The Jeweller’s Shop (1988)

The Jeweller’s Shop is a film based on the play written by Karol Wotyja before he became Pope John Paul II. This is sort of a rough draft or companion piece to Love and Responsibility which eventually  led to Theology of the Body. At least that’s what it seems like I haven’t read either of them. If you have the time I am sure that there are several productions and the film can be found on YouTube

The Jeweler’s Shop was written in 1960 and it is a Meditation on the Sacrament of Matrimony, Passing on Occasion into a Drama. The story follows pairs of couples, each couple in their own story: the first happily planning their wedding, the second long-married and unhappy, the third about to marry but full of doubts. We begin on a hiking trip where Andrew and Teresa along with Stefan and Anna are out with their friend Father Adam. Andrew and Teresa have been friend a long time and for Stefan and Anna it’s love at first sight. Andrew and Teresa stop by a Jeweler’s Shop where Andrew proposes they buy rings, at the shop they meet the Jeweler who is the best character in the film, as he pops us in all three couples stories.  The second part take us a couple of year later and meet up with Stefan and Anna who have moved to Canada to escape World War II they have kids but their life is filled with emptiness and disillusion. They both it seems to have given up on their relationship Anna visits a jeweler to sell her ring, but they say that it’s worthless since her husband is still alive. Anna runs into Father Adam one day in Canada and he reminds Anna about the Parable of the Ten Virgins (five came prepared with extra oil and five didn’t and had their light go out while waiting for the Bridegroom). Anna is reminded that they can still love one another. The last story is sort of intertwined with Anna and Stefan, and the focus is on the Son and Daughter of the couples  Christopher is the son of Andrew and Teresa and Monica is the daughter of Stefan and Anna as they contemplate marriage. Both of these children have ideas of what love is based on their parents, Christopher fears losing love as his father died when he was young and Monica is afraid that her marriage will end up like her parents. They too go to a jeweler’s shop and buy wedding rings.

It’s a decent film and offers some general ideas that we should all reflect upon like what is the worth of mankind. If you want a nice film to watch with the family or with a spouse to reflect on your marriage or a fiance as you prepare for your wedding day. While the film isn’t the best or worst film that I’ve ever seen it the story is the key and it is pretty decent. I wouldn’t recommend everyone picking  us this movie but theme seem to be universal but it does have a bit of Catholicism in there as well since the writer was the Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow.

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

This week the readings come from the second Book of Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14; Psalm 17; Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians 2:16-3:5; and Luke’s Gospel 20:27-38.

The readings this week all talk about death. We begin in Maccabees with a reflection on Martyrdom all seven brothers face death not with fear but with hope as we all are promised resurrection through Christ Jesus on the last day. This idea continues in the second reading where Paul speaks of this hope with the Lord being our strength and consolation during our lifetime. The Gospel takes the idea of hope and flips it the Sadducees ask Jesus about seven brothers who all married to the same woman after the previous one died and who would be the husband in heaven. Yet Jesus tells them it doesn’t matter “children of this age marry and remarry” but in heaven it won’t matter for as long as the individual believes in God they will not die for we are forever alive in the Lord. This mean that marriage is a contract between people and not between God and the people if you remember it is the husband and wife who are the individuals who preform this sacrament as opposed to all the others. Let us remember this hope that exist in our life knowing that we are all called to another age, like how the ring bearers in Lord of the Rings went to the Undying lands.

We could also take the classic John 3:16 to pull this idea out “For God so love the World that he gave his only Son for whom so ever believes in him will have eternal life” or something to that effect. The Hope that we have in our lives is Eternal life and sure we hope that we will meet the people we knew in this life who have pass before us especially our family and friends but we often forget that they are still alive in our lives through our memories and other individuals. It is a simple idea and I hope that we can reflect upon this during this upcoming week.

Amoris Laetitia: Part 2

In the first part I sort of went over the first five chapters.  Now it’s on to chapters six through nine of Amoris Laetitia.

Chapter six offers some Pastoral Perspective, as we can tell Pope Francis goes through some perspective on the family from that of bishops using the final reports from the synod. It emphasizes that families need to be evangelized and go out and evangelize as well. Sure the training of religious is lacking in understanding the complexities of families face today but training could be better and there is a wealth of knowledge in the oriental tradition (Coptic, Marionite, Ruthenian, Melkite) where there are married clergy. Pope Francis turn to divorce and calls it a evil and hopes that by focusing on the family the Church can prevent the spread of the evil of our times.

