Tuesday, September 23, 2014

THE DEVIL IS PROWLING AND THE GATES OF HELL ARE FLUNG WIDE


At this critical juncture in salvation history, we have a pope in Pope Francis who isn't afraid to speak about the devil, hell or the devil's influence in our lives and on the world.

We know that the devil is prowling the world seeking the ruin of souls. That's the way it is. And some of us he possesses and some ideologies he makes attractive even to Christians and others normally of good will, no matter their religion.

Are we at another tipping point in terms of the influence of Satan on individuals, groups of people and the ideologies that are hate-filled?

ISIS and their minions and other terrorist groups have the potential to do to innocent people what Hitler, his minions and ideology did to 6 million Jews, 6 million gypsies, (Christians) and countless disabled people of all religions.

We have Russia longing for the good old days and willing to go to war to prove their virility.

We have godless secularism already having overrun Europe and making deep inroads into American life in the years since President Obama took over the White House. The culture of death has been ratcheted up to a virtue under his presidency and the redefining of marriage has made the unnatural natural in eyes of a significant portion of our country, but certainly not all, but those opposed are afraid to speak out because of the tyranny of secularism in this regard.

I met with about 30 juniors and seniors at Macon's Presbyterian Day School. What a nice group of kids. I gave them a tour of our church and spoke about Catholicism, what we have in common and what the differences are.

I spoke a little bit, and really only briefly, on the devil. After the talk, the kids milled about and about 15 of them surrounded me and wanted me to talk about exorcisms. Oddly enough, just this past Saturday I celebrated an EF Baptism and quite frankly I felt like an exorcist at that baptism as you can tell on my previous posts about it.

They asked me if I had ever done a major exorcism. I told them I can't that the bishop has to give permission for such a thing and all the other reasons why a person might seem to be possessed must be ruled out.

I told them that normal priests and deacons can only do minor exorcisms. The laity are not permitted to do this ministry as far as I am aware.

I warned them that no one should engage the devil in a conversation even to expel. That the prayed should be made to Jesus asking him to do it or to one of the saints like the prayer to St. Michael. Only a priest who is appointed to do a major exorcism may speak to the demon directly in the prayers of the Church.

These kids feel that the devil is on the prowl and they need strength to resist him.

The world does too at this critical juncture in our human history! Will the world resist the devil or will there be another catastrophe that fomented both World Wars I and II?

And let us not forget the Satanic Mass (Black Mass) in Oklahoma City and this response:


From the Rite of Baptism of Infants, Extraordinary Form:

I. "Go forth from this child, unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete."

II.  "I exorcise thee, unclean spirit, in the name of the Father...(three signs of the cross), that thou goest out and depart from this servant of God For He commands thee o accursed one, Christ who walked upon the sea and stretched out His right hand to Peter about to sink. Therefore, accursed devil, acknowledge thy sentence and give honor to the living and true God.Give honor to Jesus Christ His Son, and to the Holy Spirit and depart from this servant of God because God and our Lord Jesus Christ..."

III. "I exorcise thee, every unclean spirit, in the name of god the Father almighty, in the name of Jesus Christ His Son, our Lord and judge, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, that thou be depart from this creature of God which our Lord hath deigned to call unto His holy temple, that it may be made the temple of the living God and that the Holy Spirit may dwell therein. Through same Christ our Lord, who shall come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire!"


SSPX DESIRES FULL RECONCILIATION AND FULL COMMUNION WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND DESIRES TO ACHEIVE IT!

 
HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE COMMUNIQUÉ

Today, Tuesday, September 23, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., took place, in a cordial atmosphere, in the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the meeting between His Eminence Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and H. E. Bp. Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X. At the meeting were present their Excellencies: Abp. Luis Ladaria S.I., Secretary of the same Congregation, Abp. Augustine Di Noia O.P., Adjunct Secretary, and Abp. Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, as well as the assistants of the FSSPX, Rev. Frs. Nikolas Pfluger and Alain-Marc Nçely.

During the meeting, some problems of a doctrinal and canonical nature were examined, and it was agreed to proceed in reasonable degrees and times towards overcoming the difficulties and the desired achievement of full reconciliation.

THE PERCEIVED PROBLEM WITH THE EXTRAORDINARY FORM OF THE MASS BY LITURGICAL PROGRESSIVES IS REALLY THE PROBLEM OF THE ORDINARY FORM OF THE MASS NOT THE PROBLEM OF THE EXTRAORDINARY FORM OF THE MASS

Modern liturgists despise this image of Jesus Christ the High Priest because it exalts the "sign" of the ordained priest who in fact is a sacramental image of Jesus the High Priest during the Mass and orders the laity or the assembly (of which the ordained priest is also a member) to Jesus Christ who is their Head, Lord and Savior and to whom every knee shall bow and every tongue profess! What's wrong with modern liturgists? They are the reason why the Church's liturgy in the post-Vatican II era has undermined the mission and evangelization of the Church and reduced the number of men considering the priesthood thus depriving the Church of the Holy Eucharist in many places in the world!

