Friday, February 20, 2009

From around the web....

1. Excellent Lenten Reflection

Jennifer at Conversion Diary has posted a reflection on her first reading of Pontius Pilate's role in the Passion of Christ which focuses on our tendency to rationalize sin out of fear of losing favor with the "Emperor," whomever that may be for us in our lives. She writes:

I knew that the threat of losing favor with the Emperor would be more than a person like Pilate could take. I knew it would be the last straw, the spark to ignite the rationalizing and denial that would clear the way for proceeding with evil. I knew it because, at that moment, I recognized somewhere within myself my own disturbingly strong desire to be "friends with the Emperor." My "Emperor" was something different than Pilate's, of course: his was an actual man who had the power to make all Pilate's wildest dreams of riches and success come true; mine was a symbolic Emperor comprised of all my desires for things like comfort and pleasure and money and control and success and acclaim, an Emperor whose friendship I sought over doing the right thing on at least a daily basis.
And, as I realized only later, Pilate's all-to-familiar actions 2,000 years ago are not as different in severity from mine as I might have liked to tell myself, because they both led directly to Jesus' death on the Cross.
It is always helpful and humbling to recognize ourselves so clearly in the sins and motivations of those whom we so often demonize. Pilate recognized Jesus was a good man and did not want to sentence him, but he placed his own well-being and desires above truth and goodness. Am I willing to take up my cross and follow Christ? Am I willing imitate Jesus' sacrifical love of Christ? Or am I merely a good guy with good intentions who tends to flake out when things get tough?

2. Benedict XVI and Nancy Pelosi

On Wednesday Pope Benedict met with pro-choice Catholic Nancy Pelosi.

His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.
H/T to Rocco Palmo

This has caused some interesting conversation. Some are citing the lack of photo-op and the Pope's using the meeting for a teachable moment as evidence of his stern condemnation of Pelosi. However there is no real evidence to support such a view. On the hand, some are criticizing the Pope and Pelosi's bishop for failing to discipline her by witholding the Eucharist from her.

In light of this there has been an interesting conversation in the comments over at Vox-Nova regarding Canon 915 which reads:
Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or the declaration of a penalty as well as others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to communion.
Should it be enforced by bishops and the Pope more frequently and forcefully for those Catholic politicians who persist in voting pro-choice? The argument may be summed up thusly:

St. Paul tells us that anyone who eats the body of the Lord unworthily eats condemnation upon himself.
A loving pastor would not want his sheep to engage in self-condemnation, desecration of the Blessed Sacrament, or scandal to the faithful.
Canon 915 tells that those who persist in grave sin should not be permitted to receive the Eucharist.
Catholic politicians who public support and vote for pro-choice policies are engaging, in objective, if not subjective, grave sin.
Therefore why would the successors of the Apostles choose not discipline Pelosi, Biden, and other pro-choice Catholics accordingly?

Do the Pope and Bishops disagree with canon law? Are they ignoring canon 915? Is it not mortally sinful to vote for pro-choice policies? If not, why is canon 915 in the canon law at all? What is the relationship between canon law and its application by the Church's pastors.

Others will argue that the Church's understanding of law is unlike that which most Americans have. We tend to view law and that which is to be interpreted literally and enforced in a black and white manner. On the hand, from the ecclesial perspective canon laws are more like guidelines which must and can only be properly interpreted by those ordained with the pastoral responsiblity and charism of doing so for their flocks.

What do you think?

3. Vulnerability

Veronica over at Making Gumbo has a great post on Jesus' vulnerability, which reminded me of Balthsar's concept of God's omnipotent powerlessness. The Father all-powerfully empties himself entirely into the Son in kenotic Love. In thanksgiving (eucharist) for the Father's gift of self, the Son wills to give himself to the Father's will. Thus the Son omnipotently becomes powerless in incarnation as an infant, as a criminal on the cross, and as a dead man in the descent.

Nevertheless, as a new dad my son's vulnerability reminded me of Jesus' vulnerability as an infant, but more than that, in choosing to conceive a child my wife have made a choice of sacrifical love to be powerless to our son. We are slaves to his will. When he is hungry, tired, gassy, or upset for whatever reason, we free and lovingly stop everything we are doing to attend to him.

Life is beautiful. I pray that my wife and child and our love may teach me to love and Christ loved so that i may be more willing to make myself vulnerable out of love to them and to my neighbor and even to my enemy. God knows I have a long way to go.

Peace to all.

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