How to mark the last moments of a life
At Church Life Journal, Elaine Stratton Hild recalled the medieval rites around dying. At one Austrian monastery, not untypical of the 14th century, “The leader of the community, the prior, came to the brother’s sickbed to hear his confession.
The others gathered and processed to the infirmary with oil for anointing, incense, the Communion Host, a cross, and candles. They assembled in the room, singing antiphons and psalms as their sick brother was anointed. The gathered brothers sang songs of petition, using words from the Gospels: ‘Lord, come down to heal my son before he dies,’ and songs of hope: ‘Jesus said to him, Go, your son lives.’”
After the sacrament of Anointing, Hild explained, “the brothers arranged a schedule so that at least one person remained always at his bedside.” If the monk seemed very close to death, the whole community would gather to sing a lengthy litany.
It was a time when music, ritual, community and spirituality were part of dying. Perhaps today we need “a greater place for the non-physical needs of the dying person, a greater place for community, and a greater place for beauty.”
Humility calls us to acknowledge others
At Community in Mission, Mgr Charles Pope meditated on humility. “Pride,” Mgr Pope wrote, “is our most pervasive and serious sin. Humility is its antidote and the foundation of our spiritual life.”
It means understanding “that we are small and poor, barely more than dust and water. If God does not scoop us from the earth, we are nothing. Only by His command is the mysterious spark and organisational principle of life ignited.”
We also need to “the frank and obvious truth that we are sinners. We have base, selfish, narrow hearts that are strangely attracted by what we know is harmful and yet resistant to what we know is good. Our will is inconsistent, vacillating, and whimsical, yet at the same time stubborn.”
And humility also points us towards relationship with God and others – because it means recognising that “each of us is gifted but incomplete.” Humility is not a matter of denying your gifts, but of realising that they are gifts. “I do not have all the gifts, and you do not have all the gifts, but together we have all the gifts.”
The Vatican’s social media advice for nuns
At Crux, Claire Giagravè noted the Vatican’s guarded message to nuns who use social media. In Cor Orans, a new document for contemplative women’s orders, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life encourages nuns to engage with the world.
“The new document offers a green light for the use of new media,” Giangravè wrote, “but cautions ‘sobriety and discretion not only with regard to the contents but also to the quantity of information and the type.’”
✣ Reality TV star Kim Kardashian has praised her old Catholic school, telling Vogue that she “genuinely loved” her experience there. Kardashian, who went to all-girls Marymount High School in Los Angeles, told the fashion magazine: “I had an amazing Catholic school experience. It’s very strict, very punctual, and I like that – it’s how I’ve lived my life.”
She accepted the school’s rules, including its no-makeup policy, though she came into conflict over the length of her skirt. Kardashian and her husband Kanye West baptised their daughter in the Armenian Apostolic Church. Her family, who also appear in the show, start the day with “a group chat” over a Bible verse.
“We are very Christian,” Kardashian said. “Our work ethic and our discipline comes from so many years at Catholic school.”
✣ A 94-year-old woman known as the “pilgrim grandmother” has completed a 570-mile pilgrimage in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Emma Morosini, from Italy, walked for 40 days from Monterrey in northeastern Mexico to the national Marian shrine in Mexico City. According to Catholic News Agency, she carried only a small suitcase and an umbrella, and relied on strangers for much of her food.
✣The week in quotations
I don’t think I’m the most suitable person to be a cardinal Cardinal-designate Manyo Maeda of Osaka ucanews.com
It’s not a sin to criticise the Pope here Pope Francis Speech to Italian bishops
I agree… but I cannot sign. I am afraid of persecution What ‘bishops and cardinals’ told Bishop Athanasius Schneider about the Kazakh bishops’ letter on divorce and Communion Interview with Homiletic and Pastoral Review
I would walk home from Timbuktu An Irish pro-lifer, based in England, on returning home for the abortion referendum Irish Independent
✣Statistic of the week
3.5m Number of Argentines who attended pro-life rallies ahead of a new abortion bill Source: Crux