From the doctrinal disorientation of the Church to the sin of priests and the recycling of lay people. Prospect of an intransigent culture which while condemning sanctifies and condemns by sanctifying

FROM DOCTRINAL DISORIENTATION OF THE CHURCH TO THE SIN OF PRIESTS AND THE RECYCLING OF THE LAITY. PROSPECT OF AN UNTRANSIGENT CULTURE WHILE SENTENCING SANCTIFIES AND SANCTIFYING SENTENCES

The “tolerant” modern, instead, he does not sacrifice himself for his ideas as the idealist would, on the contrary, one does not scruple to sacrifice those who have ideas contrary to his, just as a dictator would do towards his opponents. How many martyrs of tolerance and rights exist today? But perhaps the most numerous martyrs are those who are held up as unwitting sowers of hatred precisely because they diverge, carriers of a hatred that cannot be seen because it is present only in the gaze of the tolerant on duty who has an interest in using hatred as an ideological tool to control the masses.

- The Theological Pages -

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Author
Ivano Liguori, Ofm. Capp.

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I. A QUESTION OF PRINCIPLE

I guess I don't reveal secrets untrustworthy if I say that keeping Christian Christians, nowadays, it is not a simple undertaking at all. It is not so much a question of preserving only an apparent traditional identity - at least as far as the European continent is concerned - but of showing that God still has a certain right of citizenship in the life of men and that Christ is recognized as the founding and definitive event of revelation divina.

the collapse of the vault of the basilica of San Francesco in Assisi in 1997 [click on image to open the video]

According to a survey the Pew Research Center [cf. WHO] conducted in 2017 on a sample of 1.804 respondents, 80% of Italians declare themselves Christian, the worrying fact concerns the frequency, in fact the 23% participates in religious services at least once a week, the 20% once a month and on 34% has a much less assiduous practice. According to other data relating to an Ipsos research of 2017, always in Italy, his 60.000 respondents, Catholics are decreasing. It goes from 85.4% of 2007 al 74,4% the 2017. A more recent study from the 2018 dell 'European Values Study 84.4% of Italians generally say they believe in God without further useful specifications.

Data in hand we are undergoing a drastic decrease in the Christian faith but what a survey can never say concerns the theological motivation which represents the real reason for this decrease. The theological motivation that becomes a scandalous stone on which the pitiless statistics are broken lies in the fact that one is no longer in possession of the specificity of Christianity, so that we are often lost, at the mercy of a form of Alzheimer's that makes us unable to recognize the faith and to recognize ourselves as believers ready to give reason, as St. Peter expresses in his first epistle [cf.. 1PT 3,15-16].

I give an example to be clearer. No Jew, of yesterday as of today, one would never dream of disavowing the covenant between God and Abraham and above all the founding event that unified the chosen people during the liberation Easter in Egypt. No Jew, sane, would doubt that God is the Goel liberator and redeemer of the people and who in Moses made possible salvation against the dominion of the pharaoh of Egypt. Although this faith has been severely tested in the face of the terrible events of Auschwitz, the faith of our brothers in Abraham has remained substantially unchanged for centuries and becomes a reason for ethnic and religious identity to be celebrated with pride in every family.

For us Christians, instead, having a certain faith is not a matter of pride but of embarrassment, we are often the first to consider ourselves uncompromising and fanatic when we try to rise above mediocrity. Then, to be more digestible in the eyes of the beholder, rather we prefer to turn pink and show off a universal love that we can beautifully justify through Matthew's eschatological discourse 24,31-46 che — per inciso — secondo una corretta esegesi, non dovrebbe mai essere avulso dai successivi brani — narrati dal Santo Evangelista Matteo, first the parable of the Ten Virgins [cf.. Mt 25,1-13] and then that of Talents [cf.. Mt 25,14-29] — con il rischio di far dire al testo sacro quello che proprio non intende dire.

As evidence of this, I bring an example in support of my words. How many times have we heard of preaching about love from the pulpits? How many times has love been used as a slogan and master key to justify everything even the unjustifiable and the unreasonable? How many times in the name of love have been made completely wicked choices, expression of the most emotional sentimentality and the most seductive passion? The Christian term of charity refers to God, according to the teaching of the apostle John: "Dear, let's love each other, because love is from God: anyone who loves was born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love has not known God, because God is love " [cf.. 1GV 4,7-8]. Sad is the awareness in verifying that this "love" so strongly publicized today is deprived of the presence of God Trinity and used as an alibi through which sin is normalized until it runs out in an exclusively philanthropic and utilitarian attitude. This attitude of impoverishing charity in fact, it is not a modern vice from the person of God, strong of that wisdom saying Nothing new under the sun [nothing new under the sun] la storia del Cristianesimo ha già conosciuto questa degenerazione del concetto di amore fin dai suoi primi secoli.

In 361 D.C.. the emperor Julian the Apostate, si oppone strenuamente al Cristianesimo operando una politica di paganizzazione del popolo e di ritorno al pensiero neoplatonico. Christianity will retain only the charitable activity and the attention to the neighbor that tries to graft within the pagan anti-Church he designed. History tells us that the attempt was unworkable, decadent paganism, as well as modern atheism assumed by elite religiosity, he could not compete with the authentic love of God which in Christ consists of the characteristic of heroism until the sacrifice of life and in the Holy Spirit of the characteristic of missionaryness which is the primary cause of every virtuous action. The love, to be authentically Christian, it doesn't just have to do good, but it must lead to total self-giving, even with those people and in those unloving situations, by virtue of the fact that if the justice of the disciple does not exceed that of the world, there is no more that is an indication of perfection and a guarantee of the presence of the Spirit of the Father, as the Holy Evangelist Matthew indicates [cf.. Mt 5,20]. Christian love is that theological virtue which recognizes itself in God and leads to him, announces salvation to the soul, it converts from sin and opens the doors of paradise.

After this necessary digression on the relationship between God and love, let us return to the search for the questions of meaning that challenge our faith. Who is Jesus? What did he come to do in the world? These are the basic questions yet, in most cases, questions remain unanswered for many young people attending the catechism and for many young Christians. The situation does not change much if we were to submit this question to adults, to the parents of these kids, or to their grandparents who, tragic to say, they are moving towards a return to religious illiteracy which leads to a real practical atheism.

By now to know who Jesus Christ is we resign ourselves to questioning the various trendy secularists who are on social and on television with a subdued air they dictate the new Christology on page with the aggravating circumstance that the Church, the official one, the one assigned to the control of right doctrine, which should confirm the brothers in faith, is silent. And even when he speaks, trying to put together a botched and pale denial, he does so with little conviction so as to make one suspect that certain heretical affirmations have gained a certain sympathy even within the sacred palaces.

We can say, at this point, that dogma has gone into crisis? Absolutely not. Who has gone into crisis is a certain It'sestablishment ecclesiastical fatto di pastori e teologi che hanno perso — loro sì — la bussola della fede e che fanno sempre più ricorso alla categoria di “mistero” cercando di nascondersi dietro a un paravento, since they can no longer give reason for the faith and hope that is in them, everything is contained in the first and second epistles of St. Peter and in the Gospel of St. John [cf.. 1PT 3,15; 2PT 1,16-19; 1 Gv1, 1-4]. In this way, he lost the two theological virtues of faith and hope, what remains, the love, takes on the connotations of modernity and the search for consent at any cost. Have you ever noticed that the modernization of the person of Christ, of the church, of the Magisterium, of morality, of the formation of the clergy and its identity has always been carried out by the champions of love and in the name of love? We have arrived at the paradoxical, in which the doctrinal corruption of the Church is under the banner of love! That Love that, it is necessary to reiterate, he became flesh and gave his life for the sinful man, in short, insult to injury. At the height of this doctrinal confusion there is also the sacrilegious act of wanting to confuse or associate God with sin. But if we intend to remain faithful to Christ and the Catholic Church, as did St. Thomas Becket with his martyrdom, we have to resist and the Christian resistance is not realized in the singing of "Bella Ciao", but of 'let Pasquale ' which reminds us that Christ is God, Lord and Sovereign, conqueror of sin.

Are, ultimately, to be Christian it means entering into the intimate life of Jesus Christ, and let him reign as the undisputed ruler of my existence - truth reiterated every year on the solemnity of Christ the King at the end of the liturgical year - perhaps it is good to recognize that something has gone wrong or we are faced with a great misunderstanding. Faith is above all an adherence of man to God and at the same time and in an inseparable way, it is the free assent to all the truth that God has revealed and which finds fullness in Jesus Christ, definitive and complete revelation of the saving mystery of God [cf.. Lord Jesus].

Therefore, we candidly recognize that it is us priests, così come i cosiddetti cristiani impegnati — quelli che per intenderci militano in movimenti ecclesiali, they recognize themselves as activists within the country's social and political life, who help in the parish, che praticano una certa carità — nella migliore delle ipotesi stiamo perseguendo un secondary Christianity, border or periphery which in the eyes of the most mischievous is revealed as a facade Christianity.

With this term we identify a certain extremely varied and complex Christian culture that neglects the ultimate and supernatural end of the faith which consists of the salvation of the soul, ignores the spiritual struggle against sin and openness to divine grace together with the need to remain within a divine Catholic faith observed within a community of faith that recognizes itself within the Church of Rome.