Many liturgists of the progressive type (and keep in mind that liturgists tend to be control freaks and dogmatic about their theological perspective turning theology into infallible dogma) are "not nostalgic for what they regards as the repetitive nature of the old Mass, neither the exaltation of the celebrant to the detriment of the people of God; and they deplore the marked split between the priest and the assembly."

What these liturgists want is an egalitarian Church where there are no distinctions between clergy and laity and there is a blurring of the ministerial priesthood with the common baptismal priesthood of the laity and clergy together. They also want an egalitarian Jesus Christ, a buddy, a brother, a casual friend not Lord of lords and King of kings! They want Milquetoast Jesus that is symbolized in the image below.


The true sign of Holy Orders in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should never be diminished. No matter the form of the Mass Jesus Christ is to be exalted as Head of the Church, High Priest and Bridegroom to His Bride the Church. In the ancient form of the Mass, the priest himself is not exalted simply because he is a priest, but Jesus Christ, the High Priest is exalted the sacramental sign of the ordained priesthood! This is the sign of the Sacrament of Holy Orders especially during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that must be abundantly clear but for some reason is not as clear in the Ordinary Form and by design of those who promote their weak theology as dogma in this regard!

The fact that in the design of the Ordinary Form of the Mass liturgists purposely do not exalt Jesus Christ as Head of the Church, High Priest and Bridegroom obscures this most powerful sign of the liturgy within the sacramental sign of the person of the ordained man especially in the sacramental rites of the Church. This is a terrible aberration to say the least.

What has this led to in the post-Vatican II experience of the Liturgy and the life of the Church? A decline in vocations to the priesthood as well as scores of priests leaving the priesthood for the lay life of marriage and secular employment. 

Why were there more men in the seminary prior to Vatican II and why has there been a recovery of interest in the priesthood since Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict? Because there has been a recovery of the true nature and sign of the sacrament of Holy Orders and in continuity with the pre-Vatican II understanding of this sign not in rupture to it. 

Will going back in time by liturgist to the day when there was not the hermeneutic of continuity; when the 1962 Roman Missal was thought a pariah of inequity, duplicity and repetition serve the Church well? 

Of course not!  “You cannot base your decisions on a past era where things were different...”


NOT WANTING TO DEAL WITH A CHANGED REALITY TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE CHURCH

Small-minded liturgical distractions removing the emphasis from Jesus Christ and our personal encounter with Him in the Liturgy to signs and symbols making these small gods and horrible distractions:

We cannot live in the past when the Ordinary Form of the Mass was the only form of the Mass that parishes could celebrate. That changed in the 1980's when Pope St. John Paul II allowed for a limited indult for those who wanted the 1962 Missal to have it. It changed further when Pope Benedict XVI allowed it to be one of the two form of the one Latin Rite which any priest in the world could celebrate. It has spread to almost every diocese throughout the world because of this.

But many (bishops included) live as though this change has not happened as though it is still the time prior to St. Pope John Paul's indult and the blanket permission for this Mass by Pope Benedict in 2007.  What are we to make of this?

Even Archbishop Blase Cupich has said, “You cannot base your decisions on a past era where things were different...”

The same archbishop wisely states the obvious about the liturgy:

It is clear [the bishops] must give priority to educating priests and people about the doctrinal and pastoral principles of liturgical renewal outlined by the Council. Specifically, that means bringing people to an authentic understanding of the Christian notion of the assembly. It means stressing the importance of liturgical signs. It also involves clearly defining worship as liturgical action, as dialogue between God and his people, and as a celebration of the mystery of salvation. These are all central principles.

What Archbishop Cupich writes can and should be applied to both forms of the Mass. But bishops today shirk their responsibility when it comes to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, but sadly also for the Ordinary Form, to make sure these celebrations are as they should be in all their parishes.

For example, today, those who seek the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, participate in an active way, understand what is taking place and the majority receive Holy Communion. I can't speak for others, but I consecrate enough hosts at the EF Mass so that the laity receive Holy Communion from the particular Mass I am celebrating with them joining me. Just because a congregation is using the EF Mass doesn't mean that Vatican II's Sacrosanctum Concilium can't be implemented in terms of actual participation and understanding stressing the importance of the signs of the liturgy.

But shouldn't our liturgical celebrations in either form make sure that the "signs" of the Liturgy enable people collectively and individually to meet Christ? Should we be more concerned about "signs" and forget that one can become obsessed with these and place a religious encounter with the risen Lord in the back seat?  What has been the "small minded" preoccupation of liturgists for the past 50 years as the 1970 missal and its General Instruction were implemented? It was on signs almost disconnected from Christ Himself and the encounter with the Sacred that Catholics have had in the Liturgy for 2000 years and the awe, wonder and reverence this created and nourished them!

