Saturday, March 31, 2007

Cardinal Dulles at Providence College

A Jesuit, a Franciscan, and a Dominican walk into a auditorium...

No really. All joking aside, this evening Avery Cardinal Dulles presented the keynote address at the Divine Immpassability Conference which is being held, this weekend, at Providence College.

Following an introduction to the address by Fr. Brian Shanley, O.P., the president of Providence College, and an introduction by Dr. Gary Culpepper, the Director of the Graduate Studies Program at Providence College and a former student of Cardinal Dulles, Cardinal Dulles himself took the podium.

Avery Cardinal Dulles

At 88 years old, Cardinal Dulles delivered his keynote address entitled, Divine Providence and the Mystery of Human Suffering to a packed hall. It was literally standing room

The respondent to Cardinal Dulles' speech was Fr. Thomas Weinandy, OFM, Cap., the executive director of the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Because of parish responsibilities I am unable to attend the other lectures. They all sound to be very interesting and I regret that I will be absent. Only a group of academics would schedule a major conference on the weekend of Palm Sunday.
While I enjoyed the lecture, I did not really learn anything new.

Cardinal Dulles then talked about how the view of suffering developed in Scripture. Particularly in the books of Habakkuk, Jeremiah and Job.
Habakkuk - Suffering is punishment for the sins of the nation.
Jeremiah - Suffering is only punishment for personal sin.
Job - Suffering is not necessarily the result of sin. (God permitted Job to suffer in order for Job to demonstrate his fidelity and grow in faith) When God permits adversity he does so for good reason, although we may not be aware of that reason.

Cardinal Dulles then talked about how the view of suffering in Scripture prepared people to recieve Christ.
Daniel - The young men who died in the fiery furnace were assured their suffering would result in their attaining eternal life. (The death of the righteous as a transition into heaven).
The Psalms - The Suffering Servant Psalms describe vicarious expiatory suffering. (Christ's suffering cleansed us from our sins and we can unite our own suffering to his). In the cross, Jesus takes on our infirmaties, diseases and sufferings and in a way becomes the new Job.

Cardinal Dulles explained that the suffering of Christ has four main results:
Jesus expiates the sins of the world
Jesus gives us an example of suffering
The Paschal Mystery shows that suffering in the world is nothing compared to the glory which we will attain in Heaven.
Christians can unite their personal suffering to Christ's for redemptive purposes.

One part of the lecture that I think surprised some people was when Cardinal Dulles spoke about Rabbi Kushner's popular book "Why do Bad Things Happen to Good People". Cardinal Dulles said that Rabbi Kushner wrote that God is not all powerful. He is a victim of evil and suffers because of it.

Cardinal Dulles asserted that that opinion "is not an option for Catholics". We must believe that God is all-powerful, all knowing, all good, all wise, and all perfect.

Speaking of natural evil, Cardinal Dulles said that particular evils are allowed because the order of the world is a greater good. God works according to the natural order. For example, "If death did not exist, the world would become overpopulated."

He described pain as being useful for making us avoid harmful things and to alert us to injury or illness. However, he said that pain is not always useful and for that reason the invention of painkillers can be viewed as a sign of God's providential care.

He said that the handicapped and those who suffer physical disabilities or pain provide an opportunity for compassion, care, and heroism.

He also said that while we believe that natural evil is a result of original sin, the suffering of Christ shows us that suffering is not necessarily related to sin and can lead us to heaven.

Cardinal Dulles said that Moral evil exists because God allows the human will to be free. "We can choose to serve God or not to serve God....Failure is not attributable to God, but to the creature alone." God could intervene, but ordinarily He does not. He allows the natural order to take it's course. If he always intervened to prevent good people from suffering, human responsibility would be decreased.

Cardinal Dulles ended his address with the reminder that all this is comforting to one who is not suffering, but that telling these things to one who is suffering will not necessarily comfort them. What will comfort them, he said, is our compassion, caring, and understanding.

Fr. Thomas Weinandy, OFM, Cap

Fr. Weinandy responded by aggreeing with and expanding on what Cardinal Dulles said.

He said that God must always be almighty because if we do not believe He is almighty, we cannot believe He is all good, all kind, all wise, and all just. Those attributes are dependent on Him being almighty.
"God exists in a different ontological order" he said. Unlike people, God never becomes more of what he is. "God is pure act in perfection".

Because God cannot reside in created order, "evil and suffering cannot wash back into God and cause him to suffer". However, God can act in time and history.

In Exodus, God frees the Israelites from slavery and as a result allows them to achieve a greater relationship with Him. This relationshipis different from His relationship with all other peoples and is possible because God acted in time.

The human acts of Jesus also bring about things that would not have been possible otherwise because He acts as the Son of God.

Fr. Weindandy said, "Because of Jesus Christ, we can relate to God in the fullness of His goodness. Because of our relationship with God, who is sinless and all powerful, we have hope that evil can be conquered. This hope will come to fulfillment when Jesus comes in glory".

It is the actions of the transcendent God that allows us to share eternal life.

The speeches were followed by a question and answer period.

Two of the most interesting questions were directed toward Cardinal Dulles.

One question was whether people would still die even if original sin did not exist?
Cardinal Dulles seemed to hesitate before answering, but he concluded that people would indeed die because of the problem of overpopulation, but that death would be completely painless and peaceful.

Another inevitable question was about the war in Iraq. Cardinal Dulles was asked, "What does the Lord want citizens to do if a nation is waging an unjust war"?
Cardinal Dulles, speaking like the son of a Secretary of State that he is, seemed to sense that this was an attempt to trap him. He said that there is a responsibility to not participate, but that is impossible because every action indirectly supports it. Therefore people have a responsibility to not participate directly. He also suggested that people not be forced to participate directly and that conciencious objector status be given. However, he added that people have a responsability to determin whether the war is really just or unjust and not simply go on a whim.

The questioner then challenged Cardinal Dulles saying, "More than 50% of the American public believes the war in Iraq is unjust".

Cardinal Dulles repeated that it is up to the individual to determine whether a war is just or unjust.

He was again challenged, "Ok, so what do those individuals to believe the war is unjust have to do".

Cardinal Dulles advised those who think the war is unjust to try to affect policy, participate in the election of candidates, write letters to newspapers, and even protest.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Love of God Conquers Sin

Yesterday evening in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope presided at a penitential celebration with thousands of young people from the diocese of Rome in preparation for the forthcoming World Youth Day. The Day is due to be held on Palm Sunday, April 1, on the theme: "Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another."

"The heart of all mankind ... thirsts for love," said the Holy Father in his homily. "Christians, even more so, cannot live without love. Indeed, if they do not find true love they cannot even call themselves fully Christian because, ... 'being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.'

"God's love for us," he added, "which began with the creation, became visible in the mystery of the Cross. ... A crucified love that does not stop at the outrage of Good Friday but culminates in the joy of the Resurrection ... and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love by which, this evening too, sins will be remitted and forgiveness and peace granted."

This divine love "may be described with the term 'agape,' in other words 'the self-giving love of one who looks exclusively for the good of the other,' but also with the term 'eros'" because "it is also a love in which the heart of the Almighty awaits the 'yes' of His creatures." And "in the sacrifice of the Cross, God continues to present His love ... coming 'to beg' the love of His creatures."

"With Baptism you were born to new life by virtue of the grace of God. However, since this new life has not suppressed the weakness of human nature, ... you are given the opportunity to use the Sacrament of Confession. ... And thus you experience the forgiveness of sins; reconciliation with the Church; the recovery, if lost, of the state of grace; ... peace and serenity of conscience and the consolation of the spirit; and an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian struggle."

Christ "hopes we will allow ourselves to be attracted by His love and feel all its greatness and beauty, but this is not enough. Christ attracts us to Him in order to unite Himself to each one of us, so that, in our turn, we learn to love our brothers and sisters with His same love."

"As you leave this celebration, with your hearts full of the experience of God's love, be prepared 'to dare' to love in your families, in your dealings with your friends and even with those who have offended you. Be prepared to bear a truly Christian witness" in all environments.

Benedict XVI called upon newly-engaged couples to experience the period of their engagement "in the true love which always involves mutual, chaste and responsible respect. And should the Lord call some of you, dear young people of Rome, to a life of special consecration, be ready to answer with a generous and uncompromising 'yes'."

"Dear young people, the world awaits your contribution for the building of the 'civilization of love.' ... Do not become discouraged and always have faith in Christ and in the Church."

