Saturday, June 30, 2007

How to depress yourself (Episcopalian)

~from Chris Johnson of Midwest Conservative Journal
(1) Buy this book.

(2) Begin reading it.

(3) Compare the mind of its author to those of the current and previous heads of the church in which you spent the first 48 years of your life.

How good is the book?  I'm not 100 pages in and I can't tell you how many times I've said or thought, "Whoa."

Pope's Letter to Chinese Catholics

~from the Vatican

C. Content of the Letter

“Without claiming to deal with every detail of the complex matters well known to you”, writes Benedict XVI to the Catholics of China, “I wish through this letter to offer some guidelines concerning the life of the Church and the task of evangelization in China, in order to help you discover what the Lord and Master Jesus Christ wants from you” (No. 2). The Pope reiterates some fundamental principles of Catholic ecclesiology in order to clarify the more important problems, aware that the light shed by these principles will provide assistance in dealing with the various questions and the more concrete aspects of the life of the Catholic community.

While expressing great joy for the fidelity demonstrated by the faithful in China over the past fifty years, Benedict XVI reaffirms the inestimable value of their sufferings and of the persecution endured for the Gospel, and he directs to all an earnest appeal for unity and reconciliation. Since he is aware of the fact that full reconciliation “cannot be accomplished overnight”, he recalls that this path “of reconciliation is supported by the example and the prayer of so many ‘witnesses of faith’ who have suffered and have forgiven, offering their lives for the future of the Catholic Church in China” (No. 6).

In this context, the words of Jesus, “Duc in altum” (Lk 5:4), continue to ring true. This is an expression which invites “us to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and to look forward to the future with confidence”. In China, as indeed in the rest of the world, “the Church is called to be a witness of Christ, to look forward with hope, and – in proclaiming the Gospel – to measure up to the new challenges that the Chinese people must face” (No. 3). “In your country too” the Pope states, “the proclamation of Christ crucified and risen will be possible to the extent that, with fidelity to the Gospel, in communion with the Successor of the Apostle Peter and with the universal Church, you are able to put into practice the signs of love and unity” (ibid.).

In dealing with some of the more urgent problems which emerge from the queries which have reached the Holy See from Bishops and priests, Benedict XVI offers guidance regarding the recognition of ecclesiastics of the clandestine community by the government authorities (cf. No. 7) and he gives much prominence to the subject of the Chinese Episcopate (cf. No. 8), with particular reference to matters surrounding the appointment of Bishops (cf. No. 9). Of special significance are the pastoral directives which the Holy Father gives to the community, which emphasize in the first place the figure and mission of the Bishop in the diocesan community: “nothing without the Bishop”. In addition, he provides guidance for Eucharistic concelebration and he encourages the creation of diocesan bodies laid down by canonical norms. He does not fail to give directions for the training of priests and family life.

As for the relationship of the Catholic community to the State, Benedict XVI in a serene and respectful way recalls Catholic doctrine, formulated anew by the Second Vatican Council. He then expresses the sincere hope that the dialogue between the Holy See and the Chinese government will make progress so as to be able to reach agreement on the appointment of Bishops, obtain the full exercise of the faith by Catholics as a result of respect for genuine religious freedom and arrive at the normalization of relations between the Holy See and the Beijing Government.

Finally, the Pope revokes all the earlier and more recent faculties and directives of a pastoral nature which had been granted by the Holy See to the Church in China. The changed circumstances of the overall situation of the Church in China and the greater possibilities of communication now enable Catholics to follow the general canonical norms and, where necessary, to have recourse to the Apostolic See. In any event, the doctrinal principles which inspired the above-mentioned faculties and directives now find fresh application in the directives contained in the present Letter (cf. No. 18).

D. Tone and outlook of the Letter

With spiritual concern and using an eminently pastoral language, Benedict XVI addresses the entire Church in China. His intention is not to create situations of harsh confrontation with particular persons or groups: even though he expresses judgments on certain critical situations, he does so with great understanding for the contingent aspects and the persons involved, while upholding the theological principles with great clarity. The Pope wishes to invite the Church to a deeper fidelity to Jesus Christ and he reminds all Chinese Catholics of their mission to be evangelizers in the present specific context of their country. The Holy Father views with respect and deep sympathy the ancient and recent history of the great Chinese people and once again declares himself ready to engage in dialogue with the Chinese authorities in the awareness that normalization of the life of the Church in China presupposes frank, open and constructive dialogue with these authorities. Furthermore, Benedict XVI, like his Predecessor John Paul II before him, is firmly convinced that this normalization will make an incomparable contribution to peace in the world, thus adding an irreplaceable piece to the great mosaic of peaceful coexistence among peoples.

Read the Letter

Motu proprio: All Sacraments, not just Mass

~from Il Giornale via WDTPRS
The solid Andrea Tornielli has a meaty piece in Il Giornale about the Motu Proprio.


1) The MP will be released probably on 7 July.
2) There will probably be no press conference to present the document.
3) The Pope offers a letter with the document to explain his decison.
4) The older rite was not abolished.
5) It had been decided by a group of cardinals in 1982 that there should be more use of the 1962 Missale.
6) The prayer about the "perfidis judeais" was already gone from that edition.
7) When "stable groups" ("gruppi stabili") want the older Mass they can go to the parish priest (pastor).
8) It will be the bishops role to help iron out problems, resolve difficulties.
9) The old calendar and readings for Mass are preserved.
10) People can have not only Mass but all the sacraments in the old rite.
11) We don’t speak any longer of two rites, of Paul VI and of "Tridentine", but of one rite of the Latin church in two forms, ordinary and extraordinary.
12) The Pope explains in his letter that this is not a return to the past.
13) What happened after the Council was not supposed to be a break with the past.
14) Mass must be celebrated well in either form.
15) Card. Castrillon Hoyos explained the text.
16) The Pope came and they discused things for an hour.
17) In the last few months very few and very small changes were made to the text, as was explained on Wednesday.
18) In the last few weeks Cardinal Lehmanand Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor brought up the point abut Jews being upset.
19) The French had expressed worry abou tht e "unity" of the Church, something they did not seem to wory about in the face of liturgical abuses in the Novus Ordo.
20) The Letter to the Chinese will be 28 pages.
21) The Pope declares the full validity of the sacraments celebrated by both the official and clandestine Churches.

Spin cycle

...has begun. Rorate Cæli explains how one of our Cardinals views the Motu Proprio.

First Martyrs of Rome

There were Christians in Rome within a dozen or so years after the death of Jesus, though they were not the converts of the "Apostle of the Gentiles" (see Romans 15:20). Paul had not yet visited them at the time he wrote his great letter in A.D. 57-58.
There was a large Jewish population in Rome. Probably as a result of controversy between Jews and Jewish Christians, the Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome in A.D. 49-50. Suetonius the historian says that the expulsion was due to disturbances in the city "caused by the certain Chrestus" [Christ]. Perhaps many came back after Claudius's death in A.D. 54. Paul's letter was addressed to a church with members from Jewish and gentile backgrounds.

In July of A.D. 64, more than half of Rome was destroyed by fire. Rumor blamed the tragedy on Nero, who wanted to enlarge his palace. He shifted the blame by accusing the Christians. According to the historian Tacitus, a "great multitude" of Christians were put to death because of their "hatred of the human race." Peter and Paul were probably among the victims.

Threatened by an army revolt and condemned to death by the senate, Nero committed suicide in A.D. 68 at the age of thirty-one.

Wherever the Good News of Jesus was preached, it met the same opposition as Jesus did, and many of those who began to follow him shared his suffering and death. But no human force could stop the power of the Spirit unleashed upon the world. The blood of martyrs has always been, and will always be, the seed of Christians.

~ from Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God

~by St. Gregory of Nyssa

Bodily health is a good thing, but what is truly blessed is not only to know how to keep one’s health but actually to be healthy. If someone praises health but then goes and eats food that makes him ill, what is the use to him, in his illness, of all his praise of health?
We need to look at the text we are considering in just the same way. It does not say that it is blessed to know something about the Lord God, but that it is blessed to have God within oneself. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

I do not think that this is simply intended to promise a direct vision of God if one purifies one’s soul. On the other hand, perhaps the magnificence of this saying is hinting at the same thing that is said more clearly to another audience: The kingdom of God is within you. That is, we are to understand that when we have purged our souls of every illusion and every disordered affection, we will see our own beauty as an image of the divine nature.

And it seems to me that the Word of God, in these few words, was saying something like this: In you there is a certain desire to contemplate what is truly good. But when you hear that God’s majesty is exalted high above the heavens, that his glory beyond comprehension, that his beauty is beyond description, that his very nature can neither be perceived nor be understood, do not fall into despair or think you can never have the sight that you desire.

