praying with john xxiii

I’m back from Rome, still heavy headed from jet-lag. I didn’t have much time for extra reading while I was there. The days were filled with meetings, and discussions continued into late night hours. Today, I tried to catch up on church news. And, what news!

photo by Isabella R. Moyer

At last month’s Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, made an announcement that all clergy visiting the Vatican should wear cassocks. The foundation for the request came from a 1982 letter written by Pope John Paul II asking priests to wear the more formal dress as a “distinguishing mark” which contributes to “the beauty of the priest in his external behavior.” It must be clarified, that this request was made during a Synod devoted to the New Evangelization; studying ways and means to bring disaffected, disillusioned and distanced Catholics back into the folds of the Church.

The second piece of news was the announcement that Fr. Roy Bourgeois, a member of Maryknoll for 45 years who had come under scrutiny for his support of women’s ordination, was dismissed from the order by the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation in October. The National Catholic Reporter has been updating the news all day.

Reaction to the first story has been one of incredulity. Yet again, the men at the Vatican appear to have lost all sense of reality. With all the crises that face our world and church, they are focusing on garments. At a time when many women and men are disgusted with clericalism, they want to bring back an old symbol of clerical exclusivity.

The dismissal of Fr. Roy Bourgeois, from both his religious order and the priesthood, has discussion boards fuming with the obvious injustice of it all. Priests and bishops, who were found guilty of sexual abuse of children, or the cover-up of that abuse, were not treated as harshly. Some, like Cardinal Law, ended up in cushy Vatican positions. The crime that will get you kicked out in record time is to speak out, publicly and loudly, for women’s ordination.

My one goal with this recent trip to Rome was to spend time at the tomb of Blessed John XXIII. We sat quietly in prayer, ending our meditation with a recitation of the Creed to commemorate the Year of Faith. The Creed is the foundation of our faith. It is the prayer we recite, or is recited for us, as we are welcomed into the Church – the Body of Christ. We believe in God our Creator. We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s son and our redeemer. We believe in the Holy Spirit, giver of wisdom and of life. And, yes, we believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. But, it is getting harder and harder to believe some of the nonsense that is coming from our church.

photo by Isabella R. Moyer

Pope John XXIII inspired the church to fling open her windows so the stale air of centuries past may be open to the freely blowing breezes of the Holy Spirit. He urged the people of God to ignore prophets of doom and gloom, to embrace the good news of the gospel so it may be lived in all corners of the world. He opened his arms to the world and other religions, so we may celebrate what unites us and collaborate in bringing justice and peace to all.

Blessed John XXIII…..pray for us.

Today in church history – John XXIII drops Vatican II bombshell

I was born on January 9, 1959. I am as old as Madonna (the singer, not the Blessed Virgin),Donny Osmond (my teenage crush) and Barbie (the doll). I also consider myself a Vatican II baby. On January 25, a couple of weeks after I was born, Blessed John XXIII announced to a shocked group of Curial Cardinals that he was going to summon an Ecumenical Council. The announcement was made at the grand Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The great Pope describes his inspiration as a great light, well in tune with the scripture readings of this feast day. The reaction of those present was reminiscent of the great saint’s tumble off his horse.

On October 11, 2012, the Church will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The National Catholic Reporter will be publishing various articles on this great historical event. Today’s essay, Curial horror greeted John XXIII’s announcement of ecumenical council, gives a great description of the announcement made 53 years ago, today.

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baby boomer elders

Fifty is the new thirty, a phrase most probably coined by baby boomers. I’m part of this group born in the years 1946-1964. Our sheer numbers meant we were, and are, a force to be reckoned with. We posed a challenge to society in each of our life stages from birth to school to post-secondary education to the work force. Red flags are now being raised about our upcoming take-over of the elder demographic. Dire financial forecasts bemoan the heavy burden we will place on health care and social services. It’s a tough guilt trip after a life-time of working, raising and supporting children, and paying more than our fair share of taxes.

Recently I’ve been noticing another baby boomer guilt trip within our own church. I admit that I have no empirical proof for this observation, and I`m not trying to make any generalizations (which I dislike and seldom trust). It`s merely a simple observation after reading and  reflecting on  recent articles and online discussions.

Some more traditionally minded Catholics blame baby boomers for the post-Vatican II reforms – reforms they believe had a negative effect on the Church. Now we are being portrayed as aging hippies whose current reform efforts within the Church are being rejected by the younger generation.

Is this true? Do only middle-aged and older women care if the priesthood excludes them? Do movements like Call to Action, We are Church or Voice of the Faithful speak only to baby-boomers?

Traditionalists and liberals come in all ages, but are we facing a new trend in our church? Baby boomers led many of the protest movements of the latter half of the 20th century. They were the young voice challenging the traditions of the older generations. Are we now facing an era where the younger generation takes up the banner of traditionalism while the voice of reform and protest comes from the elders?