The Gospel readings of Lent remind us that opposition to Jesus and his mission frequently grew out of the desire for a redeemer who was more like what various characters in the drama thought a redeemer should be.
This bruising Lent, in which “fasting” has assumed unprecedented new forms, seems likely to be followed by an Eastertide of further spiritual disruption. What is God’s purpose in all this? I would be reluctant to speculate. But at the very least, the dislocations we experience call us to a more profound realization of our dependence on the divine life given us in Baptism: the grace that enables us to live in solidarity with others and to make sense of the seemingly senseless.
As Yale’s Carlos Eire masterfully demonstrated in “Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650,” there was no one “Protestant Reformation” but rather several religious movements, often in disagreement with each other, that shattered western Christendom in the 16th century. Still, Martin Luther’s protest at Wittenberg on October 31, 1517, has long been taken as the starting gun for “the Reformation.” So “Wittenberg” can serve as a synonym for other efforts to distance Christian communities from the authority of Rome.
“Churchmanship” is not a term in vogue today, and given the alleged inclusivity-deficit of such words it’s unlikely to make a comeback. Which is a shame. Because “churchmanship” connotes an etiquette, a once-taken-for-granted code of manners, that embodies an important truth of Catholic faith. When the etiquette crumbles, the truth can get lost amidst the debris.
Perseverance on a difficult but noble path is a virtue. Stubbornness when confronted by irrefutable evidence of a grave mistake is a vice. The latter would seem an apt characterization of a letter sent on Ash Wednesday to the entire College of Cardinals by its new Dean, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re. In that letter — his first official act as Dean — Cardinal Re reprimands the redoubtable Cardinal Joseph Zen, SDB, emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, for his criticisms of the agreement the Vatican made with the People’s Republic of China in 2018.
By Father Charles P. Keeney
As director of the Propagation of the Faith, I am meeting missionaries from many faraway places right here in my office. Most of them are priests and some are religious. Today I am writing about a very unusual missionary whom I have met with only a couple of times, but who has been a regular visitor to the Propagation. She is a laywoman who lives in Jackson Heights and has illustrated her love for the poor in the missions for many years.
Several years back, the estimable Father Paul Scalia observed, of some cultural idiocy or other, “Who knew the end of civilization would be so amusing?” I detected a subtle theological point within that mordant comment: a point worth reflecting upon during Lent.
Rome’s Aventine Hill has seen a lot.
Legend has it that a dispute over the hill led to the fratricidal conflict between the city’s founders, Romulus and Remus. During the Roman Republic the Aventine was a working class neighborhood, high above the city’s most important port. In imperial Rome the Aventine was gentrified, becoming the neighborhood-of-choice for knights and senators. Later still, great palaces were built on the Aventine, which offers an unparalleled city vista.
The post-synodal apostolic exhortation “Querida Amazonia” [Beloved Amazon] did not accept or endorse the 2019 Amazonian synod’s proposal that viri probati — mature married men — be ordained priests in that region. So until the German Church’s “synodal path” comes up with a similar proposal, a period of pause has been created in which some non-hysterical reflection on the priesthood and celibacy can take place throughout the world Church. Several points might be usefully pondered in the course of that conversation.
I am writing this article on Feb. 11, the Feast of our Lady of Lourdes, which our late Holy Father, Pope St. John Paul II designated as “The World Day of the Sick.”