October 25, 2017 – Continuing Discussion of How We Serve

Discipleship

Brian Durocher led focusing on follow-up of the previous week’s discussion of discipleship and exploration of the question, “What is God calling me (or us) to do?”

We spent some time on Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. Here is a summary from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 2447 on Page 588. Interestingly, it is found in the article about the 7th Commandment, “You shall not steal.” I also copied and pasted at the end of this post the references from Sacred Scripture indicated by the footnotes 241, 242, and 243. These Bible references found throughout the Catechism were helpful to me when reading the Catechism, as a Lutheran, for the first time.

2447 The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.241 Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. the corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.242 Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:243

You may notice that the list above from the Catechism includes only six spiritual acts of mercy and five or six or maybe seven corporal acts of mercy depending on how one counts. Is visiting the sick and imprisoned one or two? As mentioned during the discussion, there are lists that have seven of each, but I suppose they are unofficial lists. Here is a screen shot of a list I found at NewAdvent.org. There is more explanation at the link.

new advent

 

Related Stuff from the Catechism

Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit and the Seven Deadly Sins were also mentioned during the discussion, and that reminded me of a chart I created a few years ago and published in 2010 on my blog. Below are my chart and the comments I had about it. Well, lots of major improvement opportunities for me. Good confession guide maybe.

 

Virtues and Vices

A few times I have used the Boy Scout Law, (“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”) as a good list of desirable traits for one to develop.  Somewhere this week I saw something about a list of virtues, Googled that, and found that The Catholic Church lists seven virtues, three of them “theological” and four “cardinal.”  One thing led to another and next thing I knew I was toying around with a chart to display the virtues, gifts of the Holy Spirit, fruits of the Holy Spirit, and even the seven “capital” sins, all as taught in the Catholic Catechism.  This is what I came up with.  Actually that Boy Scout Law is a pretty good list summarizing the virtues, gifts, and fruits.  Putting the Grace of God in the center just seemed like a good idea to me.

Virtue Chart

What Should We Do as a Group?

We closed with discussion about what the Men’s Prayer Group can do jointly to respond to this responsibility of disciples for Acts of Mercy. We can help as many did with the Salvation Army Christmas Fund Raising. We could volunteer as a group for a Home Works of America project. We could (fill in the blank.)

Oh, and by the way, here is the information requested about German Siding.

Below are the Bible references in the Catechism Paragraph 2447 quoted above.

241 – Isaiah 58:6-7  This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke;  7 Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.

242 – Matthew 25:31-46   31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne,  32 and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  33 He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,  36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’  37 Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’  40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’  41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,  43 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’  44 Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’  45 He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’  46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

243 – Tobit 4:5-11   5 “Through all your days, my son, keep the Lord in mind, and suppress every desire to sin or to break his commandments. Perform good works all the days of your life, and do not tread the paths of wrongdoing.  6 For if you are steadfast in your service, your good works will bring success, not only to you, but also to all those who live uprightly.  7 “Give alms from your possessions. Do not turn your face away from any of the poor, and God’s face will not be turned away from you.  8 Son, give alms in proportion to what you own. If you have great wealth, give alms out of your abundance; if you have but little, distribute even some of that. But do not hesitate to give alms;  9 you will be storing up a goodly treasure for yourself against the day of adversity.  10 Almsgiving frees one from death, and keeps one from going into the dark abode.  11 Alms are a worthy offering in the sight of the Most High for all who give them.

243 – Sirach 17:22   22 Who in the nether world can glorify the Most High in place of the living who offer their praise?

243 – Matthew 6:2-4  2 When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.  3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,  4 so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

October 18, 2017 – Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist

st-luke-icon-747

Icon of St. Luke

Based on word counts in the New American Bible, St. Luke wrote 27.5% of the NT, and that is why I chose him as confirmation saint in 2011. In a Bible handy at the moment, the Gospel of Luke is 45 pages, and it took  just 3 minutes to read one page aloud. So, reading silently, it should take well under two hours to read the whole book. It could be read during the non-action parts of a three hour televised football game, but that may not be the best environment for spiritual reflection.

Every Wednesday in Morning Prayer, we read from St. Luke’s Gospel the Benedictus, the prayer of Zechariah, father of newly born John (the Baptist) who would  fulfill Isaiah’s prophesy of one sent to “prepare the way of the Lord.”

