Monthly Archives: May 2007

YASID (Yet Another Story ID)

Dean Esmay wants to know if anybody remembers a book. It was about a kid whose science experiment went wrong, making his left arm abnormally strong. Suddenly a little league righty was a big league lefty. In the end, the kid’s left arm goes back to normal, and he wins the big league game as a normal kid righty!

Esmay was reminded of this book when he ran across the movie Rookie of the Year, in which a kid’s arm breaks and then heals fast and strong. So it’s not that one! 🙂 Maybe the folks at Loganberry Books know what this thing is?


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The Anchoress Falls for His Grace, the Duke of Avon

Yay! The Anchoress has finally read These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer, one of my all time favorite books.

It’s a very good book on its own, but it’s also intriguing as a milestone in Heyer’s writing life. It isn’t everyone who has the guts to go back to the world of one of her first novels (The Black Moth), pluck out the villain, rewrite his world a bit, and then find a way to turn him into a romantic hero. (A way which works, is not cheap or easy, but also is not depressing or disgusting.) It also features one of Heyer’s best heroines and several of her most fun and dramatic characters and scenes of all time. And hey, it even ends with a Catholic wedding!

The sequel, Devil’s Cub, is kinda eh, but it definitely has its moments. (“Eh” for Heyer is still pretty good, you understand.) However, the story of the third generation of Avons, An Infamous Army, is a bittersweet masterpiece. (Without hugely noticeable infodumps, it also describes the Battle of Waterloo so that even we non-military types can understand the landscape and the strategy — an amazing bit of writing.)


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Maximizers and Minimizers, Huh?

This is an interesting post about “maximizers”, one kind of dysfunctional parent.

Beyond the intrinsic interest, I found this thought kinda explanatory of a certain attitude in our society.

Being whole means being connected to all parts of the personality and to the world, and being able to express the different personality aspects appropriately, with the correct force at the correct time. The ability to do this is impaired every time the caretaker (usually the parent) disregards the child as an independent – if still developing -human being, and instead assumes that he (or she ) and the child are one and the same. This kind of relationship is called a symbiotic connection with the child, defined by the parent’s assumption: “We are one, and I am the one”. Since the parent is “the one” she always knows what is best for her child, and will do anything to coerce her child to comply.

It is important to understand that the maximizer parent is completely unconscious of her behavior, and in fact was raised in exactly the same manner by a maximizer parent of her own. Unless the pattern of parenting is brought out of the dark into the light of consciousness, nothing can change, and the wounds of the parent will be passed on to the child, one generation after the other.

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If Nominated, I Will Grin; If Elected, Dang Right I’ll Serve!

Your friendly neighborhood banshee has been elected to her parish’s Worship Commission.

I am honored, pleased, and proud.

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The Ames Hymn Collection

The Ames Hymn Collection is a lot smaller than the Cyberhymnal, but it includes a lot of old-fashioned Catholic songs and MIDIs. Check it out.

Lambillotte’s “On This Day, O Beautiful Mother”, which the choir sang on Mother’s Day, is in there. The only thing the MIDI doesn’t do is that hover-y thing on certain notes that the traditional arrangement does, or the slide from the end of the verse to the beginning of the refrain. And the four-part harmony, of course. But you’ll get the basic idea very well. (And I wish I’d found this site on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, when I was trying to bone up on this “new song”!)

(I love Cyberhymnal, as of course all right-minded persons do. 🙂 However, when you go to a site for hymns and Mary isn’t even a topic; there aren’t any Marian-related hymns under Mothers, and “Come Holy Ghost, Creator Blest” isn’t even on the list for Pentecost, you can surely tell that your vast majority of Catholic hymns are being just slightly omitted.) 🙂

UPDATE: Fixed broken link. Sorry about that.

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Fire Extinguisher Luck

It’s bad luck to have a pack of kids run through your apartment building’s laundry room with a fire extinguisher. Especially if you have laundry down there.

It’s good luck when rewashing the clothes proves that the dry chemical wasn’t the one which becomes mildly corrosive in water.

