Tuesday, December 30, 2014

REFLECTIONS ON THE SYNOD - AND THE CARDINALS



The dust is beginning to settle after the Synod. And it could be said to have been quite a "dust up"! 

Synods are in recent centuries a post - Conciliar times "novelty" for the universal Church.Since the time of Pope Saint John Paul the Great, they have been held and have labored mightily but quietly - even though the full detail of each of the Synod Fathers' interventions was fully available  on the Holy See Website within a day or so of their being made.Then , in due course, the Holy Fathers, Pope Saint John Paul and his successor Pope Benedict XVI, issued their Post - Synodal Exhortations .The whole process was normalised and a routine well-established.

Pope Francis brought a bit of South American  excitement to the process. Firstly, he had Cardinal Kasper of Germany deliver an address to a preparatory commission, and he warmly commended Cardinal Kasper's ideas and spoke of his writings as " theology on its knees".(Some might have thought " brought to its knees".)

As it happened, Cardinal Kasper espoused ideas inconsistent with Catholic teaching , pastoral practice and Theology. That this was so , was made abundantly clear in the lead - up to the Synod by the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy Australian Cardinal George Pell, by the  Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , another German, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, by the Prefect of the Apostolic Segnatura Cardinal Raymond Burke, and others and evidenced in the publication of no less than five books expanding on their views as the Synod approached.

Cardinal Kasper had evidently thought he had the inside running, but this vigorous universal rebuttal of his novelties led him to complain of being attacked and ambushed.

When the Synod got down to work, Pope Francis was seen to have arranged a novel approach to its proceedings. There would be no more daily , not even weekly, release of the Fathers' intervention texts. Rather, each day an anonymous editor's summary of all the interventions would be released by the Vatican Information Service. The Holy Father urged the Synod Fathers to be open and forthright and free in expressing their opinions in the Synod. 

The first few days Vatican Information Service reports on Synod deliberations caused a great deal of concern because of  their emphasis almost exclusively on Kasperite views, ignoring the contributions of others who formed the Synod majority. The ease with which this could be done on this anonymous, no names basis was a cause for great concern among the Synod Fathers. They knew that the reports were not truly reflecting what most of them were saying.

But the wheels were really blown off the wagon the Synod management had gotten rolling, when they produced at the end of Week One, an interim Relatio (a summary of discussions so far) which was put forward for the Fathers to vote upon.There was almost universal consternation at its content , which the Fathers vigorously refuted, and they wanted to know who had prepared it. The Head of the management team Cardinal Baldisseri did not give them much satisfaction - " it was the result of the process" - begging the question " who were the processors?". But even he was apparently annoyed by the paragraph advocating more sympathetic treatment of the attitudes and activities of homosexuals, and he did reveal that it was the work of Bishop Bruno Forte whom he left to try justifying it to the Fathers - without success.

At about this time the Australian Cardinal George Pell is reported to have stood up and, thumping his fist on the desktop demanded  "You must stop trying to manipulate this Synod!" addressing Cardinal Baldisseri. He went on to demand that the Reports of the individual small Groups of Cardinals and Bishops should be made public to clearly show what was really going on.

This left Cardinal Baldisseri in an awkward position - he was evidently not in charge as had seemed . He is reported to have turned to the Holy Father who was looking down and simply slowly nodded his OK.

Then Cardinals Muller, Burke , Napier and others added their voices to Cardinal Pell's and the jig was up. Or so it seemed. Later in a public Press Conference Cardinal Napier of Durban South Africa made clear the dissatisfaction of the Synod Fathers with what had gone on. The discomfort of the Vatican Press Office Head was obvious.This is not a matter of interpretation - it is all plainly visible on video of the Press Conference.

The whole affair has reflected very badly on Pope Francis' administration. It might not have been so if it were not for the fact that his stamp was all over the business. From the selection of Cardinal Kasper to "set the scene" , to his personal endorsement of Cardinal Kasper's bizarre ideas, to the selection of the officers of the Synod and their obvious dependence on his nod for their manner of proceeding.