The focus of chapter seven is about the education of children. It starts off by saying that parents shouldn’t be that concerned where their children are and how they are doing at all times but rather who they are with. As Pope Francis puts it “obsession is not education.” It goes on talking about how parents are the first teachers of their children. Surprisingly, there is a section focusing on sexual education it needs to be more encompassing then just the biological with an emphasis on ‘safe sex’ it need to be a education for love or mutual self-giving.

Chapter eight is the most talked about section of this exhortation. It begins echoing what Pope Francis said “Let us not forget that the Church’s task is often like that of a field hospital.” This section covers some controversial subjects and the word guiding, discerning and integrating are key. It is best summarized by a paragraph  where the faithful in complicated situation should talk with pastors or other lay people “They may not always encounter in them a confirmation of their own ideas or desires, but they will surely receive some light to help them better understand their situation and discover a path to personal growth. I also encourage the Church’s pastors to listen to them with sensitivity and serenity, with a sincere desire to understand their plight and their point of view, in order to help them live better lives and to recognize their proper place in the Church.” (312)

Chapter Nine turns back to marriage and the family. Here we talk about gifts of love small but real gestures that not only lead us closer to each other but also closer to our Father in heaven for as Pope Benedict XVI said blinding ourselves of the world and those around us blinds us to God as well. The final paragraph is necessary reading material for all families “no family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love.” This is our never-ending vocation.  Pope Francis then concludes with a prayer to the Holy Family.

Amoris Laetitia: Part One

The latest Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia from Pope Francis is the culmination of the synods on the family held in October 2014 and 2015. Where the bishops discussed the family and marriage in depth and what consists of a family today, but we will get to that later. It consists of nine chapters with an introduction as well as a prayer for the Family at the end. I’ve gotten through Chapter Five so here are my thoughts so far.

First and foremost in the introduction we hear that there isn’t a simple fix for all the problems in around the world and that some issues are better suited for local churches to do anything so that it helps with the various cultures around the world.  The other big part of the introduction is Pope Francis saying to take your time to prayerfully read through this document.

In the first chapter Pope Francis goes into a deep meditation Psalm 128:1-6, often used in Jewish and Christian weddings, and pulls from it a starting place that Family is a real thing there is no “perfect family”. Family is at the core of the Bible and can be seen though the trinity as Saint John Paul II said “Our God in his deepest mystery is not solitude, but a family, for he has within himself fatherhood, sonship and the essence of the family, which is love. That love, in the divine family, is the Holy Spirit”. The Word of God is a road map for our journey.

In chapter two the focus turns to the current situation of the family. There are many problems that families face today from all sides. Pope Francis gets together a laundry list ranging from migration to the ideological denial of differences between the sexes (“ideology of gender”); from the culture of the provisional to the anti-birth mentality and the impact of biotechnology in the field of procreation; from the lack of housing and work to pornography and abuse of minors; from inattention to persons with disabilities, to lack of respect for the elderly; from the legal dismantling of the family, to violence against women.

In chapter three we basically cover the Church’s position on Family and Marriage. We look to Christ as the role model for the Vocation of Family. The part does a lot of referencing to older documents like Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes, Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae, and St. John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio. Francis call us to remember Familiaris Consortio where Pope John Paul defined family as the way of the Church. The focus then turns to marriage are reminds us that the sacrament of marriage is not a social convention, an empty ritual or merely the outward sign of a commitment as Familiaris Consortio says it is mutual self-giving. Another big thing is the discussion that the main mission of the Church is to form consciences not be the conscience for people.

As we reach chapter four we look at love. Pope Francis once again goes into the Bible and take one of the classic wedding readings, Paul’s First letter to the Corinthians 13, and offers a deep meditation on it. This is something that will become something all couples getting married should read before they get married. It’s roughly a quarter of the document and for a good reason,

In the fifth chapter it looks at the family not just the nuclear family but the wider ranging social community that marriages exist within. Pope Francis also doesn’t only talk about traditional families but also adopted ones as well. A key aspect is in relating between the old and young as well as brothers and sister because these are building blocks for growing up and relating with others as we grow older.

