Potpourri of Popery, Gaudete Edition


This morning’s Audience was a reflection on Christmas, of course.
It is not hard to imagine how they [Joseph & Mary] spent the final days of their wait to hold the newborn child in their arms.” May their approach become ours, so that “born among us, he will not find us distracted or simply embellishing our homes with lights”. Rather let us prepare our hearts to welcome the “advent of Christ, the only redeemer of man and all mankind” in a worthy manner.
I think the Pope favors nativity scenes, however:
In a few days, it is Christmas and I imagine that final preparations for the crib are under way in your homes, that depiction of the Nativity that remains as striking as ever. I hope that such an important element, not only of our spirituality but also of our culture and art, will continue to be a simple and eloquent way of recalling he who came to ‘live among us’.
On Gaudete Sunday, the Pope prayed especially for the suffering Church –young people in alienation, Christians all over the world who are suffering:

We cannot fail to confront today's liturgy and its invitation -- "Rejoice!" -- with these tragic realities.

As at the time of the prophet Zephaniah, the Word of the Lord is addressed precisely to those who are being tested, "to life's wounded and orphans of joy." The invitation to joy is not an alienating message, or a sterile palliative, but rather a prophecy of salvation, an appeal for rescue that starts with inner renewal.

To transform the world, God chose a humble maiden from a town of Galilee, Mary of Nazareth, and called her with this greeting: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you." In these words is found the secret of the authentic Christmas. God repeats them to the Church and to each one of us. Rejoice, the Lord is at hand!

Let’s do keep our fellow Christians in prayer this Christmas. Those living Advent as refugees from their home country. Or as refugees in their own country. In Mosul they’re being threatened by sharia, including attacks on --soap?!
soap is forbidden, because “it did not exist in Muhammad’s time.”
Insert your own caustic comment here. One Christian cleric laments:
We are living the period of Advent, the happiest of the whole year, as if we were in prison. The world is preparing to celebrate while we prepare to die. Who will listen to our cries, who can help us now that we feel like strangers in our own homeland?

Whatever one thinks about the war in Iraq, one can't deny the Vatican was right about what would happen to Christians there.
Here's an interesting cultural tidbit:
The Patriarch of Babylon for Chaldeans, Emmanuel III Delly, urged all Chaldeans of the world to observe the “Bautha” fast of Nineveh (a feature of the Assyrian liturgy to commemorate the fasting of residents of Nineveh during the time of the prophet Jonah) on 18 and 19 December “so that the Lord may concede the gift of peace to our Iraq,
(Mosul roughly corresponds to Ninevah of old.) Meanwhile, in Indonesia, 18,000 policemen are being deployed to protect Churches under threat of Christmas attack.

On the lighter side, the Pope’s Christmas gift to the Christians of the Holy Land is a cool million euros to construct a new pastoral center in Nazareth (where there currently is none –which means pilgrims tend to short-change all the sites of Christ’s public ministry, which are well worth exploring.) And Taiwan has the first Vatican art exhibit on Chinese soil. Even the Red Chinese have to admit Roman Catholicism is growing in their country (which perhaps explains the recent crackdown).

I always find what the Pope says to various ambassadors interesting. They’re boilerplate, of course, but he always finds something to praise in every country –and not always the same things—and he always has a tailor-made word of advice, too. To the new guy from Krygyztan, for example, he says:
As the Kyrgyz Republic continues to forge its national identity, it must be borne in mind that the important component of economic development contains a moral aspect, of crucial importance to the well-being and peaceful progress of a nation.
What he emphasizes to Uganda is quite different.
  • But if you have to choose one item from the potpourri this week, do read this lecture on the Pope’s thinking from the Vicar’s vicar (Cardinal Ruini, the vicar of Christ’s vicar for Rome). Scroll down past the commentary for the text. It's a print and meditate on kind of thing.