That adverse reflection was heightened when, in the days following the Synod's conclusion, Cardinal Kasper criticised the African Bishops and questioned their right to " tell US" about these theological and moral issues. His remarks were widely publicised and often characterised as racist. He then denied having made the comments. Alas for him the highly regarded reporter had, and made publicly available, the recording of the Cardinal's remarks.

 But if the Cardinals and Bishops thought that they had induced a change of heart in those seeking to manipulate the Synod, they were in for a shock. When the final Synod document was published it contained the three contentious clauses which the Synod Fathers had NOT approved in the clause by clause voting process. And it was made clear that this had been done as a result of the intervention of the Holy Father.

Clauses 52, 53 and 55 of the Relatio Synodi which are included in Part 1 of the Lineamenta of the 2015 Synod  are those specifically failing to gain the Synod Fathers' approval.

The evident willful riding roughshod over the intentions of the Synod Fathers working within the established norms, is disturbing to many.



                                   Pope Francis at the time of the La Nacion interview


Meantime some significant insight into the personality of Pope Francis was given in his answers in an interview very recently in the Spanish language Argentinian daily newspaper La Nacion.One of the most revealing of the Holy Father's comments was this:

"
"God is good to me, he has bestowed on me a healthy dose of unawareness. I just do what I have to do. From the start I said to myself, 'Jorge, don´t change, just keep on being yourself, because to change at your age would be to make a fool of yourself'"."

The "unawareness" of which the Holy Father speaks, relates to the comments of others upon his actions.  " Just keep being yourself..." is OK for a few occupations, but it has a strange sound when one has become the Vicar of Christ upon Earth. Surely one is obliged to rise to the occasion. And again, to espouse "unawareness" of what is being said about one, is a very strange stance for anyone, let alone someone in public life, let alone someone charged with " strengthening the brethren" and "teaching, sanctifying and governing" Christ's Church.In fact, as the interview went on the Holy Father's own words made it very clear that he does keep a close eye on what is being written and said about him.

A couple of weeks later, in his end of the year address to the Curia, which instantly became very public, the Holy Father launched into what amounted to a heavy attack on the Curia, listing at length 15 "diseases" affecting it collectively and its members.These were highly critical remarks given the Sacred character of the roles the members fulfill and the role of the Holy Father himself fulfills. Whether it was consistent with the injunctions of Sacred Scripture on the appropriate manner of correcting one's brethren, or consistent with the obligations of Charity, let alone Prudence in the management of those who serve one, is a matter for each individual to assess. No doubt the Curial Prelates will be doing just that for some time to come.

Surprisingly within a few days, in an annual address to the workers in the Vatican, the Holy Father warned them about carrying gossip and making uncharitable remarks among other things.This would have been read with great interest in the Curia.


All eyes are now firmly fixed on the 2015 Synod which will have to bring all of the pressures to a head and produce a result consistent with Catholic Teaching. In a move re-assuring many the Holy Father has named Cardinal Napier (mentioned above) to the leadership level of the Synod.

The situation seems far from ideal,in many respects. We are left to pray and that is greatly re-assuring : pray for the Holy Father and for the Synod Fathers. 



















   

Sunday, December 07, 2014

INFAMY!!! AND GLORY!!!!

THE "DAY THAT WILL LIVE IN INFAMY"


A day on which we remember a heroic young Catholic Priest who gave his life acting in Persona Christi just 73 years ago to-day, and pray for his intercession on behalf of our present day Priests.


"Haec Dies"...This is the day, but unlike the prayer which goes on "..which the Lord has made...", this is the day , the anniversary of the day,  "which will live in infamy". For to-day is the 73rd  Anniversary of the cowardly Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour which began the War in the Pacific.
Like to-day, 7th December, 1941 was also a Sunday.

