Newman This Week
Tuesday - April 14
Mass With Evening Prayer
Bryn Mawr, Aelwyd 201
Wednesday - April 15
Swarthmore, Bond 203
Thursday - April 16
Sunday - April 19
10:00 a.m. - Swarthmore/Bond Hall
Noon - Bryn Mawr/Aelwyd
Sacrament of Reconciliation
9:15–9:45 a.m. - Swarthmore/Bond 200
After Mass - Bryn Mawr/Haverford
Anytime upon request.
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Updating Your Faith
As you grow in the knowledge of all things, advance also in the one discipline that both transcends and permeates all human endeavor... the knowledge of our Faith in Jesus the Christ as his Church has received it and brought it to the world. This term, "What Happens When We Worship."
The General Intercessions
The Liturgy of the Word in Christian worship, drawing directly from its Jewish counterpart, the Synagogue Service, concludes with a series of petitions that fall into the category of prayer of intercession.
In the synagogue this closing element was hardly an afterthought; it was seen as prayer par excellence and an integral part of the duty owed to the community by each faithful Jew who assumed the responsibility of praying on behalf of the people. This prayer of supplication was and is known as the Tefillah of the Eighteen Blessings (or in some modern usage, nineteen) and consisted of twelve petitions preceded by and followed by three berakoth, or blessing prayers. The Tefillah is chanted facing Jerusalem by the hazan (akin to our deacon) but before the chant there is a period of silence so that the congregation may collect their thoughts and form their own prayers, especially attuning them to the formal petitions that never vary.
God is blessed first as the faithful God of the Patriarchs, as the Savior and Sustainer, the Raiser of the Dead, as the Thrice Holy Lord of Hosts, who fills heaven and earth with His glory.
Petitions dating to the first century included: for the gift of wisdom to understand the ways of the Lord; for sorrow for sin; for forgiveness of sin; for salvation; for spiritual healing; for fertility of the fields; for political restoration of greatness to Israel; for the restoration of self-government; for the defeat of enemies (including, after the Church began, Christian apostates); for the rewards of faithful practice of religion; for the reconstruction of Jerusalem (after its destruction by Rome in 70 a.d.); for the advent of the Messiah; for the acceptance of all prayers for needs unspoken.
Three Berekoth (blessing prayers) followed: for restoring the glory of the Temple (anticipated in faith; unfulfilled to this date); for constant providence and loving care; for the gift of the Law (Torah).
The most ancient form of these intercessory prayers that we possess in the Christian liturgy is the Great Prayer of the Faithful in the Good Friday Liturgy. Like the synagogue, but unlike our usual Sunday, weekday or feast day prayers, the Good Friday prayer is fixed and elaborated in language. It petitions God on behalf of the whole community of the Church, for her ministers — pope, bishops, priests and deacons, special ministers — for all the laity, for catechumens preparing for baptism, for Christian unity, for Jews, for non-believers in God or Christ, for all in public office, for the sick, the dying, the wrongly imprisoned or oppressed, for travelers, for an end to falsehood, hunger and disease.
From the Family Scrapbook
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews, one of the New Testament's most powerful documents, draws a direct line from the faith of Israel in God to the faith of the New Israel, the Church, in Jesus as 'the exact imprint of God's very being.' Then he is inspired to trace the line deeper into the mystery that is Christ, to our very selves. It is our own grasping of the hand that bears the mark of the nail and embracing what Jeremiah foresaw and which the author celebrates... a new covenant, transcending the covenant at Sinai in which the law of God... the Father's will... is written on our hearts and embedded in the synapses of our brain; in which we act... quite by nature... in rhythm and harmony with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The author reminds us we are not alone in this: we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.
The witness idea is not what we get from a legal reference... someone on the witness stand, giving testimony for or against us, as though we are on trial before all the world. No, remember the root meaning of witness: the Greek martyros, one who testifies by his blood, her blood. These are the fellow members of Christ's Body, with whom we are conjoined as much as we are with Christ himself. You cannot separate Head from Members. They both loose their definition and cease to exist.
So, in all the Scrapbook notes, over your years at college, have you not considered that you, too, are in the album. It is your faith in the Risen Christ that draws from you the truth that everything Christ taught and lived and established is in the context of community... of the assembly of believers... of ekklesia... of Church... of you-with-each-other. The prayer he teaches as a template for all prayer begins and ends in the plural... Our Father... deliver us from evil.
So, after two millennia of names and faces and lives and deeds and legacy that surrounds you, where do you see yourself in the Scrapbook? If your legacy is a contribution to science, to medicine, to the arts, to business, to law, to social justice, to environmental well being, to religion and faith, to education... must it not also be the legacy of one who does all these things, and more, over and against the one foundational reality that gives ultimate meaning to it all: that Christ has Died, Christ is Risen, Christ will Come Again.
In the awareness of what His death and resurrection mean as the foundation of what we know to be the way the truth and the life, and of what his coming again means as the foundation for all we hope for in the effect our lives will have not just in this world but in the next, for eternity — in this alone can you find the purpose for your life that comes from God and returns to God.
