Wednesday, September 20, 2017

MASS IS BORING TO THE NAKED EYE AND UNINFORMED EAR


I was able to listen to but a tidbit of "Seize the Day" an XM radio call-in show in the morning on the Catholic Channel.

The question was about Mass being boring and how the Mass is perceived by so many uniformed Catholic today as well as visitors to Mass who aren't Catholic.

One caller who identified himself as a convert to Catholicism shared what his impressions of the Mass was prior to his conversion.

He said it was boring, ritualistic and mechanical. The people at Mass looked bored, disengaged and robotic in their responses and so many didn't even try to sing the singable hymns.

It felt so distant and impersonal lacking in emotion and enthusiasm.

But then he went through the RCIA process and began to understand the Sacramental nature of the Mass and how the Catholic Church had prevented Christian worship from veering off into a bogus form of worship based upon emotions, feelings and fads.

I can remember as a child when the Mass was the ancient Latin Mass, how bored I was and I often fell asleep. But I knew that something powerful was happening and that God was up there at the altar.

The Mass captured my imagination, the ritualistic, unreformed pre-Vatican II Mass.  And at the basis of this captured imagination was the real presence of Christ.

We had a Redemptorist Priest do a mission for us in the early 1960's. He was a dynamic speaker and the mission was not in the context of the Mass, simply an hour long teaching with a hymn or two, and a Scripture Reading.

The whole week long he told us that we would see Jesus on Friday. And Finally Friday came and I wondered and wondered what he meant that we would see Jesus. And then He came out vested in alb and cope and Solemnly exposed the Blessed Sacrament. We prayed quietly and then his entire 30 minute talk was on the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. It concluded with Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

I saw Jesus! My eyes were opened!

How many Catholics want bogus forms of worship because they can't see the sacramental sign and don't understand it?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

ACCUSING EVERYONE OF BEING JUDGEMENTAL--YES, EVERYONE IS JUDGMENTAL


The bishop of San Diego just became what he castigated, judgmental. This time, though, it isn't the judgmental statements against those who promote unchastity, be it gay, straight or marital, it is against those who uphold the Church's teaching on sexuality and judge those who don't uphold that teaching.

You can read a synopsis of the Bishop of San Diego's judgments HERE.

Let's face it, there is a vacuum of leadership in the Church that has led to the current divisiveness reminiscent of the 1960's and 70's. The source of this divisiveness is the promotion of the new and improved in rupture with previous Church teachings and the demonization of what was once practiced in the Church, be it liturgical, moral or theological.

It is opening the eyes to a new generation of Catholics (who have no memory of the 1960's and 70's) as to what happened in the Church in that period of time that has led to the loss of actual participation in the Church with upwards of 88% of Catholic, if not more, in some parts of the USA and the rest of the world not attending Mass or simply becoming nones.

HOW ABOUT SIMPLY RECONNECTING OR RENEWING OUR CONNECTION TO THE RISEN DIVINE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST?


Both Cardinals Wuerl and Cupich have said recently that Pope Francis is reconnecting us to Vatican II and both in the context of decentralization (synodalty) and the Liturgy (the liturgy wars). This of course implies that Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict disconnected the Church from Vatican II. To imply this is a bit of snarkiness and arrogance.

We are also being reconnected to the idolatry of making Vatican II into a god. In my formative years from the time of Vatican II to well into my priesthood, we heard more about Vatican II than Jesus Christ, Scripture and Tradition. It was all about changing this, that and the other, the new and improved notion of marketing.

Give me Jesus and to heck with Vatican II rhetoric.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

MR. ED'S PERSPECTIVE ON MAGNUM PRINCIPIUM

Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Draws Mixed Reaction

FROM THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER:

Vatican | Sep. 15, 2017

‘Magnum Principium,’ issued motu proprio, shifts some responsibility for translating liturgical texts from the Vatican to bishops’ conferences.

Mr. Edward Pentin

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ apostolic letter Magnum Principium, which shifts some responsibility for translating liturgical texts away from the Vatican to local bishops, has drawn mixed reactions.

Some liturgists have expressed concern that it will lead to a “free-for-all,” but others say it has enough safeguards in place to ensure authentic translations are produced.

Signed by the Holy Father Sept. 3 and published Sept. 9, Magnum Principium (The Great Principle) deals explicitly with two specific changes to Canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law, which addresses the authority of the Apostolic See and national episcopal conferences in preparing liturgical texts in vernacular languages.

Specifically, the document, issued motu proprio (on the Pope’s own initiative) introduces changes to two paragraphs of canon law, stating the Vatican will continue to have the authority to approve or reject a proposed translation, but it will no longer have a clear role in the final stage of the translation process.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will no longer instruct bishops to make proposed amendments, but simply have authority to confirm or veto the results at the end of the process.

This means that the Vatican commission Vox Clara, which was established by Pope John Paul II in 2002 to help the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments vet English translations, will no longer be needed.

Pope Francis noted in the motu proprio that after the Second Vatican Council, the Church was acutely aware of “the attendant sacrifice involved in the partial loss of liturgical Latin, which had been in use throughout the world over the course of centuries.”

But he added that “it willingly opened the door” to vernacular liturgical translations, saying it was necessary to unite “the good of the faithful of a given time and culture” to a “conscious and active participation” in liturgical celebrations.

He went on to write that, given each translation must be “congruent with sound doctrine,” it is no surprise that certain problems have arisen between episcopal conferences and the Apostolic See along the way.

This means there must be “a vigilant and creative collaboration full of reciprocal trust” between the Apostolic See and bishops’ conferences so that the renewal of “the whole liturgical life might continue.” Francis said it therefore “seemed opportune that some principles handed on since the time of the Council should be more clearly reaffirmed and put into practice.”

In this sense, he stated he wanted “the competency” of the Apostolic See in translations to be “made clearer.” All changes will go into effect Oct. 1.

Earlier this year, Vaticanist Sandro Magister reported that the Holy Father had established a commission to review Liturgiam Authenticam (The Use of Vernacular Languages in the Publication of Books on the Roman Liturgy), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 2001 instruction that translations of liturgical texts closely follow the original Latin and other languages.

After much study and tireless efforts by episcopal conferences around the world over seven years, the Holy See approved a new English translation in April 2010. Most countries had put the new translation into effect by the end of November 2011.

Archbishop Arthur Roche, the secretary for the Congregation of Divine Worship, was reportedly the head of the commission assigned to study the issue. He previously served 10 years as the chairman of the main coordinating body for the new English translation, the International Commission for English Language in the Liturgy.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, was not consulted for the “motu proprio.” The cardinal declined to answer questions about the document, and the archbishop did not respond to requests for comment.

Many liturgists, including some within the Vatican, believe that the intent of the motu proprio is quite obvious: to allow those opposed to new translations more faithful to the Latin to perhaps enact changes more to their liking, adding to already present discord and exacerbating the “liturgy wars,” although the document makes clear that texts must be translated faithfully.

Joseph Shaw of the Latin Mass Society in the United Kingdom said there was a danger that Magnum Principium could turn out like Memoriale Domini in 1969, the Vatican instruction on the manner of distributing Holy Communion.

That instruction was a response to a worldwide survey of bishops on the reception of Communion in the hand. The document reaffirmed the traditional practice of Holy Communion on the tongue, but it also said that the Holy See would consider requests from bishops’ conferences for permission for Communion in the hand if the request was backed by a two-thirds majority.

“The practical result was that the door to Communion in the hand was officially opened,” said Shaw. “Not only did bishops’ conferences make the request, but today it is regarded as odd if they have not, and reception in the hand is now regarded as the norm. The will to refuse bishops’ conferences’ request for the permission did not, for most cases, exist.”

Shaw added that Magnum Principium similarly insists on bishops’ conferences following Liturgiam Authenticam.

“It inserts the word ‘faithful’ into the wording of canon law with reference to liturgical translations, and it reserves the right of the Holy See to veto proposed translations,” he said.

“But these words will have no effect if there is no will in Rome to enforce them,” Shaw continued. “The document is being read as easing Rome’s control over translations, and it could easily lead to a free-for-all.”

But others say the motu proprio is, on the surface at least, water-tight, and only an explicit change in the law would allow for abuse, especially as the texts have to be submitted to Rome.