For example, a preoccupation with small minded rules about signs led to the iconoclasm of church buildings; emphasizing the assembly as if it were some sort of god; making more of who proclaimed the Scriptures, who entered the sancturay and served the altar and distributed Holy Communion rather than Who we worship; Who we hear in the Scriptures; why we have a sanctuary; and Who it is we receive in the Most Blessed Sacrament. 

There was more concern with how the bread and wine looked and tasted, the action of a procession marching lockstep to Communion stations and joining in a song of some sort than actually receiving our risen Lord in the most personal and intimate encounter a Catholic can have with their Savior in the context of being a member of the Mystical Body of Christ.

Isn't it time that we actually recover the actual encounter with our Risen Lord in the Ordinary Form of the Mass where small-minded preoccupations and distractions placed the emphasis everywhere but where it should be? Should not both liturgies enable everyone clergy and laity to encounter in a most personal, communal and intimate way, Jesus Christ, His one Sacrifice and preparing us for our personal judgment wearing the white, unstained robe of salvation? 

Liturgists trained in the 1970's, 80's and 90's will have a hard time letting go of their academic gods as it concerns the liturgy. Yes much of their studies was wasted on the wrong things and this is painful for those who have post-graduate degrees to acknowledge. No one wants to admit that they might have invested so much time, study, energy and money on something that is now irrelevant. 

But this happens to people in and outside of the Church all of the time. Just think of factory workers replaced by machines, key-punch operators whose training and skill is no longer needed and priests who thought there would only be one form of the Mass (in either form) who have to move on from their academic small-minded rules to something else?

Monday, September 22, 2014

RUMOR HAS IT...

...BUT CAN RUMORS AND BLOGS, ANY BLOG, THIS BLOG OR THAT BLOG BE TRUSTED?
An unconfirmed rumor or malicious lie has it that Msgr. Guido Marini will be the new  Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments? According to a high-ranking prelate there are no doubts about it: he has been chosen for the position, only the official announcement is needed.
Archbishop Elect Marini, a young man by anyone's standards, is the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Ceremonies for Popes Benedict XVI and Francis. It is well known that Pope Francis likes Msgr. Marini and embraces his liturgical vision. The Holy Father is quoted as saying that the Church needs young liturgical blood more in keeping with moving forward liturgically with actually implementing Vatican II's Sacrosanctum Concilium compared to what has happened in the last 40 years. He offered the revised Roman Missal of the Anglican Ordinariate as a step in that direction and that the entire Roman Rite needs to be modeled on the Anglican Ordinariate's Order of Mass and various options.
At his appointment, Msgr. Marini will be elevated to the order of Archbishop so the rumor or malicious lie goes.  

He or someone else would replace Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera who was named Archbishop of Valencia this past August 28.

...But of course there's always Archbishop Piero Marini whom the sources for the rumor may have missed the first name. Stay tuned... 

MORE ON THE EXTRAORDINARY FORM OF BAPTISM

 As I look over the EF's Baptismal Rite, it truly is a rite of exorcism and truly situates baptism within the context of presenting a person (symbolically in a child in infant baptism) to God, holy and blameless, robed in white for salvation at judgment. The EF Rite is eschatological and powerful although there are some elements recovered in the revised rite that could easily be inserted such as a formal greeting at the beginning,  securing the the most prominent role of the parents in the rite itself, Scripture reading, the Litany of Saints, consecration of baptismal water and a final blessing and solemn blessing and dismissal at the end.

By comparison the revised rite is very limp and superficial not only in terms of salvation and Christ's Church the means to it, but also in recognizing evil and its source, the devil and that God's power is greater. There is no ignoring the devil or damnation or sin and evil. The revised rite is whitewashed.

In the ancient rite, the Ephphetha is prayed prior to the anointing with the Oil of Catechumens, thus prior to the actual baptism, where is seems to be best situated.

This is the prayer that accompanies it in the OF which is done at the end of the baptism after the anointing with Chrism, giving of baptismal garment and candle:

The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May he soon touch your ears to receive his word, and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father. Amen.

In the EF  this is the prayer well prior to the actual baptism:

Ephpheta, that is to say, Be opened, for an odor of sweetness. Be thou, devil, begone; for the judgment of God shall draw near.

This is the OF's prayer for the Anointing of with Sacred Chrism:

God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people. He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, prophet and King so may you live always as members of his body, sharing everlasting life. Amen.

This is the EF's same prayer:

May the Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath regenerated thee by water and the Holy Ghost, and who hath given thee the remission of all thy sins, may He Himself + anoint thee with the Chrism of Salvation in the same Christ Jesus our Lord, unto life eternal.

