Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Like its author and the Society of Jesus he founded, the quote takes no prisoners. But, it rings true. This is so especially in light of my week-long conference here at St John's University Collegeville with that OTHER world-changing society, the Companions of Christ. There's not much time or facility for blogging right now, but trust me, this week continues to be a life-changing time. .
The breath becomes a tempest.
"It is true that the voice of God, having once penetrated the heart, becomes strong as the tempest and loud as the thunder. But before reaching the heart it is as weak as a light breath that scarcely agitates the air. It shrinks from noise and is silent amid agitation."
Pope Surveys Post-Vatican II Trials
Aide Says He Gives Vision of Realism and Humility
VATICAN CITY, JULY 29, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says he had great enthusiasm during the Second Vatican Council, but acknowledges the difficulties the Church has faced since those years.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi recounted the Pope's words during the most recent edition of the Vatican Television program "Octava Dies." The Vatican spokesman was commenting on the Holy Father's question-and-answer session last Tuesday with priests from two dioceses of northern Italy.
Father Lombardi recalled that the Bishop of Rome answered a priest who spoke of living through the Second Vatican Council, the hopes of "changing the world," and the difficulties of the succeeding years.
The Pontiff replied: "I also lived the time of the Council with great enthusiasm; it seemed that the Church and the world had met again. We had hoped a great deal -- but things showed themselves to be more difficult."
Father Lombardi affirmed that the question-and-answer session had a "relaxed climate of reciprocal confidence among those who have dedicated their lives to so many years of pastoral service in a difficult world that is in constant change."
In this context, "the Pope delineates with a few very effective sketches the Church's path of the last decades, profoundly interpreting it in the context of the contemporary world," the Vatican official added.
Father Lombardi said Benedict XVI recalled "above all the cultural crisis of the West that exploded in '68, with the fascination for Marxism and the illusion of creating a new world, and the crumbling of the communist regimes in '89: the fall of the ideologies that did not give room to faith but rather to skepticism.
"The Christian proclamation has to come to terms with this context," the Vatican spokesman added. "And the Church faces it with realism and humility without ceding to the triumphalism of those who think that they have found the way to the new world.
"At the bottom of this is the humility of the Crucified, which will always be contrasted by the great powers of the world, but which generates a real hope that is manifested in the creative vitality of the Church: in her communities and her movements, in the new responsibility of the laity, in ecumenical relations, in liturgical and spiritual experiences.
"The Pope of great theological ideas and great cultural wealth is also the one who helps us to live the simultaneously humble and rich condition of the hope of the Church on its way, as he says: 'With our feet on the ground and our eyes turned toward heaven.'"
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Saturday, July 28, 2007
I went to Mass this morning and listened to the parable of the wheat and the tares.
Mt 13,24-30. He proposed another parable to them. "The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?' He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' His slaves said to him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, "First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn."'"
Then I went home to tackle my appointed semi-annual task- the pulling of weeds from the cracks in the gutter on the street in front of my house.
A few minutes ago I also read the July 28th reading from the Rule of Benedict: Chapter 48- On the Daily Manual Labor. It reads in part:
And if the circumstances of the place or their poverty
should require that they themselves
do the work of gathering the harvest,
let them not be discontented;
for then are they truly monastics
when they live by the labor of their hands,
as did our Fathers and the Apostles.
Let all things be done with moderation, however,
for the sake of the faint-hearted.
Ok, so weed pulling isn't exactly harvest gathering.
But it IS hard, back-breaking and sweaty work. Labora with a capital L. However, even if I could afford it I'm not sure I would pay someone to do this particular piece of yardwork for me. There is something very salutary about working hard, and then looking back down the road and seeing the clean and visible seams of asphalt which until this morning had been spotted over with weeds in various stages of ugly development.
But as good as the labora of weeding feels to the gardening soul, we still hear a Gospel warning about our weeding work in the Kingdom.
In a word. Don't do it.
The householder says 'No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, "First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn."'"
It's not ours to try and practice unnatural selection either in the Church or out in the world, not even in the garden plot of our own lives.
Why is that?
The householder of the parable is simply reflecting the Divine Father's merciful heart. We are told over and over again in Scripture that God wants us, has a passion for our souls, and will go to almost any length to help us return to Him. He loved us so much that sent His Son to die for us.