FATHER ALOYSIUS SCHMITT U.S.N

Father Aloysius Schmitt was a 32 yrs old Catholic Priest, serving in the United States Navy as a Chaplain with the rank of Lieutenant(JG) -Junior Grade. He served on one of the United States Navy's Pacific Fleet Battleships - U.S.S. OKLAHOMA . Sunday morning had dawned beautifully at his Pacific island base.Father's day began like any other in his recently-commenced Naval career as Chaplain ,which had commenced nearly 6 months ago on 28th June. He celebrated Holy Mass for the Catholic members of the crew at 0615 and, after making his thanksgiving, slid his Breviary into his jacket pocket.

U.S.S. OKLAHOMA
U.S.S.OKLAHOMA was moored in the tropical charm of Pearl Harbour. Situated in the Hawaiian Islands, Pearl Harbour was the great Western bastion of United States Naval power. Here row upon row of mighty battleships, cruisers and destroyers were moored in idyllic peace. Life can be good -balmy weather, gentle island breezes, the order and glamour of the great fleet, then add the sublime - the devout celebration of Holy Mass. 

Unnoticed simple actions can have the most serious consequences.
   
Within minutes, the devastating and treacherous Japanese attack - prepared as the Japanese Ambassador gained time with phoney Peace Talks in Washington - had begun. Father Schmitt went straight to his Battle Station in the great ship's Sick Bay to minister to the injured and the dying. Suddenly OKLAHOMA herself was struck and shaken by exploding torpedoes. She took on water rapidly and commenced to list badly, then steadily rolled over as the weight of her huge main armament gun turrets had effect.
THE STRICKEN OKLAHOMA IN WHICH FATHER SCHMITT DIED AFTER SAVING NUMEROUS LIVES

In the turmoil, the young Priest followed his charges in the search for a safe compartment. They found one with a porthole still giving access to the open air. Father Schmitt stood back and helped push men to safety through the small opening. When his turn came, those outside, now pulling him, found that they could not get him through, as the Breviary in his pocket jammed in the porthole. 

 As they frantically struggled, Father insisted that they let him go as more men had entered the compartment."Please let go of me and may God bless you all", he said and slipped back to resume his work, pushing the newcomers to safety. In all Father Schmitt pushed 12 men to safety.  Within 20 minutes of the first torpedo hit , OKLAHOMA settled in the mud of Pearl Harbour.
Father Aloysius Schmitt drowned when the compartment finally flooded. He was an authentic hero and an authentic Alter Christus faithful even unto death - giving his life so that his flock might live. We pray often for a good death. Father Schmitt as a holy and faithful Priest could not have served his Master better.
Father Aloysius Schmitt was posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal with the citation "His magnanimous courage and self sacrifice were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave up his life for his country."

Well, Father Schmitt was acting in the highest traditions of another band of brothers, the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, Who gave up His Life that all may have eternal life. "

The story of Father Aloysius Schmitt is told with the help of information in the HAWAII NAVY NEWS 14 October, 2005. Father Schmitt was the first United States Chaplain to die in World War II.

When we think of that terrible day, at least as far as Father Schmitt's heroic sacrifice, perhaps we can, in considering him, conclude the prayer we referred to at the beginning "....let us rejoice and be glad in it."


Father Aloysius Schmitt, pray for us and our priests. May your Priestly heroism never be forgotten.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

CURRENT EVENT TERMITES RAMPANT


Cardinal Walter Kasper and the Holy Father


Anyone who has suffered the onslaught of termites knows the terrible shock of witnessing their " coming out".

They work away, invisibly at first, for months and years , whilst all goes on in the house much as before. Then perhaps a floorboard or bearer may develop a certain "give" under pressure or some telltale piles of surprising detritus may appear - annoyingly defacing the accustomed cleanliness and order of the house.Some in the house may suspect or even realize what is happening, but often the Householder tolerates the the situation which, in his naivete he thinks is manageable.

If no corrective action is taken, the day arrives when the shell or skin of paint can no longer hold together when all the wood it was decorating has been eaten away by the subversive activity of the termites.Finally they can be seen in their frenzied activity quite openly moving on to what remains to destroy that too. The naive Householder is incapable of justifying his failure to take timely action and is at last forced to take radical action to bring the infestation to an end, to the great disturbance of the household.

