Saturday, August 30, 2008

Be living stones, not stumbling blocks

Saint Peter, inspired by the Heavenly Father, was a rock foundation for the Church when he confessed that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Now, instead, he knows the poverty of rebuke; he now serves only as an obstacle to salvation, a stumbling stone to trip the Lord and frustrate His path to Calvary.

Reborn in the sacrament of Baptism to share the Lord's life, it thus becomes our destiny to also share His Cross. Whether our crosses are the result of our own sins and failings or those of someone else, they remain ours to bear. Only in the Lord can life come from death. Only in the Lord's cross can our crosses become redemptive.

It thus remains our task to open ourselves to the Father's inspiration that we might bear our crosses uncomplainingly so that they will lead to the reward of eternal life. Borne in solidarity with the Lord's cross, in serenity and confidence flowing from trust in the Father's love, our via dolorosa becomes easier and we grow in servant love. The image and person of Christ through grace becomes a lived reality in our minds and hearts.

We each bear our crosses so that the fullness of His eternal Life and Love may be ours. The life of grace is serenity in bearing the cross in the full confidence that the reward of eternal joy will be ours in God whose love is stronger than death.

"Dying He destroyed our death, rising He restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory!" we cry out as we behold the Crucified One raised up in the hands of the priest, triumphant in the sacred Host of our communion at holy Mass. He goes before us to show us the way, the Cross leads us to Life!

It yet remained for Saint Peter to become a most wonderful and living stone, the foundation of the Church, in a marvelous configuration to the Lord's Cross through his martyrdom at Rome. Be not stumbling blocks of scandal in the path toward Christ. Be, rather, living stones building up the spiritual edifice of the Church!

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time.

(Martyrdom of St Peter, Masaccio,1426. Egg tempera on panel, Berlin, Staatliche Museum)

There is no confusion.

In the Chuch there is no confusion, and never has been, about the sanctity of life.

The Church from the first century has condemned procured abortion.

This is in distinction from theological debates about ensoulment, which never affected the Church's teaching on the sanctity of human life from the womb.

As we hear from Archbishop Wuerl:

"We respect the right of elected officials such as Speaker Pelosi to address matters of public policy that are before them, but the interpretation of Catholic faith has rightfully been entrusted to the Catholic bishops. Given this responsibility to teach, it is important to make this correction for the record.

"The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear: the current teaching of the Catholic Church on human life and abortion is the same teaching as it was 2,000 years ago. The Catechism reads:

“ 'Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception…Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.' (Catechism, 2270-2271)

"The Catechism goes on to quote the Didache, a treatise that dates to the first century: ’You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.’

"From the beginning, the Catholic Church has respected the dignity of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death."

In the same way, though today the Church does not know exactly when the soul leaves the body, the Church insists that human remains be treated with dignity and respect, whether cremated or not.

Unfortunately it is all too clear that the only confusion is on the part of those, like Mrs. Pelosi, who fail to make the proper distinction between conjecture on when the soul enters the body of a child in the womb and the sanctity of every human life from conception regardless, and entirely distinct from, our human inability to determine when ensoulment takes place.

(Photo: Image of six week unborn child whose life is sacred, because created in God's image and likeness, regardless of whether or not one can prove the child has yet been given a soul by the Creator.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Killing Christians to stop development and dignity of tribal peoples and Dalits

Orissa, India

by Father Augustine Kanjamala, Svd

A sociological expert reveals the motives at the base of the recurring violence against the Christians: the conversions to Christianity, the instruction, the emancipation of rescuing tribals outside the cast of slavery. Hindu Fundamentalism wishes to stop the search for greater justice and the ongoing social transformations.

Requiescat in pace: Thomas Pandippally, Martyr of a New Missionary Age

"It is my firm conviction that our missionary Church will flourish and missionaries will make a richer and more courageous contribution to the Church as a result of the martyrdom of our beloved Fr. Thomas."

Orissa: uccidere i cristiani per fermare sviluppo e dignità di tribali e Dalit
di P. Augustine Kanjamala, Svd
Un esperto sociologo rivela i motivi alla base delle ricorrenti violenze contro i cristiani: la conversione al cristianesimo, l’istruzione, l’emancipazione sottraggono tribali e fuori casta allo schiavismo. Il fondamentalismo indù frena la ricerca di maggior giustizia e le trasformazioni sociali in atto.

