Magnae Dei Matris

Magnae Dei Matris is another encyclical of Pope Leo XIII focusing on the Rosary this one is a bit more indepth than other which are basically asking/reminding people to pray the Rosary in October.

Magnae Dei Matris (Great Mother of God) begins like the other encyclicals on the Rosary saying that at a certain time “occasion arises to stimulate and intensify the love and veneration of the Christian people for Mary”. It then turn to our Heavenly Father, who was the first to love Mary and raised her above all creation naming her his mother. This is key concept of the Encyclical. We in turn must put all of our filial trust in her. Here is where we get the classic pray the Rosary since October is coming up soon, Pope Leo gives some reason why we need to turn to the Rosary in which he mentions public institutions that science and art where there is hardly a mention of God as well as “the consequent laxity and apathy in the practice of the Catholic religion”, this sounds like something that some super conservative would say knocking on the Cafeteria and Secular Christianity that has grown up in the US and Europe. Pope Leo insists that the remedy for this is praying the Rosary. As we pray through the events of Mary’s life we grow closer to Jesus. It goes on and reflects on the idea that Mary is the perfect model of living the Christian life. It continues talking about how constantly praying the Rosary serves piety and is a  source of comfort. Eventually the encyclical ends with Pope Leo once again asking (us) his brother bishops to pray the Rosary.

Vi e ben noto

Vi e Ben Noto is one of Pope Leo’s encyclicals on the Rosary it’s focus is on the Rosary and Public Life, it is addressed to the Bishops of Italy.  Like many other of Leo’s rosary encyclicals it is a gentle reminder from His Holiness to pray the Rosary during the month of October. Sure it is addressed to those in Italy but just like other it seems like it could have been written a fortnight ago. ” We find . . . much to sadden Our souls. Faith and Christian morals, the precious inheritance bequeathed by Our ancestors, and in all past times the glory of Our country and of Italy’s great ones, are being attacked artfully and in covert ways, or even openly, with cynicism that is revolting, by a handful of men who seek to rob others of that faith and morality they have themselves lost.” This can be said of many places around the world today where so many of us care more about what’s happening in the world but not to the world. It’s complex but are we a Christian more than on Sunday, do we take what we hear and synthesize it. As Pope Leo states to his fellow bishops “Let it be your work, venerable brethren, to revive this Christian feeling among your people, an interest in the Catholic cause, a confidence in Our Lady’s help, and a spirit of prayer.”  Let us all take some time this week and pray the rosary or some other form of prayer this week.

October Rosary postings

Since October is the month of the Rosary, I will be looking at some of the many Encyclicals and other Church Documents that focus on the Rosary over the next couple of weeks. The first two weeks are going to look at some of Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclicals including Octobri Mense and Vi e ben noto. Leo XIII is known as the Rosary Pope and wrote eleven Encyclicals on the Rosary. The following two weeks are up in the air currently but might be more of Pope Leo. If you are looking for something to do perhaps pick up a rosary at some point in this upcoming month and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide the voters in the United States to choose the candidate who will lead justly.

Mense Maio

This seems like good one to look at during May and it is a rather short one as well. This is Paul VI’s encyclical on prayers during May for the preservation of peace.

Mense Maio is fifteen “paragraphs” long it is broken up into 3 main sections the Introduction, Needs of the council and Peace in Jeopardy. This encyclical was given in April of 1965 while the Second Vatican Council was still in session. Paul VI starts off by noting that May is dedicated to Mary and it is the month in which a greater abundance of God’s merciful gifts comes down to us from our Mother’s throne. Pope Paul continues by pointing out that May is a powerful incentive to more frequent and fervent prayers, and because our petitions more readily find access to her compassionate heart during it, … for urging the Christian people to offer up public prayers whenever the needs of the Church demanded it or some grave crisis threatened the human race.” His Holiness notes that at this time there is an urgent need for prayer.

First and foremost Paul VI notes the council happening at the Vatican saying although a bunch of thing have been done there is still more to do to adapt the Church in a suitable way to the needs of our day. Then secondarily that Peace is in jeopardy around the globe. This next part seems like it could have been written this past year “Today we see tensions worsening gravely between nations in certain parts of the world, … Once again we see men risking recourse to arms instead of negotiating to settle disputes between opposing viewpoints. Thus the inhabitants of entire nations are subjected to unspeakable sufferings occasioned by uprisings, secret and treacherous warfare, and outright battles. These activities grow more frequent and more bitter each day, and could at any time spark a new and terrible war.” Paul VI then pleas to the leaders of the world and all the people of the world to turn to peace since it is the great gift from God. Pope Paul VI calls for prayers especially those of children and those suffering afflictions.