Therefore, it behooves us who are called into His presence to act like him. Yes, we need to call sin a sin and let people know when they are sowing bad seed in their own lives and in the world (to extend the metaphor a bit).
But, steadfastly Christ chose not to judge another person's state before God. That was part of the Divine winsomeness of His ministry. He didn't. We aren't supposed to either.
Judge not, lest ye be judged. Period. End of story.
But not really the end. Because Christians can sometimes be even harder on themselves than they are on other people. So God is telling us again here, don't even judge yourself. "Let me do that," the Father says "in my kind and stern yet merciful way. Let me bring you home. Let me weed your garden. Let me bring you life."
Sometimes we get so down on ourselves that we can't even hear the Dvinie Mercy calling out to us. We might be like Groucho Marx who claimed that he wouldn't join any club which would have him as a member. So, if you aren't supposed to ride herd on others, and not even on yourself, then what are you left with? A listening heart, and a willing spirit, which only God can give.
I love Pope Pius XII (1939-1958). He's always so practical, if a little pompous in his language.
He addressed this issue of the holiness of the visible Church in his encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi (On the Mystical Body of Christ), 1943. Read it here if you get time. The writing style is a little foreign, but the concepts in this letter led directly into some of the most profound insights of Vatican II.
“Let them grow together until harvest”
"Nor must one imagine that the Body of the Church, just because it bears the name of Christ, is made up during the days of its earthly pilgrimage only of members conspicuous for their holiness, or that it consists only of those whom God has predestined to eternal happiness.
It is owing to the Savior's infinite mercy that place is allowed in His Mystical Body here below for those whom, of old, He did not exclude from the banquet (cf Mt 9:11). For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy.
Men may lose charity and divine grace through sin, thus becoming incapable of supernatural merit, and yet not be deprived of all life if they hold fast to faith and Christian hope, and if, illumined from above, they are spurred on by the interior promptings of the Holy Spirit to salutary fear and are moved to prayer and penance for their sins.
Let every one then abhor sin, which defiles the mystical members of our Redeemer; but if anyone unhappily falls and his obstinacy has not made him unworthy of communion with the faithful, let him be received with great love, and let eager charity see in him a weak member of Jesus Christ.
For, as[Augustine] the Bishop of Hippo remarks, it is better "to be cured within the Church's community than to be cut off from its body as incurable members." "As long as a member still forms part of the body there is no reason to despair of its cure; once it has been cut off, it can be neither cured nor healed."
Friday, July 27, 2007
A priest asked the Holy Father about dealing with widespread misconceptions about good and evil, saying that these moral concepts are confused with merely feeling good or feeling bad.The Pontiff responded that a "world without God becomes a world of arbitrariness and egoism. But where there is God, there is light and hope. Our life has a meaning that we cannot give it, but which precedes us, and guides us."
The voice, therefore, of great values is written in our being. And the majesty of man is found in the fact that he is not closed within himself; he is not reduced to material things; he is not able to be measured.
Instead he has an interior openness to essential things, the possibility to listen."
In the depth of our being we can listen not only to the needs of the moment, not only to material things, but to the voice of the Creator himself, and in this way we recognize what is good and what is evil."
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Good parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
When life seems barren,
When we are confused,
When we are lost in the desert,
When our marriage seems lifeless,
When we are selfish,
When we are afraid,
When we are ashamed,
When we sin,
You who know God's will for the family,
You who suffered without children,
You who trusted in God's will,
You who gave birth to the Blessed Mother,
You who taught the Mother of God,
You whose hearts trusted in God, hear our prayers for ...
Pray with us for the ministry of Catholic family life.
Pray with us for the ministry of Natural Family Planning.
Pray with us for all who give their time, talent and treasure to this good work.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Pope Benedict XVI General Audience, 21 June 2006
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Deep suffering and deep faith co-exist here, as exemplified in the life of St Sharbel Makhluf. He lived and died in the nineteenth century, was canonized by Paul VI in 1977, and his holiness has proved a blessing by way of example and miracle to thousands.
Father Sharbel displayed a strong devotion to the Eucharist, celebrating Mass at noon each day so that he could spend the morning in preparation for it and the afternoon in thanksgiving. He died a hermit, in poverty and in relative obscurity. He truly is a modern exemplar for the truth of the ancient monastic way of life.