(Photo and story from

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Meeting Christ in the Eucharist: the right to refuse to give holy Communion

"Now, regarding the reception of Holy Communion, there is Our Lord Himself who is involved. There is the person who is receiving Holy Communion. Then there is the minister of the Sacrament, the one who has the responsibility to make sure that the Sacrament is distributed only to those who are properly disposed. Certainly the Church does have the right to tell someone who persists in public grave sin that he may not receive Holy Communion because he is not well disposed.

"That right of the minister to refuse to give Holy Communion to someone who persists in public and grave sin is safe guarded in the Code of Canon Law, under canon 915. Otherwise the minister of Communion would be put in the situation of violating his conscience regarding a most serious matter, when he sees a notorious sinner coming to receive Holy Communion to the scandal of everyone, and he is somehow told he does not have the right to refuse to give Holy Communion, in such a circumstance. That simply would be wrong."

-- Archbishop Charles Chaput, Denver, Colorado

(Photo: "Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life" by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Always gravely evil: "The evasions used to justify" abortion

His Excellency, the Most Reverend Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Denver, Colorado, on abortion:

"It is always gravely evil, and so are the evasions employed to justify it."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Who do you say that He is?

"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn't be a great moral teacher. He'd be either a lunatic- on a level with a man who says he's a poached egg - or else he'd be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse....But don't let us come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He hasn't left that open to us. He didn't intend to." --C. S. Lewis

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time.

(Art: Colossal mosaic of Christ, the Pantocrator, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

In Liturgy: Vatican Says "Yahweh" Not to Be Pronounced

Calls on Practice Used by 1st Christians

WASHINGTON, D.C., AUG. 19, 2008 ( A note from the Vatican has reiterated a directive that the name of God revealed in the tetragrammaton YHWH is not to be pronounced in Catholic liturgy.

Bishop Arthur Serratelli, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Divine Worship, in a note informing prelates of the Vatican directive, said the indications "do not force any changes to official liturgical texts," but might cause "some impact on the use of particular pieces of liturgical music in our country as well as in the composition of variable texts such as the general intercessions for the celebration of the Mass and the other sacraments."

Commonly used songs with phrases such as "Yahweh, I know you are near," will need to be modified.

The June 29 Vatican message, from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, clarified that the name of God revealed in YHWH was not pronounced by the first Christians, following the tradition already in use.

It explained: "The venerable biblical tradition of sacred Scripture, known as the Old Testament, displays a series of divine appellations, among which is the sacred name of God revealed in a tetragrammaton YHWH -- hwhw. As an expression of the infinite greatness and majesty of God, it was held to be unpronounceable and hence was replaced during the reading of sacred Scripture by means of the use of an alternate name: 'Adonai,' which means 'Lord.'

"The Greek translation of the Old Testament, the so called Septuagint, dating back to the last centuries prior to the Christian era, had regularly rendered the Hebrew tetragrammaton with the Greek word Kyrios, which means 'Lord.' Since the text of the Septuagint constituted the Bible of the first generation of Greek speaking Christians, in which language all the books of the New Testament were also written, these Christians, too, from the beginning never pronounced the divine tetragrammaton."


The Vatican goes on to note that this practice had "important implications" for New Testament Christology.

"When in fact, St. Paul, with regard to the crucifixion, writes that 'God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name" (Phil 2:9), he does not mean any other name than 'Lord,' for he continues by saying, 'and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord' (Phil 2:11; cf. Isaiah 42:8: 'I am the Lord; that is my name')," the Vatican note explained.

"The attribution of this title to the risen Christ corresponds exactly to the proclamation of his divinity," it continued. "The title in fact becomes interchangeable between the God of Israel and the Messiah of the Christian faith, even though it is not in fact one of the titles used for the Messiah of Israel."

"Avoiding pronouncing the tetragrammaton of the name of God on the part of the Church has therefore its own grounds," the Vatican concluded. "Apart from a motive of a purely philogical order, there is also that of remaining faithful to the Church's tradition, from the beginning, that the sacred tetragrammaton was never pronounced in the Christian context, nor translated into any of the languages into which the Bible was translated."