All these things are much more amusing a day or so later. Still, ’tis sad to contemplate the beauties which Lileks would have achieved, if such a thing had happened to him — especially when contrasted with the unimaginativeness of this post.

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The Unbearable Loathing of Passwords

I went to spend money on Baen’s site, and found they’ve changed their rules. Apparently, since they now sell “men’s adventure” (aka semi-pornographic crap books like that stomach-turning Ghost series), they’ve decided not to let you use your hard-earned credit card unless you promise you’re over 13.

Oh, yeah, and they want you to change your password, too.

Forget it. I hate passwords, I hate the horse they rode in on, I can’t remember the things anyway, and I’m sick of the whole thing. With all the weird, sick books Baen has been putting out the last few years, and all the predominance of alternate history (always my least favorite genre!) and space opera (okay, but my plate’s full) over any other form of science fiction, and not to mention all the anti-Catholic crap they keep putting between covers… well, maybe it’s time to give up spending money with Baen at all.

Although I would have to make an exception for David Drake’s new RCN book, because that’s David Drake.

And yes, I know we need passwords. And no, I wouldn’t prefer my retina or a chip under my skin. But good cripes on toast, there’s too many passwords.


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A Wolfhound Named Bally Shannon

One of the beautiful dogs on that Goodlife dog food commercial is a big Irish wolfhound puppy, dancing, jumping, and generally larking about with a smaller and probably older dog. It put me in the mood for looking at Irish wolfhounds. I found this wonderful, terrible story which I hadn’t seen or heard before.

First, the picture.

Now the story, transcribed from a 1918 periodical.

The Irish described great warriors and heroes as being like hounds. There is even an old Irish poem, transcribed at the National Basilica, which describes the Virgin Mary as like a swift hound. When you read stories like this, you may understand this Irish metaphor.

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Against Scrupulousness

MSN’s Book Search is pretty useless for looking up books by specific people, but good on keywords. So my Bellarmine search ended up leading me to a book apparently aimed against folks who have trouble with scrupulousness or a lack of spiritual hope.

Heaven Open to Souls by Henry Churchill Semple basically points out that, yeah, we can be contrite enough for our sins, and loving enough towards God, for God’s purposes. God will do all the rest if we just make some effort. We don’t have to be super-perfect, inhumanly free of doubt and distraction, or anything like that — just try.
The book seems like a good common sense guide with some theological backing and stories from saints, too. Maybe it will help some folks find it if I link to it here.

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Yet Another Gaping Hole in Accessible Knowledge

St. Robert Bellarmine is widely accepted as having been (besides saint and theologian) one of the prime proponents of the morality of overthrowing tyrants and the untruth of the divine right of kings, and a big inspiration to both Locke and America’s Founding Fathers.

Now, how many political books by the sainted Bellarmine, in English, are freely available on the Web?

Zero. Zilch. Nonnnnnnne. Not even in Latin, as far as I can tell.

Now, there’s just no reason for this. For one thing, Our Friends the Recusants were big Bellarmino fans, and translated tons of his stuff into English. For another, you’d think that somebody would have got off their duff and digitized something.


Now, has both The Art of Dying Well and Christian Doctrine available in Latin and translated into other languages. Spanish. Italian. Portuguese. Albanese, whatever that is. Even Serbo-Croatian! But no English.


(Yes, I know about Early English Books Online (EEBO). I also know that it ain’t free. Anybody wishing to donate me a subscription will receive endless podcasts of material which went out of copyright before this country even existed.)

UPDATE: We have a winnah! Our friends at the University of Toronto and have provided us with a digital copy, in English, of The Eternal Happiness of the Saints (also at MSN) and The Art of Dying Well  (at MSN).  Yay!

Still no political works, though. A bit trying.

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Man Who Ordered Killing of Sr. Dorothy Stang Convicted of Murder

One of the two ranchers believed to have ordered the contract killing of Sr. Dorothy Stang was convicted of murder in Brazilian court Tuesday, and sentenced to 30 years in prison today. Sr. Dorothy Stang, a native of Dayton, Ohio who became a naturalized citizen of Brazil during her work with the people there, was a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. She was murdered on Feb. 12, 2005, at the age of 73.