Let us all follow the advice of Pope Paul VI and pray for the World to become a more peaceful place where people can settle problems using words and not weapons. This can be done by praying the Rosary or some other Marian devotion or even just the Jesus prayer.  As the song goes let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me, I hope that we all can become people of peace.

Divino Afflante Spiritu

Divino Afflante Spiritu is Pope Pius Xii’s Encyclical on Biblical Studies and it commemorates the 50th anniversary of Providentissimus Deus, the last encyclical (1893) on the study of the Holy Scriptures by Pope Leo XIII.

The Encyclical by Pope Leo is where it all started and Pius XII here is recaps the whole of the history of Biblical studies from the Sacred writers being inspired by God to write to the time of Augustine where he encourage those who knew the ancient languages (Hebrew/Greek) to study the Bible sadly at the time it was mostly Greek that was understood and this continued into the Medieval age where Scholastic Theology met it’s heights most study was done in Latin as most scholar didn’t know Greek. They were relying on St. Jerome’s Vulgate which was made the official text of the Church at the Council of Trent (1563) but had been around in various translations since around 400.

In the encyclical Pius calls for a new translation using the original languages Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek and finding out what they writers meant as Pius writes “ought we to explain the original text which, having been written by the inspired author himself, has more authority and greater weight than any even the very best translation, whether ancient or modern; this can be done all the more easily and fruitfully, if to the knowledge of languages be joined a real skill in literary criticism of the same text.” This mention of literary criticism, comparing one text with another, is a game changer, Pius also mentions the historical-critical method which is another way to look at the Bible where we look at what the world looked like at the time and who wrote it. Pope Leo condemned back the historical-critical method in 1893 but Pius here says that with the advanced in archeology and historical research this is another way to look at the Bible. This is the way I came into studying the Bible using both method and I am thankful for that just as noted Bible Scholar the late Father Raymond Brown, S.S. says this encyclical the “Magna Carta for biblical progress.”

If you have some time pick up your Bible and read something or pull out two Bibles and compare translations, this was something that me and my cousin would do on Thanksgiving to waste some time between football and all that food.

Grata Recordatio

Grata Recordatio is an encyclical from John XIII subtitled On the Rosary: Prayer for the Church missions, international and social problems. It was Pope John’s third encyclical. John begins by reflecting on how Pope Leo XIII would write something about praying the Rosary in October for they were very wise and vibrant and directed the faithful to the practice of the Christian life. “In strong and persuasive terms they exhorted Catholic to pray to God in a spirit of faith through the intercession of Mary, His Virgin Mother, by reciting the holy rosary.”

The next seven sections John says that “he wants to declare in complete frankness and simplicity that the years have made Mary’s rosary all the dearer to Us.” John XXIII then reflects on how over the past year he became Pope with the death of Pius XII and with the anniversary of his death coming up we should pray for him and his lowly successor.  It is a great pleasure for John to echo the words of his predecessor repeating from Ingruentium Malorum ” Turn in spirit with ever greater confidence to the Virgin Mother of God, the constant refuge of Christians in adversity, since she has been made a source of salvation for the human race.”  So John XXIII wants us to pray the Rosary.

The encyclical then changes and the Pope talks about missions asking that those missionaries and those studying at the North American College to motivate those to contribute with a selfless and dynamic will to mutual respect, the fraternal union of mankind and solid peace. Here, John XXIII says that he has hope for the future because of these individuals.  The prays then move on to rulers with John XXIII wanting all rulers to know that War has only one result ruin. Then he moves on to false philosophers who have philosophies that do not sync up with Christian thought that they can turn back to the Lord.

John then concludes the Encyclical by pointing towards the coming of the Kingdom of God and hopes that the upcoming Roman synod of 1960 as well as the Vatican II council “will add wondrous growth to the universal Church; and that the renewed vigor of all the Christian virtues which We hope this Council will produce will also serve as an invitation and incentive to reunion for Our Brethren and children who are separated from this Apostolic See.”


Ingravescentiubus Malis

Ingravescentiubus Malis is the last encyclical of Pope Pius XI and it focuses on the Rosary. Pius XI begins by calling back to a couple of his previous encyclicals Mit Brennender Sorge (On the Church and the German Reich) and Divini Redemptoris (On Atheistic Communism) saying that “there is no remedy for the ever-growing evils of our times except a return to Our Lord Jesus Christ and to His most holy precepts. However, Pius continues that any real student of the Church should know that often time we have turned to the Virgin Mother when times get tough and the victory won through her brought a return to tranquility. Pius even mentions Our Lady of Victory who if you remember last week it was Pope Pius V who urge Europeans to pray the Rosary. As we pray in the Memorare, Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Pius XI notes the “Faithful of every age, both in public misfortune and in private need, turn to Mary, so that she may come to their aid and grant help and remedy against sorrows of body and soul. And never was her most powerful aid hoped for in vain by those who besought it with pious and trustful prayer.”