Following the liturgy the Pope put on a purple stole and entered the confessional to administer the Sacrament of Penance to six young people. Fifty-five priests joined him in administering the Sacrament to others present in the Vatican Basilica.


The Young Sisters

Yesterday, I was speaking with several of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia. The motherhouse of the congregation is located in Nashville, TN, but there are several sisters who work at St. Pius V school in Providence. Some of them are also students at Providence College. They are often seen on campus and at morning prayer and Mass.

Most of the sisters are young, and it is wonderful to see them. Their presence provides a wonderful witness for the students both at the parochial school and the college.
Please remember them in your prayers, and if possible, financially as well. They are currently in the process of renovating and expanding the motherhouse to repair damage and make room for more new sisters.
Photo from the website of the Dominicans of St. Cecilia.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Rome - Day 4 - Apostolic Palace

After the reception at the PNAC, we returned to St. Peter's Square to attend the reception at the Apostolic Palace. The line was long, but the Vatican Police called us foward to take the place of two people who had left the line. This allowed us to be one of the first 300 to enter the palace. After waiting for about an hour, the bronze doors were opened and we entered the palace.

As walked up the Scala Regia (Royal Stairs) I thought with each step, "I'm here. I am in the Pope's house". The Scala Regia is a marvel because it wider at the bottom than at the top but it cannot be noticed. The difference in with gives the visitor the feeling that the staircase is longer than it actually it. Some people believe it was designed this way in order to intimidate people who were visiting the Pope. I don't know if it ever worked on heads of state, but it worked on me.

First View of the Sala Regia

When we reached the top of the Scala Regia, we entered the Sala Regia (Royal Hall). Cardinals O'Malley and Levada were greeting people in this room. The room is absolutely beautiful and the walls are covered with murals depicting various great events in Papal history.

Cardinal O'Malley greeting guests in the Sala Regia

Since we had already greeted Cardinal O'Malley and Cardinal Levada, we decided to bypass them and go to the Sala Pontificale, where Cardinal Dziwisz was greeting people. While that seemed like a good idea in theory, in reality was was a horrible idea. Even though we got there early, there were already so many people that the room was packed. I was surprised because all the other rooms were very empty. We did get into the room and waited nearly an hour before we gave.
The people waiting for Cardinal Dziwisz were by far the most exuberant group. They were singing and many people were carrying bouquets of flowers.

Unfortunately, because we spent so much time there, by the time we left the room, the rest of the palace was crowded. Because of that the number of pictures I could take was very limited. We should have enjoyed the empty rooms while we had the chance.

The Sala Ducale

We returned to the Sala Regia and looked at the many murals on the walls. The Sala Regia leads to the Sala Ducale. The Sala Ducale is a long and somewhat narrow room with a beautiful floor and very nice angels on the ceiling. Cardinals Montezomolo, and Vallini shared the large hall.

We returned to the Sala Ducale where Cardinal Montezomolo was being mostly ignored by the crowd in the room. I suspect that most of the people there had no clue who he was. Cardinal Montezomolo was Apostolic Nuncio many countries inculding Italy, Israel and Honduras. He is now the archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls and was also the artist who created Pope Benedict's coat of arms. We decided to approach Cardinal Montezomolo who was very nice. I was surprised by how well he speaks English. Then we went to see Cardinal Vallini, who was on the other side of the room.

The Sala Ducale overlooks St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Basilica. The view was beautiful. From there, I could see the many pilgrims walking around the square and the long lines of people waiting to enter the basilica.

From the Sala Ducale, we went to the Sala Paramenti. These two rooms, which are where the Holy Father vests prior to celebrating Mass at the Sistine Chapel, were occupied by Cardinal Caffarra and Cardinal Rode. The rooms were much too small for the large number of people there, so we were not able to really get in them. What I was able to see of the rooms was beautiful. The walls in the Sala Paramenti are covered with gorgeous tapestries.

We returned to the Sala Ducale and went up a few stairs to the Loggia di Giovanni da Udine. This long corridor overlooks the Cortile di San Damaso.

The ceiling of the Loggia of Giovanni da Udine

The view from the Loggia of Giovanni da Udine into the Cortile di San Damaso. The door you see is the entrance the Holy Father uses.

Ceiling of the Sala Pontificale

The crowd waiting for Cardinal Dziwisz

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Put Easter Back in Easter

H/T to Brian who unfortunate enough to work in this town. Whereas, I'm few minutes across the border.

From the Catholic League:

William Rearick, Schools Superintendent of the Tiverton Public Schools in Rhode Island, has banned the Easter Bunny from appearing at a fundraising event tomorrow at the Tiverton Middle School. He has also banned the word “Easter” from all school events. He told the Providence Journal that during the last year and a half, he has become “more aware of folks who don’t have a Christian background.” Taking the place of the Easter Bunny will be Peter Rabbit; children will be able to get their picture taken with him.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue commented on this today:

“I am astonished that Schools Superintendent Rearick only recently discovered Jews and Muslims. But better late than never. However, it was not a Jew or a Muslim who complained about the Easter Bunny—it was an ex-Catholic, Michael Burk; he is vice chairman of the school committee. No matter, I have news for Superintendent Rearick: he has not resolved the problem.

“It is unconscionable that in this day and age Superintendent Rearick would choose to honor a thief. As every schoolchild knows, Peter Rabbit stole from Mr. McGregor’s garden. To now hold him up as a role model to impressionable youngsters sends the wrong signal. At the very least, grief counselors should be dispatched to tomorrow’s event.

“There is also a more serious matter going on. The event smacks of sexism: Peter Rabbit had three sisters—Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail—and there is no historical record of them ever having committed a crime. So why were they passed over? Looks like the glass ceiling is still in place.

“We urge everyone to register their outrage by contacting Superintendent Rearick at Tell him to bring the Easter Bunny back as only ex-Catholics are likely to be offended.”

Monday, March 26, 2007

PNAC 3, Tiberino 1

Clericus Cup update:

Last Saturday, the Pontifical North American College soccer team defeated the Tiberino College 3-1. This is the 3rd win for the PNAC out of 4 games.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Clown Way

Let me state for the record that I hate clowns. I am not afraid of them, I just can't stand them. Ok, I said it.

What is more horrific than clowns? Clown Stations of the Cross! Not quite as bad as clown Masses, but pretty close.

h/t to Argent and Brian.

From the Evangelist:

Twenty years ago, a few clowns decided to change from making people laugh to making them cry.

With the help of a transitional deacon who had been nurturing the idea of a clown ministry, "The Way of the Cross in the Company of Clowns" was born.

They perform around the Albany Diocese only during Lent, with a poignant look at the passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus, and during Advent, when they celebrate the birth of Jesus.

First tries
"People loved it," Jack Ablett said of the early performances. He and his wife Rita are among the original founders of the ministry at St. Patrick's parish in Ravena.

"The initial [three] clowns had all trained at Hudson Valley Community College," in Troy, she explained. "Coincidentally, they were all parishioners at St. Patrick's. They had been talking about using their clowning talents in some kind of ministry. At that time, we had a transitional deacon at our parish, and he had written a script for the Way of the Cross with clowns as the participants."

The little troupe began their ministry in their own parish; within a few years, however, they were filling requests to perform in nearby parishes.

Over the years, the ministry has revised the script, added music and lighting, included mimes, and expanded the number of clowns, who range from children to senior citizens.

Initially, the group performed only on Friday evenings during Lent, the traditional day for Stations of the Cross.

By 1993, however, they were so overwhelmed with requests for performances that they decided to start performing on Wednesdays as well.

The premise of the story is that one clown, Marmelduke, is sad because he can't make people laugh anymore. As a result, he has lost his faith, and his friends have deserted him. A spirit comes to him and convinces him to follow Jesus through His passion and death.
As the journey winds its way through the Stations in a darkened church, the clown begins to understand the meaning of Jesus' life and death. At the last Station, his sadness turns to rejoicing, and as other clowns reflect his conversion.

"People usually are crying by the end of the performance and often, so are the clowns," Mrs. Ablett said.

Special night
Recalling a recent performance in front of developmentally disabled young adults, she said, "While we were getting ready for the performance, the group assembled themselves around a large crucifix at one end of the church. As we went out to begin, the church was all dark, except for a light highlighting the group. There they were, all assembled around the cross, waiting to watch us perform the Way of the Cross. We all began weeping when we saw them. There wasn't a dry eye in the church.