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Chasing Albert

There are probably easier things to do, as a non-academic laywoman, than trying to determine the exact scholarly state of the art attribution of a series of Scholastic sermons.

There are two Opera Omnia versions of St. Albert the Great’s works (Lyons, 1651; and Paris, 1893), and one from Germany that’s been in various states of publication and preparation since 1951. The old rule of thumb in Albertine studies was apparently that, if you found something in both the 1651 and 1893 editions, it was probably genuine.

However, modern scholarship and textual analysis has changed its mind about this. In the late 1940’s, a scholar could and did write a short book about the Mariale without doubt that St. Albert was the author; only one scholar anywhere seriously felt it wasn’t by St. Al. Nowadays, the Mariale is in the card catalogs as spurious. How have the mighty fallen….

Apparently, the De Sacrosancto Sacramento Corporis Domini sermons are in the same case. Here’s an article in the 1890 Dublin Review where an Anglican and a Catholic scholar both argue from the sermons as found in the 1651 Lyons edition (under the title of De Sacrosancto Eucharistiae Sacramento Sermones plane Divini), and neither doubt their authorship — except in a footnote acknowledging that some think it’s by St. Thomas Aquinas.

It all makes my head hurt.

Of course, what really makes me sad is that I could have been on that Rome trip that Mike Aquilina went on. Sigh….

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Rose Fever, Stray Dogs, and the Afternoonday Sun

The last few days have been… interesting.

A rather confused young deer walked across the parking lot of my apartment building on Wednesday evening. (In broad daylight with people around, which is the unusual thing.)

Thursday morning, a somewhat lost greyhound walked down the main road and stopped traffic right next to where I work, so I called him out of the road. Being a well-mannered dog, he came right to me as he’d been bid, so I took him by the collar and walked him over to the front office of our company.  This caused much amusement, interest, sympathy, and offers to adopt the dog among senior staff and everybody else. He didn’t want food or water, didn’t look too disheveled or skinny, and had his tags, so we figured he hadn’t been out long. When we contacted his owners (you can look up license numbers on a website, in most US states), it turned out that he’d just gotten out that morning, but made good his escape by several miles.

Friday I took off, because I was pooped. I got some laundry and chores done, as well as some podcasting. But then I remembered that I needed to make a run to UD and use some books from the Marian Library. This special collection, which is the largest known collection of Marian books and materials in the world and takes up a whole floor of the library, is only open on weekdays; and not very late on Fridays, which is the day the whole library closes early.

So I hustled over there and found out some needful things about St. Albert scholarship. I also found out that the Marian Library’s new reading room (which used to be rare books and archives, IIRC), is a really great place to work on scholarly stuff. When you first go in, you’re surrounded by patristics books on three sides and various editions of the Bible on the fourth. Further back in the reading room stacks, there are all sorts of other religious reference books and standard texts, right there to hand. Also, the lighting is perfect and the view from the sunny windows is lovely.

Unfortunately, on my way back home, I got a little too much sun and heat, and exhausted myself. I should have worn my hat.

(This is the worst thing about working to lose weight; you feel so fragile even when you’re losing weight sensibly. You’re walking a tightrope between eating enough food to keep you going and not eating enough food to make you gain weight. You’re fine when you maintain the same amount of activity every day, but if you add or change anything, you aren’t sure where you are. So at first I assumed that I hadn’t eaten enough, not that I’d been out in the sun a little too long. The more so since I didn’t sunburn — or sweat much, since the day wasn’t humid. Of course, it’s also possible that I just wasn’t drinking enough water.)

So Friday was mostly shot, though I did enjoy watching the Holy Father on TV. But I kept falling asleep. You can’t podcast much like that.

Saturday I got up reasonably bright and early, but still pretty tired. I got some podcasting put up, but I didn’t quite get through Chesterton for the week. Then it was time to go to gaming. It’s fun to hang out with my friends, and we had a nice dinner together, too. But there’s no denying that I didn’t get much done, and when I got home I was pooped again.