Recent events in the Church in Germany and from Germany into the wider Church in the Synod on the Family reflect the same type of situation.

It is quite remarkable that the wealthy Church in Germany - supported by Government Church Tax levied directly onto registered Catholics - has been on a long downward spiral slip-sliding away into heretical positions for a long time.Numbers of the German hierarchy have been leading the push. One of the flash point issues has been that of making Holy Communion available to divorced and re-married people : i.e. those living together in an illicit relationship and therefore continually and publicly in Mortal Sin.  But recently the German Government changed aspects of the Church Tax law which led to numerous people " leaving the Church" to avoid heavier tax. This type of "heresy"was treated with outrage by the German Bishops , and one of their leading outraged and strongly protesting complainants was His Eminence Cardinal Walter Kasper.

Now , it just so happens that this same Cardinal Kasper has been a leading proponent of Holy Communion being made available to those Divorced and illicitly re-married! But attempt to avoid higher taxes , and just watch him fight to put you in your place.

As it happens, Pope Francis facilitated Cardinal Kasper in the presentation of his views on Holy Communion at a gathering in preparation for the Synod.This caused quite an uproar and has led to an avalanche of books, articles, speeches in defence of Catholic teaching and against the German push.Cardinal Kasper has complained vociferously that he is being wrongly attacked and that the Holy Father approves of his position. But after some initial seemingly favourable remarks in general about Cardinal Kasper's efforts, the Holy Father has maintained silence. It would seem that his original intention had been to use Cardinal Kasper as an icebreaker, to get strong discussion going. If so he has bitten off rather more than he can readily chew.

The problem of knowing what is going on in the Synod, is made more difficult by the foggy reporting of it by the Vatican Information Service. Unlike previous Synods, the reports do not record exactly what was said and by whom something was said. In the past a Website for the Synod gave the text of the interventions and the of course the name of the speakers. But the two VIS reports so far are quite different, They present only a summary of what was said, don't say who said what, and don't  present any contrary views and don't relate what has been said to Church teaching. The whole process is non-transparent, open to manipulation and devoid of credibility.

This is doubly so when the first two days' reports read like a recitation of the utterances of the false "spirit of the Council" advocates.

Termites 7 so far, the Church Nil and the Householder not looking too good. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

NEW ARCHBISHOP OF SYDNEY

NOW ARCHBISHOP ANTHONY FISHER
The Holy Father has appointed Sydney -born Anthony Fisher O.P. until now Bishop of Parramatta, and a former Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Sydney to succeed His Eminence George Cardinal Pell as Archbishop of Sydney.


Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP

Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
DD BA LlB BTheol DPhil
Bishop of Parramatta
DD BA LlB BTheol DPhil
Born in Sydney in 1960 to Colin and Gloria Fisher, he was baptised Anthony Colin Joseph at St Thérèse Church, Lakemba, and attended the parish school in 1965 and 1966.
Thereafter, he attended St Michael’s School, Lane Cove, Holy Cross College, Ryde, and St Ignatius’ College Riverview.
At the University of Sydney he received degrees in History and Law before practising law in a city firm.

Dominican friar

In 1985, Bishop Anthony entered the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), a religious order dedicated to preaching the Catholic faith in the context of a life of study, prayer and community.
He studied for the priesthood in Melbourne, receiving an honours degree in Theology.
He worked for a time on immigration and refugee issues at Uniya, a centre for social research in Kings Cross, and was ordained a priest at Holy Name Parish, Wahroonga, on 14 September 1991.
Crest of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
'Veritatem facientes in caritate' Speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)
Thereafter, Bishop Anthony completed a Doctorate in Bioethics at the University of Oxford. From 1995 to 2000 he was a lecturer in the Australian Catholic University.
From 2000 to 2003 he was foundation Director of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family, Melbourne. Bishop Anthony remains Professor of Moral Theology and Bioethics in the Institute.
He is also Deputy-Chancellor of the Catholic Institute of Sydney and Adjunct Professor in the University of Notre Dame Australia. In 2011, Bishop Anthony received the honorary degree Doctor of Laws from the University of Notre Dame Australia.
In the Dominican Order he was the Master of Students (seminarians) and Socius (deputy) to the Provincial.

Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney

In 2003, Pope John Paul II appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney. In that archdiocese he was Episcopal Vicar for Life and Health and Chairman of the Catholic Schools Board.
From 2003-2010 Bishop Anthony was Parish Priest of Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish, Watsons Bay. His community involvements have included: Chaplain to the Parliament of Victoria; member of the Infertility Treatment Authority of Victoria; chair or member of several hospital ethics committees; and chaplain to various organisations such as the Order of Malta. He has published extensively in bioethics and moral theology.
He was Co-ordinator of World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney.

 
                      Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Pell and the then 
                                Bishop Anthony Fisher in 1988

Third Bishop of Parramatta

On 8 January 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Anthony the third Bishop of Parramatta.
He is also Chairman of the Catholic Education Commission of New South Wales, a member of the Australian Bishops’ Commission for Doctrine and Morals, the Bishops’ Commission for Pastoral Life and the Bishops’ delegate for youth.
Since 2004, he has been an ordinary Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the body that advises the Church on bioethics. He recently published Catholic Bioethics for a New Millennium (Cambridge University Press).

COMMENT

                     Bishop Fisher with his Parramatta Seminarians

Archbishop Fisher is a remarkably well-qualified successor to Cardinal Pell. He i s a man , still young at 54 years, of strong academic and pastoral achievements. His capabilities are quite varied, as his oversight of the brilliantly successful World Youth Day 2008 shows. He is not afraid to take bold initiatives  - as we see in the establishment of the Holy Spirit Seminary in Parramatta - which is a model of a successful Seminary.

We wish His Grace every Blessing on the occasion of his appointment and in the years ahead, as he assumes the Crozier so lately relinquished by Cardinal Pell 


                                               A congenial Succession

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"DO YOU LOVE ME?" THE GREEKS HAD A WORD FOR IT!

To-day is the Feast Day of Pope Saint Pius X whose love was kindled in my heart by my childhood Parish Priest, the tall Irishman Father Con Donovan.Father loved Pope Saint Pius X and his devotion caused my child's heart and mind to respond accordingly.The effect has lasted now, even at 74 yrs of age.

The Gospel of the Mass to-day is a very special one. My affection for it grew , when in my teens I learned something important about it from the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, but the story is told in the following item which I posted in 2012 :

 "

Saturday, May 26, 2012

THE GREEKS HAD A WORD FOR IT - BUT WHY IS IT NOT SPOKEN ABOUT?


AN AILING ARCHBISHOP FULTON J SHEEN IS GREETED BY BLESSED POPE JOHN PAUL II

The Gospel is John 21 : 15 -19 in which according to our translations Jesus asks Saint Peter three times "Do you love Me?" Most preachers and teachers go with it as we see it, But the late Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J Sheen brilliant Scholar, Preacher and Retreat master and TV Star in the 1950s, pointed out that two verbs are used for "love "in the original Greek text : Jesus' first two questions use "agape" which is an unconditional all-consuming, sacrificial love - even unto death.However, both times, Peter, in responding, uses "phileo" - the normal  natural love between friends.For His third question, Jesus lowers the bar to meet poor Peter's more feeble responses : He Himself uses Phileo on this occasion to accommodate Peter.

If we cast our minds back to Holy Thursday night, we recall Jesus'prediction , and Peter's triple denial of Him, and how Saint Peter wept following the Lord's glance as He was taken away ( "conversus Dominus" Luke 22:61 the Gospel tells us - "the Lord turned" and looked back at Peter). Clearly Peter's heart and mind went straight to that painful memory when Jesus asked "Do you love Me more than these"(first question) He  was not going to condemn himself again by any rash assertions, such as those he had previously made. He knows he had no right to judge the degree of love the others had for Jesus. So , his head and heart swimming in painful memories, he responds to the Lord's use of agape with phileo.

