather, he told them off.

On the following page (link) from the "Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate"
Catholic Numbers
you will see that since 1970 the amount of the world's population that is Catholic has stayed at 17 or 18 percent.

During the same period, the worldwide number of priests has stayed on average at about 405,773. (Meaning, among other things, that the number of priests who leave or die annually has been about the same as the number of men who receive ordination annually.)

Those two sets of statistics mean the total number of ordained priests, though somewhat stable, is a shrinking number because the number of Catholics has continued to grow with the world population.

However, the big, big news on that page of statistics is the number of "Graduate-level Seminarians" (men studying theology as candidates for priestly ordination).
In 1980: 33,731
In 1985: 43,476
In 1990: 51,603
In 1995: 54,154
In 2000: 55,968
Meaning that since 1980 the number of candidates has grown faster than the total number of Catholics. The number of candidates in the year 2000 is a growth of 165.92% over the number in the year 1980.

Now for the big, big, big news. What kind of men are choosing to be candidates for the priesthood?

In 1998, here (in the following link) is what the New York Times observed.
Orthodox Seminarians

In 2004, the Los Angeles Times (in the following link) observed the same thing.
New Breed of Priests

The reader I have quoted at the top is proposing a model of church life that the Episcopalians are already using. The results of using that model? Here (in the following link) is what the Episcopalians are reporting in their own newspaper.
Church shrinking

April 17, 2006

Bodiless? Worthless!

[Al Kimel posted this on his blog, Pontifications.]

“Seven Stanzas at Easter”

by John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that-pierced-died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

God commissioned the Church to catechize long before he inspired the Church to write and assemble the New Testament.

In fact, the New Testament writings came into being as inspired outgrowths of the Church's catechizing activity.

from Latin catechizare, from Greek katechizein "teach orally, instruct by word of mouth," from kata "thoroughly" + echein "to sound."

The first reading at Easter morning Mass is from the tenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.  St. Peter is speaking.
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power....
We are witnesses of all that he did....
This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible,
not to all the people, but to us,
the witnesses chosen by God in advance,
who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
He commissioned us to PREACH to the people and TESTIFY....

Jesus rose from the dead.

The apostles witnessed him, and they preached and testified about him to other people by word of mouth-- that is, they catechized others.

The New Testament writings are the inspired, written outgrowths of this catechesis.


The One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church has published a complete summary of her catechism: a quick, "question-and-answer" overview of the essential contents of the faith for which God commissioned the apostles to preach and testify. Check it out by clicking on: COMPENDIUM.

The Church also has a "full-length" version: Catechism of the Catholic Church. Check it out by clicking on: CCC.

An online calendar and guide for short daily readings from the Catechism of the Catholic Church is HERE. That's also a blog for online discussions, questions and answers.

Jesus rose from the dead and forty days later he ascended into heaven. Ten days after his ascension, the Holy Spirit empowered the apostolic Church to give its first public catechesis. It's in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, which you can read by clicking on: ACTS 2.

The "sweetened and condensed" version of that is HERE.

I enthusiastically recommend you get at least the summary of the catechism.
Click HERE for it.