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

The readings this week asks big questions about faith. We begin in Joshua we hear from the end of the book that Joshua gathered together all the tribes together and addressed the people “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve…” Joshua tells the people as for his house they will serve the Lord, and the people said that since the Lord had done great things for them bringing them out of Egypt they will also serve the Lord. This is a renewal of the covenant of Moses, since Moses had died these are a whole new generation of individuals from those who were at Sinai. So here we have Joshua just asking everyone where they stand. If we were asked the same question would The Lord be our reply or would it be money or technology or some other thing that isn’t the Lord. Once again we have Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord as our Psalm.

As we reach the epistle we continue to hear from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, picking up from where we left last week. This reading often gets labeled as sexist as it has the line “wives should be subordinate to their husbands” but the line that precedes is “Be subordinate to each other out of reverence to Christ” then later on Paul says husbands love your wives like Christ loves the Church. So that sort of negates the sexism I think. Then Paul makes a great connection to Genesis where a man is joined to his wife and they become one flesh. So we could go switch husband and wife in the previous statements since husband and wife are one. Therefore husbands should be subordinate to their wives and wives must love their husbands like Christ loves the Church. Just the first line of this reading even in the shorter form of the reading “Live in love as Christ loved us” is a perfect summary of the reading.

Finally turning to the Gospel of John we have reached the final part of the Discourse on the Bread of Life. So many of the disciples were murmuring amongst themselves about what Jesus had said asking who can accept this, eating the flesh of the Son of Man? So Jesus reminded them “For I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” This was too much for some of the disciples and they left returning to their former lives. Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked “Do any of you want to leave?” Simon Peter answering for everyone said “Who would we go to? We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One”. How would we answer this same question if Jesus turned to us and asked “Do any of you want to leave?” Do we do more than the hour on Sunday each week or do we check in for the week and once we leave forget about what happened or heard at Mass. We are all called to “Live in love as Christ loves us” I hope that we all can try to live this call this week.

Lesser known…

We start this week off with the final feast of Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin since they will be canonized later this year and become saints.  They are the parent of Therese of the Little Flower, and I’ve talked about them a bunch in the past. On this upcoming 18th of October, Louis and Zelie Martin will be canonized together, I think this is the first for a married couple. Louis and Zelie are a reminder to all married people and those preparing for marriage that it is a way of faith and should change you in some way. It you haven’t heard of these individuals check out this website.

It’s also Bastille Day this week so Francophiles around the globe will be celebrating all things French. 14 July marks the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the French Revolution. So raise a glass of wine and have some brie on a baguette with some grapes today.

 

Lesser Known…

National Fried Chicken Day takes place on July 6 in the United States, I have never heard of this until today. On the following day the seventh it is World Chocolate Day.  I guess that one can go through a whole year just eating what the calendar say what day it is. As just looking at Wikipedia they have lists of food days, food weeks and food months. So this seems possible to do, although most of these are only celebrated in the United States, so if you have some time celebrate by having some of the foods as prescribes by the various lists.

On July 10 it is Silence Day which is observed by followers of Meher Baba. Meher Baba was an Indian Spiritual master who from 10 July 1925 until his death in 1969 was completely silent.  He wrote about his silence “Man’s inability to live God’s words makes the Avatar’s teaching a mockery. Instead of practicing the compassion he taught, man has waged wars in his name. Instead of living the humility, purity, and truth of his words, man has given way to hatred, greed, and violence. Because man has been deaf to the principles and precepts laid down by God in the past, in this present Avataric form, I observe silence.” This sounds like a good reason to stay quiet, there is also too much noise in the World today. If we could all take a day and be quiet, shutting off our devices the world might be a better place.

This final one is interesting as it’s the Orthodox version of Valentine’s Day. Peter and Fevronia Day is July 8th. Peter and Fevronia are the Orthodox patrons for marriage and this became a thing in Russia in 2008. However they also celebrate Valentine’s Day so it is pretty confusing.