But so great indeed is the Divine love for him that God made Man, Jesus Christ, lowers the standard to accommodate Saint Peter. 
 
It is an amazing story of God's Love at work. Saint Peter redeems himself somewhat with his heartfelt response : "Lord, You know everything, You know that I love You...."

The discourse concludes with Our lord's prophecy of Peter's death and the price of his Primacy.

"ORATE FRATRES" ARCHBISHOP SHEEN CELEBRATES HOLY MASS


Have you ever heard a Homilist advert to this aspect of the triple questioning? At 72 yrs of age I have not heard it done in Australia, and would have remained in ignorance had it not been for Archbishop Fulton Sheen's Radio Broadcast ( audio from the TV Shows in the U.S.A.) in 1950's Sydney,  when I was in my teens.
 
 Remarkably I understand it is a routine part of homilies on that Gospel in Nigeria! Then again, they receive Communion on the tongue whilst kneeling, as if in the Presence of God Himself! ( Of course they are, as are we - what is wrong with us?)

Oh ! And lest you think the Greeks forgot something! There was a third Greek word for "Love ": "Eros"for physical intimacy. And actually a rarely used Fourth word "Storge"for a general love such as for a group or team or college student body for example. 

As the saying goes : "The Greeks had a word for it."!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

PAPAL STATEMENTS

Pope Francis
This Post first appeared on 27th September, 2013 Recent events have made it even more relevant.

One thing is undeniable about Pope Francis, he has caused Catholics to look again, and carefully think through, their attitudes to Papal statements and actions.

We are not talking about Magisterial statements here, but routine expressions of opinion.

Admittedly there were not so many of these from Popes in recent decades , and when they came, they were usually only incidental to some major considered formal statement, letter or homily.But the recent , now famous at least, interview given by the Holy Father, has produced a torrent of his "off the cuff" remarks, many of which are very far from Magisterial teaching and entering into the area of statements of fact.Some have come to question a significant part of those "facts" - and those doing the questioning are those normally considered ultramontane - absolutely committed to the Pope in everything.

The point at issue is this part of the Holy Father's comments:

"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. "
It did not help consideration of these comments when the mainstream mass media began headlining along the lines "POPE SAYS CHURCH IS OBSESSED WITH ABORTION,GAYS AND CONTRACEPTION". That is of course not quite what the Holy Father said, and it does suggest a conclusion that is ABSOLUTELY NOT anything he said.
However, those who have borne the heat of the day on just these issues, were quick to point out that, at least in the Anglosphere and in Europe there is not the slightest question of the Church at the Diocesan or Parish level "obsessing" over these topics. Indeed, very many have asked "When was the last time you heard the Church's teaching in these areas defended or propounded? Answer not in the last 40 years!"
Their conclusion then, is that what the Holy Father has said or implied is simply not true - his facts are wrong.
This has forced people to reflect on their customary reactions which have tended to be ultramontane - generally to hold the view that whatever the Holy Father said was right - no question. ( Of course they all knew that occasionally even a saintly Pope like Blessed Pope John Paul II could impulsively do something silly - like kissing a Koran on one occasion - his actorly instincts getting the better of him on the spur of the moment.) 
But the phenomenon of Pope Francis has, it seems unnecessarily, caused even the greatest loyalists to examine their position and realise and bring to the fore, what they had of course always known , that there are strict limits to Papal Infallibility and even to what is or is not Magisterial teaching.And many have expressed a reduced confidence in the ultimate support of the Holy Father in their local battles for the Faith that they have previously taken for granted.
The latter point  was given added importance when the Holy Father said later in the interview:
"It is amazing to see the denunciations for lack of orthodoxy that come to Rome. I think the cases should be investigated by the local bishops’ conferences, which can get valuable assistance from Rome. These cases, in fact, are much better dealt with locally".

This was truly alarming for most Catholics who have had to struggle to defend Catholic teaching and practice against dissident Bishops and
 even Episcopal Conferences at times.

