Potpourri of Popery, Is Lent Over Yet? Edition

Papal Teaching
  • First things first: bookmark this site to keep up with the Holy Father's Holy Week doings.
  • The Angelus is here.
  • Homily (Italian only so far, but news account here) at the parish of St. Felicity & the martyred sons. About which more below.
This morning's Audience covered St. Irenaeus of Lyon and apostolic succession (look for the transcript this evening). The saint confronted gnosticism, with its dualism and attendant pessimism (sounds familiar), offering at the same time both a clear, rational explanation of the faith and insistence that the faith is not the exclusive provenance of intellectuals. B16 also highlighted three qualities of capital-T Tradition. It's public --accessible to all. It's "one," meaning it has a specific content, notwithstanding variations of language and culture. And its content is not of men:
the apostolic tradition is, in the Greek word “pneumatic”, because, through it, the Holy Spirit continues to enliven and renew the Church even today”. “It is not a case of the transmission of faith being entrusted to men who are more or less capable, but it is the Spirit of God who guarantees the truth of faith”. At the same time this also guarantees a “freshness” of the Church. In short “a precious deposit, held within a valuable vase, which renews itself continuously also renewing the vase which contains it.”
It's living water we want, not the cup that holds it, but you can't drink the water without the cup.

  • As mentioned here previously, B16 met this week with 130,000 of his friends the "cielini," meaning members of C&L, a "new movement" founded by the Pope's friend, Luigi Giusanni. Reading his address to them, you can understand why the two men would have loved each other. They share a sensibility:
Through him the Holy Spirit aroused in the Church a movement -- yours -- that would witness the beauty of being Christians in an epoch in which the opinion was spreading that Christianity was something tiresome and oppressive to live. Father Giussani, then, set himself to reawaken in the youth the love for Christ, the way, the truth and the life, repeating that only he is the road toward the realization of the deepest desires of man's heart; and that Christ saves us not despite our humanity, but through it. As I recalled in the homily at his funeral, this courageous priest, who grew up in a home poor in bread but rich in music, as he himself liked to say, right from the start was touched, or rather wounded by the desire for beauty, and not any kind of beauty, but he was searching for beauty itself, the infinite beauty that he found in Christ.
In one of his book-long interviews, I've forgotten now which (Salt of the Earth?), then-Cardinal Ratzinger makes an extended digression into the Franciscan charism, showing how the history of that order exemplifies the dynamic and hopefully fruitful tension between giving movements a form, which we need as human beings, and not reducing the movement to the form (and thus to formulae), which will crush the beauty out of it. He sees this as a basic struggle of Christian life (the Church itself being a movement), even for the individual: how to keep the freshness of "first love" in the midst of routine. This is a theme B16 re-iterates every time the topic of "new movements" comes up. He's always reminding pastors to support the movements and movements to build up the Church:
In this regard, during a recent meeting with the clergy and parish priests of Rome, recalling St. Paul's invitation in the first letter to the Thessalonians not to quench the charisms, I said that if the Lord gives us new gifts we ought to be grateful, even though they can be uncomfortable together. At the same time, since the Church is one, if the movements are really gifts of the Holy Spirit, they must insert themselves more into the community of the Church, thus in patient dialogue with the pastors they can constitute constructive elements for today's Church and tomorrow's.
  • On the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the Pope more or less let the EU have it, noting not only its demographic decline and truculent Christophobia, but also the contradiction inherent in its programme:

Is it not surprising that today's Europe, while hoping to be seen as a community of values, more and more seems to contest that universal and absolute values exist?Does not this unique form of "apostasy" from itself, before even from God, lead to doubts about its identity?

In this way, one ends up spreading the conviction that the "weighing of goods" is the only way to moral discernment and that common good is synonymous with compromise. In reality, if compromise constitutes a legitimate equilibrium between different particular interests, it becomes a common evil every time it is made up of agreements damaging the nature of man.

A community built without respecting the true dignity of the human being, forgetting that each person is created in the image of God, ends up not doing good for anybody.

Evidently B16 shares my view of the EU, however much more courteously he puts it! But fear not, Christians:

Dear friends, I know how difficult it is for Christians to strenuously defend this truth about the person. However do not tire of this and do not be discouraged! You know that you have the duty to contribute to building with God's help a new Europe, realistic but not cynical, rich in ideals and free of naïve illusions, inspired by the perennial and life-giving truth of the Gospel.
Therefore, you must be present in an active way in the public debate on a European level, knowing that this debate is now an integral part of the national debate, and along with this commitment there must be effective cultural action.
Do not bend to the logic of power as an end in itself! May Christ's admonition be a constant stimulus and support for you: "If the salt loses its flavor (…) It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men."

So, this salt of the earth thing. How do we accomplish it? Fr. Thomas Williams, LC, interviewed about his excellent new book (I'm halfway through), which offers practical advice. Two nuggets:
we need to sweep away some common misconceptions. God's will is not simply a blueprint he has made for our lives, like a well-meaning but overbearing father who desperately wants his daughter to be a lawyer. God's will is simply another name for God's love for us. Because he loves us, he wants only good things -- the best things -- for us. He asks certain things from us not because he needs them, but because we need them. He points out the road to true happiness, and allows us to share in his own life and work.
Holiness can seem boring, unreachable, even fanatical. In reality, it is the greatest adventure of human existence. We often think we know all about the Christian spiritual life, but we see it only as a caricature. It is actually much richer, fuller and more exciting than what we imagine. Holiness is found not in seeking to perfect ourselves -- picking away at faults and storing up spiritual credit. It is about forgetting ourselves, discovering how intensely and passionately God loves us, and in loving God and neighbor as a response.

  • Rome & points West. The Pope mentioned hell in the most innocuous way in that homily linked above (eg: God wants us all in heaven, not hell). The press is shocked, shocked, that he could use the word, as Insight Scoop documents amusingly. See also Fr. Schall's "The Brighter Side of Hell," in which he says hellfire and brimstone are good things.
  • Oz: NCRegister interviews our hero, Cardinal Pell. They asked him whether he agrees with the papal household's retreat master that Algore is the antichrist.
  • Iraq: young Christians gathered with the Pope via satellite.
  • Pakistan: mob tortures Christian for "defacing Koran."
  • Israel: not coming to tomorrow's meeting at the Vatican after all.
  • Lebanon: Samir Khalil Samir, SJ continues his series on Europe's multiculturalism and Islam.
    We Westerners do not realize that affirming our identity is what helps Muslims too to have the courage to speak clearly, to begin a reform of Islam and to stand in the way of fanaticism and fundamentalism.

Hah! As we've said right here, the Pope may be the best defender of Islam.

And finally: motu proprio gossip is ratcheting up again. Gitcher free rumors here. And: Lourdes water: what's it worth to you?