Humility, Disinterestedness, Blessedness

Pope Francis just gave a powerful address to Italian Catholics in Florence. (You can find a summary here.)

In it, he described what he termed a “new humanism,” mentioning three sentiments of Jesus that describe that humanism. They are:

Humility: “The obsession with preserving one’s glory, one’s “dignity”, one’s influence, must not form part of our sentiments. We must pursue God’s glory and this does not coincide with ours.”

Disinterest: “[T]he happiness of those by our side. A Chriastian’s humanity is always outgoing. It is not narcissistic or self-referential…. “Our duty is to work to make this world a better place and to fight. Our faith is revolutionary due to an impulse that comes from the Holy Spirit.”

Blessedness: To live a live of blessedness is to live in accordance with the Beatitudes.

These three sentiments “tell us we must not be obsessed with “power”, even when this may appear useful and functional to the social image of the Church. If the Church does not adopt Jesus’ sentiments, it becomes disoriented, it loses the sense. Jesus’ sentiments tell us that a Church that thinks of itself and its own interests is a sad Church.”

There is much more in the sermon, but these three seem to offer great fruit for our daily examen. To what extent do I reflect these three sentiments of Jesus?

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One thought on “Humility, Disinterestedness, Blessedness

  1. Too many of God’s children may not see the Catholic Church (or faiths in general) as “disinterested” – abandonment might be more appropriate. Recent events that tear at the fabric of God’s family, events that are part of the pendulum of life, heightens ‘interest’ which often wanes prematurely – while continuing to temporarily unite and often ultimately further separate. . .

    The terrorist attacks in Paris Friday evening, coming on the heels of major terrorist attacks the past two months in Ankara, Sinai (probable plane bombing) and Beirut have once again joined the community of nations in solidarity – for how long, and to what end? . . .

    The lengthy Syrian secular conflict (civil and proxy war) and refugee crisis continues to tear at the fabric of the European Union and tug at the fabric of many other nations, including ours. The college students throughout the world volunteering in stints (from 10 up to a maximum of 15 days due to the psychological stress of their efforts) along the shores of Turkey rescuing refugees from capsized boats ‘universally’ embody Christ’s presence – will their efforts inspire hearts to substantive change or, in time, will they be responded to as ‘reeds blowing in the wind’? . . .

    Being less than a month from the ‘Year of Mercy’ proclaimed by Pope Francis, and five years into Pope Benedict’s 2010 ‘Ubicumque et Semper’ (that I believe) further declared the need for a New Evangelism – two current books purporting to chronicle the continued secretive, dysfunctional, and possible illegal goings-on within the Roman Curia (more than two years after Pope Francis promised to bring about change and return his ‘Universal’ Church to Christ’s missions of mercy, charity and service to the poor and those in need) continue to erode ‘faith’ in the leadership professed to have been ordained to ‘profess’ the faith.

    If only a portion of truth resides on the pages of ‘Via Crucis’ (Merchants in the Temple) and ‘Avarizia’ (Greed), [images of a righteous Curia continuing to cling too tightly to privilege, secular affluence, nepotism, decadence, and ‘disinterest’ to address the social and moral issues that most divide the faithful and those who have abandoned the Catholic faith], are not more and more of God’s children being ‘abandoned’ with each new day?

    Is our response to the call for a ‘New Evangelism, satisfied through our responding to our ‘individual’ callings? Are there not ‘twin’ callings – similar to the two sides of a coin?

    Susan continually shares text and example of, and for, ways our personal relationship with God can and could be lived out. I do believe, that with each beat of our heart, the Holy Spirit invites and seeks dialogue with each one of us – listening and responding is decision ours. . .

    My personal relationship with God (more specifically with Jesus through the Holy Spirit) can also be likened to the two sides of a coin. From one side, either my mother’s lament and prayers, during the first trimester of her third pregnancy, were answered and I was blessed to have received my faith from St. Perpetua or from the other side, my mind is delusional and I will soon pay dearly for my beliefs and rants. Whose inner voice should one follow? With each of my own laments, “Lord, how can this be?” moments unimaginable continue to unfold.

    Having lived life since four aware someone (spiritual) had always been there ‘to watch over me’ was as much constant quandary as comfort, “Lord, how can this be?” No more quandary and comfort than Saturday evening, February 2, 2013 when a History-2 documentary about how the Roman Empire, its laws of citizenship and its technologies, contributed to St. Paul’s travels and preaching’s that greatly influenced the spread of Christianity, than during a short segment that mentioned St. Perpetua

    St. Perpetua, along with St. Felicitas, honored during each Canon of the Mass was ‘name’ only to me until she, her passion, martyrdom and diary at Carthage were fully revealed – “It’s her, I know her!” [Her unnamed presence had become much more spiritually present after a reflection revealed Sunday evening, November 4, 2012 and during another (afternoon spiritual) visit to a favorite orchard outside of Carthage later that month].

    During February leading up to her feast day, I tortured myself in prayer seeking forgiveness from God and my mother for my desire (if I am blessed to enter heaven) and my need to first seek out and thank Perpetua for always being there, watching over and raising me in faith – before seeking my mother, my father and my loved ones.