So, though it is early days as yet, it is true to say that one effect of Pope Francis' Pontificate has been to make even the most loyal "Papist" think very carefully about his/her obligations in Faith in regard to non-Magisterial statements and actions by the Pope.This is not necessarily a gain for the sacred office.

Friday, July 11, 2014

IT IS THE LORD

                       Pope Benedict XVI kneels before the Blessed Sacrament

IT IS THE LORD ! (John 21:7)

At the heart of the Catholic Faith is the greatest treasure imaginable: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We can truly exclaim , with Saint John "It is the Lord!"

Is it any wonder that through the last 2,000 years the Catholic Church, reflecting on , and endeavouring to come to terms with, this great miracle as best she could under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, had developed a Liturgy that sought to bring every ounce of honour possible to the Presence of God among us?

This process was entirely natural and organic, that is to say, the growth was consistent with every previous stage, whilst developing it further. It could not be otherwise because it stemmed from authentic faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Eucharist.For who would seek to diminish the honour given to God amongst us by his forebears?

And yet......and yet....in latter days, only in the last 49 years - since the closure of the Second Vatican Council on 8th December, 1965, it seemed, as the Venerable Pope Paul VI said on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul in 1972, as if "From some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the Temple of God".



                                                         Venerable Pope Paul VI



We now know , through the revelation of his close confidant and Papal Master of Ceremonies, Cardinal Vergilio Noe, that what he had in mind was the widespread liturgical abuses which spread like wildfire in the wake of the Council, as radical elements invented the false "spirit of the Council" and ignored the letter of its teaching Documents.

But through heroic struggles on the part of Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI we have seen the dawning of a new era of piety and devotion, drawing back from the abyss to which Satan had been driving so many clerics and laity, like so many Gaderene swine to destruction.

                                  What they termed "vibrant" Liturgies

The Novus Ordo Missae - the New Order of Mass approved and implemented by the Venerable Pope Paul VI caused a massive reaction throughout the Catholic Church. Like no other event, it served to make the foundations of the Faith of so many people to quake. It also lead to a certain free for all in liturgical abuse.For just as the Novus Ordo itself largely ignored the letter of the Second Vatican Council's document on the Sacred Liturgy - " Sacrosanctum Concilium", so many clergy who had absorbed the false " spirit of the Council" largely ignored the letter of the Missal of the Novus Ordo, now dubbed the Sacramentary (rather than the Roman Missal), and went their own willful way in producing what they termed "vibrant" liturgies.


Gradually, through the Pontificates of Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the runaway horses were reined in with steadily increasing effect. And, in due time, even ICEL the International Committee for English in the Liturgy which had given the Novus Ordo an initial banal and inaccurate translation of the Missal was itself reformed. The new ICEL operating under a proper set of translation guidelines, in time brought forth with the aid of the Vox Clara Committee chaired by Cardinal George Pell, a new corrected translation of the Order of Mass restoring sacral language to the Liturgy and purging errors.

But the process of reform was never better served than by Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio " Summorum Pontificum" of 7th July, 2007, which unshackled the pre Novus Ordo Mass, enabling every Priest - without further permissions - to celebrate Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal.Here , in his own words , spoken 10 years earlier, we find the reason that motivated him :

" I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It's impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden, and when it makes longing for it seem downright indecent. Can it be trusted any more about anything else? Won't it proscribe tomorrow what it prescribes to-day?"


                                  Mass celebrated in the Vetus Ordo


 The results of the Motu Proprio have been dramatic. Strong communities of worshipers according to the Vetus Ordo have multiplied around the world, despite obstacles and rear-guard actions by some recalcitrant Bishops. And, contrary to the predictions of hard core "liberals", they are not composed of nostalgic old timers, but are flourishing centres of young families and young adults in the main. They find in the Vetus Ordo the sense of the sacred is worked into the very fabric of the ritual.

From the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar to the Last Gospel, they see the great Truth is recognised in every movement and gesture:


                                        "It is the Lord!"