So if, by love and right living, you wash off the filth that has become stuck to your heart, the divine beauty will shine forth in you. Think of iron, which at one moment is dark and tarnished and the next, once the rust has been scraped off, shines and glistens brightly in the sun. It is the same with the inner core of man, which the Lord calls the heart. It has been in damp and foul places and is covered in patches of rust; but once the rust has been scraped off, it will recover itself and once more resemble its archetype. And so it will be good, since what resembles the good must be good itself.

Therefore, whoever looks at himself sees in himself what he desires. And whoever is pure in heart is blessed because, seeing his own purity, he sees the archetype reflected in the image. If you see the sun in a mirror then you are not looking directly at the sky, but still you are seeing the sun just as much as someone who looks directly at it. In the same way, the Lord is saying, although you do not have the strength to withstand the direct sight of the great and inaccessible light of God, if you look within yourselves once you have returned to the grace of the image that was placed in you from the beginning, you will find in yourselves all that you seek.

For to be God is to be pure, to be free from weakness and passion, to be separated from all evil. If these things are all true of you then God is within you. If your thought is kept pure from evil habits, free from passion and weakness, separated from all stain, you are blessed because your vision is sharp and clear. You are able to see what is invisible to those who have not been purified. The eyes of your soul have been cleansed of material filth and through the purity of your heart you have a clear sight of the vision of blessedness. What is that vision? It is purity, sanctity, simplicity, and other reflections of the brightness of the Divine nature. It is the sight of God.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Differences between Tridentine Mass and Mass today

~from CNS (no attribution, just editorial board)!!

Here at a glance are the basic differences between the Tridentine Mass, promulgated in 1570, and the Roman Missal published in 1969 in response to the reforms called for by the Second Vatican Council:

-- While Latin is the original language of both liturgical texts, the new missal permits use of the vernacular language; because it called for full, active participation, the use of a local congregation's language became customary.

-- With the exception of readings for the feast days of individual saints, the Tridentine Mass has a one-year cycle of Scripture readings. The Vatican II liturgy has a three-year cycle for Sunday readings and a two-year cycle for weekday readings.

-- The old penitential "prayers at the foot of the altar," recited by priests and other ministers before Mass, were replaced by the penitential rite within the Mass, recited by the entire congregation.

-- In the Tridentine Mass, the first half of the liturgy was called the Mass of the Catechumens and almost always included a reading from one of the New Testament epistles and from one of the four Gospels. The new Liturgy of the Word, in accordance with ancient church tradition, almost always begins with a passage from the Old Testament.

-- The Liturgy of the Eucharist, formerly called the Mass of the Faithful, begins with the preparation of the gifts. The old offertory prayers were revised in the new liturgy to avoid what some people saw as a duplication of the eucharistic prayers.

-- Instead of one eucharistic prayer, there are now nine -- four for general Sunday and weekday use, two for Masses focusing on reconciliation and three for Masses for children.

-- In the new Mass, the Communion rite was simplified, allowing communicants to receive the Eucharist under the forms of both bread and wine.

-- The new Mass eliminated the recitation at the end of every Mass of what was known as the "last Gospel" -- the beginning of the Gospel of St. John.

-- A priest celebrated the Tridentine Mass facing east, which -- given the layout of most churches -- meant he celebrated with his back [gah!] to the congregation. Since the promulgation of the Roman Missal, the priest normally faces the congregation.

Benedict and the Mass

~from Inside the Vatican

Some would see the Holy Father’s interest in the old Mass as a matter of cultural taste. His desire for a wider use of the old rite in Latin is seen as something comparable to his interest in classical music. For these people, the issue is often reduced to a question of practicality: the old rite, in Latin, is "impractical" in the 21st century, and so, these people say, it would be unwise to expand its use.

But this is a serious misunderstanding of Benedict’s motivation. He is not concerned with Latin in itself. His respect for the "old Mass" is not a nostalgic cultural attachment to an ancient language. No, Benedict is concerned about the essence of the Mass itself.

And what is that essence? The right worship of God.

Certainly there is something to be said, in practical terms, for the use in a worldwide Church of a single liturgical language. And certainly, Latin is in some ways a good candidate to be that universal language. It was the language of the Empire under which Jesus lived and died. It has been used for almost 20 centuries. And translations could make the language "accessible" to all even today -- and even in times to come.

But that is not the point. It isn’t about the Latin. (And the Latin Mass is, in any case, not the Latin Mass at all; that is a misnomer; it is, rather, "the Latin, Greek and Aramaic Mass," with "Kyrie eleison" in Greek and "Amen" and "Alleluia" in Aramaic.) And those who think Latin is at the core of this matter do not see fully what is at stake here.

And what is at stake is not a trivial matter. If it were, the Pope wouldn’t have given two years of attention to it, or 25 years as a cardinal to stating repeatedly that there needs to be a "reform of the reform." Rather, it is an important matter. In fact, the most important one. For the Mass is celebrated for a single reason: for the Eucharist. And the Eucharist is one thing only: Christ with us. And Christ with us is the sole reason for the Church’s being.

So in dealing with the Mass, the Pope is not dealing with a marginal, a peripheral matter. The liturgy is not a "side issue." It is a central one; indeed, the central one. It is the little matter (and the Orthodox rightly stress this) of... the divinization of man! A reality which brought Padre Pio to tears.

So it is a very important matter. But what is the problem? It seems that Benedict, like many thoughtful believers, is concerned about the fact that the conciliar reform of the liturgy in the 1960s has in some way apparently failed to achieve its chief goal, which was to bring about an even greater reverence for the Eucharist, an even greater participation by the faithful in the mystery of Christ, an even deeper sacramental life within the Church. (That is what the conciliar fathers hoped to accomplish by approving a liturgical reform.)

And if there are in the "old Mass," as many argue, qualities too hastily discarded in the 1960s -- a sense of tradition which made it a bit easier for some to turn their minds toward the eternal, a sense of solemnity which helped some to turn their hearts toward God -- and if that loss can, even if only in part, be made good, if it can be remedied, by a motu proprio allowing the "old Mass" to be celebrated more widely, then it is a work of great import for the Pope to carry out.

If the "old Mass" is merely a "cultural" matter, the fad of a small elite, it will not flourish in any case, and the motu proprio will be a dead letter. But if it is a matter of renewing the Church, and if the dignity and holiness of the old rite strikes the faithful in such a way as to re-kindle in them a sense of that devotion which prepares them to encounter Christ, then allowing the old Mass to be celebrated more widely will be an act worth preparing for with much toil and care.

The confession of Peter

Pope Benedict XVI sits during a solemn mass to celebrate the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 29, 2007. REUTERS/Tony Gentile (VATICAN)

~from Pope Benedict's Homily at the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul (translated by Papa Ratzinger Forum)

Today's feast gives us the opportunity to meditate once more on the confession of Peter, a decisive moment in the journey of the disciples with Jesus. The synoptic Gospels say it took place near Caesarea Philippi (cfr Mt 16,13-20; Mk 8,27-30; Lk 9,18-22). John has preserved for us another significant confession of Peter, after the miracle of the loaves and Jesus's discourse at the synagogue in Capharnaum (cfr Jn 6,66-70).

Matthew, in the text which was read a short while ago, recalls that Jesus attributes to Peter the name Kephas, which means 'rock'. Jesus affirms he wishes to build his church 'on this rock', and in this context, confers on Peter the power of the keys (cfr Mt 16,17-19).

From these accounts it emerges clearly that Peter's confession is inseparable from the pastoral mission for Jesus's flock that was entrusted.

According to all the evangelists, Simon's confession comes at a decisive moment in the life of Jesus, when, after preaching in Galilee, he heads resolutely towards Jerusalem to bring his saving mission to fulfillment, through his death on the Cross and the Resurrection.

The disciples are involved in this decision: Jesus invites them to make a choice which will distinguish them from the crowd, to become the community of believers in him, his 'family,' the start of the Church.

In fact, there are two ways of 'seeing' and 'knowing' Christ: one, that of the crowd's, is more superficial; the other - that of the disciples - is more penetrating and authentic.

With the double question, "Who do people say I am? - Who do you think I am?", Jesus invites the disciples to be aware of this
difference in perspective.

The people thought Jesus was a prophet. That is not false, but it is not enough. One has to go in depth, to recognize the singularity of the person of Jesus of Nazareth, his 'newness.' Even today, it is so: many approach Jesus, so to speak, from the outside.

Great scholars acknowledge his spiritual and moral stature and his influence on the history of mankind, comparing him to Buddha, Confucius, Socrates and other wise and great historic personalities. But they do not arrive at acknowledging his uniqueness.

One recalls what Jesus told Phillip at the Last Supper: "I have been with you so long and still you do not know me, Phillip?" (Jn 14,9).

Jesus is often considered as one of the great religious founders, from whom one can take something in order to make up one's own belief. Just as then, even today, 'people' have different opinions about Jesus. And just as then, Jesus also asks us, his disciples today: "And you, who do you think that I am?"

We want Peter's answer to be ours. According to the Gospel of Mark, he said, "You are the Christ" (8,29); in Luke, the statement is "The Christ of God" (9,20); in Matthew, "You are the Christ, Son of the living God" (16,16); finally, in John, "You are the Holy One from God" (6.69). They are all valid responses, even for us.

Let us dwell in particular on Matthew's text from today's liturgy. According to some scholars, the formulation presumes a post-Easter context, and is linked directly to an apparition of the resurrected Jesus to Peter - an apparition analogous to what Paul saw on the road to Damascus.

Actually, the mission conferred by the Lord on Peter is rooted in the personal relationship that the historic Jesus had with the fisherman Simon, from his very first meeting with him, when he tells him, "You are will be called Kephas (which means Peter)" (Jn 1,42). This is emphasized by the evangelist John, a fisherman himself, who, with his brother James, was an associate of the brothers Simon and Andrew.

The Jesus who, after the Resurrection, summoned Saul of Tarsus is the same who - still immersed in history - after his Baptism on the Jordan, approached the four fisherman brothers, at that time disciples of the Baptist (cfr Jn 1,35-42). He sought them out on the banks of the Lake of Galilee, and called them to follow him in order to be 'fishers of men' (cfr Mk 1, 16-20).

Later, he entrusted a particular mission to Peter, recognizing in him a special gift of faith from the heavenly Father. All this obviously was later illumined by the Easter experience, but remains always firmly anchored in the historical events that preceded Easter.

The parallelism between Peter and Paul is suggestive, but it cannot diminish the significance of Simon's historic journey with his Lord and Master, who from the beginning attributed to him the characteristic of the 'rock' on which he would build his new community, the Church.

In the synoptic gospels, Peter's confession is always followed by Jesus's announcement of his coming Passion. An announcement which Peter protests, because he has not yet understood. And yet it was a fundamental element which, therefore, Jesus insistently affirmed.

In fact, the titles attributed to him by Peter - you are 'the Christ', 'the Christ of God', 'the son of the living God'- can be understood authentically only in the light of the mystery of his death and resurrection.

The inverse is also true: the event of the Cross reveals its full sense only if 'this man' who suffered and who died on the Cross, was 'truly the son of God', to use the words of the centurion in front of the Cross (cfr Mk 15.39).

These texts say clearly that the entirety of Christian faith is in Peter's confession, illuminated by the teaching of Jesus about his 'way' to glory, that is, on his absolutely singular being as the Messiah and Son of God.

A narrow 'way', 'scandalous' for the disciples of every age, who inevitably think as human beings do, not as God does (cfr Mt 16,23). Even today, as in Jesus's time, it is not enough to have the right confession of faith. It is always necessary to learn anew from the Lord how he is the Savior and the way along which we should follow him.

In fact, we should acknowledge that even for the believer, the Cross is always difficult to accept. Instinct makes us avoid it, and the tempter leads us to believe that it would be wiser to concern ourselves with saving our own selves rather than lose one's own life because of faithfulness in love.

What was difficult to accept for the men Jesus was addressing? What is still difficult to accept even for many men today? It is difficult to accept that he claimed to be not just a prophet but the Son of God and claimed for himself the authority of God.

Listening to him preach, watching him cure the sick, evangelize the humble and the poor, forgive sinners, the disciples slowly came to understand that he was the Messiah in the highest sense of the term - which means to say, not just a man sent by God, but God himself who had become man.

Tu es Petrus

~Fr. Z took this picture of the statue of Peter in February.

Here's Palestrina's Tu es Petrus to accompany the picture.

Pope Benedict launches Pauline Year

REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (VATICAN)

~from Asia News

The year dedicated to Saint Paul which Pope Benedict XVI announced today will have an important ecumenical dimension. Inspired by the example of the Apostle to the Nations, the Pauline Year will show “that the action of Church is credible and effective only to the extent that its members are willing to personally pay for their fidelity to Christ in every situation.”

In the Roman basilica dedicated to the Apostle to the Nations, the Pope stressed this afternoon the witness, which united Paul and Peter up to their martyrdom, during the first vespers for the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul.

Planned as part of the celebrations of Saint Paul’s birthday (which historians place between 7 and 10 AD), the Pauline Year—from June 28,2008 till June 29, 2009— will be in the Pope’s words “a series of liturgical, cultural and ecumenical events as well as pastoral and social initiatives inspired by St Paul’s spirituality.”

“There will be conferences and special studies on St Paul’s writings which will improve our understanding of the wealth of learning they contain—a real legacy for humanity redeemed by Christ. Around the world in local dioceses, shrines and places of worship, religious, educational and welfare institutions bearing St Paul’s name or inspired by him and his teachings will be able to organise similar initiatives.”

“Last but not least,” the Pope said, “a special aspect that will need much care at the different stages of the Pauline bimillenary is its ecumenical dimension. Especially involved in bringing the Good News to all the peoples, the Apostle to the Nations did all he could for the unity and harmony of all Christians. May he lead and protect us in this bimillenary celebration, helping us progress in a humble and sincere search for the complete unity of all the parts of the mystical Body of Christ.”

As if embodying that hope, a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople took part in the service listening to what Benedict XVI said. It was sent by Patriarch Bartholomew to repay a visit made by a Holy See delegation to Istanbul on the occasion of the Feast Day of Saint Andrew, founder of the Orthodox Church.

Pope's letter to the Chinese Catholics to be released Saturday

~from AP via International Herald

Pope Benedict XVI's eagerly awaited letter to Roman Catholics in China will be released on Saturday, the Vatican said, the pontiff's latest effort to reach out to Beijing and bring all of China's faithful into the Vatican's fold.

A Vatican statement issued Friday said the pope's letter — addressed to bishops, priests and lay faithful in China — would be released at noon Saturday (1000 GMT).

China forced its Roman Catholics to cut ties with the Vatican in 1951, shortly after the officially atheist Communist Party took power. Worship is allowed only in the government-controlled churches, which recognize the pope as a spiritual leader but appoint their own priests and bishops.

Millions of Chinese, however, belong to unofficial congregations loyal to Rome.

Benedict has been reaching out to Beijing in an effort to restore diplomatic ties and unite China's estimated 12 million faithful. The government and the Vatican have been at loggerheads over the Vatican's insistence on naming bishops.


Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Veneration of the two great Apostles, Peter and Paul, has its roots in the very foundations of the Church. They are the solid rock on which the Church is built. They are at the origin of her faith and will forever remain her protectors and her guides. To them Rome owes her true greatness, for it was under God's providential guidance that they were led to make the capital of the Empire, sanctified by their martyrdom, the center of the Christian world whence should radiate the preaching of the Gospel.

St. Peter suffered martyrdom under Nero, in A.D. 66 or 67. He was buried on the hill of the Vatican where recent excavations have revealed his tomb on the very site of the basilica of St. Peter's. St. Paul was beheaded in the via Ostia on the spot where now stands the basilica bearing his name. Down the centuries Christian people in their thousands have gone on pilgrimage to the tombs of these Apostles. In the second and third centuries the Roman Church already stood pre-eminent by reason of her apostolicity, the infallible truth of her teaching and her two great figures, Sts. Peter and Paul.

A plenary indulgence may be gained today by anyone who makes devout use of a religious article blessed by a bishop and who also recites any approved profession of faith (e.g. the Apostles Creed), as long as the usual conditions are satisfied.

+ + +

St. Peter

Peter's original name was Simon. Christ Himself gave him the name Cephas or Peter when they first met and later confirmed it. This name change was meant to show both Peter's rank as leader of the apostles and the outstanding trait of his character — Peter (in Hebrew Kephas) the Rock. Peter was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Like his younger brother Andrew, he was a fisherman and dwelt at Capernaum. Peter's house often became the scene of miracles, since the Master would stay there whenever He was teaching in that locality. Together with his brothers John and Andrew, Peter belonged to the first of Jesus' disciples (John 1:40-50).
After the miraculous draught of fish on the Sea of Galilee, Peter received his definitive call and left wife, family, and occupation to take his place as leader of the Twelve. Thereafter we find him continually at Jesus' side, whether it be as spokesman of the apostolic college (John 6:68; Matt. 16:16), or as one specially favored (e.g., at the restoration to life of Jairus' daughter, at the transfiguration, during the agony in the garden). His sanguine temperament often led him into hasty, unpremeditated words and actions; his denial of Jesus during the passion was a salutary lesson. It accentuated a weakness in his character and made him humble.

After the ascension, Peter always took the leading role, exercising the office of chief shepherd that Christ had entrusted to him. He delivered the first sermon on Pentecost and received the first Gentiles into the Church (Cornelius; Acts 10:1). Paul went to Jerusalem "to see Peter." After his miraculous deliverance from prison (Easter, 42 A.D.), Peter "went to a different place," most probably to Rome. Details now become scanty; we hear of his presence at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1), and of his journey to Antioch (Gal. 2:11).

It is certain that Peter labored in Rome as an apostle, that he was the city's first bishop, and that he died there as a martyr, bound to a cross (67 A.D.). According to tradition he also was the first bishop of Antioch. He is the author of two letters, the first Christian encyclicals. His burial place is Christendom's most famous shrine, an edifice around whose dome are inscribed the words: Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam.

+ + +

St. Paul

Paul, known as Saul (his Roman name) before his conversion, was born at Tarsus in the Roman province of Silicia about two or three years after the advent of the Redeemer. He was the son of Jewish parents who belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, was reared according to the strict religious-nationalistic party of the Pharisees, and enjoyed the high distinction of Roman citizenship.

As a youth he went to Jerusalem to become immersed in the Law and had as a teacher the celebrated Gamaliel. He acquired skill as a tent-maker, a work he continued even as an apostle. At the time of Jesus' ministry he no longer was at Jerusalem; neither did he see the Lord during His earthly-life. Upon returning to the Holy City, Paul discovered a flourishing Christian community and at once became its bitter opponent. When Stephen impugned Law and temple, Paul was one of the first at his stoning; thereafter his fiery personality would lead the persecution. Breathing threats of slaughter against the disciples of Jesus, he was hurrying to Damascus when the grace of God effected his conversion (about the year 34 A.D.; see January 25, Conversion of St. Paul).

After receiving baptism and making some initial attempts at preaching, Paul withdrew into the Arabian desert (c. 34-37 A.D.), where he prepared himself for his future mission. During this retreat he was favored with special revelations, Christ appearing to him personally. Upon his return to Damascus he began to preach but was forced to leave when the Jews sought to kill him. Then he went to Jerusalem "to see Peter." Barnabas introduced him to the Christian community, but the hatred of the Jews again obliged him to take secret flight. The following years (38-42 A.D.) he spent at Tarsus until Barnabas brought him to the newly founded Christian community at Antioch, where both worked a year for the cause of Christ; in the year 44 he made another journey to Jerusalem with the money collected for that famine stricken community.

The first major missionary journey (45-48) began upon his return as he and Barnabas brought the Gospel to Cyprus and Asia Minor (Acts 13-14). The Council of Jerusalem occasioned Paul's reappearance in Jerusalem (50). Spurred on by the decisions of the Council, he began the second missionary journey (51-53), traveling through Asia Minor and then crossing over to Europe and founding churches at Philippi, Thessalonia (his favorite), Berea, Athens, Corinth. He remained almost two years at Corinth, establishing a very flourishing and important community. In 54 he returned to Jerusalem for the fourth time.

Paul's third missionary journey (54-58) took him to Ephesus, where he labored three years with good success; after visiting his European communities, he returned to Jerusalem for a fifth time (Pentecost, 58). There he was seized by the Jews and accused of condemning the Law. After being held as a prisoner for two years at Caesarea, he appealed to Caesar and was sent by sea to Rome (60 A.D.). Shipwrecked and delayed on the island of Malta, he arrived at Rome in the spring of 61 and passed the next two years in easy confinement before being released. The last years of the saint's life were devoted to missionary excursions, probably including Spain, and to revisiting his first foundations. In 66 he returned to Rome, was taken prisoner, and beheaded a year later. His fourteen letters are a precious legacy; they afford a deep insight into a great soul.

~Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

The martyrs had seen what they proclaimed

~by St. Augustine

This day has been consecrated for us by the martyrdom of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. It is not some obscure martyrs we are talking about. Their sound has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. These martyrs had seen what they proclaimed, they pursued justice by confessing the truth, by dying for the truth.

The blessed Peter, the first of the Apostles, the ardent lover of Christ, who was found worthy to hear, And I say to you, that you are Peter. He himself, you see, had just said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Christ said to him, And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church. Upon this rock I will build the faith you have just confessed. Upon your words, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, I will build my Church; because you are Peter. Peter comes from petra, meaning a rock. Peter, “Rocky”, from “rock”; not “rock” from “Rocky”. Peter comes from the word for a rock in exactly the same way as the name Christian comes from Christ.

Before his passion the Lord Jesus, as you know, chose those disciples of his whom he called apostles. Among these it was only Peter who almost everywhere was given the privilege of representing the whole Church. It was in the person of the whole Church, which he alone represented, that he was privileged to hear, To you will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. After all, it is not just one man that received these keys, but the Church in its unity. So this is the reason for Peter’s acknowledged pre-eminence, that he stood for the Church’s universality and unity, when he was told, To you I am entrusting, what has in fact been entrusted to all. To show you that it is the Church which has received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, listen to what the Lord says in another place to all his apostles: Receive the Holy Spirit; and immediately afterwards, Whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven them; whose sins you retain, they will be retained.

Quite rightly, too, did the Lord after his resurrection entrust his sheep to Peter to be fed. It is not, you see, that he alone among the disciples was fit to feed the Lord’s sheep; but when Christ speaks to one man, unity is being commended to us. And he first speaks to Peter, because Peter is the first among the apostles. Do not be sad, Apostle. Answer once, answer again, answer a third time. Let confession conquer three times with love, because self-assurance was conquered three times by fear. What you had bound three times must be loosed three times. Loose through love what you had bound through fear. And for all that, the Lord once, and again, and a third time, entrusted his sheep to Peter.

There is one day for the passion of two apostles. But these two also were as one; although they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, Paul followed. We are celebrating a feast day, consecrated for us by the blood of the apostles. Let us love their faith, their lives, their labours, their sufferings, their confession of faith, their preaching.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Build your own motu proprio news story

~from The Curt Jester
With the upcoming release of the Motu Proprio liberalizing the Tridentine rite you can expect a surge of articles in the MSM getting things wrong. As a service to the MSM I will give them a Motu Proprio boilerplate that they can arrange as they want with just the right spin, or is that rite spin, so that it fits into their normal templates. This boilerplate has enough mistakes and biases it make it indistinguishable from any other MSM article that will be appearing in the coming days.
Read the boilerplate.

Chinese officials summon Catholic bishops

~from Asia News

Bishops of China’s official Catholic Church have been gathered since early this morning in Huairou, 50 km north east of Beijing, “invited” to a political session of the United Front. The theme on the agenda is how to respond to the Pope’s letter to China’s Catholics, soon to be published.

The United Front is a state organism, which under the control of the Communist Party, carries out religious policy directives on a national and provincial level.

AsiaNews sources in China fear that the United Front will oblige the bishops to distance themselves from Benedict XVI’s message, forcing them to make public statements eulogising the Party’s religious policies and re-vindicating the independence from the enactment of Papal directives.


Bishops attending the meeting

~from CWN (with Cardinal Bertone briefing on the Motu proprio)

Among the prelates who took part in the June 27 meeting at the apostolic palace were Cardinal Camillo Ruini of Rome; Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, the president of the Italian bishops' conference; Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, the president of the German bishops' conference; Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster, England; Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux, the president of the French bishops' conference; Bishop Kurt Koch of Basel, Switzerland; Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston; and Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis.

Proper Music for Mass

~What kind of music is proper to the Mass? Here's a discussion at TNLM: All forms of music belong at Mass?
Here in the Arlington Herald we find the classic case that all styles of music are suitable at Mass, and none in inherently more appropriate than another. Rather, the value of each piece of music must be judged from within the genre in question. And the goal? To serve the people and allow us to express ourselves better.

The problem is that this is contradicted at every point by the whole of Church teaching on music. Personally, I find it incredible that that a central mandate of the Second Vatican Council, so clearly stated in the conciliar documents, could be so easily passed over: namely, that Gregorian chant and polyphony are uniquely suited to Roman Rite worship.
I find this topic fascinating because in my parish setting we have a mixture of traditional hymns, with 'praise' music thrown in with a sprinkling of Gregorian chant...all in the same Mass. I find it jarring and distracting, especially since the choir is back to being amplified. It's an attempt to try to be all things to all people.

It's Official!

Regarding the meeting yesterday

Te Deum

Te Deum laudámus:
te Dóminum confitémur.
Te ætérnum Patrem,
omnis terra venerátur.
Tibi omnes ángeli,
tibi cæli
et univérsæ potestátes:
tibi chérubim et séraphim
incessábili voce proclámant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dóminus Deus Sábaoth.
Pleni sunt cæli et terra
maiestátis glóriæ tuæ.
Te gloriósus
apostolòrum chorus,
te prophetárum
laudábilis númerus,
te mártyrum candidátus
laudat exércitus.
Te per orbem terrárum
sancta confitétur Ecclésia,
Patrem imménsæ maiestátis;
venerándum tuum verum
et únicum Fílium;
Sanctum quoque
Paráclitum Spíritum.
Tu rex glóriæ, Christe.
Tu Patris sempitérnus es Filius.
Tu, ad liberándum susceptúrus hóminem,
non horrúisti Virginis úterum.
Tu, devícto mortis acúleo,
aperuísti credéntibus regna cælórum.
Tu ad déxteram Dei sedes,
in glória Patris.
Iudex créderis esse ventúrus.
Te ergo quǽsumus,
tuis fámulis súbveni,
quos pretióso sánguine redemísti.
Ætérna fac cum sanctis tuis
in glória numerári.
Salvum fac pópulum tuum, Dómine,
et bénedic hereditáti tuæ.
Et rege eos, et extólle illos
usque in ætérnum.
Per síngulos dies benedícimus te;
et laudámus nomen tuum
in sǽculum, et in sǽculum sǽculi.
Dignáre, Dómine,
die isto sine peccáto nos custodíre.
Miserére nostri, Dómine, miserére nostri.
Fiat misericórdia tua,
Dómine, super nos,
quemádmodum sperávimus in te.
In te, Dómine, sperávi:
non confúndar in ætérnum.

+ + +

We praise Thee, O God: we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship Thee and the Father everlasting.
To Thee all Angels: to Thee the heavens and all the Powers therein.
To Thee the Cherubim and Seraphim: cry with unceasing voice:
Holy, Holy, Holy: Lord God of Hosts.
The heavens and the earth are full: of the majesty of Thy glory.
Thee the glorious choir: of the Apostles.
Thee the admirable company: of the Prophets
Thee the white-robed army of Martyrs: praise.
Thee the Holy Church throughout all the world: doth acknowledge.
The Father of infinite Majesty.
Thine adorable, true: and only Son
Also the Holy Ghost: the Paraclete.
Thou art the King of Glory: O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son: of the Father.
Thou having taken upon Thee to deliver man: didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
Thou having overcome the sting of death: didst open to believers the kingdom of heaven.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God: in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou shalt come: to be our Judge.
We beseech Thee, therefore, help Thy servants: whom Thou has redeemed with Thy precious Blood.
Make them to be numbered with Thy Saints: in glory everlasting.
Lord, save Thy people: and bless Thine inheritance.
Govern them: and lift them up forever.
Day by day: we bless Thee.
And we praise Thy name forever: and world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, this day: to keep us without sin.
Have mercy on us, O Lord: have mercy on us.
Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us: as we have hoped in Thee.
O Lord, in Thee have I hoped: let me never be confounded

New Bishop for the Diocese of Superior

~from the Vatican

The Holy Father has nominated the Reverend Peter F. Christensen to be Bishop of the Diocese of Superior (Wisconsin). Fr. Christensen was born in 1952 in Pasadena, California. He studied at St. John Vianney Seminary of the University of St. Thomas and completed his theological studies at St. Paul Seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1985 in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He has served in parishes in the St. Paul and Minneapolis area, including Spiritual Director of St. John Vianney College Seminary.

Official statement from the Holy See

~from the Vatican (translation by Rorate Cæli)

A meeting took place yesterday afternoon at the Vatican, presided by the Cardinal Secretary of State, in which the content and the spirit of the expected "Motu proprio" of the Holy Father on the use of the Missal promulgated by John XXIII in 1962 were explained to the representatives of several episcopal conferences. The Holy Father came to salute those who were present and maintained a deep discussion with them for about one hour. The publication of the document - which will be accompanied by a thorough personal letter of the Holy Father to the singular Bishops - is predicted for within a few days, when the document itself will be sent to all Bishops with the indication of its successive coming into effect.

St. Irenaeus, bishop and martyr

Saint Irenaeus was born in the year 120; he was of the Greek tongue, and probably a native of Asia Minor. His parents, who were Christians, placed him while still young under the care of the great Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna. It was in this holy school that he learned the sacred science which later made him a great ornament of the Church and the terror of her enemies. Saint Polycarp cultivated his rising genius and formed his mind to piety by his precepts and example, and the zealous young scholar was careful to reap all advantages offered him by the solicitude of such a master. Such was his veneration for his tutor’s sanctity that he observed all the acts and virtues he saw in that holy man, the better to copy his example and learn his spirit. He listened to his instructions with an insatiable ardor, and so deeply did he engrave them in his heart that the impressions remained vivid even in his old age. In order to confound the heresies of his age, this Doctor of the Church acquainted himself with the conceits of the pagan philosophers, and thereby became qualified to trace every error to its sources and set it in its full light. By his writings he was already known to Tertullian, Theodoret and Saint Epiphanus, who speak of him as a luminous torch of truth in the darkness of those times.

After Irenaeus had spent a number of years in combat against the eastern gnostics and philosophers of error, Saint Polycarp determined to send him to Gaul, where many of the heretics of Asia Minor had already migrated to pursue the Catholic religion, which was beginning to find roots there. With a company of about forty Christians, the valiant soldier of Christ ascended the Rhone to Lyons to rejoin and aid Saint Pothinus, its bishop. Saint Pothinus was already advanced in age, and his church’s neophytes could not always distinguish truth from the gnostic aberrations. Saint Pothinus received the apostles with joy and soon ordained Saint Irenaeus.

A hundred times he exposed himself to martyrdom by his zeal, acting as the right arm of the aging bishop, but God was reserving that crown for him twenty-five years later. When Saint Pothinus had glorified God by his splendid martyr’s death in the year 177, Ireneus was chosen to be the second bishop of Lyons. The persecutors imagined that Christianity had been stifled in Lyons, and they ceased their pursuits for a time.

This great Doctor of the Church wrote many important works, of which the most famous is his Adversus Haereses, Against the Heresies, in explanation of the Faith. By his preaching, Saint Irenaeus in a short time converted almost the whole country to the Faith; the Christians of Lyons became models by their candor, their estrangement from all ambition, their poverty, chastity and temperance, and in this way confounded many adversaries of their religion. Saint Irenaeus continued to imitate what he had seen done by his beloved master, Saint Polycarp, himself the disciple and imitator of Saint John the Apostle. One can readily imagine the excellence of the administration and the breadth of charity reigning in the Church of Lyons.

Finally he suffered martyrdom there, with many others, in the year 202, under the Emperor Septimus Severus, after eighty years spent in the service of the Lord. The imperial decrees renewing the persecutions arrived at Lyons at the time of the celebration of Severus’ tenth year of reign; the pagans found amid the celebrations an opportunity to take vengeance on the Christians, who refused to participate in the debaucheries which accompanied these feastings. Assassins armed with daggers, stones and knives filled the city with blood, and thousands of Christians won, with their bishop, the crown they had always admired as the greatest glory God could grant His servants.

~From Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 7.

Life in man is the glory of God; the life of man is the vision of God

~by St. Irenaeus

The glory of God gives life; those who see God receive life. For this reason God, who cannot be grasped, comprehended or seen, allows himself to be seen, comprehended and grasped by men, that he may give life to those who see and receive him. It is impossible to live without life, and the actualisation of life comes from participation in God, while participation in God is to see God and enjoy his goodness.

Men will therefore see God if they are to live; through the vision of God they will become immortal and attain to God himself. As I have said, this was shown in symbols by the prophets: God will be seen by men who bear his Spirit and are always waiting for his coming. As Moses said in the Book of Deuteronomy: On that day we shall see, for God will speak to man, and man will live.

God is the source of all activity throughout creation. He cannot be seen or described in his own nature and in all his greatness by any of his creatures. Yet he is certainly not unknown. Through his Word the whole creation learns that there is one God the Father, who holds all things together and gives them their being. As it is written in the Gospel: No man has ever seen God, except the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father; he has revealed him.

From the beginning the Son is the one who teaches us about the Father; he is with the Father from the beginning. He was to reveal to the human race visions of prophecy, the diversity of spiritual gifts, his own ways of ministry, the glorification of the Father, all in due order and harmony, at the appointed time and for our instruction. where there is order, there is also harmony; where there is harmony, there is also correct timing; where there is correct timing, there is also advantage.

The Word became the steward of the Father’s grace for the advantage of men, for whose benefit he made such wonderful arrangements. He revealed God to men and presented men to God. He safeguarded the invisibility of the Father to prevent man from treating God with contempt and to set before him a constant goal toward which to make progress. On the other hand, he revealed God to men and made him visible in many ways to prevent man from being totally separated from God and so cease to be. Life in man is the glory of God; the life of man is the vision of God. If the revelation of God through creation gives life to all who live upon the earth, much more does the manifestation of the Father through the Word give life to those who see God.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


What a lovely juxtaposition. The news about the Motu Proprio coming July 7th. AND! In my snailmailbox, I received the the NPM (aka know, GIA, et al, 'pastoral musicians' to which I belong as one of the perquisites of my Notebook (newsletter update between issues) wherein I read on page 7:
Performance/Liturgy [shudder...very close to the truth, ain't it?]

That You May Have Life: Musical Stories from the Gospel of John. Marty Haugen and Susan Briehl....Marty Haugen's fifth and newest "performance work" [oh, to be sure] is a multi-movement [complete with key and time signature changes every other bar] piece, nearly all sung [nearly? what, is there dance involved?], based on the Gospel of John. This musical is designed to be flexible [ah, what is the breaking point?] and user-friendly [not this user]. It can be presented as a fully staged theatre piece [let us entertain you] or in concert style as an oratorio [Handel is rolling over in his grave]. It may also be used as the center of midweek liturgies during Lent [yes you, too, can have Marty as the centerpiece of your most solemn week at church!]....

[further down we read] A curious omission from this set [the I AM statements] is the statement "I AM the Bread of life" and the Bread of Life discourse that follows it in that chapter. [Ding, ding, ding, Real Presence is a sticky point for Marty the Protestant].
Sometimes my job is highly entertaining without it meaning to be.

Motu Progress

~Be still, my beating heart. Fr Z has posted: It's Coming - 7 July
On Wednesday afternoon the Secretary of State, Tarcisio Card. Bertone gave the Motu Proprio to 30 bishops from around the world on Wednesday afternoon in the Apostolic Palace. The bishops were explicitly chosen and invited for this. Pope Benedict XVI later came to the meeting. The document is three pages long, though what the format is in not revealed.

The general publication is 7 July.

Many thanks to

Clear Creek Monastery

~Fr. Longenecker's post reminded me to check up on the progress on the Clear Creek Monastery's construction in Oklahoma.

Benedictine Monks of Clear Creek

Here's the architect's rendering of the building project:

Construction to date:

Clear Creek's Photo Gallery Online. Don't miss the Corpus Christi pictures.

Changes in the Curia

~from CWN

In the latest shuffling of positions in the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict XVI has named Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, replacing Archbishop John Foley.

Archbishop Foley, in turn, will become the head of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, replacing Cardinal Carlo Furno, who is retiring at the age of 85. The American archbishop will have the title of "pro-grand master," with the prefix "pro" indicating that the grand master ordinarily ranks as a cardinal. Archbishop Foley will be heavily favored to receive a red hat at the next consistory.

Archbishop Celli has spent the past 12 years as secretary of the secretary of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. He had previously served in the Secretariat of State.

Pontificator bids goodbye to blogging


Thank you, Fr. Kimel, for all the comfort and guidance you gave during the last three tumultuous years...from struggle to exodus to homecoming. God bless.

General Audience: St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Pope Benedict XVI greets bishops at the end of his weekly general audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, June 27, 2007. The pontiff first went to St. Peter's Basilica to greet some 6,000 faithful who could not enter Paul VI Hall because it was already full. When the weather is too hot the general audience is held indoors in the hall, which can hold some 7,000 people. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

~from Asia News

“Denying Christ’s divinity”, which was at the centre of Arian heresy, “is still today a temptation for Christians”. In order to counter this “integral catechesis” is needed, through which the faithful can teach Christianity “which truly involves our entire existence and which makes us credible witnesses of Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man”. That was the objective which Saint Cyril of Jerusalem aimed to achieve in the IV century but which is still valid today, and which was also at the heart of the Pope’s reflection during his general audience today, centred on the figures of the early Church and the relevant aspects of their teachings in today’s world.

Cyril of Jerusalem, a fundamental figure above all for his catechesis, was the early father of the Church to whom Benedict XVI dedicated his one hundredth general audience of his pontificate. Encounters which have given him the opportunity to speak directly to 2, 280,100 people.

The over 10 thousand people, who took part in the audience, where spared the June heat and divided between St. Peter’s basilica and the Paul VI audience hall.

The Pope recalled that Cyril bishop of Jerusalem in the IV century, “against his will”, was involved in the “controversies” of the Eastern Church, but the Pope particularly underlined his work as a teacher of the faith, author of 24 catechesis, a true “introduction to Christianity” and “still today model of the journey to being Christian”.

Cyril, unjustly accused of Arianism, while he was instead “a man full of faith”, met with exile three times before he was allowed to return for good to Jerusalem in 378 “bringing peace and unity once again among the faithful”.

His catechesis was not only intellectual but “a journey of learning how to live in the Christian community” and his teaching is “an integral catechesis which involves the body, soul and spirit, an emblem even for the Christians of today”. In short in his teaching “doctrine and life are not two distinct entities but one existential journey”. The objective which we must attempt to reach even today remains: “learning a Christianity that really involves our entire existence”.

At the end of his audience, greeting the diverse groups present the Pope reaffirmed his stance on the subject of stem cell research: “the position of the church is clear and supported from science and reason – that scientific research is promoted and encouraged, as long as it does not cause the destruction of human beings, whose dignity is inviolable from the first moment of existence”.

St. Cyril of Alexandria

St. Cyril is one of the great Greek fathers of the Church. He was chosen by divine Providence to be the shield and champion of the Church against Nestorius, who denied the unity of person in Christ. If this heresy had succeeded, Mary would not be called the Mother of God.

Excepting Sts. Athanasius and Augustine, his equal as a defender of orthodoxy can hardly be found in the Church's history. His greatest achievement was the successful direction of the ecumenical council at Ephesus (431), of which he was the soul (Pope Celestine had appointed him papal legate). In this council two important dogmas were defined, viz., that there is but one person in Christ, and that Mary in the literal sense of the word can be called the Mother of God (Theotokos). His successful defense of the latter doctrine is his greatest title to honor.

His writings show such depth and clarity that the Greeks called him the "seal of the fathers." He died in 444 A.D., after having been bishop for thirty-two years. In Rome, the basilica of St. Mary Major stands as a most venerable monument to the honor paid Mary at the Council of Ephesus. On the arch leading into the sanctuary important incidents in the lives of Jesus and Mary are depicted in mosaic.

~Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

True, perfect, and eternal friendship

~by St. Aelred

That outstanding youth, Jonathan, son of King Saul, made an alliance with David, but it was not in the hope of obtaining the royal crown or winning the kingdom. For the sake of their friendship, he set David above himself as if he had been his master and not his own father’s servant, expelled, hiding in the desert, sentenced to death, destined for execution – he abased himself and raised David up: You will be king, he said, and I will be next below you in rank.

What an excellent example of true friendship! What a wonder! The king was raging against his servant and stirring up the whole country as if against a pretender to the throne. He accuses priests of treachery and has them killed on the mere suspicion – he has the forests and the valleys searched – he posts armed guards on cliffs and mountains. Everyone swears to punish the object of the king’s anger; but Jonathan, who alone has the right to envy the designated successor to the throne – Jonathan chose to resist his father, keep his friend supplied with news, give him counsel in his adversity. Thinking it better to be a friend than a king: You will be king, he said, and I will be next below you in rank.

See how the father tried to make the young man envy his friend, how he goaded him with insults, threatened him with dispossession, and warned him of the honours he would lose. But even when Saul had condemned David to death, Jonathan did not fail his friend. “Why should David die? What has he done wrong? What has he done? It was he who took his life in his hands and struck down the Philistine – you rejoiced, then. So why should he die?”

At these words the king was beside himself with rage and tried to pin Jonathan to the wall with his spear, pouring out new insults and threats. “Son of a wanton and lascivious woman! I know that you love him, to your own shame and the shame of your shameless mother!” Then he poured out on the young man all the venom he had in him. He tried to stir up ambition and envy, bitterness and jealousy in Jonathan’s breast: As long as the son of Jesse lives, your kingdom cannot be established.

Who would not have been moved to jealousy by these words? Whose love would not have been corrupted, grace diminished, friendship wiped out? But this most loving youth held fast to the oaths of friendship he had sworn, stood up to the threats, endured the insults, and disdained the kingdom for the sake of friendship, careless of the glory he would miss but mindful of the integrity he would keep. You will be king, he said, and I will be next below you in rank.
Here is a true and perfect friendship, solid and eternal: a friendship that envy does not corrupt, suspicion does not diminish or ambition wipe out. It does not cease even under such a trial; even under such a battering it does not collapse. Assailed with abuse, it stands firm; beaten with insults, it does not bend. Go thou, and do likewise.

Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help


Rejoice we all in the Lord,
as we keep festival in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
whose solemnity makes angels joyful
and sets them praising the Son of God.

V. Joyful the thoughts that well up from my heart,
I shall speak of the works of the King (Ps 44:2).

Read the rest at Vultus Christi

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


~Pope Benedict XVI visits the Vatican archives at the Vatican June 25, 2007. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (VATICAN)

Upcoming Catholic Literacy Glossary

~from CNS

From "Abba" to "zucchetto," a new glossary provides definitions and background for more than 1,300 words that may arise in the Catholic vernacular.

St. Mary's Press Glossary of Theological Terms, composed by Holy Cross Father John T. Ford, evolved from a survey conducted by St. Mary's Press that indicated professors at Catholic colleges noticed a lack of Catholic literacy among their students, said John McHugh, the director of college publishing for St. Mary's Press in Winona, Minn.

In student focus groups conducted either before or concurrently with the release of the glossary in September 2006, students frequently cited undefined terms as a barrier to their grasp of the Catholic faith.

Minnesota professors Marian K. Diaz, from the College of St. Benedict, and Miguel H. Diaz, from St. John's University, began the work of compiling terms and writing out definitions, then Father Ford took over the manuscript and became the principal author in the summer of 2005, McHugh said in a phone interview with Catholic News Service.

In an e-mail interview with CNS, Father Ford discussed the task of deciding which terms to include and which terms to omit. In his decision-making process, he would consider whether the term was one that students might encounter in their readings and would consult with various professors to get their opinion about whether the word should be added.

Father Ford is a theology professor and coordinator of Hispanic and Latino studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington. His search for words to define included observing which ones students most frequently asked about. Once he had identified a term to use, that term often led to a second, third and fourth term to include. The glossary includes several Latin, Greek and Spanish terms.

When Father Ford identified a word for use in the glossary, he composed an appropriate definition.

"I tested most terms on the Internet by sampling a variety of online dictionaries to see how the term was defined -- then I composed a definition for the glossary," he said.

The glossary gives definitions for the words and also places them in a wider context, either by explaining the significance of the word in the Catholic faith or by cross-referencing the term with another word. So users of the glossary learn not only what the word means, but also what it means in the context of Catholicism.

Take "zucchetto." The word comes from the Italian "zucca," meaning gourd or head. The zucchetto is the small, round skullcap worn by clergy. Father Ford tells readers that the color of a zucchetto indicates the person's rank. So the pope wears white, cardinals wear scarlet, bishops wear purple and priests wear black.

McHugh said the book is being marketed mainly to a college audience, but said adult formation groups have embraced the book as well. The book's publisher also hopes to market the text to high school teachers and students. Extensive field research conducted to judge student reaction to the glossary was overwhelmingly positive.

"I think anyone who is interested in Catholic terminology will either buy the book or we hope they will adopt it," McHugh said.

As to whether this glossary can contribute to improving Catholic literacy, Father Ford thinks all Catholics -- whether they are students of Catholic theology or not -- can benefit from having common and not so common terms defined.

"I hope that when Catholics, whether young or old or in between, come across theological terms that they don't understand they will reach for the glossary," he said.

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Editor's Note: St. Mary's Press Glossary of Theological Terms can be ordered for $15, plus shipping and handling, on the St. Mary's Press Web site at:

My blog rating

~Uh, oh. (hat tip to Fr. Erik)

Online Dating

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

* death (5x)
* abortion (2x)
* missionary (1x)

Coming up on Holy Whapping Television

~I need some relief from ponderous things today. Coming up on HWTN which strike my fancy:
9:30 PM. Dante Goes to Hell!
Dante travels along the frozen lake of Cocytus in the ninth circle of the Inferno. (Originally titled The Divine Comedy, but the name was changed after genre confusion lead to a ratings slump last season.)

8:00 PM. The Latin Grammys.
Hosted by Vicar-General Schmitz, ICR, direct from Gricigliano. Musical guest: the entire monastery of Solesmes. Awards are expected for Best Indult Solemn High Mass of the Year, Best Sequence, Best Novus Ordo Celebrant, Best Cantilation in Tono Recto, Most Nasal Chanting by a Frenchman, Most Mangled Latin Phrases by a Catholic Blogger, and Quietest Low Mass.

10:00 PM. Rick Steves’ Travels in Vatican City.
Part 300 of 471. Intrepid backpacker Rick continues his (at times creepily exhaustive) journey through the Holy See. This week: several air ducts, that boring stretch of corridor on the fifth floor between Cardinal Sodano’s old office and the water fountain, Ingrid Stampa’s medicine cabinet (mmmm, mercurochrome) and an empty drawer in Archbishop Ranjith’s office.
See more

The wager

~Edmund writes in Mission Territory:
A wild jump, you say, to go from discussing Pascal’s wager on belief to public policy? Not so, because at the core of our endless arguments on stem cells is a dilemma which requires a wager and has no definitive materialist answer. Is the human embryo a human life? If we were simply studying the embryo, observing its development, awestruck at the formation of a human being from one cell, then yes, contrary to Pascal’s conclusion about God, you could abstain from a wager. No action has been committed against the embryo; it is allowed to develop naturally.

But, we aren’t merely observing; we are destroying. Once that decisive step has been taken, then we must wager. Either that destruction is blameless, or it is murder...

...But, we deeply want to cure crippling, deadly diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinsonism. We would do almost anything if we could make the lame walk. However, if we were told tomorrow that the cure to Alzheimer’s disease was present within the brains of a family with a newly discovered genetic variant, but we would have to kill them to get it, we would all recoil in horror. Why do we not flinch at the production of stem cells?

Debating the Embryo's Fate

~exceprts from CERC by Fr. Tadeusz Pacholcyzk
Having participated in a number of these debates over the past few years, I've been surprised by how often certain arguments are trotted out with great solemnity, as if they were obviously right and true, even though a casual observer can quickly recognize their notable flaws and inadequacies...

...I did my best to avoid letting our discussion slip into a polemic about what might work best, about efficiency, even though this was one of the key arguments used by my opponent. He stressed how embryonic stem cells appear to have certain desirable characteristics, and may one day be able to work better than adult stem cells, and if cures end up being derived from embryonic stem cells in the future, then, in effect, it must be ethical to do such research, and to destroy human embryos. This argument in one form or another has been put forward widely by the media, and has won over many Hollywood personalities, patient advocacy groups, and Washington politicians...

...A second argument that comes up quite often in debates about the embryo is the so-called argument from wastage. The starting point for this argument is the medical observation that most pregnancies don't survive and are flushed from a woman's body. One well-known embryology textbook summarizes it this way: "The total loss of conceptuses from fertilization to birth is believed to be considerable, perhaps even as high as 50% to nearly 80%". The fact that most embryos don't survive is then taken and used as a justification for destroying embryos to get stem cells. As another opponent of mine once put it during a debate at Southern Methodist University in Texas, "If Mother Nature destroys so many embryos naturally, why shouldn't we be able to as well? Why get all worked up about using frozen embryos in research, when so many early embryos die naturally from miscarriages?"

But the difference between a natural miscarriage and the intentional destruction of embryos is precisely the difference between the unfortunate case of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome vs. the unconscionable case of smothering an infant with a pillow. What Mother Nature does and what I freely choose to do as an acting person are two separate realities, not to be confused.

Church signs

~One of the more entertaining aspects of driving in rural North Carolina is reading pithy sayings posted in church signs. Here's one that has me scratching my head and I don't quite know what to make of it. This was from a Freewill Baptist Chapel (I don't know why they called themselves a chapel because the church building itself was large.)

One who shovels dirt loses ground.

My favorite still has to be: A dusty Bible leads to a dirty life. That had me laughing for days.

Analyzing new Vatican appointments

~Here's the Boston Globe's assessment of the new Curial assignments. Don't you just love how this article begins? Pope turns to veteran diplomats after slip-ups

After a season of apparent policy slip-ups, Pope Benedict XVI is shuffling top advisers and bringing in veteran diplomats closely identified with Vatican policy in Iraq and the Middle East.

Yesterday, Benedict restored an office that specializes in relations with Muslims, a year after he was criticized for disbanding it.

He appointed French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican's foreign affairs chief from 1990 to 2003, as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, raising the office's profile. Tauran was one of the strongest Vatican opponents of US plans to invade Iraq, saying a unilateral military strike would be a "crime against peace" with no justification on grounds of self-defense.

Two weeks ago, the pope named Archbishop Fernando Filoni, an Italian prelate who served as Vatican envoy in Iraq from 2001-2006, to the key post of undersecretary of state.

Church relations with Muslims were strained after a speech by Benedict in September that linked Islam to violence. Benedict later said he regretted that Muslims were offended by his remarks.

When Benedict was elected, some questioned his pastoral preparation after two decades in a Vatican office. Few had doubts about his intellectual acumen, theological precision, and foreign language skills, but he had no diplomatic experience.

Though Benedict continues to draw thousands to his public appearances two years into his papacy, he has made some apparent mistakes on policy issues that he or Vatican officials have had to fix.

Motu--a different one

~from the Vatican Bolletino

Motu proprio of the Holy Father concerning the election of the Supreme Pontiff. Oh, and the title is precious: the repristination of the traditional norms.....

Father Z has more.

Mystic Monk Coffee

~from the Carmelite Monks' website. Remember the Wyoming Carmelite Monks? Here's the latest on them.

Our Rule explains that as monks we need to earn our keep by the work of our hands. We were praying about what sort of product most people utilize on a daily basis, and it came to us that everyone needs coffee to start the day. On our side of things, roasting coffee can be very contemplative. It only takes one monk to run the roaster and bag the coffee, so it is very complimentary to our life.

All the brothers have worked together to perfect the Mystic Monk roasts, from the selection of beans, to the creation of special blends, to the final roasting. We will have many types and flavors of coffee, all available in full one-pound bags. Our selection will include Columbian, Dark Roast, Costa Rican, Guatemalan, Sumatran, Ethiopian, Mexican, Breakfast Blend, Hazelnut, French Vanilla, Irish Cream, Carmel, Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Raspberry, and Royal Rum Pecan.

The double-handed mug is our special Carmelite mug that we use in the refectory. It is an old custom in Carmel that we drink using two hands as a sign of gratitude for the gifts of food that God provides from our benefactors. Similar mugs, complete with the Mystic Monk logo, will also be available for purchase.

All items will be available the first week of June 2007. We hope that you will be interested in purchasing your coffee from us to help us establish our monastery for the glory of God and the honor of His mother. To place your pre-order, please use our printer-friendly coffee order form or call MCarm Products at 1-877-751-6377. Pre-orders placed now will be processed the first week of June 2007.


Christ should be manifest in our whole life

~by St. Gregory of Nyssa

The life of the Christian has three distinguishing aspects: deeds, words and thought. Thought comes first, then words, since our words express openly the interior conclusions of the mind. Finally, after thoughts and words, comes action, for our deeds carry out what the mind has conceived. So when one of these results in our acting or speaking or thinking, we must make sure that all our thoughts, words and deeds are controlled by the divine ideal, the revelation of Christ. For then our thoughts, words and deeds will not fall short of the nobility of their implications.

What then must we do, we who have been found worthy of the name of Christ? Each of us must examine his thoughts, words and deeds, to see whether they are directed toward Christ or are turned away from him. This examination is carried out in various ways. Our deeds or our thoughts or our words are not in harmony with Christ if they issue from passion. They then bear the mark of the enemy who smears the pearl of the heart with the slime of passion, dimming and even destroying the lustre of the precious stone.

On the other hand, if they are free from and untainted by every passionate inclination, they are directed toward Christ, the author and source of peace. He is like a pure, untainted stream. If you draw from him the thoughts in your mind and the inclinations of your heart, you will show a likeness to Christ, your source and origin, as the gleaming water in a jar resembles the flowing water from which it was obtained.

For the purity of Christ and the purity that is manifest in our hearts are identical. Christ’s purity, however, is the fountainhead; ours has its source in him and flows out of him. Our life is stamped with the beauty of his thought. The inner and the outer man are harmonised in a kind of music. The mind of Christ is the controlling influence that inspires us to moderation and goodness in our behaviour. As I see it, Christian perfection consists in this: sharing the titles which express the meaning of Christ’s name, we bring out this meaning in our minds, our prayers and our way of life.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bishop Burbidge calls on Catholics to oppose ESCR in NC

~from the Raleigh Diocese Website

In a letter read to parishioners at all Masses throughout the Diocese of Raleigh this weekend, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge has called on Catholics to contact their state representatives, registering their opposition to House Bill 1837. The bill, if approved and signed into law, would provide state funding for embryonic stem cell research.

The proposal, which was approved by the House Committee on Science and Technology last week, moves to the House Appropriations Committee this week for consideration. The Bishop has expressed his extreme disappointment with last week’s action.

“Timing is crucial,” the Bishop said in his message to the Catholic faithful. He noted, if passed, the legislation “will result in untold numbers of innocent human lives being exterminated.”

The Bishop’s letter included a web site providing the people with ways to contact their house representative. (Please see link to the Bishop’s letter at the bottom of this page).

In January, Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte issued a series of three bulletin inserts to inform Catholics on Church teaching regarding stem cell research, especially those areas which violate the Church’s moral teaching. Both bishops have made it clear that the Church supports other methods of stem cell research, noting advancements in adult stem cell and umbilical cord research. They oppose the destruction of human embryos for the sake of research.

The three bulletin inserts are available at

Conversion to Christianity forbidden by Malayan High Court

~from The Beckett Fund via Catholic Exchange

The Federal Court of Malaysia refused to recognize Lina Joy's conversion from Islam to Christianity, a decision with grave consequences for religious freedom in Malaysia.


Church issues Mass dress code

~from ABS-CBN

The Archdiocese of Manila Sunday reminded the faithful that there is a proper dress code for attending Mass.

The archdiocese’s Ministry of Liturgical Affairs (MLA) said wearing the proper attire when attending Mass is an important part of showing respect to the sanctity of the house of God.

In guidelines posted at parishes and chapels, the MLA said the faithful should wear formal, semi-formal or smart casual attire when attending Mass.

Male Catholics are encouraged to wear long-sleeved polo shirts, collared shirts, or t-shirts paired with either slacks or jeans. Women are asked to wear dresses, long gowns, or collared blouses.

The guideline said corporate attire and school uniforms are also allowed inside churches. However, no guidelines were issued regarding footwear.

The faithful are strongly advised not to wear caps, basketball jerseys, tank tops or jersey shorts and shorts during Mass. Women are also asked not to wear spaghetti-strap tops or tank tops, short skirts, skimpy shorts or sleeveless shirts with plunging necklines when at Mass.


Motu Minding

~from Fr Z...It is possible that the Motu Proprio is now being printed
I am told by a very well-placed source that the text of the Motu Proprio is being printed at the Vatican Tipografia.
Related news story: Motu in the upcoming days

Boston Archdiocese addresses falling number of nuptials

~from The Boston Globe

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley has launched a campaign in which Catholic priests across the state will promote marriage through sermons and postings on bulletin boards and lead prayers for the institution's survival.

The unusual effort, which will include the printing of a million prayer cards for distribution to parishioners, comes in response to a what church officials say is a crisis in which fewer men and women are getting married .

The initiative comes less than two weeks after an effort failed in the Legislature to put a measure banning same-sex marriage on the statewide ballot. The Roman Catholic Church has opposed same-sex marriage, saying it weakens matrimony between men and women.

But a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston said the Church's push has little to do with the vote and had been in the works for months.

"The decline of marriage has been over a very long stretch, and it's been something that has been a deep concern in the church for a very long time," spokesman Terrence C. Donilon said yesterday.

In a blog item posted on the archdiocese's website on Friday, O'Malley said, "In our country, more and more people are opting not to get married but instead to cohabitate. In Massachusetts, the government has redefined marriage away from its original purpose, which is so intimately connected with having and raising children.

"Certainly, the vocation to marriage, which is the way most people live out their discipleship, is something that is very, very important. And it certainly is being obscured in our modern and secular culture," he wrote. ". . .We hope this campaign will help people to refocus on the sacramental meaning of marriage."

The campaign will also include an educational program in the fall with video presentations and speakers, including married couples, focusing on the sacrament of marriage. That program is expected to continue for at least a year, church officials said.

Church officials said the campaign would also be launched in the Worcester, Fall River, and Springfield dioceses.