"There is so much joy in this ministry. We give a lot to those that come to watch us perform. On the other hand, we all get so much out of performing. When you see the look on people's faces at the end of the Stations, and feel the joy and love that is there, you know that the prayer of the Stations has been deeply felt and absorbed. It really touches people's hearts."

Another article from the Evangelist:

A sad-faced clown sits on a white bench, eyes downcast.

"Say hello to Marmeldook," a narrator's voice instructs, beginning a presentation unique to the Albany Diocese: The "Way of the Cross in the Company of Clowns."

The Clown Ministry Associates -- a group of 20 Catholics from around the Diocese -- have been performing the Way of the Cross since 1987. That was when three professional clowns and a transitional deacon at St. Patrick's parish in Ravena got together to find a way to use clowning in a "spiritual vein."

From all over
The deacon (who, like many of the group, prefers that his name not be used) used his talents at music and drama to write the first script for the "Way of the Cross in the Company of Clowns." With the help of another man with a background in radio theater, the group revised its script, and requests began to pour in for the presentation.

Today, the Associates range from 10-year-olds to grandparents, and they hail from and perform at churches all over the Diocese twice a week during Lent. Two members of the group are deacons.

Young members who leave for college are presented with the farewell gift of a clown's derby hat and white gloves, and many squeeze in a performance or two when they're home on vacation.

"It's kind of a humble group," explained Jack Ablett, a founding member of Clown Ministry. "We do it out of love for Christ."

Story of Christ
The presentation's storyline follows Marmeldook, a sad clown who has lost his friends and his faith, through a journey along the Stations of the Cross with a spirit who enlightens him.

"Nothing is right," declares Marmeldook at the beginning. "I am in total darkness."

In response, the spirit invites the clown to meet his friend: Jesus, "the author of truth." Carrying a lighted candelabra, the spirit leads Marmeldook from Station to Station in a darkened church, explaining Jesus' struggles as they relate to the clown's life.

Halfway through the journey, Marmeldook takes the lead, learning to interpret Jesus' life himself. By the presentation's end, the sad clown has learned to rejoice in the empty cross at the Resurrection, and joyful clowns mime and play before descending on the audience with hugs and stickers.

Since the clowns' Way of the Cross began, they have added female lead characters who alternate with the males, a "Greek chorus" of mimes who act out Marmeldook's feelings and silent mimes who hold crosses that represent the Stations.

The latter change took place because many later-built churches where the troupe performed didn't have Stations of the Cross. The crosses held by the clowns read simply, "fallen" (for "Jesus falls the first time") or "a woman dares" (for "Veronica wipes the face of Jesus").

Some things haven't changed: To this day, Rev. John Mealey's voice is heard on the tape that introduces the clowns; Father Mealey died in 1997.

While clowns are seen as symbols of humor, the Clown Ministry Associates take a page from Emmett Kelly. "It isn't essentially a humorous thing," said Rita Ablett, a founding member of the group. "It isn't about clowns -- it's about people."

The only humor in the clowns' performance is at the beginning, when two happy clowns try to cheer up Marmeldook, and in some of the sad clown's questions to the spirit. At one Station, for example, the spirit explains that Jesus told the women of Jerusalem, "Do not weep for me, but for yourselves and for your children."

"How can you weep for your own sins when a lot of them are fun?" Marmeldook replies. Then the spirit reminds him that God understands that and can help him, one day at a time.

Journey to Calvary
Instead of jokes and pratfalls, the plot invites the audience to struggle along with Marmeldook. At the 12th Station, "sacrificed," where Jesus dies on the cross, Marmeldook says, "I would like to kneel down here."
"Let the whole world kneel down here," says the spirit, and the audience follows suit.

At the following Station, Marmeldook ponders what Mary must be thinking as she holds her son's body as, in the background, the "Ave Maria" plays. During a recent presentation at St. Ambrose Church in Latham, the church was silent except for the sound of an elderly woman blowing her nose, moved to tears.

The idea for the clowns' Way of the Cross is controversial, and the group has encountered some criticism over the years. A recent presentation at St. Paul's Church in Rock City Falls (a mission of St. Joseph's in Greenfield Center) was besieged by the media after a single protester asked Catholics to picket there.

However, the Abletts noted that those who come to the clowns' presentation find they have nothing to protest. "If that gentleman [who protested] had come, he would have realized this is not a fun thing," Mr. Ablett explained.

The group shrugs off any criticism. "I feel we're doing the Lord's work, and the Lord will protect us," Mrs. Ablett declared.

As a matter of fact, the pair noted, one man leaving St. Paul's after their "controversial" presentation was quoted as saying tearfully, "May God forgive me if I had not come tonight....I did not want to come."

Audience support
The performers remain devoted to taking part in the Way of the Cross. "I wanted to go to Florida this year, but we hang around in the winter just to do this," said Mr. Ablett with a smile. "It's the love of it, I guess."

Their audience seemed to agree. After the performance at St. Ambrose, one parishioner said with some embarrassment, "It's the first time I ever paid attention to the Stations of the Cross!"
Everyone seemed to take to heart the message that ends the clowns' presentation. The spirit says to Marmeldook: "Go now, and be of good cheer."

Did you notice the line is the second article about many of the churches where they perform not having stations of the cross? I have been fortunate to have never seen a Catholic church without stations of the cross on the walls.

Rome - Day Four - The Consistory

This post is giving me nothing but problems. I have attempted to post it 6 times. One time it worked but without all the pictures. Then I tried to fix it and ended up losing everything so I have to start all over again. I am frustrated.

Friday, March 24, 2006 was the day of the consistory and the surrounding receptions. It was absolutely exhausted, and exhilirating all at the same time.

Our day started early this morning at 5 am. Thankfully, the clothes that we sent to the laundry to be pressed came back perfect. We tried to get washed and ready in the incredibly small bathroom and "cell". We kept tripping over each other.

Piazza Sant' Ufficio

Somehow we did get ready and by 6:30 we were having breakfast. At 7 I looked out the window and saw that people were already beginning to line up to for the consistory. So, we left the hotel and joined the 40-50 people who were waiting in line. As we waited we watched the people who work in the Vatican coming to work through the Piazza Sant' Ufficio and the various delivery trucks coming to make their deliveries. The Americans who were in line were fascinated to see a Coca-Cola truck delivering to the Vatican. We were all freezing cold and hoping that it wouldn't rain. The skies were threatening and there were occasional rumbles of thunder. Fortunately, the rain held off until the consistory ended. Then the downpour began.

Within 20 minutes the line of 50 had become a massive crowd of several thousand which kept growing.

The barricade was opened at 8:30 and we were sent through security. We walked though metal detectors and our bags were x-rayed. People started pushing and running to get ahead, but the Swiss Guard and Vatican Police put a stop to that. Several guards called out to people, "Remember you ARE in church!" Some people who tried to force their way to good seats were detained by the guards and made to wait a few minutes.

We found some excellent seats in the middle of the first row. We were right next to the television camera. In the section in front of us, there were a few rows reserved for the cardinal’s families and visiting heads of state.

Archbishop Marini rehearsing with the servers

The square was buzzing with activity as gardeners made last minute changes to flowers. They even laid sod. Altar servers rehearsed under Archbishop Marini’s careful direction. Microphones were tested, furniture was repositioned and red hats were counted.

The Cardinals-elect

The choir stood against the wall of St. Peter’s and was almost not able to be seen. The monsignori sat on the left, behind the Holy Father. The Cardinals were in front of them and the bishops were in front of them sitting slightly askew.
The Gentlemen of the Vatican and their wives sat on the right along with more bishops.

Cardinal-Elect O'Malley

The new cardinals processed from the Apostolic Palace to the sagrato of the basilica. Seeing Bishop Sean in his cardinatial robes was such a moving experience brought me to tears. Literally tears of joy. He sat on the sagrato, directly in front of us. I was surprised when he noticed us and waved.

Pope Benedict walking to his chair

It wasn't long before Pope Benedict appeared in procession from the central doors of the basilica. The organ and choir sounded beautiful. Actually, the entire liturgy was spectacular.

The moment!

The new cardinal

One of the moments which caused a outpouring of emotion was when Cardinal Dery, from Ghana, was carried up the steps to the pope in his wheelchair. Pope Benedict rose, leaned down and embraced him. It was a loving, tender gesture of love and respect towards the 87 year old cardinal which got a huge "Awwww!" from the congregation.