In St. Sharbel the Incarnation had its full effect, redeeming him and those whose lives he touched, both before and after death.
About him Thomas Merton journaled....
"Sharbel lived as a hermit in Lebanon — he was a Maronite. He died. Everyone forgot about him. Fifty years later, his body was discovered incorrupt and in a short time he worked over 600 miracles. He is my new companion. My road has taken a new turning. It seems to me that I have been asleep for 9 years — and before that I was dead.”
Especially in these dark days of Middle Eastern conflict and dispair, may St Sharbel light the way for all people to live in peace, with our God, with each other, and with His creation.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
I've been starting the last few days to prepare for a class I'm taking this Fall, Theology of the Sacraments. I've been personally involved in liturgical matters for many years, as student, presider, lector, extraordinary minister. However, as I begin some reading, I've started to have a new appreciation for the source and summit of our faith.
Then along comes yesterday's gospel reading... Martha, Mary and the one thing needful. How perfect!
"As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary (who) sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."
This gospel reading puts the focus of our worship and our lives where it really belongs... on being with Christ. We need to hear this again and again.
I was taught early on at (Lutheran) seminary that liturgy meant "the work of the people." Liturgical reform was seen by some as if lay folk were storming the Bastille of clergy dominated rites and re-taking their rightful place as the focal point of the Church's public worship.
Liturgy... of the people, by the people, for the people.
For Christians in general and for Catholics in particular that word "liturgy" by the mid 20th century had come to mean the cultic acts of public worship, the pious exercises God's people engage in communally in worship and praise of God.
Pope Pius XII sensed the need to point the Church toward a deeper understanding of liturgy with his encyclical Mediator Dei. There he said that essential liturgy was not just our actions. It is the extension of Christ's saving presence as High Priest into our world. An important message. However, that early 1950's reminder was soon overtaken and swamped by the current events of the Second Vatican Council.
Turn the altars around!
Anoint the lay folk to take over roles previously reserved to clergy!
Make the language spoken intelligible and every-day so the people can "relate!"
Rightfully, the Vatican II Council pointed once again to active, full and conscious participation in the liturgy as one goal among others. Indeed, many of these changes rendered valuable service to a Church in sore need of reform.
Don't get me wrong. I don't think we need to turn back the clock. However, I also don't think the Reform can progress much further going forward without a much-needed Reform of the Reform.
The zeal for immedate reform in the wake of Vatican II seems to have obscured the importance of Pius XII's statement. Two other important elements of worship only now, a generation later, can be rediscovered, unpacked and fully appreciated.
Looking again at Pius XII's statement and the ancient sources it seems to me that the word "liturgy" really has two additional and slightly different foci. The word leiturgeia was used most commonly in the ancient world to reflect the work done on behalf of another.... public service, if you will, whether that be civic, political or religious duties. The focus of liturgy rightly belongs on Christ's priestly work and on others, not on us.
One of the "others" we focus on is God Himself. As Pius XII said, true worship is Christ-o-centric. It comes from Christ and remains centered on his salvific work as our great High Priest. The priesthood and accompaning sacramental ministries all turn back toward this one point, the source of all grace and all life who is that greatest of all High Priests. He mounted the altar of the Cross and gave himself for us. This is where we need to aim our worship, and not at the lower (but admirable)goals of "relevance" and "intelligibility."
A counter-balancing facet keeps this turning upward from becoming some sort of inward-turning introspective, convoluted maze, unrelated to the world at large. The "for other-ness" of liturgy also means that the entire assembly is called to worship and serve the living God in order to help bring life to the world.
We're not here in Mass to make ourselves feel good, or be affirmed or even to be "strengthened for service," All of those results may be helpful by-products of our liturgical involvement. We are really there on behalf of another or really LOTS of others... to help make the salvation which Jesus Christ won for us more real in its salvific effects in the world.
We really need both elements of "for-otherness" to make liturgy work right.
The high-priestly work of Christ made present in and for the world. What could be better? What could be more needful?
Friday, July 20, 2007
as the elements of the Memorial?
better symbolize unity than bread and wine.
As bread is made of a multiplicity of grains of wheat,
and wine is made from a multiplicity of grapes,
so the many who believe are one in Christ.
Second, no two substances in nature
have to suffer more to become what they are than bread and wine.
