Thursday, April 16, 2015

What is “the newness of God” that Pope Francis is referring to in the previous post?

We certainly must ask: What is “the newness of God” that Pope Francis is referring to in the previous post?

Cardinal Ratzinger took his segue to answer this from the Rabbi Jacob Neusner in his book “A Rabbi Talks With Jesus” [1] He comments in his “Jesus of Nazareth” of 2007:

Let us try to draw out the essential points of this conver­sation in order to know Jesus and to understand our Jewish brothers better. The central point, it seems to me, is wonder­fully revealed in one of the most moving scenes that Neusner presents in his book. In his interior dialogue Neusner has just spent the whole day following Jesus, and now he retires for prayer and Torah study with the Jews of a certain town, in order to discuss with the rabbi of that place—once again he is thinking in terms of contemporaneity across the millen­nia—all that he has heard. The rabbi cites from the Babylo­nian Talmud: "Rabbi Simelai expounded: 'Six hundred and thirteen commandments were given to Moses, three hundred and sixty-five negative ones, corresponding to the number of the days of the solar year, and two hundred forty-eight posi­tive commandments, corresponding to the parts of man's body.
"'David came and reduced them to eleven.. . .
'"Isaiah came and reduced them to six. . . .
'"Isaiah again came and reduced them to two. . . .
'"Habakkuk further came and based them on one, as it is said: "But the righteous shall live by his faith'" (Hab 2:4)."

Neusner then continues his book with the following dia­logue: “’So,’ the master says, 'is this what the sage, Jesus, had to say?'
"I: 'Not exactly, but close.'
"He: 'What did he leave out?'
"I: 'Nothing.'
"He: 'Then what did he add?'
"I: 'Himself’ (pp. 107-108).”

This is the central point where the believing Jew Neusner experiences alarm at Jesus' mes­sage, and this is the central reason why he does not wish to follow Jesus, but remains with the "eternal Israel": the cen-trality of Jesus' "I" in his message, which gives everything a new direction. At this point Neusner cites as evidence of this "addition" Jesus' words to the rich young man: "If you would be perfect, go, sell all you have and come, follow me" (cf. Mt 19:21; Neusner, p. 109 [emphasis added]). Perfection, the state of being holy as God is holy (cf. Lev 19:2, 11:44), as demanded by the Torah, now consists in following Jesus.
It is only with great respect and reverence that Neusner addresses this mysterious identification of Jesus and God that is found in the discourses of the Sermon on the Mount. Nonetheless, his analysis shows that this is the point where Jesus' message diverges fundamentally from the faith of the "eternal Israel." Neusner demonstrates this after investigating Jesus' attitude toward three fundamental commandments: the fourth commandment (the commandment to love one's parents), the third commandment (to keep holy the Sabbath), and, finally, the commandment to be holy as God is holy (which we touched upon just a moment ago). Neusner comes to the disturbing conclusion that Jesus is evidently trying to persuade him to cease following these three fundamental commandments of God and to adhere to Jesus instead” (Blogger’s emphasis).

The “newness” of the revelation of Jesus Christ is no commandment, moral principle or law, but Himself: The “I Am” of Jn. 8, 24, 28, 58; the “It is I” of Luke 24, 37 after the Resurrection. The “I” of Christ is the novelty of God in time and space.

[1] Doubleday (1993) 95-97.

The kerygma of proclamation cannot be dumbed-down into doctrine stored in the hard-drive (Evangelii Gaudium #164)

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Pope's Morning Homily: Be Open to God's Voice
Says Those Who Won't Dialogue, Disobey God 
During Mass at Casa Santa Marta
By Deborah Castellano Lubov

VATICAN CITY, April 16, 2015 ( - If you are not willing to have dialogue, you are disobeying God, says Pope Francis.

During this morning's homily at his daily Mass at Casa Santa Marta, the Pope made this statement and warned against those who preach against the newness of God. The Holy Father offered today's Mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who celebrates his 88th birthday. 