This is the OF's clothing with white garment:

You have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ. See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven..

The is the EF's:

Receive this white garment, which mayest thou carry without stain before the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, that thou mayest have life everlasting.

The OF's lighted candle:

Receive the light of Christ. Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He/she is to walk always as a child of the light. May s/he keep the flame of faith alive in their heart. When the Lord comes, may they go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.

The EF's lighted candle:

Receive this burning light and keep thy Baptism so as to be without blame: keep the commandments of God that when the Lord shall come to the nuptials, thou mayest meet Him together with all the Saints in the heavenly court and mayest have eternal life and live for ever and ever.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

THE REFORM OF INFANT BAPTISM--WHAT IS GOOD AND WHAT ISN'T?



Yesterday I celebrated the Extraordinary Form of infant baptism for a family that requested it.

I've done this now about five times since it was allowed in 2007.

Let me give a brief overview of the Baptismal Rite in the Extraordinary Form:

The priest wears a violet stole over his cassock to begin the celebration (he may also optionally wear a cope that is violet). Thus the first part of Holy Baptism is penitential. This is lost in the revised Ordinary Form.

The sponsors (godparents) role is elevated and the parental role is neglected. There is not problem in the godparents have an exalted role but I do think the neglect of the parental role needed to be revised. Therefore only the godparents respond to the ritual questions and the godmother holds the child. However, the questions are directed to the infant using his/her name but the godparents answer. In the Ordinary Form the questions are not directed (even symbolically an in the EF) toward the infant.

There is not a clear beginning (although it is at the entrance of the church) with the "Sign of the Cross" and greeting. I found this awkward and prefer a more formal greeting. Rather, the priest questions the child with the godparents answering "What do you ask of God's Church?" and "What does Faith offer you? Then the priest gives a brief exhortation about love of God and neighbor to the infant.

Then the priest breathes three times on the infant in the form of a cross and offers the first exorcism expelling the unclean spirit to give place to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.

Next the priest makes the Sign of the Cross on the infants forehead and heart with his thumb. The one over the heart is omitted in the revised form, the breath of the priest is eliminated as is the first exorcism. Not sure why! I think it is a mistake to have done so.

Then with hands on child and then raised above a powerful "collect" is prayed acknowledging the power of good over Satan and the foulness of wickedness.

Then blessed salt is placed in the child's mouth (not a lot of course) and this is the prayer: "N., Receive the salt of wisdom let it be to thee a token of mercy unto everlasting life. May it make your easy to eternal life. Only then is there the first liturgical greeting by the priest and it is the pontifical greeting not allowed priests in the OF, "Peace be with you." And another collect.

Then the child is admitted into the church building proper with another exorcism: "I exorcise thee, unclean spirit, in the name of the Father...(three signs of the cross), that thou goest out and depart from this servant of God For He command Thee, accursed one, who walked upon the sea and stretched out His right hand to Peter about to sink. Therefore, accursed devil, acknowledge thy sentence and give honor to the living and true God.Give honor to Jesus Christ His Son, and to the Holy Spirit and depart from this servant of God because God and our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Powerful stuff here folks, completed omitted in the revised rite and sadly so!)

Another Sign of the Cross is made on the infants forehead: "And this sign of the Holy Cross, which we make upon the forehead, do thou, accursed devil, never dare to violate...

Then there is the imposition of the priest's hand over the child and another powerful "Collect" is prayed.

Then the priest lays the end of his stole on the candidate as a symbol of his priestly authority and admits the child into the building the symbol of the Church of Christ with an accompanying prayer.

At the entrance to the baptistry, the godparents say the Credo and Pater Noster (in English if desired).

Then there is the Solemn Exorcism (not a minor one).

Then taking some of his spittle (this can be symbolic or omitted) the Ephpheta is prayed with spittle touching the ears and nostrils of the candidate. The Ephpeta if maintained without spittle in the revised rite but the nostrils are not blessed the ears and mouth are which is a good revision.

Then the Godparents still at the entrance to the baptistry are questioned about renouncing Satan.

Then the child is anointed on the heart with the oil of catechumens. Then the priest changes from violet stole to white (cope changed too if used). All enter the baptistry for the the rest of the question form of the Creed concerning faith.

Then immediately the child is baptized with the godmother holding the child. The water in the font is already blessed prior to the baptism. The revised rite has the blessing of water during the liturgy with a prayer that I think is too long. Blessing the water (using a shorter formula) during the liturgy is a good revision though.

Then the liturgy continues with the Anointing with Chrism, the giving of the white garment and lighted candle. And then there is a dismissal but no formal blessing.

I think a formal blessing at the end was a good revision. Things end rather abruptly.

I prefer the EF order of Baptism. I think though there should be a Liturgy of the Word or a Scripture reading and this is certainly a good revision in the OF.