So to fight the problems in the world we should turn to Mary our Mother and ask for help and pray the Psalter of the Virgin or Breviary of the Gospel and of Christian life, or the Rosary which Pope Leo XIII wrote volumes on. Pius then does an overview on the Our Father and Hail Mary.  Pius continues by saying that “if men in our century, with its derisive pride, refuse the Holy Rosary, there is an innumerable multitude of holy men of every age and every condition who have always held it dear. They have recited it with great devotion, and in every moment they have used it as a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight, to preserve the integrity of life, to acquire virtue more easily, and in a word to attain real peace among men.” Pius urges fathers and mother to pray the Rosary with their families.  These words could have been written last month and would have the same relevance. We need to get down on our knees and pray to our Blessed Mother.

Laudato si (part 2)

Well, it’s been some time since I first started this latest Encyclical by Pope Francis but here is the long awaited second part of the my overview of the encyclical.

In chapter three the focus is on the Human root of the Ecological focus. Pope Francis talks about how the world has devolved thank in part to technology and the general blase nature of the human species. Humans thinking that all technology is good but Francis warns us as Uncle Ben told Peter Parker “With great power come great responsibility.” Many of us see nature as a gift that lacks any value other than what we can get from the Earth in terms of nature resources. Pope Francis warns us about Anthroposestrism as well saying that the human impact on nature also has moved to people as well. People are seen as a commodity that society can shrug off the deaths due to abortion and the neglect done to the poor, the aged, the young and those with disabilities. Francis isn’t advocating a return to the stone age but a step back to look at the problems that society needs to face which could in turn lead to a better healthier environment.

This leads us to chapter four where Francis  focus on integral ecology. Emphasizes what he said in the last chapter by saying that “all things are connected” and pointing out that when we talk about the environment we speak about our relationship with nature. Francis goes on and on about the ecology of daily life saying that we should be living for the common good not for our own individual goods

In the fifth chapter we focus on the lines of approach and action, these are some suggestions that Pope Francis makes about what should be done. There are five general suggestions for dialogue on the environment in the international community and at the national and local levels,  transparency in decision making, Politics and the economy should be focused on human fulfillment, and dialogue between religions and science. The dialogue on the international level is something that needs to be done on and it seems at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference there will be something happening perhaps some work to replace the Kyoto Protocol. His Holiness notes that every nation must recognize the sovereignty of other nations and work in cooperation for the common good of all people. These discussion on the international level should be used to direct discussion on the national and local levels. All these decisions need to be open to all people, the world needs to be more transparent place as it seems there are to many secrets going on especially in government around the world. We need the governments around the world to realize that human are not simply cogs that make the engine of the world work. Lastly Francis suggests that scientists and the religions of the world talk once in a while as well as scientists of different disciplines, the more open discussion about things like the environment should also lead the general population to start caring about the environment.

The sixth chapter is about Ecological education and spirituality. It turns the discussion to the individual and says that individuals can make a difference in small ways.. The Encyclical then end with a prayer for our earth asking the Lord to pour down upon us his love and peace so that we can protect life and live in harmony with out brothers and sisters across the globe.

I hope that when Pope Francis addresses the United States congress he gives them some sort of lecture on the environment, and that something can happen on the international level since the Kyoto Protocol is a nice step but it would be nice to see a larger scale effort that included the United States as a member of the agreement.

Walden and Laudato Si

I’m still struggling through Laudato Si it just seem to constantly remind me of Walden, a book I struggled to read in college. Both are very dense works and you need to be in that mindset to read either one.  It’s that the basic ideas are pretty simple and it’s like common sense to do some of the things, but they both talk about them in huge terms. With Walden, the thing that really gets me is that to escape into nature Thoreau goes to a lake like a mile from people, although it is on Emerson’s property and that’s escaping to nature. Pope Francis on the other hand doesn’t really say that we should retreat back to nature but he is really echoing one of the first commandments in the Bible to be stewards of the earth.

One idea that I really like from both is that as Thoreau puts it “One generation abandons the enterprises of another like stranded vessels”  Pope Francis talks about this as our throw away culture. Nothing is of any permanence in the world today, it’s here today and gone tomorrow. We do this with people, places and things (all types of nouns), this is especially true in America just look at buildings we tear down building and build them up just as fast replacing green spaces with concrete and asphalt. Then the things we do to people are even worse at University it was pretty simple interacting with friends as we all live within a three mile radius but growing up we’ve all moved to places across the globe, sure Facebook and other forms of technology can help but how often are we chatting up with friends from decades past over Facebook. At the office it’s about the same we see who can help us get to where we want and don’t care about consequences. In the community this is about the same how often do we care what other people are doing especially the elderly, the young, the homeless and the poor it’s like they don’t really exist in society.