Reflecting on the theme of dialoguing, the Pontiff said, "Obeying God means having the courage to change paths."
The Pope recalled the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, recounting the priests and leaders who ordered that Jesus' disciples stop preaching the Gospel to the people.

"They became infuriated and full of jealousy," as they saw miracles taking place in the disciples midst and the number of believers growing, Francis said.

"This is the drama of these teachers of Israel, of these theologians of the people of God: they didn’t know to listen, they didn’t know how to dialogue. Dialogue takes place with God and with the brethren."

The Pontiff said, "They did everything they could to not open themselves to the voice of God.

The Argentine Pope stressed that this resentment of those spreading the Gospel in Jesus' time increased as their egos were further offended, and expressed that similarly resentment exists today.

The Holy Father warned against those "who want to silence those who preach the newness of God."
In this Mass, the Pontiff urged, let us pray for the teachers, doctors, and those who teach the people of God, "that they would not be closed in on themselves" and "that they would dialogue."

Only if they open themselves in this way, he said, they will "save themselves from the wrath of God, which, if they do not change their attitude, will remain upon them."

Comment  by blogger: 

This is a most important warning of the pope. For those who have ears to hear and eyes to see, he is addressing not so much the "liberal" media with itching ears, but the angry conservatism within the Church which considers the pope to be violating "doctrine" because he is calling the Church, in the first instance, to make a gift of herself rather than insisting on "doctrine" Since he is insisting on Love and service as the first order of business, and not doctrine, those who have identified the faith with thought  rather than self-gift, in the first instance, presume that he is denying "doctrine." Those with a clear mind and heart on what is going on must clarify this forcefully. The pope is not changing the doctrine of the Church. But he is saying that faith is not reducible to doctrine. He is simply restating in living terms what Benedict XVI was trying to communicate in conceptual terms: "You cannot put revelation in your pocket like a book you carry around with you. It is a living reality that requires a living person as the locus of its presence" [Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger - Pope Benedict XVI - "God's Word" Ignatius (2008) 52].

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pope Francis: Removal of Differences Between Man and Woman Is the Problem, Not the Solution.

During General Audience, Francis says Gender Theory Causes Society to Take A Step in the Wrong Direction 

By Junno Arocho Esteves

ROME, April 15, 2015 ( - The image of God is not only displayed in man and woman individually but also together as a couple [Blogger: Mutually opposing self-gifts of male and female persons make for an Unum that images the Christian God of Father, Son and Spirit]

These were the words of Pope Francis during his General Audience today in St. Peter's Square. The Holy Father said that today's catechesis and the following will reflect on the sacrament of marriage and the complementarity between man and woman.
The Pope began his catechesis by recalling the story of creation in which God, after creating the universe and all living things, created his masterpiece: mankind.
"As we all know, sexual difference is present in many forms of life, in the long ladder of the living," he noted. "But only man and woman carry within them the image and likeness of God."

Genesis, he explained, not only explains that man and woman individually bear this likeness to God, but also together as a couple.
"The difference between man and woman is not for opposition, or subordination, but for communion and creation, always in the image and likeness of God."
The 78 year old Pontiff went on to say that without the mutual enrichment in their relationship, neither can truly understand what it means to be man and woman. While modern culture has opened new ways and freedoms to understand these differences, the Pope noted that it also introduced "many doubts and much skepticism."
"I wonder, for example, if the so-called gender theory is also an expression of frustration and resignation, which aims to erase sexual difference because they can no longer deal with it. Yes, we risk taking a step back," he said.
"The removal of the difference, in fact, is the problem, not the solution. To solve their relationship problems, man and the woman should instead talk more, listen more, know more, [and] love each other more. They must treat each other with respect and cooperate with friendship."
The Pope went on to call on intellectuals to not abandon the importance of this theme, which he said has become secondary.
The Covenant Between Man and Woman
Continuing his catechesis, Pope Francis focused on two important aspects that were crucial in fostering the complementarity between man and woman.