(Photo: The Incipit of the Canon taken from the Ambrosian Missal dated end XI-beginning XII century, Ambrosian Library, Milan.

Practicum on the
Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass
for Priests of the
Archdiocese of Washington

9, 10 and 11 September
10 am to 1 pm
Church of the Sacred Heart
La Plata, Maryland

To participate please email Fr Thomas LaHood

Monday, August 18, 2008

Assumpta est Maria in Caelum!

Prayer for the Octave of Our Lady's Assumption

Oremus. Subvéniat, Dómine, plebi tuæ Dei Genitrícis oratio: quam etsi pro conditióne carnis migrásse cognóscimus, in coelésti glória apud te pro nobis intercédere sentiámus. Per eúmdem Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum Fílium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti, Deus,
Per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.

Let us pray. May the prayer of the Mother of God aid Thy people, O Lord: and although we know her to have passed out of this life, fulfilling the lot of the flesh, may we experience her intercession for us with Thee in Heavenly glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God
Forever and ever.

(Photo: Catafalque of the Virgin, Dormition Abbey, Jerusalem.)

Saturday, August 16, 2008


The Canaanite woman confessed her faith; she called upon Christ as her "Master" and Lord.

You and I, too, must confess our faith that the graces of salvation might grow within us, bringing the healing from sin that leads to eternal life. Our belief in the divine Savior is not merely a private matter but rightly finds its expression in word and action. "O great is your faith. Let it be done for you as you desire."

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Art: Christ and the Canaanite woman, DRUAIS, Germain-Jean, 1784, Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fort Worth Episcopal Priests Seek Full Communion with Catholic Church

By Sam Hodges
The Dallas Morning News (

DALLAS, TX (Dallas Morning News) - A delegation of Episcopal priests from Fort Worth paid a visit to Catholic Bishop Kevin Vann earlier this summer, asking for guidance on how their highly conservative diocese might come into "full communion" with the Catholic Church.

Whether that portends a serious move to turn Fort Worth Episcopalians and their churches into Catholics and Catholic churches is a matter of dispute.

The Rev. William Crary, senior rector of the Fort Worth diocese, confirmed that on June 16 he and three other priests met with Bishop Vann, leader of the Fort Worth Catholic diocese, and presented him a document that is highly critical of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

The document states that the overwhelming majority of Episcopal clergy in the Fort Worth diocese favor pursuing an "active plan" to bring the diocese into full communion with the Catholic Church.

While declining to specify what that might mean, Mr. Crary said it likely would not mean "absorption" by the Catholic Church.

He cast the initiative as following Anglican and Catholic leaders in longstanding efforts to bring the two groups into greater cooperation, with the ultimate goal of honoring Jesus' call in John 17:21 for Christian unity.

"These discussions between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion have been going on for 42 years," he said. "We would like to bring these down to the local level."

But other local Episcopalians interpret the meeting and document differently.

"There's a very serious attempt on the part of Episcopal clergy in the Diocese of Forth Worth to petition Rome for some kind of recognition," said the Rev. Courtland Moore, who is retired as rector of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Arlington.

"They make it clear that they no longer believe there is truth in the Anglican Communion, and the only way they can find truth is reunion with Rome."

Mr. Moore is co-chairman of Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians, a group that wants the Fort Worth diocese to remain in the Episcopal Church. He obtained a copy of the document the priests gave to Bishop Vann and made it available to reporters.

The Fort Worth Diocese is one of the Episcopal Church's most conservative, having declined under Bishop Jack Iker to ordain women as priests and having strongly opposed acceptance of an openly gay Episcopal bishop.

The diocese has taken one of two votes necessary to leave the Episcopal Church and will vote again in November. Bishop Iker could not be reached for comment, but the document asserts he's supportive of the effort. Mr. Crary confirmed that. A spokesman for Bishop Vann confirmed the meeting.

This article, written by Sam Hodges, appeared in the August 12, 2008 edition of the Dallas Morning News and is used with permission at

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"YHWH: I know you are near", but do I know your name is holy?