Wheat has to pass through the rigors of winter,
be ground beneath the Calvary of a mill, and then subjected to
purging fire before it can become bread.
Grapes in their turn must be subjected to the Gethsemane of a wine press
and have their life crushed for them to become wine.
Thus do they symbolize the Passion and Sufferings of Christ,
and the condition of Salvation,
for Our Lord said unless we die to ourselves we cannot live in Him.
A third reason is that there are no two substances in nature
which have more traditionally nourished man than bread and wine.
In bringing these elements to the altar, men are equivalently bringing themselves.
When bread and wine are taken or consumed,
they are changed into man's body and blood.
But when He took bread and wine, He changed them into Himself.
Bishop Fulton J Sheen
Life of Christ
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Here are some sage words from Richard Rolle, (+1349), hermit, mystic, writer of devotional works and translator of the Bible.
Love is a righteous turning
from earthly things,
and is joined to God, without departing,
and kindled with the fire of the Holy spirit:
far from defiling,
far from corruption,
bound to no vice of this life.
High above all fleshly lusts,
aye ready and greedy
for the contemplation of God.
In all things not overcome.
The sum of all good affections.
Health of good manners;
goal of the commandments of God;
death of sins; life of virtues.
Virtue whilst fighting lasts,
crown of overcomers.
Mirth to holy thoughts.
Without that, no man may please God;
with that, no man sins.
For if we love God with all our heart,
there is nothing in us through which we serve sin.
Very love cleanses the soul,
and delivers it from the pain of hell,
and from the foul service of sin,
and from the ugly fellowship of the devils;
and out of the fiend's son, makes God's son,
and partner of the heritage of heaven.
We shall force ourselves to clothe us in love,
as iron or coal does in the fire,
as the sir does in the sun,
as the wool does in the dye.
The coal so clothes itself in fire that it is fire.
The air so clothes itself in the sun that it is light.
And the wool so subnstantially takes the dye that it is like it.
In this manner shall a true lover of Jesus Christ do:
his heart shall so burn in love,
that it shall be turned into the fire of love,
and be as it were all fire;
and he shall so shine in virtues
that no part of him shall be murky in vices.
Monday, July 16, 2007
If Abraham had known it, he would have lavished his whole substance. But we, who know that we receive Christ, do show not as much zeal as he did, who thought that he was receiving mere men."
Sunday, July 15, 2007
I am trying not to be or sound cynical, but I was amazed once again (and probably shouldn't be) at the inaccurate reporting by the media. I was also dismayed by the response from other folk in "ecclesial bodies" who really ought to know better. However, giving the latter the benefit of the doubt, if they only read the press reports, then their response to the document appears more understandable.
Two items in particular caught my attention. The first was the treatment of the Q and A by the Associated Press as it appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The article read in part:
The new document - formulated as five questions and answers - restates key sections of a 2000 text the pope wrote when he was prefect of the congregation, "Dominus Iesus." The earlier text riled Protestant and other Christian denominations because it said they were not true churches but merely ecclesial communities and therefore did not have the "means of salvation."
The commentary repeated church teaching that says the Catholic Church "has the fullness of the means of salvation."
First, the article misquotes the predecessor document "Dominus Iesus." Winfield implies that somehow the Catholic Church believes and teaches that there are no elements of truth or graces to be found outside of the Roman Catholic Church.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Today's gospel sends some mixed messages.... peace and then the final blast of hot judgement a la Sodom and Gomorrah. The mixed bag of this reading reminds us that there is always conflict even among the people of peace.
As you go, make this proclamation: 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without
cost you have received; without cost you are to give.
Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts;
no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick.
The laborer deserves his keep.
Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and
stay there until you leave.
As you enter a house, wish it peace.
If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace
return to you.
Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words--go outside that house
or town and shake the dust from your feet.
Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and
Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
Pope John Paul II reminded us of the importance of peace during his speech to the Representatives of the Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of the World Religions in Assisi, October 27, 1986
"This Day at Assisi has helped us become more aware of our religious
commitments. But is has also made the world, looking at us through the
media, more aware of the responsibility of each religion regarding problems
of war and peace. More perhaps than ever before in history, the intrinsic
link between an authentic religious attitude and the great good of peace
has become evident to all. What a tremendous weight for human shoulders to
But at the same time, what a marvellous, exhilarating call to
follow! Although prayer is in itself action, this does not excuse us from
working for peace. Here we are acting as the heralds of the moral awareness
of humanity as such, humanity that wants peace, needs peace.