They allude to the point made by Archbishop Roche, in a letter accompanying the document, in which he states that the Vatican’s “confirmation” is an “authoritative act” that “presupposes a positive evaluation of the fidelity and congruence of the texts.”

For Salesian Msgr. Markus Graulich, the undersecretary at the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, enough safeguards are therefore in place.

“It’s enough because the congregation will confirm it [the bishops’ translations] and confirmatio (verification) is more than recognitio (recognition),” he said.

Others with knowledge of the issue say much will depend on who is running the Congregation for Divine Worship, but this has always been the case. Msgr. Graulich further observed that Magnum Principium means it is no longer possible for all English-speaking Catholics around the world to have the same English missal. But this is a positive development, he believes, as, for example, in some parts of Africa they have had difficulties with the new translated response “And with your spirit” instead of the previous, “And also with you.”

But also problematic in the document, say Shaw and others, is a misrepresentation — in the document’s first paragraph — of what the Second Vatican Council authorized in terms of vernacular translations. It states that the “great principle” established by the Council “required the weighty task of introducing the vernacular language into the liturgy and of preparing and approving the versions of the liturgical books, a charge that was entrusted to the bishops.”

But Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the sacred liturgy, stated that “the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites,” while use of the vernacular “may be extended” when it may be “of great advantage to the people” (36).

Writing in the New Liturgical Movement, Peter Kwasniewski, a professor of theology at Wyoming Catholic College, said it is true that “a number of Council Fathers spoke out strongly in favor of greatly increasing the role of the vernacular; but they were a minority.”

He said there were many more “who admitted that [the vernacular’s] use should be expanded in certain situations, while not displacing the customary Latin,” and there were many others who “adamantly reaffirmed the primacy of Latin due to qualities frequently acknowledged by the magisterium of the Church, such as its antiquity, longevity, stability and universality.”

This being the case, Shaw said it therefore “behooves defenders of Sacrosanctum Concilium, like defenders of the traditional liturgy, to explain how the use of Latin does not necessarily impede worshippers’ engagement with the liturgy.”

“As Pope St. John Paul II explained, ‘through its dignified character [the old liturgy in Latin] elicited a profound sense of the Eucharistic Mystery’ (Dominicae Cenae, 23),” Shaw said.

But in addition to the debate over whether Vatican II actually authorized such widespread use of the vernacular, also of concern is the extent to which translations will be decentralized. During the Council, the Fathers were split almost evenly between those who wanted considerable decentralization and those who, on the contrary, warned repeatedly about the deleterious consequences of leaving liturgical decisions to local bodies.

Pope St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI fought hard against the centrifugal tendency caused by the vernacularization and adaptation of the liturgy, an effort that culminated in Liturgiam Authenticam, the 2001 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith instruction to ensure that, “insofar as possible,” texts must be translated “integrally and in the most exact manner.”

The concern now — even though Archbishop Roche insists the motu proprio will uphold the guiding principle of Liturgiam Authenticam — is that the emphasis on decentralization will undo the work of the two popes.

Shaw believes it is legitimate to be “concerned about the limited resources of many bishops’ conferences if they are expected to take the lead in commissioning translations.” Lack of expertise, he said, “could lead to poor translations, and with non-major languages it would be difficult for the Congregation for Divine Worship to check them.”

Another liturgical scholar, speaking to the Register on condition of anonymity, believes that although the document does not make any change in the actual laws that govern liturgical celebrations, its danger lies elsewhere.

“As with Amoris Laetitia, which technically ‘makes no changes,’ Magnum Principium introduces a new drift or trend that will embolden those who are already chronic liturgical abusers,” he said, adding that he believes it will make it “more difficult for conservative and traditional clergy who are patiently working to right the wrongs of the past decades.”

And yet, Msgr. Graulich and others are confident that a Vatican veto of translations coming from bishops’ conferences will be a sufficient check. One Vatican source said he was “no more worried than before,” and he was particularly heartened by the document’s emphasis on “authentic interpretation.”

“The situation before was that the Holy See may choose not to intervene whatsoever and so not do its duty,” he said. “On the other hand, now the congregation can be quite aggressive in defending these norms.” He also pointed out that questions of cultural norms continue to be ruled out and not entrusted to bishops. The bishops remain “custodians of the one liturgy, and that’s it,” he said.

Also, although the motu proprio advocates decentralization, it does not go as far as some people had feared in that respect, or as far as some who favor a more progressive, less traditional liturgy, had hoped.

“It’s a clarification,” said a source close to the process. “Certainly, it does not tally with the great rumors that Pope Francis would make this great act of subsidiarity and decentralization and entrust all work to the bishops’ conferences,” he said. “That’s not at all happened.”

“We’ll see how it works,” said Msgr. Graulich. “I hope it’ll work, and this will be shown by the praxis.” He also said the translations are all in place, and so for the foreseeable future, “there won’t be any new translations.”

Saturday, September 16, 2017

I FEEL LIKE I AM BACK IN THE CORRUPT 1970'S SEMINARY!


Fr. James Martin, SJ is a throwback to the 1970's heterodox progressives who caused so much harm to the Church to this day trying to make Holy Mother Church something she simply isn't and foisting this anti-Catholic ideology on her by manipulating Catholics under the banner of 1960' love as promoted by the immature hippies of that day.

Fr. Martin would do well to promote love for all sinners and not love of the sin as the wonderful group Courage does. Courage is the template for the Church's and thus the Risen Lord's authentic love for homosexuals or those tormented by disordered affections. It is not enablement of loving one's sin but rather enabling loving God and neighbor and the splendor of Truth!

Thus I copy this from Fr. Z with his inserted red comments:


Fr. Martin issued a statement of his own on Facebook (where else?):

Dear friends: Theological College, the seminary at The Catholic University of America, in Washington, DC, today cancelled a talk I was to give on Alumni Day, on Oct. 4, thanks to a campaign by Church Militant, the priest known as “Father Z” and Lifesite News.  [I did NOT campaign for anything.  I didn’t ask anyone to call TC.  I asked some questions.  Period.]
That campaign caused a storm of phone calls, emails and messages to Theological College, which included, I was told, people screaming at the receptionists who answered the phone. In the end, they felt that the expected protests and negative publicity would distract from Alumni Day.  [I sincerely hope that none of you readers were rude to receptionists at TC.  That’s beneath your dignity and, frankly, not behavior that one should expect of Catholics shaped by tradition and “class”.]
This follows the cancellation of another lecture at the Annual Investiture Dinner of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre in New York City, scheduled on Oct. 21. The organizers told me that they had received angry emails and calls from several members of the Order, most of whom, they believed, were encouraged to protest thanks to another campaign initiated by Church Militant, which you can see here: https://www.churchmilitant.com/…/episode/vortex-unbelievable
As an aside, a few years ago I was invited to join the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, but couldn’t because of its steep entrance fee. Also, Catholic University hosted me for a talk, one of a few that I have given there, just last year.
That follows an earlier cancellation of a lecture in London for Cafod (Catholic International Development Charity in England) which was scheduled for the third week in October.
Each of these cancellations was a result of anger or fear over my book “Building a Bridge,” about LGBT Catholics. The book has the formal approval (the “Imprimi Potest”) of my Jesuit Provincial, the Very Rev. John Cecero, SJ; and has been endorsed by Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Archbishop John Wester, Bishop Robert McElroy and Bishop John Stowe.  [All of which is irrelevant.]
In the case of Theological College, the fears were of angry protesters disrupting their Alumni Day. In the case of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre Dinner, it was anger from some members over the topic of LGBT Catholics. In the case of Cafod lecture in London, it was not a response to any campaign but fear that my presence itself would garner negative attention, after the group had recently faced other similar problems. In none of these cases was the local ordinary–in each a cardinal–in any way advocating for the cancellation of the talk. The impetus was purely from those social media sites.
I have asked each organization to be honest about the reasons for these cancellations. That is, I told them I did not want to lie and say, “I withdrew” or “I declined” or “I was afraid to come.”
So I share with you as much as I can in the interests of transparency, which we need in our church. And to show you the outsize influence of social media sites motivated by fear, hatred and homophobia.  [Rubbish.  He is a public figure.  He defends even homosexual acts, not just homosexuals as human beings.  He is, right now, a lightning rod.]
For my part, I bear no ill will to Theological College, Catholic University, the Order of the Holy Sepulchre or Cafod. The organizers were all apologetic and in some cases more upset than I was. I know that they were under extreme pressure, and in some cases were overwhelmed by the rage that can be generated by social media: ill will based on misrepresentations, innuendos, homophobia and especially fear. Perfect love drives out fear, as St. Paul said. But perfect fear also drives out love.
Also, I want to say that none of these cancellations disturbs me.[And yet, here we are, reading this.] I’ve not lost any sleep over them. (The outsize influence of social media sites that traffic in homophobia, specialize in personal attacks, and whips up hatred another matter. This is disturbing and should be disturbing to all of us. It is not coming from God.)
And there will be many other venues. In fact, after the talk in DC was cancelled, Holy Trinity Church in DC invited me to deliver a lecture a few days before the planned Theological College event was to occur, on Sept. 30. So I look forward to seeing you all in Washington.
I’m also happy to say that a revised and expanded version of “Building a Bridge,”with a new introduction, more stories drawn from my encounters with LGBT people, more insights from church leaders, and more biblical meditations, will be published early next year.
Last night at the University of Scranton, after the talk to the incoming freshmen, a mother approached the book-signing table, and started to cry when she talked about her gay son and what the book had meant to her. And I told her that her tears put any opposition in perspective.  [Emotions are a huge factor in this issue.  Often they trump reason.]
Because what is opposition next to the love of Jesus? It is nothing.
I also have the support of my Jesuit Provincial, my Jesuit brothers, and two cardinals and several bishops who endorsed my book (as well as many other cardinals, archbishops and bishops who have contacted me privately). Most of all, I want to say that Jesus is close to me in prayer.
So I am at total peace.
A final note: all of the talks that were cancelled–at Theological College, at the Order of the Holy Sepulchre Investiture Dinner, and at Cafod, were not about LGBT Catholics. They were about Jesus.