After the liturgy, we left the square along with the massive crowd. We returned quickly to our hotel for a few minutes then headed to the Pontifical North American College. It was a short walk through a tunnel, a parking garage and a hill. Once we got to the PNAC we were surrounded by familiar faces. It was nice to see so many people from the Diocese of Fall River. There were also many people from the Archdiocese of Washington, where Cardinal O'Malley served as a priest for many years, and from the Diocese of Palm Beach.

The reception was in honor of both Cardinal O'Malley and Cardinal Levada, so there were many people from the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Several of the people at our table were from San Francisco and three others were theology students at the Angelicum. Since it is a Friday of Lent, lunch was eggs every which way and pasta.

William Cardinal Levada

After we ate, we joined the lines to greet both Cardinal O'Malley and Cardinal Levada. I must admit to being nervous to speak with the successor of Cardinal Ratzinger. However, he was very nice. I don't know what I was afraid of. It's not like I have never talked with a cardinal before, but it is the first time I have talked with anyone who works so closely with the pope.

Photos by Domini Sumus

Friday, March 23, 2007


Pope Benedict met with two interesting people yesterday evening. However, they each met with him separately.

- Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

- Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei."

Do you think this is a sign that the moto proprio is coming soon?

Rome - Day Three - Touring the City

Thursday, March 23, 2006 was the only completely free day we had in Rome. There was some event planned for all the other days. We spent this day exploring the beautiful city and some of it's many churches.

Today has been a very interesting day. We have learned a lot. We woke up early this morning and went upstairs to the dining room for have breakfast. Our hotel is one of the few here which offers a full American style breakfast.

Soon after we sat down, we met a priest, Fr. T., from my diocese. He joined us for breakfast and we had a lovely time eating overcooked scrambled eggs, bacon, and red blood orange juice. We had such a great time that breakfast went on well after we had finished eating. It was well over an hour before we decided that we couldn't spend the whole day in the dining room.

Father asked us where we were headed for the day and we admitted that we didn't have a clue. He offered to take us on a tour of Rome. He knew exactly where he was going, or at least pretended to. We went to so many churches that I don't remember the names of them all. The only one that I remember was Santa Agnese. We also visited the Piazza Farnese and Piazza Navona.

We split at noon as Father had scheduled to have lunch with another priest from our diocese. We went to find, the clerical tailor, Gammarelli. In front of the shop, we met a group of seminarians from the North American College. One f these was from my diocese and a friend of my husband. We took some pictures together and talked briefly before they had to rush to their next class. He was very surprised and took some pictures with us. Afterwards, my husband and I went into Gammarelli to look for some gifts. After looking at many things, including the famous evangelists miter which was popular with so many popes (1,190.00 euro) , we made our selections.

Then we went for lunch because everything was closing for siesta. We found a little pizza place called La Sagrestia on Via Seminario. I got a pizza capriccia with sauce, cheese, prosciutto and mushrooms and peas. My husband had pizza margherita with sauce, cheese and basil. It was delicious.

After lunch we went to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Martyrs, better known as the Pantheon. It is amazing to think that that building is over 2,000 years old. It was built in 27 B.C. St. Peter probably walked right by it, if not St. Peter certainly saw it. I was quite surprised to see a painting where a pope or bishop is wearing the same style pallium as Pope Benedict wears.

As we were leaving we met up with Fr. T again. From there, the three of us went to see the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. The church doesn’t look like much from the outside but the interior is breathtaking. It was interesting to see the lines outside which mark the heights the city had flooded to.

As we were leaving it began to pour and then hail. We had to buy umbrellas from one of the many vendors in the square who we had rejected just a few minutes before. After visiting various church supply shops, we took a taxi back to our hotel.

When we got to our hotel, we met Archbishop Dolan from Milwaukee. We spoke with him for a few minutes. He is a delightful man with a great sense of humor. He sounds like a lot of fun to spend the day with. Archbishop Dolan is known to be rather conservative, despite what some people may think that doesn't mean he doesn't have a sense of humor.

At 6 pm, Fr. T, my husband and I went for dinner at Passegiata sul Borgo, better known as Roberto's. The restaurant is located on Borgo Pio, which is one of the main streets near the Vatican. The restaurant was empty when we arrived, but it didn’t take long for it to fill up. Most of the diners were clergy and their guests. I have never been in a restaurant before where there was at least one priest at each table. Actually, there were more priests and bishops there than lay people. There were even a few cardinals there. The food was great. I am getting used to the idea of a pasta course, a primi piatti (first course) and so on. We had pasta with meat and cream sauce, cannelloni, and for our main course veal. For dessert we had tartufo. It was all delicious. Dinner was very relaxed and took over 3 hours.

We will be waking up very early tomorrow morning to attend the consistory and the two receptions we have been invited to attend. I can’t wait!

Photos by Domini Sumus.

MTV Lithuania Fined Over Popetown

As was reported here previously, the Lithuanian bishops filed a complaint in the Lithuanian court over a BBC created television show called Popetown. Yesterday, they won their case.

From Yahoo News:
The head of Lithuania's music television channel MTV has been fined by the country's media watchdog for broadcasting the "Popetown" series, an official said Thursday.
"The Radio and Television Commission voted unanimously to impose the maximum fine of 3,000 litas (868.8 euros) on Marius Veselis," a spokesman for the commission, Audrius Matonis, told AFP.
"We warned MTV that the series may be seen as controversial in our society before they started broadcasting it, but MTV Lietuva decided to show it anyway," Matonis added.
"Popetown" is described on the Internet as a series that "takes you into the side-splittingly surreal world of the Vatican as the long suffering and good-hearted Father Nicholas struggles to walk the narrow path of righteousness, surrounded by money-grabbing cardinals and a pogo-stick-riding infantile pope."
Matonis said the Radio and Television Commission had taken its decision based on the conclusions of Lithuania's journalists' ethics inspector, who has decided that "Popetown" incites hatred against the Church and could have a negative influence on younger viewers.
The commission did not discuss whether the series should be banned from the air, he added.
MTV spokeswoman Ema Segal said in a statement that the channel will appeal the commission's decision, just as it has appealed the decision of the ethics inspector.

Neither Segal nor Veselis understand why Catholics or anyone else could possibly be offended by the program and said:

"This is just an artistic satire and nothing more. We neither attempted to mock religion nor God himself," Segal said.
Veselis said in a statement last month that the reaction to "Popetown" had unmasked Lithuania as a "sort of half-medieval, half-communist, sick culture".

Of course, MTV Lithuania plans to appeal the decision.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Rome - Day Two - The Audience

Here is the second installment of my Rome diary. Part one can be found here.

We arrived in Rome exactly one year ago today. On that day, I had a incredible encounter which helped change my view of so many things. I regret that it ever had to happen, but I am so grateful that it did. Here is what happened on my first day there.

After I finished my last entry into this travel log, I was able to sleep for about another hour. Since the girls who sat behind me apparently don't need sleep, I decided to read one of the two books I brought with me. I decided on Pope John Paul II's "Gift and Mystery". Although I have read it before, I thought it would be something good to meditate on sort of as a primer for the trip. It was even better this time.

Our plane landed at Leonardo DaVinci airport at 8 am. Once in the terminal, it was terrifying. We had no idea where we were going and those CD's that claimed to be able to teach me Italian in 7 days weren't helping me. We decided to follow a priest who had been on our place since he looked like he knew exactly where he was going. I hope that he was going to baggage claim and not to a connecting flight.

Luckily he was going to baggage claim and once we got our bags we met our driver so he could take us to our hotel. Our driver took us on a terrifying ride to our hotel. He didn't follow any traffic laws. He drove on the sidewalk, in the wrong lane into oncoming traffic, he darted between cars and Vespas, and turned two lane streets into three lanes. I was convinced I would die in that car and I prayed to at least live long enough to see St. Peter's.

Because there had been a traffic accident on the highway, our driver took us to our hotel through a back way. All the streets were quite dirty and decrepit. It was obvious that these were the slums of Rome. Between my prayers I told my husband, "If this is what Rome looks like, don't expect to leave the hotel much".

However, once we reached the Via della Conciliazione the scenery became much more pleasant. We were also surprised by two familiar faces, Archbishop Sean O'Malley and his secretary, Fr. Brian Bachand. They were out shopping and enjoying the beautiful day.

I wept when I saw St. Peter's Basilica. There was something about seeing it in person that was so powerfully overwhelming. It immediately felt like home.