The older ritual touches the participants in a dramatic way especially with the movement from the world of Satan (falleness) to the Church, the penitential aspect emphasized and redemption achieve in the Church!

APOLOGIZING TO POPE BENEDICT XVI

As usual, at Crux John Allen has a great piece this morning. I won't print the whole thing, but you can read it HERE. But there are two things that I would like to print. He has a great piece on Pope Benedict and how the world reacted to his Regensburg speech. And then he has a bit of an editorial on the new archbishop of Sydney, Australia, every much a similar see to Chicago in terms of Pope Francis' choice of bishops but the one in Sydney a protege of the conservative Cardinal Pell, one of Pope Francis' closest and most respected advisers.  Yet, there is nothing near the same coverage of that appointment as the one in Chicago and the silliness of the right and the left concerning Archbishop Cupich.

Apologizing to Benedict XVI

In the Catholic commentariat, there’s been discussion lately about whether Pope Benedict XVI is owed an apology for the brouhaha that broke out in 2006 over a speech he gave in Regensburg, Germany, which opened with a citation of a 14th-century Byzantine emperor linking Muhammad, the founder of Islam, with violence.

At the time, Benedict’s quotation was seen as a crass religious slur. Now, with the rise of the self-declared ISIS caliphate in northern Iraq and its bloody crackdown on religious minorities, things look a little different.

However, the revisionist take on his words risks a repeat of the fatal mistake of eight years ago, only in reverse. Aside from its second paragraph, the Regensburg speech really had nothing to do with Islam, and reading it that way distorts the point the retired pontiff was trying to make.

If you read the entire 4,000 word text – which, to this day, relatively few of the pundits commenting on it seem to have done – you’ll discover that Benedict’s primary points of reference aren’t Muslims, but rather Socrates, Duns Scotus, Immanuel Kant and Adolf von Harnack, luminaries of the Western intellectual tradition.

If Benedict was criticizing anything, it wasn’t Islam, but rather Western secularism and its tendency to limit the scope of reason to what can be scientifically and empirically verified, excluding any reference to ultimate truth.

The heart of Benedict’s argument at Regensburg was that reason and faith need each other. Reason shorn of faith, he suggested, becomes skepticism and nihilism, while faith deprived of reason becomes extremism and fundamentalism. In isolation, each becomes dangerous; to be healthy, they need each other.

In Regensburg, Benedict warned against “a reason which is deaf to the divine,” among other things pointing out that ignoring the transcendent handicaps the West in trying to engage the rest of the world, which takes religion seriously, indeed.

“Listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding,” he said.

Benedict XVI saw himself as a teaching pope, not a governor or a diplomat, and there’s no doubt his eight-year reign suffered because of it.

Yet as a teacher, he had an impressive record. His Regensburg speech was part of a four-volume work that also includes memorable addresses at the Collège des Bernardins in Paris in 2008, at Westminster Hall in London in 2010, and at the Bundestag in Germany in 2011.

In each, Benedict tried to lay out a vision for a constructive role for religious believers in post-modern democratic societies, arguing that democracies depend upon a bedrock of values they can’t supply for themselves, and that citizens motivated by religious beliefs can help supply them.

One can disagree with Benedict’s analysis, and he would be the first to concede that when he’s functioning as a cultural critic his thought is not covered by the infallibility popes claim when they’re pronouncing on faith and morals.

At some point, however, his arguments at least deserve to be heard.

If we owe Benedict XVI an apology for anything, it’s probably not for overreacting to his reference to Muhammad at Regensburg — which still seems ill-advised, especially in the absence of any context. It’s for never considering the rest of what he had to say.

And then this about the Australian appointment of a new archbishop:

 ...If Burke is sent packing, it will be difficult to see the move as anything other than trimming his sails.
Yet before anyone concludes that Francis is conducting an ideological purge, this week brought yet another personnel move that cuts in a slightly different direction: the appointment of Anthony Fisher, formerly the bishop of Parramatta in Australia, as the new Archbishop of Sydney.

Just 54 years old, Fisher is an erudite Dominican given to subtle reasoning about matters, making him difficult to characterize in terms of sound-bites. That said, he’s perceived in Australia as a protégé of Cardinal George Pell, the former Sydney archbishop who now is Francis’ finance czar, and so Fisher’s appointment will be seen as vote for continuity with Pell’s conservative leadership.

As a footnote, the choice certainly confirms Pell’s influence with this pope. Francis’ may be the signature on the bull sending Fisher to Sydney, but dust it for prints and I guarantee you’ll find Pell’s all over it.

Yet Fisher and his mentor are hardly clones of one another. Whereas Pell is a tough guy who relishes a fight, Fisher is a kinder, gentler soul, and he will undoubtedly surprise people with his capacity to listen and to make careful distinctions...