THE SILENT CANON AND MUTUAL ENRICHMENT WORKING BOTH WAYS TO ACCOMPLISH CONTEMPLATION


Praytell's article,

Silent Canon? A Clarification on Cardinal Sarah’s Comment

has a good commentary on the history of the silent Roman Roman Canon and the allowance or return of the audibly prayed Roman Canon. The inspiration of this article is based upon what Cardinal Sarah said about the Silent Canon this past Thursday night in Rome in a brilliant address on the Liturgy that transcended the EF Mass and touched mostly on the OF Mass. He seems to indicate a revision of the OF Mass to allow a silent canon but it isn't completely clear that it advocates it across the board.

 Early in the revision of the Mass in 1970--it was still possible to interpret the rubric for the canon to allow a silent canon in that the rubric stated the canon "may" be celebrated audibly. That rubric changed in later 1970's missals and "may" was no longer used.

When I started celebrating the EF Mass exactly 10 years ago, one of the things that I did not recall as a child is that the Roman Canon was prayed silently. Thus my own recollection was the canon was always aloud although until 1967 or so in Latin and only the Roman Canon was prayed until that same 1967 date when three other "canons" were invented.

I have to say that I felt extremely uncomfortable praying the canon silently in the EF. What is lacking for most modern Catholics, to include this priest, is the spirituality, thoroughly Catholic, of contemplation and silence in the liturgical prayers of the Mass to include the Canon. Most adults and children today, thanks to soundbites, our electronic gadgets, Facebook and video games, have a very short attention span and any amount of silence is discomforting, especially at Church or Mass where one's mind cannot focus long enough to endure longer silences without the mind drifting to all sorts of other distractions which are purely mundane.

These distractions to modern Catholics also occur in the Ordinary Form when the contrived silences after the reading, the homily and Holy Communion, where there is absolutely no liturgical action or public prayer, overwhelm actual participation and lead to the drifting of thoughts and the antithesis of contemplation and prayer.

So in terms of mutual enrichment of both the EF and OF Roman Missals, how can we find a middle ground for both forms and thus a point of unity in terms of the recovery of contemplation, awe and wonder during the praying of the Canon which can be heard by the laity?

Pray the Canon in a low voice and audibly but with the use of a microphone in large churches is the best solution for both the EF and OF Masses. To be honest with you, over the years that I have celebrated the EF Mass, I wear a cordless microphone and I pray the canon in a low voice which is audible and it is carried through the church over the speakers. It is clear that I am praying softly but there isn't dead silence. And if I interpret the rubric of the EF Mass for a low voice Canon, it isn't to be said silently without the priest using his lips to voice the canon--correct me if I am wrong.

The greatest problem with the vernacular canon and prayed facing the congregation is that the priest reads the prayer in a "proclaiming way" which comes across not as prayer that could lead to quiet contemplation, but as though it is a "reading" directed to the congregation for the people to hear. This is especially true when the priest establishes eye-contact with the congregation, turns his head toward all present and makes the liturgical gestures at the consecration toward the congregation. This is truly a corruption of the prayerfulness of the Thanksgiving of the canon and the contemplation required of the Canon. It comes across not as prayer at all but as just another reading of the Mass for the congregation to hear. It also comes across as a mere reenactment of the first "Lord's Supper" and not a remembering of what the institution of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday anticipated, Good Friday's Most Holy Sacrifice of the Cross and the establishment of Christ as the Eternal High Priest and the Sacrament of the Priesthood to make that High Priesthood visible!

Ad Orientem or at least the "Benedictine" altar arrangement is the antidote for this corruption!

YAH, BUT, SHOULDN'T "THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH" ALSO CELEBRATE THE COUNTER REFORMATION TOO? AND SHOULD THE COMMEMORATION OF THE REFORMATION REPENT OF MARTIN LUTHER'S ANTISEMITICISM AND THE GREAT SUFFERING OF THE JEWS IN GERMANY THAT "CHRISTIAN" BE IT CATHOLIC OR PROTESTANT, ANTISEMITISM INFLICTED UPON THE JEWS LEADING TO THE HOLOCAUST IN GERMANY?????

From the Augusta Chronicle 9/16/17:

500 years of the reformation

Why commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation?


In 2017, we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Over the next seven weeks, this series will reveal the variety of ways in which life today bears the marks of the Reformation and its legacy.
Today: Why we commemorate the Reformation Sept. 23: Education Sept. 30: Politics Oct. 7: Conflict and the quest for unity Oct. 14: Marriage and family Oct. 21: Economics Oct. 28: Evangelism and missions

ANDREAS BECHERT/SPECIAL Michael Holahan/staFF The Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, is where Martin Luther hung his 95 Theses. In Augusta, the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection on Greene Street welcomes people with red doors “symbolizing that we enter God’s family, the body of Christ through the blood of Christ,” said Pastor David Hunter.
It started 500 years ago with a monk hanging 95 Theses, or topics for debate, on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. It was the eve of All Saints Day in 1517 – a day we know as Oct. 31 or Halloween. Yet, in most Protestant Christian circles, Oct. 31 will always be known as “Reformation Day” for with the hanging of his Theses, the young monk, pastor and university professor Martin Luther birthed the Protestant Reformation.

Rich

The presenting issue for Luther might not be a matter of great controversy today. However, the sale of indulgences greatly troubled Luther. The theological thinking of the time was that at one’s death there remained sins needing atonement and acts of penitence. Until that debt had been paid, one’s soul remained in purgatory instead of moving into heaven. An “indulgence” was a sum of money paid to the church on behalf of the dead so that he or she could be released early from purgatory. Selling indulgences became quite a money-maker for the Christian church, with the catch phrase, “As soon as the coin box rings another soul from purgatory springs!”
Luther recognized the selling of indulgences and the theology of purgatory stood in marked contrast to his understanding of the biblical witness of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. So, he did what any university professor of the time would do: He challenged the proponents of indulgences to a debate. The 95 Theses were not an attempt to rebel against the pope or the church; they were not a call to revolution; they were an attempt to bring the theology and practice of the church closer to the scriptural witness.
The result of this call for debate was resounding silence. The 95 Theses were written in Latin, a language read and understood by very few. None of Luther’s fellow university professors wanted to debate his points. Those selling indulgences certainly did not want a public questioning of their practices. So for several months nothing happened at all.
Then, at the encouragement of his parishioners, some of Luther’s university students translated his document into German – the language of the people. Interest began to grow, neighboring towns and churches shared Luther’s concerns, and a populist movement began that ultimately spread around the globe.
In 2017, we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Whether one is a church member or not, it is an event worth marking. For not only did the theological trajectory of the Christian church change, with a renewed focus on “grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone and Scripture alone,” but almost every aspect of society felt the impact as well.
Over the next seven weeks, this series will lift up a variety of ways in which life today bears the marks of the Reformation and its legacy. For example:
• The Reformation’s emphasis on making Scripture available in the language of common people encouraged the development of public education and literacy.
• The Reformation’s understanding of the importance and role of local magistrates and government officials helped create the modern republic and democratic systems of government.
• The Reformation’s opening of marriage to priests and pastors resulted in a new role for women in the church and in society.
• The Reformation’s emphasis on the value of every profession, not just clergy, as a godly vocation helped to create modern economic systems and the “Protestant Work Ethic.”
• The Reformation’s renewed hope that all might be saved through faith in Jesus Christ sent missionaries around the globe who brought not only their faith, but also their culture with them.