Assumption of Mary

We have finally arrived back with Mary. The Holy Spirit came down and inspired the disciples to go out into the world and spread the gospel message. According to tradition Mary lived with John and they both moved to Ephesus where Mary lived the rest of her life however long that was some say it was a full decade after the Easter events. Perhaps this is why she doesn’t figure into the epistles. Then Mary fell asleep or died and was brought up into heaven. These final two mysteries are not found in scripture anywhere so they are a bit more difficult to reflect upon, typically people like to go to the story in Revelation 12 which references it as does Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and Genesis, but neither of them actually says that Mary died or that she fell asleep and was brought into heaven. This is our final victory over death since Jesus rose we to have the chance to be brought up into heaven after we die as well.

Mary is one of the first examples of this that we have. Sure we have the early martyrs but Mary is the biggest individual in the life of the Early Church. We should always look towards Mary and see her as an example to follow in our own lives, people should look for Mary-like spouses. At my church each week we pray for an increase to vocations to the priesthood and religious life and ignore the other two vocational roles provided in the church married and single, the church should really be trying to embrace the roles that the married and non-religious single people can bring to the church. Mary should be a role model for all men and women regardless of vocation, that we too can one day share in the joys of heaven.

 

The Synods on the Family: October 2014/15

Yes  you’ve read the title correctly the Synod although technically over is only on a long break so whatever comes out now will be open for discussion throughout this year and when the bishops gather back in Rome next October then there will be some real things to look at.  The Vatican has released the “Relatio Synodi” for this session that has just concluded, it is in Italian and people around the  internet have run it through Google translate to get some meaning out of the text. This text was voted on paragraph by paragraph by the Bishops and only three paragraphs didn’t pass the 2/3 majority as you can see in the voting provided at the end of the document, however they are still included in the above link

One of the biggest things to remember is that this is a working document and everyone in the media is making such a big deal about it. This is similar to what was done in Vatican II where the bishops met and planed what they’d talk about the next year.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a nice page explaining the synods and how they connect. The Vatican also has a great page set up, and it features a lot of languages and reports says that the Vatican will be releasing the Relatio in English sometime early in the week.  I hope that the Holy Spirit can help guide the Bishops in the upcoming year so that we get something out of the next Synod like an Apostolic Exhortation some time in 2016.

Marriage

I am sure by now you’ve heard that a Federal Judge has overturned the amendment to the Virginia Constitution that limited marriage to unions of one man and one woman. This will likely be appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court in Richmond and if the appeal process rules the same it will seem by many to be a turning point for the South. This case (Bostic v. Rainey) and other like it around the nation are likely to end up before the Supreme Court eventually.

I was inspired by this ruling and Valentine’s Day to reflect on one of the writings of Katherine Anne Porter “Marriage Is Belonging.” It is a reflection on marriage from 1951 and Porter knew a thing or two about marriage being married four times. She begins with the simple notion that marriage is the art of belonging and should not be confused with possessing. Marriage is not taking someone it is an act where two people come together into an equal partnership. Porter goes on and clarifies that marriage to her is linked to the word love and the terms could be used interchangeably. The word are tied together and cannot be separated. Porter put it “Love is a state in which one lives who loves, and whoever loves has given himself away; love then, and not marriage is belonging.”

Porter continues saying that love is a truly mystical thing that is rooted in the world. Through love we can glimpse the spiritual realm, as Victor Hugo wrote “To love another person is to see the face of God.” This is only a glimpse and is often though of a the whole and people refuse to go any deeper. Porter brings up problems that marriage faces namely (she knows a lot about this subject as well being divorced 4 times) and says that of the problems facing marriage infidelity, lying, eavesdropping, gambling, drinking, procrastination and incivility. It is the later two that destroy the most marriages.

For this she turns to a happier subject children. Porter refers to children as human nature in essence without conscience, pity, love, and a trace of consideration for others. These individuals need love for without it everything is lost or damaged in them. Then the cycle hopefully repeats with the children marrying and having children. Porter sums up a good marriage as “one between a man and a woman who are good loves, good friends, and good parents.”

Katherine Anne Porter wasn’t that found of homosexuality although some of her friends were homosexual. I really haven’t read much about this aspect of her life. However in the essay she wrote it’s all about love and if a homosexual couple are good loves and good friends why are they not allowed to same opportunity as a heterosexual couple.

Should it be called a marriage and all those other questions will be left unanswered.