Tale secondary Christianity dissipa largamente la figura del sacerdote reinventandolo come manager, a diligent museum curator and regularly paid social worker with variable working hours. The same dissipation is found among the laity, in those who no longer identify themselves in the category of the faithful (then faithful to who and what? mAh!) and for this reason they choose to hybridize into Christianity models that transform all of them into mythological figures that are difficult to reconcile within a journey of faith and a life that in baptism was handed over to God.

There is no doubt that there is an urgent need to reiterate a question of principle: the essence of Christianity lies within that little word that Jesus pronounces several times in the Gospel of John [cf.. GV 8,24; 8,28; 8,58; 13,19; 18,5] to designate himself: is that’I am — in greco ἐγὼ εἰμί, I took it, which is a guarantee of divine identity [cf.. Is 3,14-15] and of salvation for every creature.

It is the totalizing choice of that divine self that puts in crisis and that, as can be seen from the reading of Jacob Neusner in his book "A rabbi speaks with Jesus", constitutes the great difference between Eternal Israel and New Israel made up of the people of the baptized redeemed by the Passion of Christ and his Resurrection.

Mine I identity he must be able to recognize the mystery of God, quell’I am who has the first place [cf.. LC 14,25-33] and that throws me to the ground [cf.. At 22,8] and it terrifies whenever I presume to own it and manage it as I please [cf.. GV 18,6], the whole, it is found enclosed in the Gospels of San Luca and San Giovanni.

Who is Jesus? Jesus is God, as various passages of the holy scriptures indicate to us, in particular the Holy Evangelist Luke, to follow with the Gospel of St. John and the Pauline correspondence [cf.. LC 22,70; GV 1,1.14; GV 5,18; GV 8, 58; Fil 2,6; With the 2, 9; With the 1,15; EB 1,3], is the Lord [cf.. RM 10,9; GV 20, 28; LC 23,39-43; Fil 2,11], he is the authentic revealer of the Father [cf.. GV 10, 30; GV 5,22-23; GV 14,8-11], and for these reasons no one can ignore these revealed truths without consuming a betrayal, make a denial, without feeling scandalized or starting a holy war; all always with reference to the Gospel of St. John. This Man-God came to save the world from sins [cf.. Mt 1,21], so that man has a beautiful life and not one good life [cf.. GV 10,10] and in living seriously be definitively deprived of the cancer of sin [cf.. EB 2,14-15] and made righteous in His blood [cf.. RM 5,9; 8,33]. There are no alternatives, the divine jealousy of the Old Testament [cf.. Dt 5,6-10] is combined with the totalizing choice of Christ and his person is the only possible communion choice that produces fruits of new life [cf.. Mt 12,30; LC 5,38].

Jesus Christ is so bulky that it is not possible to silence him, for two thousand years his name has resonated on earth and his faithfulness has proved to be as stable as heaven [cf.. Shall 89,3]. Everything still speaks of him: from the calendar to the holidays, from civil traditions to ethics, from art to music; the story, geography, the way of computing time and even the vast cosmos and nature testify that He is God and that he is Lord. Even before those who intend to perniciously deny it, refuse it, Until it disappears completely, involuntary merit must be admitted - just as it was for demons [cf.. MC 5,6; LC 4,34; At 19,15] - of an acknowledgment kerygmatic, in which his majesty and power are not in the least questioned.

And while Christ proclaims and affirms himself, his majesty is reiterated, his key role that he plays in human history, although the latter most often hides from his presence as Adam did [cf.. GN 3,9-10] or desire like Nietzsche to carry out a parricide that breaks the anguished dependence on the divine partner, promising greater freedoms.

.(II). FAITH CRISIS, DOCTRINAL CRISIS, MORAL CRISIS

.The question of principle that I wanted to address in the first paragraph of this article helps us to better understand the condition of chronic crisis that for fifty years now has affected how solid the Church is. It is a crisis on several fronts that affects the aspects of believing in the current historical contingency. From doctrine to pastoral care, from morality to spirituality, from daily witness to the way of interpreting martyrdom, everything rests on a shaky faith, where Christ is no longer God and his role is no longer that of Savior. Attention well, to affirm the existence of an unsteady faith is not the same as saying that there is no longer any faith in general or that those who believe do it in a malicious or interested way. Statistics show us that still about 80% of people declare themselves Christian, but the fact of declaring oneself is not yet sufficient reason that leads to believing. The blessed apostles Peter, Andrew and John have seen themselves reproached several times by Our Lord for their faith in him not yet sufficiently mature and open to grace. And all the others, although identified as the disciples of the Nazarene, they did not hesitate to abandon him at the moment of the Passion, disavowing with works what they openly proclaimed. In other words we can say that the registration of the name in the parish baptismal register does not make us believers and credible Christians. These considerations lead us to understand how a faith of this nature and a belief of this kind add nothing and do not detract from the existence of man. With the words of the Gospel of John we can say that faith essentially leads to a dwell there where Jesus is present [cf.. GV 1,38; 15,4-ss]. In dwelling in Him there is more that leads to a Christification of life than, although work of grace, however, it needs human assistance and the exercise of free will.

Come non riconoscere in Karl Rahner e nella trovata dei “cristiani anonimi” la magistrale furbizia di una moderna religiosità apparente che, in the face of an open proposal of faith, it has led many to believe that it is much better to keep as far as possible from all that is Christian (and maybe even Catholic) preferring to spend time more fruitfully instead of resorting to a God who no longer knows himself by name and who has preserved himself only as a formal presence. Queste persone più che “cristiani anonimi” — anonimi poi per chi visto che Dio chiama sempre tutti per nome [cf.. Is 43,1; 45,4] — dovrebbero essere detti “atei dogmatici”, since not feeling the need to believe in the God of Jesus Christ, they already live within an atheist faith that feeds and feeds on its own dogmatists. Pay attention to it, nobody is more dogmatic and uncompromising than a convinced atheist, who strenuously affirms what for him shouldn't exist, and fight what he no longer believes in. Just as no one is more attached to the Christian traditions of the one who has abandoned religious practice for years and lives on distant memories and nostalgia. dogmatism, rigidity, nostalgia and sclerotic styles of faith are the waste foods of which the secondary Christianity voraciously feeds, but since they are indigestible, they are regurgitated as soon as any evangelical novelty approaches.

We must reiterate that the Christian faith short it is a pious illusion, if it does not consist of a well-established theology of salvation. Christ is not only the God to believe in but he is the Savior and Redeemer of man, the one for whom salvation enters the world and man frees himself from the slavery of sin [cf.. Mt 1,21; MC 2,7]. Faith without salvation is mutilated and in order to survive it is directed and identified towards other disciplines of human knowledge, like philosophy, psychology, the sociology, anthropology, Medicine, towards a new humanism with an atheistic imprint that manifests its own hybris presuming to save the individual's physicality - fight against poverty, to hunger, to diseases, to wars - and to preserve creation - parallelism, environmentalism, pseudo communist Franciscanism - reconstituting a primordial virginity now lost, all at the expense of an immortal divine soul that was created by God and who will return to God after death. Indeed if we want to say it all, this fake hybris who fought original sin in the past and still fights it today, it takes away from man the sense of sin by introducing external control places in which to search for the good scapegoat to justify any adversity and opposition. Unfortunately, man is created for God and without him his heart cannot find peace [cf. Augustine, The Confessions, 1,1.5], with no sense of sin and no need for redemption, what is left is the guilt that crushes and depresses the poor modern humanity. Many deresponsabilizzati, sono incapaci di operare un vero e sincero esame di coscienza — anche in vista di una confessione sacramentale — che induca al riconoscimento della colpa e alla ricerca di redenzione dall’unico che è in grado di darla.

Some prefer to download to the Devil the fault of all personal reversals, naively dismissing the question on the shoulders of the spirit of evil - which is here assumed as a place of external control - without remembering that the tempter [cf.. GN 3, ss] to consume the fall of man he needed his consent. In short, attenuating on attenuating, easy and unlikely for a humanity beyond the limit of disarray.

To divert attention from this sad truth which leads to a pessimism that defining Leopardi would sound like an understatement, oppositions are invented, mass distractions fighting each other. And as in the time of the ancient Romans, people competed in the Colosseum to keep the hungry people good, so today you compete between opposing factions to digress your minds: traditionalists versus progressives, the papists against the sedevacantists, the Lefebvrians against the modernists, the Guelphs against Ghibellines, right-wing Christians against left-wing Christians, secular priests against regular priests, in short, the list could still lengthen and continue indefinitely with the inclusion of ecclesial movements that compete to win the palm of the best if the question was not in itself sufficiently tragic.

In front of this panorama the hierarchical Church, that of shepherds with the smell of sheep, the priestly poor, lobbies speculating on migrants, integration and welcome what it does? The exercise of leadership more validated today by the clergy, it no longer rests on the authoritativeness of reasonable faith, which brings motivations based on the need to believe and why it is necessary to believe. La leadership di molti tra noi sacerdoti — basta ascoltare qualche omelia o catechesi per rendersene conto — è infarcita da buonismo democratico e da uno stile che definirei “parlamentare” in cui le cose vengono decise per elezione attraverso l’autorità della maggioranza e se qualche cosa mette in pericolo il pensiero dominante è subito pronta una mozione o una interpellanza per ribaltare la situazione a proprio favore.