REFLECTIONS ON POPE FRANCIS' MASS IN ALBANIA ON SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2014

The Mass itself (the papal parts) are in Latin! Homily at the end of this post:

What is the difference in the Mass above celebrated by Pope Francis and any papal Mass that Pope Benedict celebrated? What is the same?

Let's start with the differences:

1. There are two different people, different personalities and different liturgical priorities but all within the umbrella of the liturgy in the Ordinary Form.

2. His preaching style is more animated than Pope Benedict and Pope Francis often departs from the written text to improvise. Most good preachers do.

3. Pope Francis can't chant. This is a disappointment to those who believe the chanted Mass is the norm. I've always stated that if a priest or bishop can't carry a tune and sounds awful chanting, that he should not chant! The spoken parts of the Mass in the Ordinary Form is perfectly acceptable while other parts are chanted by others.

4. Pope Francis' taste in vestments is sober and simple. Pope Benedict used a wider array of styles but had an affinity for lace, Roman chasubles and ornate designs. Pope Benedict had a flare for style, which is not forbidden in the Catholic Church, we aren't Puritans in this regard and Pope Benedict liked the long tradition of the various liturgical styles especially the more regal. Pope Francis has an aversion to European liturgical styles borrowed from the long history of the "court" or "monarchy" in Europe. I think Americans would have the same sensibilities as we tend to mock the court and monarchy too.

5. Pope Benedict had a more integrated vision for how Latin should be preserved in the Liturgy of the Ordinary Form. Pope Francis' approach has no such unity. This is somewhat disappointing but Pope Francis has certainly celebrated all-Latin Ordinary Form Papal Liturgies and used Latin in Korea--but there isn't a clear logic emerging from his way of using Latin compared to Pope Benedict. I am pleased to note though that at the Papal Mass in Albania, Pope Francis used Latin instead of Italian.

6. Pope Francis normally does not distribute Holy Communion to the laity. If I am not mistaken the pope prior to Vatican II did not distribute Holy Communion to anyone not even the deacons and in fact Holy Communion was ministered to him at least in the most solemn expression of the EF Papal Mass. 

What is the same?

1. The altar arrangement more in line with the traditional arrangement for it in the Extraordinary Form is here to stay for papal liturgies at least under Pope Francis. The only modification in Rome is that the candlesticks are more "angled" and the crucifix is not so large as to hide the pope and his liturgical actions during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The "episcopal candle" is to the side rather than the middle now. However, if one notes the altar arrangement in the video above, this arrangement was quite common during Pope Benedict's travels too. I prefer this look of the altar when facing the congregation rather than the overly large candlesticks and crucifix sometimes used in Rome. For ad orientem Masses, the bigger, the taller the better. These aren't  in the way when the Mass is ad orientem.

2. Both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict say the black and do the red. They are both sober in their manner of celebrating and neither is flamboyant with huge, exaggerated bodily gestures especially with arm gestures and voice inflections. Neither improvises in the least during the Introductory Rites with long introductions to the Penitential Act that are like homilies or banal post- official greetings, like Good morning, how are you and the like!  This is what both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict say when introducing the Penitential Act either in Latin or the vernacular: "Brethren, let us acknowledge our sins so as to prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries." This is what is prescribed in the Roman Missal, it is concise, to the point and far from exaggerated or a homily.
 
Please find below the full text of the Pope’s homily for the Mass:
Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Holy Mass in Mother Teresa Square
 (Tirana, 21 September 2014)

Today’s Gospel tells us that, as well as the Twelve Apostles, Jesus calls another seventy-two disciples and that he sends them to the villages and cities to announce the Kingdom of God (cf. Lk 10:1-9, 17-20).  He comes to bring the love of God to the world and he wishes to share it by means of communion and fraternity.  To this end he immediately forms a community of disciples, a missionary community, and he trains them how to “go out” on mission.  The method is both clear and simple: the disciples visit homes and their preaching begins with a greeting which is charged with meaning: “Peace be to this house!”.  It is not only a greeting, but also a gift: the gift of peace.  Being here with you today, dear brothers and sisters of Albania, in this Square dedicated to a humble and great daughter of this land, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, I wish to repeat to you this greeting: May peace be in your homes! May peace reign in your hearts! Peace in your country!    

In the mission of the seventy-two disciples we see a reflection of the Christian community’s missionary experience in every age: the risen and living Lord sends not only the Twelve, but the entire Church; he sends each of the baptized to announce the Gospel to all peoples.  Through the ages, the message of peace brought by Jesus’ messengers has not always been accepted; at times, the doors have been closed to them.  In the recent past, the doors of your country were also closed, locked by the chains of prohibitions and prescriptions of a system which denied God and impeded religious freedom.  Those who were afraid of the truth did everything they could to banish God from the hearts of men and women and to exclude Christ and the Church from the history of your country, even though it was one of the first to receive the light of the Gospel.  In the second reading, in fact, we heard a reference being made to Illyria, which in Paul’s time included the territory of modern-day Albania.

