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Posted August 2, 2007

Current Words Worth Pondering

What does holiness look like? “Many individuals who convert to Catholicism do so because of the lives of the saints. In these lives we find the integration of thought, feeling, action and belief in the midst of real history, through difficult and challenging situations. … Holiness is not an abstraction, something that can be generalized, mapped out in mathematical formulas. Nor is holiness perfection. In the lives of the saints there is too much evidence to the contrary. It is the divine love and light shining in the midst of real human beings, in all their wonderful particularity.” (Benedictine Abbot John Klassen of St. John’s Abbey in Minnesota in a July 10, 2007, homily)

Priestly celebrants of goodness. “Jesus was a man people wanted to be around, enjoyed being around. The priest must be like that too. The priest is called to celebrate the goodness in people, the goodness in our world, the goodness that leads us back to God. Oliver Wendell Holmes said that he might have entered the ministry if so many of the clergymen he knew had not looked and acted like undertakers. … The way God loves and saves us in Christ Jesus is a cause for joy, and the priest is called to bring the flavor of this joy to what he says and does.” (Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco in a June 8 homily)

Liturgy and justice. “Liturgy is always about recalling and making present here and now the network of relationships into which we are baptized – our relationship with God, ourselves, other human beings, and all of the created world. In liturgy we become more conscious of and more attuned to what is required of us to be faithful to these relationships. Here is where justice intersects. Justice is also about relationships – the establishment of right relationships. Liturgy teaches us much about our daily charge to build up right relationships – with God, family, neighbors, co-workers, strangers, the local and global community, and so on.” (From an article by Anne Koester, associate director of the Georgetown Center for Liturgy, Washington, D.C., appearing on a new Web site on liturgy, spirituality and church architecture: www.envisionchurch.org).

Young and poor in underdeveloped nations. “The process of globalization has brought us to a new historical moment in the evolution of the economy. The worldwide impact of communication technology and the instant dissemination of information pre-socialize the poor, the young in particular, to expectations of a more decent and humane lifestyle, to which they are entitled. When such anticipations are frustrated, society faces a risk of violent reactions, and peace is endangered for all.” (Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Vatican representative to U.N. organizations in Geneva, speaking July 4 in Geneva on the economic plight of poor nations)

Handing on the faith. “Depending on the competence and creativity of the parent or teacher, there are many ways in which the catechism can come alive in the hearts and minds of the learners. … Of course, Christ is central to everything that is taught. So the person of Jesus Christ must remain the organizing theme. Thus the catechism is not a list of dead doctrines but an introduction to a living and life-giving person.” (From the draft of a pastoral letter titled “Handing on the Faith,” by Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, N.M., posted on the diocese’s Web site)