There is no peace without a passionate love for peace. There is no peace without a
relentless determination to achieve peace. Peace awaits its prophets.
Together we have filled our eyes with visions of peace: they release
energies for a new language of peace, for new gestures of peace, gestures
which will shatter the fatal chains of divisions inherited from history or
spawned by modern ideologies.
Peace awaits its builders. Let us stretch our hands towards our brothers and sisters, to encourage them to build peace upon the four pillars of truth, justice, love and freedom. Peace is a workshop, open to all and not just to specialists, savants and strategists.
Peace is a universal responsibility: it comes about through a thousand
little acts in daily life. By their daily way of living with others, people
choose for or against peace… What we have done today at Assisi,
praying and witnessing to our commitment to peace, we must continue to do
every day of our life. For what we have done today’s is vital for the
world. If the world is going to continue, and men and women are to survive
in it, the world cannot do without prayer."
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Sometimes we each need to play like the swallows..... just arc up and let go and let God take care of things.... forget the schedule, forget the goals, forget the seriousness of the moment.
Pray for us all that we will find a way to imitate the swallows.
St Benedict, patron of the Middle Way, pray for us.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
I said last week that I had to fast from Eucharist for a few days due to timing issues on my trip. This describes perfectly why I felt famished afterward. We need Jesus!
There is another life above the life of the body; namely, the
life of the soul. Just as the life of the body is the soul, so,
too, the life of the soul is God.
This Divine life we receive in
Communion. If the sunlight and moisture and the chemicals of
the earth could speak they could say to the plants:
"Unless you eat me you shall not have life in you;" if the
animals and plants and the chemicals of the universe could speak
they would say to man: "Unless you eat me you shall not have
life in you."
So, too, the Son of God says to us that unless we
receive of Him we shall not have Divine life in us. The law of
transformation holds sway, the lower is transformed into the
higher; chemicals into plants, plants into animals, animals into
man and man into God without, however, man ever losing his
Hence the word that is used for Communion
is "to receive" Our Lord, for literally we do receive the Divine
life, more significantly than a babe receive human life as it is
nursed by the mother, for in this latter case, the human is being
nourished by the human, but in Communion the human receives
Divine life from God. But like all words, even this one has some
imperfection for in communion it is not so much we who receive
Christ as Christ who receives us, incorporating us into Himself.
Bishop Fulton Sheen
This Is the Mass
“Ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers"
John Paul II Message for the XXXVIII World Day of Prayer for Vocations, 6th May 2001
"Holy Father, eternal source of existence and love, who, in living man, show the splendour of your glory, and who put in his heart the seed of your call, let no-one, by reason of our negligence, ignore or lose this gift, but may everyone walk, with wholehearted generosity, towards the realisation of your Love.
Lord Jesus, who in your pilgrimage along the roads of Palestine, chose and called the apostles and entrusted to them their task of preaching the Gospel, feeding the faithful and celebrating divine worship, ensure that today, too, your Church may not lack numerous holy priests, who can bring to all the fruits of your death and resurrection.
Holy Spirit, who sanctify the Church with the constant pouring out of your gifts, place into the hearts of those called to the consecrated life a deep-rooted and resolute passion for the Kingdom,so that with a generous and unconditioned "yes", they may place their entire existences at the service of the Gospel.
Most holy Virgin, who without hesitation offered yourself to the Almighty for the carrying out of his plan of salvation, pour trust into the hearts of young people so that there may always be zealous pastors who are able to guide the Christian people on the way of life, and consecrated souls who may know how to witness, in chastity, poverty, and obedience, to the freeing presence of your risen Son. Amen."
Monday, July 09, 2007
I'm not quite sure I know what to say. However, I have wondered why liturgy is so darned important, and even more why it is charged with sooooo much emotion on all sides.
I think the answer can be expressed in four words (Latin) or seven (English): lex orandi, lex credendi or the law of prayer is the law of belief. Most Christians, Eastern, Western or other flavors, will never crack a book of theology, some will never even study the Bible on their own. Most (if they are fortunate) will never have to wade through volumes of systematic or historical theology.
Reading theology is sometimes (even for those of us with a 35 year history of it) a little like memorizing the periodic table of elements. You have to do it, but it really doesn't change the elements to call salt NaCl or gold Au. Salt is still salt on the table and gold will ever be gold, glittering in my girl's ear or on her hand.
However, every Christian, without exception, will at some point worship God. If repeated enough times in one's life this worship becomes part of the warp and woof of one's existence. I grew up a Missouri Synod Lutheran, and have pages 5 and 15 stenciled onto my soul right next to that bit of catechism-ic doggerel.... "this is most certainly true." Only true Missouri-sinners will understand these references. But, what the hey? It shows how obtuse and idiosyncratic our theological constructs and our worship can be.
Back on track.... worship doesn't just in-form our theology, worship forms it. So, any time one makes an alteration (major or minor) in "how we do things around here" that alteration has consquences for how we relate to God. The more liturgical a church is, the more that this is true.
Hence the high emotion around this past weekend's announcement.
And now for my own preliminary observations about the motu proprio.
I was pleased with how even-handed it all was.... it was not really backtracking to before Vatican II but simply stating the organic unity which exists along the developmental line from the Tridentine era rite to our own vernacular Paul VI rite. Each rite has its strengths, but the insistent drumbeat of this particular decree is that both- hear this all camps- BOTH- are expressions of the one Mass of antiquity which goes on being offered each day by good and holy priests around this beleaguered world of ours.
Second, the option of whether or not to have the earlier Mass form now moves from the chancery and the rectory out to the pew. If people ask for it, the Church has a duty to provide it. Good idea.
I live in a diocese with many hundred thousands of Catholic (and not so Catholic) souls. Yet, there is only one small parish which has a weekly Tridentine Mass. I go occasionally, and this Mass is not packed with people on a regular basis... at least not during the times I have been there. But I personally respect the decision being made to offer this Mass more widely. I think we owe it to the traditionalists. But we also owe it to ourselves as Church.
Here's why (last observation). I believe (and have admitted as much here) that there is an appalling lack of reverence and respect and mystery in many of our celebrations of the liturgy. If the Tridentine Mass is as good as its proponents say, then over time I believe we will see a migratory effect. Maybe not much at first, but perhaps eventually this form of Mass will find a limited but powerful place in our Church again. Think Apple versus PC... 10% market share but rocking the world.
A second (and I believe even more far reaching) effect will be to strengthen and deepen the celebration of New Order Masses. Call me a romantic, but I believe that the mere presence of the Tridentine Mass will help highlight the things I love about a well-said Mass- reverence, quiet, focus, mystery, respect for tradition. That's what I hear many of my younger (less than 40 year old) counterparts asking for. No disrespect intended... but I just don't hear younger folk crying out for more guitars, social justice seminars or communal penance services.
So, look for more in this space about this change as information becomes available. Meanwhile, I am going off to Sparta WI again tomorrow to celebrate the Feast of our Holy Father St. Benedict with my brothers at Our Lady of Spring Bank Abbey.
They do a really great new order Mass in Latin and most of the day's offices, with the exception of Vigils are in our Mother's tongue also. I say that because it is true.... I was born a human and baptized a Lutheran but became a Roman Catholic Christian by choice. So, how could I pass up an opportunity to worship in a language and mode which has blessed many hundreds of generations before me?
The Second Vatican Council began the liturgical reform with the hope of reinvigorating this sense of the Presence of God who comes to meet us in love. Two generations after the Council, we are still searching for a deeper sense of the sacred in our Liturgy. We now realize some of the ways in which this can be accomplished. It is good to look at a few of these. Certain settings demand their own particular etiquette. Dress at a wedding reception differs from dress at a sports event. Conversation in a bar is louder than in a funeral home. The more we realize we are coming into the Presence of God in Church, the more respectful and reverent our whole person becomes. Chewing gum in Church, loud talking, beach attire and immodest dress simply do not belong!
We can recapture more and more the sense of the sacred, the more we allow the Liturgy to be what it is. A gift from God that allows God to speak and act in our life. A gift that draws us out of ourselves and out of time into the eternal life of God even now."
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Apostolic LetterIn the form of “Motu Proprio”
SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM BENEDICT XVI
It has always been the care of the Supreme Pontiffs until the present time, that the Church of Christ offer worthy worship to the Divine Majesty “for the praise and glory of his name” and “for the good of all his Holy Church.”As from time immemorial so in the future the principle shall be respected “according to which each particular Church must be in accord with the universal Church not only regarding the doctrine of the faith and sacramental signs, but also as to the usages universally handed down by apostolic and unbroken tradition.
These are to be maintained not only so that errors may be avoided, but also so that the faith may be passed on in its integrity, since the Church's rule of prayer (lex orandi) corresponds to her rule of belief (lex credendi).”Among Pontiffs who have displayed such care there excels the name of Saint Gregory the Great, who saw to the transmission to the new peoples of Europe both of the Catholic faith and of the treasures of worship and culture accumulated by the Romans in preceding centuries. He gave instructions for the form of the Sacred Liturgy of both the Sacrifice of the Mass and of the Divine Office as was celebrated in the City. He made the greatest efforts to foster monks and nuns, who militating under the Rule of St Benedict, in every place along with the proclamation of the Gospel by their life likewise exemplified that most salutary expression of the Rule “let nothing be given precedence over the work of God” (ch. 43).
In this way the sacred liturgy according to the Roman manner made fertile not only the faith and piety but also the culture of many peoples. Moreover it is evident that the Latin Liturgy in its various forms has stimulated in the spiritual life very many Saints in every century of the Christian age and strengthened in the virtue of religion so many peoples and made fertile their piety.However, in order that the Sacred Liturgy might more efficaciously absolve its task, several others among the Roman Pontiffs in the course of the centuries have brought to bear particular concern, among whom Saint Pius V is eminent, who with great pastoral zeal, at the exhortation of the Council of Trent, renewed the worship of the whole Church, ensuring the publishing of liturgical books amended and “restored according to the norm of the Fathers” and put them into use in the Latin Church.It is clear that among the liturgical books of the Roman Rite the Roman Missal is eminent. It grew in the city of Rome and gradually down through the centuries took on forms which are very similar to those in vigor in recent generations.“It was this same goal that as time passed the Roman Pontiffs pursued, adapting or establishing liturgical rites and books to new ages and then at the start of the present century undertaking a more ample restoration.” It was in this manner that our Predecessors Clement VIII, Urban VIII, St Pius X , Benedict XV, Pius XII and the Blessed John XXIII acted.
In more recent time, however, the Second Vatican Council expressed the desire that with due respect and reverence for divine worship it be restored and adapted to the needs of our age. Prompted by this desire, our Predecessor the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI in 1970 approved for the Latin Church liturgical books restored and partly renewed, and that throughout the world translated into many vernacular languages, have been welcomed by the Bishops and by the priests and faithful. John Paul II revised the third typical edition of the Roman Missal. Thus the Roman Pontiffs have acted so that “this liturgical edifice, so to speak, …might once again appear splendid in its dignity and harmony.”However in some regions not a small number of the faithful have been and remain attached with such great love and affection to the previous liturgical forms, which had profoundly imbued their culture and spirit, that the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, prompted by pastoral concern for these faithful, in 1984 by means of a special Indult Quattuor abhinc annos, drawn up by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted the faculty to use the Roman Missal published by John XXIII in 1962; while in 1988 John Paul II once again, by means of the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei, exhorted the Bishops to make wide and generous use of this faculty in favor of all the faithful requesting it.Having pondered at length the pressing requests of these faithful to our Predecessor John Paul II, having also heard the Fathers of the Consistory of Cardinals held on 23 March 2006, having pondered all things, invoked the Holy Spirit and placed our confidence in the help of God, by this present Apostolic Letter we DECREE the following.
Art. 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is to be regarded as the ordinary expression of the law of prayer (lex orandi) of the Catholic Church of Latin Rite, while the Roman Missal promulgated by St Pius V and published again by Blessed John XXIII as the extraordinary expression of the law of prayer (lex orandi) and on account of its venerable and ancient use let it enjoy due honor. These two expressions of the law of prayer (lex orandi) of the Church in no way lead to a division in the law of prayer (lex orandi) of the Church, for they are two uses of the one Roman Rite.Hence it is licit to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass in accordance with the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as the extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church. The conditions laid down by the previous documents Quattuor abhinc annos and Ecclesia Dei for the use of this Missal are replaced by what follows:
Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, any priest of Latin rite, whether secular or religious, can use the Roman Missal published by Pope Blessed John XXIII in 1962 or the Roman Missal promulgated by the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI in 1970, on any day except in the Sacred Triduum. For celebration in accordance with one or the other Missal, a priest does not require any permission, neither from the Apostolic See nor his own Ordinary.