Parliamentary political style is also that of our bishops who are ready to dissociate themselves from their priests, seen as inquisitive hitters, when they try to educate the faithful to the principles of doctrine and morals, even simply by citing the catechism. Next to the acts of dissociation pushed there are easy excuses towards all those categories of people who do not coincide with the thought of the Gospel. The technique of turning the enemy into a friend through a love bombing [bombing of love] that takes on the assumption of easy and non-existent faults is the new paradigm for being inclusive in charity. It matters little if the apostle reminds us that charity must flee fictions [cf.. RM 12,9] and practice the Truth even when it is uncomfortable and inappropriate for most.

We priests 3.0 in the new updated version, absorbed by the managerial role of museum curators with a fixed salary, without fatherhood from our shepherds and without a solid faith that distinguishes us as prophets before the world, we are easy prey to the fomite of sensuality. The senses clouded by a life more in tune with the world than with Christ the Savior of the world, they expose us to critical issues that are identified through the exercise of disordered sexuality, of a possessiveness that expresses the worst of itself in money management, and in the inability to carry out meaningful relationships with people not to mention the despotic maintenance of power that comes very close to the preservation of the privileges of the worst caste.

Speaking of sexuality, a distinction must be made. I talked about sexuality just to diversify it from genitality, in fact the two terms in Christian morality are ascribed to two different aspects. Although the adjectives sexual e genital they are used today as synonyms, they are not. We identify the person in his male or female being with the sexual term, in his male or female behavior, in her way of expressing masculinity or femininity and in the different and original style of communicating love. With the term genital, instead, we mean what refers more properly to the genital systems, to their anatomy and physiology, to the unitive and procreative task which Catholic doctrine resolutely continues to consider united.

Genital reality, so hailed by modernity, it is included in the sexual one which is wider, complete and typically human. We are too concerned to catch the priests at fault for an abuse regarding genitality that we do not realize that there is a great disconnect in the practice of that sexuality which is an integral and essential part of the figure of the presbyter. So much so that the term "father", with which we commonly call the priests of the regular clergy, it is an indication of the exercise of healthy male sexuality as a demonstration of a spiritual fatherhood which is aimed at the accompaniment and sanctification of the people of God. This is why priests are required first of all for a proven and proven masculinity that allows them to better express the exercise of their sexuality in being loving and authoritative fathers.

The way of loving that he knows in sexuality and masculinity your own language, it can express itself in two different and antithetical ways: through an asphyxiating possessiveness that wants to consume the other and operate it or through a dialoguing freedom that does not fear the other and proposes to love him as he is, enough to mature and grow as we see it happen in the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman [cf.. GV 4,1-26]. In relating to the female sex, Jesus is different from the majority of the men of his time who use, they abuse and objectify the woman to get something from her in return. In Christ, that free and liberating love of the Father which testifies to true love for every created reality is concretized. The priest, come old christ, it cannot mortify this liberating and free love which is constitutional to one's sexuality and nature. Compromises that alternate between compensatory sublimations must be avoided, pathological disorders and deviations. The freedom of the priest in love, which is an explanation of a celibate life, caste, poor and obedient in the image of the Redeemer, it is a theological and prophetic condition that cannot be understood except in function of the Kingdom and of that full eschatological life in which all relationships will be assumed and transfigured in God [cf.. Mt 19,12; MC 12,25].

Even in the use of money and in the exercise of power it is possible to trace an expression of human sexuality that can prove to be balanced, mature and informed by grace or despotic, narcissistic and subjected to the selfish desires of the world. Il modo di gestire e custodire i beni che ci sono stati affidati — dalla cura del creato al modo di lavorare all’interno del creato — comunica o meno l’incontro totalizzante con Dio che si ama e serve a partire da tutto ciò che c’è stato affidato in funzione del bene comune. Flaunt success and power, through an inhuman and instrumental use of wealth, it is a constant that we find quite widespread in human history, sometimes it is an immediate gratification, other times of a real idolatrous cult towards things and towards one's self. Among the disciples of Jesus Christ, But, the logic of the human kingdom does not apply, but the imperative is undisputed: "It's not like that among you" [cf.. MC 10,43]. Non dobbiamo essere così ingenui da pensare che la ricchezza e il potere costituiscano oggettivamente dei mali in sé — così come è avvenuto in alcuni movimenti pauperistici o in certe ideologie dell’Ottocento e del Novecento —, it is necessary to carefully evaluate the use made of it. The Gospel never accuses the rich man as such, if not in reference to a non-sharing and a solipsistic use that forgets the groans of the poor [cf.. LC 16,19-31], and the hardships of the widow [cf.. MC 12,41-44]. Like this, while human wealth becomes functional to honest sustenance and maintenance, the wealth of the Kingdom opens the doors of paradise and ensures the possession of God [cf.. LC 12,16-21].

All power and authority derives from God and is his gift [cf.. Sir 33,23; Gives 1,10; GV 19,10-11; RM 13,1-2; AP 2,28]. Questo concetto era piuttosto conosciuto nell’antichità tanto da avvalorare la tesi — che alcuni autori hanno sostenuto [cf.. S. Paul, S. Augustine, Of the State of God, Jacques-Benigne Bossuet] — secondo la quale era possibile costruire un vero e proprio principio giuridico che legittimasse i governanti a governare sugli uomini facendo le veci di Dio. In both civil and religious government, obedience to the one who held power was interpreted as direct obedience to God. This thesis thus formulated consists of two inaccuracies. The first consists in not considering the fact that any earthly power and authority is not immune from that wound of original sin which corrupts all power and authority in despotism and dictatorship. The second inaccuracy consists in neglecting the Trinitarian aspect of the question considering only the person of the Father as the exclusive holder of authority and power excluding the participation of the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Only by becoming obedient to the Father, just as Christ was, it is possible to find the safe way to avoid corruption of power and deviations of authority [cf. Mt 4,1-11]. The priest, participating in the authority of Christ deriving from sacred ordination, it is also admitted to the government and to the exercise of a power that expresses an authority. As well as, after baptism, Christ is led into the desert by the Holy Spirit to become a messiah of salvation according to the Spirit of the Father and not according to the spirit of the world, thus the priest in the exercise of power and authority is called to imitate the Master who in serving the other made himself a servant, culminating his diaconate with the sacrifice of his life in favor of men [cf.. MC 10,42-45] and placing all power in the hands of the Father in the garden of olives [cf.. Mt 26,39; 26,42; MC 14,36; LC 22,42] giving fulfillment to that kenosis which started with the incarnation. Priestly authority traces the diakonia of the Son, feeds on the will of the Father and possesses the anointing of the Holy Spirit for the sanctification of the brothers and for the confirmation of the faith received with baptism.

III. A LIQUID COMPANY, WEAK AND IMPERFECT

The western society in which we live, where the Christian is called to make his earthly pilgrimage and where he manifests his courageous witness of faith, increasingly resembles a terrible Moloch who demands the fulfillment of continuous sacrifices and who self-attributes the right to be worshiped as a deity. It does not matter if these sacrifices are paid for through the price of inconclusive human lives and souls now fragmented and lost, lost in the non-sense of existence. A strange society, our, who is pleased to be narcissistically contemplated to resemble a terrible stepmother who demands far more from her children than she actually manages to give.

An anaffective stepmother, because of sterile womb, which is adorned with words as it would with jewels that sparkle with high-sounding meanings as in the case of love, of tolerance, of benevolence, understanding and rights. This bankruptcy view of the world had already been foretold by Christ to his disciples in the Gospel: "If the world hates you, know that it hated me before. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; because you are not of the world, but I chose you from the world, that's why the world hates you " [cf.. GV 15,18-19]. Christ and his disciples are not of the world, while experiencing the temporal dimension of the world but not its essence. The effective sign consists in the fact that the Word of God became flesh [cf.. GV 1,14], the divine Word became human, contrary to what happens today in which many of human words are divinized and absolutized. However, this apparently invincible and deified corporate Moloch already has an established term, just for the simple fact that the "prince and god of this world" [cf.. GV 12,31; 2Color 4,4] has been definitively defeated.

A questo punto del discorso è utile introdurre il tema dell’idolatria, this will help us understand some important company issues that we experience on a daily basis. Talk about idolatry, in the social fabric, it is by no means secondary, indeed we can say that this attitude recurs cyclically and systematically just when the sense of the "Sacred" diminishes which includes much broader and more diversified horizons than the simple reference to the divine. In this regard, it would be interesting to study the decline of peoples precisely in relation to the crisis and the disappearance of the "Sacred" from human life. For the moment it is sufficient to mention it pending a more punctual and competent future study.

Let's clear up a fact immediately: idolatry, in reality, it is one of the many masks with which atheism conceals itself before society and the world. Talking about idolatry and atheism seems a contradiction but it is not. In the Bible, for instance, the sin of idolatry is well known but not that of atheism, How come? The answer is simple: the ancient man as well as the biblical one is absolutely not an atheist. It is necessary to start from the self-evident finding that no man is naturally born an atheist, the spark of its divine origin prods man from his birth, until his death and pushes him to search for the meaning of his own existence and for a truth that transcends him.