Yes, the Reformation transformed all of society.

As we commemorate the beginning of the Reformation, it is important to note that some of the movement’s impacts were negative. Initial leaders in the Protestant movement soon found themselves at odds with each other.

Various branches or “denominations” of the church developed, which were often quite antagonistic toward others.

Once those splits developed, it seemed that every minor disagreement led to a new denomination. Some estimates indicate there are more than 30,000 Protestant denominations today, severely undermining attempts at unity.
The fracturing of the Christian church often had political consequences as well. Various political magistrates and rulers chose sides in the conflict.

Some chose out of religious conviction. Others saw opportunity to claim political power for themselves as opposed to allegiance to the Holy Roman Emperor.

The response from the church and the empire was swift. The Thirty Years War and the English Civil War are just two examples of the armed conflict and immense bloodshed that followed the beginning of the Reformation.

Protestant churches and communities commemorating the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation can use it as an opportunity to model unity and reconciliation in the midst of our world, which seems to grow more fractured and divisive every year.

In 1999, the Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches signed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, healing a significant theological division of the Reformation. United Methodists joined the agreement in 2006. In 2017, Reformed (Presbyterian) Christians signed a declaration endorsing the agreement and the Anglican (Episcopal) Church is expected to do the same later this year. 

ALaMY.COM A memorial to Martin Luther stands in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany.

MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF This banner, commemorating the Protestant Reformation in 1517, hangs on the wall at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in downtown Augusta.

Here in Augusta, Ga., a community service sponsored and led by churches of several denominations will be held at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Additional denominational services and commemorations will be held throughout this season.

As we mark the history and legacy of the Reformation, may we appreciate the gifts and contributions of our diverse faiths and together work for the common good of our community.
Dr. Matthew A. Rich is the pastor of Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church in Augusta.

THE POWER OF THE TRADITIONAL HABIT TO ATTRACT! THE CHAINSAW NUN PROVES IT! DUH!

Now-famous Florida nun used Google to figure out chain saw


AP
Sister Margaret Ann holds a chain saw Tuesday near Miami, Fla. Police said the nun was cutting trees to clear the roadways around Archbishop Coleman Carrol High School in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

The Florida nun who became an internet sensation when video emerged of her – dressed in full habit – wielding a chain saw to clear downed trees after Hurricane Irma says she had to look up instructions on how to start the tool.

“I actually had to Google it to find out how to start it because I’d forgotten how … ,” Sister Margaret Ann said. “The students have told me everything is online, sister; just ask the question online.”

The nun, principal of Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School in Miami, said her mechanical education didn’t stop with the Google search.

“Some people have sent me videos on how to use a chain saw because apparently I wasn’t using it correctly or as safe as I should’ve been, so I’m learning, too,” she told The Associated Press in a Skype interview. Many people posted warnings online that the nun’s loose habit could get caught in the saw.

An off-duty Miami-Dade police officer posted the video of Sister Margaret Ann on social media Monday. The Miami-Dade Police Department praised her effort, saying: “Thank you Sister and all of our neighbors that are working together to get through this!”

The video was picked up by media outlets, including the AP, and quickly became a global sensation.

Sister Margaret Ann laughed off the attention, saying her students are enjoying watching her on social media. Some have even asked for her autograph.

“People are driving by and saying, ‘Thank you, sister, thank you,’ ” she said. “So I think it has been really good for our community, and I understand that the video has really gone worldwide, so that’s kinda funny.”

She also said she was glad the video gave the public a different view of nuns.

“The students are telling me, they are saying, ‘Sister, you’re no wimp. You’ll get out there and work with us.’ And that is really the way it should be, and that’s the way sisters really are. We are not just sitting back praying, or asking other people, or begging for money or anything like that.”

She said she didn’t even mind the fact that she had become known worldwide as the “chain saw sister,” but the new moniker did make her laugh.

“If it’s going bring back good memories for people, and we all learn and grow, it’s good,” she said.

POPE FRANCIS CRITCIZED IN THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE'S EDITORIAL--THE SOUTH'S OLDEST NEWSPAPER

The Political Pope

The pontiff ’s criticism of U.S. immigration policy is untimely, off base

(My comment first: Pope Francis has recovered the anti-law, anti-canon law sentiments of the Church of the 1970's which mirrored what was happening in secular society in the 1960's especially in the USA where police were called pigs and those who followed the law be it civil or canon law were equated as being rigid and "doctors of the law" in the thoroughly negative way to criticize and marginalize them. While I doubt that the editorialist for the Augusta Chronicle knows about the 1970's language Pope Francis' uses repetitively especially in his daily Masses about the in-house "doctors of the law" to include holy Cardinals like Cardinals Burke and Caffarra, they certainly see the Pope's 1970's bent in the His Holiness' criticism of US immigration policy.)

Eternal, infernal combatants in American politics took a few days off from ringing each other’s throats over politics this past week as another humanitarian nightmare encircled America.

Not the pope, though.

Even as the country’s second major hurricane in weeks enveloped the Southeast U.S., Pope Francis just had to weigh in on American immigration policy and climate change.

On the latter, he said history – not God, apparently – will judge climate change skeptics.

On the former, the pope issued his opinion against President Trump’s decision to end the Obama-era “DACA” program in which a unilateral – and quite likely unconstitutional – executive order temporarily delayed deportation for those brought here illegally as minors.

In his remarks – in which he essentially said if Trump is “a good pro-lifer,” then he would support DACA – the pope seemed to suggest one cannot be pro-life and anti-illegal immigration.

Besides the non sequitur – and the sweeping judgment of those who hold opposing political views, contrary to Christianity’s “judge not lest ye be judged” doctrine – what is the pope doing? He’s more political than many politicians.

Granted, his predecessor John Paul II was very political – but primarily when it came to confronting the evils of communism and the occupation of his native Poland by the Soviet Union. This pope, by contrast, is more judgmental about free peoples.

Rather than attack an American president for seeking orderly and legal immigration, why not question why so many are risking their lives to escape certain areas of the world? Could it be because of oppression and tyranny in many countries – i.e., the lack of human freedom – that leads to economic and spiritual desperation?

The pontiff also has a very different view of compassion than many. We don’t happen to think it’s compassionate to invite, encourage and reward the very hazardous and unfair “system” of illegal immigration that has grown up here over decades. People die, people are exploited, as human smugglers shake down illegals, for morally unconscionable sums, to help them jump in line in front of those who have worked and waited years to enter the U.S. legally.

What about that equation is moral? Is that “pro-life”? Or just cynically “for profit”?

Notwithstanding the artlessness of being so political in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, his inveighing against an orderly immigration system here runs smack dab into the political cautions he sent to Italy, closer to home: to manage its own immigration crisis “with prudence” – “taking into account how many people it can successfully integrate into its society,” as the Associated Press put it.

Goodness. Isn’t that precisely what we’re trying to do here?

The world was reminded of the dire need for orderly, cautious migration after yet another terrorist attack at a train station in London Friday — the fifth terror attack in Britain this year alone.

The rest of us are “DREAMERS” too. We dream of being able to go about our daily business without the threat of attacks by murderous misanthropes who despise us and our culture.

With all due respect, for we consider this pope to be a great man: If he’s going to be political, he should at least have some perspective: No nation on Earth has been more welcoming or more humane to immigrants, legal and otherwise. Is it too much to ask to have some room to manage it?