Rezidenza Paolo VI from inside St. Peter's Square

Our driver dropped us off at our hotel, Rezidenza Paolo VI, which is across the street from the Apostolic Palace, St. Peter's and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Holy Office). The building, which is located in the Extraterritorial Zone of Vatican City, used to be an Augustininan monastery and is it obvious by the size of the rooms. They are incredibly small, but I am not planning on spending much time in the room. Our room overlooks the courtyard of what is the current Augustinian monastery. Just down the hall, there is an awesome terrace with overlooks St. Peter's square. The view from there is amazing, but unfortunately, the outer portion is restricted.

As soon as we checked in, the desk clerk gave us two tickets for the Papal Audience. We took the tickets and headed up to our rooms to quickly freshen up and head across the street. We had less than 30 minutes.

I am embarrassed to say this, but I really didn't care much about the audience. At least, that is what I was telling myself. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to see Pope John Paul II. I had been offered an opportunity to go to WYD in Denver, but my parents didn't let me go. I was devastated. Here I was in Rome with tickets to see the Pope and it was the wrong Pope. Here is my confession. When Pope Benedict was elected, I cried and it wasn't out of joy. It was out of certainty that he was going to destroy the Church I love so deeply. I remember screaming, "NO! Anyone but him!" My opinion softened a bit after I decided to take his books which had been collecting dust in my library and actually read them. As I studied them, I realized that he wasn't who people made him out to be, but I still had my reservations about him. That is one of the things that made be decide to write a term paper about him.

I rationalized that going to the audience would be a good way to stay awake. I was right. The audience energized me. There were more people than I had ever seen in my life and they were all singing, chanting, cheering. It was incredible to see.

Although we arrived only minutes before the audience began, we were able to get a place right against the barricade. I don't know how it happened, but I am sure there was a very good reason.

Pope Benedict came in the square in his white Popemobile. He immediately came down the aisle where I was standing. He shook a few hands and kissed a few babies then he came closer to where I was. I raised my enormous camera to take a picture and he immediately looked right at me and smiled. I don't know if he did or not, but it was like he posed. Right after I took the picture the Popemobile stopped. I was too busy looking at the Pope to find out why. The woman to my left extended her hand and he clasped it. Then he reached out to me. I couldn't move. I just looked at him in shock.
I kept thinking, "Here he is. Right in front of me. The Successor to St. Peter, the Vicar of Christ is right in front of me and I am wearing the blue fleece sweatsuit I wore on the plane". It was then that I realized that, no, he wasn't John Paul, but he was my Pope and I was going to love him anyway. He smiled at me and shook the hand of the seminarian to my right.

After the audience we returned to the room to shower in our tiny shower. It is literally the smallest shower I have ever seen. There is barely room to turn around and I have to remove the shower head from the holder to use it. Even still, after all those hours, just taking a shower felt so good.

We headed back out at 2 to find the bronze doors. The guards made us stand in the line for the Basilica. There were thousands of people in the line and hundreds more, particularly those with tour guides cutting the line. In true Roman fashion, we able to shorten our wait time. After we got cleared through security we had to wait in a much shorter line. I was 4th in line.

It was an incredible feeling to enter the Apostolic Palace. The Swiss guard directed me to a small room on the right where a man checked my name off the list and gave me two white envelopes with my consistory tickets. Before I left, I asked the guard if I could take pictures of the staircase and he let me.

Since we had already been cleared by security, we decided to see the Basilica. What a beautiful church. The first thing we saw was the Pieta. It was so sad to see it behind glass. Even though it was so far away, it was still a thousand times more beautiful in person than in pictures.
We were also able to see the body of Pope Innocent XI as well as Blessed Pope John XXIII and Pope St. Pius X. Since Pope Pius X founded the Diocese of Fall River, it was special to see him and pray before his body.

I was surprised at how small the basilica is. Perhaps it just looks small because everything is so proportional, but I expected the distance from the door to the altar to be much longer.

Afterwards, we did some shopping and went to dinner at 7 at La Vittoria. The food was delicious. I had beef scaloppini limone and my husband had scaloppini marsala. We also had tortellini soup and bruschetta. We finished it up with tiramisu and cappuchinno. Yum! The waiter brought us limoncello afterwards. That was one strong drink, but it was so delicious.

As we were leaving the restaurant, Archbishop Sean was coming in with a Franciscan priest and Fr. Bachand. He looked so happy and relaxed. The most relaxed and happiest I have seen him in quite some time. We were able to talk with him for a few minutes before we headed back to our hotel and bed.

Right now it is almost 3 am here at 9 pm at home. We got to bed at 8:30. It is so strange to realized that it is 3 am here and only 9 pm at home. By the time people at home wake up, our day here is half over. I also find myself desiring to sit on the balcony, even at 3 am and just look at the Basilica.

Photos by Domini Sumus

Whooohohoooo! I'm Not A Heretic

I am sure many of you are aware how difficult it is for a modern theologian to avoid heresy. But I am apparently heresy free!

h/t to Sister Allie

You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant




























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In Memoriam

The following prelates died recently:

- Bishop Miguel Angel Lecumberri Erburu O.C.D., former apostolic vicar of Tumaco, Colombia, on March 14, at the age of 82.

- Bishop Carlos Ambrosio Lewis S.V.D., coadjutor emeritus of David, Panama, on November 29, 2004, at the age of 86.

- Bishop Jose Ivo Lorscheiter, emeritus of Santa Maria, Brazil, on March 5, at the age of 79.

- Bishop Abdul-Ahad Sana, emeritus of Alquoch of the Chaldeans, Iraq, on March 2, 2007, at the age of 84.

May they and all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

St. Justin Martyr

The Holy Father dedicated his catechesis during this morning's general audience to the figure of St. Justin, philosopher and martyr, the most important of the Apologist Fathers of the second century. The audience took place in St. Peter's Square and was attended by around 25,000 people.

St. Justin, said the Pope, was born in Samaria around the year 100. He "long sought after the truth" by studying Greek philosophy before converting to Christianity after meeting a mysterious old man who spoke to him "of mankind's incapacity to satisfy his aspiration to the divine through his own efforts," then indicated "in the ancient prophets ... the path to God and 'true philosophy'," exhorting Justin to pray in order to open the "doors of light."

After his conversion, Justin founded a school in Rome where he taught the new religion to his pupils free of charge. He was denounced for his activities and decapitated during the reign of Marcus Aurelius.

In his works "Justin seeks to explain, above all, the divine project of salvation that comes about in Jesus Christ, the Word of God," said the Holy Father. "All men and women, as rational beings, share in the Logos, they carry in themselves a 'seed' and can catch some glimmers of the truth.

"Thus," he added, "the same Logos that was revealed in prophetic figures to the Jews in the ancient Law, was also partially manifested as 'seeds of truth' to the Greeks. ... And because Christianity is the historical and personal manifestation of the Logos in its entirety, it follows that 'everything of beauty that has ever been expressed by anyone belongs to us Christians'."

Justin, in the conviction that Greek philosophy tends towards Christ, "believed that Christians could draw from that philosophy with complete confidence. ... The figure and work of Justin mark the ancient Church's decisive option in favor of philosophy, rather than of pagan religion," with which the early Christians rejected "any form of compromise."

"In fact, pagan religion did not follow the paths of Logos but persisted along those of myth, even though myth was recognized by Greek philosophy as having no foundation in truth. Therefore the decline of paganism was inevitable, stemming as a logical consequence of the removal of religion - reduced to an artificial agglomeration of ceremonies and conventions - from the truth of existence."

Justin and the other apologists chose "the truth of existence over the myth of convention. ... In an age such as our own, marked by relativism in its debate of values, religion and inter-religious dialogue, this is a lesson that must not be forgotten.

At the end of today's catechesis, the Pope recalled that March 24 is World Tuberculosis Day. "May this anniversary," he said, "favor increased responsibility in the treatment of this sickness and an ever greater solidarity towards those who suffer from it. Upon them and their families I invoke the comfort of the Lord while encouraging the many initiatives the Church promotes in this field."


Personal note:
St. Justin Martyr was the first Church Father I studied and his writings were the basis of my very first college paper. In addition, he holds a very special place in my heart because it was by reading his First Apology that I learned the history of the Mass.

NAC loses to Croatia

I am sad to report that the Pontifical North American College has suffered its first loss in the Clericus Cup last Saturday. The NAC students lost 6-4 to the Croatian team.

The NAC will be playing Tiberino this saturday.


Rome - The Flight

Since today marks exactly one year since my trip to Rome, I have decided that I will post an edited version of my trip diary and some pictures from the trip. I had planned to post these each day, but I our hotel did not have wireless internet access, even though I had been told that it did. While I was able to find some very nice internet cafes, since everything was saved on this computer and not on a flash drive or CD is was just more than I could get involved with during my very busy trip.