Sunday I had to get up early and cantor the 8 o’clock Mass. I got an early call from the cantor at the 9:30 telling me that she was sick and couldn’t make it. Well, that’s no big deal, as I was going to be singing in the choir at the 9:30 anyway. However, there were two factors I did not adequately predict. First, it was a very bad day for sinus, thanks to the air pressure and weather changes. Second, it was Mothers’ Day, and the Pro-Life group sells roses.

I am a little bit allergic to roses. “Rose fever” runs in the family, but it didn’t bother me until the last ten years or so. Usually I just get a little sneezy and drippy, and that’s it. But apparently, strongly perfumed roses make me feel a lot worse. Despite my sinus sealing off my nose from dripping or even smelling the roses, I got even more of a headache, and was even sick to my stomach part of the time. (Which fits with last year’s rose-scented incense incident at the Franciscan Monastery on the Feast of St. John the Baptist. So it wasn’t the frankincense to blame at all; it was the authenticity of the all-natural perfume!)

However unpleasant to me personally, blocked sinuses don’t hurt the singing voice. So I did a pretty good job at both Masses. (Helped by coffee after the first Mass, as caffeine is a big part of treating sinus. Not so good for the stomach, alas, even when accompanied by some food. But hey, I’d already taken Communion at the first Mass, so breaking the fast and abstaining from Communion was not a big deal.)

Afterwards, I went home, took sinus pills (which include antihistamines as well as caffeine and an analgesic), and collapsed. Then I remembered. It was, in fact, Mothers’ Day, and I have a mother, who just might want to see me. So I went and took a shower (to get rid of the rose scent and help my poor sinuses), and then I hied me to the bus to my parents’ house. (I did feel a lot better by this point.)

I’d already taken my mom out to eat earlier in the month, so all I did was give her a present and then help out with the yardwork. But once again, I was pretty beat when I got home.

So…  I’m a bit behind on the podcast. OTOH, I’ve gotten a lot of practice this week on offering stuff up!

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Lowering the Boom So That People Like It

Or “An Example of Speaking Truth with Love and Not Sounding Like an Idiot”.

First, you start out your homily by pointing out the text you’re focusing on — “Although he was the Son of God, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”

All the bishops go into shock, as they haven’t heard anyone dare to preach on “obedience” for years.  Holy crud! Is the nice little Pope about to turn into the Panzer Pope that the media keep trying to portray?

The text we have just heard in the Lesson for Vespers contains a profound teaching. Once again we realize that God’s word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword;

Duck! Duuuuuuuck!

it penetrates to the depths of the soul and it grants solace and inspiration to his faithful servants.

What? But… that sounds… nice?!  Maybe he’s not going to lower the boom after all. Phew!

So then the Pope talks about how nice the trip’s been, and how much he likes Brazil, and so on. Everybody relaxes and is happy again. That’s when the Pope begins his invitation to do something great for God.

This meeting is a great ecclesial event and part of the missionary outreach which Latin America needs to undertake, beginning here—on Brazilian soil. That is why I wished to speak first to you, the Bishops of Brazil, evoking these words, so rich in content, from the Letter to the Hebrews: Although he was Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. Filled with meaning, these verses speak of God’s compassion for us, as expressed in the passion of his Son. They speak of Christ’s obedience and his free, conscious acceptance of the Father’s plan, which appears most clearly in his prayer on the Mount of Olives: “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Lk 22:42). Jesus himself teaches us that the true way of salvation lies in conforming our will to the will of God. This is what we pray for in the third petition of the “Our Father”: that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, since wherever God’s will reigns, there the Kingdom of God is present. Jesus attracts us by his will, his filial will, and so he leads us to salvation. By freely accepting the will of God, in union with Jesus Christ, we open the world to God’s Kingdom.

