Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How to Recognize Postmodernism

Edmund and I are reading Jean Cardinal Daniélou's The Scandal of Truth (thanks, Dim) which has particular salience to our NC Legislature passing two bills advancing the culture of death--one for embryonic stem cell research and the other advanced directives. Edmund wrote an essay, When humanity and homo sapiens clash, in wrestling with Daniélou. I, on the other hand, found this (so, I'm shallow....):

Brazil is my favorite dark movie.

Sant' Ignazio di Loyola a Campo Marzio

~from my camera

Andrea Pozzo's trompe l'oeil of St. Ignatius' Apotheosis

Effigy of Pope Gregory XV

Dome of the Bellarmine Chapel

Ut Unum Sint, a whimsical creation of how big the True Church might be if it were built. The model in front is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. Ringing the mega-church are the various churches of the world.

First Sunday of Advent

~from ADNKronos
Il Papa potrebbe celebrare pubblicamente la messa in latino secondo il rito di San Pio V. Un'introduzione ufficiale del rito che, a quanto apprende l'ADNKRONOS da autorevoli fonti vaticane, potrebbe avvenire la prima domenica di Avvento, inizio dell'Anno liturgico. Pope Benedict could celebrate publicly the traditional mass according to St. Pius V on the First Sunday of Advent to begin the new liturgical year.
Oh, wow! To be here at home for the RCIA Rite of Acceptance or to be in Bella Roma for the traditional Mass? Hmmmm. Q, if you're reading this, may I stay with you? I don't eat much. ;)

Chiesa del Sacro Nome di Gesù

In honor of the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, here are my pictures from the mother church of the Society of Jesus, Chiesa del Sacro Nome di Gesù, or Gesù for short.

Triumph of the Name of Jesus by Giovanni Battista Gaulli

Apse and High Altar

Cappella Sant'Ignazio with St. Ignatius' tomb

Cappella della Passione

Companion of Jesus

~from Companion of Jesus

On this feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, two Jesuit Scholastics are launching the Jesuit Review, a ten-part installation introducing Ignatian spirituality. John Brown, SJ wrote to me saying:
Carlos Esparza, SJ and I have created the series of internet videos
that hopefully will give some insight into Jesuit/Ignatian spirituality. I think you'll like them. Given all of the press that Jesuits get, we thought it would be important to offer some basic
introductory material about what Saint Ignatius hoped would drive the Society of Jesus.
And the focus of the spirituality is a deep conversion of the heart.

You can find the first installment by clicking the Jesuit Review link at Companion of Jesus. I've watched the first installment and I think it's well worth your time to see what Mr. Brown, SJ and his friend Carlos Esparza, SJ have created.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, confessor

Ignatius, by nation a Spaniard, was born of a noble family at Loyola, in Cantabria. At first he attended the court of the Catholic king, and later on embraced a military career. Having been wounded at the siege of Pampeluna, he chanced in his illness to read some pious books, which kindled in his soul a wonderful eagerness to follow in the footsteps of Christ and the saints. He went to Montserrat, and hung up his arms before the altar of the Blessed Virgin; he then watched the whole night in prayer, and thus entered upon his knighthood in the army of Christ.

Next he retired to Manresa, dressed as he was in sackcloth, for he had a short time before given his costly garments to a beggar. Here he stayed for a year, and during that time he lived on bread and water, given to him in alms; he fasted every day except Sunday, subdued his flesh with a sharp chain and a hair-shirt, slept on the ground, and scourged himself with iron disciplines. God favored and refreshed him with such wonderful spiritual lights, that afterwards he was wont to say that even if the sacred Scriptures did not exist, he would be ready to die for the faith, on account of those revelations alone which the Lord had made to him at Manresa. It was at this time that he, a man without education, composed that admirable book of the Spiritual Exercises.

However, in order to make himself more fit for gaining souls, he determined to procure the advantages of education, and began by studying grammar among children. Meanwhile he relaxed nothing of his zeal for the salvation of others, and it is marvelous what sufferings and insults he patiently endured in every place, undergoing the hardest trials, even imprisonment and beatings almost to death. But he ever desired to suffer far more for the glory of his Lord. At Paris he was joined by nine companions from that University, men of different nations, who had taken their degrees in Arts and Theology; and there at Montmartre he laid the first foundations of the order, which he was later on to institute at Rome. He added to the three usual vows a fourth concerning missions, thus binding it closely to the Apostolic See. Paul III first welcomed and approved the Society, as did later other Pontiffs and the Council of Trent. Ignatius sent St. Francis Xavier to preach the Gospel in the Indies, and dispersed others of his children to spread the Christian faith in other parts of the world, thus declaring war against paganism, superstition, and heresy. This war he carried on with such success that it has always been the universal opinion, confirmed by the word of pontiffs, that God raised up Ignatius and the Society founded by him to oppose Luther and the heretics of his time, as formerly he had raised up other holy men to oppose other heretics.

He made the restoration of piety among Catholics his first care. He increased the beauty of the sacred buildings, the giving of catechetical instructions, the frequency of sermons and of the sacraments. He everywhere opened schools for the education of youth in piety and letters. He founded at Rome the German College, refuges for women of evil life, and for young girls who were in danger, houses for orphans and catechumens of both sexes, and many other pious works. He devoted himself unweariedly to gaining souls to God. Once he was heard saying that if he were given his choice he would rather live uncertain of attaining the Beatific Vision, and in the meanwhile devote himself to the service of God and the salvation of his neighbor, than die at once certain of eternal glory. His power over the demons was wonderful. St. Philip Neri and others saw his countenance shining with heavenly light. At length in the sixty-fifth year of his age he passed to the embrace of his Lord, whose greater glory he had ever preached and ever sought in all things. He was celebrated for miracles and for his great services to the Church, and Gregory XV enrolled him amongst the saints; while Pius XI, in response to the prayers of the episcopate, declared him heavenly patron of all Spiritual Exercises.

~Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.

Put inward experiences to the test to see if they come from God

~by Luiz Gonzalez

Ignatius was passionately fond of reading worldly books of fiction and tales of knight-errantry. When he felt he was getting better, he asked for some of these books to pass the time. But no book of that sort could be found in the house; instead they gave him a life of Christ and a collection of the lives of saints written in Spanish.

By constantly reading these books he began to be attracted to what he found narrated there. Sometimes in the midst of his reading he would reflect on what he had read. Yet at other times he would dwell on many of the things which he had been accustomed to dwell on previously. But at this point our Lord came to his assistance, insuring that these thoughts were followed by others which arose from his current reading.

While reading the life of Christ our Lord or the lives of the saints, he would reflect and reason with himself: “What if I should do what Saint Francis or Saint Dominic did?” In this way he let his mind dwell on many thoughts; they lasted a while until other things took their place. Then those vain and worldly images would come into his mind and remain a long time. This sequence of thoughts persisted with him for a long time.

But there was a difference. When Ignatius reflected on worldly thoughts, he felt intense pleasure; but when he gave them up out of weariness, he felt dry and depressed. Yet when he thought of living the rigorous sort of life he knew the saints had lived, he not only experienced pleasure when he actually thought about it, but even after he dismissed these thoughts, he still experienced great joy. Yet he did not pay attention to this, nor did he appreciate it until one day, in a moment of insight, he began to marvel at the difference. Then he understood his experience: thoughts of one kind left him sad, the others full of joy. And this was the first time he applied a process of reasoning to his religious experience. Later on, when he began to formulate his spiritual exercises, he used this experience as an illustration to explain the doctrine he taught his disciples on the discernment of spirits.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Learning the Classical Rite

~A reader asked me for resources to help one learn the Classical Rite. I'm posting here what I sent him:

A good place to start is to read the Order of the Mass, either side-by-side text or an interlinear text:

Side-by-side text here

Interlinear Translation of the Mass

If you want to see a comparison of the Novus Ordo with the Classical Rite, here's a side-by-side comparison from the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales. The Classical Rite is in English.

If you want to learn the Latin of the Mass and how to pronounce the words, Simplicissimus, again from the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.

And if you want to learn how to serve, here's a booklet on How to Serve the Old Mass, subtitled "Correct Mass-Serving Made Easy"!

If you want to understand the Classical Rite, here's Plain Man's Guide to Latin also from the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.

And since I've mentioned them repeatedly, go here for the Society's website.

AND, if you're a priest in Great Britain and would like to learn the Classical Rite, the Latin Mass Society is holding a training conference 28 August to 30 August, 2007 at Merton College, Oxford. Click on the link for details and contact information.

COUNTDOWN TO THE FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE CROSS (or when Summorum Pontificum goes into effect: 45 Days!