The first, he said, was the need for women to not only be heard, but that "her voice has a real weight, a recognized authority, in society and in the Church." This, he noted, was the same way in which Jesus considered the role of women
"Jesus considered [woman] in such a way that gives a strong light, that enlightens a path that takes us far, from which we've only covered a small piece," he said.

"We have not yet understood in depth what things the feminine genius can give us, that woman can give to society and also to us. Perhaps to see things with different eyes that complements the thoughts of men. It is a path that must be crossed with more creativity and more boldness."

The second reflection the Jesuit Pope offered regarded the theme of man and woman created in God's image. The collective mistrust in God, he said, gives way to incredulity and cynicism and connects to the crisis between man and woman. This division is exemplified in the creation story in which this covenant is broken once sin entered.
"In fact, the biblical story, with the grand symbolic fresco of the earthly paradise and original sin, precisely tells us that the communion with God is reflected in the communion of the human couple and the loss of trust in the Heavenly Father generates division and conflict between man and woman," he said.
Concluding his catechesis, Pope Francis said that the Church has the responsibility of rediscovering the beauty of God's design in the covenant between man and woman.

"Jesus encourages us explicitly to give witness to this beauty, which is the image of God," he concluded.

* * * * * * * * *

John Paul II: The imaging of God in the body only by man as male and female:
Unity in "communion of persons:" (From Wednesday Address of November 14, 1979)

2. In this way the meaning of man's original unity, through masculinity and femininity, is expressed as an overcoming of the frontier of solitude. At the same time it is an affirmation—with regard to both human beings—of everything that constitutes man in solitude. In the Bible narrative, solitude is the way that leads to that unity which, following Vatican II, we can define as communio personarum.(1)

As we have already seen, in his original solitude man acquires a personal consciousness in the process of distinction from all living beings (animalia). At the same time, in this solitude, he opens up to a being akin to himself, defined in Genesis (2:18, 20) as "a helper fit for him." This opening is no less decisive for the person of man; in fact, it is perhaps even more decisive than the distinction itself. In the Yahwist narrative, man's solitude is presented to us not only as the first discovery of the characteristic transcendence peculiar to the person. It is also presented as the discovery of an adequate relationship "to" the person, and therefore as an opening and expectation of a "communion of persons."

The term "community" could also be used here, if it were not generic and did not have so many meanings. Communio expresses more, with greater precision, since itindicates precisely that "help" which is derived, in a sense, from the very fact of existing as a person "beside" a person. In the Bible narrative this fact becomes eo ipso—in itself—the existence of the person "for" the person, since man in his original solitude was, in a way, already in this relationship. That is confirmed, in a negative sense, precisely by this solitude.

Furthermore, the communion of persons could be formed only on the basis of a "double solitude" of man and of woman, that is, as their meeting in their distinction from the world of living beings (animalia), which gave them both the possibility of being and existing in a special reciprocity. The concept of "help" also expresses this reciprocity in existence, which no other living being could have ensured. All that constituted the foundation of the solitude of each of them was indispensable for this reciprocity. Self-knowledge and self-determination, that is, subjectivity and consciousness of the meaning of one's own body, was also indispensable.

Image of inscrutable divine communion

3. In the first chapter, the narrative of the creation of man affirms directly, right from the beginning, that man was created in the image of God as male and female. The narrative of the second chapter, on the other hand, does not speak of the "image of God." But in its own way it reveals that the complete and definitive creation of "man" (subjected first to the experience of original solitude) is expressed in giving life to that communio personarum that man and woman form. In this way, the Yahwist narrative agrees with the content of the first narrative.
If, vice versa, we wish to draw also from the narrative of the Yahwist text the concept of "image of God," we can then deduce that man became the "image and likeness" of God not only through his own humanity, but also through the communion of personswhich man and woman form right from the beginning. The function of the image is to reflect the one who is the model, to reproduce its own prototype. Man becomes the image of God not so much in the moment of solitude as in the moment of communion. Right "from the beginning," he is not only an image in which the solitude of a person who rules the world is reflected, but also, and essentially, an image of an inscrutable divine communion of persons.