These will be posted daily according to the date. Since today was the day my flight left, I will tell you about my flight.

You can find part two of my report here.

Today is Tuesday, March 21, 2006. My husband and I are traveling to Rome to attend the consistory which will take place on Friday. This is our first trip to Europe and visiting Rome has been a lifelong dream, well as lifelong as something can be at my age. Wile I am excited to be going to Rome, my excitement is completely eclipsed by my joy of who is becoming a cardinal. Cardinal-Elect Sean O'Malley is a dear friend and after working with him for so many years I always knew he would get a "red hat" eventually, but I never dreamed I would be in St. Peter's to see it.

We flew on Continental Airlines from Logan to Newark, then from Newark to Rome. We arrived at Logan airport early. Because we were early, we were able to take an earlier flight. It was a good thing too because it took so long time to get through security in Newark that if we hadn’t taken the earlier flight, we wouldn’t have had enough time to have lunch.

There were at least 8 priests on our flight who were wearing clerical attire. Cardinal McCarrick and my bishop, Bishop Coleman were on our flight. There was also another bishop who I couldn't identify. Had this been during my younger, bolder days I would have approached him and asked his name, but I think that would have made my husband very unhappy.

There is also a girls sports team of some type on board. They are so loud that I can't sleep. The girls sitting behind me keep pushing on my seat. I just turned around to give them a dirty look, but I don't think they care. I guess I won't antagonize them. I do plan on getting a little sleep on this flight.

Ok, I slept for about an hour. When we get to Rome it is going to be 8 am tomorrow, which means it will be 2 am back at home. Must get more sleep!

Amazing Hymns

No, not amazingly good, amazingly bad.

This post comes from the creator of the quiz I just posted, Paramedicgirl.

Amazing, the grace it takes to sit through protestant songs at a Catholic Church every Sunday...


Yup. That really leaves me wondering. Are all those other songs they sing supposed to be Catholic?

I'll let you read the rest of her post on her blog.

I'm an Educated Catholic

You are 100% educated in Catholic truths!

Wow! You are totally educated in the Catholic faith. A real genius! Have you thought of teaching the faith to others? Be sure to share your wealth of knowledge with those who need it.

Catholic Truths
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Priest and the Actor

Everyone my age knows who Mark Walhberg is. We grew up listening to him sing in New Kids on the Block, and watched him drop from view, only to return as a model and finally as an actor. However, very few of us know that is was a priest who made the biggest difference in his life.

I have known Fr. Jim Flavin for many years, so I was one of the few who knew the story, but for the rest of you, here are some excerpts from a article in the Patriot-Ledger.

The Rev. Jim Flavin instantly recognized the voice on the phone. It was Mark Wahlberg, calling to ask the Brockton priest for guidance.

It was the night before the Oscars, and the tough-guy actor wanted help writing an acceptance speech in case he won the award for best supporting actor.

‘‘I told him to thank his family and God,’’ the Rev. Flavin said.

It was the same advice the priest gave Wahlberg 20 years ago when they first met.It was 2 a.m. in one of Boston’s toughest neighborhoods. Sheltered by darkness, youths were peddling drugs on a street corner. But that night they were being watched - not by undercover cops, but by a fearless young priest.

The gang was surprised when he marched up and demanded: ‘‘What the heck are you doing?’’

The Rev. Flavin, now pastor at St. Edith Stein Church in Brockton, remembers the moment well. It was his first encounter with Wahlberg, then 16.

That was 1987 in Dorchester - a far cry from the glamour of Hollywood, where Wahlberg was nominated last month for an Academy Award for his role in ‘‘The Departed.’’

‘‘Father Flavin takes responsibility for saving my life,’’ Wahlberg said recently.

To Wahlberg, that’s no exaggeration. He was one of a group of hell-raising kids the priest dedicated himself to saving.

Wahlberg fought back tears as he described how the priest saved him from a life of crime.

‘‘It took me far too long to realize that the real heroes are there all the time. Where we grew up, we had a tendency to look for the wrong role models in the wrong places. But he helped us realize who the real heroes are. He is my hero, my mentor, my friend, my brother.

‘‘He knows me better than anyone else. I can tell him anything. I can totally be myself. I also get to kick his ass at golf!’’


The actor is just one of countless youngsters whose lives have been turned around with help from the charismatic priest.

‘‘I used to go out when I was young, thinking I could change the world,’’ the Rev. Flavin said, remembering his days in Dorchester.

‘‘It was an area where the kids respected the priest. They all knew who the local priest was and were surprised to see me working at that time of night.’’

Before the Rev. Flavin’s intervention, Wahlberg’s rap sheet was long and getting longer.

‘‘I managed to get him off the streets and into the basketball team, which played in the Catholic church basketball league,’’ the Rev. Flavin recalled.

He remembers Wahlberg as a hothead who needed special attention.

‘‘Mark played basketball for us a lot. Every game a fight would break out and he was always at the center of it.

‘‘So I would hook him up with the coach that was from the inner city and who was brilliant at dealing with tough characters. It helped a lot.’’


Not all of his work has been blessed with success.

‘‘I have buried some of them because of drugs, and some are still in jail for murder,’’ he said.‘‘I just do my best and trust in God. My faith is at the center of it all. It shows me that everyone is redeemable and that everyone has value.’’


He (Fr. Flavin) also is one of two Brockton Police Department chaplains specializing in helping officers cope with tragedies they encounter on the job.

Police Chief William Conlon has known the Rev. Flavin for more than a decade and described him as ‘‘a great friend to everyone’’ at the station.

‘‘Father Jim reaches out to people,’’ Conlon said. ‘‘He doesn’t wait for you to come to him. If he thinks you need help, he is there offering it. He has been a great presence for our community.’’

Read the complete article here.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Source of Joy

Having returned from his visit to the "Casal del Marmo" youth detention center in Rome, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with the thousands of pilgrims gathered there.

"Today," said the Pope, "the liturgy invites is to be joyful because Easter is approaching, the day of Christ's victory over sin and death. ... The source of Christian joy" is in the Eucharist which "nourishes in believers of all times that profound happiness which is one and the same as love and peace, and which has its roots in communion with God and with our brothers."

Benedict XVI then referred to last Tuesday's presentation of the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Sacramentum caritatis," dedicated to the subject of the Eucharist, and he emphasized how in this Sacrament "Christ wished to give us His love," the love that "brought Him to offer His life on the cross for us. At the Last Supper, washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus left us the commandment of love: 'Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.' But since this is possible only by remaining united to Him like branches to the vine, He chose to remain among us in the Eucharist, so that we could abide in Him.

"For this reason," the Holy Father added, "when we faithfully nourish ourselves of His Body and His Blood, His love passes into us and makes us, in our turn, capable of giving our life for our brothers and sisters. This is the source of Christian joy, the joy of love."

Pope Benedict concluded by recalling the figure of St. Joseph, whose solemn liturgical feast falls tomorrow, and he called for the intercession of the saint "so that, believing, celebrating and living the Eucharistic mystery with faith, the People of God may be pervaded with the love of Christ and spread the fruits of joy and peace to all humanity."


The Freedom to Do Good

Today at 9 a.m., the Holy Father visited the "Casal del Marmo" youth detention center in Rome where he celebrated the Eucharist before going on to meet the fifty young people detained there.

In his homily, the Holy Father commented on the Gospel episode of the prodigal son, in which the younger of two brothers goes out "to seek a life free from the discipline and norms of the commandments of God," and having received his inheritance leaves home for a distant land in search of "a completely different life."

The prodigal son, he went on, does not wish to remain "in the prison of the discipline of his home," but to do as he pleases. And although he is initially happy, he becomes weighed down by tedium and "in the end all that remains is a disquieting emptiness."

In this situation, the son begins "to reflect and ask himself if this is really his path in life, ... and whether it would not be better to live for others, to contribute to the construction of the world, to the growth of the human community. Thus he begins a new journey, an interior journey," and comes to believe "that he was much freer at home, ... discovering the project God had for him."

This process of maturation, the Pope said, also includes "an exterior journey:" the son returns home to restart his life, and his father - "who had left him free in order to give him the chance to understand what life is and is not" - welcomes him with open arms.

"The prodigal son understands that it is precisely the work, humility and discipline of every day that creates true joy and true freedom. So he returns home internally mature and purified. He has understood what it means to live, ... and now he is fully aware that a life without God does not work, because it lacks an essential quality, it lacks light, it lacks reason. It lacks the great sense of what it means to be a human being."

The younger of the two brothers understands that "God's commandments are not obstacles to freedom and to a happy life, but indicate the path to follow in order to find life."

"The errors we make," the Pope said, "even when they are big, do not affect the faithfulness of His love. In the Sacrament of Confession we can always begin life again. God welcomes us, He restores our dignity as His children."

The parable of the prodigal son also helps us to understand that man "is not an isolated unit," but was created "together with others, and only in being with others, in giving ourselves to others, do we find life."

Human beings are "fragile creatures exposed to evil," said the Holy Father, "but they are also capable of doing good."

"In the final instance," he concluded, "man is free. ... Freedom, we may say, is a springboard from which to dive into the infinite sea of divine goodness, but it can also be a slippery slope down which we slide towards the abyss of sin and evil, thus also losing our freedom and our dignity."

Following the Mass, Benedict XVI went to the prison gymnasium where he met with the young inmates, who are between 17 and 23 years old and 85 percent of whom are non-Italian, in the company of their families, and of administrators and volunteers of the detention center.

The Pope thanked them for their best wishes for his name day, which falls tomorrow, and gave assurances to the young people of his concern and affection for them.

"Today," he said, "is a day of celebration for you ... because the Pope has come to visit. ... But how is it possible to be joyful when one suffers, when one is deprived of freedom, when one feels abandoned?"

"God loves us, this is the source of true joy," he explained. "Even when we have everything we desire sometimes we are unhappy; yet it is possible to be deprived of everything, even of freedom and health, and yet to live in peace and joy, if in our hearts there is God. Here, then, lies the secret: God must occupy the primary place in our lives."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Papal Water?

Some people will do anything to make money.

From Reuters - via Yahoo News:

A German journalist has been fined 100 euros ($131) after he filmed three artists stealing water from Pope Benedict's garden hose in Bavaria to sell on Internet auction site EBay.

The three men, clad in overalls and wearing masks, broke into the garden of the Pope's house in Pentling, a suburb of Regensburg, in August armed with as many as 20 old lemonade bottles, the journalist's lawyer, Jan Bockemuehl, told Reuters.
They were filmed in the act by freelance journalist Hubertus Wiendl, who was caught when the caretaker noted down his car registration number, he said. Wiendl denied any knowledge of the plan to enter the garden. The artists have not been tracked down.

"They barely managed to fill one bottle before being challenged by passers-by and driving off," Bockemuehl said.

He had wanted to call the Pope as a witness but this was denied by the presiding judge.

"I was sure the Pope wouldn't have wanted my client to be punished," he said.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

More on Sacramentum Caritatis

In the Holy See Press Office at 11.30 a.m. today, the presentation took place of the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis" on the Eucharist, source and summit of the life and mission of the Church. Participating in the press conference were Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy, relator general of the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, and Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.

The exhortation, which is dated February 22, Feast of the of the Chair of St. Peter, is the final document of the synodal assembly held in Rome from October 2 to 23, 2005. It has been published in Latin, Italian, English, French, Spanish German, Portuguese and Polish.

Archbishop Eterovic explained how the Apostolic Exhortation forms part of the "series of great documents on the sublime Sacrament of the Eucharist such as, for example, those of Servant of God John Paul II 'Ecclesia de Eucharistia' and 'Mane nobiscum Domine.' 'Sacramentum Caritatis' is part of this continuity and, at the same time, re-proposes in an updated form certain essential truths of Eucharistic doctrine, calling for the dignified celebration of the sacred rite and recalling the urgent need to include Eucharistic life as part of everyday life."

The secretary general of the Synod of Bishops pointed out that the document, "in presenting the great truths of Eucharistic faith in a way accessible to modern man, considers various current aspects of [Eucharistic] celebration and calls for a renewed commitment to building a more just and peaceful world, in which the Bread broken for everyone's life becomes ... the exemplary cause in the fight against hunger and against all forms of poverty."

For his part, Cardinal Angelo Scola recalled how the title of the Apostolic Exhortation, "Sacramentum Caritatis," reaffirms "the Holy Father's insistence over these two years of his pontificate on the truth of love," clearly indicating that this is "one of the crucial themes upon which the future of the Church and of humanity depend."

The Exhortation is founded "on the indissoluble bond of three elements: Eucharistic mystery, liturgical action and new spiritual worship." Hence, the text "is divided into three sections, each one of which considers one of the three dimensions of the Eucharist." The sections are entitled: "the Eucharist, a Mystery to be believed," "the Eucharist, a Mystery to be celebrated," and "the Eucharist, a Mystery to be lived."

"The Holy Father's teaching," Cardinal Scola went on, "clearly illustrates how liturgical action (the mystery to be celebrated) is that specific action which makes it possible for Christian life (the mystery to be lived, new worship) to be conformed by faith (the mystery to be believed)." In "a second and very important doctrinal novelty," Benedict XVI also highlights "the importance of 'ars celebrandi' (art of celebration) for an ever greater 'actuosa participatio' (full, active and fruitful participation)."

The first section of the document, "the Eucharist, a Mystery to be believed," highlights the "free gift of the Blessed Trinity" and illustrates "the mystery of the Eucharist on the basis of its Trinitarian origin, which ensures it always remains a gift. ... In this teaching are the profound roots of what the Exhortation says concerning adoration and its intrinsic relationship with Eucharistic celebration."

With reference to Christology and the work of the Spirit, the Holy Father considers "the institution of the Eucharist in relation to the Jewish Paschal supper," in a "decisive passage that illuminates the radical 'novum' that Christ brought to the ancient ritual meal.

"Indeed," the cardinal added, "in the rites we do not repeat an act chronologically situated during Jesus' Last Supper, rather we celebrate the Eucharist as a radical 'novum' of Christian worship." Jesus calls us to enter "the mystery of death and resurrection, the innovative beginning of the transformation ... of all history and all the cosmos."

The chapter on "the Eucharist and the Church" highlights how "the Eucharist is the causal principle of the Church: 'We too, at every celebration of the Eucharist, confess the primacy of Christ's gift. The causal influence of the Eucharist at the Church's origins definitively discloses both the chronological and ontological priority of the fact that it was Christ Who loved us first.' Benedict XVI, while affirming the circularity between the Eucharist that builds the Church and the Church herself that celebrates the Eucharist, makes a significant magisterial option for the primacy of Eucharistic over ecclesial causality."

"The Holy Eucharist brings Christian initiation to completion and represents the center and goal of all sacramental life" said Cardinal Scola quoting from the Exhortation, and he pointed out how the document goes on to consider the Eucharist and the seven Sacraments. "Concerning the Sacrament of Reconciliation the Holy Father insists on the need for 'a reinvigorated catechesis on the conversion born of the Eucharist'," while "the Anointing of the Sick and the Viaticum 'unites the sick with Christ's self-offering for the salvation of all'."

"The irreplaceable nature of priestly ministry for the valid celebration of Mass," is emphasized in the chapter dedicated to "the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Holy Orders," said the patriarch of Venice, adding that the Holy Father "reaffirms and underlines the relationship between priestly ordination and celibacy: 'while respecting the practice and tradition of the Eastern Churches, there is a need to reaffirm the profound meaning of priestly celibacy, which is rightly considered a priceless treasure'."

The great decrease in the number of clergy on some continents "must be faced in the first place by bearing witness to the beauty of priestly life," and by "careful vocational formation."

In the chapter entitled "the Eucharist and Matrimony" the Holy Father maintains that "the Eucharist, par excellence a nuptial Sacrament, 'inexhaustibly strengthens the indissoluble unity and love of every Christian marriage'."

"Taking the nuptial nature of the Eucharist as his starting point," said Cardinal Scola, "Benedict XVI reconsiders the theme of the unicity of Christian marriage, with reference to the question of polygamy and to the indissolubility of the marriage bond.

"The text contains important pastoral suggestions" concerning Catholics who have divorced and remarried, he added. "The Exhortation, having reaffirmed that despite their situation such people 'continue to belong to the Church, which accompanies them with special concern,' lists nine ways to participate in the life of the community for these faithful who, even without receiving Communion, can adopt a Christian style of life."

Mention is also made in the text "of people who, having celebrated a valid marriage, ... find themselves unable to obtain a nullity of the marriage bond, suggesting that, with appropriate pastoral assistance they commit themselves 'to living their relationship in fidelity to the demands of God's law, as friends, as brother and sister,' in other words transforming their bond into a fraternal friendship."