We Bishops have come together to manifest this central truth, since we are directly bound to Christ, the Good Shepherd. The mission entrusted to us as teachers of the faith consists in recalling, in the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, that our Saviour “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth“. This, and nothing else, is the purpose of the Church: the salvation of individual souls. For this reason the Father sent his Son, and in the Lord’s own words transmitted to us in the Gospel of Saint John, “as the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” Hence the mandate to preach the Gospel: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” These words are simple yet sublime; they speak of our duty to proclaim the truth of the faith, the urgent need for the sacramental life, and the promise of Christ’s continual assistance to his Church. These are fundamental realities: they speak of instructing people in the faith and in Christian morality, and of celebrating the sacraments. Wherever God and his will are unknown, wherever faith in Jesus Christ and in his sacramental presence is lacking, the essential element for the solution of pressing social and political problems is also missing. Fidelity to the primacy of God and of his will, known and lived in communion with Jesus Christ, is the essential gift that we Bishops and priests must offer to our people. 

It’s very simple. It’s very big. It means just this: Christianity’s not here for our own amusement, or to carry out political programs, or to do anything else but get souls saved and do what Christ tells us. If we do that, we will find ourselves getting all the other important stuff done. But obeying Christ and spreading His gospel comes first, last, and always.

It’s not news — but it needed saying, and so the Pope said it. He is a bishop, and like all bishops, it’s his responsibility to teach all those under his care. It’s not a smackdown; it’s a call to the bishops to remember their calling, and fulfill it. He treats them as men with every desire to be faithful, and tries to make them want to be. So then he gives them a message of strength, joy, and courage:

Our ministry as Bishops thus impels us to discern God’s saving will and to devise a pastoral plan capable of training God’s People to recognize and embrace transcendent values, in fidelity to the Lord and to the Gospel.

Certainly the present is a difficult time for the Church, and many of her children are experiencing difficulty. Society is experiencing moments of worrying disorientation. The sanctity of marriage and the family are attacked with impunity, as concessions are made to forms of pressure which have a harmful effect on legislative processes; crimes against life are justified in the name of individual freedom and rights; attacks are made on the dignity of the human person; the plague of divorce and extra-marital unions is increasingly widespread. Even more: when, within the Church herself, people start to question the value of the priestly commitment as a total entrustment to God through apostolic celibacy and as a total openness to the service of souls, and preference is given to ideological, political and even party issues, the structure of total consecration to God begins to lose its deepest meaning. How can we not be deeply saddened by this? But be confident: the Church is holy and imperishable (cf. Eph 5:27). As Saint Augustine said: “The Church will be shaken if its foundation is shaken; but will Christ be shaken? Since Christ cannot be shaken, the Church will remain firmly established to the end of time”.

But once you get everybody back on track, it’s time to do a little performance review. No recriminations; just a look at what needs to be done in the future, as if everyone was starting out fresh:

A particular problem which you face as pastors is surely the issue of those Catholics who have abandoned the life of the Church. It seems clear that the principal cause of this problem is to be found in the lack of an evangelization completely centred on Christ and his Church. Those who are most vulnerable to the aggressive proselytizing of sects—a just cause for concern—and those who are incapable of resisting the onslaught of agnosticism, relativism and secularization are generally the baptized who remain insufficiently evangelized; they are easily influenced because their faith is weak, confused, easily shaken and naive, despite their innate religiosity. In the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, I stated that “being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (no. 1). Consequently, there is a need to engage in apostolic activity as a true mission in the midst of the flock that is constituted by the Church in Brazil, and to promote on every level a methodical evangelization aimed at personal and communal fidelity to Christ. No effort should be spared in seeking out those Catholics who have fallen away and those who know little or nothing of Jesus Christ…

What is required, in a word, is a mission of evangelization capable of engaging all the vital energies present in this immense flock… In this work of evangelization the ecclesial community should be clearly marked by pastoral initiatives, especially by sending missionaries, lay or religious, to homes on the outskirts of the cities and in the interior, to enter into dialogue with everyone in a spirit of understanding, sensitivity and charity. On the other hand, if the persons they encounter are living in poverty, it is necessary to help them, as the first Christian communities did, by practising solidarity and making them feel truly loved. The poor living in the outskirts of the cities or the countryside need to feel that the Church is close to them, providing for their most urgent needs, defending their rights and working together with them to build a society founded on justice and peace. The Gospel is addressed in a special way to the poor, and the Bishop, modelled on the Good Shepherd, must be particularly concerned with offering them the divine consolation of the faith, without overlooking their need for “material bread”. As I wished to stress in the encyclical Deus Caritas Est, “the Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word”.