In this way, the second narrative could also be a preparation for understanding the Trinitarian concept of the "image of God," even if the latter appears only in the first narrative. Obviously, that is not without significance for the theology of the body. Perhaps it even constitutes the deepest theological aspect of all that can be said about man. In the mystery of creation—on the basis of the original and constituent "solitude" of his being—man was endowed with a deep unity between what is, humanly and through the body, male in him and what is, equally humanly and through the body, female in him. On all this, right from the beginning, the blessing of fertility descended, linked with human procreation (cf. Gn 1:28).”[1]

[1] John Paul lI, “Theology of the Body,” November 14, 1979.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The New Plenary Indulgence

The Feast Of Mercy: Octave of Easter

During the course of Jesus' revelations to Saint Faustina on the Divine Mercy He asked on numerous occasions that a feast day be dedicated to the Divine Mercy and that this feast be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. The liturgical texts of that day, the 2nd Sunday of Easter, concern the institution of the Sacrament of Penance, the Tribunal of the Divine Mercy, and are thus already suited to the request of Our Lord. This Feast, which had already been granted to the nation of Poland and been celebrated within Vatican City, was granted to the Universal Church by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization of Sr. Faustina on 30 April 2000. In a decree dated 23 May 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated that "throughout the world the Second Sunday of Easter will receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday, a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come." These papal acts represent the highest endorsement that the Church can give to a private revelation, an act of  papal infallibility proclaiming the certain sanctity of the mystic, and the granting of a universal feast, as requested by Our Lord to St. Faustina.
Concerning the Feast of Mercy Jesus said:
Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. (Diary 300)
I want the image solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it. (Diary 341)
This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies. (Diary 420)
On one occasion, I heard these words: My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.* [our emphasis] On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy. (Diary 699)
Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to our neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it. (Diary 742)
I want to grant complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy. (Diary 1109)
As you can see the Lord's desire for the Feast includes the solemn, public  veneration of the Image of Divine Mercy by the Church, as well as personal acts of veneration and mercy. The great promise for the individual soul is that a devotional act of sacramental penance and Communion will obtain for that soul the plenitude of the divine mercy on the Feast.
*The Cardinal of Krakow, Cardinal Macharski, whose diocese is the center of the spread of the devotion and the sponsor of the Cause of Sr. Faustina, has written that we should use Lent as preparation for the Feast and confess even before Holy Week! So, it is clear that the confessional requirement does not have to be met on the Feast itself. That would be an impossible burden for the clergy if it did. The Communion requirement is easily met that day, however, since it is a day of obligation, being Sunday. We would only need confession again, if received earlier in Lenten or Easter Season, if we were in the state of mortal sin on the Feast.

The Wounds of Christ - St. Josemaria Escriva

“Bring here thy finger and see my hands…” (Jn. 20, 27).

Caravaggio - The Incredulity of Saint Thomas.jpg

St. Josemaria Escriva: “How truly lovable is the Sacred Humanity of our God! – You ‘entered’ into the most holy Wound of your Lord’s right hand, and you asked me: ‘If one of Christ ‘s Wounds cleanses, heals, soothes, strengthens and kindles and enraptures, what will the five not do, open on the wood?’” (The Way #555).
   “This point refers to a mystical episode in the life of St. Josemaria, which he made anonymous in this text as was his custom. The way in which this point was written can be considered a prototype of the manner for narrating something where he wishes to disappear was the subject of the action while, at the same time, maintaining the dialogic style of the book. In this instance we have the precise documentation. It happened in Burgos on 6 June 1938. He was going to the Monastery of Las Huelgas, where he was researching for his doctoral thesis. He was walking slowly, in the morning, praying. This is what he noted telegraphically that night:

                ‘Monday, 6 June: My morning prayer on my way to Huelgas guided by St. Joseph, with the light of the Holy Spirit, I entered into the Wound of the right hand of my Lord.’”
The supernatural event left him beset the whole day. When he wrote up his Notebook that nigh t, he was still in the Wound of Christ. In the afternoon, he had written to Juan Jimenez Vargas, the oldest member  of Opus Dei who was in the Nationalist zone, and with whom he  talked in depth about intimate things (while in Burgos he did not have any ‘older one’ with whom he could talk and communicate things of God):