Oakland priest talks about the Classical Rite

~from San Francisco Gate, an interview with Fr. Michael Wiener who has been celebrating the traditional rite since 1999. He is a priest of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest and is a convert into the Catholic Church.

For a long time you needed to get permission from a bishop before you could perform the Tridentine Mass. Why?

I believe there was a desire to unify the church's practice to the greatest possible extent by introducing the changed liturgy [new Mass] to the greatest number of faithful. But there have always been large numbers of people who have continued to celebrate [the traditional way].

Do you think the pope's announcement came as a surprise to many people?

No, I don't think so. The pope's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, had published two documents that urge wider practice of the Tridentine Mass. Pope Benedict's announcement was in line with this, it was a natural progression for the pope to end the requirement to get a bishop's permission before celebrating the Mass. It's a very happy progression for the faithful who are attached to the traditional rite.

Do you prefer celebrating the Tridentine Mass?

I do! I'm very much in love with this "Mass of all Ages" because it links us to the history of man, so to say. For many, many centuries, this Mass was celebrated and sanctified people, and it has brought about many saints.

All this has developed slowly and organically over the centuries, and is therefore a joy to celebrate. In German we'd describe it as "Gesamtkunstwerk," which means a piece of art that expresses an idea in a very complete way. In the Latin Mass, the priest, who is representing Jesus Christ, is enacting the mysteries of our salvation. The rite itself is full with history and many significant gestures and prayers. It's not only the language the Mass is said in, it's also what the priest does at the altar. Every gesture has meaning.

What are some of the gestures?

The kissing of the altar, making the signs of the cross many times, bowing your head, putting your hands on the altar or folding them on your breast. There are many, many gestures that in their sequence and in their completeness express the beauty of our religion. These gestures express the reverence, the worship, the respect and the awe of the priest in the moment of celebration. And I think the whole composition is very beautiful.

Pope Benedict said he was authorizing parish priests to celebrate the old Tridentine rite if a "stable group of faithful" requests it. Why does one need a stable group?

Celebrating this Mass requires a great deal of organization. It takes a major effort even to make the celebration possible. To ask a parish priest to do that is excessive if nobody is really interested within the parish. I think for this reason, and for maintaining harmony within the parishes, it's very important that the Mass be conducted in an orderly way.

There's been some concern in posts on Catholic blogs that offering old and new Masses may polarize parishes into two camps. Does that worry you?

Not really. I'm in the happy position to be in a parish which has both rites -- St. Margaret Mary in Oakland has the new Mass, the so-called Reformed Mass of Paul VI, and the traditional Mass. And it's worked out well.

Do you think some priests are intimidated or worried about performing this complex ceremony? Or are most priests trained to do it even though it hasn't been performed widely for 40 years?

I can imagine some priests hesitate to practice this Mass, although many are trained to do it in traditional religious communities. I have had several requests, in the Bay Area, from priests who would like to learn to celebrate the Mass.

Many of the news reports since the Pope's statement have focused on the fact that the Tridentine Mass includes a prayer asking for the conversion of the Jews. How do you feel about that issue, and the way it's been represented in the media?

I don't think there is much to say. That prayer is part of the Good Friday liturgy. And the church doesn't ask for the light of faith only for the Jewish people, there are also other people mentioned. So I don't see any problem with that. I don't think it's bad to ask God for his grace and for help and for assistance.

The prayer mentions other groups?

There is a whole list of people for whom we ask God's help and God's light. First of all, we ask for God's help for the church, for all the priesthood; then for political leaders around the world there is another prayer. We pray for atheists, pagans, heretics and schismatics and all people who are not Christian. So there are all kinds of intentions, because this is the moment when we ask our Lord Jesus Christ to make his blessings available. Because Good Friday is the day when our salvation was effective. We were redeemed by the sacrifice on the cross. So it makes sense to do this on this day.


China detains priests from underground Catholic church

~from AP via WHDH-TV News

Four priests from China's underground Roman Catholic church have been detained by police, a U.S.-based monitoring group said Sunday.

Three priests were detained Tuesday in the northern region of Inner Mongolia after fleeing their hometown to avoid arrest for refusing to join the state-sanctioned church, the Connecticut-based Cardinal Kung Foundation announced.

It said the fourth priest was detained in early July in the northern province of Hebei following a motorcycle accident.

It gave no details of what charges the priests might face.

China's Catholics are permitted to worship only in churches run by a government-monitored group with no ties to the Vatican. But millions who remain loyal to the pope worship in secret "house churches."

The priests detained in Inner Mongolia's Xilin Gol League region were identified as Liang Aijun, 35, Wang Zhong, 41, and Gao Jinbao, 34. All were from Hebei, according to the Kung Foundation, which is headquartered in Stamford, Conn.

Officers who answered the phone at police headquarters in the cities of Xilinhot and Erlianhot in Xilin Gol said they had no information on the cases. They all refused to give their names.

The fourth priest was Cui Tai, 50, of Hebei's Zhuolu county, the group said.

The Kung Foundation says five bishops and 15 priests or lay people from the underground Catholic church are in jail, while others are under house arrest or police surveillance.

"We urge the Chinese government to take steps immediately to stop all persecution throughout China and release all Roman Catholic bishops and clergy together with those faithful of other faith from prisons," the group's president, Joseph Kung, said in the statement.

The group is named for the late Cardinal Ignatius Kung Pinmei of Shanghai, who spent 30 years in Chinese prisons and died in the United States in 2000 at age 98.

Commonweal rant

...I was going to post an excerpt, but Fr. Z has commented. So click here to read: Weird hysteria about the Motu Proprio.

St. Peter Chrysologus

In the fifth century, Ravenna, not Rome, was the capital of the Roman empire in the West, and Ravenna itself became a metropolitan see. St. Peter Chrysologus was one of the most distinguished archbishops of that see.

Peter was born in Imola about the year 400 and studied under Cornelius, bishop of that city, who ordained him deacon. In 433, the archbishop of Ravenna died, and when a successor had been chosen by the clergy and people of Ravenna, they asked Bishop Cornelius to obtain confirmation of their choice from Pope Sixtus III. On his trip to Rome, Cornelius took his deacon, Peter, as his companion; upon seeing Peter, the pope chose him for the see of Ravenna instead of the one selected by the clergy and people of Ravenna.

Peter was consecrated and was accepted somewhat grudgingly at first by both the clergy and the people. Peter, however, soon became the favorite of Emperor Valentinian III, who resided at Ravenna and was also highly regarded by Pope St. Leo the Great, the successor of Pope Sixtus.

There were still traces of paganism in Peter's diocese, and his first effort was to establish the Catholic faith everywhere, rooting out abuses and carrying on a campaign of preaching and special care of the poor. Many of his sermons still survive, and it is on the basis of these that he came to be known as "the golden word."

In his concern for the unity of the Church, Peter Chrysologus opposed the teaching of Eutyches, condemned in the East, who asked for his support. Peter also received St. Germanus of Auxerre to his diocese and officiated at his funeral.

Knowing that his own death was near, Peter returned to his own city of Imola and after urging great care in the choice of his successor he died at Imola about the year 450 and was buried in the church of St. Cassian. In 1729, Pope Benedict XIII declared him a Doctor of the Church. — The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens

Familiar is his dictum: "If you jest with the devil, you cannot rejoice with Christ." Some of his sermons are read in the Breviary. Ravenna, his episcopal city, still harbors treasures of ancient Christian liturgical art dating to his day.

~from Catholic Culture

The sacrament of Christ's incarnation

~by St. Peter Chrysologus

A virgin conceived, bore a son, and yet remained a virgin. This is no common occurrence, but a sign; no reason here, but God’s power, for he is the cause, and not nature. It is a special event, not shared by others; it is divine, not human. Christ’s birth was not necessity, but an expression of omnipotence, a sacrament of piety for the redemption of men. He who made man without generation from pure clay made man again and was born from a pure body. The hand that assumed clay to make our flesh deigned to assume a body for our salvation. That the Creator is in his creature and God is in the flesh brings dignity to man without dishonour to him who made him.

Why then, man, are you so worthless in your own eyes and yet so precious to God? Why render yourself such dishonour when you are honoured by him? Why do you ask how you were created and do not seek to know why you were made? Was not this entire visible universe made for your dwelling? It was for you that the light dispelled the overshadowing gloom; for your sake was the night regulated and the day measured, and for you were the heavens embellished with the varying brilliance of the sun, the moon and the stars. The earth was adorned with flowers, groves and fruit; and the constant marvellous variety of lovely living things was created in the air, the fields, and the seas for you, lest sad solitude destroy the joy of God’s new creation. And the Creator still works to devise things that can add to your glory. He has made you in his image that you might in your person make the invisible Creator present on earth; he has made you his legate, so that the vast empire of the world might have the Lord’s representative. Then in his mercy God assumed what he made in you; he wanted now to be truly manifest in man, just as he had wished to be revealed in man as in an image. Now he would be in reality what he had submitted to be in symbol.