We think one can be pro-life and pro-law.

Friday, September 15, 2017

ROBERT CARDINAL SARAH'S CATECHESIS ON THE LITURGY IS A LONG BUT GOOD READ! READ IT!

I copy this from The New Liturgical Movement. After reading it, I fear Cardinal Sarah will follow Cardinal Mueller in being the next to go. Sad!

Cardinal Sarah introduced by Fr Vincenzo Nuara, O.P., at today’s conference in Rome.

“Silence and the Primacy of God in the Sacred Liturgy”: Address by His Eminence Card. Sarah

The first sentiment that I would like to express, ten years after the publication of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, is that of gratitude to Almighty God. In fact, with this text Benedict XVI wanted to establish a sign of reconciliation in the Church, one that has brought much fruit and which has been continued in the same manner by Pope Francis. God wants the unity of His Church, for which we pray for in every Eucharistic celebration: we are called to continue to pursue this path of reconciliation and unity, as an ever-living witness of Christ in today's world.

This initiative of Pope Benedict XVI finds it full explication in an important work of Cardinal Ratzinger. Writing less than a year before his election to the Chair of St Peter, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger took issue with “the suggestion by some Catholic liturgists that we should finally adapt the liturgical reform to the ‘anthropological turn’ of modern times and construct it in an anthropocentric style.” He argued:

If the Liturgy appears first of all as the workshop for our activity, then what is essential is being forgotten: God. For the Liturgy is not about us, but about God. Forgetting about God is the most imminent danger of our age. As against this, the Liturgy should be setting up a sign of God’s presence. Yet what happens if the habit of forgetting about God makes itself at home in the Liturgy itself and if in the Liturgy we are thinking only of ourselves? In any and every liturgical reform, and every liturgical celebration, the primacy of God should be kept in view first and foremost.”

“Forgetting about God is the most imminent danger of our age.” My brothers and sisters these words, utterly true when they were written in July 2004, have become more and more poignant with each passing year. Our world is marked by the blight of Godless terrorism, of an increasingly aggressive secularism, of a spirit of individualistic consumerism in respect of creation, material goods and even human relationships, and of an advancing culture of death which endangers the right to life of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters: the unborn, the unhealthy and the elderly.

In the face of this increasing godlessness we, Christ’s holy Church, are called by virtue of our baptism and of our own particular vocation to announce and proclaim that “Christ is the Light of nations” (Lumen Gentium, 1), and “to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 1). For the way of Christ and His Church is the path of Truth, Beauty and Goodness, the ultimate consummation of which is unending life in communion with God and all the saints in heaven. Whereas those who choose to walk according to the route laid down by the Prince of Lies risk hell: that ultimate fruit of the free, knowing and willing choice of sin and evil—eternal separation from God and the saints.

My brothers and sisters, we must never forget these eternal verities! Our world has most probably forgotten them. Indeed, particularly in the affluent West, our society seeks to hide these truths from us and to anaesthetise us with the apparent goods it offers to us in its unending cacophony of consumerism, lest we find the time and space to call into question its godless assumptions and practices. We must not succumb to this. We must be untiring in announcing the good news of the Gospel: that sin and death have been conquered by our Lord Jesus Christ whose sacrifice on the Cross has enabled us to gain the forgiveness that our sins demand and to live joyfully in this world and in the sure hope of life without end in the next.

The Church is called to announce this good news in every possible way, to every human person in every land and in every age. These essential missionary and apostolic endeavours, which are nothing less than an imperative given to the Church by the Lord himself (cf. Mt 28:19-20), are themselves predicated on a greater reality: our ecclesial encounter with Jesus Christ in the Sacred Liturgy. For as the Second Vatican Council so rightly taught: “the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10).

We might ask: if the Church’s missionary vitality has diminished in our time, if the witness of Christians in an increasingly godless world has become weaker, if our world has forgotten about God, is this perhaps because we who are supposed to be “the light of the world” (Mt 5:14) are not approaching the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed as we should, or not drawing sufficiently deeply from the font from which all her power flows so as to bring all to enjoy that “spring of water welling up to eternal life”? (Jn 4:14)

For Pope John Paul II, these were not questions but tragic results of the crisis of faith and of our betrayal of the Second Vatican Council. He said, in fact:

In this “new springtime” of Christianity there is an undeniable negative tendency, and the present document is meant to help overcome it. Missionary activity specifically directed “to the nations” (ad gentes) appears to be waning, and this tendency is certainly not in line with the directives of the Council and of subsequent statements of the Magisterium. Difficulties both internal and external have weakened the Church's missionary thrust toward non-Christians, a fact which must arouse concern among all who believe in Christ. For in the Church’s history, missionary drive has always been a sign of vitality, just as its lessening is a sign of a crisis of faith.

If this is indeed so, if the Church of our day is less zealous and efficacious in bringing people to Christ, one cause may be our own failure to participate in the Sacred Liturgy truly and efficaciously, which is perhaps itself due to a lack of proper liturgical formation—something that is a concern of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who said:

A liturgy detached from spiritual worship would risk becoming empty, declining from its Christian originality to a generic sacred sense, almost magical, and a hollow aestheticism. As an action of Christ, liturgy has an inner impulse to be transformed in the sentiments of Christ, and in this dynamism all reality is transfigured. “our daily life in our body, in the small things, must be inspired, profuse, immersed in the divine reality, it must become action together with God. This does not mean that we must always be thinking of God, but that we must really be penetrated by the reality of God so that our whole life...may be a liturgy, may be adoration.” (Benedict XVI, Lectio divina, Seminary of the Diocese of Rome, 15 February 2012)

It is necessary to unite a renewed willingness to go forward along the path indicated by the Council Fathers, as there remains much to be done for a correct and complete assimilation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy on the part of the baptized and ecclesial communities. I refer, in particular, to the commitment to a solid and organic liturgical initiation and formation, both of lay faithful as well as clergy and consecrated persons.

It may also be because too often the liturgy as it is celebrated is not celebrated faithfully and fully as the Church intends, effectively ‘short-changing’ or robbing us of the optimal ecclesial encounter with Christ that is the right of every baptised person.

Many liturgies are really nothing but a theatre, a worldly entertainment, with so many speeches and strange cries during the mystery that is celebrated, so much noise, so many dances and bodily movements that resemble our popular folk events. Instead the liturgy should be a time of personal encounter and intimacy with God. Africa, above all, and probably also Asia and Latin America, should reflect, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and with prudence and with the will to bring the Christian faithful to holiness, about their human ambition to inculturate the liturgy, in order to avoid superficiality, folklore and the auto-celebration of their culture. Each liturgical celebration must have God as its centre, and God alone, and our sanctification.

Today, the 10th anniversary of the coming into force of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI, also raises the question of the implementation of the liturgical reform called for by the Second Vatican Council and of what one might call the liturgical and pastoral ‘fallout’ of those years. They are not peripheral questions of importance only for liturgical specialists or of interest solely for so-called “traditionalists,” for, as Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 1997, “the true celebration of the Sacred Liturgy is the centre of any renewal of the Church whatever.”

THE PRIMACY OF GOD IN THE SACRED LITURGY

In the citation from Cardinal Ratzinger with which I opened this address, the Cardinal asks: “What happens if the habit of forgetting about God makes itself at home in the Liturgy itself and if in the Liturgy we are thinking only of ourselves?” This may seem to be a strange question, but it arises out of a real tendency in recent decades to plan and hold liturgical celebrations where the focus is mostly on the celebrating community, almost at times to the apparent exclusion of God. I say “apparent” because I do not wish to judge the intentions of those who promote or celebrate such anthropocentric liturgies: they themselves may be the victims of a poor or even deficient theological and liturgical formation.

Nevertheless, such celebrations are unacceptable because they reduce something which is of its very essence supernatural to the level of merely the natural, contrary to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (and before that of the Encyclical Mediator Dei of the Venerable Pius XII), that:

The liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of the man is signified by signs perceptible to the senses, and is effected in a way which corresponds with each of these signs; in the liturgy the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and His members.

From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7).

