Saturday, April 13

A helpful reader passes this along:

[March 8, 2002] Sister Nirmala Joshi, superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, encouraged India´s bishops to serve the poor by becoming poor themselves.

In her address to the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, the successor to Mother Teresa stressed, "If we want our dialogue with the poor to be effective, we have to follow in the footsteps of Jesus our Master in becoming poor and loving and serving the poor like him," according to the SAR Catholic news agency.

Sister Nirmala appealed to the 150 bishops of India to "identify the poor not as persons deprived of material food only but also hungry for the Word of God, thirsty for truth, knowledge, justice and peace, and naked for want of human dignity."

The bishops´ conference today is ending its weeklong biennial General Body meeting, at Trinity College. The theme of the meeting is "Church in Dialogue."

Distinguishing the poverty of the clerics and religious from the poverty of the poor, Sister Nirmala said, "We need to share in the poverty of Christ by a deliberate choice of evangelical poverty, each one according to one´s state of life. We must listen to the cry of the poor, make reparation for the selfishness and greed of man, and share with the poor what we have."

"Not from our abundance, but from our want, ´until it hurts,´" she added, quoting a favorite verse of Mother Teresa.

In a gentle but resolute voice, Sister Nirmala told the bishops that the riches and wealth of the Church are the poor and the destitute. "Christ calls us to give freely since we have received freely," she added.

And then the reader adds her own reflection:

Ummm...if certain American bishops end up selling Church property, including their "castle," would that divestiture result in their poverty? Might this be one way that the Holy Spirit intends to ensure that they "seek first the kingdom of heaven"?


Joseph (age 1 year 10 days) has a few new tricks:

When confronted with a pair of pants or socks, he lays them on top of him, trying to figure out how to get them on.

He'll point to a nose - his or someone else's - when asked to.

He points at things all the time. For no known reason, but he does point.

Let's get started with Catherine of Siena.

First, some of you might be under the impression that St. Catherine was a religious sister. She was not, and therein lies one of the many startling elements of her life: in a time (the 14th century) when women had basically two options in life - enclosure in a convent or marriage - Catherine chose neither. She was, indeed, a single lay woman who did extraordinary things, perhaps because she was, indeed, a single lay woman free to respond to God's call with the totality of her being.

For an introduction to St. Catherine, go here, to a short life that comes to us from the Catherine of Siena Institute, an interesting group that's focused on empowering the lay apostolate.

She plunged into the murky, chaotic world of Italian religious and political life without thinking that, because she was only an uneducated woman, she had no right to be there. There were no handy self-help guides to tell her How to Reconcile Warring City States in Five Easy Steps or How to Deal With Difficult Popes. The problems before her were every bit as complex and hard to grasp as are the problems facing us in our world. And, just as achievements in the our modern world can be difficult to measure, partial, and ambiguous in impact, so were Catherine’s.

Even her greatest political accomplishment, convincing Gregory VI to return to Rome, quickly lost its luster when two years later the Church found itself with two competing claimants for the office of Pope. Thus began the "Great Schism" that lasted thirty-six years and during which three men claimed to be Pope at the same time. Just as the results of our love and work are often obscured by the pressure of the problems and personalities about us, so the long-term effects of Catherine’s courageous struggle were not visible when she died at the young age of 33. At the end of her life, almost all of Catherine’s efforts in peace-making and church reform seemed to have ended in failure.

So there is the context of what I'm looking at: the Avignon Papacy, the general corruption of the clergy and the laxity of spirituality. In other words: religious leaders had sold out to politics and the culture and had, in the process, become ineffective ministers of the Gospel, and, indeed, countersigns.

Perhaps we can see some common ties?......

Went for a lovely walk with Katie and Joseph in Foster Park , across the road from our house. (The link will take you to photos of the golf course there, but you get the idea). We walked around the golf course, waved at David, but didn't push our luck, considering he was in the woods at the moment, not looking too thrilled with life. Then we stopped at the playground, where Joseph wasn't as happy about swinging as he was yesterday, but loved the slide. He was also quite interested in the sand, including how it tasted.
What he said.

Rod Dreher offers his interpretation of what's happened with Cardinal Law and concludes the the spot-on observation:

If I posted to The Corner the kinds of things I've heard in the past 24 hours from solid, faithful conservative Catholics, the bishops' blood would run cold. They're radicalizing the Church's most loyal sons and daughters. And for what? For what?

And that final question is the most pertinent one of all - for what? What is anyone gaining through maintaining the status quo?

Oh, were the pope more vigorous right now...


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