Potpourri of Popery, Holy Thursday Edition



Palm Sunday homily Lots of kids in attendance, as it was also World Youth Day. I point it out because the press, loving scandal and eager to exacerbate one if it possibly can, seized on one line of this homily
...the courage that does not let itself be intimidated by the gossip of dominant opinions...
and made it seem as if the Pope intended it as a thinly veiled reference to their attacks on him this week. Many of the Pope's defenders took that at face value and shouted, "Rah!"  I'm sorry, if you think Joseph Ratzinger has it in him to use the occasion of a homily to praise himself and take a cheap shot, you have obviously not been paying attention.

He was talking to young people about the demands of Christian discipleship and resisting their culture --the one that mocks chastity and substitutes ideology for truth. He began with this thesis:
Being Christian means seeing the way of Jesus Christ as the right way of being human -- as that way that leads to the goal, to a humanity that is fully realized and authentic.
And then amplified:
Man can choose an easy path and avoid all toil. He can also descend to what is lower. He can sink into lies and dishonesty. Jesus goes ahead of us, and he goes up to what is above. He leads us to what is great, pure, he leads us to the healthy air of the heights: to life according to truth; to the courage that does not let itself be intimidated by the gossip of dominant opinions; to the patience that stands up for and supports the other. He leads us to availability to the suffering, to the abandoned; to the loyalty that stands with the other even when the situation makes it difficult.He leads us to availability to bring help; to the goodness that does not let itself be disarmed not even by ingratitude. He leads us to love -- he leads us to God.
So, sorry to disappoint you, Media, but not everything is about you, and the text was probably drafted before the latest attacks on the Pope began. /sighs wearily

What a beautiful, beautiful homily lies in the rest of the text.
Communion with Christ is being on a journey, a permanent ascent to the true height of our calling. Journeying together with Jesus is always at the same time a traveling together in the "we" of those who want to follow him. It brings us into this community. Because this journey to true life, to being men conformed to the model of the Son of God Jesus Christ is beyond our powers, this journeying is also always a state of being carried. We find ourselves, so to speak, in a "roped party" [1] with Jesus Christ -- together with him in the ascent to the heights of God. He pulls us and supports us. Letting oneself be part of a roped party is part of following Christ; we accept that we cannot do it on our own. The humble act of entering into the "we" of the Church is part of it -- holding on to the roped party, the responsibility of communion, not letting go of the rope because of our bullheadedness and conceit.
Humbly believing with the Church, like being bound together in a roped party ascending to God, is an essential condition for following Christ. Not acting as the owners of the Word of God, not chasing after a mistaken idea of emancipation -- this is also part of being together in the roped party. The humility of "being-with" is essential to the ascent. Letting the Lord take us by the hand through the sacraments is another part of it. We let ourselves be purified and strengthened by him, we let ourselves accept the discipline of the ascent, even if we are tired.
Here's yesterday's Audience on how to live the Triduum.
His homily on the 5th anniversary of Venerable John Paul II's passing.
His homily with the priests of Rome for the chrism mass this morning. It's a very interesting "unpacking" (to use theological jargon I dislike) of the material elements of sacraments: water, bread, wine, oil. Difficult to summarize, but here's the conclusion:

In the early Church, the consecrated oil was considered a special sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit, who communicates himself to us as a gift from Christ. He is the oil of gladness. This gladness is different from entertainment and from the outward happiness that modern society seeks for itself. Entertainment, in its proper place, is certainly good and enjoyable. It is good to be able to laugh. But entertainment is not everything. It is only a small part of our lives, and when it tries to be the whole, it becomes a mask behind which despair lurks, or at least doubt over whether life is really good, or whether non-existence might perhaps be better than existence. The gladness that comes to us from Christ is different. It does indeed make us happy, but it can also perfectly well coexist with suffering. It gives us the capacity to suffer and, in suffering, to remain nevertheless profoundly glad. It gives us the capacity to share the suffering of others and thus by placing ourselves at one another's disposal, to express tangibly the light and the goodness of God. I am always struck by the passage in the Acts of the Apostles which recounts that after the Apostles had been whipped by order of the Sanhedrin, they "rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name of Jesus" (Acts 5:41). Anyone who loves is ready to suffer for the beloved and for the sake of his love, and in this way he experiences a deeper joy. The joy of the martyrs was stronger than the torments inflicted on them. This joy was ultimately victorious and opened the gates of history for Christ. As priests, we are - in Saint Paul's words - "co-workers with you for your joy" (2 Cor 1:24). In the fruit of the olive-tree, in the consecrated oil, we are touched by the goodness of the Creator, the love of the Redeemer. Let us pray that his gladness may pervade us ever more deeply and that we may be capable of bringing it anew to a world in such urgent need of the joy that has its source in truth.
Mass of the Lord's Supper homily.
Tomorrow the Pope will lead Stations at the Colisseum as usual. Cardinal Ruini's reflections are already up.

Worn out by the viciousness and unfairness of attacks on the Pope and the whole Church. And it will never end, because rather than rip the bandaid off all at once, we have to go national church by national church, each round picking at the scabs and hurts from the previous. Things were bad in seminaries and chancery offices from the late 60s-to the mid-80s all over the world, and the latest news is not really new, it's just each national body dealing with the same phenomenon at a different pace. So we've had the U.S., Ireland, Austria, Germany. Next we are to have the Danes, Swiss and Italians and then I suppose we can go to South America. Ugh.

Not suggesting it doesn't have to be dealt with --light is the best disinfectant-- just wish we could do it all at once. Very tired of watching faithful young guys (and faithful old guys like B16!) having to carry the guilt and shame of aging boomers --and only 2% of them. (Not that even one is acceptable, but honestly, to read the papers, you'd think wearing a collar was equivalent to being a pedophile, when, as Philip Jenkins notes in his study on the topic, the safest place in the world for a child is in a Catholic church.)

Anyway, I'm letting Mr. Blosser do the heavy lifting with his two excellent round-ups. You do have to read what the judge in Fr. Murphy's case has to say. Cardinal Levada (Ratzinger's successor at CDF) is on the case (w/ Fr. Z's comments).

I like this reflection on how to handle all this turmoil during the Triduum (it is odd, not to say mystical, that these painful stories always break right as we enter Holy Week). Catholics Come Home has launched a project to EncouragePriests.

Anything else going on?
Signing off until Easter, although I did pre-load a picture for tomorrow. Have a blessed and Holy Triduum.