And so Christ is born that by his birth he might restore our nature. He became a child, was fed, and grew that he might inaugurate the one perfect age to remain for ever as he had created it. He supports man that man might no longer fall. And the creature he had formed of earth he now makes heavenly; and what he had endowed with a human soul he now vivifies to become a heavenly spirit.

In this way he fully raised man to God, and left in him neither sin, nor death, nor travail, nor pain, nor anything earthly, with the grace of our Lord Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, for all the ages of eternity. Amen.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Laudate pueri Dominum

Christ Blessing the Children by Nicolaes Maes, 1652-3

Listen to Vivaldi's Laudate pueri Dominum, allegro movement by La Serenissima

Our Father who art in Heaven

~excerpted from a homily by Fr. B of Rationabile Obsequium

God the Father - A Uniquely Christian Doctrine

It is from Christ Himself that we learned to call God Father. We read in the Gospels that God the Son invites us to share in His Sonship, and make our relationship with God the Father the centre of our lives. We read today that the disciples were fascinated by Christ’s prayer. They must have seen Him spend many hours in conversation with the Heavenly Father, and finally worked up the courage to ask Him to teach them to pray.

Being taught how to pray is no small thing. The disciples are asking Jesus what to say to God one-to-one. In prayer before God, there is no room for pretence or falsehood, and so the prayer that Jesus gives us tells us who God really is, and what kind of people He wants us to be.

And so, He tells us to call God “Our Father.” What a revelation this is! It’s one thing believing that God created us and the entire universe; that He is Good and All-Powerful. It is quite another to learn that He wants us to call Him Father. He wants us to know that He has a Father’s love for us, and that we should not be frightened to consider ourselves His sons and daughters.

Growing as a Child of God - The Centrality of Trust

In the words of the Our Father, there is a whole course in Christian living. Whole books have been written about this prayer, but perhaps one of the most important things that the Our Father teaches us is the great virtue of trusting in God the Father. After all, the relationship between parent and child is marked by the fact that a child flourishes by trusting his parents. A child thrives and grows into a well-balanced adult by knowing that his parents want the best for him, and that whatever goes wrong, home is a place where they can return for comfort and even forgiveness.

If this is true of earthly parents, how much more is it true of Our Heavenly Father. By inviting us to call Him Father, He is reassuring us that we can trust Him and rely on Him. He asks us to trust Him for our daily bread, and to know that He is a God of forgiveness. Like the father of the prodigal Son, we are reassured that He will be quick with His forgiveness if we stray.
As a Father, we can also trust that God wants us, His children, to grow; and so He gives us a way of life. We are called to imitate Him in our forgiveness of others and in our concern that His Kingdom should prevail on Earth, as well as in Heaven.

Read more

Prayer before receiving communion

~by St. Thomas Aquinas

Almighty and eternal God, behold, I approach the sacrament of Thine only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I approach as one who is sick to the physician of life, as one unclean to the fountain of mercy, as one blind to the light of eternal brightness, as one poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth. Therefore I beseech Thee, of Thine infinite goodness, to heal my sickness, to wash away my filth, to enlighten my blindness, to enrich my poverty, and to clothe my nakedness, that I may receive the Bread of Angels, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords with such reverence and humility, with such contrition and devotion, with such purity and faith, with such purpose and intention, as may conduce to the salvation of my soul.

Grant, I beseech Thee, that I may receive not only the sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord, but also the fruit and virtue of this sacrament. O most indulgent God, grant me so to receive the Body of Thine only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, which He took of the Virgin Mary, that I may be found worthy to be incorporated with His mystical body and numbered among His members.

O most loving Father, grant that I may one day contemplate forever, face to face, Thy beloved Son, Whom now on my pilgrimage I am about to receive under the sacramental veils; Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

The Eucharist: The Sacred Adventure of Life

~by Bishop Serattelli of the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey.

The early Christian basilicas in Rome, the Cathedrals of the Middle Ages, the Gothic Revival churches in 20th century America and the more contemporary constructions of recent years all share the same purpose. The church building is meant to be “a sacred building destined for divine worship” (Code of Canon Law, 1214). More than just a place where we gather, the church building makes visible the Church living in this place, the dwelling of God with us reconciled and united in Christ" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1180).

Central to every Catholic church, therefore, is the altar on which the Eucharist is celebrated. For the Eucharist is the summit and source of the Church’s life. The Eucharist makes the Church. And the Church makes the Eucharist. No Eucharist, no Church. The Eucharist is the Church’s most sacred treasure, because the Eucharist is the Lord Jesus.

So great is the mystery of the Eucharist that it cannot be straight-jacketed into a single concept or explanation. Jesus gifted the Church with the Eucharist at the Last Supper. On the evening before he died, he celebrated God’s deliverance of Israel and the redemption he himself was accomplishing for all. He did this in the context of the Passover meal.

First, the very giving of the Eucharist reminds us of the structure of a meal. “Take, eat... Then he took a cup and... gave it to them, saying: Drink from it, all of you” (Mt 26:26, 27). The Eucharist is the meal in which we enjoy table fellowship with the Lord. When we worthily receive the Eucharist, we enter into a profound communion with Jesus. He abides in us and we in him (cf. Jn 15:4).

Israel celebrated communion sacrifices in which part of the victim was offered to God and another portion given to the faithful to eat. Thus Israel expressed her desire to be one with God. When Moses ratified the covenant with Israel, Moses, Aaron and his two sons Nadab and Abihu, along with the seventy elders, went up the mountain. In a very rare sentence in the entire Old Testament, we are told, “they actually gazed on God and then ate and drank” (Ex 24: 11). At the very birth of God’s chosen people, the meal on the mountain prefigures the fellowship which God wishes to establish with all his children. Today, as we sit down at the Lord’s Table and eat and drink in his sight, we enter that fellowship, sharing in the very life of God himself.

Second, all the narratives of the Last Supper (Mt 26:26-28: Mk 14:22-23: Lk 22:19-20; and 1 Cor 11:23-25), help us understand the Eucharist as not just a meal but as sacrifice. Jesus gives his body broken for us and his blood poured out for us. Jesus is the Suffering Servant who is offering himself in sacrifice, pouring out his blood for the new covenant. He offers himself in place of humanity and for the salvation of all (cf. Is 42:1-9; 49:8).

The Cross begins at the Supper (cf. 1 Cor 11:26). In the Upper Room, Jesus makes present in an unbloody manner his self-offering on the Cross. In every Eucharist, Christ makes present to us anew that same sacrifice offered once for all on Golgotha. The Eucharist is sacrifice, not repeated again and again, but the one sacrifice of the Cross made present to us in every age.

Third, at the same time that the Eucharist makes present what occurred in the past, it also impels us towards the future. The Liturgy itself reminds us of this in the acclamation following the consecration: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” The Eucharist is an eschatological event.

St. John Chrysostom reminds us of this. He says, “For when you see the Lord sacrificed, laid upon the altar, and the priest standing and praying over the victim, and all the worshippers empurpled with that precious blood, can you then think that you are still among men, and standing upon the earth? Are you not, on the contrary, straightway translated to heaven, and casting out every carnal thought from the soul, do you not, with disembodied spirit and pure reason, contemplate the things which are in heaven?” (De Sacerdotio, III, 4).

Christ who will come again at the end of time comes to us in every Eucharist. This eschatological aspect makes the Eucharist an event that draws us up into heaven. Thus, the Eucharist fills our life journey with hope. In every Eucharist, we enter the Holy of Holies, the Body of Christ, and we are sanctified (cf. Heb 90:11-14). The Eucharist is the privileged place where life becomes sacred. The Eucharist makes our life a sacred adventure of ever-deepening communion with God.

to be continued

I rejoice exceedingly in all my tribulations

~by St. John Chrysostom

Again Paul turns to speak of love, softening the harshness of his rebuke. For after convicting and reproaching them for not loving him as he had loved them, breaking away from his love and attaching themselves to troublemakers, he again takes the edge off the reproach by saying: Open your hearts to us, that is, love us. He asks for a favour which will be no burden to them but will be more profitable to the giver than to the receiver. And he did not use the word “love” but said, more appealingly: Open your hearts to us.

Who, he said, has cast us out of your minds, thrust us from your hearts? How is it that you feel constraint with us? For, since he has said earlier: You are restricted in your own affection, he now declares himself more openly and says: Open your heart to us, thus once more drawing them to him. For nothing so much wins love as the knowledge that one’s lover desires most of all to be himself loved.

