W must follow the Holy Spirit and Pope Francis.

Sunday, 5/1/16

Jesus told the Apostles that there was much more that they would need to know, but that they were not yet ready to understand it all, but when the need for them to know arose, the Holy Spirit would lead them to the right conclusions.  

And it happened a dozen year later that there arose a problem for which Jesus had not prepared them. It was this: the Apostles has always been orthodox Jews who never eaten anything  that was not kosher, and they had never even entered the hose of Gentles who did not observe kosher. However, the Holy Spirit had come down on Gentiles who did not observe kosher, and the Apostles did not know how to behave when those Gentile Christians invited them to dine with them.

It occurred to them that this was one of those situations in which the Holy Spirit would give them the needed guidance. So they came together in Jerusalem, and they related their recent experiences in which the Holy Spirit had led them to put aside the need to observe kosher.

Afterwards they composed a letter to all the churches in which they formally stated: “It is the  decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden.”

That coming together of the Apostles, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, came about around the year 45 A.D. Since then, over twenty-one centuries, our bishops, the successors of the Apostles, have come together in twenty-one Ecumenical Councils. At them they have sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit for meeting new difficulties.

At the end of the last of those, the Second Vatican Council, the bishops, following the example of the Apostles, issued a formal statement for all the churches. But, the sum of the decisions to which the Holy Spirit directed them went far beyond the decree of that first council, and they have contrasted even more with the decisions of the Council of Trent  from four centuries ago.

The decrees of the Council of Trent were defensive documents issued by a church that was rebelled against and attacked on all sides. While it stated that we were the one  true church, Vatican II sees all other Christians as either belonging to, or closely related to that true church. While Trent saw humans as born in sin, and alienated from God, Vatican II stated, “The dignity of man consists above all in this that he is called to commune with God, and this invitation to converse with God comes to him at the first moment of his being.   

Trent went so far in demanding our obedience to its stiff regulations that Catholics find it difficult to follow the Holy Spirit and Pope Francis in seeing us all as brothers.

This short first reading gives us two surprises.

Saturday, 4/30/16

Today’s first reading is from verses one to ten in Chapter Sixteen of the Acts of the Apostles, and it contains two surprises.

The first surprise came in verse three. Paul had previously insisted that there was no value in the Rite of Circumcision, but here, he bent to the views of orthodox Jews who thought otherwise. He was telling us that sometimes that rather than sticking to one’s principles, the kind thing is to bend to the views of others.

The second surprise came in verse ten that reads, “When he had seen the vision we sought passage to Macedonia.” That verse began with mention of Paul’s vision, the subject then switched to let Luke join in Paul’s party.

That “we” passage is all that Luke told us about his joining Paul’s party. Luke, an exceedingly humble man, resisted the natural impulse to include short bio of himself, telling us how and why he joined that illustrious party.

Jesus promised the Apostles that the Holy Spirit would them to all truth.

Friday 4/29/ 16

At the Last Supper Jesus told the Apostles there was much more that they would need to know, but they were not ready for it. He went on to say that when the time came, the holy Spirit would lead them to all truth. In line with that, the Apostles came together a dozen years later to determine how to deal with Gentile converts who had not been raised to observe Kosher. After asking for the Spirit’s guidance they sent out a report saying,

It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden. Etc.”

Over these past  twenty-one centuries the bishops, as successors of the Apostles, have come together for twenty-one general councils. At them they asked the Holy Spirit for guidance for  decisions for conducting  Church life, and at the Second Vatican Council, following the lead of that first council, they have publicized their decisions. This time it comes in seventeen documents, four of which they have highlighted as Constitutions.

In their “Constitution on the Liturgy” the bishops declared, “At Mass all Christ’s faithful . . . should take part in the sacred action, conscious of what they are doing with full devotion and full collaboration.”

In the “Constitution on the Church” the bishops declared, “All men are called to this catholic unity . . . in different ways to it belong or are related: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ. . . . Nor shall divine providence deny the assistance necessary for salvation to those who without any fault of theirs who have not arrived at an explicit knowledge of Go, but who, not without grace, strive to lead a good life.”  

In the Constitution on Divine Revelation the bishops declared, “To compose the sacred books God chose certain men who all the while he employed them in this task made full use of their own powers and faculties. . . . It follows that the interpreter of Sacred Scripture  . .  should carefully search out the meaning which the sacred writer had in mind. . . attention must be paid to literary forms for truth is expressed in the various types of historical writings, in prophetic and poetic texts.”

In the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World the bishops declared, “The dignity of men rests above all on the fact that he is called to commune with God. The invitation to converse with God is addressed to man  as soon as he comes into being.”