Sunday, November 18, 2012

At Plenary's End, The Sunday Word

Buona domenica a tutti... and as some might've noticed, greetings from the traditional Post-Plenary Recharge – one that's been needed even more this year than most.

To be sure, last week in Baltimore made for quite the doozy – keep asking folks when two of three major proposed texts didn't sail to passage in prior years, and the same word comes back: "Never." And that's just what happened on the Floor with the cameras up.

As the outcome isn't as cut-and-dried as it might seem, putting together the threads that birthed it will take some time. (And should any of the body like to chime in, as ever, the door's wide open – especially on this one, the more, the merrier.) 

In the meanwhile, though – as this scribe's still getting inundated Google-share requests for the file – lest anyone's missed it, here's the final fulltext of the one top-shelf document that made it to passage: the years-in-the-making message on Preaching the Mystery of Faith: The Sunday Homily, as obtained in edit-form by Whispers in the wake of the vote....

On a technical note, for anyone viewing this on a smaller screen, to download the doc, just click on the "Scribd" logo just above to the left, or to see it in a more ample size, hit either the zoom/magnifying "+" button or the fullscreen tab to the right.

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As for the other, albeit shorter message that passed muster at the 94th annual meeting of the American hierarchy, the final, approved text of the brief "pastoral exhortation" renewing an invitation to sacramental confession and a spirit of penance is reportedly being held for Lent. 

That said – since delays tend to kill the interest that surrounds things – here's the draft of the message prior to its final amendments:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:  
“Peace be with you!” With these words, the Risen Lord greeted his frightened Apostles in the Upper Room on the day of his Resurrection. They were troubled, anxious, and fearful—much like each and every one of us at some point in our lives. Christ repeated the words, “Peace be with you.” But then he added, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them...” (Jn 20:19-23).  
What an extraordinary gift! The Risen Lord was proclaiming that all the suffering he had just endured was in order to make available the gifts of salvation and forgiveness. He wanted the apostles to receive these gifts. He wanted them to become apostles of this forgiveness to others.  
In the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation we meet the Lord, who wants to grant forgiveness and the grace to live a renewed life in him. In this sacrament, he prepares us to receive him with a lively faith, earnest hope, and sacrificial love in the Eucharist. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, we repent, let go of any pattern of sin, grow in the life of virtue and witness to a  joyful conversion. Since the graces of the sacrament are so similar to the purpose of the New Evangelization, Pope Benedict XVI has said, "The New Evangelization ... begins in the confessional!"  
We bishops and priests are eager to help you if you experience difficulty, hesitation, or uncertainty about approaching the Lord in this sacrament. If you have not received this healing sacrament in a long time, we are ready to welcome you. We, whom Christ has ordained to minister this forgiveness in his name, are also approaching this sacrament, as both penitents and ministers, during Lent. We want to offer ourselves to you as forgiven sinners seeking to serve in the Lord’s name.  
During Lent - in addition to the various penitential services during which individual confession takes place - we, bishops and priests will be making ourselves available often for the individual celebration of this sacrament. A schedule will be announced by your diocese in print and social media. We pray that through the work of the Holy Spirit, all Catholics - clergy and laity - will respond to the call of the New Evangelization to encounter Christ in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Come to the Lord and experience the extraordinary grace of his forgiveness!