For I said before, he tells them, that you are in our hearts to die together or live together. This is love at its height, that even though in disfavour, he wishes both to die and to live with them. For you are in our hearts, not just somehow or other, but in the way I have said. It is possible to love and yet to draw back when danger threatens; but my love is not like that.

I am filled with consolation. What consolation? That which comes from you because you, being changed for the better, have consoled me by what you have done. It is natural for a lover both to complain that he is not loved in return and to fear that he may cause distress by complaining too much. Therefore, he says: I am filled with consolation, I rejoice exceedingly.

It is as if he said, I was much grieved on your account, but you have made it up for me in full measure and given me comfort; for you have not only removed the cause for any grief but filled me with a richer joy.

Then he shows the greatness of that joy by saying not only I rejoice exceedingly but also the words which follow: in all my tribulations. So great, he says, was the delight that you gave me that it was not even dimmed by so much tribulation, but overcame by its strength and keenness all those sorrows which had invaded my heart, and took away from me all awareness of them.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Non nobis

When you visit The Roving Medievalist, you can't help but catch a glimpse of the grandeur of the medieval age. I hope you make it one of your daily stops. Anyway, as a salute to Jeffrey, I'm going to dust off Branagh's Henry V to watch tonight. Here's a great section where you can see Shakespeare's Catholic dimension. Non Nobis....yeah, yeah, it's blood, gore, guts, and glory.

Speaking of Shakespeare, I'm reposting this link to an excellent article: How Catholic was Shakespeare?
The question of Shakespeare’s religious sensibilities is not simply a matter of academic thumb-wrestling. Much more is at stake for the readers of the plays. Not only does the Catholic imagination allow for great art, music, and literature to flourish, it allows Catholics today to use the transcendent truths of our faith in profound ways. We, as Catholics, need not observe the world with the blinders of fundamentalism, rejecting everything not found within a narrow worldview. Moreover, the Catholic imagination mitigates against an unfettered relativism that is skeptical of any truth, no matter how obvious. The Catholic imagination, anchored in the truth of beauty and the beauty of truth, seeks connections between God and His creation, between His truth and our understanding Shakespeare’s plays grant us a glimpse of that imagination at work.

Pope bids farewell to holiday

Pope Benedict XVI leaves his home in Lorenzago di Cadore, near Belluno, Italy, Friday, July 27, 2007. Benedict XVI left Lorenzago in the Dolomite mountains on Friday to move to his papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo, in the hills south of Rome. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

~from Vatican Information Service

VATICAN CITY, JUL 27, 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday morning, the Pope bid farewell to the civil and military authorities of Lorenzago di Cadore, Italy, where he has been spending an 18-day-long holiday (from July 9 to July 27). This evening, he is due to travel to his summer residence at Castelgandolfo.

The meeting, which took place in the garden of the chalet where Benedict XVI has been staying, was also attended by mayors from the 22 villages which make up the community of Cadore.

"At the end of these two weeks spent in the beautiful land of the Dolomites, I can only give a heartfelt thank-you to each and every one of you for your service and commitment," said the Holy Father.

"Your silent, discreet and competent presence, night and day," he continued, "gave me the opportunity to enjoy an unforgettable period of relaxation, a rest for the body and the soul. In the Book of Psalms we read: 'Your goodness, Lord, surrounds me like the eternal mountains.' And we are surrounded by this divine goodness, visible in the beauty of the mountains. However, throughout this period I have been especially surrounded by human goodness, by your goodness which has accompanied me always.

"You have been real 'guardian angels' to me," the Pope added, "invisible, silent, but ever present and willing; and your presence over all these days remains in my memory."

Pope Benedict will return this evening to the pontifical residence of Castelgandolfo, just south of Rome. There he will spend the rest of the summer, save for his pilgrimage to the Italian shrine of Loreto on September 1 and 2, and his apostolic trip to Austria from September 7 to 9.

Our heart is enlarged

~by St. John Chrysostom on Second Corinthians

Our heart is enlarged. For as heat makes things expand, so it is the work of love to expand the heart, for its power is to heat and make fervent. It is this that opened Paul’s lips and enlarged his heart. For I do not love only in words; he means, but my loving heart too is in unison with my words; and so I speak with confidence, without restraint or reserve. There was nothing more capacious than the heart of Paul, for he loved all the faithful with as intimate a love as any lover could have for a loved one, his love not being divided and lessened but remaining whole and entire for each of them. And what marvel is it that his love for the faithful was such, since his heart embraced the unbelievers, too, throughout the whole world?

So he did not just say, “I love you”, but with greater emphasis: Our mouth is open, our heart is enlarged; we hold you all in it, and not only that, but with room for you to move freely. For those who are loved enter fearlessly into the heart of their lover. And therefore he says: You are not constrained because of us, but you are constrained in your own affections. See how this reproach is tempered with much forbearance, as is the way with those who love much. For he did not say: You do not love me, but you do not love me in the same measure; for he did not want to charge them more harshly.

Indeed one may see with what a wonderful love for the faithful he is always inflamed, as one finds proof of it in all his writings. To the Romans he says: I desire to see you, and I have often planned to come to you, and if by any means at last I may succeed in reaching you. To the Galatians he says: My little children, with whom I am again in labour; to the Ephesians: For this reason I bend my knees on your behalf; and to the Thessalonians: What is my hope and my crown of glory? Is it not yourselves? For he used to say that he carried them about in his heart and in his chains.

Again he writes to the Colossians: I want you to know how greatly I strive for you and for all who have not seen my face; and to the Thessalonians : Like a nurse taking care of her children, being desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the Gospel but also our own selves. So too he says: You are not restricted by us. And so Paul does not merely say that he loves them but also that they love him, so that in this way he may draw them to him. Indeed, to the Corinthians he bears witness of this love when he says: Titus came, telling us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Extraordinary Ordination

~Had a good lunch? Sorry, but you're about to lose it. From the Santa Barbara Independent. Pray for these women and the salvation of their souls.

“Is the candidate worthy?” intoned Bishop Patricia Fresen ceremonially, as lifelong Catholic Juanita Cordero stood before her in a pure white gown, about to be ordained as a priest. The question was asked three times during the ordination ceremony on Sunday, July 22, as one female priest and two female deacons were invested with the power to perform sacraments — a function forbidden to women under canon law. They are part of a movement from within the Roman Catholic Church that has been ordaining female priests since 2002, though those involved say that the tradition of women priests and bishops dates as far back as Mary Magdalene, whom they consider an apostle of Jesus. The participants in this movement fervently hope to be embraced by the Vatican, as other splinter groups have been before them.

Sunday’s ordination, witnessed by more than 100 invited guests, took place at an interfaith center in Santa Barbara that reporters agreed not to name in exchange for an invitation to attend. (Reporters also agreed not to print the names or orders of the nuns in attendance.) The women ordained Sunday join 18 others in North America who belong to an international organization called Roman Catholic Women Priests, which counts among its number approximately 50 female priests and deacons worldwide, including a few whose identities remain undisclosed in an effort to protect their jobs within the church. Also secret are the identities of the male bishops who ordained Bishop Fresen. Film and documentary evidence of that ceremony is being kept by a notary public, not to be released until the deaths of the male bishops.

At least two Santa Barbara women are studying to be ordained, perhaps as early as next year. Besides their gender deviating from the Catholic priest norm, neither the priest nor the two deacons ordained on Sunday — who are scheduled for re-ordination as priests on July 28 — is celibate. Norma Coon, of San Diego, has been married for 40 years. Toni Tortorilla, of Portland, lives with her lesbian partner. Cordero, a newly anointed priest who lives in San Luis Obispo, is a former nun who has been married for 30 years to a former Jesuit priest.

The ceremony, which took place on the feast day of Mary Magdalene, also differed from the standard Catholic ordination in the names the presiding clergy used for God, who is ordinarily referred to as “the Father.” The female priests instead referred to “Mother and Father” and to “God/de.” (The latter is pronounced like “God,” with the silent, extra letters hinting at a goddess that those in the ceremony declined to refer to explicitly.) Jesus Christ retained his masculine identity, however.

The reason that the women are determined to remain Roman Catholics, instead of forming their own church or joining another — such as the Episcopal Church, which ordains female clergy — is that they consider the Roman Catholic Church to be their family, albeit a dysfunctional one, and they have no intention of abandoning it. “It’s in my bones,” said Fresen. “It’s in my blood. There are a lot of things wrong within the church, but I love it, and the only way to change it is to stay.” They added that excommunication, contrary to popular belief, does not remove one from the church; it only means that one cannot receive the sacraments. “Nothing can put you out of the church once you have been baptized,” said Fresen. However, after the first seven women priests ordained on the Danube in 2002 were promptly excommunicated, none of the other ordained females has been excommunicated.

