Valentine Popery


(Image shamelessly pinched from The Curt Jester.) It's the feast of Ss. Cyril & Methodius, to whom John Paul the Great once devoted an encyclical. We observed the day by trudging through Slav-like conditions to get to mass. Then we celebrated with a snow day --sledding fun outside and crafts, naps and reading inside (Techno-Wheat, who's 10, did a podcast). Or most of us did. Mr. W. celebrated by replacing the thermostat and muttering quite a bit in the next room. But I'm sure he was having fun. Anyway, on to the potpourri.

Papal Teaching

"Focus" over at the Vatican's site is on the Pope's Lenten letter to us all. This year's lenten theme is "they shall look on him whom they have pierced." The Pope takes a theme from Deus Caritas Est --the relation between eros and agape-- and shows how the two meet in Christ.

let us look at Christ pierced in the Cross! He is the unsurpassing revelation of God’s love, a love in which eros and agape, far from being opposed, enlighten each other. On the Cross, it is God Himself who begs the love of His creature: He is thirsty for the love of every one of us. The Apostle Thomas recognized Jesus as “Lord and God” when he put his hand into the wound of His side. Not surprisingly, many of the saints found in the Heart of Jesus the deepest expression of this mystery of love. One could rightly say that the revelation of God’s eros toward man is, in reality, the supreme expression of His agape. In all truth, only the love that unites the free gift of oneself with the impassioned desire for reciprocity instills a joy, which eases the heaviest of burdens.

Can we believe Ash Wednesday is next week? Think of something good and penetential to make reparation for your sins for 40 days.

Sunday's Angelus was about World Day of the Sick (Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Feb. 11). The Audience, meanwhile, was about the inferiority of women:

the Gospels tell us that the women, unlike the Twelve, did not abandon Jesus in the hour of his passion (cf. Matthew 27:56.61; Mark 15:40). Outstanding among these women, in particular, is the Magdalene, who not only was present at the Passion, but also became the first witness and herald of the Risen One (cf. John 20:1,11-18). To Mary of Magdala, in fact, St. Thomas Aquinas dedicates the singular description "apostle of the apostles" ("apostolorum apostola"), dedicating a beautiful commentary to her: "Just as a woman had announced to the first man the words of death, so also a woman was the first to announce to the apostles the words of life" ("Super Ioannem," CAI publishers, Paragraph 2519).
Moreover, in the ambit of the early Church the feminine presence was in no way secondary. This is the case of the four daughters of "deacon" Philip, whose names are not mentioned, residents in Caesarea, all of them gifted, as St. Luke says, with the "gift of prophecy," that is, of the faculty to speak publicly under the action of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 21:9).

Hmm. Seems to be a bit off-message there, actually. If you didn't enjoy that, you will certainly not enjoy his defense of St. Paul against the charge of misogyny:

We owe to St. Paul a more ample documentation on woman's dignity and ecclesial role. He begins with the fundamental principle, according to which, for the baptized "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28), that is, all united in the same nature, though each one with specific functions (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:27-30).

But isn't he the one who told women to shut up in Church? Well, yes, but...

The Apostle admits as something normal that woman can "prophesy" in the Christian community (1 Corinthians 11:5), that is, pronounce herself openly under the influence of the Holy Spirit, on the condition that it is for the edification of the community and in a dignified manner. Therefore, the famous exhortation "the women should keep silence in the churches" must be relativized (1 Corinthians 14:34). The much-discussed problem on the relationship between the first phrase --women can prophesy in church -- and the other -- they cannot speak -- that is, the relationship between these two indications which are seemingly contradictory, we leave for the exegetes.

Then he proceeds to a long list of women Paul mentions by name and their functions within the Church (hint: not solely baking cookies). Maybe the women "keeping silence" in Church just meant they should get their toddlers to shush?



I liked this joke.