Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Anawim, the Beatitudes, Deacons and Cairo

Last Sunday's readings spoke of the "anawim", the faithful remnant of Israel who in the face of hardship, persecution and powerlessness, turned themselves totally over to God.  It is to the "anawim" that Christ directs the Beatitudes.  Not only are we called to serve the anawim in our own day, but to recognize that we are all called to be anawim -- to give ourselves over completely to God.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church, when preparing to address the beatitudes, speaks directly of "Our Vocation to Beatitude."

Thanks to my friend Deacon Eric Stoltz, a contemporary reflection on the anawim and the beatitudes may be found on his website here.

Given what is going on in Cairo and elsewhere at this very moment, now is a wonderful time for such a reflection, and I thank Eric profoundly for his work.  I would also pose a question for the deacons among us: There are, literally, only a handful of Catholic deacons in Egypt: What do you think they are doing right now?  Let's keep everyone in prayer. . . .


  1. I do not think it wise to indulge in the passions of the moment (no matter how nobly intended) and put the mantle of the beatitudes over a political movement we really don't know much about yet.
    According to one account the leaders of the Coptic Christian Church have asked their people to not get involved for fear a new government might start engaging in ethnic cleansing of Coptic Christians the way Chaldean
    Catholics are being cleansed in Iraq.
    Also,apparently one of the leading groups in the demonstrations has issued a statement saying that after Mubarak goes the next steps are to go to war with Israel and destroy that country. Hardly Beatitude values.

  2. Dear John,

    You may very well be right. Still, I'm curious what our brother deacons are doing right now.

  3. Bill: I too would find it interesting to read about how any Catholic or Coptic deacons are handling the situation over there.
    What bothers me is the quick jumping to put Christ's mantle over demonstrators that may or may not deserve that mantle--especially considering the violence some demonstrating groups are espousing over there.

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  5. Bill--a Q&A about deacons and exorcisms came up on the Zenit site. The answer was that only priests can do exorcisms (if deputized to do so by a bishop, I presume) But I'm not sure that answer is right.
    I recall that up until recent decades all those on the way to the diaconate or priesthood had to be first installed in the minor orders--such as exorcist.
    Which means one did not need to be a priest or even a deacon to do an exorcism as long as one had received the minor order of exorcist and had the authorization of his bishop.
    Now, of course, neither priests nor deacons are automatically installed in the order of exorcist as part of their journey to ordination.
    It is a currently relevant issue because the No. 1 movie last week was "The Rite" which was about Catholic exorcism--so I anticipate some comments or questions from parishoners.

  6. Dear John,

    Thanks for your question. I think I'm inclining to your position on this. I've read the Zenit response, and I think that he is correct on the first, general, use of exorcism within other rites, such as RCIA.

    I also agree that the current liturgical law restricts the second type of exorcism to priests. However, it would seem to me that this could easily be changed if the church wished. I'm going to look into it a bit further. If I find some good information, I'll post it.

    God bless,