As I said in my 2016 address to Sacra Liturgia in London, England:

Catholic liturgy is the singularly privileged locus of Christ’s saving action in our world today, by means of real participation in which we receive His grace and strength which is so necessary for our perseverance and growth in the Christian life. It is the divinely instituted place where we come to fulfill our duty of offering sacrifice to God, of offering the One True Sacrifice. It is where we realise our profound need to worship Almighty God. Catholic liturgy is something sacred, something which is holy by its very nature. Catholic liturgy is no ordinary human gathering.

...God, not man is at the centre of Catholic liturgy. We come to worship Him. The liturgy is not about you and I; it is not where we celebrate our own identity or achievements or exalt or promote our own culture and local religious customs. The liturgy is first and foremost about God and what He has done for us. In His Divine Providence Almighty God founded the Church and instituted the Sacred Liturgy by means of which we are able to offer Him true worship in accordance with the New Covenant established by Christ.

Therefore, God must come first in every element of our liturgical celebration. It is for love of Him and so as to worship Him all the more fully that we set aside and consecrate people, places and things specifically for His service in the Sacred Liturgy. Our desire to “dare to do as much as we can” (cf. St Thomas Aquinas, Sequence of the Feast of Corpus Christi) in praising and adoring God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in the Sacred Liturgy, is itself an interior act of worship. It follows naturally that this disposition should be given external expression. And so our churches should be beautiful expressions our love of God, our liturgical ministers—ordained and lay—should expend time in training and preparation; all their liturgical actions, including their dress, should radiate reverence and awe for the divine mysteries which they have the privilege to serve and minister.

The ‘things’ we use in the liturgy should similarly tell of the primacy of God: nothing is too good, beautiful or precious for His service. Howsoever humble they must be according to the means at our disposal, our liturgical vessels, vestments and other items should be things of quality, worth and beauty that bespeak both the love and sacrifice we offer to Almighty God by means of them. So too our chant and music should raise our hearts and minds to Him, and not—as has happened altogether too frequently—merely reflect the human sentiments or mores that predominate in our society or culture.

You are aware that in recent years I have spoken often of the importance of the restoration of the priest and people facing East, of turning ad Deum or ad orientem during the Eucharistic liturgy. This posture is almost universally assumed in celebrations of the usus antiquior—the older form of the Roman rite—made freely available to all who wish to benefit from it by Pope Benedict XVI by means of Summorum Pontificum. But this ancient and beautiful practice, which speaks so eloquently of the primacy of Almighty God at the very heart of the Mass, is not restricted to the usus antiquior. This venerable practice is permitted, is perfectly appropriate and, I would insist, is pastorally advantageous in celebrations of the usus recentior—the more modern form of the Roman rite—as well.

Some may object that I am paying too much attention to the small details, to the minutiae, of the Sacred Liturgy. But as every husband and wife knows, in any loving relationship the smallest details are highly important, for it is in and through them that love is expressed and lived day after day. The ‘little things’ in a marriage express and protect the greater realities. So too in the liturgy: when its small rituals become routine and are no longer acts of worship which give expression to the realities of my heart and soul, when I no longer care to attend to its details, when I could do more to prepare and to celebrate the liturgy more worthily, more beautifully, but no longer want to, there is a grave danger that my love of Almighty God is growing cold. We must beware of this. Our small acts of love for God in carefully attending to the liturgy’s demands are very important. If we discount them, if we dismiss them as mere fussy details, we may well find, as sometimes very tragically happens in a marriage, that we have ‘grown apart’ from Christ—almost without noticing.

Cardinal Ratzinger insisted that “in any and every liturgical reform, and every liturgical celebration, the primacy of God should be kept in view first and foremost.” If we apply this principle in liturgical matters great and small God shall indeed have the primacy that is rightly His in the Sacred Liturgy. And he will enjoy the same primacy in our hearts and minds. Both our liturgical celebrations, and we ourselves, shall become the beautiful icons of His saving presence through which those who do not know Christ and His Church can find the beautiful path to salvation.

THE LITURGY IS SACRED

This ‘setting apart’ of created realities for the worship of Almighty God was something demanded of our Jewish ancestors by the Lord God Himself and was appropriately adopted by the Church in her earliest centuries as she came to enjoy the freedom to worship in public. We use the term “consecrated,” from the Latin verb sacrare—to make holy or to dedicate to a particular service—to describe the persons, places and things set apart for the worship of Almighty God.

Once these goods of God’s creation are thus consecrated they are no longer available for ordinary or profane use; they belong to God. This is true of the monk and the nun, of the deacon, priest and bishop and it is (or it should be) reflected in their very dress and comportment even when they are not ministering in the Sacred Liturgy. It is also true of all the various things, great and small, used for liturgical worship. One of the treasures of the usus antiquior is the large corpus of blessings and consecrations for items destined for liturgical use given in the Rituale Romanum and in the Pontificale Romanum. How moving it is to see the revival of the custom of a soon-to-be-ordained priest bringing his chalice and paten to a bishop for consecration before his ordination. And what a beautiful expression of faith and love it is when new items are generously offered for the worship of Almighty God and are brought to the priest to be given the Church’s blessing before they are used.

These small and too often forgotten rites and customs teach us eloquently that the liturgy is, as a whole, something essentially sacred, something set apart from our ordinary, day to day way of acting. Indeed, they remind us that in the Sacred Liturgy, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, it is God who is acting—not us (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7, cited above).

It is He who blesses us with his grace, with salvation, in our very midst in the Sacred Liturgy. As the Council teaches: “every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7).

And so when a celebration corresponds to what it must be constitutively, that is, to the "whole public worship" and to a "sacred action surpassing all others" (SC n ° 7), it can only manifest and promote the adoration of the One and Triune God, shine in the majesty of gestures and signs, express how it is not a mere human action, but "action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church" (SC n. 7), educate man to true life, which is fundamentally ordered to God (ordo ad Deum). This Primacy of the Absolute, of the Eternal, is found only in the humble awareness of priests and lay people that the liturgy is not the place for creativity or adaptation but the place of that which has been ‘already given’, where past, present and future touch each other in an instant that is in reality timeless.

Before the theophany of the burning bush the Lord instructed Moses: “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Ex. 3:5). The same injunction applies even more to the ongoing theophany of God made man for our salvation that takes place every throughout the world when the Sacred Liturgy is celebrated faithfully, according to the norms laid down by the Church.

But there is one important difference from the burning bush: we are invited to “come near”, we are invited to feast at the sacred sacrificial banquet of the Lord’s Body and Blood. This unprecedented invitation should not breed over-familiarity in us! Profound humility and awe before God are required if we are to participate fruitfully in the life-giving Supper of the Lamb, the fount of life (cf. Rev. 19:9).

This invitation should, however, bring forth our generosity. In response to the invitation to the Supper of the Lamb we are called to offer the Lord nothing less than our “first fruits” (cf. Prov. 3:9) both materially and spiritually. We can all contribute, according to our means and God-given talents, to the material of the liturgy. But let us never forget the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount that we must first be reconciled and liberated from all resentment by God before offering our gift at the altar (cf. Mt. 5:24). Indeed, all our external offerings, including what we give through any liturgical ministry we exercise, must be a reflection of our internal relationship with the Lord. They should arise in humility from the “acceptable sacrifice” of a “broken and contrite heart” of which the psalmist sings (cf. Ps. 50[51]:19). Otherwise there can be the danger of hollow ritualism, even of a form of ‘liturgical materialism’ or Phariseeism. What we give to God for the Sacred Liturgy, what we do in public service in His Church, must be the best that is possible, certainly, but they must be in complete harmony with our Christian life and mission so that our external liturgical actions are imbued with an integrity which is itself something holy, something sacred, and which itself sings of the glory of God alive and working in His Church in our day.

OUR RESPONSE TO ENCOUNTERING THE SACRED: SILENCE AND AWE

In the Book of Revelation we read that when the Lamb opened the seventh and final seal on the scroll, “there was silence in heaven for about half an hour” (Rev 8:1). Why this silence, coming after the cosmic upheaval ushered in by the opening of the sixth seal? Scholars tell us that this is the silence of expectation, of the anticipation of God’s vindicating judgement for the martyrs throughout Christian history. It is the silence of awe, of adoration, in the silent presence of Almighty God who is present and who is about to act.