On Friday, a friend of mine sent me a copy of a letter sent out by Cardinal Arinze at the CDW to the Presidents of Bishops' conferences around the world. Pope Benedict recently approved a directive which says that the literal Hebrew pronunciation of the name of God not be used in songs or prayers.

What is Rome talking about? The "Tetragrammaton". Confused? We're talking about the four Hebrew letters yod, heh, vav, and heh (יהוה) transliterated in English as "YHWH", and found in some translations of the Old Testament as well as the occasional hymn as "Yahweh". "Tetragrammaton" is a Greek word meaning "four letters", as in the 4 letters used to name God.

In books of Scripture written in Hebrew, the name is certainly written, but never pronounced phonetically. Instead, the word "Adonai" ("God") is substituted, or even the words "Ha Shem" (literally, "The Name") are used. For Jews, even to say the proper name of God would be a violation of the third commandment (or second commandment to Christians), taking God's name in vain. The only time it was used in Judaism was once per year by the High Priest during Yom Kippur, when he alone had the privilege of pronouncing God's authentic name while offering prayers of atonement on behalf of the people.

What a great chance this gives us to reflect on our use of the word, "God", in our culture and in our own vocabulary. Yes, lots of people come to confession and tell us that they've "used God's name in vain" (which is a sterilized way of saying they have a foul mouth), but in reality, most obscenities do not use the word, God, except for the one that most resembles, "Goshdarnit!" (use your imagination). How many times do we begin a sentence with, "O my God, that was the best (food) I've ever eaten!", or, "I swear to God, I saw (proper name) at the mall with (another proper name)." This is starting to look like Mad Libs, no? You get the idea.

So what does this mean? First of all, directive one says that the word "YHWH" is not to be used in liturgical celebrations. This would affect hymns like "You are Near", and, "Sing a New Song" (which has the line in the first verse about Yahweh's people dancing for joy). Honestly, I'm not shedding any tears in putting those songs out to pasture. The second directive says that in future translations of Scripture into vernacular languages, the word YHWH be translated as "God". It's hard to say what this will affect in the future, but looking to the past, I believe it is the New Jerusalem Bible that used "Yahweh" in translations of the Psalms. In short, words like "God" or "Lord" should be used, rather than God's proper name.

(Article by Father Jay Toborowsky at

See full Catholic News Service story here:

Auguri di buon ferragosto!

Happy August holidays to Italian friends and any others who take days away from home or work this month.

New items of interest may be posted at any time while mcitl takes a few days for reflection upon and enjoyment of the beauty of God as imaged forth in all that He has made.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

"Truly you are the Son of God."

Fall down in worship:

- Wear your "Sunday best" on Sunday.

- Make an attentive and devoted genuflection upon entering and before departing our churches and chapels where our Eucharistic Lord is present.

- Foster an interior spirit of adoration as you take part in the Communion rite of the Mass.

- Pause to make a profound bow before approaching the minister of communion or kneel to receive Him.

- If choosing to receive the Eucharist in the hand, do so by placing one hand flat upon the other, wait until the priest places the Host on your hand, and then place the Body of the Divine Savior upon your tongue.
Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Friday, August 8, 2008

Have eyes to see even a "flicker" of faith

At a question and answer session with Italian priests in recent days at Bressanone, Italy, where the Holy Father is spending a period of vacation, Fr. Paolo Ruzzi asked Pope Benedict for advice on how generous a priest should be in administering the sacraments of baptism and confirmation.

In answer, the Holy Father said, “When I was younger, I was more severe...
With time, I came to understand the importance of taking the path of mercy, following the example of the Lord, who welcomed even a flicker of desire for communion in the faith.”

He added, however, that this doesn’t mean the sacraments should be administered when faith is absent.

(Photo: Pope Benedict baptizes Magdi Allam, Mass of Easter Vigil 2008, Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome. Dario Pignatelli, Reuters.)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bravo, Bishop Burbidge!

Bishop Burbidge, right, with Father Parkersonof the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, has issued diocesan norms for the liturgy of Holy Mass, refreshing our memories to recall and better implement norms that have already been promulgated for the universal Church in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and other official documents.