Art. 3. If Communities or Institutes of Consecrated Life or Societies of Apostolic Life of either pontifical or diocesan rite desire to have a celebration of Holy Mass in accordance with the edition of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962 in the conventual or “community” celebration in their own oratories, this is allowed. If an individual community or the entire Institute or Society wants to have such celebrations often or habitually or permanently, the matter is to be decided by the Major Superiors according to the norm of law and the particular laws and statutes.
Art. 4. With due observance of law, even Christ’s faithful who spontaneously request it, may be admitted to celebrations of Holy Mass mentioned in art. 2 above.
Art. 5, § 1. In parishes where a group of faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition exists stably, let the pastor willingly accede to their requests for the celebration of the Holy Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962. Let him see to it that the good of these faithful be harmoniously reconciled with ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the Bishop according to canon 392, avoiding discord and fostering the unity of the whole Church.§ 2. Celebration according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII can take place on weekdays, while on Sundays and on feast days there may be one such celebration.§ 3. Let the pastor permit celebrations in this extraordinary form for faithful or priests who request it, even in particular circumstances such as weddings, funerals or occasional celebrations, for example pilgrimages.§ 4. Priests using the Missal of Blessed John XXIII must be worthy and not impeded by law.§ 5. In churches, which are neither parochial nor conventual, it is the Rector of the church who grants the above-mentioned permission.
Art. 6. In Masses celebrated with the people according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, the Readings can be proclaimed even in the vernacular, using editions that have received the recognitio of the Apostolic See.
Art. 7. Where some group of lay faithful, mentioned in art. 5§1 does not obtain what it requests from the pastor, it should inform the diocesan Bishop of the fact. The Bishop is earnestly requested to grant their desire. If he cannot provide for this kind of celebration, let the matter be referred to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.
Art. 8. A Bishop who desires to make provision for requests of lay faithful of this kind, but is for various reasons prevented from doing so, may refer the matter to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, which should give him advice and help.
Art. 9, § 1. Likewise a pastor may, all things duly considered, grant permission to use the older ritual in administering the Sacraments of Baptism, Matrimony, Penance and the Anointing of the Sick, as the good of souls may suggest.§ 2. Ordinaries are granted the faculty to celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation using the former Roman Pontifical, as the good of souls may suggest.§ 3. It is lawful for clerics in holy orders to use even the Roman Breviary promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962.
Art 10. It is lawful for the local Ordinary, if he judges it opportune, to erect a personal parish according to the norm of canon 518 for celebrations according to the older form of the Roman rite or appoint a rector or chaplain, with due observance of the requirements of law.
Art. 11. The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, erected in 1988 by John Paul II, continues to carry out its function. This Commission is to have the form, duties and norm for action that the Roman Pontiff may wish to assign to it.
Art. 12. The same Commission, in addition to the faculties it already enjoys, will exercise the authority of the Holy See by maintaining vigilance over the observance and application of these dispositions.Whatever is decreed by Us by means of this Motu Proprio, we order to be firm and ratified and to be observed as of 14 September this year, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, all things to the contrary notwithstanding.
Given at Rome, at St Peter’s, on 7 July in the Year of Our Lord 2007, the Third of Our Pontificate.
1. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, third edition, 2002, n. 3972. Pope John Paul II, Ap. Letter Vicesimus quintus annus, 4 December 1988, n. 3: AAS 81 (1989) p. 899.3. Ibidem.4. Pope St Pius X, Motu Proprio Abhinc duos annos, 23 October 1913: AAS 5 (1913) 449-450; cf. Pope John Paul II, Ap. Letter Vicesimus quintus annus, 4 December 1988, n. 3: AAS 81 (1989) p. 8995. Cf. Pope John Paul II, Motu proprio Ecclesia Dei adflicta, 2 July 1988, n. 6: AAS 80 (1988) p. 1498.(This unofficial translation has been prepared by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for the Liturgy. Only the Latin original of the Apostolic Letter may be considered the official text.)