When we encounter the sacred, when we come face to face with God, we naturally fall silent and kneel in adoration. We kneel in humble awe and in submission to our creator. We await His Word, His saving action, in awe and anticipation. These are fundamental dispositions for how we approach the Sacred Liturgy. If I am so full of myself and of the noise of the world that there is no space for silence within me, if human pride reigns in my heart so that it is only myself of whom I am in awe, then it is almost impossible for me to worship Almighty God, to hear His Word or to allow it space to take root in my life.

As Romano Guardini says: “If someone were to ask me what the liturgical life begins with, I should answer: with learning stillness. Without it, everything remains superficial, vain.” But what is silence? Silence is the calm of inner life, the depth of a hidden stream, it is the gathering presence, openness and availability. Only silence can build up what will support the sacred celebration, that is, the liturgical community, and create the space in which this celebration will come to fruition: the Church. It can be said without exaggeration that silence is the first act of sacred service.

Now, however, let us consider it from another point of view; silence involves a close relationship with the verbal act and with the Word itself. A word does not acquire the importance and the power that are proper to it unless it comes from silence, but the opposite is also true in this case: for silence to be fruitful and to acquire its creative power, it is necessary for the word to be expressed in a spoken word. Although much of the liturgy consists of words spoken by God or addressed to Him, it is always necessary to practice silence for the benefit of the word and to hush the noise in any liturgical celebration. Noise in fact kills the liturgy, kills prayer, tears us and exiles us far away from God, who does not speak at all in the impetuous wind and in the earthquake, whose force and violence break the mountains and break the rocks, but speaks with the voice of a subtle silence (cf. 1 Kg 19:12). The importance of silence for the sacred celebration cannot be underestimated, whether it is during its preparation or during its function. Silence reveals the inner source which begets the word that becomes prayer, praise and silent adoration.

Silence is the key: the silence of true humility before my Creator and Redeemer which expels false pride and shuts out the clamour of the world. The demands of my vocation may require much activity from me and even mean that I am surrounded by worldly noise from day to day. The gifts given to me by Almighty God may mean that I receive just praise for what I have been able to do in His service. But even in these circumstances it is possible to preserve the silence of true humility before the Lord. Indeed, this approach is absolutely necessary if I am to worship Him and not myself, or even no one at all.

Our liturgical rites themselves, as the Church’s realisation and celebration of the most sacred realities we shall encounter in this life, must be themselves imbued with this silence and awe of God. I speak more of their having texture of the numinous, of the transcendent than of imposing specific periods of silence, which can at times be artificial. For I can be silent of heart and mind and body and yet be caught up in the awe of God at the Sacred Liturgy: provided that is celebrated optimally with that ritual multivalency which facilitates this so well. The solemn celebration of the Holy Mass in the usus antiquior is an excellent paradigm for this, with its layers of rich content and the many different points of connectivity which the action of Christ affords us, and which allows us to achieve this silence of heart, mind and body. This is certainly a treasure with which it can enrich some of the more horizontal and noisy celebrations of the usus recentior.

So too, liturgical ministers must approach the liturgical rites they celebrate with the dispositions of awe, of reverence and of silence. We must be humble and show profound respect for the Sacred Liturgy as the Church has given it to us. The Second Vatican Council insists that, apart from duly constituted authority, “no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22 §3). It is not for us to rewrite the liturgical books out of our own pride or that of others who think they can do better than the Church. It is unfortunate that this temptation can be found amongst those who use the older liturgical books as well as the new. Unauthorised liturgical practices strike discordant notes in the symphony of the Church’s rites and produce a noise which disturbs souls. This is not creativity, nor is it truly pastoral. No: a fidelity grounded in humility, awe and silence of heart, mind and soul are what is required from each of us in respect of the Church’s rites. Let not the sin of liturgical pride take root in our souls!

When the prophet Elijah was called to meet the Lord at Horeb, “a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kg 19:11-12). And it was in this still, small voice that Elijah encountered the Lord. My brothers and sisters, it is imperative that we attend to this small voice as it speaks quietly, calmly and lovingly to us the Sacred Liturgy of the Church with that humility, silence and awe of God which will enable us to hear it and to live more fruitfully from His Word.

SILENCE OF THE HEART, MIND AND SOUL: THE KEY TO PARTICIPATION IN THE LITURGY

Silence of heart, mind and soul: are these not they key to achieving the great desire of the twentieth century liturgical movement and the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council: the full, conscious and actual participation in the Sacred Liturgy? (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 14) For how can I truly participate fruitfully in the Sacred Mysteries if my heart, my mind and my soul are blocked by the obstruction of sin, clouded by the commotion of this world, and burdened with things that are not of God?

Each of us needs the interior space into which to welcome the Lord who is at work in the rites of His holy Church. In the modern world this requires effort on our part. In the first place I must cleanse my soul, or rather to allow Almighty God to cleanse it, through the Sacrament of Penance celebrated frequently, integrally and in all humility. I cannot hope to draw deeply from “the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 14) when sin reigns in my heart.

Secondly, I must—somehow—manage to put aside, even if this must be temporary, the world and its constant demands. I cannot participate fully and fruitfully in the Sacred Liturgy if my focus is elsewhere. We all benefit from the advances of modern technology, but the many (maybe too many?) technological devices upon which we rely can enslave us in a constant stream of communication and demands for instant responses. We must leave this behind if we are to celebrate the liturgy properly. Perhaps it is very practical and convenient to pray the breviary with my own mobile phone or tablet or another electronic device, but it is not worthy: it desacralizes prayer. These apparatuses are not instruments consecrated and reserved to God, but we use them for God and also for profane things! Electronic devices must be turned off, or better still they can be left behind at home when we come to worship God. I have spoken previously of the unacceptability of taking photographs at the Sacred Liturgy, and of the particular scandal that this gives when it is done by clergy vested for liturgical service. We cannot focus on God if we are busy with something else. We cannot hear God speaking to us if we are already occupied communicating with someone else, or behaving as a photographer.

Nor can we attend to the voice of God, or properly prepare to do so, if our brothers and sisters in the church are themselves distracted, busy and noisy. This is why silence and calm is so important in our churches before, during and after liturgical celebrations. What hope have we of an interior focus on God if what we experience in our churches is yet more distraction and noise? I do not mean to exclude appropriate organ or other music, which can be an aid to silent prayer and contemplation and which can serve to ‘cover-up’ the incidental noise of people arriving, etc. But I do think that we need to make an effort so that our churches, and indeed the sacristy and the sanctuary of the church, are not places of chatter, rushing about in last minute preparation, or simply a social area. These are privileged loci where all our focus should be on what we are about to celebrate. We can (and rightly do) socialise afterwards, elsewhere. The prayerful silence of a church or sacristy should itself be a school of participatio actuosa, drawing all who enter it into that silence of heart, mind and soul which is so necessary if we are to receive all that Almighty God wishes to give us through the Sacred Liturgy. If some communication is truly necessary it should be done with awe and respect for where we are and for what we are about to do.

When I prepare to approach the altar of God, before I get there, I have to leave aside my preoccupations, howsoever heavy and worldly they may be. This is primarily an act of faith in God’s power and grace. It may be that I am utterly exhausted and distracted by the worldly duties I must perform. It may be that I am profoundly troubled for myself or for someone else. Perhaps I am suffering deeply from temptation or doubt, or are wounded by evil or injustice perpetrated against me or against our brothers and sisters in the faith. It is right that I persevere in bearing these burdens, certainly—that is an important part of my Christian vocation. But when I come to the Sacred Liturgy I must place them at the foot of the cross in faith, and leave them there. God knows the burdens I bear. He appreciates more than I do myself what it costs to shoulder them. And, in the silence of soul that placing my burdens at His feet creates, He wishes to communicate His love to me through the rites in which I am about to participate. He wishes to renew, even re-create, me so that I can fulfil the demands of my vocation with new strength and evangelical vigour.

Full, conscious and actual participation in the Sacred Liturgy is predicated on our capacity to participate, on our receptivity and acceptance to what Almighty God wishes to give to us. Our receptivity depends upon our docility, on our silence of heart, mind and soul. Achieving this personally, and in the places where we celebrate the Church’s rites, requires effort and discipline on our own part individually and on the part of pastors and rectors of churches. If we do not make this effort the Council’s desire for fruitful participatio actuosa will be frustrated. But when we are silent, when our hearts, minds and souls are humbly attuned to the work of the Lord that is the Sacred Liturgy, our encounter with Him shall enjoy an intimacy which cannot but bear fruit in our Christian lives and mission to the world.