General Norms for the Celebration of the Sacred Liturgy of the Mass in the Forma Ordinaria (the ordinary form of the Holy Mass as celebrated in most Catholic parish churches.)

pg.2 #6 Sacred silence prior to the beginning of a Sacred Liturgy

pg.2 #9 Faithful are encouraged to dress appropriately

pg.3 #13 Explains difference between lector and reader

pg.4 #18 All liturgical ministers should dress appropriately. T-shirts, shorts, tennis shoes and flip-flops are inappropriate

pg.5 Section 1.3 Sacred Texts
Liturgical Books

pg.5 #19, No approved texts are to be altered either by the priest or by the assembly…

pg.6 Section 1.2.3, The use of Latin and languages particular to the assembly

pg.6 #26 is laudable that the faithful be familiar with the acclamations and other prayers in Latin, namely the Gloria, the Sanctus, the Credo, the Pater Noster, and the Agnus Dei. Pastors are instructed to be pastorally judicious in forming the faithful in the use of these ancient sacred texts of the Mass.

pg.7 Section 1.5, Sacred Vessels
Outlines what materials the vessels can be made of.

pg.9 Section 1.7, Liturgical Music
pg.9 #42 It is laudable that the processional hymn or introit, the acclamations, the dialogues, and the litanies of the Mass be sung…even when musical accompaniment is not possible.

pg.9 #43 ...The use of simple chant is laudable given that Gregorian chant holds pride of place in the Sacred Liturgy.

pg.9 Section 1.8 Use of Incense
pp.9-10 #46, ...Incense is customarily used during celebrations of the Sacred Liturgy on Sundays…

pg.10 Section 1.9 Use of Bells
pg.10 #50, ...The use of bells during the Liturgy of the Eucharist is recommended…

pg.15 Section 4.3, Communion Rite
pg.15 #79 While it may be a custom in some place to hold hands as the Our Father is prayed, this gesture is not encouraged, as the reception of Holy Communion is the sign and bond of unity of the Church at prayer.

pg.17 Section 4.3.2 Posture and Gestures for Reception of the Holy Eucharist by the Faithful in the Assembly

pg.17 #92, The normative posture for the reception of the Holy Communion in the Dioceses of the United States is standing. However, communicants are not to be denied Holy Communion because they kneel.

pg.18 Section 4.3.3,Purification of the Sacred Vessels
pg.18 #97 Sacred vessels may only be purified by a priest, deacon, or an instituted acolyte.

pg.21 Section 6.2, Sacred Images
pg.21 #111, A cross adorned with the image of the Crucified Lord is to be…located on or near the altar...

pg.21 Section 6.4, Parochial Liturgical Formation
pg.21 #114 Liturgical formation is encouraged for the faithful in parishes. Among the formation topics, the following are recommended: The significance of the Eucharist in the life of a Catholic, the Eucharist and the Paschal Mystery, the Real Presence in the Eucharist and the Mass, Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, the right disposition of the faithful before Mass, active participation during Mass, posture during Mass, purification of sacred vessels, and sacred images and devotions in Roman Catholic worship.

The full document is available here:

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Paulus VI, Pontifex Primus, Requiescat in pace

30th Anniversary of Death of His Holiness Pope Paul VI, 5 August 1978

"Yet Humanae vitae was not a stubborn, willful decision. It was the work of a pastor deeply concerned by the erosion of moral values. Throughout his life, Paul was an ascetic—a dedicated worker who pushed his frail body regularly through a schedule that lasted from 6 in the morning until midnight, with little more than his meals and a siesta to break the day. Abstinent himself, he worried much and cautioned often about society's move away from traditional family patterns and its increasing self-indulgence. He warned that the rise of militant feminism risked 'either masculinizing or depersonalizing women' and condemned 'the most cunning aggression of conscience through pornography.' "

Time Magazine, 14 August 1978

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pauline Year Plenary Indulgence


On the occasion of the Pauline Year that will open on 28 June, the eve of the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul, Pope Benedict XVI has granted special Indulgences to the faithful as is explained in the Decree Urbis et Orbis, issued by the Apostolic Penitentiary and dated 10 May. The following is a translation of the Decree, which was published in Latin and in Italian.

Special Indulgences granted on the occasion of the 2000th anniversary of the birth of the Holy Apostle Paul.

In the imminence of the liturgical Solemnity of the Princes of the Apostles, motivated by pastoral solicitude the Supreme Pontiff intends to provide promptly for spiritual treasures to be granted to the faithful for their sanctification, so that on this pious and happy occasion, from First Vespers of the Solemnity mentioned, they may renew and reinforce with even greater fervour intentions of supernatural salvation, principally in honour of the Apostle to the Gentiles, the 2000th anniversary of whose birth on earth is now approaching.

The gift of Indulgences which the Roman Pontiff offers to the universal Church, truly smoothes the way to attaining a supreme degree of inner purification which, while honouring the Blessed Apostle Paul, exalts the supernatural life in the hearts of the faithful and gently encourages them to do good deeds.

Therefore, this Apostolic Penitentiary, to which the Holy Father has entrusted the task of the preparation and compilation of the Decree on the granting and obtaining of Indulgences that will be valid for the duration of the Pauline Year, benevolently bestows with this Decree issued in conformity with the desire of the August Pontiff, the following graces listed:

I. Each and every truly repentant individual member of the Christian faithful, duly absolved through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and restored with Holy Communion, who devoutly makes a pilgrimage to the Papal Basilica of St Paul on the Ostian Way and who prays for the Supreme Pontiff's intentions, will be granted the Plenary Indulgence from temporal punishment for his/her sins, once sacramental forgiveness and pardon for any shortcomings has been obtained.

The Christian faithful may benefit from the Plenary Indulgence both for themselves and for the deceased, as many times as they fulfil the required conditions but without prejudice to the norm stipulating that the Plenary Indulgence may be obtained only once a day.

In order that the prayer raised on this holy visit may lead and invite the souls of the faithful to venerate more intensely the memory of St Paul, the following has been established: the faithful, in addition to raising their own supplications before the altar of the Most Blessed Sacrament, each one according to his own devotion, must go to the altar of the Confessio and devoutly recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding pious invocations in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Paul. And may this devotion always be closely united to the memory of the Prince of the Apostles, St Peter.

II. The Christian faithful of the various local Churches, having fulfilled the required conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion, prayers for the Supreme Pontiff's intentions) and in a spirit of total detachment from any inclination to sin, may benefit from the Plenary Indulgence if they take part devoutly in a sacred function or in a pious public exercise in
honour of the Apostle to the Gentiles; on the days of the solemn opening and closure of the Pauline Year, in all the sacred places; on other days specified by the local Ordinary, in holy places dedicated to St Paul and, for the convenience of the faithful, in other places designated by the same Ordinary.

III. Lastly, the faithful prevented by illness or another legitimate and important cause, always in a spirit of detachment from any inclination to sin, with the intention of fulfilling the usual conditions as soon as possible, will also be able to obtain the Plenary Indulgence, as long as they spiritually join in a Jubilee celebration in honour of St Paul, offering their prayers and sufferings to God for Christian unity. In order that the faithful may more easily share in these heavenly favours, may the priests approved by the competent ecclesiastical authority for hearing confessions prepare promptly and generously to receive them. This Decree is effective for the whole of the Pauline Year. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary.

Given in Rome, at the Offices of the Apostolic Penitentiary, 10 May, in the Year of the Incarnation of the Lord 2008, on the eve of Pentecost.

Cardinal James Francis Stafford
Major Penitentiary

† Fr Gianfranco Girotti, O.F.M.Conv.
Titular Bishop of Meta
L. + S.
Prot. N. 459/07/I

Celebrate the Pauline Year, 29 June 2008- 29 June 2009.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Pauline Year Travelogue: Tre Fontane

The Church of St. Paul of Three Fountains was raised over the spot where St. Paul was beheaded by order of Emperor Nero on 29 September, ca. AD 67. Tradition says that the head, once severed from the body, bounced, striking the earth in three different places from which fountains sprang up, which flow to the present day and are located within the sanctuary itself.

"Historians in fact situate the birth of Saul -- who later became Paul -- about seven to 10 years after Christ's," the Holy Father noted. "Thus, after the passage of about 2,000 years, I wanted to call this special jubilee, which will naturally have Rome as its center, especially the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and the place of martyrdom at Tre Fontane."

-Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Message, 29 June 2008

The apse of the church.
The column of Saint Paul's martyrdom.

Celebrate the Pauline Year, 29 June 2008- 29 June 2009.

(Photos: Wikipedia.)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

"You give them something"

...They need not go away." Matthew 14.

What is this which the Lord commands that the Apostles give to the others? It begins with a few loaves and fish but ends with an abundance that feeds the hungry thousands with plenty left over. The little they have does not accomplish this; only with the power of God has this been done.

They are sent, then, to give Him to others. Their words, presence and energies are to be multiplied by grace so that the many can be "fed" by God Himself with a life that is not from "bread alone".

There is another "Bread", not from themselves but something received from Another. The Lord sends some to give to others this "something" in order that they "need got go away". We cannot give what we do not have.

The Apostles have been given by Christ that which they did not have before: the grace of the Lord Himself. And this grace is sufficient that they are able to obey His command to "give" something to the others. It is also true that this gift which the Lord sends them to give is something that the multitudes cannot find should they go away even to the ends of the earth.

Jesus the Lord is this "Gift" which is given abundantly, all over the world, as the apostles of today celebrate the feast of the "Bread of Life".

Lord, truly give us to eat of this Bread that we may never hunger or thirst for You again.
+ mcitl

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

(Photo: Paleo-Christian mosaic, Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes at Tabgha, Galilee.)

Friday, August 1, 2008

"Recouping" the Sacred

"Why Ratzinger is recouping the sacred"

by Marco Politi in La Repubblica

The signal was unmistakable. First Corpus Christi in Rome, then seen live all over the word from Sydney. Benedict XVI is demanding that, before him, Communion be received on one’s knees. It is one of many reclamations of this pontificate: Latin, the "Tridentine" Mass, celebration with the back to the faithful (+ mcitl: better put, celebration with all the faithful, including the priest, facing God together).

Pope Ratzinger has a plan and the Sri Lankan [Archbishop] Malcolm Ranjith, whom the Pontiff wanted with him in the Vatican as Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, lays it out with efficacy.

Attention to liturgy, he explains, has the objective of an "openness to the transcendent". At the request of the Pope, Ranjith states in advance, the Congregation for Divine Worship is preparing a Compendium on the Eucharist to help priests to "prepare themselves well for Eucharistic celebration and adoration".

Does Communion kneeling aim in this direction?

"In the liturgy one feels the necessity to recover the sense of the sacred, above all in Eucharistic celebration. Since we believe that what happens at the altar goes far beyond what we can humanly imagine. And so the faith of the Church in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species is expressed through adequate gestures and comportments different from those of daily life".

Indicating a discontinuity?

"We are not in front of a political figure or a personage of modern society, but before God. When the presence of eternal God descends on the altar, we must place ourselves in a posture more apt for adoring It. In my culture, in Sri Lanka, we ought to prostrate ourselves with head to the pavement as the buddhists and muslims do in prayer."

Does putting the Host in the hand diminish the sense of transcendence of the Eucharist?

"Yes, in a certain sense. It risks that the communicant feels It to be as normal bread. The Holy Father speaks often of the necessity of safeguarding the sense of 'otherness' in the liturgy in its every expression. The gesture of taking the Sacred Host and putting it ourselves in the mouth and not receiving It reduces the profound meaning of Communion."

Is there a desire to oppose trends that banalize the Mass?

"In some places that sense of the eternal, sacred or heavenly has been lost. There was a tendency to put man at the center of the celebration, and not the Lord. But the Second Vatican Council speaks clearly about the liturgy as actio Dei, actio Christi. Instead, in certain liturgical circles, either for an ideology or a certain intellectualism as you please, the idea spread of a liturgy adaptable to various situations, in which one had to leave room for creativity, so that it be accessible and acceptable to all. Then, rather, there were those who introduced innovations without even respecting the sensus fidei and the spiritual sentiments of the faithful."

At times even bishops grap the microphone and go out to their listeners with questions and answers.

"The modern danger is that the priest thinks that he is at the center of the action. In that way the rite can take on an aspect of theatre or the performance of a television host. The celebrant sees the people who see him as the point of reference and there is a risk that, to have the greatest success possible with the public, he makes up gestures and expressions as if he were the main character."