    Add that a couple of historians believed she was martyred on March 6th, not March 7th her feast day, and I was a mess as I sought to honor her at Mass on her special day. Knowing she willing gave her life for God, my prayer was constant, “What day is most precious to you?” – I was a total mess as the evening of March 5th unfolded.

    The only vision I have ever experienced at night occurred that night. I have shared the incredible detail of that moment before, though the most indelible moment occurred while turning right to enter the nave of the basilica church, and immediately after my mother touched my right forearm and spoke to me, I awoke stunningly surprised and disoriented, grasping for meaning and clarity – reality partially encountered by the display on the face of the clock on the nightstand next to my bed: 6 minutes after 3, on the 6th day of the 3rd month, March 6th – I felt assured she and my parents together will be there in Heaven to greet me. . .

    My thank you incantations were endless, and I celebrated morning Mass in her honor on both March 6th and 7th. I was ecstatic, ecstatic for almost four months until Roman history research revealed that Perpetua was actually martyred on Monday, March 7th, (not Sunday the 6th) during the birthday celebration and games for Roman Emperor Septimius Severus’ son Geta – I was devastated. What to make of my vision? . . .

    During evening prayers and reflection, I answered the question Spirit posed, “Your question was what day was most precious to me? The Eucharist is most precious to you Christine, and it has always been most precious to me. Sunday, the day before the games, was the last time I received the Eucharist. Sunday was most precious to me.”

    The wonderful Judaic celebrations of unleavened bread during Passover and the seven days during the Feast of Unleavened Bread are also similar to one side of a coin – “Leaven is seen as symbolic of sin. Leaven corrupts by puffing up. Puffing up or pride is at the heart of all sin. We all have evil impulses within us. We’re not terrible wicked people, but we all have some tendencies which can arouse us or lead us into sin.” (Jewish / Jesus) In her home (domestic) church and in Carthage, St. Perpetua represents the other side of the coin, the leavened side. The Council of Florence in 1439 decreed that both leavened (Eastern Rite Church) and unleavened (Western Rite Church) bread is acceptable in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

    The Eastern tradition likens yeast in bread to the soul in the body. The soul gives life, and therefore the “living bread” of the Eucharist must have yeast.

    Perpetua was the yeast whose station and voice helped give meaning to ‘The Word’ recited and which homily and message were built upon. She herself emblematic of both sides of a coin – She from a position of authority and she, one among many children of God. Perpetua was both the ‘face’ of master and servant, one among their faith family that remained both student and teacher, one who visions and charisma both elevated and deepened her desire to comfort and serve. . .

    Does not the Eucharist as described by Cyprian (of Carthage) unite Eastern rites, Western rites and many Protestant rites through our Lord’s Passion, death and Resurrection, through fulfilling the ‘Law’ with a New Covenant, by melding two anew (both sides of the coin representing Transubstantiation and Consubstantiation) into the One Body of Christ? Each of God’s children are ‘one’ of ‘many grains,’ collected, ground and mixed together . . . to make one bread . . .

    “We make mention of his passion in all sacrifices because the Lord’s passion is the sacrifice which we offer. Therefore we ought to do nothing else than what he did.” (Cyprian, Letter 63, 17) As Christ’s death on the cross was a sacrament of love that brought about the unity of all believers in ‘One Body’ so the Eucharist is a sacrament of unity. In its Eucharistic communion, the Church proclaims and deepens its unity as the Body of Christ: ‘In this very sacrament our people are shown to be made one, so that in like manner as many grains, collected, ground, and mixed together into one mass, make one bread, so in Christ, who is the heavenly bread, we may know, that there is one body, with which our number is joined and united.’ (Cyprian, Letter 63, 13)”

    Is there one Christian who reverently partakes of the Eucharist who does not consider themselves in communion with the One Body of Christ? No, yet yes, those Christians who continue to exclude ‘many grains.’

    Few parishioners have culled, categorized and separated. More often than not it has been ‘disinterested’ shepherds who have ‘abandoned’ their flocks that has led to separate grains becoming separate breads all claiming to be the One Body of Christ. . .

    St. Perpetua’s faith and early Church more closely resemble Pope Francis’ vision of where the Roman Church must return to bring about God’s Kingdom on Earth. She gave her life to God to help establish His Kingdom. How will we respond to our personal relationship with God? The messages received, whether of Spirit or diabolical, excuse not our thoughts, words or actions. What will we offer, what will we pour our when requested, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”?

    How will we answer when, at the end of earthly life, we are asked to confront our sins of omission? What justification will we offer as to why we were unwilling to gather all of the ‘many grains’ to “make one bread, so in Christ, who is the heavenly bread, we may know, that there is one body, with which ‘our’ number is joined and united.”

    It is time faith’s shepherds abandon both sides of their ‘twin coins’ and begin to reconcile the two sides of Eucharistic presence and the two sides of apostolic succession. Their continual ‘disinterest’ (and continual self-interest) will only further the ‘abandonment’ many Catholics and Christians believe is the ‘real presence’ . . .

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