SOME REFLECTIONS ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM

Before concluding I wish to offer some specific reflections on today’s 10th anniversary of the coming into force of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

The legislation governing the use of the usus antiquior of the Roman rite laid down by Pope Benedict XVI, in the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, declares that the ancient form of the Mass was never "abrogated," and states in the Letter to the Bishops on the occasion of the publication of the same document:

In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.

This has as its principal motivation the “matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church.” (Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops on the Occasion of the Publication of Summorum Pontificum, 7 July 2007)

Certainly, Summorum Pontificum’s establishment that the older rites of the Mass and the sacraments are to be freely available to all of Christ’s faithful who request them—laity, clergy and religious—was intended to, and has done much to end the scandal of the divisions in the Body of Christ on earth which had arisen because of the liturgical reform following the Council. As we know, there is more to do to achieve the reconciliation Pope Benedict XVI so desired, and which work Pope Francis has continued, and we must pray and work so to achieve that reconciliation for the good of souls, for the good of the Church and so that our Christian witness and mission to the world may be ever stronger.

Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to the bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum noted another phenomenon: “Young persons too have discovered this liturgical form,” he wrote. They have “felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them.” This is increasingly true around the world. It is a phenomenon which some of my own generation find very hard to understand. Yet I know and can personally testify to the sincerity and devotion of these young men and women, priests and laity. I rejoice in the numerous and good vocations to the priesthood and the religious life that arise from communities who celebrate the usus antiquior.

To those who have doubts about this would say: visit these communities and come to know them, most especially their young people. Open your hearts and minds to the faith of these young brothers and sisters of ours, and to the good that they do. They are neither nostalgic nor embittered nor encumbered by the ecclesiastical battles of recent decades; they are full of the joy of living the life of Christ amidst the challenges of the modern world. For those who still find this reality difficult, I would like to recall the advice of Gamaliel, the “teacher of the law, held in honour by all the people,” given to the Council of the High Priest when the Apostles were being persecuted: “...let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” (Acts 5:38-39)

I would like to add an appeal to pastors of souls and in particular to my brother bishops: these people, these communities have great need of our paternal care. We must not allow our own personal preferences or past misunderstandings to keep people attached to the older liturgical rites at a distance. We priests and bishops are called to be ministers and instruments of reconciliation and communion in the Church for all of Christ’s faithful, including those who desire to celebrate according to the older form of the Roman rite. Dear brother priests, dear brothers in the episcopate, I ask you humbly and in our common faith, following the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows” (Letter to the Bishops on the Occasion of the Publication of Summorum Pontificum, 7 July 2007).

The usus antiquior should be seen as a normal part of the life of the Church of the twenty-first century. Statistically it may well remain a small part of the Church’s life, as foreseen by Pope Benedict XVI, but it is not in any way inferior or ‘second-class’ because of that. There should be no competition between the more recent rites and the older ones of the one Roman rite: both should be a natural element of the life of the Church in our times. Christ calls us to unity, not division! We are brothers and sisters in the same faith no matter which form of the Roman rite we celebrate!

But there can be a relationship of mutual enrichment between the two forms. The issue of a more faithful implementation of the liturgical reform desired by the Fathers of the Council, about which I spoke in London last year, remains. This is sometimes called the question of a ‘reform of the reform,’ although that term scares some people. Whilst recognising the need to study and address the underlying issues, I prefer to speak of “positive enrichment” whereby positive elements in the older rites could enrich the new, and vice-versa.

For example, the silent praying of the offertory prayers and of the Roman canon might be practices that could enrich the modern rite today. In our world so full of words and more words more silence is what is necessary, even in the liturgy. The ritual silence at these parts of the Mass in the older rites is fecund: people’s spirits are able to soar heavenward because there is space which allows them so to do. The discipline of verbal and ritual ‘silence’ with which the usus antiquior rite is imbued and which enables the Lord to be heard more clearly is a treasure to be shared and valued in our manner of celebrating the usus recentior also. So too, the older missal may well profit from the addition of ferial Masses in Advent and the expansion of its lectionary on ferias, not by way of an imposition of the new upon the old so as somehow to ‘score points,’ but as a genuine enrichment and organic development of the rite for the glory of Almighty God and the good of souls.

I am aware that in this area there are many sensibilities and that we must not cause any further pastoral harm by making liturgical changes without careful study and due preparation and formation. I raise these simply as possibilities for consideration: there are many others that could be discussed.

In July I spoke of a possible future reconciliation between the two forms of the Roman rite. Some have interpreted this expression of personal opinion as the announcement of a programme that would end up in the future imposition of a hybrid rite which would bring about a compromise that would leave everybody unhappy and would abolish the usus antiquior by stealth, as it were. This interpretation is absolutely not what I intended. What I do wish to do is to encourage further thought and study on these questions in peace and tranquillity and in a spirit of prayerful discernment. There are improvements which can be made to both forms of the Roman rite in use today, and both forms can contribute to this in due course. Whether one prefers to speak of a reform of the reform, a positive enrichment or a liturgical reconciliation, the underlying realities remain and must be addressed calmly and in all due charity. No one, however, should fear that anything will be lost for, as Pope Benedict XVI insisted in his letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum, “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”

Let me also be very clear on another matter: in speaking of liturgical enrichment the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments is not advocating, let alone authorising, an à la carte approach to any liturgical books, old or new. Far from it! We must all have great patience whilst the Church considers what is best in these questions of future development and we must wait for authoritative rulings. As I noted above, we are not free to make decisions or to take action ourselves by changing what the liturgical books provide.

I would like to address a paternal word to all those attached to the older form of the Roman rite. It is this: some, if not many, people, call you “traditionalists.” Sometimes you even call yourselves “traditional Catholics” or hyphenate yourselves in a similar way. Please do this no longer. You do not belong in a box on the shelf or in a museum of curiosities. You are not traditionalists: you are Catholics of the Roman rite as am I and as is the Holy Father. You are not second-class or somehow peculiar members of the Catholic Church because of your life of worship and your spiritual practices, which were those of innumerable saints. You are called by God, as is every baptised person, to take your full place in the life and mission of the Church in the world of today, not to be shut up in—or worse, to retreat into—a ghetto in which defensiveness and introspection reign and stifle the Christian witness and mission to the world you too are called to give.

If ten years after coming into force Summorum Pontificum means anything, it means this. If you have not yet left behind the shackles of the ‘traditionalist ghetto,’ please do so today. Almighty God calls you to do this. No one will rob you of the usus antiquior of the Roman rite. But many will benefit, in this life and the next, from your faithful Christian witness which will have so much to offer given the profound formation in the faith that the ancient rites and the associated spiritual and doctrinal ambience has given you. As the Lord Himself teaches us in the Sermon on the Mount: “Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house” (Mt 5:15). This, my dear friends, is your true vocation. This is the mission to which, by bringing forth the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum in due time, Divine Providence calls you forth.

CONCLUSION

“Forgetting about God is the most imminent danger of our age” Cardinal Ratzinger wrote. My brothers and sisters, as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum and give thanks for the freedom and new life that it has brought to the Church’s worship and mission in the past decade, let us be in no doubt that we do indeed live in a godless age.

“As against this, the liturgy should be setting up a sign of God’s presence,” the Cardinal continued. There can be no doubt that the tangible sacrality of the usus antiquior of the Roman rite serves do this very well today, most particularly in its sung and solemn celebration. Additionally, its disciplined silent sacrality also serves to remind us that in every liturgical celebration of whatever use “the primacy of God should be kept in view first and foremost.”

Today, as we celebrate the most beautiful feast of the exaltation of the Holy Cross, and tomorrow as we kneel silently at the foot of the Cross with Our Lady of Sorrows, let us implore the Lord who mounted the Cross in sacrificial love for us that His Church may enjoy a profound and authentic renewal in her life of worship so that she may go forth from that sacred encounter into the world with renewed vigour to announce the good news that sin and death have been conquered by our Lord Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice on the cross has obtained for us the forgiveness of our sins and the hope of eternal life.

I thank you for your kind attention. I bless each one of you and your different apostolates, and I humbly ask your prayers and those of your communities for myself and for my ministry.

© Robert Cardinal Sarah
Prefect, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments