A corporal work of mercy.

A corporal work of mercy.
Click on photo for this corporal work of mercy!

Thursday 28 February 2013

Our beloved Papa

It was twenty-five years ago when I first heard the name Joseph Ratzinger. I was intrigued by a book with a red cover and this Cardinal with striking white-hair. I had never heard of him before but I purchased that book, The Ratzinger Report, from the table at the fledgling “Ottawa Oratory.” Between that book and the two by the late Anne Roche Muggeridge, - The Gates of Hell and The Desolate City, what began in me was a greater understanding of the Catholic faith, the errors resulting from a wrong interpretation of a Council and the need for the right liturgical reform of the highest order.
During the funeral of Blessed John Paul II and the interregnum, the influence and awareness of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger grew amongst many more. When he stepped out that afternoon on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, I was filled with joy and exultation. Here at last was the Pope that would begin the restoration we all needed. As has been said many times, it begins with the liturgy. It starts there and if it is poorly celebrated and poorly considered we fail to offer to God that which He deserves – sacrifice and thanksgiving. This was the liturgical pope. From his insistence on the implementation of the English Third Edition of the Roman Missal, to “pro multis” properly translated as “for many,” the example of Holy Communion on the tongue and kneeling, the restoration of dignity to the liturgy at the Vatican, the music, the chant and of course his greatest gift to us, Summorum Pontificum --  it is my belief that this motu proprio will go down in church history as one of, if not his greatest achievement. He has left his liturgical mark.
He is a brilliant man, an intellectual who could write and speak in words that all could absorb and understand. He is gentle and kind and patient and we did not deserve him.
In 2005 he wrote of the “filth” in the Church and nobody has done more to address this than him. We now find that at least two to three bishops per month were asked to resign around the world, if they refused, he moved them out under Canon Law. This man has done, for every Catholic, more than we even now know. Wracked by scandal; by something many of us have believed for years, he leaves to his successor a task to take up from him and cleanse the Church of the filth within it. The deceit in fiduciary duty, the homosexual cabal, the blackmail, the blight on the Bride of Christ; the disobedience, the dissent --  he has given us the gift of clarity in this and the power to his successor to correct what he was incapable of doing at this point in his life.
Many priests, bishops and cardinals were against him. Many did not carry out his requests, many mocked him. They bear a great responsibility for the shape of the Church today. He has taken extraordinary steps to ensure that his successor will not suffer this same situation and all Cardinals must give oath to loyalty to the new Pontiff as he himself has already done.
Yet, this Pontiff will not be leaving us; he will be there though we will not see him again. He is now at the foot of the cross, or perhaps he will be on the cross suffering a white martyrdom, never again to see his beloved Bavaria, never again to leave the gardens of the Vatican and the monastery that awaits him. He will be there, sacrificing his freedom, his one time hope of retirement in Bavaria -- sacrificing for Christ, for His Church, for you and me. Can this man do any more to show us his love for Christ and for us?
As with many of you; I am very saddened today, this has been a very difficult few weeks for us. None of us desires to see him go. My heart is heavy and to see the deceit around him and the assault in the secular media upon the Church and our Pontiff makes it even more difficult but "know that if they hated Me" is what we must remember. Many have criticised his departure but let us not lose our faith in Our Lord's promise and let us see this as an inspired act on the part of Papa Ratzinger for greater glory for Christ.
Let us rejoice that what he has done has truly been an inspiration from Our Lord Jesus Christ and our Blessed Mother. Let us be grateful to God for this man, for what he has done and what he has taught us. Let us look forward to the next few weeks, despite our fears and our worries. Let us trust that the Holy Spirit will give to us and to the whole world the Pope we need. Let us pray for our Cardinals that they will take their time, not rush and that the conclave will be filled with hearts open to the Holy Spirit and that the Blessed Mother, the Theotokos, will be in their minds and hearts, guiding them, prompting them, inspiring them.

In his farewell today to the Cardinals assembled, our beloved Holy Father said this:
"Prior to bidding farewell to each of you personally, I want to tell you that I will continue to be close to you in prayer, especially in the next few days, so that you may all be fully docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in the election of the new Pope. May the Lord show you what is willed by Him. And among you, among the College of Cardinals, there is also the future Pope, to whom, here to today, I already promise my unconditional reverence and obedience. For all this, with affection and gratitude, I cordially impart upon you my Apostolic Blessing."
God love you, Joseph Ratzinger and Mary protect you.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

Monday 25 February 2013

Vatican spokesman and a false ecumenism


Basilian Deacon puts sharing at forefront of religious aims

THE WORD Thomas Rosica repeats over and over again is “scandalous.”
He’s referring to the way in which churches tend to remain segregated, isolated, interested in their own.
If you spend any time talking to Rosica, he will tell you just how frustrated he gets when he hears how Roman Catholic priests speak in such chauvinistic ways about salvation in the “Catholic Church.” He doesn’t even like it when they refer to themselves as Catholics, when the word “Christian” would not only have been good enough, but preferable.
It’s not that he doesn’t like Catholics – he is one. In fact, this spring he will be ordained a priest of the Basilian religious order.
The fact is, Rosica spent a good part of his field training as a priest working on ecumenism. In 1984 he surveyed churches in the Montreal area for the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism to determine where they stood on church unity. His findings, and especially the approach Rosica took to the survey, are being examined and considered by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. There is the possibility that the Roman Catholic Church’s umbrella organization in Canada will implement a survey of this kind on a national basis.
THE YOUNG DEACON working at St. John the Baptist Church in Amherstburg with its other Basilian priests regards the whole matter of ecumenism as “scandalous.” He sees “the Catholic ghetto mentality as a stumbling block and knows just how reticent clergymen from other denominations can be when it comes to authentic sharing.  Some of it has to do with being “too set in their ways” but there are other reasons, too.  In some cases, the clergymen know little of the ecumenical movement, and they haven’t bothered to do “any reading at all about it.”
There’s also the notion that their churches are suffering serious losses in membership. The direction now is to shore up what they can count on.
UNFORTUNATELY, the notion exists that some churches have the exclusive copyright on the “word of God, “ says Rosica.
“But the word of God is for all people,” says Rosica, who adds that it isn’t just for Catholics or Anglicans or Presbyterians.
Another fact, says Rosica, is that many denominations must learn that no one is out to threaten the existence of any one church. In addition to this, the myth has to be dispelled that the only way in which the Roman Catholics are going to be part of church unity is for all Christian denominations (to) join Rome.
Rosica says there is no reason real ecumenism -- even to the point of an organic union – can’t mean a harmony of various Christian denominations in one community.
The Basilian deacon could sit all day in his office at St. John the Baptist and talk about the ecumenical movement. While he doesn’t regard himself as an expert, the survey did teach him something. His objective is to set into motion something that will bring churches in Amherstburg closer together.
ROSICA EXPECTS to return here after ordination, and if he does, he feels he will continue his ecumenical work in the town. The real test for the ecumenical movement, he says, is at the grass roots: moving the “local” churches into a situation where they will share more and pray more together.
Sunday will see the first step in that direction: St. John the Baptist is holding an ecumenical prayers service at 2:30 p.m. where five different Christian denominations – the Baptists, United Church, Anglicans, Presbyterians and Roman Catholics – will be participating.
Rev. John Parker, Pastor of Wesley United Church, will deliver the homily. The service coincides with the first Sunday, in the Week of Christian Unity, celebrated by Catholics and Protestants around the world. The service in itself is admittedly a “minor act” says Rosica, but it could be the beginning of a new awareness the churches will have for one another.
HE SEES Amherstburg as no different than any other community, pointing out that no matter how much dialogue the national churches hold, unless clergy and congregations at the local level are prepared to start talking to one another in a meaningful way, then ecumenism is simply a dream.
He says if churches persist in taking the attitude that they “have all the answers,” then nothing is going to be advanced in church unity.
But while Rosica likes being an idealist, he is intimately aware of the obstacles.
Intercommunion is certainly the first to spring to mind. In some ways, he regards the Roman Catholic Church’s reluctance to permit Catholics and Protestants to take communion in their churches as an embarrassment. On the other hand, he also has a lot of respect for his church in holding back from the pressure until other obstacles have been cleared away.
THIS IS BECAUSE Rome regards the eucharist as “the fullness of unity,” Rosica says.
He added until other obstacles have been resolved, there can be no unity.
Bishop Sherlock told the fall synod of Canadian Bishops that the extension of communion to non-Catholics would be a “form of cheating.”
He had said, “It assumes a unity which has not yet occurred.”
But Rosica agrees with the new CCCB vice-president, Archbishop James Hayes of Halifax, that the issue should be pursued, and that “shared communion” with Protestant denominations at times of mixed marriages and funerals should be encouraged.
The church sanctions such a practice.
Unfortunately, Rosica says some priests aren’t even aware of “this possibility” – to them it’s a non-issue.
ESSENTIALLY, such an attitude or lack of awareness is a formidable obstacle to church unity. Rosica says it comes down to the glaring fact that many clergy just won’t bother to acquaint themselves with what is being done about church unity.
Apathy is another obstacle, Rosica said explain how some priests regard the issue as “just another job” they have to do. As a result, he says, there is no compelling urge to do anything more than pay lip service to it.
Another stumbling block lies with the training institutions which tend to want to propagate and further their own denominational interests and philosophies. As a result, there are institutions that tend to favour one religion over another, when in fact they ought to be “open” to the whole spectrum.
IN HIS REPORT to the Canadian Ecumenical Commission, Rosica wrote that while it might be difficult “to complain” about training in the past from the era before or during Vatican II which spurred on ecumenism, “We have a right and duty, however, to take objection with these young people (including young professors), who, through their theology courses and their religious beliefs, wish to move the Ecumenical movement back to a time when it new no possibilities for growth.”
Rosica says unless the church – not only the Roman Catholic Church – begins to take a “a vested interest”  in the formation of clergy, making sure they are less chauvinistic about their denomination – then ecumenism is going to remain at a standstill.
Because of the lack of any read dramatic unity, Rosica says people have indeed, lost interest in church unity.
He said this in his report too, pointing out that the findings showed that “many have lost the desire for unity over the past years, and even fewer really sense the scandalous division existing within our own church and also among the Christian churches.
ROSICA KNOWS that the move toward church unity has to be gradual and it must go through a set of “sequences.” Sunday’s service is the beginning. The next step is to form a ministerial association.
The next step is to work on “twinning” churches, where churches begin to do some real sharing and experimenting with liturgies.
Rosica isn’t sure how successful he will be. He hopes for the best. He says as long as congregations are praying, “somehow the spirit of God is alive.”
He’s certain this will ease the impatience.

Friday 15 February 2013

The Ash Wednesday Liturgy, Propers, Rubrics and Obligations

Two days ago, we began our long Lent, made longer this year no doubt because of the renouncement by our beloved Holy Father of the See of Peter. We owe much to this man who walks in the Shoes of the Fisherman and one is a new awareness of the Church's liturgy both through Summorum Pontificum and the beginnings of what he called in The Spirit of the Liturgy, the reform of the reform.  We have, by the grace of his predecessor Blessed John Paul II and his own work, a new Missal. 

On Ash Wednesday evening, I was once again privileged to be able to sing the Holy Mass at the parish where I serve as Cantor each Saturday at the Anticipated Sunday Mass in northwest Toronto. The Mass there is well celebrated in the Ordinary Form.

Let us take a little look of the liturgical music which we put together for that Mass.

Lenten Prose: ATTENDE DOMINE (please join in singing the refrain in Latin, verses in English)
Entrance Antiphon: You are merciful - Cantor
Processional Hymn: O MERCIFUL REDEEMER, CBW #484

+ + +
Blessing and Distribution of Ashes
Antiphons I: Let us changeAntiphon II: Let the priestsAntiphon III: Blot outResponsory: Let us correct (Emendemus)Another chant: TAKE UP YOUR CROSS (if necessary)
+ + +
Offertory Antiphon: Let us exult - Cantor
Offertory Hymn: PARCE DOMINE (please join in sing refrain in Latin and verses in English)
SANCTUS Mass XVIII: Roman Missal Chant
AGNUS DEI Mass XVIII: Roman Missal Chant
Communion Antiphon: He who meditates - Cantor

Note in the Mass that the proper liturgical chants; the Entrance and Offertory Antiphons and the Communion Antiphon with its Psalm were sung. At the same time, the congregation had a Processional Hymn, an Offertory Hymn, a Communion Hymn and one at the Recessional. They sang the Sanctus, Agnus and Memorial Acclamation according to the Roman Missal Chants. This is acutoso participatio or actual/active participation. Listening is also, "participation." What else is noted? The Antiphons and Responsory for Ash Wednesday were chanted by the Cantor and then, as there were so many people and more on that at the end, there was another appropriate "chant" or hymn and this involved the singing with the congregation of Take Up Your Cross.

Now, let us take a look at what is below. What follows is taken directly from the page 20 of Antiphonary - Excerpted from the Roman Missal - English Translation of the Third Roman Missal, which we have been blest to have been using thanks to our current and previous Holy Fathers since the Advent of 2011.
Blessing and Distribution of Ashes 

While the Priest places ashes on the head of all those present who come to him, the following are sung:

Antiphon 1:  Let us change our garments to sackcloth and ashes, let us fast and weep before the Lord, that our God, rich in mercy, might forgive us our sins.

Antiphon 2 Cf. Jl 2: 17; Est 4: 17:  Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, stand between the porch and the altar and weep and cry out: Spare, O Lord, spare your people; do not close the mouths of those who sing your praise, O Lord.

Antiphon 3 Ps 50: 3:  Blot out my transgressions, O Lord.

This may be repeated after each verse of Psalm 50 (Have mercy on me, O God).

Responsory Cf. Bar 3: 2; Ps 78: 9:  R. Let us correct our faults which we have committed in ignorance, let us not be taken unawares by the day of our death, looking in vain for leisure to repent. * Hear us, O Lord, and show us your mercy, for we have sinned against you. V. Help us, O God our Savior; for the sake of your name, O Lord, set us free. * Hear us, O Lord . . .

Another appropriate chant may also be sung.

What do we notice between the two? The red in what was done corresponds directly to the red in the Missal, commonly referred to as "the rubrics." What else do we notice?  "While the Priest places ashes on the head of all those present who come to him, the following are sung:" In other words, this is not an option. There is no "or other suitable song" substituted. Note as well at the end it adds,  "Another appropriate chant may also be sung". As in the case above, we added a hymn, Take Up Your Cross as permitted. By this time, most people were back in the pew and it nicely covered the final imposition of ashes and the washing after the distribution.

This is what the Church expects for Her liturgy. This is what she expected on Wednesday. Now it refers specifically to this being "sung" it is not intended to be read; therefore if the Mass was read, then these would not normally be said, though there would be nothing preventing them being recited by a Lector but the norm for Mass in the Ordinary Form is that it be sung - solemn just as the norm in the Extraordinary Form is that it be Solemn. It is not being a rubrical stickler or liturgical cop to ask these questions. In fact, let us look further now at this direct quotation in the original Italian and atranslation with my bolding from the bulletin,  Notitiae 5 (1969) 406 published by the Concilium set up to implement Sacrosanctam Concilium:

Da più parti è stato chiesto se è ancora valida la formula della Istruzione sulla Musica sacra e la Sacra Liturgia, del 3 sett. 1958, al n. 33: “In Missis lectis cantus populares religiosi a fidelibus cantari possunt, servata tamen hac lege ut singulis Missae partibus plane congruant.”La formula è superata.È la Messa, Ordinario e Proprio, che si deve cantare, e non “qualcosa,” anche se plane congruit, che si sovrappone alla Messa. Perché l’azione è unica, ha un solo volto, un solo accento, una sola voce: la voce della Chiesa. Continuare a cantare mottetti, sia pure devoti e pii (come il Lauda Sion all’offertorio nella festa di un santo), ma estranei alla Messa, in luogo dei testi della Messa che si celebra, significa continuare un’ambiguita inammissibile: dare crusca invece di buon frumento, vinello annacquato invece di vine generoso.Perché non solo la melodia ci interessa nel canto liturgico, ma le parole, il testo, il pensiero, i sentimenti rivestiti di poesia e di melodia. Ora, questi testi devono essere quelli della Messa, non altri. Cantare la Messa, dunque, e non solo cantare durante la Messa. Documents on the Liturgy 1963–1975: Conciliar, Papal, and Curial Texts (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1982), edited and translated by Thomas C. O’Brien of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, 4154 (p. 1299):
Query: Many have inquired whether the rule still applies that appears in the Instruction on sacred music and the liturgy, 3 Sept. 1958, no. 33: “In low Masses religious songs of the people may be sung by the congregation, without prejudice, however, to the principle that they be entirely consistent with the particular parts of the Mass.”  Reply: That rule has been superseded. What must be sung is the Mass, its Ordinary and Proper, not “something,” no matter how consistent, that is imposed on the Mass. Because the liturgical service is one, it has only one countenance, one motif, one voice, the voice of the Church. To continue to replace the texts of the Mass being celebrated with motets that are reverent and devout, yet out of keeping with the Mass of the day (for example, the Lauda Sion on a saint’s feast) amounts to continuing an unacceptable ambiguity: it is to cheat the people. Liturgical song involves not mere melody, but words, text, thought, and the sentiments that the poetry and music contain. Thus texts must be those of the Mass, not others, and singing means singing the Mass not just singing at Mass. 

Whether we be priest or layman, bishop or liturgist, the question we need to ask ourselves, if the Mass we attended on Ash Wednesday last, if sung, was in accord with the rubrics of the Missal and if not, why not?" 
At you parish, did the heretical song "Ashes" make its way into the Mass you attended? George Weigel, catholic theologian, commentator and author wrote with my emphasis:
Thus, with tongue only half in cheek, I propose the Index Canticorum Prohibitorum, the "Index of Forbidden Hymns." Herewith, some examples.The first hymns to go should be hymns that teach heresy. If hymns are more than liturgical filler, hymns that teach ideas contrary to Christian truth have no business in the liturgy. "Ashes" is the prime example here: "We rise again from ashes to create ourselves anew." No, we don't. Christ creates us anew. (Unless Augustine was wrong and Pelagius right). ... What's a text that flatly contradicts that teaching doing in hymnals published with official approval?
So, what are we to do? As priests, liturgists, church musicians, the answer is clear. As laity the answer is obvious too. It is our duty to be educated. If the bishops' conferences fail in this, if the chanceries fail in this, we must take it up ourselves. We don't have excuses anymore. We have the Missal, the resources widely available on the Internet, much of it free. 
Let this be our gift of thanksgiving to God, our “Te Deum” for Pope Benedict XVI for all that he has done for us and to whom we owe so much. Let us remember this Lent, our Holy Father and Christ's Holy Church. Let us pray, not for the Pope we deserve, but for the Pope we need.

+ + +
As a postscript  I've sung the Ash Wednesday Mass at the Toronto parish for, I think, four years now. I am always impressed at the numbers of Catholics which attend. This year, they were even standing at the back, there were so many. Men were in great number as well which is always important to see and this was the parish's third Mass and it is not by any means a large suburban parish with thousands of registered parishioners  It was a cold February night, snow on the ground, damp and miserable as Toronto winters are, yet people came. Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation in Canada, not anywhere I expect. Yet, people come. Why? What is it that will bring us out on a weeknight in the middle of a Canadian winter?  It begs the question. What of the Holy Days of Obligation? In Canada, there are two, Christmas and the Octave Day of Christmas-Mary, Mother of God, that's it. When the Vatican allowed the local determination in 1969, we Canadians went for the lowest common denominator. How sad. Perhaps the people have a greater Catholic heart than the bishops think, even though they've known no different. Perhaps there is something that is awakening that desires us to live the liturgical life, the liturgical year. Could we at least see a return to Epiphany and Ascension of the LORD, if not to Holy Days of Obligation then at least to their proper celebration on January 6 and the Thursday, forty days past the Sunday of the Resurrection?  

How do we know the people won't come?

They came on Wednesday.

Thursday 14 February 2013

The Council of the Media

Our Holy Father never stops teaching us, even now. What an incredible gift he has been to us from Our Lord. Just as the media manipulated the truth fifty years ago, they will manipulate it over the next month for their own evil purposes. The New York Times, the Washington Post, the CBC, CNN, BBC, MSNBC, National Post, Guardian, Toronto Star; all of them have an agenda. Vatican III says one? The next Pope must allow women priests, says another. Pick an issue. Non-Catholics or lapsed Catholics, catholic-haters, telling the Catholic Church what it should do and what it should believe. 

Friends, don't read them, don't watch them, don't listen to them. If you want to know what is going on read the National Catholic Register or watch EWTN, read the Vatican Information Service or various blogs. Stay away from the media controlled by the diabolical one who is out to destroy as he knows that his time is short, very, very short.

God bless our Pope! 

And may God grant us not the Pope we deserve but the Pope which we need.

From Vatican Radio:

Below a Vatican Radio translation of the transcription of Pope Benedict's address

"It is a special and providential gift - began the Pope - that, before leaving the Petrine ministry, I can once again meet my clergy, the clergy of Rome. It' s always a great joy to see how the Church lives, and how in Rome, the Church is alive: there are pastors who in the spirit of the supreme Shepherd, guide the flock of Christ". "It is a truly Catholic and universal clergy, - he added - and is part of the essence of the Church of Rome itself, to reflect the universality, the catholicity of all nations, of all races, of all cultures”.

“At the same time I am very grateful to the Cardinal Vicar who is helping to reawaken, to rediscover the vocations in Rome itself, because if on the one hand Rome is the city of universality, it must be also a city with its own strong, robust faith, from which vocations are also born. And I am convinced that with the help of the Lord we can find the vocations He Himself gifts us, guide them, help them to develop and thus help the work in the vineyard of the Lord. "

"Today - continued the Pope - you have confessed the Creed before the Tomb of St. Peter: in the Year of the Faith, I see this as a very appropriate, perhaps even necessary, act, that the clergy of Rome meet at the Tomb of the Apostle of which the Lord said, 'to you I entrust my Church. Upon you I build my Church’. Before the Lord, together with Peter, you have confessed: 'you are Christ, the Son of the living God.' Thus the Church grows: together with Peter, confessing Christ, following Christ. And we do this always. I am very grateful for your prayers that I have felt - as I said Wednesday - almost physically. Though I am now retiring to a life of prayer, I will always be close to all you and I am sure all of you will be close to me, even though I remain hidden to the world. "

"For today, given the conditions of my age - he said - I could not prepare a great, real address, as one might expect, but rather I thought of chatting about the Second Vatican Council, as I saw it".

The Pope began with an anecdote: "In 1959 I was appointed professor at the University of Bonn, which is attended by students, seminarians of the diocese of Cologne and other surrounding dioceses. So, I came into contact with the Cardinal of Cologne, Cardinal Frings. Cardinal Siri of Genoa, - I think it was in 1961 - had organized a series of conferences with several cardinals in Europe, and the Council had invited the archbishop of Cologne to hold a conference, entitled: "The Council and the world of modern thought." The Cardinal invited me - the youngest of the professors - to write a project; he liked the project and proposed this text, as I had written it to the public, in Genoa".

"Shortly after - he continued - Pope John invited him to come [to Rome –ed] and he was afraid he had perhaps said maybe something incorrect, false and that he had been asked to come for a reprimand, perhaps even to deprive him of his red hat ... (priests laughing) Yes ... when his secretary dressed him for the audience, he said: 'Perhaps now I will be wearing this stuff for the last time... (the priests laugh). Then he went in. Pope John came towards him and hugged him, saying, 'Thank you, Your Eminence, you said things I have wanted to say, but I had not found the words to say' ... (the priests laugh, applaud) Thus, the Cardinal knew he was on the right track, and I was invited to accompany him to the Council, first as his personal advisor, then - in the first period, perhaps in November '62 – I was also appointed as an official perito [expert-ed] for the Council”.

Benedict XVI continued: "So, we went to the Council not only with joy, but with enthusiasm. The expectation was incredible. We hoped that everything would be renewed, that a new Pentecost really would come, a new era of the Church, because the Church was not robust enough at that time: the Sunday practice was still good, even vocations to the priesthood and religious life were already somewhat fewer, but still sufficient. But nevertheless, there was the feeling that the Church was going on, but getting smaller, that somehow it seemed like a reality of the past and not the bearer of the future. And now, we hoped that this relationship would be renewed, changed, that the Church would once again source of strength for today and tomorrow. "

The Pope then recalled how they saw "that the relationship between the Church and the modern period was one of some ‘contrasts’ from the outset, starting with the error in the Galileo case, "and the idea was to correct this wrong start "and to find a new relationship between the Church and the best forces in the world, "to open up the future of humanity, to open up to real progress."

The Pope recalled: "We were full of hope, enthusiasm and also of good will." "I remember - he said - the Roman Synod was considered as a negative model" - where - it is said - they read prepared texts, and the members of the Synod simply approved them, and that was how the Synod was held. The bishops agreed not to do so because they themselves were the subject of the Council. So - he continued - even Cardinal Frings, who was famous for his absolute, almost meticulous, fidelity to the Holy Father said that the Pope has summoned the bishops in an ecumenical council as a subject to renew the Church.

Benedict XVI recalled that "the first time this attitude became clear, was immediately on the first day." On the first day, the Commissions were to be elected and the lists and nominations were impartially prepared. And these lists were to be voted on. But soon the Fathers said, "No, are not simply going to vote on already made lists. We are the subject. "They had to move the elections - he added - because the Fathers themselves wanted to get to know each other a little ', they wanted to make their own lists. So it was done. "It was a revolutionary act - he said - but an act of conscience, of responsibility on the part of the Council Fathers." 

So - the Pope said - a strong activity of mutual understanding began. And this - he said - was customary for the entire period of the Council: "small transversal meetings." In this way he became familiar with the great figures like Father de Lubac, Danielou, Congar, and so on. And this – he said "was an experience of the universality of the Church and of the reality of the Church, that does not merely receive imperatives from above, but grows and advances together, under the leadership - of course – of the Successor of Peter" .

He then reiterated that everyone “arrived with great expectations" because "there had never been a Council of this size," but not everyone knew how to make it work. The French, German, Belgian, Dutch episcopates, the so-called " Rhineland Alliance”, had the most clearly defined intentions." And in the first part of the Council - he said - it was they who suggested the road ahead, then it’s activities rapidly expanded and soon all participated in the "creativity of the Council."

The French and the Germans - he observed - had many interests in common, even with quite different nuances. Their initial intention - seemingly simple - "was the reform of the liturgy, which had begun with Pius XII," which had already reformed Holy Week; their second intention was ecclesiology; their third the Word of God, Revelation, and then also ecumenism. The French, much more than the Germans - he noted - still had the problem of dealing with the situation of the relationship between the Church and the world.

Referring to the reform of the liturgy, the Pope recalled that "after the First World War, a liturgical movement had grown in Western Central Europe," as "the rediscovery of the richness and depth of the liturgy," which hitherto was almost locked within the priest’s Roman Missal, while the people prayed with their prayer books "that were made according to the heart of the people", so that "the task was to translate the high content, the language of the classical liturgy, into more moving words, that were closer to the heart of the people. But they were almost two parallel liturgies: the priest with the altar servers, who celebrated the Mass according to the Missal and the lay people who prayed the Mass with their prayer books”. " Now - he continued - "The beauty, the depth, the Missal’s wealth of human and spiritual history " was rediscovered as well as the need more than one representative of the people, a small altar boy, to respond "Et cum spiritu your" etc. , to allow for "a real dialogue between priest and people," so that the liturgy of the altar and the liturgy of the people really were "one single liturgy, one active participation": "and so it was that the liturgy was rediscovered, renewed."

The Pope said he saw the fact that the Council started with the liturgy as a very positive sign, because in this way "the primacy of God” was self evident”. Some – he noted - criticized the Council because it spoke about many things, but not about God: instead, it spoke of God and its first act was to speak of God and open to the entire holy people the possibility of worshiping God, in the common celebration of the liturgy of the Body and Blood of Christ. In this sense - he observed - beyond the practical factors that advised against immediately starting with controversial issues, it was actually "an act of Providence" that the Council began with the liturgy, God, Adoration.

The Holy Father then recalled the essential ideas of the Council: especially the paschal mystery as a centre of Christian existence, and therefore of Christian life, as expressed in Easter and Sunday, which is always the day of the Resurrection, "over and over again we begin our time with the Resurrection, with an encounter with the Risen One. " In this sense - he observed - it is unfortunate that today, Sunday has been transformed into the end of the week, while it is the first day, it is the beginning: "inwardly we must bear in mind this is the beginning, the beginning of Creation, the beginning of the re-creation of the Church, our encounter with the Creator and with the Risen Christ. " The Pope stressed the importance of this dual content of Sunday: it is the first day, that is the feast of the Creation, as we believe in God the Creator, and encounter with the Risen One who renews Creation: "its real purpose is to create a world which is a response to God's love. "

The Council also pondered the principals of the intelligibility of the Liturgy - instead of being locked up in an unknown language, which was no longer spoken - and active participation. "Unfortunately – he said - these principles were also poorly understood." In fact, intelligibility does not mean "banalizing" because the great texts of the liturgy - even in the spoken languages ​​ - are not easily intelligible, "they require an ongoing formation of the Christian, so that he may grow and enter deeper into the depths of the mystery, and thus comprehend". And also concerning the Word of God - he asked - who can honestly say they understand the texts of Scripture, simply because they are in their own language? "Only a permanent formation of the heart and mind can actually create intelligibility and participation which is more than one external activity, which is an entering of the person, of his or her being into communion with the Church and thus in fellowship with Christ."

The Pope then addressed the second issue: the Church. He recalled that the First Vatican Council was interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War and so had emphasized only the doctrine on primacy, which was described as "thanks to God at that historical moment", and "it was very much needed for the Church in the time that followed”. But - he said - "it was just one element in a broader ecclesiology", already in preparation. So a a fragment remained from the Council. So from the beginning - he said – the intention was to realise a more complete ecclesiology at a later. Here, too, - he said - the conditions seemed very good, because after the First World War, the sense of Church was reborn in a new way. A sense of the Church began to reawaken in people’s souls and the Protestant bishop spoke of the "century of the Church." What was especially rediscovered from Vatican I, was the concept of the mystical body of Christ, the aim was to speak about and understand the Church not as an organization, something structural, legal, institutional, which it also is, but as an organism, a vital reality that enters my soul, so that I myself, with my own soul as a believer, am a constructive element of the Church as such. In this sense, Pius XII wrote the encyclical Mistici Corporis Christi, as a step towards a completion of the ecclesiology of Vatican I.

I would say the theological discussion of the 30s-40s, even 20s, was completely under the sign of the word " Mitici Corporis." It was a discovery that created so much joy in this time and in this context the formula arose "We are the Church, the Church is not a structure, something ... we Christians, together, we are all the living body of the Church" . And of course this is true in the sense that we, the true ‘we’ of believers, along with the ‘I’ of Christ, the Church. Eachone of us, not we, a group that claims to be the Church. No: this "we are Church" requires my inclusion in the great "we" of believers of all times and places.

So, the first idea: complete the ecclesiology in theological way, but progressing in a structural manner, that is alongside the succession of Peter, his unique function, to even better define the function of the bishops of the Episcopal body. To do this, the word "collegiality" was found, which provoked great, intense and even – I would say – exaggerated discussions. But it was the word, it might have been another one, but this was needed to express that the bishops, together, are the continuation of the twelve, the body of the Apostles. We said: only one bishop, that of Rome, is the successor of one particular apostle Peter. All others become successors of the apostles entering the body that continues the body of the apostles. And just so the body of bishops, the college, is the continuation of the body of the twelve, so it is necessary, it has its function, its rights and duties.

"It appeared to many - the Pope said - as a struggle for power, and maybe someone did think about power, but basically it was not about power, but the complementarity of the factors and the completeness of the body of the Church with the bishops, the successors the apostles as bearers, and each of them is a pillar of the Church together with this great body”.

These - he continued - were the two fundamental elements in the search for a comprehensive theological vision of ecclesiology, meanwhile, after the '40s, in the '50s, a little 'criticism of the concept of the Body of Christ had already been born: mystic - someone said - is too exclusive and risk overshadowing the concept of the people of God. And the Council - he observed - rightly, accepted this fact, which in the Fathers is considered an expression of the continuity between the Old and New Testaments. We pagans, we are not in and of ourselves the people of God, but we become the children of Abraham and therefore the people of God, by entering into communion with Christ who is the only seed of Abraham. And entering into communion with Him, being one with Him, we too are people of God. That is, the concept of "people of God" implies continuity of the Testaments, continuity of God's history in the world, with men, but also implies a Christological element. Only through Christology do we become the people of God, and the two concepts are combined. And the Council - said the Pope - decided to create a Trinitarian construction of ecclesiology: the people of God-the-Father-Body of Christ- Temple of the Holy Spirit.

But only after the Council - he continued – was an element that had been somewhat hidden, brought to light, even as early as the Council itself, that is, the link between the people of God, the Body of Christ, and their communion with Christ, in the Eucharistic union. "Here we become the body of Christ, that is, the relationship between the people of God and the Body of Christ creates a new reality, that is, the communion." And the Council - he continued - led to the concept of communion as a central concept. I would say philologically that it had not yet fully matured in the Council, but it is the result of the Council that the concept of communion becomes more and more an expression of the sense of the Church, communion in different dimensions, communion with the Triune God, who Himself is communion between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, sacramental communion, concrete communion in the Episcopate and in the life of the Church.

The problem of Revelation provoked even greater discussion: at issue was the relationship between Scripture and tradition, and above all this interested exegetes of a greater freedom, who felt somewhat – shall we say - in a situation of negativity before Protestants, who were making great discoveries, while Catholics felt a little '"handicapped" by the need to submit themselves to Magisterium. There was therefore a very concrete issue at stake: how free are exegetes? How does one read Scriptures well? What is meant by tradition? It was a pluri-dimensional battle that I can not outline now, but certainly what is important thing is that Scripture is the Word of God and the Church is subject to the Scriptures, obeys the Word of God and is not above Scripture. Yet, Scripture is Scripture only because there is the living Church, its living subject, without the living subject of the Church Scripture is only a book, open to different interpretations but which does not give any final clarity.

Here, the battle - as I said - was difficult and the intervention of Pope Paul VI was decisive. This intervention shows all the delicacy of the Father, his responsibility for the outcome of the Council, but also his great respect for the Council. The idea had emerged that Scripture is complete, everything can be found therein, so there was no need for tradition, and that Magisterium has nothing to say to us. Then the Pope sent the Council, I believe, 14 formulas of a sentence to be included in the text on Revelation and gave us, gave the Fathers the freedom to choose one of 14 (formulas), but said: "One has to be chosen to complete the text". I remember, more or less, [Latin] that the formula spoke of the Churches’ certainty of the faith is not based solely on a book, but needs the illuminated subject of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit. Only in this way can Scripture speak and bring to bear all of its authority. We chose this phrase in the Doctrinal Commission, one of the 14 formulas, it is crucial, I think, to show the indispensability, the necessity of the Church, and to understand what tradition means, the living body in which the Word lives from the beginning and from which it receives its light, in which it was born. Because the simple fact of the Canon is an ecclesial fact: these writings are Scripture is the result of the illumination of the Church that found this canon of Scripture within herself, she found, she did not make, but found. Only and ever in this communion of the living Church can one really understand, read the Scriptures as the Word of God, as the Word that guides us in life and in death.

As I said, this was a difficult discussion, but thanks to the Pope and thanks - let's say - to the light of the Holy Spirit who was present at the Council, a document that is one of the most beautiful and also innovative whole Council was created, which demands further study, because even today the exegesis tends to read Scripture outside of the Church, outside of faith, only in the so-called spirit of the historical-critical method, an important method but never able to give solutions as a final certainty only if we believe that these are not human words: they are the words of God, and only if the living subject to which God has spoken, to which God speaks is alive, can we correctly interpret Sacred Scripture. And there is still much to be done, as I said in the preface of my book on Jesus, to arrive at a reading of Scripture that is really in the spirit of the Council. Here the application of the Council is not yet complete, it has yet to be accomplished.

Finally, ecumenism. I do not want to enter into these problems, but it was obvious - especially after the passions of Christians in the time of national socialism - that Christians could find unity, at least seek unity, but also that only God can give unity. We are still on this journey.

Now, with these issues, the Rhine alliance - so to speak - had done its work: the second part of the Council is much broader. Now the themes of "the world today", "the modern era" and the Church emerged with greater urgency, and with them, the themes of responsibility for building of this world, society’s responsibility for the future of this world and eschatological hope, the ethical responsibility of Christians, where they find their guides and then religious freedom, progress and all that, and relations with other religions.

Now all the players in the Council really entered into discussions, not only the Americas-United States with a strong interest in religious freedom. In the third period they told the Pope: "We can not go home without bringing with us a declaration on religious freedom passed by the Council." The Pope, however, had firmness and decision, the patience to delay the text until the fourth period to reach a maturation and a fairly complete consensus among the Fathers of the Council. I say, not only the Americans had now entered with great force into the Council arena but also Latin America, knowing full well the misery of their people, a Catholic continent and their responsibility for the situation of the faith of these people. And Africa, Asia, also saw the need for interreligious dialogue: increased problems that we Germans - I must say - at the beginning had not seen. I cannot go into greater depth on this now. The great document "Gaudium et Spes" describes very well the problem analyzed between Christian eschatology and worldly progress, between our responsibility for the society of tomorrow and the responsibility of the Christian before eternity, and so it also renewed Christian ethics, the foundations. But unexpectedly, a document that responded in a more synthetic and concrete manner to the great challenges of the time, took shape outside of this great document, namely "Nostra Aetate". From the beginning there were our Jewish friends, who said to us Germans especially, but not only to us, that after the sad events of this century, this decade of Nazism, the Catholic Church has to say a word on the Old Testament , the Jewish people. They also said "it was clear that the Church is not responsible for the Shoah. those who have committed these crimes were Christians, for the most part, we must deepen and renew the Christian conscience, even if we know that the true believers always resisted these things”. And so, it was clear that we had to reflect on our relationship with the world of the ancient people of God. We also understood that the Arab countries - the bishops of the Arab countries - were not happy with this. They feared a glorification of the State of Israel, which they did not want to, of course. They said, "Well, a truly theological indication on the Jewish people is good, it is necessary, but if you are to speak about this, you must also speak of Islam. Only in this way can we be balanced. Islam is also a great challenge and the Church should clarify its relationship with Islam". This is something that we didn’t really understand at the time, a little, but not much. Today we know how necessary it was.

And when we started to work also on Islam, they said: "But there are also other religions of the world: all of Asia! Think about Buddhism, Hinduism ... ". And so, instead of an initial declaration originally meant only for the ancient people of God, a text on interreligious dialogue was created anticipating by thirty years what would later reveal itself in all of its intensity and importance. I can not enter into it now, but if you read the text, you see that it is very dense and prepared by people who really knew the truth and it briefly indicates, in a few words, what is essential. Thus also the foundations of a dialogue in diversity, in faith to the uniqueness of Christ, who is One. It is not possible for a believer to think that religions are all variations on a theme of "no". There is a reality of the living God who has spoken, and is a God, a God incarnate, therefore the Word of God is really the Word of God. But there is religious experience, with a certain human light of creation and therefore it is necessary and possible to enter into dialogue and thus open up to each other and open all peoples up to the peace of God, of all his children, and his entire family.

Thus, these two documents, religious freedom and "Nostra Aetate" associated with "Gaudium et Spes" are a very important trilogy, the importance of which has only been revealed over the decades, and we are still working to understand this uniqueness of the revelation of God, uniqueness of God incarnate in Christ and the multiplicity of religions with which we seek peace and also an open heart to the light of the Holy Spirit who enlightens and guides to Christ.

I would now like to add yet a third point: there was the Council of the Fathers - the true Council - but there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council in and of itself, and the world perceived the Council through them, through the media. So the immediately efficiently Council that got thorough to the people, was that of the media, not that of the Fathers. And while the Council of the Fathers evolved within the faith, it was a Council of the faith that sought the intellectus, that sought to understand and try to understand the signs of God at that moment, that tried to meet the challenge of God in this time to find the words for today and tomorrow. So while the whole council - as I said - moved within the faith, as fides quaerens intellectum, the Council of journalists did not, naturally, take place within the world of faith but within the categories of the media of today, that is outside of the faith, with different hermeneutics. It was a hermeneutic of politics. The media saw the Council as a political struggle, a struggle for power between different currents within the Church. It was obvious that the media would take the side of whatever faction best suited their world. There were those who sought a decentralization of the Church, power for the bishops and then, through the Word for the "people of God", the power of the people, the laity. There was this triple issue: the power of the Pope, then transferred to the power of the bishops and then the power of all ... popular sovereignty. Naturally they saw this as the part to be approved, to promulgate, to help. This was the case for the liturgy: there was no interest in the liturgy as an act of faith, but as a something to be made understandable, similar to a community activity, something profane. And we know that there was a trend, which was also historically based, that said: "Sacredness is a pagan thing, possibly even from the Old Testament. In the New Testament the only important thing is that Christ died outside: that is, outside the gates, that is, in the secular world". Sacredness ended up as profanity even in worship: worship is not worship but an act that brings people together, communal participation and thus participation as activity. And these translations, trivializing the idea of ​​the Council, were virulent in the practice of implementing the liturgical reform, born in a vision of the Council outside of its own key vision of faith. And it was so, also in the matter of Scripture: Scripture is a book, historical, to treat historically and nothing else, and so on.

And we know that this Council of the media was accessible to all. So, dominant, more efficient, this Council created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery, in reality: seminaries closed, convents closed liturgy trivialized ... and the true Council has struggled to materialize, to be realized: the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council. But the real strength of the Council was present and slowly it has emerged and is becoming the real power which is also true reform, true renewal of the Church. It seems to me that 50 years after the Council, we see how this Virtual Council is breaking down, getting lost and the true Council is emerging with all its spiritual strength. And it is our task, in this Year of Faith, starting from this Year of Faith, to work so that the true Council with the power of the Holy Spirit is realized and Church is really renewed. We hope that the Lord will help us. I, retired in prayer, will always be with you, and together we will move ahead with the Lord in certainty. The Lord is victorious. Thank you.

Benedict XVI
Meeting with Roman Clergy
February 14, 2013

Monday 11 February 2013

God bless our Pope!

Dear Brothers, I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfil...l the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer. From the Vatican, 10 February 2013 BENEDICTUS PP XVI

+ + +

I will never forget that day when he was elected. I stood with a few dozen other Catholics and when the announcement was made, "Emitissime, Josephus Cardinalis Ratzinger" my fist and that of one other went into the air -- "yes!" while the others remained with their mouths gaping wide as to what they had just witnessed.

"Pray for me that I do not flea for fear of the wolves." Which of us can forget his request to us to pray for him. He did not seek the elevation to Bishop of Rome, indeed, after the election, his brother went to bed and wept. How many times did he try to retire as Cardinal Prefect to write and perhaps to teach and he was talked out of it by Pope John Paul II of blessed memory. Yet, he humbled himself to the desires of that holy pope and more importantly to the will of God, through the Holy Spirit.

How do we react to this news?

First, let us pray to God the Holy Spirit for a truly holy man as our next Pope.

Second, let us also understand that Canon Law provides for the abdication of a Pope. Canon 332 §2 states: "Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required for validity that the resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted by anyone." Nor of course, does he have to explain anymore than he already has in his letter. It is important to note that Pope John Paul II is known to have provided a letter should it become necessary to issue and Pope Pius XII signed a document that had he been kidnapped by the Nazis, a conclave should be held and that it should be considered as an abdication.

Let us also remember that the man, Joseph Ratzinger is nearly 86. He is a wise, wise man of deep spirituality and prayer. He is old, he is tired and he knows more than the rest of us. It is reported that he has been cautioned by his doctors about long flights. We can see from the Christmas Masses that he has, almost suddenly, become more frail. He knows more than anyone the crisis in which the Church finds itself and the work that must be done for the sake of souls. He knows as well, his own limitations. Truly, he saw from the inside the challenges of a Church headed by a Pope incapable of governing and the deceit and anarchy that was happening in the Church. Before that happens again, he is turning the Barque of Peter back to God and into the hand of its Founder and the Holy Spirit to provide for It, a new shepherd.

Thank you God for Papa Ratzinger.

Thank you Pope Benedict for your love, your vocation, your humility, your commitment, your intellect, your liturgical sensibility, your prayers, your kindness, your devotion, your faithfulness and for Summorum Pontificum.

May God bless you and keep you and may you know how much you are loved.

+ + +

Friday 1 February 2013

CCCB or Papa Ratzinger; Whom do you believe?

With a hat-tip to Kitchener-Waterloo Traditional Catholic for the good work on Jadot's boys, comes this story which I've long forgotten about:

"On January 18, 1991, Bishop Joseph Ferrario, the local Ordinary of Honolulu (now deceased), served them [six SSPX priests] a Formal Canonical Warning, threatening them with excommunication.  On May 1, 1991, they were formally declared to be excommunicated

In a letter dated June 28, 1993, the USA's Apostolic Pro-Nunico, Archbishop Cacciavillan, declared on Cardinal Ratzinger's behalf:

From the examination of the case, conducted on the basis of the Law of the Church, it did not result that the facts referred to in the above-mentioned decree are formal schismatic acts in the strict sense, as they do not constitute the offense of schism; and therefore the Congregation holds that the Decree of May 1, 1991 lacks foundation and hence validity.

This is a declaration that the automatic (ipso facto) excommunication claimed by Bishop Ferrario for the followers of Archbishop Lefebvre is in fact totally non-existent."

On January 17, commenting on the inappropriate comments by Bishop Fellay, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops the Society of Saint Pius X, to be a schismatic group not in communion with the Catholic Church.

So which is it? 

Who are we to believe?

Is the SSPX schismatic as the CCCB states or is it not as then Cardinal Ratzinger declared in 1991?

For more on Bishop Ferrario, how about this little gem from Randy Engel's, The Rite of Sodomy:
Meanwhile, Ferrario was moving up the ecclesiastical ladder. In 1978, Pope Paul VI appointed him an Auxiliary Bishop of Honolulu, and in 1982, Pope John Paul II elevated Ferrario to Bishop of Honolulu. This despite the fact that Ferrario was engaged in sexual solicitation of seminarians at St. Stephen's and had carried on a homosexual liaison with another island priest. Word spread that the Diocese of Honolulu was now overtly "gay friendly."
KWTC refers in the same editorial to Raymond Leahy and Barry Glendinning, two homosexual pederasts, bishop and priest, who were known as expert "liturgists." How often has this been revealed; that those who those who persecute and denigrate the traditional liturgy and those who even take it upon themselves to put their personal mark on the new liturgy are themselves, homosexuals or sympathizers.

It is the height of narcissism and deceit and betrayal and disgust.

Oh, in case my enemies are reading, I'm not blogging from work - taking a vacation day.