‘Dear Juanito: This morning, on my way to las Huelgas, where I went to do my prayer, I discovered a new world: the Most Holy Wound of our Lord’s right hand. I was there all day long, kissing and adoring. How truly lovable is the Sacred Humanity of our God! Pray that he give me that real love of his and with it completely purify all my other affections. It’s not enough to say, ‘Heart on the cross!’ Because if one of Christ’s wounds cleans, heals, soothes, strengthens, enkindles, and enraptures, what will the five not do, open on the wood? Heart on the cross! O my Jesus, what more could I ask for! I realize that if I continue contemplating in this way (St. Joseph, my father and lord, iis the one who led me there, after I asked him to enkindle me), I’ll end up chalao, crazier than ever. Try it yourself! […]

Much love.

 From the Wound of the right hand, your Father blesses you.


"The tradition of Christian piety, follow ing the great Saints, has always ‘looked’ lovingly to the wounds of Christ and has ‘entered’ into them. The bibliography on this subject is enormous. As so many Christian faithful have done  throughout the centuries, St. Josemaria recited each day after Mass, the prayer En Ego: “As I reflect n your five wounds and dwell upon them with deep compassion and grief;’ and he asked Jesus ‘in your wounds shelter me.’ The Author’s insistence that it was the Wound of the right hand is impressive. In this regard I copy a text of St. Teresa:
‘Appearing to me as on former occasions, He began by showing me the wound in His left hand, and  then , with the other hand drew out a large nail which was embedded in it, in such a way that in drawing out the nail He seemed to me to be tearing the flesh. It was clear how very painful this must be and I was sorely grieved by it.’[1]

     "The union and identification of St. Josemaria with Christ in the mystery of the Cross leads him to this amazing expression: ‘Heart on the Cross! Oh my Jesus, what more could I ask for ?’ To lose himself with Christ on the Cross was, for him t he greatest happiness. To understand this text, it seems necessary to study it in parallel with The Way 163[2], written in the Honduran Legation, and which has the same expression ‘Heart on the Cross!’ These words and their spiritual context were obviously known to Juan Jimenez Vargas, who also had been a refugee in the Honduran Legation with St. Josemaria.  There he would have meditated on them. In the letter of June 6, there is an implicit dialogue with Jimenez Vargas regarding the same point , with a strong ‘ascetical’ message  that could be considered as going ‘against- the-grain’ of the passions. But now, the Author has lived a renewed experience of the sweetness of the Cross: to have the heart on the Cross is not to ‘Crucify him,’ but to enter in to the joy of Christ. It is like saying to Jimenez Vargas, the young medical lieutenant who will read the letter on the Teruel front, that this ‘Hea r t on the Cross!’ ?#163 in the whole Cross of Christ, is the summit of ‘mysticism,’ the total joy in Christ” ‘My Jesus,  what else could I wish!’ It is the pure gif t of God. The purification of the heart, to which he aspire d in # 163, is not pure consequence

                "The practice of entering in to the wounds of Christ had a long history for Josemaria Escriva. The consideration that leads to #288 comes from January 1934. And from July of that year stems his desire to fulfill the ‘old’ resolution of entering each day ‘into the Wound of the Side of my Lord.’ The contemplation of the Wounds of Jesus occupied an important role in the life of prayer within the pathway towards sanctity which the Author taught.”[3]

[1] Life, 39, 1.
[2] “’If your right eye scandalizes you, pluck it out and cast it fr om you!’ Poor heart … that’s what scandalizes you!
                Grasp it, hold it tight in your hands – and don’t give it any consolation. And, when it asks for consolation, full of noble compassion say to it slowly, as if confiding, ‘My heart… heart on the cross, heart on the cross!’”
[3] St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way A critical-historical edit ion prepare d by Pedro Rodriguez, Scepter (2002) 724-726.

Thursday, April 09, 2015