Where will you be in the Scrapbook of the Church? For some the notoriety will be great and so will the temptation to accept the reward of fame as though it were of your own making. Not to us, O Lord, but to your name belongs the glory! the psalmist reminds all great achievers. More probably your fame will be the well kept secret of the relatively small circle of family, friends, neighbors and associates who will come to know... sometimes only after you are gone from them... what a treasure you were for them. The words of Thomas More to Richard Rich in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons applies: when all Thomas can offer the young and ambitious Richard is a teacher's life, and when Richard wines..But who will know?... the saint-to-be replies: You, your pupils, your friends... God. Not a bad public that!
To be surrounded by witnesses and to be a witness yourself!
A page in the Scrapbook awaits!
Worth Thinking About
Living Easter Faith In a Non-Easter World
The Notre Dame Dilemma
In 1990, Pope John Paul II responded to a long recognized disjunction in a Church that has traditionally championed the development of human learning in every art and science and yet has to teach objectively those revealed truths that, in some of the humanities, finds itself in opposition to popular belief. The ancient balance between academic freedom and the inability to accept as 'just another free opinion' something that is in contradiction to faith.
Some excerpts from JPII's Apostolic Constitution, Ex corde ecclesiae...
"1. BORN FROM THE HEART of the Church, a Catholic University is located in that course of tradition which may be traced back to the very origin of the University as an institution. It has always been recognized as an incomparable center of creativity and dissemination of knowledge for the good of humanity. By vocation, the Universitas magistrorum et scholarium is dedicated to research, to teaching and to the education of students who freely associate with their teachers in a common love of knowledge. With every other University it shares that gaudium de veritate, so precious to Saint Augustine, which is that joy of searching for, discovering and communicating truth in every field of knowledge. A Catholic University's privileged task is "to unite existentially by intellectual effort two orders of reality that too frequently tend to be placed in opposition as though they were antithetical: the search for truth, and the certainty of already knowing the fount of truth".
"... 7... Catholic Universities are called to a continuous renewal, both as "Universities" and as "Catholic". For, "What is at stake is the very meaning of scientific and technological research, of social life and of culture, but, on an even more profound level, what is at stake is the very meaning of the human person". Such renewal requires a clear awareness that, by its Catholic character, a University is made more capable of conducting an impartial search for truth, a search that is neither subordinated to nor conditioned by particular interests of any kind.
"... 13. Since the objective of a Catholic University is to assure in an institutional manner a Christian presence in the university world confronting the great problems of society and culture(16), every Catholic University, as Catholic, must have the following essential characteristics:
- a Christian inspiration not only of individuals but of the university community as such;
- a continuing reflection in the light of the Catholic faith upon the growing treasury of human knowledge, to which it seeks to contribute by its own research;
- fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church;
- an institutional commitment to the service of the people of God and of the human family in their pilgrimage to the transcendent goal which gives meaning to life"
"... ..27. Every Catholic University, without ceasing to be a University, has a relationship to the Church that is essential to its institutional identity. As such, it participates most directly in the life of the local Church in which it is situated; at the same time, because it is an academic institution and therefore a part of the international community of scholarship and inquiry, each institution participates in and contributes to the life and the mission of the universal Church, assuming consequently a special bond with the Holy See by reason of the service to unity which it is called to render to the whole Church. One consequence of its essential relationship to the Church is that the institutional fidelity of the University to the Christian message includes a recognition of and adherence to the teaching authority of the Church in matters of faith and morals. Catholic members of the university community are also called to a personal fidelity to the Church with all that this implies. Non-Catholic members are required to respect the Catholic character of the University, while the University in turn respects their religious liberty."
So... with this perspective of the Church Universal in play, the dilemma facing the president of Notre Dame is whether to continue as a university in communion with Catholicism or not.
The point at issue is, of course, President Obama's promotion of abortion as it represents a woman's right to bear a child or not, even after she has conceived that child. The incidence of rape and incest are statistically low, yet stand as the measuring line for 'choice' in the event of an unwanted pregnancy. In this, President Obama is joined by many prominent politicians who are
members of the Catholic Church, so that Notre Dame's desire to bestow an honorary degree and the privilege of addressing the commencement assembly for the Class of 2009 finds companionship in political circles, and [depending upon the accuracy of opinion polls and the wording of the questions asked] a sizeable minority of Catholics in general.
The Freedom of Choice Act [FOCA] enthusiastically promoted and advocated by President Obama and at present before the Congress, suppresses a foundational 'right to life' for humans in gestation in favor of an allowance of free choice, even against the right to life, to end that life at any point from the moment of conception to the moment of birth, and the abolition of the conscience clause that has permitted medical staff from acting against their beliefs in the taking of a human life. In electing to applaud the Mr. Obama, especially as America's first black president - with such anti-life convictions [no matter his race] Notre Dame stands between the rock of Catholic Faith on the one hand and the political choice of identifying with those who do not hold the Church's value for human life sacred.
What is a University willing to accept in exchange for its loss of self? Perhaps enough, if that self is no longer all that Catholic after all. Then there comes the chore of cleansing the promotional brochures so that none be deluded. First to go, I suppose, might be Touchdown Jesus.