Potpourri of Popery, Post-Syndodal Exortation Edition!

It's the feast of St. Matilda, mother of Otto I, emperor of Germany, and St. Bruno, among many others (she's the patroness of parents of large families). She's also sometimes called Maude, which is interesting --Maude being a form of Magdalene; I wouldn't have guessed a connection between Matilda & Magdalene.

Papal Teaching
In case you missed it (and if so, where have you been?), Sacramentum Caritatis is out. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I note the hilarious headlines in the MSM. Such as WaTi's Pope Stands Ground On Abortion, Gay 'Marriage.' "Pope: Still Catholic" is always news, I guess. The document is a lengthy meditation on the Eucharist, but try to find a graf about that in any of the coverage.
  • One Fr. Z. seems to have caught an instance of poor translation in English --watering down the intensity of the Pope's call for the re-introduction of Latin.
The Pope addressed the need for continual conversion in Sunday's Angelus, drawing on Christ's teaching that tragedies aren't God's judgment on sinners, but simply the death that comes to all. As such, they're an invitation to all of us:

In the face of certain misfortunes, he advises, it is no good to blame the victims. What is truly wise, rather, consists in allowing oneself to be questioned by the precariousness of existence and to adopt an attitude of responsibility: to do penance and improve our lives. [snip]

In fact, people and societies that live without questioning themselves have ruin as their only final end. Conversion, on the contrary, despite the fact it does not preserve us from problems and adversities, enables us to address them in a different "way." Above all it helps to prevent evil, and to neutralize some of its threats. And, in any case, it enables us to overcome evil with good, though not always at the level of events, which at times are independent of our will, certainly always at the spiritual level.

  • This morning's Audience, second in the series on the early Fathers, was about Ignatius of Antioch --first to call the Church "Catholic," in the city where Christ's followers were first dubbed "Christians," and about his teaching on unity. (Text here later.)
Last week, the Pope addressed the Pontifical Academy for Life on the theme of conscience. He makes the point that the modern conscience is not weak or dead. It's perfectly strong, just untethered to anything outside itself. Thus understood, it becomes simply an instrument of the will to power or a mere puppet of media stimuli. The conscience that's worthy of respect is "upright conscience," conscience properly formed:
the moral conscience, to be able to judge human conduct rightly, above all must be based on the solid foundation of truth, that is, it must be enlightened to know the true value of actions and the solid criteria for evaluation. Therefore, it must be able to distinguish good from evil, even where the social environment, pluralistic culture and superimposed interests do not help it do so. The formation of a true conscience, because it is founded on the truth, and upright, because it is determined to follow its dictates without contradictions, without betrayal and without compromises, is a difficult and delicate undertaking today, but indispensable.

  • I'd never heard of the Camaldolese order, but the Pope wrote them a letter this week, reflecting on the importance of St. Peter Damian, Gregory the VII's right-hand man.
B16 is so lucid on any subject, I love to read him. But I confess my favorite papal "documents" are these Q&As he does from time to time. Maybe because they're a bit more personal, as for example part of his answer to a priest asking him about how to give unity to one's prayer and more "practical" pastoral tasks:
There is always a certain tension between what I absolutely have to do and what spiritual reserves I must have. I always see it in St Augustine, who complains about this in his preaching. I have already cited him: "I long to live with the Word of God from morning to night but I have to be with you". Augustine nonetheless finds this balance by being always available but also by keeping for himself moments of prayer and meditation on the Sacred Word, because otherwise he would no longer be able to say anything.


it is fundamental to spiritualize daily pastoral work. It is easier to say this than to do it, but we must try. Moreover, to be able to spiritualize our work, we must again follow the Lord. The Gospels tell us that by day he worked and by night he was on the mountain with his Father, praying. Here, I must confess my weakness. At night I cannot pray, at night I want to sleep.

However, a little free time for the Lord is really necessary....this personal conversation with the Word of God is important; it is only in this way that we can find the reserves to respond to the demands of pastoral life.

As I've said before, Benedict may be more reserved than John Paul the Great, but in many ways he's much more open and self-revelatory --not shy, just quiet. Here are parts 1, 2 & 3 of that Q&A with the clergy of Rome (I won't quote more, but read the last question in section 2 for insight into the Pope's thoughts about the "new movements" and their relations to the institutional Church. He has a quite John Paul II-like attitude about the tensions that can exist.)


And finally: Just in time for meatless Friday: the Virgin Mary in grilled cheese. (Curtsy: ninme.) Don't get smug, you Protestants. You guys have Jesus on a sour cream and onion potato chip.