Today was Catechectical Sunday. According to the USCCB, Catechectical Sunday
will focus on the theme "Catechists and Teachers as Agents of the New Evangelization." Those whom the community has designated to serve as catechists will be called forth to be commissioned for their ministry. Catechetical Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity for all to rededicate themselves to this mission as a community of faith.
One of the Hymns at Mass today was "As a Fire is Meant for Burning." It contains the following verses.
As a fire is meant for burning
with a bright and warming flame,
so the church is meant for mission,
giving glory to God's name.
Not to preach our creeds or customs,
but to build a bridge of care,
we join hands across the nations,
finding neighbors everywhere.
So we celebrated Catechectical Sunday by singing that the Church's mission is NOT to spread the creed..."builda bridge of care." What is a bridge of care, anyway? Sounds like something that a Care Bear would shoot out of its stomach tattoo.
Speaking of Care Bears, check out this other verse
As a green bud in the springtime is a sign of life renewed,
so may we be signs of oneness mid earth's peoples many hued.
As a rainbow lights the heavens when a storm is past and gone,
may our lives reflect the radiance of God's new and glorious dawn.
This is a poetical puzzle for me. I have no idea what the image of a green bud has to do with the evolutionary diversity of human pigmentation. The use of "as" in the opening clause suggest some kind of logical analogy...but I'm having a hard time figuring out what the analogy is. It seems to hinge on what Augustine a bud being would classify as a "natural sign" -- an untaught, inherent signifier or indicator of something other than itself. In this case, buds are natural signifiers of seasonal change.
I'm not quite sure how that translates into the singers of the songs being signifiers of the solidarity of people who are differently pigmented. The one sign has a chronological relationship; it's not clear how the other sign works. Perhaps the singer is a microcosm of a larger social phenomenon--but is the song suggesting that we are shifting towards that solidarity, or that the solidarity already exists? The image of the bud would suggest that solidarity is not yet fully manifest. So are we NOT really one with people who have different pigmentation than us, but we will be eventually?
And what about that rainbow analogy. Do rainbows "light the heavens?" This is a strange expression to me, and I'm not quite familiar with it. i've never thought of a rainbow "lighting" anything. "Hanging" perhaps. "Being set in the Heavens" maybe. But "lighting?" I don't think of rainbows as being a source of light.
Now, I'm sure a physicist can correct me on this, but I also didn't think a rainbow "reflected" light so much as it "refracted" light. This is not my field, so I'll submit this one for more knowledgeable minds...but I was under the impression that rainbows occurred when a single, unified beam of white light struck a surface that separated that beam into its constituent wavelengths. I suppose a rainbow must, technically, be some form of reflection bouncing off of water, otherwise the refracted light would reach our eyes. But, even so, the rainbow, technically, should be an image of disunity and fragmentation if construed in terms of light.
It's also a bit weird that the analogy is between an event that occurs in the sky after an event (and therefore a chronological, cause-effect relationship) and a metaphor of an event that occurs in the sky at a given time (but not necessarily in a chronological relationship).
Rainbows "light" skies after storms.
We "reflect" radiance during God's new dawn.
We should be "reflecting" radiance the way rainbows light. I don't get it.
And the most noteworthy aspect of a rainbow's lighting is that it follows after a storm.
And what the heck is "God's new dawn?" It sounds like God is being reborn.
It would make much more sense to me if we reflected God's glory the way the moon reflects the sun. The moon's light is less than that of the sun, like the way we are limited in our capacity to be like God. We can only ever be dim reflections of God's full glory--at least in our current, fallen, earthly, states. more over, the moon functions as a surrogate of the Sun -- it's reflection reminds us that the sun is still there even when it can't be seen. It travels in the darkness to bring the Sun's light to those who can't readily see it. That sounds like a good metaphor for missionary work to me.
But the moon is only one color: white, so it doesn't serve the turn of multi-culturalism as well (even though white light is a better image of unity than a rainbow).
And, of course, the rainbow was not an image of diversity in the Bible. Rainbows as a symbol for humanity smacks of modern multi-cultural quackery to me. The rainbow, in its mythic, Jewish proportions, was supposed to be a sign of God's mercy--that he wasn't going to directly intervene and wipe out the entire human population through flooding directly because of its decadence and godlessness--that he tried it once and found it a very unpleasant business.
I won't even go into the problems of the cloying rhyme or fourteen syllable lines...
The real issue is still that this saccharine, multi-cultural, gutless missionary hymn seems to snub its nose at the fundamental nature of catechesis: teaching our creed.