Visible atheism, the one practiced these days, it is the degeneration of idolatry that gives up the vestments of the sacred. Atheism is the deceptive fruit that was formed within some historical periods and that through the French Revolution, the Age of Enlightenment, Positivist thought has increasingly materialized through the philosophies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries together with well-defined Gnostic movements that have declared war on Christianity and specifically on Catholic Christianity.

Atheism, paradoxically, si nutre di quel modo di vivere dissociatO which is clearly visible in our day and which increasingly takes on pathological features, deluding himself that he is leading everyone towards unlimited progress. Modern Western man finds himself reeling in this corporate model - often and willingly deluding himself that he has achieved excellent achievements of civilization and humanization - a face of a human community that is increasingly defined as the face of a The imperfect society and that has already started to present a very high account.

This imperfect society who defines himself and makes himself known precisely from his dogmatists so intransigent and from his markedly fideistic awareness that they often turn out to be rash. The customs clearance of gnoseological and ethical relativism with which to read and interpret the reality that surrounds us, the widespread optimism of a certain type of science that claims to respond to the most intimate moans of meaning in the heart of man, revolutions in the field of technology and communication, together with the presumption to constitute a new world order that can unify every creed, lead inexorably to failure since in fact it traces in a modern key that ancient sin that the builders of the Tower of Babel committed [cf.. GN 11,1-9]. Atheism is thus the distillate of an idolatrous will deprived of the sense of the sacred that claims to make a name regardless of its Creator [cf.. GN 11,4].

This social overview, so painfully concrete but nevertheless real, si può spiegare attraverso una frase del teologo domenicano Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange [1877-1964] that says: «The Church is uncompromising on principles, because he believes, it is tolerant in practice, because he loves. The enemies of the Church are tolerant of principles, because they don't believe, but uncompromising in practice, because they don't love. The Church absolves sinners, the enemies of the Church absolve sins " [cf. Dieu, its existence and its nature, Paris 1923, p. 725]. Quale senso dare a queste parole del buon Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange in relazione a una società liquida e destabilizzata come la nostra? Which common thread unites the features of weakness, imperfection, dell 'atheist idolatry enough to produce an apparently liberal but secretly intransigent and at times ruthless and contradictory reality?

The reasoning of the Dominican theologian aiuta a comprendere come questa società prima di essere nemica di Dio e della Chiesa è anzitutto nemica di sé stessa. In fact, it is more inclined to undertake more easily the search for a tolerance that uniforms and flattens its fellow men than a search for truth that leads to different alterities, until reaching the transcendental otherness that represents the authentic core of faith and of the relationship with God. Today, if you have noticed how to conduct some debates and discussions, the safest way to put your opponent on the ropes and then silence him, it essentially consists in accusing him of intolerance. The charge of non-tolerance is that indictment that does not admit objective truth, that does not take personal experience into account, of the history and tradition of peoples. The charge of intolerance is declined through censorship, the ban on realities that cannot be said, known or simply testified. Today, it is possible to be considered intolerant in many ways and be provoked on different areas such as faith and religion, race and ethnicity, sexuality and genitality, customs and traditions, politics and the civilized world and much more.

In the game of contrasts, ploy which I have already analyzed in this article, professing faith makes me, for example, an intolerant and violent person. Affirming the natural moral law on marriage gives me visibility as a medieval fundamentalist fanatic, cultivating and enhancing the traditional and cultural roots of a people makes me a dangerous enemy of globalization and inculturation. Those who we call today with the appellation of intolerants are actually divergent, heroes who do not align with the single thought and therefore need to be seen as enemies to neutralize. If you notice the best exponents of liberal thought, tolerant and guarantor they sin countless times of illiberal attitudes, violent and uncompromising worthy of the best dictatorial despotic regime.

The “tolerant” modern, instead, he does not sacrifice himself for his ideas as the idealist would, on the contrary, one does not scruple to sacrifice those who have ideas contrary to his, just as a dictator would do towards his opponents. How many martyrs of tolerance and rights exist today? But perhaps the most numerous martyrs are those who are held up as unwitting sowers of hatred precisely because they diverge, carriers of a hatred that cannot be seen because it is present only in the gaze of the tolerant on duty who has an interest in using hatred as an ideological tool to control the masses. Modern tolerance therefore not only claims rights but also the dispersion of hatred. For less than a decade, tolerance contracted a happy marriage with the Greek term phobia. Through this term the best workhorses of the tolerant are generated The imperfect society such as homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia and others. I mention these three examples just because they are the ones most practiced by the social media, television, radio and newspapers … We realize that all this scaffolding does not make the slightest sense and that it is not possible to pursue a discourse of tolerance that is exclusively linked to a right deprived of duties and a fear that is an antidote to hatred? Invoking tolerance by leveraging rights and excluding duties constitutes a worldview based on self-centeredness, in which everything becomes lawful it is sufficient that it indulges true or presumed personal rights.

On the other hand, call into question the tolerance ahead to hate relying on the feeling of fear of the other is foolish, as this would mean that it is enough to generate an alarm to ward off evil. In this imposing zibaldone it is difficult to find the edge of the skein so as to bring everything back to a certain and safe origin. The prospect of an uncompromising social culture that while condemning sanctifies and sanctifying condemnation appears more like a paradox that reminds the Roman god Janus who, having a "double face", it is the perfect image of compromise, of transformism, of the union of opposites.

Today the mask of Janus triumphs over the faces of the world who travel the streets of our cities and towns, of our squares and shopping centers, of the buildings of power and churches. An ageless Janus who dresses in male and female clothes or, if necessary, neutral, wearing the veil, the cassock, the habit, the skirt threaded in purple or red but that is always him, the ancient snake that never tires of waging war with the impious pretense of proving that God was wrong in trusting man.

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Sanluri, 27 November 2023

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Gabriele Giordano M. Scardocci
Of the Order of Preachers
Presbyter and Theologian

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Father Gabriele

In the lordship of Christ King of the Universe to be little kings

Homiletic of the Fathers of The Island of Patmos

IN THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST KING OF THE UNIVERSE TO BE LITTLE KINGS

Oscar Wilde wrote: "Selfishness does not consist in living as we please but in demanding that others live as we please"

 

Author:
Gabriele Giordano M. Scardocci, o.p.

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Dear readers of the Island of Patmos,

The Liturgical Year ends, It's our last one of the Catholic year. The liturgical year ends with a great celebration, that of Jesus Christ who is King of the Universe.

Today the monarchy it is no longer a form of government typically adopted throughout the world, where instead the republic is preferred. This is why the figure of the "king" escapes us, if not perhaps for the recent coronation of King Charles of England. Jesus is King of the entire universe and of our lives. But not like the King of England, of Sweden or Belgium. His monarchy is not exercised in a political government. It is a monarchy of love that expresses its throne of glory, its exposure of maximum visibility in the cross; today this throne of glory is realized for us, in the compassion of Jesus. We read it at the beginning of passage from today's Gospel:

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory […] he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the peoples will be gathered before him. He will separate one from another, how the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.".

Here the image of the king is combined with that of the shepherd. Effectively, the shepherd, it also has a governing role within the world of the farm. It was a world and a culture close to the imagination in which Jesus speaks. Here then are those on the right who are blessed by the Father. Those on the left don't. Effectively, the blessed of the Father, they are those who welcomed the poor and needy in the various situations of need that Jesus expresses. While those who will be in eternal fire, they were not attentive and compassionate towards these material and spiritual poverty. Thus Jesus shows us and asks us to imitate him as King in concrete Love, in active charity, that He wanted to do towards all the people he met: Nicodemus, the blind man of Jericho, the demoniac of Gerasa and other encounters. The Lord has always accomplished all these great works with an act of compassion and tenderness, with a truly human and truly divine heart. A small Christological heart for a great love.

From this comes the foundation of the works of mercy for us material and corporeal. The Lord, so, He asks us to follow Him, our King, in Catholic life precisely because we operate with a concrete and attentive love for others, trying to look at them with tenderness. Trying to look at our neighbor as if it were Jesus himself who, as a little one, asks us for this service. We become little kings in Jesus little king of the Universe.

On the contrary instead we find those who will go into eternal fire. Because they have completely escaped the logic of love and compassion. So, the goats on the left are the people closed in on selfishness, in the dimension of unique attention to one's own needs and requirements. The risk we run when we forget the practice of works of mercy is that we no longer recognize not only others, but of not recognizing the need for God in life. So the wicked in the eternal fire are those who do not recognize the centrality of the Lordship of God in life, of the King of kings, without which we can do nothing. The tension towards selfishness is therefore a substitution, a crowning of oneself as king, demanding that the Universe and God bow down to us.

Oscar Wilde wrote: "Selfishness does not consist in living as we please but in demanding that others live as we please".

We ask the Lord to be welcomed to his throne and his monarchy of love, and be witnesses from now on that authentic Love exists, and we live in communion with the Father, of the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen!

Santa Maria Novella in Florence, 25 November 2023

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Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe: a royalty built on charity

Homiletics of the Fathers of The Island of Patmos

NOSTRO SIGNORE GESÙ CRISTO RE DELL’UNIVERSO: UNA REGALITÀ ERETTA SULLA CARITÀ

Tanto splendida è questa pagina dell’Evangelo proclamata oggi nelle nostre chiese, that every comment seems to spoil it a little. Better to leave it as it is, simply, ad indicare alle persone che la vita dell’uomo non è mai concepibile senza l’altro. Tragedia allora non sarà il conflitto, l’alterità, la differenza bensì i due estremi che negano questo rapporto: la confusione e la separazione

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In un breve ma celebre apologo by title Il Natale di Martin lo scrittore russo Lev Tolstòj1 raccontò di uomo, un ciabattino di nome Martin, che aveva misteriosamente incontrato il Signore nelle persone bisognose che durante la giornata erano passate davanti la sua bottega e citò espressamente la pagina del Vangelo di questa domenica.

San Martino dona parte del mantello al povero (dipinto, elemento d’insieme) di Bartolomeo Vivarini (SEC. XV)

La letteratura non è stata l’unica arte che questa mirabile pagina di Matteo ha ispirato, basti pensare agli affreschi del Buonarroti nella Cappella Sistina. Leggiamola:

"During that time, Jesus told his disciples: “Quando il Figlio dell’uomo verrà nella sua gloria, e tutti gli angeli con lui, he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the peoples will be gathered before him. He will separate one from another, how the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, e porrà le pecore alla sua destra e le capre alla sinistra. Allora il re dirà a quelli che saranno alla sua destra: “Come on, blessed of my Father, ricevete in eredità il regno preparato per voi fin dalla creazione del mondo, perché ho avuto fame e mi avete dato da mangiare, I was thirsty and you gave me drink:, ero straniero e mi avete accolto, naked and dressed me, sick and you visited me, ero in carcere e siete venuti a trovarmi”. Allora i giusti gli risponderanno: "Man, quando ti abbiamo visto affamato e ti abbiamo dato da mangiare, o assetato e ti abbiamo dato da bere? Quando mai ti abbiamo visto straniero e ti abbiamo accolto, or naked and clothe you? Quando mai ti abbiamo visto malato o in carcere e siamo venuti a visitarti?”. E il re risponderà loro: “In verità io vi dico: tutto quello che avete fatto a uno solo di questi miei fratelli più piccoli, you did it to me ". Poi dirà anche a quelli che saranno alla sinistra: “Via, away from me, cursed, the eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels, perché ho avuto fame e non mi avete dato da mangiare, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, ero straniero e non mi avete accolto, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you visited me ". Then it will: "Man, quando ti abbiamo visto affamato o assetato o straniero o nudo o malato o in carcere, e non ti abbiamo servito?”. Allora egli risponderà loro: “In verità io vi dico: tutto quello che non avete fatto a uno solo di questi più piccoli, non l’avete fatto a me. And they will go: to eternal punishment, i giusti invece alla vita eterna”».

Con il brano di oggi finisce non solo, per quanto riguarda la liturgia, l’anno liturgico in corso, che lascia il passo all’Avvento, ma anche l’insegnamento di Gesù nel Vangelo secondo Matteo. Subito dopo la nostra pericope infatti l’evangelista da inizio al racconto della passione, morte e risurrezione di Gesù, with these words: «Terminati tutti questi discorsi, Gesù disse ai suoi discepoli» (Mt 26,1). Gesù insegnerà d’ora in poi in un altro modo, soprattutto con i gesti e l’obbedienza al Padre nella prova suprema della croce. Per questa ragione è rivestita di particolare importanza la pericope di oggi, l’ultimo discorso fatto da Gesù in Matteo, senza contare, l’invito del Risorto a fare discepoli e a battezzare in 28,18-19, e le poche ma importanti parole dette durante la passione, a partire dall’ultima cena.

Solo by the way occorre anche dire che nonostante una prassi interpretativa consolidata che prende l’avvio dai Padri della Chiesa e che porta a definire la scena come il giudizio “universale”, a partire dal XVIII secolo vengono sottolineati i tanti e buoni indizi nel testo, non solo di tipo lessicale, per ritenere che anziché di un giudizio per tutta humanity, il testo implichi, on the contrary, un giudizio solo per i pagani, ma non è possibile in questo contesto esplicitare questa interpretazione che richiederebbe troppo spazio.

La scena del giudizio è esclusivamente matteana, ed è costruita in modo magistrale, con l’uso di vari espedienti quali ad esempio la ripetizione, utili per la memorizzazione. Molti sono i confronti che possiamo fare con il linguaggio e la simbologia di stampo apocalittico correnti al tempo di Gesù che appaiono di volta in volta nella letteratura canonica ― Daniele e Apocalisse ― ma anche in quella apocrifa. Il dato originale, revolutionary, instead, la novità che apporta il discorso di Gesù è che lo stesso giudice, il Re, si consideri oggetto di tali azioni: «Ho avuto fame e mi avete dato da mangiare», or, «non mi avete dato da mangiare». Questo crea un effetto di sorpresa sia in quelli che gli hanno usato misericordia sia in quelli che gliel’hanno negata. Mentre nell’Antico Testamento il giorno del Signore è decretato da Dio stesso ed è quindi Lui l’unico che giudica, nella logica del Nuovo Testamento è Gesù, il Messia, che può intervenire in questo giudizio. Di conseguenza Dio compirà il giudizio, but this in nuce avviene già nel modo in cui ci siamo rapportati al suo Figlio in questo mondo, al Gesù presente nei poveri che hanno avuto fame e sete e che sono stati assistiti o meno da noi. Ecco perché alla fine dei tempi, sarà Cristo, l’Agnello, a prendere in mano il libro della nostra vita, quello che nemmeno noi siamo capaci di leggere e comprendere fino in fondo, e ad aprirne i sigilli (cf.. AP 5).

Colpisce poi che la grandiosa visione che abbraccia l’intera umanità si accompagni allo sguardo posato su ciascuno e, in particular, su quelle persone che normalmente sono le più invisibili: poor, malati, prisoners, affamati, assetati, foreigners, ignudi. Non a caso il nostro testo li chiama «minimi» (vv. 40.45). La carità verso il bisognoso, il gesto di condivisione che è così semplice, Human, daily, for everyone, believers and non-believers, diviene ciò su cui si esercita il giudizio finale. L’esempio di Martino di Tours, secondo la narrazione agiografica di Sulpicio Severo2, è emblematico. Dopo aver diviso con la spada il suo mantello per coprire la nudità di un povero mendicante alle porte di Amiens, in un rigido inverno, Martino ebbe la visione in sogno di Cristo che gli diceva: «Martino, tu mi hai rivestito con il tuo mantello». Cristo è identificato con il povero, come nella nostra pagina evangelica.

Tanto splendida è questa pagina dell’Evangelo proclamata oggi nelle nostre chiese, that every comment seems to spoil it a little. Better to leave it as it is, simply, ad indicare alle persone che la vita dell’uomo non è mai concepibile senza l’altro. Tragedia allora non sarà il conflitto, l’alterità, la differenza bensì i due estremi che negano questo rapporto: la confusione e la separazione3. The others, soprattutto se bisognosi, non costituiranno per me l’inferno quanto una benedizione: «Venite benedetti perché…». Due celebri pieces theatrical, una di Sartre4 con all’interno la famosa espressione: "Hell is other people"; l’altra di Pirandello, Vestire gli ignudi5, che nel titolo fa diretto riferimento al nostro brano evangelico, ci hanno raccontano drammaticamente che non escludendo l’Altro dal proprio mondo il problema sarebbe facilmente risolvibile e l’inferno cesserebbe di esistere. Quegli autori hanno inteso, on the contrary, constatare l’impossibilità di un’esistenza che escluda l’Altro. In altri termini, l’enfer, c’est les autres, perché dall’alterità non si può uscire, ci si rende conto che l’Altro detiene il segreto del proprio essere e, while, che senza l’Altro questo essere non sarebbe possibile.

Così il Signore Gesù, anche nell’ultimo suo discorso, ci ha sorpreso ancora una volta dando un nuovo significato alle ‘opere di misericordia’, già note nel giudaismo coevo, where they were, But, intese come una sorta di imitatio Dei, nel senso di un fare agli altri ciò che Dio stesso ha fatto per l’uomo. Non prevedevano invece che il giudice eterno si celasse dietro esistenze umilissime, disagiate e sconfitte. Nell’altro, nel fratello, c’è Gesù il quale aveva detto ai suoi discepoli: «Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, e chi accoglie me accoglie colui che mi ha mandato… Chi avrà dato da bere anche un solo bicchiere d’acqua fresca a uno di questi piccoli perché è un discepolo, verily I tell you: he will not lose his reward ". Mentre ora estende questa visione all’intera umanitàpanta ta ethne, πάντα τὰ ἔθνη del v.22: «Tutto quello che avete fatto a uno solo di questi miei fratelli più piccoli, you did it to me". Perché come recita un antico inno adoperato nella liturgia del Giovedì Santo: «Ubi caritas et amor, God is there».

Buona Domenica a tutti!

From the Hermitage, 25 November 2023

 

NOTE

[1] La rielaborazione di Tolstòj apparve per la prima volta anonima sulla rivistaRusskij rabocij” (L’operaio russo), no. 1 the 1884, with the title “Djadja Martyn” (Zio Martyn). In 1886 il racconto, with the title “Dove c’è amore c’è Dio”, fu inserito in un volume edito a Mosca da Posrednik assieme ad altri otto, tutti con la firma di Lev Tolstòj

[2] Severo Sulpicio,Vita di Martino, EDB, 2003

[3] Michel de Certeaux, Mai senza l’altro. Viaggio nella differenza, 1983

[4] J.P. Sartre, Porta chiusa, Bompiani, Milan 2013

[5] Pirandello L., Maschere nude. Vol. 5: Enrico IVLa signora Morli, una e dueVestire gli ignudi, Mondadori, 2010

 

 

Sant'Angelo Cave in Ripe (Civitella del Tronto)

 

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We should reflect more on the sin of wasting time

Homiletics of the Fathers of The Island of Patmos

DOVREMMO RIFLETTERE MAGGIORMENTE SUL PECCATO DEL PERDERE TEMPO

Comunque si voglia intenderli, since every parabolic tale is open to a plurality of interpretations, talents will remain a free gift that cannot be kept for oneself, nor does it hide, but it must be multiplied. They reveal that God, più che un padrone si dimostra Padre verso noi figli e fa nel corso del tempo molte di queste grazie a ognuno di noi e alle nostre comunità.

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Un dono può esser offerto con mille motivazioni, anche non nobili a volte. Ma ha dalla sua una caratteristica inconfondibile: rivela l’identità di chi offre e di chi lo riceve. Il Vangelo di questa Domenica presenta un Donatore molto speciale, il quale non elargisce un solo singolo dono, bensì ogni suo bene. Let's read:

"During that time, Jesus told his disciples this parable: «Avverrà come a un uomo che, partendo per un viaggio, chiamò i suoi servi e consegnò loro i suoi beni. A uno diede cinque talenti, a un altro due, a un altro uno, According to the capacity of each; poi partì. Subito colui che aveva ricevuto cinque talenti andò a impiegarli, e ne guadagnò altri cinque. Così anche quello che ne aveva ricevuti due, ne guadagnò altri due. Colui invece che aveva ricevuto un solo talento, andò a fare una buca nel terreno e vi nascose il denaro del suo padrone. Dopo molto tempo il padrone di quei servi tornò e volle regolare i conti con loro. Si presentò colui che aveva ricevuto cinque talenti e ne portò altri cinque, saying: "Man, mi hai consegnato cinque talenti; there, ne ho guadagnati altri cinque”. "Good, servo buono e fedele ― gli disse il suo padrone ―, sei stato fedele nel poco, ti darò potere su molto; prendi parte alla gioia del tuo padrone”. Si presentò poi colui che aveva ricevuto due talenti e disse: "Man, mi hai consegnato due talenti; there, ne ho guadagnati altri due”. "Good, servo buono e fedele ― gli disse il suo padrone ―, sei stato fedele nel poco, ti darò potere su molto; prendi parte alla gioia del tuo padrone”. Si presentò infine anche colui che aveva ricevuto un solo talento e disse: "Man, so che sei un uomo duro, che mieti dove non hai seminato e raccogli dove non hai sparso. Ho avuto paura e sono andato a nascondere il tuo talento sotto terra: ecco ciò che è tuo”. Il padrone gli rispose: «Servo malvagio e pigro, tu sapevi che mieto dove non ho seminato e raccolgo dove non ho sparso; avresti dovuto affidare il mio denaro ai banchieri e così, ritornando, avrei ritirato il mio con l’interesse. Toglietegli dunque il talento, e datelo a chi ha i dieci talenti. Perché a chiunque ha, verrà dato e sarà nell’abbondanza; ma a chi non ha, verrà tolto anche quello che ha. E il servo inutile gettatelo fuori nelle tenebre; là sarà pianto e stridore di denti». (Mt 25,14-30).

Il brano evangelico di questa domenica aggiunge una specificazione al significato della vigilanza che già era stato presentato nella parabola delle dieci vergini (Mt 25,1-13). Lì vigilare significava essere previdenti, essere pronti, preparations, dotarsi del necessario mettendo in conto una lunga attesa. Now, nella parabola dei talenti, la vigilanza viene specificata come attenzione e responsabilità nel quotidiano e declinata come fedeltà nelle piccole cose («sei stato fedele nel poco»: Mt 25,21.23).

Innanzitutto ricordiamo quale funzione abbia la parabola. Tale forma comunicativa prevede spesso l’uso di un linguaggio iperbolico, un’ambientazione paradossale, con volute esagerazioni che possono anche arrivare a scandalizzare per la violenza che vi è implicata. Ci colpisce, who, la punizione del servo malvagio. Ma sorprende anche il finale che, come spesso accade nei racconti fittizi parabolici, presenta un vero e proprio colpo di scena: il talento viene tolto a chi ne ha solo uno e dato a chi già ne ha molti. Nel lettore sorge la domanda: che padrone è colui che si permette di umiliare in tal modo un suo servo, che in fondo ha agito prudentemente?

Si diceva che la vigilanza non riguarda solo l’attesa escatologica ma investe in pieno il rapporto con il quotidiano, con le sue realtà di ogni giorno. La parabola di Matteo, che ha un parallelo un po’ differente e più complesso con Luca 19,11-27, è certamente inserita in un contesto escatologico ― il v.30 la situa nell’orizzonte del giudizio finale: «Il servo inutile gettatelo nelle tenebre, là sarà pianto e stridor di denti» ― ma questo non fa che ribadire che tale giudizio finale lo si prepara qui e ora, nell’oggi della storia, cosa che si mostrerà in tutta la sua evidenza nella parabola del giudizio universale (Mt 25,31-46) domenica prossima. Là apparirà chiaramente l’autorità escatologica dei piccoli e dei poveri. Il giudizio finale si baserà sulle azioni di carità e di giustizia compiute in loro favore oppure omesse. Il quotidiano si rivela così come il luogo escatologico per eccellenza, perché è il tempo che ci è dato. Così la parabola dopo la ripartizione dei talenti[1] in modo personalizzato, commisurata con le capacità dei riceventi, si dispiega fra il «subito» (v.15) di coloro che li fanno fruttare e il dopo «molto tempo» (v.19) del ritorno del padrone. Del resto non appare importante, almeno in questo racconto, la quantità dei doni ricevuti, poiché i due servi operosi, nonostante abbiano ricevuto talenti in misura diversa, percepiranno però la stessa ricompensa. Importante piuttosto è il tempo la cui durata fa emergere la verità delle persone, dei loro comportamenti, della loro tenuta e della loro responsabilità. Il trascorrere del tempo è rivelatore; infatti i primi due servi hanno saputo cogliere subito che esso era il primo grande dono di cui potevano usufruire e non lo sprecarono gettandolo via.

We should reflect more on the sin of wasting time. Se il terzo servo avesse riflettuto su questo ne avrebbe approfittato, perché alla fine la ricompensa sarebbe stata la medesima dei primi due servi che avevano ricevuto di più. Ma come si diceva più sopra il dono è, al pari del tempo impiegato, rivelativo dei personaggi di questa parabola. Così il donatore, anche se Gesù lo cela inizialmente dietro un anonimo uomo (v.14), è chiaramente Dio che infatti più avanti verrà chiamato ‘Signore’ (Kyrie, Κύριε dei v.20.22.24). Solo Lui è capace di fare dono di ogni cosa sua [2], in maniera preveniente e inaspettata soprattutto verso dei destinatari che per quanto intraprendenti sono pur sempre dei servi. Alcuni padri della chiesa hanno voluto vedere dietro al dono dei talenti quello della Parola di Dio, in ricordo della parabola del buon seme che porta frutto a secondo del terreno che trova. Ireneo di Lione, d. 202 d.C., vi vide il dono della vita, accordato da Dio agli uomini. Comunque si voglia intenderli, since every parabolic tale is open to a plurality of interpretations, talents will remain a free gift that cannot be kept for oneself, nor does it hide, but it must be multiplied. They reveal that God, più che un padrone si dimostra Padre verso noi figli e fa nel corso del tempo molte di queste grazie a ognuno di noi e alle nostre comunità. La capacità di riconoscerle e di farle fruttare è la qualità dei servi non pavidi che sanno correre anche dei rischi.

Il punto della parabola però non è di natura economica, cioè nella capacità di trarre profitti dall’investimento di un capitale, perché la ricompensa, in tale senso, avrebbe dovuta essere commisurata al merito e alla grandezza del patrimonio accumulato. Esso invece è incentrato sull’agire istantaneo e sul non rimanere inerti nel tempo che viene concesso. Tenendo conto che il padrone-Signore tornerà e chiederà ragioneponit rationem» traduce la Vulgata) di come avranno agito i servi. Essi scopriranno che ai suoi occhi ciò che contava era la bontà e la fedeltà nell’agire e quel che sembrava tanto in verità era molto poco rispetto alla ricompensa: "Good, servo buono e fedele ― gli disse il suo padrone ―, sei stato fedele nel poco, ti darò potere su molto; prendi parte alla gioia del tuo padrone».

La parabola diviene così un invito ai discepoli e alle comunità a non rimanere immobili e incantati davanti alle difficoltà dei tempi che corrono, pronti invece ad agire in ogni momento, consapevoli dei doni ricevuti e che questo che ci è dato è il tempo propizio. Le sfide che esso pone e le mutate condizioni culturali non dovrebbero impaurirci o farci rimanere contenti solo di quello che già si fa oppure inebriati da un attivismo solo fine a se stesso. La parabola chiede ai cristiani consapevolezza, responsibility, audacia e soprattutto creatività, tutte realtà condensate nelle parole: essere buoni e fedeli.

Infine ci chiedevamo prima perché il padrone, protagonista della parabola, trattò così male il terzo servo. Ciò che colpisce in questa vicenda è proprio l’idea che il servo si era fatta di lui. Mentre i primi due servi non hanno avuto bisogno di riflettere su questo, quasi fosse automatico per loro che se il padrone ti da un dono esso vada subito fatto fruttare, l’altro servo invece elabora una sua idea, potremmo dire una sua teologia, che ne blocca l’azione, perché a dominarla è l’idea di paura. Intrappolato in questa immagine che egli ha del padrone, quella di un uomo duro e pretenzioso, pur avendo nella sua disponibilità il dono grande di un talento non riesce a fidarsi di lui. È questo sarà il suo vero dramma.

Il suo non agire verrà giudicato in modo parallelo al buono e fedele, però come malvagio e pigro. Se avesse almeno aperto un conto di deposito ne avrebbe riscosso gli interessi attivi, ma preferì seppellire il suo dono e per questo, quando non ci sarà più tempo per agire, al momento del giudizio, verrà consegnato al pianto e allo stridere dei denti, un’espressione biblica che indica il fallimento della propria vita[3].

La fede che opera è importante nel vocabolario del primo Vangelo. Gesù parla della fede di coloro che credono in lui per poter essere guariti, quella del centurione (8,10), del paralitico (9,2), della donna emorroissa (9,22), dei due ciechi (9,29), della Cananea (15,28), e incita i suoi, mai criticati perché hanno «poca fede», ad averne di più (cf.. 6,30).

La nostra parabola potrebbe dunque voler dire qualcosa sul credere o non credere in Dio nel tempo intermedio che separa dal giudizio. Il terzo servo, malvagio, non ha più fede, l’ha persa col tempo: si è dimenticato che quanto gli era stato affidato doveva essere investito perché portasse frutto per il padrone, ma anche a suo favore: è divenuto perciò inutile (v.30). Che la parabola tratti del dono della fede, si può indirettamente evincere anche da un altro testo del Nuovo Testamento, dove San Paolo dice che questo dono è misteriosamente personalizzato, proprio come nella parabola che racconta Gesù:

«Per la grazia che mi è stata data, io dico a ciascuno di voi: non valutatevi più di quanto conviene, ma valutatevi in modo saggio e giusto, ciascuno secondo la misura di fede che Dio gli ha dato» (RM 12,3).

Per concludere potremmo chiederci: Quale visione abbiamo di Dio? Quella vendicativa, esigente e dura che incute paura o quella liberante, positiva che ci fa agire nella fiducia e nel non timore, come l’ha vissuta e ci ha insegnato Gesù?

From the Hermitage, 19 November 2023

 

NOTE

1 Il talento, che significava anche «ciò che è pesato, era un’unità di peso di circa 30-40 kg. corrispondente a seimila denari. Poiché un denaro, secondo quanto Matteo stesso spiega in 20,2 (Matteo è molto preciso nell’uso delle monete, e nel suo vangelo ne sono elencate diversi tipi), è il corrispettivo della paga per un giorno di lavoro, si intende qui una somma ingente data in gestione ai servi

2 Nella parabola dei vignaioli omicidi Egli non si perita di mandare anche suo Figlio (Mt 21,37)

3 «Ancora, the kingdom of heaven is like a net cast into the sea, which collects all kinds of fish. When it's full, the fishermen haul it ashore, they sit down, they collect the good fish in the baskets and throw away the bad ones. So it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the evil from the good and throw them into the fiery furnace, There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth " (Mt 13,47-50).

 

 

 

Sant'Angelo Cave in Ripe (Civitella del Tronto)

 

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Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater: the institution of the godparent in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation

WE DO NOT THROW THE BABY AWAY WITH THE DIRTY WATER: THE INSTITUTE OF THE GODFATHER IN THE SACRAMENTS OF BAPTISM AND CONFIRMATION

Given the current situation, I believe that in pastoral practice, it would be worth making further efforts to restore dignity and value to the figure of the godfather, taking into account its pedagogical function but, even before, of the typically ecclesial connotation of his presence.

– Theology and canon law –

AuthorTeodoro Beccia

Author
Teodoro Beccia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The institution of godparents dates back to the early Church, when the duty to baptize children was imposed, though, presumably, at the beginning the children were introduced directly by their parents. Tertullian refers to the sponsores the guarantee, but the terms used in ancient times are different and very evocative: receivers, pregnant women, fideas, protestants who attend the baptism of children (cf.. Of Baptism, 18, 11, in PL I, 1221). The need for godparents was perhaps correlated with baptism conceived as a new birth, which therefore required new fathers.

In continuity with this line of reflection, later Saint Thomas would recall that the spiritual regeneration brought about by baptism resembles the carnal one and, as in this the child needs a nurse and a pedagogue, so in the spiritual one there is a need for someone to instruct him in faith and Christian life (Summa Th. III, q. 67, a. 7). The institute, or godfather ministry, certainly appears to be related to the catechumenate of adults. Taking into account the situation in which Christians found themselves during the persecution by the Roman Empire, to prevent any intruders from entering the communities, it was required that the candidate for baptism be presented by some known believer, who guaranteed the seriousness of his intentions and accompanied him during the catechumenate and the conferral of the Sacrament, as well as subsequently ensuring their fidelity to the commitment made.

Coming to the present day, priests caring for souls often now find themselves in difficulty when they have to deal with the question of choosing godparents. The cases are very varied. There are parents who, in order not to harm any relative, would like to do without godparents on the occasion of their children's Baptism or Confirmation.. Sometimes we are instead faced with the proposal of godparents who are in an "irregular" situation and who therefore cannot be admitted. Moreover, with the intense migratory phenomenon that characterizes our era, it also happens that a request is made to accept as godfather or godmother faithful belonging to Churches or ecclesial communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church, with the exception of the Orthodox Churches (cf.. can. 685 § 3 of the Eastern Code, Cceo and other).

All this leads to asking some questions: Godparents are really necessary and it makes sense to continue to request their presence, given that their office has often become a "liturgical lie" as some have called it? What is their function? What are the requirements to be admitted to this position?

Godparents are necessary? We try to give an answer to this question through the legislation of the Code of Canon Law, which is about the godfather (or godmother) of baptism according to cann. 872-874 and the godfather (or godmother) of confirmation at cann. 892-893. Let it be the can. 872 that the dog. 892, in reference to the obligation to give the person being baptized or confirmed a godparent, they use the same expression: as much as possible (as far as possible): the rule is not exhaustive or preceptive, as it was not in the previous Code of 1917, but it must not be considered merely optional either.

Regarding Baptism, the reasons for the presence are appropriately indicated in a short but dense passage of the General Introduction of the Rite of Baptism of Infants (cf.. 8) and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (cf.. 8):

«The godfather expands the family of the person being baptized in a spiritual sense and represents the Church in her role as mother».

Its function, so, it is not only liturgical ― nor can it be reduced to a merely choreographic presence ― but also pedagogical, as the canon recalls. 872 § 1, that, in addition to the task of assisting the adult being baptized and introducing the infant being baptized, calls for cooperation so that the godchild leads a Christian life in conformity with the Sacrament and faithfully fulfills the obligations inherent to it.

An effective description of the godfather's task, in the case of the baptism of an adult, but which suggests criteria of judgment applicable by analogy also to the godparents of newborns, is indicated at no. 43 of the To be noted to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults:

"The Godfather, chosen by the catechumen for his example, for his talents and his friendship, delegated by the local Christian community and approved by the priest, accompanies the candidate on election day, in the celebration of the sacraments and in mystagogy. It is his task to show the catechumen the practice of the Gospel in individual and social life with friendly familiarity, help him in his doubts and anxieties, bear witness to him and take care of the development of his baptismal life. Chosen even before the "election", when he bears witness to the catechumen before the community; his office retains all its importance even when the neophyte, received the Sacraments, still needs help and support to remain faithful to the promises of Baptism".

Even for Confirmation, what requires the presence of the godfather is not the celebration as such, but the Christian formation of the candidate for confirmation, as the canon recalls. 892, which refers to the dual function of ensuring that the confirmed person behaves as a true witness of Christ and faithfully fulfills the obligations inherent to the same Sacrament (can. 892). Therefore not a mere ornamental appearance next to the candidate for confirmation at the time of the celebration, but a ministry that is founded in the Sacrament and which also asks the godfather for continuity of spiritual presence, as a counselor and guide called to educational responsibility towards a brother, who must express in faith and works the maturity received as a gift and to be acquired existentially.

The indication of the Code it is therefore oriented not by minimal choices, but for a pastoral care to be renewed. Outside of extraordinary cases, the Confirmation godfather must be there (the science, about it, a response from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the discipline of the Sacraments (cf.. Information 11 [1975], pp. 61-62).

The requirements. The can. 874 is responsible for presenting the necessary requirements to be admitted to the office of godfather/godmother at both baptism and confirmation (cf.. can. 893 § 1). Let's limit ourselves here to focusing on just a few points, starting from previous legislation:

1) for both Sacraments, the godfather must have received all three Sacraments of initiation (signifying the intimate union between them), not just the one for whom he acts as godfather;

2) the dog. 893§ 2 remember the opportunity (expedient) that the godfather of confirmation is the same as that of baptism (to underline the profound connection between the two Sacraments), whereas previously this was prohibited;

3) a godfather of the same sex as the person being baptized/confirmed is no longer required;

4) the prohibition on clerics and religious men and women from acting as godfathers and godmothers no longer exists, without express permission from the ordinary or at least the local superior. However, religious institutes could establish their own rules.

5) Regarding age (16 year old), with a particular law the bishop can establish a different one, but also the parish priest or the minister, for just cause, can introduce the exception, taking into account a rather broad criterion but which should never obscure the ecclesiological reason motivating the presence of the godfather.

6) The godfather must be a faithful Catholic. The reason for this apparent "ecumenical restriction" is to be found not only in the danger of indifferentism, from which the Council itself warned (cf.. To nations 15 e Eastern Churches 26), but even more so in the ecclesial value of gift of godfather: from the nature of the matter you cannot represent an ecclesial community with which you are not in full communion, nor even express faith in it. In this perspective, the code provision is consistent with the awareness that the Church has of its own identity, and therefore it is also profoundly ecumenical. That being the case, members of ecclesial communities separate from the Catholic Church are excluded from the role of godparents, who can act as witnesses together with a Catholic godfather.

As for the "Orthodox", united with us by very close bonds (UR 15) the dog. 685 § 3 of the Eastern Code (Cceo) admits that one of their followers can fulfill the role of godfather, but always together with a Catholic godfather. In the baptism of a Catholic, by virtue of the close communion existing between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, it is therefore allowed, for a valid reason, admit an Eastern faithful with the role of godfather together with a Catholic godfather (or a godmother), provided that the suitability of the godfather is recognized. However, Christian education will primarily be the responsibility of the Catholic godfather, as it represents the Christian community and is the guarantor of the faith and desire for ecclesial communion of the baptized person and/or his parents (cf.. Vademecum for the Pastoral Care of Catholic Parishes towards non-Catholic Orientals, the, n. 16).

Other requirements too indicated by can. 874 § 1, 3° they are very qualifying to define the profile of the godfather. Dutifully respected, have a profound impact on both the designation of the person, and on the way of understanding the task.

It is up to the particular legislation determine what it means to “lead a life in conformity with faith”: Different environments and situations lead to different determinations. The case history is as broad as ever: we range from the whole range of possibilities relating to those who find themselves in an irregular marital situation, to those who profess atheism and agnosticism; from those dedicated to magical arts to those who are notorious members of a sect, of an association that plots against the Catholic Church (cf.. can. 1374: so for example Freemasonry), or appears to belong to some criminal group (like the Mafia, at N'drangheta, the Camorra or other mafia-type criminal groups).

In the end, against the practice of replacing godparents with parents, without foundation and justification, remember (can 874, § 1,5) that neither father nor mother can act as godparents, for it would be absurd to think of parents as helping themselves as godparents to their children. About the number, the dog. 873 states that only one godfather is enough, while in the case there are two, they must be of different sex. The can. 892, which deals with the godfather of confirmation, instead it prescribes only one godfather or godmother.

The role of the witness: it cannot be forgotten that among the tasks of the godfather there is also that of proving that the Baptism or Confirmation has taken place. Can. refers to this function. 875: it introduces the figure of witness of baptism that, unlike that of the godfather, it is not subject to any conditions and plays a role similar to that of marriage witnesses (cf.. can. 1108 §2) albeit without being, as in this case, ad validity. In order to obtain valid marital consent, ad validity the simultaneous presence of two witnesses is required, the assistant as a qualified witness and the valid consent of the bride and groom. In the case of Baptism or Confirmation, the witness only has the task of certifying the conferral, therefore it is not necessary for the validity of the Sacrament (cf.. cann. 875-877). Consequently, the figure of the witness is not subject to any conditions. The only requirement is that the person chosen as a witness has the use of reason and is capable of testifying.

The possibility is thus offered to deal with some particular situations in which the chosen person could not otherwise hold the role of godparent: thus for example in the case of a believer belonging to a Protestant ecclesial community (cf.. can. 874 §2), or is cohabiting, divorced, remarried or in another irregular marital situation, or declares himself an agnostic or atheist, or has formally and publicly abandoned the Catholic faith through the so-called "banging". This is a solution that can potentially generate ambiguity, misunderstandings and misleading interpretations, it must be adopted with prudence and caution, while, on the other hand, it will be necessary to explain with absolute clarity that the baptism witness is in no way "a kind of godfather", but a completely different figure.

The CEI document We meet Jesus, the 29 June 2014, he claims:

«The regional Episcopal Conferences are asked to discern on the matter and evaluate the pastoral opportunity of supporting - only as witnesses of the sacramental rite - those people indicated by the family who, despite not having prescribed requirements, they always express a positive parental closeness, affective and educational".

A for this purpose they can be found online various pronouncements on the matter. We cite for example the provisions of the Sardinian Episcopal Conference and the Diocese of Aosta. Therefore, as much as possible, it is necessary to give training to GodparentsWitnesses to accompany the Baptized in the choice of Christian life, without prejudice to the freedom of the Witness who cannot be forced to share or embrace this life choice.

The usefulness of the figure of the Witness it is merely legal or responds to the need for certification of the conferment of Baptism or Confirmation. From a pastoral point of view, the document also presents it as a possible solution to meet those situations of incompatibility of the requirements for the role of godparent.

The age of the witness at Baptism or Confirmation it is not specified as in the case of Marriage, where the age of majority is required, or in the case of godparents where the age of the child is required 16 year old. Logically, for the age of the Witness, the evaluation of the Parish Priest or the Diocesan Bishop could be applied as a criterion., as in the case of the Godfathers can. 847 §1 n.2. During the celebration, differently from the Godfather and the Godmother, the Witness must not be given any active participation since their role is solely that of guarantors for the certification of the conferment of the Sacrament. Each diocesan bishop will be able to give further provisions regarding the celebratory context

As regards the registration of the baptismal certificate in the parish register it must be underlined that, in the case of the witness of a Baptism foreseen by can. 874 §2, the name and surname of the witness and the personal details must be noted as required by canon. 877 [5].

The certificate problem. The Code of Canon Law, in the canons dedicated to the godfather of baptism and confirmation, he never mentions the need to produce, from the godfather, or the parish priest, of any type of certificate / certificate / self-certification. We are faced with a case in which the practice has now taken on a meaning Besides the, often linked to the fact that the priest caring for souls does not have full knowledge to establish the admissibility of a person to the office of godfather, because he doesn't know him, comes from another parish, often far away, etc. etc…

“Canonizing” the civil order, we can observe how already in various dioceses and parishes, the "certificate of suitability" has been replaced with a "self-certification of suitability". But let's see what self-certification is: civil law has introduced the possibility of providing the Public Administration and private individuals with a declaration made and signed by a citizen which completely and definitively replaces some administrative certifications. This is why it is also called "substitute declaration". AND, so, a way to avoid bureaucracy and unnecessary waste of time, especially when you choose to self-certify online. According to the law, public offices are obliged to accept self-certification for the required practices. If not, would incur a violation of official duties. The situation is different when it comes to private individuals: whether or not to accept this declaration remains a matter of discretion for them. Therefore, the self-certification has the same legal and administrative value as the certificate or document it replaces. As long as the truth is told: if the data contained in the self-certification turns out to be false, the interested party loses all benefits.

Self-certification, being a declaration made personally by the interested party, it could reveal itself, if implemented in the local legislation of the diocese, a substantial simplification of work for priests caring for souls: the interested party will be able to declare himself the existence of the requirements for access to the office of godfather and commit himself in this sense to the Church directly in front of the parish priest who will have to administer the Sacrament, without requesting a certificate from the parish priest of residence which often the parish priest himself could not issue for the reasons set out above, that is, the impossibility for the priest to be able to certify a situation of which he may not be aware for a whole series of reasons that we know well.

Given the current situation, I believe that in pastoral practice, it would be worth making further efforts to restore dignity and value to the figure of the godfather, taking into account its pedagogical function but, even before, of the typically ecclesial connotation of his presence. We cannot hide the fact that the deviations of the past weigh on the figure of the godfather, but this cannot justify the emotional reaction of those who now consider it useless, nor of those who easily access the convenient solution of not requiring the presence of godparents, because he can't find any suitable ones. If there aren't any, they must be trained, through appropriate paths that enhance this office, which has the characteristics and dignity of a true lay ministry (cf.. The lay 23).

Among the various proposals, there are those who suggest engaging the godparents to keep watch, albeit discreetly, on the education of godchildren, warning the parish priest about deficiencies and deviations, in order to provide, within the scope of possibilities and limits, for a return to goodness. Somebody else, then, believes that they could be given the task of taking care of the godson in the event of an early orphan. Perhaps a reminder of that spiritual kinship that, de facto, comes to be established between godfather and godson, and to which the Code of 1917, recognizing its high sacramental and pastoral value, it connected a marital impediment, today no longer in force in the Latin code but fully understood and implemented as a law on marriage by the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

 

Velletri of Rome, 11 November 2023

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