The Benedictus is found only in the Gospel of Luke.  Here are other treasures sharing that distinction:

  • Announcement of John’s upcoming birth to Zechariah and Elizabeth
  • Annunciation of Jesus to Mary
  • Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth during which John “leaped in her womb.”
  • The “Magnificat.” Mary’s prayer when she visited Elizabeth.
  • Birth and naming of John and the “Benedictus.”
  • Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem with shepherds watching their flocks
  • Circumcision of Jesus
  • Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the “Nunc Dimittis,” the prayer of Simeon
  • Jesus left behind in the Temple
  • Rejection in his home town synagogue
  • The sending out of the seventy
  • Parable of the Good Samaritan
  • Parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son

In St. Luke’s account, the ministry of Jesus seems to have been logical and well planned, much like the effort of a coach building a sports team, and St. Luke promises us an “orderly account” based on careful investigation and eye witness testimony. The ministry of Jesus began in Luke’s account with the call of Peter, James, and John, proceeded with training and teaching and coaching of the twelve and then of the seventy sent out two by two, and ended with sending us all to proclaim repentance and forgiveness. Now the training is up to The Church, the Body of Christ. Here are seven steps in that progression.

 

 

coach

The comments about St. Luke and his Gospel inspired discussion among the group about our individual roles in evangelism, and we were all encouraged to explore our spiritual gifts and to ask, “What is God calling me to do?”

Tom Gregory encouraged the members to take a look at the website of a Catholic evangelistic group. You can find it HERE.

And, if you decide to read the Gospel, here is a handy list of the 206 events or scenes in it.

206 Scenes in Luke

 

 

 

October 11, 2017 – Feast of Pope John XXIII

Key Points about Pope John XXIII (Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli) Wikipedia Article  (11/25/1881 – 6/3/1963)

  • Eldest son and fourth of fourteen children born to a sharecropper family in northern Italy
  • Ordained 8/10/1904 and served in France, Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey
  • Was a chaplain and stretcher bearer in the Italian army in WWI.
  • Was actively involved in saving Jewish refugees from the Nazis during WWII.
  • Elected Pope 10/28/1958 on the 11th ballot
  • Visited hospitals and prisons in the Diocese of Rome
  • Sneaking out and wandering the streets of Rome at night earned him the nickname “Johnny Walker.”
  • Eliminated the description of Jews as “faithless” in the Good Friday liturgy.
  • Confessed the anti-Semitism of the Church through the ages.
  • Called Second Vatican Council which began 10/11/1962, now his feast day.
  • Died of stomach cancer 6/3/1963 before the end of Vatican II.
  • Declared a Saint by Pope Francis 7/5/2013.
  • Affectionately known as “The Good Pope” or “il Papa buono.”

Quotes from Pope John 23rd (all from Wikipedia article)

“We are all made in God’s image, and thus, we are all Godly alike.”

“Dear children, returning home, you will find children: Give your children a hug and say: This is a hug from the Pope.”

“in his Pacem in terris. He wrote, “Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of ill health; disability stemming from his work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his own he is deprived of the means of livelihood.”[59] 

And, he wrote an autobiography published in paperback in 1999:

Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 9.52.57 AM

Father Linsky remembers Pope John 23rd as a relaxed and smiling pope known for closing the day with this prayer: “Hey, God, it’s your Church. Take care of it. I’m going to bed.” (Loose translation)

Given the apparent peace and happiness of Pope John 23rd, Father Linsky then transitioned the discussion to the idea of keeping the big picture in mind, the magnanimity of God in whose image we are created, practicing humility and avoiding the potholes of life, pride, jealousy, small mindedness, resentment. We must remember that God wants ALL to be saved, while we are tempted to wish otherwise for certain people and groups of people. Jonah, upset in today’s Mass readings about God not punishing Ninevah, shows us the wrong attitude and gets a lesson from God after this prayer:

Jonah 4:2New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

He prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, is this not what I said while I was still in my own country? This is why I fled at first toward Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, abounding in kindness, repenting of punishment.

We are all encouraged to invite more to join this Wednesday morning prayer time. Recent participation has ranged from 17 to 24 persons.

By the way, my grandfather, who taught me to drive a furniture delivery truck in my early teen years, told me that if I would keep my eyes on what was going on the few hundred yards ahead of me instead of staring at the road right in front of the truck, I could avoid those potholes I kept hitting. That is almost exactly what Father Linsky’s driving instructor told him.

October 4, 2017 – St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi and His Theology

Brian Durocher led the discussion on this feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (1182 – 1226) who, while stripping himself naked in front of the local bishop, took vows of extreme poverty and dedicated himself to living and spreading the Gospel. You can read a short biographical sketch here.

St. Francis is associated with cataphatic theology, a belief in the presence or immanence of God and ability of humans to experience and love and make positive statements about God. Apophatic theology, on the other hand, emphasizes the transcendence of God and our inability to describe or explain Him. Describing God as “the man upstairs” perhaps goes too far in the former direction and as a distant and mysterious clock maker who just set things in motion too far in the latter direction.

Here is an interesting discussion of apophatic or negative theology.

Brian mentioned St. John of the Cross as a mystic who expressed apophatic theology, and this post mentions him and others.

And here is a simple explanation of the differences between the two types of theology.

A good example from Sacred Scripture of cataphatic theology is the phrase encountered several times in the Psalms: “God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.”  And perhaps John 4:24 – “God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” would fall in the apophatic category.

Because of the Incarnation, Immanuel, God with us, God in flesh, Catholicism seems to lean more in the direction of cataphatic theology. We can certainly say that Jesus teaches us all we need to know, if not all we might want to know, about The Triune God and that we experience His presence, and that what we learn is consistent with that Old Testament description: “Gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” Still, there is that Divine Mystery.

My apologies for that wandering, but I did it for self edification and figured I might as well share it.

Today’s Gospel – Luke 9:57-62 – About those Jesus Seemed to Reject

Without getting too hung up on the specifics of Jesus’s dismissive comments, we can perhaps generalize that being too hung up on material things (a place to rest our heads), the past (burying the dead), or bonds we have (family at home), can hamper our progress toward true discipleship.

Stephen Ministry

Fred Belinga, a member of the Men’s Prayer Group and a Stephen Minister at St. Peters, explained the Stephen Ministry and invited us to join the upcoming training and perhaps become Stephen Ministers. Here is a link to the Stephen Ministry Website.

For more information or to join the class you can email Fred: fredbelinga@gmail.com

 

 

September 27th, 2017 – St. Vincent de Paul and Fighting Heresies

At this Catholic.org link is a nice short video about St. Vincent including the quoted text below. You can enjoy the video or just read the text excerpts below, but please take a look at the website:

“St. Vincent de Paul was born to a poor peasant family in the French village of Pouy on April 24, 1581. His first formal education was provided by the Franciscans….

He was ordained in 1600 and remained in Toulose for a time. In 1605, while on a ship traveling from Marseilles to Narbone, he was captured, brought to Tunis and sold as a slave…

St. Vincent went to Avignon and later to Rome to continue his studies. While there he became a chaplain to the Count of Goigny and was placed in charge of distributing money to the deserving poor…

From that point forward he spent his life preaching missions to and providing relief to the poor. He even established hospitals for them…he founded the Ladies of Charity, a lay institute of woman, to help, as well as a religious institute of priests – the Congregation of Priests of the Mission, commonly referred to now as the Vincentians.

This was at a time when there were not many priests in France and what priests there were, were neither well-formed nor faithful to their way of life. Vincent helped reform the clergy and the manner in which they were instructed and prepared for the priesthood…

The Vincentians remain with us today with nearly 4,000 members in 86 countries. In addition to his order of Vincentian priests, St. Vincent cofounded the Daughters of Charity along with St. Louise de Marillac. There are more than 18,000 Daughters today serving the needs of the poor in 94 countries…

Two miracles have been attributed to St Vincent – a nun cured of ulcers and a laywoman cured of paralysis. As a result of the first, Pope Benedict XIII beatified him on August 13, 1729. Less than 8 years later (on June 16, 1737) he was canonized by Pope Clement XIII. The Bull of Canonization recognized Vincent for his charity and reform of the clergy, as well as for his early role in opposing Jansenism.

It has been reported that St. Vincent wrote more than 30,000 letters in his lifetime and that nearly 7,000 had been collected in the 18th century. There are at least five collections of his letters in existence today.”

The article above mentions St. Vincent’s role in fighting Jansenism, a heresy of the sixteen hundreds. This explanation of Jansenism from Wickipedia seems pretty straightforward.

Jansenism is one of a long string of heresies in the history of the Church. In 2011, shortly after being received into the Catholic Church, I did a blog post on heresies.  All of us, well catechized Catholics, will know the answers to all the questions raised in the post which features this timeline of the major heresies. Jansenism is on the right, sixth from the top, just after the various protestant reforms. Click on the blog post link  and then on the chart in the blog post for a high resolution view.

Don’t be concerned about my use of “unexplainable.” It is just intended to be a recognition that we acknowledge the “divine mystery” of our faith.

September 20, 2017 – Korean Martyrs; Intersection of Culture, Christianity, and Evangelism

Today we honor Saint Andrew Kim Taegon, the first Korean priest. He was trained in Macao, entered Korea in 1845, and was executed in 1846. Fr. Linsky led us in a discussion of evangelization in different cultures. I came home and started researching Catholics in Korea and found this interesting article in Catholic Herald. Please click HERE to read the short but informative article about a visit of Pope Francis, the history of Christianity in Korea, the martyrs, and the current status of the Catholic Church there.

Well, just in case you weren’t willing to click on the link, I copied and pasted the article content below:

“When Pope Francis embarked on the first visit of a pontiff to Asia since 1999, the choice of South Korea, a relatively small country on the Pacific Rim, was greeted with surprise. But he went there in 2014 because of its potential for the evangelisation of Asia and its growing role in global Catholic mission.

The Korean Church has borne outstanding witness in the turbulent history of the past 250 years on the peninsula. During its first century the Church experienced repeated persecutions which not only decimated the community but also exiled the Church to the margins of society. Pope Francis beatified 124 martyrs (in addition to 103 canonised by Pope John Paul II in 1984).

More recently the Catholic Church played a major role in the struggle for civil rights and democracy in the 1980s and 1990s. Its martyr history has given the Korean Church special identification with the poor and suffering and a willingness for self-sacrifice. In addition to its own social service, the Church today delivers half of the government’s welfare programme.

Furthermore, the Korean Church has taken its own initiatives in global mission. The Korean Mission Society, founded in 1975, has trained and sent out more than 70 priests to Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, China, New Zealand, Cambodia, Russia and Mozambique. Altogether nearly 200 South Korean priests are engaged in mission to foreign nations and a further 400 are serving Korean communities overseas. These figures are likely to continue to rise owing to a surplus of priests. A further 700 Koreans – mostly Sisters – are serving overseas with missionary congregations.

Since the 1990s, the Vatican has been encouraging the Korean Church to take responsibility for evangelising the rest of Asia. Not only the quality of its witness but also practical considerations lie behind this. At more than 10 per cent, Catholics make up a larger proportion of the population than in any Asian country except the Philippines. Thanks to its economic “miracle”, South Korea’s five million Catholics, who have above average socio-economic status, are able to fund missions generously.

Other reasons for making South Korea a centre for global mission are cultural. For example, it has exceptionally high levels of education and its seminaries train priests from many other countries. More broadly, the country already exercises soft power in much of Asia. Korean music, soaps, fashion and films have a strong following, especially in China. The influence of Christianity on South Korean society makes its media and cultural exports vehicles for Gospel values such as human dignity and equality.

Geopolitically, South Korea enjoys high global esteem and its citizens have freedom of movement, and yet its border with the North is the main security flashpoint in East Asia. Missiles were fired by the North on the very day of the Pope’s arrival, showing just how fragile the truce there is.

The Catholic Church was one of the foremost supporters of an independent, democratic South Korea in the 1940s. The growth of Christianity in South Korea is the flipside of the persecution of Christians and human rights abuses by the communist regime in North Korea. Korean missionary activity is driven partly by the desire to share religious freedom and partly by the hope of a world peace that would lead to reunification with North Korea.

Although South Korea looks small on the map of Asia and its 50 million people are only a tiny proportion of its vast population, it appears as a foretaste of the evangelisation of the whole continent. Its history is symbolic of Pope Francis’s agenda as set out in his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). It is “a Church which goes forth” with a profound “mission spirituality”.

After persecution, 35 years of Japanese occupation and the Korean War (1950-1953), the South Korean Church knows what it is to be “a poor Church for the poor” and it has a strong social dimension to evangelisation. Pope Francis beatified the martyrs on Korea’s national day, the anniversary of its liberation from Japan in 1945, because the martyrs are also seen as nationalists freeing Korea from unjust rule.

Perhaps the most telling symbol is the unique foundation of the Korean Church: it dates its birth from the formation of a community of baptised lay people in 1784 – before the arrival of any missionary or bishop. John Paul II affirmed this community as a “fledgling Church”. Francis went further in beatifying martyrs from before the establishment of the apostolic vicariate (1831). The Korean Catholic Church is a whole Church in mission – a Church of “missionary disciples”.”

Kirsteen Kim is Professor of Theology and World Christianity at Leeds Trinity University, and is co-author of A History of Korean Christianity, published in 2015 by Cambridge University Press

And, Father Linsky’s final word: Increased evangelism can begin with a personal invitation to someone to join the St. Peter’s Men’s Prayer Group.

Welcome today to Paul Bartow, PhD Candidate (American History) who just subscribed to the Blog.