Recalling the decades of atrocious suffering and harsh persecutions against Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims, we can say that Albania was a land of martyrs: many bishops, priests, men and women religious, and laity paid for their fidelity with their lives.  Demonstrations of great courage and constancy in the profession of the faith are not lacking.  How many Christians did not succumb when threatened, but persevered without wavering on the path they had undertaken!  I stand spiritually at that wall of the cemetery of Scutari, a symbolic place of the martyrdom of Catholics before the firing squads, and with profound emotion I place the flower of my prayer and of my grateful and undying remembrance.  The Lord was close to you, dear brothers and sisters, to sustain you; he led you and consoled you and in the end he has raised you up on eagle’s wings as he did for the ancient people of Israel (cf. First Reading).  The eagle, depicted on your nation’s flag, calls to mind hope, and the need to always place your trust in God, who does not lead us astray and who is ever at our side, especially in moments of difficulty.

Today, the doors of Albania have been reopened and a season of new missionary vitality is growing for all of the members of the people of God: each baptized person has his or her role to fulfil in the Church and in society.  Each one must experience the call to dedicate themselves generously to the announcing of the Gospel and to the witness of charity; called to strengthen the bonds of solidarity so as to create more just and fraternal living conditions for all.  Today, I have come to encourage you to cultivate hope among yourselves and within your hearts; to involve the young generations; to nourish yourselves assiduously on the Word of God, opening your hearts to Christ: his Gospel will show you the way!  May your faith be joyful and bright; may you demonstrate that the encounter with Christ gives meaning to human existence, meaning to every man and woman.

In the spirit of communion among bishops, priests, consecrated persons and laity, I encourage you to bring vitality to your pastoral activities and to continuously seek new ways of making the Church present in society: do not be afraid to respond generously to Christ who invites you to follow him!  In a priestly or religious vocation you will find the richness and the joy of offering yourselves to the service of God and your brothers and sisters.  How many men and women await the light of the Gospel and the grace of the Sacraments!


To the Church which is alive in this land of Albania, I say “thank you” for the example of fidelity to the Gospel!  So many of your sons and daughters have suffered for Christ, even to the point of sacrificing their lives.  May their witness sustain your steps today and tomorrow as you journey along the way of love, of freedom, of justice and of peace.  Amen.

THE IDEOLOGUES MANIPULATING THE POPE, THE BISHOPS AND FAITHFUL CATHOLICS

 I've been reading various news accounts about the appointment of Archbishop Blase Cupich (Soup-itch) as the new Archbishop of Chicago. I have some observations that are very troubling about both the secular press's manipulation of the facts and ideologues in the Catholic Church, the neo-traditionalists as well as the post-Catholic progressives.

The greatest threat to the Catholic Church's unity is the schismatic ideologies of both the left and the right and the mortal sin of calumny even toward the Holy Father. For this traditional Catholic, this sort of disrespect  toward anyone especially the pope is simply anti-Catholic.

1. Reading the news accounts, one would think that every bishop that Pope Benedict named along with his predecessor, St. Pope John Paul II were culture warriors (as though this is something anathema in the Church, it is not a mortal sin to be a culture warrior, nor is it required by the moral law to be one) and that none of them cared about the poor, the immigrants or the marginalized. What hogwash!

2. The contrasts being made between Archbishop Blase Cupich and Cardinal Francis George makes the Cardinal look like an ogre whose tone did nothing for Chicago and the new Archbishop like the anti-George. This is not the first time in the history of the Church that a new pastor, a new bishop or a new pope had a different tone and emphasis from his predecessor. We are not clones of each other but we are all Catholic.

Archbishop Blase Cupich will be pro-life. He will uphold divine law revealed in Scripture, Tradition and natural law concerning the true nature of marriage and he will call the faithful to chastity no matter their state in life or sexual preferences.  

He chooses to confront the social and moral issues of the day through dialogue and not being shrill. This is perfectly acceptable.

Liturgically, he will promote what the General Instruction of the Roman Missal allows. He will not forbid the Extraordinary Form. He will celebrate the OF Mass as it is allowed today even if he has other personal preferences about this, that or the other. Don't we all?

Isn't is time that Catholics start acting like Catholics and in the areas of faith and morals as well as Church law respect not only the office of the Episcopacy and lesser Holy Orders as well as respecting and loving persons, warts and all? Or are we post-Catholic in this regard?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

BOMBSHELL: POPE TO SAFEGUARD THE PRINCIPLE OF THE INDISSOLUBILITY OF MATRIMONY



My comments first: When a marriage that has failed and ended in civil divorce is placed on trial in an ecclesiastical court of the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church must make the determination if the presumption of the sacramentality of the marriage was present or not. In the authority given to the Catholic Church by our Lord to "loose and bind" the Catholic Church in justice may declare a marriage as a sacrament invalid from its beginning after the proper canonical trial that proves such a thing.