The second part of the document, "the Eucharist, a Mystery to be celebrated," is dedicated, the cardinal said, "to describing the development of liturgical action in celebration, indicating the aspects that deserve the greatest attention and making a number of significant pastoral suggestions."

"The Pope offers a number of indications concerning the richness of liturgical symbols (silence, vestments, gestures, the standing and kneeling positions, etc.) and of art at the service of celebration." In this context the document recalls the importance of the tabernacle being visible in the church and marked by a lamp.

The unity between Eucharistic mystery, liturgical action and new spiritual worship becomes clear "when the Pope highlights the personal conditions for active participation."

The document highlights certain pastoral aspects that favor a more active participation in the sacred rites. These include use of the communications media, participation by the sick, prisoners and emigrants, large-scale concelebrations (which must be limited to "extraordinary situations"), and Eucharistic celebrations in small groups. "It also proposes a more widespread use of the Latin language, especially in the great international celebrations, without overlooking the importance of the Gregorian chant."

"The Pope," the cardinal went on, "recalls 'the inherent unity of the rite of Mass' which must also be expressed in the way in which the Liturgy of the Word is practiced." Benedict XVI highlights "the great educational value for the life of the Church, especially at this moment in history, of the presentation of the gifts, the sign of peace and the 'Ite, missa est.' And the Holy Father entrusts the study of possible modifications to these latter two aspects to the competent curial offices."

The third and final part of the Apostolic Exhortation, said the cardinal, "demonstrates the power of the mystery - believed and celebrated - to become the ultimate and definitive horizon of Christian existence."

From its opening lines, the patriarch of Venice went on, the Apostolic Exhortation highlights the fact "that the gift of the Eucharist is for man, that it responds to man's hopes. ... In the Eucharistic celebration, Christians find the true and living God, capable of saving their lives. And the interlocutor of this salvation is human freedom." On this subject, Benedict XVI writes: "Precisely because Christ has become for us the food of truth, the Church turns to every man and woman, inviting them freely to accept God's gift."

The cardinal continued: "The anthropological importance of the Eucharist emerges with all its power in the new worship characteristic of Christians. ... On the basis of Eucharistic action, all the circumstances of life become, so to say, 'sacramental.' ... Regenerated by Baptism and 'eucharistically' incorporated into the Church, man can finally be completely fulfilled, learning to offer his 'own body' - in other words, all of himself - as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God."

The patriarch of Venice indicated that "all the faithful are called to a profound transformation of their own lives" which is, as the Pope writes, "'a heartfelt yearning to respond to the Lord's love with one's whole being, while remaining ever conscious of one's own weakness.'

"In this context, the responsibility of Christians in public and political life becomes particularly important." Catholic politicians and legislators must, then, "introduce and support laws,' the Holy Father writes, "inspired by values grounded in human nature. There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist."

Another chapter of the document deals with the question of the Eucharist and witness. "The first and fundamental mission that we receive from the sacred mysteries we celebrate is that of bearing witness by our lives," the Holy Father writes.

"The Exhortation," said the cardinal, "strongly recommends that everyone, and in particular the lay faithful 'cultivate a desire that the Eucharist have an ever deeper effect on their daily lives, making them convincing witnesses in the workplace and in society at large'."

The document, Cardinal Scola said, does not hesitate to affirm that "the Eucharist ... compels all who believe ... to become 'bread that is broken for others,' and to work for the building of a more just and fraternal world."

"Eucharistic celebration involves the offer of bread and wine, the fruits of the earth, and of the life and labor of mankind. ... The question of protecting creation is developed and becomes more profound in relation to the Lord's design for all creation, The truth is not mere neutral matter at the mercy of technical and scientific manipulation, it is desired by God with a view to the recapitulation of all things in Christ. Hence the responsibility to protect creation, a responsibility that falls to Christians who are nourished by the Eucharist."

Cardinal Scola expressed the conviction that "in the authenticity of faith and of Eucharistic worship lies the secret for a revival of Christian life capable of regenerating the People of God. The mystery of the Eucharist throws opens the way to the reality of God, which is love."

At the beginning and end of the document, Benedict XVI highlights the relationship between the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary: "In Mary Most Holy, we also see perfectly fulfilled the 'sacramental' way that God comes down to meet His creatures and involves them in His saving work. ... From Mary we must learn to become men and women of the Eucharist and of the Church."

Click here to read the complete text of the document.


The Exhortation is Here

Pope Benedict's Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist has been released and it contains a few surprises, for me at least. I have not read it all yet, but so far I am surprised by what is not in it more than by what is in it.

Here are a few excerpts:


1. The sacrament of charity (1), the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God's infinite love for every man and woman. This wondrous sacrament makes manifest that "greater" love which led him to "lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15:13). Jesus did indeed love them "to the end" (Jn 13:1). In those words the Evangelist introduces Christ's act of immense humility: before dying for us on the Cross, he tied a towel around himself and washed the feet of his disciples. In the same way, Jesus continues, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, to love us "to the end," even to offering us his body and his blood. What amazement must the Apostles have felt in witnessing what the Lord did and said during that Supper! What wonder must the eucharistic mystery also awaken in our own hearts!


The Latin language
62. None of the above observations should cast doubt upon the importance of such large-scale liturgies. I am thinking here particularly of celebrations at international gatherings, which nowadays are held with greater frequency. The most should be made of these occasions. In order to express more clearly the unity and universality of the Church, I wish to endorse the proposal made by the Synod of Bishops, in harmony with the directives of the Second Vatican Council, (182) that, with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, such liturgies could be celebrated in Latin. Similarly, the better-known prayers (183) of the Church's tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sung. Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant. (184)


The location of the tabernacle
69. In considering the importance of eucharistic reservation and adoration, and reverence for the sacrament of Christ's sacrifice, the Synod of Bishops also discussed the question of the proper placement of the tabernacle in our churches. (196) The correct positioning of the tabernacle contributes to the recognition of Christ's real presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Therefore, the place where the eucharistic species are reserved, marked by a sanctuary lamp, should be readily visible to everyone entering the church. It is therefore necessary to take into account the building's architecture: in churches which do not have a Blessed Sacrament chapel, and where the high altar with its tabernacle is still in place, it is appropriate to continue to use this structure for the reservation and adoration of the Eucharist, taking care not to place the celebrant's chair in front of it. In new churches, it is good to position the Blessed Sacrament chapel close to the sanctuary; where this is not possible, it is preferable to locate the tabernacle in the sanctuary, in a sufficiently elevated place, at the centre of the apse area, or in another place where it will be equally conspicuous. Attention to these considerations will lend dignity to the tabernacle, which must always be cared for, also from an artistic standpoint. Obviously it is necessary to follow the provisions of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal in this regard. (197) In any event, final judgment on these matters belongs to the Diocesan Bishop.

Read the complete document here.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Boy Bishop

H/T to Zadok.

Westminster Cathedral has brought back the medieval tradition of the boy bishop. Check out Msgr. Langham's blog for the article and pictures.
The medieval practice of the Boy Bishop varied from Cathedral to Cathedral, some celebrating it on the feast of St Nicholas, others on the Holy Innocents. In each Cathedral, however, the (adult) Bishop would vacate his seat for the fully attired chorister to take over from him. The chosen boy was surrounded with magnificent ceremonial: at York, the Boy Bishop was taken in procession around the Diocese visiting churches and monasteries, while at Gloucester he received lavish presents from the nobility. The Boy Bishop would always preach a sermon, which attracted huge crowds. The practice was banned at the Reformation, but has in recent years been revived at Gloucester and Hereford Cathedral. Here at Westminster, with our strong sense of continuity with English medieval Catholicism, it is good to see an ancient tradition reborn with such enthusiasm.

I have to say that I do not agree that this is a practice that should be revived. I think it is something that should have never began and was rightly suppressed. Children should not preach sermons at Mass, but much less children who have not been ordained. This entire ceremony looks too much like a farce. This is just one article of proof that liturgical abuse is not a modern phenomenon.

A commentor has informed me that the Boy Bishop's sermon is given after Communion. Therefore, it is more properly a reflection and not a sermon in the proper liturgical sense. It is liturgically correct.

Here are a few links with more information on the tradition.
Catholic Encyclopedia
Full Homely Divinity
St. Nicholas Center
Saint Nicholas Kids

Just to clarify, I also think "mayor for a day" and "principal for a day" are stupid ideas.