“The meaningfulness of the Catholic tradition to me is the long history of mysticism in the church,” said priest Victoria Rue, who also teaches theology and theater at San Jose State University. She finds particular inspiration in the women mystics of the Middle Ages. “Priesthood,” added Rue, “is about leadership within the community.” There are many types of ministries to which people are called, she said, concluding, “I feel called to the ministry of the liturgy,” which she described as communal worship.

On this Friday

~For your Friday devotions:

Listen to Byrd's Ave Verum Corpus

Ave verum Corpus, natum de Maria Virgine:
Vere passum, immolatum in cruce pro homine:

Cujus latus perforatum unda fluxit sanguine:
Esto nobis prægustatum in mortis examine.

O (Jesu) dulcis, O (Jesu) Pie,
O Jesu Fili Mariæ miserere mei. Amen.

Hail, true Body, born of the Virgin Mary, who has truly suffered, was sacrificed on the cross for mortals.

Whose side was pierced, whence flowed water and blood: Be for us a foretaste (of heaven) during our final examining.

O Jesu sweet, O Jesu pure,
O Jesu, Son of Mary, have mercy upon me. Amen.

Reparation to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus

Interview with Pope's Private Secretary

~Gerald has translated the fascinating interview by Peter Seewald with Msgr. Georg Gaenswein, the Pope's private secretary. Peter Seewald, if you remember, interviewed then-Cardinal Ratzinger and published Salt of the Earth and God and the World. He returned to the Church as a consequence of interviewing Cardinal Ratzinger. Here's an excerpt of the interview with Msgr. Gaenswein. Do read the whole thing at The Cafeteria is Closed.
PS: Nobody thought that after a "millennium Pope" like Karol Wojtyla a successor could be successful this quickly. Now, everything has changed. Not only that Benedict XVI. draws twice as many people. That his books are printed by the millions. Pope Ratzinger is viewed as one of the most important thinkers of our time. And, as opposed to his predecessor, he's rarely criticized. What does he have that others don't ?

MG: With being Pope there comes a greater accessibility, a greater sphere of influence and a greater power of assertion. Someone very familiar with the goings-on in Rome said during the Bavaria trip last fall, "John Paul II. opened the hearts of the people. Benedict XVI. fills them." There is a lot of truth in that. The Pope reaches the hearts of the people, he speaks to them, but he doesn't speak of himself, he speaks of Jesus Christ, of God, and that in a descriptive, understandable and convincing manner. That is what people are looking for. Benedict XVI. gives them spiritual nourishment.

PS:Did John Paul II. want Cardinal Ratzinger to become his successor ?

MG: There's been a lot of speculation about that. I don't know.

PS: After all, despite Ratzinger's asking several times to be dismissed as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he did not let him go. Do you view that as an argumentum e silentio, as a conclusion out of silence ?

MG: That may be. Pope John Paul II. said to his close aides many times: I want to keep Cardinal Ratzinger. I need him as the head of theology. You can deduce some things from that.

PS: It has become quieter in the Palazzo Apostolico. Benedict XVI. has reduced the number of audiences considerably and rarely has guests at his table. Of all things, there's less work under a German ?

MG: There isn't less work being done, work is done in a more concentrated manner. The Pope is an effective and quick worker. For this he needs time - to read, to study, to pray, to think, to write. That's only possible, if you tighten a lot of things, modify some or eliminate them, for the sake of what's more important.

PS: Does this mean that his predecessor was by design overwhelmed ?

MG: Not at all. With John Paul II., everything became superlative compared to prior pontificates. Just think of the number of audiences, the travels, the documents, the liturgies, or the early morning Masses in the private Papal chapel to which people were always being invited. That costs time, day after day, that has to be taken from somewhere else. For Benedict XVI., such a rhythm would be unthinkable. And, after all, John Paul II. became Pope not at 78 but at 58.

PS: Towards the end of the Era Wojtyla, a lot of things remained unfinished.

MG: It's an open secret that Pope John Paul II. didn't look much after the Roman Curia. That's not a criticism but simply a fact. The current Pope worked in the most important position of the Curia for 23 years. He knows it like no one else. That's an unparalleled experience and a huge advantage.

PS: A Pope can have trouble with the Curia ?

MG: A look at history says yes, that can happen. A weak spot in this context is certainly indiscretion. There are always "porous" spots when it comes to appointments, work on documents, disciplinary measures etc. That's not only irritating, it also means the danger that it is done on purpose, to a certain purpose which can cause troubles. Another point: wherever there is, like in the Curia, an international staff, there are different mentalities, styles of work, views, tempos and personalities that meet. Sometimes that can create friction.

Talking points

~Don't miss Fr. Z's compilation of talking points iterated and re-iterated (or perhaps more à propos...regurgitated) by various dioceses about the motu proprio....or Let's play Spot "The Party Line"TM.

The elephant in the room

~from the Jerusalem Post

Pope Benedict XVI's private secretary warned of the Islamization of Europe and stressed the need for the continent's Christian roots not to be ignored, in comments released Thursday.

"Attempts to Islamize the west cannot be denied," Monsignor Georg Gaenswein was quoted as saying in an advance copy of the weekly Sueddeutsche Magazin to be published Friday.

"The danger for the identity of Europe that is connected with it should not be ignored out of a wrongly understood respectfulness," the magazine quoted him as saying.

Gaenswein also defended a speech Benedict gave last year linking Islam and violence, saying it was an attempt by the pontiff to "act against a certain naivety."

Muslims around the world protested against Benedict's speech, with churches set ablaze in the West Bank and a hard-line Iranian cleric saying the pope was united with US President George W. Bush to "repeat the Crusades."

An Italian nun was also gunned down in a Somali hospital where she worked, and the Vatican expressed concern that the attack was related to reaction to the pope's remarks.

Recently, the influential archbishop of Cologne, Joachim Meisner, said in a widely-publicized interview on Deutschlandfunk radio that the "immigration of Muslims has created a breach in our German, European culture."

+ + +

Pope Benedict's wider goal to restore Catholic identity--of which the derestriction of the Classical Rite is part of the whole program for anyone interested in connecting the dots--and which reclaims the Church's role to grapple with issues in the public square should not be ignored by Catholics. It's too easy to circle the wagons and pretend that Vatican II made for a stronger church ("our Church has never been stronger," said someone to me very recently...and then with the next breath decried the loss of vocations. Huh? there's a disconnect here), when the consequences of rapid secularization are hard upon our wheels. One only has to look at the stem cell research debate and euthanasia debate to realize how much ground we've lost.

Restoration in the Catholic Church

~from Real Clear Politics (speaking of connecting dots)

Liturgy is "just words," and sometimes music, in the received post-modern view, which immediately overlooks dress, gesture, censing, intonation, and the spiritual atmosphere. To the contrary Catholic view, we do not go to church of a Sunday only to see and be seen, nor strictly as a "memorial" of the Last Supper, nor as a healthy habit on the analogy of bran muffins. All of these things count, too, but the Mass combines such incidentals into something larger and simpler and therefore harder to express. At its centre is an act of Communion, with the Christ. Which is to say, with God. It is not, in the Catholic view (shared by many other Christians), a looking back to the Gospels through history. It is a participation, a dipping, a step out of current time, into the eternal.

Why am I telling you all this? In the hope that even if my reader is repelled, he may try to understand what is going on in Catholic churches, where far more than a billion of the earth's inhabitants go to pray, if they go anywhere. Likewise, though not myself a Muslim, I have tried to imagine what goes on in a mosque. For I must do that if I am to understand anything at all about Islam.

Practically, I explain this in the hope of making my sceptical reader understand why liturgy might be so important. I do not imply by this that good works are not important, that Christian life is not exhibited in faith, hope, and charity; in prayerful humility, and a bold willingness to suffer with Christ. I am only saying that from the Catholic view, love is not a nothing. It springs from a fount, and in this world we go to the Mass as to that fount. That is what sustains our spirits, just as food sustains our bodies.

The significance of the Motu Proprio, in current affairs, is in where it points. Catholics recovering their heritage will make a huge difference in the world.

Read the whole thing

The Latin Mass...cutting through the misinformation

~Here is a Ruthenian Catholic priest's take on Summorum Pontificum. From The Priestly Pugilist. (ha! images of Rocky Balboa with a Roman collar)

Now, here’s how what you’ve heard is probably wrong:

Misinformation #1: Pope allows Latin Mass. Wrong because Mass in Latin was never disallowed. In the back pages of every Paul VI missal (the so called “new Mass”) is the text of that Mass in Latin. No priest ever needed permission to say the “new Mass” in the Latin Language. In fact, Pope John Paul II, before he died, reminded everyone that Vatican II, while it allowed Mass in the language of the people, emphasized that Latin was still the “normal” language of the Mass, and encouraged it’s use. To quote Vatican II: “...the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites” (cf. the entry for 2/6/07 for the complete citation). The Language of the Mass was never the issue. Every Roman Catholic priest has always had the ability to offer Holy Mass in Latin, either in whole or in part.