Grounds for an annulment which must meet the "proof" test of witnesses to include the former spouses would be 1) lack of due discretion at the time of the wedding; 2) lack of belief or understanding of the Catholic meaning of the Sacrament of Matrimony; 3) reserving the right to be unfaithful to the vows at the time the vows are made; 4) refusal to have children; 5) mental illness at the time of the wedding; 6) undue pressure to get married especially from parents or a desire to escape parents through marriage. There are many other grounds that must be proven too!

Sometimes there are no witnesses apart from the former spouses themselves. In these situations, the spouse's testimony should be sufficient!

Protestants are dispensed from the Catholic form of marriage. Their first marriage, even if common law is viewed as sacramental. I believe this is a grand mistake. The Catholic Church could declare these marriages simply unions, valid but not sacramental (meaning those that are done outside of any Christian denominational Church). A lack of proper religious form could be cited as the grounds to free a Protestant to have their second marriage convalidated.

A Catholic who enters marriage outside of the Church, even if free to marry, and does so without a Church dispensation is not considered to be in a sacramental marriage. No annulment is needed for this type of marriage only proof that the person was Catholic and decided not to be married in the Catholic Church. Something of this sort could be declared for Protestant marriages too!

As well when Protestant marriages end in divorce and there is a remarriage, and then one or the other wants to become Catholic, the annulment procedure for them should focus in on the Protestant's understanding of marriage as their particular denomination teaches. If it lacks what the Church teaches, especially as it concerns Holy Matrimony as a sacrament, then the annulment should be granted in an expeditious way without involving too many other Protestant witnesses who might be hostile to the process.

Pope Establishes Commission to make Marriage Annulment Procedures Simpler

On August 27, 2014, the Holy Father decided to proceed to the Establishment of a special study Commission for the reform of the canonical matrimonial process. Regarding this decision, the following is made public.

This Commission will be presided by H.E. Abp. Pio Vito Pinto, Dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, and will be composed of the following members: H. Em. Card. Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts; H.E. Abp. Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.I., Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; H.E. Abp. Dimitrios Salachas, Apostolic Exarch for the Greek-Catholics of Byzantine Rite; Monsignors Maurice Monier, Leo Xavier Michael Arokiaraj and Alejandro W. Bunge, Auditor Prelates of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota; Fr.  Nikolaus Schöch, O.F.M., Substitute Promotor of Justice of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura; Fr. Konštanc Miroslav Adam, O.P., Rector of the Pontificia Università San Tommaso d’Aquino (Angelicum); Fr. Jorge Horta Espinoza, O.F.M.,Dean of the Faculty of Canon Law of the Pontificia Università Antoniamum; and Prof. Paolo Moneta, formerly professor of Canon Law at the Università di Pisa.

The work of the Commission will start as soon as possible and will have as its goal to prepare a proposal of reform of the matrimonial process, with the objective of simplifying its procedure, rendering it more slender, and safeguarding the principle of the indissolubility of matrimony. [Original source in Italian]

THE THREAT HAS TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY!

 POPE FRANCIS LIFE IS IN DANGER!

Rome (AFP) - Security has been tightened in Saint Peter's Square after intelligence services intercepted a possible plan to attack the Vatican, Italian media reported Saturday, increasing fears Pope Francis could be in danger.

A foreign security service alerted Italy this week after intercepting a conversation between two Arab speakers which referred to "a demonstrative act, Wednesday, at the Vatican," Il Messaggero daily reported.

Wednesday is the day the pope holds his weekly general audience in the square in front of Saint Peter's Basilica.

Checks by Italy's anti-terrorism unit revealed that one of the speakers passed through the country eight months ago, heightening concerns the threat may be real.

Earlier warnings that the Islamic State extremists may be plotting to attack the pope have been shrugged off by the Vatican, but security has nonetheless been increased for his Wednesday and Sunday audiences, the paper said.

The Repubblica daily said plain clothes special operations officers with sniffer dogs trained in seeking out explosives were helping Vatican police vet tourists, while hotels in the area were also being kept under surveillance.

The news came a day before Francis's trip to Albania, where the pontiff is expected to mingle with the crowds as usual despite reports of possible danger from new IS recruits returning from the Middle East to the mostly-Muslim country.

Some worry the pope has made himself a target by speaking out against the Islamic State group and having the Holy See voice support for US air strikes in Iraq.

In an interview with Italy's La Nazione daily this week, Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See, Habib Al Sadr, said "what has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear. They want to kill the pope. The threats against the pope are credible."

The Vatican played down the warning, saying security measures for the trip would remain unchanged.