Evangelization! Catechesis in the Faith!  Yay! That’s thinking big! But what else?

The sacramental life, especially in the celebration of Confession and the Eucharist, here takes on a particular importance. As Pastors, it is your primary task to ensure that the faithful share in the eucharistic life and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You must be vigilant to ensure that the confession and absolution of sins is ordinarily individual, inasmuch as sin itself is something profoundly personal. Only physical or moral impossibility exempts the faithful from this form of confession… It is appropriate, therefore, to instil in priests the practice of generously making themselves available to the faithful who have recourse to the sacrament of God’s mercy.

Ooooooooooo. No more slacking about having lots of Masses. No more slagging off Confession, or making it absolution only available to large groups. And there’s the boom.

Starting afresh from Christ in every area of missionary activity; rediscovering in Jesus the love and salvation given to us by the Father through the Holy Spirit: this is the substance and lifeline of the episcopal mission which makes the Bishop the person primarily responsible for catechesis in his diocese. Indeed, it falls ultimately to him to direct catechesis, surrounding himself with competent and trustworthy co-workers. It is therefore clear that the catechist’s task is not simply to communicate faith-experiences; rather—under the guidance of the Pastor — it is to be an authentic herald of revealed truths…Truth presupposes a clear understanding of Jesus’ message transmitted by means of an intelligible, inculturated language, which must nevertheless remain faithful to the Gospel’s intent. At this time, there is an urgent need for an adequate knowledge of the faith… Education in Christian personal and social virtues is also an essential part of catechesis, as is education in social responsibility.

Oooooooooo. Good solid religious education, or else. No more warm fuzzies substituting for actual teaching. No more pretending like the bishop’s not responsible for what his underlings or the parish teachers do.  And there’s the boom.

Precisely because faith, life, and the celebration of the sacred liturgy—the source of faith and life—are inseparable, there is need for a more correct implementation of the liturgical principles as indicated by the Second Vatican Council… so as to restore to the liturgy its sacred character.

This really prodded the bishops. They were wondering for a moment if that motu proprio were going to come out right that minute!

It was with this end in view that my Venerable Predecessor on the Chair of Peter, John Paul II, wished “to appeal urgently that the liturgical norms for the celebration of the Eucharist be observed with great fidelity … Liturgy is never anyone’s private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated”. For Bishops, who are the “moderators of the Church’s liturgical life”, the rediscovery and appreciation of obedience to liturgical norms is a form of witness to the one, universal Church, that presides in charity.

No more crazy additions and subtractions to Mass. Try it — you’ll like it!

More niceness about the Church in Brazil. Then:

…The Pope has come to Brazil to ask that, through following the Word of God, all these Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate truly become messengers of eternal salvation for all those who obey Christ. If we are to stay true to our solemn commitment as successors of the Apostles, we Pastors must be faithful servants of the Word, eschewing any reductive or mistaken vision of the mission entrusted to us. It is not enough to look at reality solely from the viewpoint of personal faith; we must work with the Gospel in our hands and anchor ourselves in the authentic heritage of the Apostolic Tradition, free from any interpretations motivated by rationalistic ideologies.

No crazy Liberation Theology, or playing politics, or “Christ didn’t really do miracles” nonsense.

Indeed, “within the particular Churches, it is the Bishop’s responsibility to guard and interpret the word of God and to make authoritative judgments as to what is or is not in conformity with it”. As the primary Teacher of faith and doctrine, the Bishop will rely on collaboration with the theologian, who, in order “to be faithful to his role of service to the truth, must take into account the proper mission of the Magisterium and collaborate with it”. The duty to preserve the deposit of faith and safeguard its unity calls for strict vigilance so that the faith may be “preserved and handed down with fidelity and so that particular insights are clearly integrated into the one Gospel of Christ”.

This, therefore, is the enormous responsibility you have assumed as formators of your people, and especially of the priests and religious under your care. They are your faithful co-workers… Theological formation, as well as education in sacred sciences, needs to be constantly updated, but this must always done in accord with the Church’s authentic Magisterium.

No crazy theologians, and no crazy seminary teachers, either.

…Some of you have encouraged evangelization movements to assist in the work of gathering groups of faithful together to carry out certain types of action. The Successor of Peter is relying on you to ensure that the preparation you give them is always based on a spirituality of communion and fidelity to the See of Peter, so that the work of the Spirit is never in vain. In fact, the integrity of the Faith, together with ecclesiastical discipline, is and will always be an area requiring careful oversight on your part, especially when it comes to living out the consequences of the fact that “there is only one faith and one baptism”.

I’m not sure exactly what the Pope was getting at here, but the bishops looked like this was something pretty pointed. So obviously there’s something behind it. It may be something about ecumenism, since ecumenism was the subject of the next paragraph of the homily.

…Ecumenism—or the search for unity among Christians—has become in our time an increasingly urgent task for the Catholic Church, as is evident from the growth of intercultural exchange and the challenge of secularism. Consequently, given the rapidly growing number of new Christian denominations, and especially certain forms of often aggressive proselytism, the work of ecumenism has become more complex. In this context, a good historical and doctrinal formation is absolutely essential, so as to foster necessary discernment and lead to a better understanding of the specific identity of each of these communities, the elements that divide them, and those elements that can be helpful on the road to greater unity. The greatest area of common ground for collaboration should be the defence of fundamental moral values—transmitted by the biblical tradition—against the relativistic and consumerist cultural forces that seek to destroy them. Another such area is faith in God the Creator and in Jesus Christ his incarnate Son. Moreover, there will always be the principle of fraternal love and the search for mutual understanding and rapprochement. Yet we must also be concerned with defending the faith of our people, confirming them in the joyful certitude that “The one Church of Christ…subsists in the Catholic Church which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him”.

In this way…you will be able to move towards candid ecumenical dialogue, committing yourselves to complete respect for those other religious confessions that wish to remain in contact with the Catholic Church in Brazil.

Finally, the last bit of the homily dealt with Brazilian social problems.

There is nothing new in the observation that your country is living through a historic deficit in social development, whose extreme effects can seen in the vast cross-section of Brazilians living in need and the great inequalities in income, even at the highest levels of society. It is your task, my dear Brothers, as the hierarchy of the people of God, to promote the search for new solutions imbued with the Christian spirit. A vision of the economy and social problems from the perspective of the Church’s social teaching should always bring us to consider things from the viewpoint of human dignity, which transcends the simple interplay of economic factors. Hence, it is necessary to work untiringly to form politicians, and all Brazilians who wield a certain influence, be it great or small, as well as all members of society, so that they can fully assume their responsibilities and learn to give the economy a truly human and compassionate face.

There is a need to form a genuine spirit of truthfulness and honesty among the political and commercial classes.

This got a lot of applause, as Brazilian politicians a couple years ago promised to get rid of their endemic corruption, but didn’t end up doing anything about it.

Those who take on leadership roles in society must try to foresee the social consequences—direct and indirect, short-term and long-term—of their own decisions, always acting according to the criteria that will maximize the common good, rather than merely seeking personal profit.

I thought that was a rather interesting comment. And now, the big finish:

God willing, my dear Brothers, we will find other opportunities to explore these questions that call for our joint pastoral concern. For now, without pursuing them in an exhaustive way, I have tried to put forward the more significant themes that clamor for my attention as Pastor of the universal Church. I offer you my affectionate encouragement, which is at the same time a fraternal and heart-felt plea: that you will always work and act—as indeed you are doing now—in a spirit of harmony, building yourselves on the communion that finds its highest expression and inexhaustible source in the Eucharist. Entrusting all of you to Mary Most Holy, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, I cordially impart to each of you, as well as your respective communities, my Apostolic Blessing. Thank you!

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