Daily Archives:September 20th, 2017

How the Liturgy is healing medicine for strident times

One of the most concise and cogent descriptions of these often strident times came from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in 1986. It is contained in, of all places, his treatise on the theology of sacred music in a book called The Feast of Faith (Ignatius Press, 1986). His comments have been republished in a larger compendium of his works, Collected Works: Theology of the Liturgy (Ignatius Press, 2014, Vol 11).

It is hard to describe our times as anything but contentious. Loud, strident protests often predominate over reasoned discourse and thoughtful argumentation.

To be sure, every era has had, and has needed, protest and public opposition to injustice. There is a time and a place for loud protest and the use of memorable sound bites.

However, it is the predominance of loud protest and civil disobedience that stands out today. Sound bites, slogans, and simplistic “war cries” have to a large extent replaced thoughtful, reasoned discourse. Volume, power, and visually flashy techniques are prized; they are being used more and more. Such approaches too frequently produce more heat than light.

Consider, then, this remarkable analysis by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, written back before the Internet and social media had turned up the volume even more. Ratzinger paraphrased an insight of Gandhi’s, applied it to his analysis of our current times, and then proposed a healing remedy to restore balance:

Gandhi refers to the three habitats of the cosmos and how each of these provides its own mode of being. The fish live in the sea, and they are silent. The animals of the earth scream and shout; but the birds, whose habitat is the heavens, sing. Silence is proper to the sea, shouting to the earth and singing to the heavens. Man has a share in all three of them. He carries the depths of the sea, the burden of the earth, and the heights of the heavens in himself. And for this reason, all three properties also belong to him: silence, shouting, and singing.

Today – I would like to add – we see only the shouting is left for the man without transcendence, since he only wants to be of the earth.…

The right liturgy, the liturgy of the Communion of the Saints, restores totality to him. It teaches him silence and singing again by opening him to the depths of the sea and teaching him to fly, the angels’ mode of being. It brings the song buried in him to sound once more by lifting up his heart. . ..

Right liturgy … liberates us from ordinary, everyday activity and returns to us once more the depths and the heights, silence and song … Right liturgy … sings with the angels … is silent with the expectant depths of the universe, and that is how it redeems the earth (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Collected Works, Vol 11, Theology of the Liturgy, Ignatius Press, p 460).

For indeed, only in the worship of God do we find our true selves. Only in the liturgy is our true personality formed. The human person in his glory unites the material and spiritual orders. We are capable of pregnant, expectant silence; of the joyful shout of praise and the Gospel going forth; and of the song of Heaven.

As Ratzinger pointed out, though, we too often are preoccupied with and value only one aspect: the shouting of the earthbound creatures of this world. But the liturgy – good and proper liturgy – trains us in all three and accomplishes the balance that is so often lost today. The liturgy is a training ground, not only for our heavenly destination, but also in what it means to be truly human. Msgr Charles Pope

Pope sets up new institute for marriage and family sciences

VATICAN CITY –  Pope Francis has set up a new pontifical institute for the study of marriage and the family, replacing the organisation set up by his predecessor in 1981.

In a Motu Proprio, published on 19 Sept 2017, the Vatican announced that the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences is being established to carry forward the work of the two recent Synods of Bishops and the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

Noting the important work that has been carried out by the original institute, founded in the wake of the 1980 Synod on the Family, Pope Francis said the Synods of 2014 and 2015 have brought a renewed awareness of “the new pastoral challenges to which the Christian community is called to respond.”

Contemporary anthropological and cultural changes, the pope said, require “a diversified and analytical approach” which cannot be “limited to pastoral and missionary practices” of the past.

Instead, he said, we must be able to interpret our faith in a context in which individuals are less supported than before as they deal with the complex realities of family life. Faithful to the teachings of Christ, the pope said, we must explore these “lights and shadows of family life” with realism, wisdom and love.

Like its predecessor, the new institute will continue to work as part of the Pontifical Lateran University. It will also be closely connected to the Holy See through the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Pontifical Academy for Life and the new Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life.

The institute, which comes into effect immediately, will offer students courses leading to a diploma, a license and a doctorate in marriage and family sciences. – Vatican Radio

State government allocates RM31m to non-Islamic bodies, schools for 2017

KOTA KINABALU –  The Sabah government has allocated RM31.44 million in financial aid to non-Islamic bodies and schools throughout the state this year.

The financial assistance will benefit 551 religious bodies, including churches, Chinese temples, Hindu and Sikh places of worship, and schools.

Of the sum, RM14.005 million is allocated for schools and another RM17.435 million will be distributed among the non-Islamic organisations, of which RM11,870,000 is for churches, RM5,295,000 for Chinese temples, and RM270,000 for Hindu and Sikh temples.

Aman said he was pleased to receive feedback that past allocations have been used efficiently, allowing places of worship and schools to make necessary repairs and extensions among others.

“We acknowledge that we cannot meet the amount for the total sum, which the schools and religious bodies have requested for, but let me assure you we have done our best to allocate what we can.

“With prudent financial management, the state government has been able to steadily increase this annual allocation,” he told attendees at the ceremony at which he handed over the 2017 financial assistance to the schools and non-Islamic bodies at the Hakka Hall here on 19 Sept 2017.

He noted that the special financial aid from state government has increased over the past 13 years.

According to records, the government had disbursed RM7.085 million financial aids to non-Islamic religious bodies and schools throughout Sabah in 2004. Last year, the government allocated RM31.398 million.

Musa handed over RM16.832 million to representatives of schools and non-Islamic religious bodies from the west coast division and RM1.22 million to the lower interior region.

“Along with Islamic bodies, you play an important role in promoting positive values in society,” he pointed out to the beneficiaries.

“I also encourage you to keep up your good work and to continue serving your schools and religious institutions to the best of your abilities,” he said.

Among those present were Archbishop John Wong of Kota Kinabalu, Bishop Melter Tais of Sabah Council of Churches, Deputy Chief Ministers Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan and Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah, other Cabinet Ministers, Assistant Ministers, and other community leaders. – various sources

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