Thursday, November 08, 2018

Resources for a Plenary Council

Dorothy Day's letters show heartache, faith

“I never expected much of the bishops,” Dorothy Day wrote to Gordon Zahn in 1968.
“In all history, popes and bishops and abbots seem to have been blind and power-loving and greedy. I never expected leadership from them. It is the saints that keep appearing all through history who keep things going. What I do expect is the bread of life and down through the ages there is that continuity.”

That’s just one of the helpful insights in the first-ever collection of Dorothy Day’s letters, All the Way to Heaven: The Selected Letters of Dorothy Day, edited by Robert Ellsberg. Following the recent publication of her diaries, these letters reveal more of Dorothy Day and her struggle to serve the impoverished and practice that “harsh and dreadful love” she often spoke about.

A call to action for Catholic laity

In a recent commentary, Eric Sammons argues that dioceses are unnecessarily bloated, and that Catholic activity has been needlessly centralized in diocesan offices. The result, he argues, is that the cost of Catholic action is inflated while its quality is compromised, and bishops are distracted from their direct pastoral responsibilities as they attend to abstract political, economic, and social agendas that are really the concern of the laity.

“Human beings orchestrate the reflection of God’s glory in the world by clothing material things with sacred meaning.” (Rowan Williams, author, poet, theologian, 104th archbishop of Canterbury).  
Parallel this statement of Williams’ with the first lines of Psalm 24, reminding us that “the earth is the Lord’s and all it holds, the world and those who dwell in it,” and we find our pattern for living a liturgical life. 

The liturgical assembly as “instruments of God for the care of creation”

In his encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis reminded us of our role as instruments of God for the care of creation. In section V: A Universal Communion, Francis stated: “The created things of this world are not free of ownership: ‘For they are yours, O Lord, who love the living’ (Wisdom 11:26). This is the basis of our conviction that, as part of the universe, called into being by one Father, all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect.”
We belong to God. The earth belongs to God. All of creation belongs to God. Every Sunday Mass is a recognition of that reality. We stand in humility before the God of all creation and, through Christ, give ourselves back to God, to serve as instruments of the deep and holy love that brought all of creation into being.

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