What would be the right attitude?

"When the priest knows that it is not he at the center, but Christ. In humble service to the Lord and the Church respecting the liturgy and its rules, as something to be received and not to be invented, it means leaving greater room for the Lord, because through the priest as the instrument He can spark the awareness of the faithful."

Are sermons by lay people also deviations?

"Yes. Because the sermon, as the Holy Father says, is the way in which Revelation and the great Tradition of the Church is explained, so that the Word of God can inspire the life of the faithful in their daily choices and render the liturgical celebration rich with spiritual fruits. The liturgical tradition of the Church reserves the sermon to the celebrant. To bishops, to priests, and to deacons. But not to laypeople."

Absolutely not?

"Not because they are not capable of making a reflection, but because in the liturgy roles must be respected. There exists, as the Council said, a difference ‘in essence and not only in grade' between the common priesthood of all the baptized and that of priests".

Some time ago Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) was complaining about the loss in the rites of the sense of mystery.

"Often the conciliar reform was interpreted or considered in a way not entirely in conformity with the mind of Vatican II. The Holy Father defines this tendency as the ‘anti-spirit’ of the Council.

A year now since the full reintroduction of the Tridentine Mass (Extraordinary Form or EF), what is the assessment?

"The Tridentine Mass (EF) has its very profound internal values which reflect the whole tradition of the Church. There is more respect toward the sacred through gestures, genuflections, the times of silence. There is greater room reserved for reflection on the action of the Lord and also for the celebrant’s personal sense of devotion, who offers the sacrifice not only for the faithful but also for his own sins and his own salvation. Some important elements of the old rite can help also a reflection on the manner of celebrating the Novus Ordo (Ordinary Form). We are in the midst of a journey."

Some day in the future is there foreseen a rite that takes the best of the old and of the new?

"That could be, ... but perhaps I don’t see that. I think that in the coming decades we will move toward a comprehensive evaluation both of the older rite and of the new, safeguarding whatever is eternal and supernatural happening at the altar and reducing every desire to be the in the limelight so as to leave space for effective contact between the faithful and the Lord through the figure, but not predominantly, of the priest."

With alternative positions of the celebrant? When the priest would be turned around toward the apse?

"You could consider the offertory, when the offerings are brought to the priest, and from there all the way to the Eucharistic prayer, which represents the culminating moment of "transsubstantiatio" and "communio".

The priest who turns his back disorients the faithful.

"It is a mistake to speak in that way. On the contrary, he is turned to the Lord together with the people. The Holy Father, in his book The Spirit of the Council, explained that when people are sitting around looking at each other, a closed circle is formed. But when the priest and the faithful together a looking to the East, toward the Lord who comes, that is a way of opening up to the eternal".

In this view you put also the rehabilitation (recupero) of Latin?

"I don’t like the word ‘rehabilitation’. We are implementing the Second Vatican Council, which explicitly affirmed that the use of the Latin language, except in the case of particular law, was to be preserved in the Latin Rites. So, if room was also left for the introduction of vernacular languages, Latin wasn’t to be completely abandoned. The use of a sacred language is a tradition in the whole world. In Hinduism the language of prayer is Sanskrit, which isn’t in use anymore. In Buddhism Pali is used, a language which only Buddist monks study. In Islam the Arabic of the Koran is used. The use of a sacred language helps us to a lived experience of 'otherness'".

Latin as the sacred language of the Church?

"Of course. The Holy Father himself speaks in his Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum caritatis in paragraph 62: '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, that, with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, it is fitting that such liturgies be celebrated in Latin.' Of course, in during international gatherings."

What does Benedict XVI want to accomplish, giving new force back to the liturgy?

"The Pope wants to offer the possibility of arriving at the wonder of life in Christ, a life that in the very living here on earth already leads us to sense the freedom and the eternity belonging to the children of God. And this kind of experience is lived powerfully through an authentic renewal of the faith which presupposes a foretaste of the heavenly reality in the liturgy one believes in, one celebrates and one lives. The Church is, and must become, the powerful instrument and the means for this liberating liturgical experience. And it is her liturgy that makes it possible to spark such an experience in her faithful".