Misinformation #2: The motu proprio rolls back the reforms of Vatican II. Wrong because Vatican II never said anything about forbidding one Mass and using another. The missal of Pope Paul VI wasn’t composed until long after the Second Vatican Council was over, and the bishops attending the Council had little to do with it. Prior to becoming Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger often questioned whether the missal of Paul VI was the kind of reform the Council Fathers were asking for. At one point, he even called the missal of Paul VI a “manufactured, on-the-spot product.” He has not repeated those words since becoming Pope, but he has repeatedly said that the Missal of John XXIII was never forbidden by Vatican II or anyone else.

Misinformation #3: In the “old Mass,” the people don’t participate. Wrong because that’s what the revision of Pope John XXIII was all about. One of the most important ways that the missal of Pope John XXIII changed the missal of Pope Pius V was in allowing for the active participation of the faithful in singing the responses - which is why Vatican II said, “...the faithful should be able to sing or say in Latin the parts of the Mass which concern them” (cf. the entry for 2/6/07 again). And if you’re inclined to say, “How can we participate if we don’t know Latin?” the answer was given by Pope John XXIII at the time of his revision: get yourself a missal that has the English text in it next to the Latin, and you’ll know everything that’s going on. And that’s exactly what most people did for many years.
Misinformation #4: The Pope only did this to try to win over those kooks who left the Church over Vatican II. Wrong because, as I said, Vatican II had little to do with the “new Mass.” Anyone who left over Vatican II per se isn't going to come back anyway, since denying the authority of an ecumenical council is heresy. But many so called “kooks” didn’t leave over Vatican II; they left because a form of worship that was near and dear to them had been forbidden to them by overzealous reformers who didn’t bother to read Vatican II before they started to destroy things they didn’t like. Pope Benedict, in his motu proprio, acknowledges those mistakes, and says he wants to make things right. But more to the point, the Pope goes on to say that this decision isn’t intended just for them, but for everyone. Far and wide, the Pope acknowledges, the Mass of Paul VI has been celebrated poorly because those who celebrate it have ignored it’s rubrics. Exposure to the Mass of John XXIII, he hopes, will help to instruct both priests and lay people about how the Mass should always be celebrated, regardless of which missal is used.

As you can guess, anti-Pope reactions are ringing from shore to shore in this country, in statements ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. The Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal O’Malley, wins the prize for the most non sequitor comment: “This doesn’t apply to our country.” Of course, nothing in the motu proprio says that, but I guess Cardinal Sean is hoping that enough simple minded folk who don’t know how to read will believe him. Why is there so much consternation? Check back the entry for 02:30 PM 5/11/2007, in which your Priestly Pugilist made this unusually lucid remark:
The Liturgy is, after all, the expression of what people believe; so, if you want to change what people believe (especially if you no longer believe anything yourself), control of the Liturgy is essential. By changing the Liturgy, you can change, over time, what people believe.
The missals of Popes Pius V and John XXIII incorporated a sly knowledge of human psychology: even if the priest celebrating the Mass had lost his faith completely (let’s hope not, but what if...), the rubrics of the missal still made the Mass seem solemn, beautiful, uplifting and mysterious to the faithful. The missal of Pope Paul VI, while in itself a harmless “watering down” of the Mass into something that needed a particularly devout priest to do properly, became a playground for those who had lost their faith but who couldn’t admit that to themselves, choosing instead to redefine the faith as they saw fit and using the Mass as it's expression. As a consequence, people walked away from Mass thinking that it was all about togetherness and warmth and the like, and not about God and Christ and salvation and heaven and hell. Check out the entry for 3/31/07.

To use words used by Pope Benedict in the motu proprio itself, lex credendi (the law of faith) and lex orandi (the law of prayer) have to be saying the same thing. If people don’t believe anymore, maybe it’s because the current Mass as celebrated in many parishes isn’t asking them to.

Christ died for all

~from St. Augustine's Confessions

In your unfathomable mercy you first gave the humble certain pointers to the true Mediator, and then sent him, so that by his example they might learn even a humility like his. This Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, appeared to stand between mortal sinners and the God who is immortal and just: like us he was mortal, but like God he was just. Now the wage due to justice is life and peace; and so, through the justice whereby he was one with God, he broke the power of death over malefactors and by that act rendered them just, using that very mortality which he had himself chosen to share with them. How you loved us, O good Father, who spared not even your only Son, but gave him up for us evil-doers! How you loved us, for whose sake he who deemed it no robbery to be your equal was made subservient even to the point of dying on the cross! Alone of all, he was free among the dead, for he had power to lay down his life and power to retrieve it. For our sake he stood to you as both victor and victim, and victor because victim; for us he stood to you as priest and sacrifice, and priest because sacrifice, making us your children instead of your servants by being born of you in order to serve us.

There is good reason for my solid hope in him, because you will heal all my infirmities through him who sits at your right hand and intercedes for us. Were it not so, I should despair; for many and grave are those infirmities, many and grave; but wider-reaching is your healing power. We might have despaired of ourselves, thinking your Word remote from any conjunction with mankind, had he not become flesh and made his dwelling among us. Filled with terror by my sins and my load of misery, I had been turning over in my mind a plan to flee into solitude; but you forbade me, and strengthened me by your words: To this end Christ died for all, that they who are alive might live not for themselves but for him who died for them.

See, then, Lord: I cast my care upon you so that I may live, and I will contemplate the wonders you have revealed. You know how stupid and weak I am: teach me and heal me. Your only Son, in whom are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge, has redeemed me with his blood. Let not the proud disparage me, for I am mindful of my ransom. I eat it, I drink it, I dispense it to others, and as a poor man I long to be filled with it among those who are fed and feasted. And then, let those who seek him praise the Lord.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The calling of this Love, part two

~from the Raleigh News Observer, here's another vocations story from a newly-ordained priest in our diocese.

The Rev. Anthony DeCandia came into the Roman Catholic Church on a double dog dare.

A classmate at N.C. State University prodded him to try out an introductory class at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Cary.

DeCandia, a Methodist from Charlotte, took the challenge.

"My name is Tony," he told the class. "I'm not here to become a Catholic. I only want to learn the truth."

By the end of the nine-month class, he found that truth. In 1994, he became a full member of the church during the Easter vigil.

Six years later, he completed an application to become a priest -- becoming yet another convert so enamored of the Catholic Church that he was ready to devote his life to it. In doing so, he was representative of many men who become priests in midlife after pursuing other careers.

An extrovert who makes friends easily and laughs heartily, DeCandia said his friends helped him discern his calling. He had dropped out of the mechanical engineering program at NCSU and taught tennis for six years.

Along the way, he realized, people were confiding in him and asking for his advice. That was his first clue he was cut out for something beyond teaching backhands and serves.

"I started asking why do people trust me with this stuff?" said DeCandia, 35, who serves as parochial vicar at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Fayetteville.

In a regal ordination ceremony two months ago, DeCandia lay prostrate on the floor of St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Chapel Hill as prayers were offered for his ministry. He then knelt as Bishop Michael F. Burbidge placed his hands on DeCandia's head and anointed the palms of his hands with holy oil.

For DeCandia, the priesthood is an opportunity to share others' joys and trials. He is particularly interested in ecumenical relations. On July 10, DeCandia started his new job. So far, he has performed two funerals, counseled a couple about to marry, visited the sick in the hospital and attended a play in which many of his parishioners are involved. This weekend, he will perform two baptisms in addition to his regular schedule of Masses.

"I haven't had time to unpack," DeCandia said. He doesn't fret about how he is doing.

"More than any book or class, the people will teach me how to be a priest," he said. "You have to be open to how God can use other people to help you grow."

In Green Pastures

~Near Selkirk, in the Scottish Borders

Listen to Rutter's The Lord is my Shepherd

If I may ask for your prayers for my friend Mel who lost her baby last night to a miscarriage, I would appreciate your act of kindness. My circle of friends has undergone lots of losses this summer. So if I seem introspective, it's because of feeling life's fragility.

Another 'secret discovered' claim

~from Lombardy News (guess which painting? As if there are more 'secrets' the painting has to yield...)

An Italian IT expert claims to have found a secret image of the Virgin Mary and a Knight Templar inside Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece The Last Supper.

Pesci Slavisa said the image can only be seen in a certain light and that he had to use his computer skills to reveal it.

“I noticed a strange effect, like a shadow, when I was looking through a magazine with a reproduction of The Last Supper,” the 36-year-old explained.

“So I scanned the painting and printed it onto a transparent sheet, which I then laid over the original image.

“The result is a new painting with other figures”.

The news may revive the debate about the painting’s alleged hidden meanings, which was stirred up by Dan Brown’s bestselling thriller The Da Vinci Code...

...Milan Culture Councillor and renowned art critic Vittorio Sgarbi dismissed Slavisa’s claims as “pure invention”.

“Although I have not followed this matter, I think it is totally without foundation,” he said.

“The iconography of The Last Supper is the most classical and evangelical. It’s impossible that the painting contains different people from the ones that can be seen.

“Only someone as ignorant as a goat could introduce elements that are not absolutely orthodox into The Last Supper.

“If someone sees something by looking at it through a mirror then that is their point of view, but it is nothing to do with what Leonardo wanted or thought”. [so there!]

Papal Photo of the Day

~There haven't been as many photos this year of Papa's holiday. Check out this tiny little dollhouse-size church. It's from a few days ago.

Pope Benedict XVI poses in front of a church in Lorenzago di Cadore, northern Italy, July 23, 2007. Picture taken July 23, 2007. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (ITALY)

Loving the Human and the Divine

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message during his visit to Santa Giustina church in Auronzo, near Belluno, Italy, Tuesday, July 24, 2007. Benedict plans to stay in Lorenzago, near Italy's border with Austria, until July 27, when he moves to the papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo, in the hills south Rome. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

~from Zenit

Benedict XVI says the beauty of Christianity is in relishing both the human and the divine.

The Pope said this Tuesday during a question-and-answer session with 400 priests of the dioceses of Belluno-Feltre and Treviso, in the Church of St. Justina Martyr in Auronzo di Cadore, near Lorenzago di Cadore, where he is vacationing.

One of the priests asked the Holy Father about enjoying human things, such as recreation. "I liked playing soccer more than going to Eucharistic adoration," the priest said, explaining that his superiors in the seminary scolded him for this.

"Doesn't bringing man close to God, and God to man, happen in our humanity, even for us priests?" he asked the Pontiff.

"I would be against choosing whether to play soccer or to study sacred Scripture or canon law. Let us do both," Benedict XVI responded. "We cannot always live in high meditation; maybe a saint at the highest levels of his earthly existence can do that, but normally we live with our feet on the ground and our eyes fixed on heaven.

"Both are given to us by the Lord and therefore loving human things, loving the beauty of this earth, is not just very human, but also very Christian and quite Catholic."

The Pope said that a "healthy and truly Catholic pastoral care" includes living in what he called the "et-et," Latin for "and-and."

He explained that this should prompt us "to live humanity and the humanism of mankind, all the gifts that the Lord has given us, which we have developed and, at the same time, not to forget God, because in the end the great light comes from God and only from him comes the light that gives joy to the realities of the things that exist."

"Therefore," the Holy Father said, "I would like to work for this great Catholic synthesis, for this 'et-et'; to be truly man -- that everyone according to their own gifts and their own charism loves the earth and the beautiful things the Lord has given us, but to also be grateful for the light of God that shines on the earth, that gives splendor and beauty to everything else."

"Let us live in this Catholicity joyously. This would be my answer," Benedict XVI concluded, prompting applause from the priests present.

China sets terms for normalizing ties with Vatican

~from China Daily

The Vatican must sever "diplomatic relations" with Taiwan and stop interfering in China's internal affairs if it wants to normalize ties with Beijing, a leading Chinese Catholic leader said yesterday.

The Vatican is the only government in Europe to recognize Taiwan and wants Beijing to grant the Pope supreme authority to appoint bishops on the mainland.

China sees the Vatican's stance as interference in the country's internal affairs, Liu Bainian, vice-president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), said.

His remarks were in response to a report in the Italian daily, La Repubblica, on Tuesday that quoted him as saying he "strongly hopes to be able to see the Pope one day in Beijing to celebrate Mass for us Chinese".

The report has been widely cited by international news agencies, but Liu said it had ignored the preconditions he had set.

"What I meant was I hoped the Pope could visit China and celebrate Mass but only after normalization of diplomatic ties," Liu told China Daily.

"If the two issues can be resolved properly, the two sides will have favorable conditions to improve ties."

Liu's remarks came on the sidelines of a Catholic assembly in Beijing yesterday that was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of CCPA.

The Chinese Catholic society has vowed to adhere to independent selection and ordination of bishops and management of its churches.


Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

At one time, July 26 was the feast of St. Anne only, but with the new calendar the two feasts of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been joined and are celebrated today. Our information about Mary's parents comes from an apocryphal Christian writing, the Protoevangelium Jacobi (or Gospel of James), written about the year 170. According to this story, Joachim was a prominent and respected man who had no children, and he and his wife, Anne, looked upon this as a punishment from God. In answer to their prayers, Mary was born and was dedicated to God at a very early age.

From this early Christian writing have come several of the feast days of Mary, particularly the Immaculate Conception, the Nativity of Mary, and her Assumption into Heaven. Very early also came feast days in honor of SS. Joachim and Anne, and in the Middle Ages numerous churches, chapels, and confraternities were dedicated to St. Anne. The couple early became models of Christian marriage, and their meeting at the Golden Gate in Jerusalem has been a favorite subject of Christian artists.

Anne is often shown in paintings with Jesus and Mary and is considered a subject that attracts attention, since Anne is the grandmother of Jesus. Her two great shrines — that of Ste. Anne d'Auray in Britanny, France, and that of Ste. Anne de Beaupre near Quebec in Canada — are very popular. We know little else about the lives of Mary's parents, but considering the person of Mary, they must have been two very remarkable people to have been given such a daughter and to have played so important a part in the work of the Redemption.

There is a church of St. Anne in Jerusalem and it is believed to be built on the site of the home of SS. Joachim and Anne, when they lived in Jerusalem.

The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens
Protoevangelium of James

By their fruits you will know them

~by Saint John Damascene

Ann was to be the mother of the Virgin Mother of God, and hence nature did not dare to anticipate the flowering of grace. Thus nature remained sterile, until grace produced its fruit. For she who was to be born had to be a first born daughter, since she would be the mother of the first-born of all creation, in whom all things are held together.

Joachim and Ann, how blessed a couple! All creation is indebted to you. For at your hands the Creator was offered a gift excelling all other gifts: a chaste mother, who alone was worthy of him.

And so rejoice, Ann, that you were sterile and have not borne children; break forth into shouts, you who have not given birth. Rejoice, Joachim, because from your daughter a child is born for us, a son is given us, whose name is Messenger of great counsel and universal salvation, mighty God. For this child is God.

Joachim and Ann, how blessed and spotless a couple! You will be known by the fruit you have born, as the Lord says: By their fruits you will know them. The conduct of your life pleased God and was worthy of your daughter. For by the chaste and holy life you led together, you have fashioned a jewel of virginity: she who remained a virgin before, during and after giving birth. She alone for all time would maintain her virginity in mind and soul as well as in body.

Joachim and Ann, how chaste a couple! While safeguarding the chastity prescribed by the law of nature, you achieved with God’s help something which transcends nature in giving the world the Virgin Mother of God as your daughter. While leading a devout and holy life in your human nature, you gave birth to a daughter nobler than the angels, whose queen she now is. Girl of utter beauty and delight, daughter of Adam and mother of God, blessed the loins and blessed the womb from which you come! Blessed the arms that carried you, and blessed your parents’ lips, which you were allowed to cover with chaste kisses, ever maintaining your virginity. Rejoice in God, all the earth. Sing, exult and sing hymns. Raise your voice, raise it and not be afraid.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


~In the Lammermuir Hills in Scotland

Listen to An Gille Ban by Capercaillie

Oh, what joy to behold

...within the letterbox, the latest copy
of tidings warm and fuzzy
from Pastoral Musicians
sharing its national mission.

Perusing its Table of Contents
What wisdom to ferment
In minds of hapless parish choristers
let us now administer.

Lo: "We Need Contemporary, Humanly
Attractive Songs for the Liturgy"
And: "Gather Us In:
Songs About the Assembly."

And if that weren't enough,
Still this nugget: "We Are What We Sing:
Sing, But Keep Going"
And don't forget:
"The Faith We Sing"

And coming at the end
We see there is a nod
To something called tradition
"Origins of the Latin Liturgical Hymn"

So happily I settle into
My comfy reading chair
And place my sardonic lenses on
And ponder liturgy's disrepair.

A paean upon receiving the latest issue of Pastoral Music

Manners, Customs, and Significance

~Hat tip to Fr. Tucker. Since we're talking about hunting down vestments and altar-ing spaces for the Classical Rite, here's an excerpt from an 1894 book Manners, Customs, and Observances: Their Origin and Significance: Regal and Ecclesiastical. [paragraph breaks added for readability]

18. Everything in the Roman Catholic Church has a meaning. The Altar signifies the table upon which our Lord partook of the Last Supper with His apostles, and also Mount Calvary, upon which He shortly afterwards offered Himself as a living sacrifice for the redemption of mankind. In all ages of the world the word "altar" has had relation to sacrifice; and as the Roman Catholic Church alone offers up sacrifice, it does not obtain and cannot be claimed by any other religious communion.

The rubric that the altar must always be of stone is founded upon the circumstance that the Sacrifice of the Mass was originally offered up on the tombs of the martyrs in the Roman catacombs (see 224). The Corporal and Linen Cloths which cover the altar are symbolical of the linen cloths wrapped around the sacred body of our Lord when He was laid in the sepulchre. The Candles lighted on the altar signify the light of faith revealed to the Gentiles. The Crucifix is ever present in the centre of the altar to remind the worshippers of the Passion and Death of the Redeemer; the Chalice represents the holy sepulchre; and the Patten, the stone which was rolled against the entrance to that abiding-place of the sacred body of Jesus Christ.

Quite as much meaning is conveyed by the different Vestments worn by the priest at the altar. The Amice, which, after holding it for a moment over his forehead, he fastens around his neck, represents the piece of linen with which the Jews bandaged the eyes of our Lord before they struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, "Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?" The Alb, or long white robe, is symbolical of the garment which Herod put about the body of our Lord when he sent Him back to Pilate. The Maniple, pinned on the left arm, the Stole, which hangs around his neck, and the Girdle, represent the cords with which our Lord was bound when He appeared before Caiaphas, the High l'riest. The Chasuble, or outer vestment, denotes the purple garment put upon Him by the soldiers when they mockingly saluted Him as King of the Jews, and the Cross embroidered upon it, the ignominious instrument of His death, which He bore upon his sacred shoulders up the hill of Calvary.

Even the Colour of the Outer Vestment is significant. RED is used for Feasts of the Holy Ghost (see 7), and of the Martyrs; PURPLE in times of penance and mourning (see 206, 373, 379); WHITE on Feasts of the Blessed Trinity, of our Lord, except during His Passion, of the Virgin, and of the Saints, unless they are Martyrs; BLACK on Good Friday, and in Masses for the Dead; and GREEN on all other occasions, i.e., when there is no special feast.

19. The Burning of Incense in the Roman Catholic Church is an observance borrowed from the Jewish ritual, and having the same signification, viz., that the prayers of the faithful may ascend to heaven "as incense in Thy sight." In addition to numerous allusions to incense burning in the Old Testament, we read in Luke i., relative to the history of Zacharias, that, "According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense." Incense was also burned in the temples of pagan Rome (see 298).

20. In the porch of every Roman Catholic Church will be found a stoup containing Holy 'Water. This is a custom derived from the Jewish ecclesiastical law. We read in the Old Testament that God commanded Moses to make a layer of brass, which was to stand outside the Tabernacle so that the priests might wash before ministering to the Lord. Again: "And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel" (Numbers v.). During the first centuries of Christianity all persons entering the church first washed their hands in the holy-water stoup; now they merely sprinkle themselves with the water as an outward manifestation of their intention to approach the altar with purity and innocence of heart. This holy water is pure water blessed, and containing a little salt. Salt enters largely into the ceremonies of the Church, being regarded as emblematical of incorruptibility. It had also the same signification among the pagans (see ióx).

21. The object of the universal employment of the Latin Tongue in the Mass is very clearly set forth by Dr. Bagshawe, the author of "The Catechism Illustrated," and other works, as follows: "The Catholic Church is not the Church of one nation, speaking one language. Her children are literally of all nations and tribes and tongues; the languages spoken by them must be numbered by hundreds. It would never do to translate the solemn sacrifice into the language of every barbarous tribe that embraces Christianity; therefore the Church chooses one language. For instructions, for all prayers in which the people can join, each nation uses its own tongue; but in the Sacraments and the Sacrifice they all employ the one language of the Church. Again, the Church is not of one age, but 'she subsists in all ages.'

The languages of men are perpetually changing, and the lapse of a very few hundred years makes them unintelligible. For instance, when St. Augustine came to convert England there was no such language as English, and no such language as French; yet the Mass which he brought to England was almost word for word what it is now. Indeed, we find recorded as an event in the life of Pope Gregory, who sent him to England, that he introduced six words into the Canon of the Mass, which we now find there. Had the Mass been in the language of the country, how many times must it have been altered since then!" To add any words of our own to the foregoing would be an insult to the intelligence of the reader.

23. The object of placing the Altar at the East End of Churches, so that the worshippers shall have their faces towards the east, is generally stated to be as a reminder of Christ, "the Day Spring and the Resurrection." But we can trace this custom much further back than the commencement of the Christian era. The Greeks and other nations of antiquity not only buried their dead with the feet towards the east, but, like the Romans who came after them, they habitually turned their faces eastwards while praying. The true explanation of this must be sought in sun worship, which is the instinctive religion of all primitive races. The Jews turn their faces in the direction of Jerusalem, and the Mohammedans in that of Mecca, as indicated by a framed card containing the word Misrach, or East, among the former, and by a niche in one of the walls among the latter during prayers.


Things old are new again

~from Reuters: Return of Latin mass sparks old vestment hunt

A decree this month by Pope Benedict allowing wider use of the old Latin mass has spawned a veritable cottage industry in helping Roman Catholic priests learn how to celebrate the centuries-old rite.

A Web site, helpline, DVDs and a training course at Oxford are among resources springing up for priests who want to celebrate the old-style mass but aren't sure which vestments to wear or where to get them, when to genuflect, how deep to bow, or how to clasp their hands in prayer.

"There will be priests who will say: 'Oh my God, I want to celebrate the old rite but I'm not sure of one or two things'," said Pietro Siffi, a 37-old Italian devotee of the old Latin rite who plans to offer free online and phone support.

"We will help them find the answer."

Before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), Catholic mass was an elaborate ritual led in Latin by a priest who faced east with the rest of the congregation, meaning they faced his back.

Vatican II reduced the formality and had the priest face the faithful to pray in their local language.

The old rite also includes hair-splitting specifics on which vestments can be used, what material they must be made of, where the candles should be placed on the altar, and the precise position of the priest's hands at various points in the liturgy.

The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales (LMSEW) is planning a three-day "major training conference" at Merton College at Oxford University in late August: "There has been an explosion of interest," its general manager John Medlin said.

"The aim is to give a firmly grounded taster in how to celebrate the traditional mass and the background information you need to do it with knowledge and devotion," he said by phone....


Medlin, Soffi and others say there is today a growing interest in the old rite from young people disaffected with a superficial, consumerist world and looking for something sacred.

After the old rite was phased out to be replaced in some churches by sing-along hymns and guitar music, many people missed the Latin rite's sense of mystery and awe and the centuries-old Gregorian chant that went with it.

"It's because young people no longer buy the claim that the supernatural is dead. They have discovered the opposite is true, that the supernatural is alive and the existential was a mere time-bound way of looking at the world that was in its heyday in the 1960s and is now well past its 'sell by' date," Medlin said...


But finding equipment remains a challenge. Some is so specific to the traditional rite it is out of production.

Both Siffi and Medlin are involved in de facto traditionalist "matchmaking", linking people who have old vestments or other paraphernalia with those seeking them.

After the changes in the 1960s and 1970s much of the material was thrown out, sold to antiquarians or stashed away in dusty cupboards of rectories or church attics.

"Gradually, these objects are being made available for use again," said Medlin.

One hard-to-find item is the "burse": a stiff, cardboard pocket between nine and twelve inches square. It must be covered in silk and of a color to match the mass vestments.

The burse, which fell out of use after the Second Vatican Council, is effectively a pouch which holds the "corporal", a square piece of white linen cloth on which the chalice is placed during the mass.

Another piece of paraphernalia now being sought is the "maniple", a napkin-like vestment which hangs from the priest's left forearm during mass.

The black biretta, a square cap worn by the priest celebrating the old rite as he approaches the altar before mass and on leaving at the end, also fell into disuse.

If the problem is not so much the equipment as the language, the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales also publishes a "teach yourself Latin" course based on Church Latin used in the traditional rite.

"You don't need to be able to converse about the weather in Latin in order to be able to say the Latin mass," Medlin said.