Saturday, January 25, 2014

PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY IN AN ECUMENICAL SOLEMN SUNG VESPERS WITH POPE FRANCIS AND LOVELY IT WAS

Please note the presence of Cardinal "deacons"

The English translation of the Italian homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“Has Christ been divided?” (1 Cor 1:13). The urgent appeal which Saint Paul makes at the beginning of his First Letter to the Corinthians, and which has been proclaimed at this evening’s liturgy, was chosen by a group of our fellow Christians in Canada as the theme for our meditation during this year’s Week of Prayer.

The Apostle was grieved to learn that the Christians of Corinth had split into different factions. Some claimed: “I belong to Paul”; while others claimed: “I belong to Apollos” or “I belong to Cephas”, and others yet claimed: “I belong to Christ” (cf. v. 12). Paul could not even praise those who claimed to belong to Christ, since they were using the name of the one Saviour to set themselves apart from their other brothers and sisters within the community. In other words, the particular experience of each individual, or an attachment to certain significant persons in the community, had become a yardstick for judging the faith of others.

Amid this divisiveness, Paul appeals to the Christians of Corinth “by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” to be in agreement, so that divisions will not reign among them, but rather a perfect union of mind and purpose (cf. v. 10). The communion for which the Apostle pleads, however, cannot be the fruit of human strategies. Perfect union among brothers and sisters can only come from looking to the mind and heart of Christ Jesus (cf. Phil 2:5). This evening, as we gather here in prayer, may we realize that Christ, who cannot be divided, wants to draw us to himself, to the sentiments of his heart, to his complete and confident surrender into the hands of the Father, to his radical self-emptying for love of humanity. Christ alone can be the principle, the cause and the driving force behind our unity.

As we find ourselves in his presence, we realize all the more that we may not regard divisions in the Church as something natural, inevitable in any form of human association. Our divisions wound Christ’s body, they impair the witness which we are called to give to him before the world. The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism, appealing to the text of Saint Paul which we have reflected on, significantly states: “Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communities present themselves to people as the true inheritance of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but they differ in outlook and go their different ways, as if Christ were divided”. And the Council continues: “Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the sacred cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 1).

Christ, dear friends, cannot be divided! This conviction must sustain and encourage us to persevere with humility and trust on the way to the restoration of full visible unity among all believers in Christ. Tonight I think of the work of two great Popes: Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II. In the course of their own lives, both came to realize the urgency of the cause of unity and, once elected to the See of Peter, they guided the entire Catholic flock decisively on the paths of ecumenism. Pope John blazed new trails which earlier would have been almost unthinkable. Pope John Paul held up ecumenical dialogue as an ordinary and indispensable aspect of the life of each Particular Church. With them, I think too of Pope Paul VI, another great promoter of dialogue; in these very days we are commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of his historic embrace with the Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople.

The work of these, my predecessors, enabled ecumenical dialogue to become an essential dimension of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, so that today the Petrine ministry cannot be fully understood without this openness to dialogue with all believers in Christ. We can say also that the journey of ecumenism has allowed us to come to a deeper understanding of the ministry of the Successor of Peter, and we must be confident that it will continue to do so in the future. As we look with gratitude to the progress which the Lord has enabled us to make, and without ignoring the difficulties which ecumenical dialogue is presently experiencing, let us all pray that we may put on the mind of Christ and thus progress towards the unity which he wills.

In this climate of prayer for the gift of unity, I address a cordial and fraternal greeting to His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios, the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and to His Grace David Moxon, the personal representative in Rome of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to all the representatives of the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities gathered here this evening.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask the Lord Jesus, who has made us living members of his body, to keep us deeply united to him, to help us overcome our conflicts, our divisions and our self-seeking, and to be united to one another by one force, by the power of love which the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts (cf. Rom 5:5).
Amen.
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And on another front Pope Francis is calling for women's first and primary place in the home with her children as well as collaborating with priests as the Blessed Virgin Mary did at the wedding feast of Cana and in many other situations especially at Calvary. 

Of course, in the USA and other parts of the world, women have had and continue to have prominent places in the Church, first as baptized Christians and thus evangelizing wherever they find themselves, at home, work, with friends, strangers and acquaintances, and secondly as workers in the vineyard as religious women have done so now for generations especially in monastic prayer and labor, teaching, nursing and social work. In the parish they are pastoral assistants and catechists and direct many important ministries as heads of schools, colleges and universities. 

But Pope Francis continues to emphasize for married women who are mothers the primacy of the home and being a good Catholic wife to her husband and mother to her children thus heading up with her husband the domestic Church and making abundantly clear the spousal relationship of Christ the Bridegroom to the Church His bride.

Of course the Holy Father had previously reiterated the infallible teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church that women may not be admitted to the Sacrament of Holy Orders, that of deacon, priest and bishop due to the spousal relationship that this Sacrament conveys on men to be an image of the Bridegroom of the Church as well as Son of Man and High Priest. 

Vatican Radio) Pope Francis earlier today met with participants at a national conference sponsored by the Italian Women’s Centre, which is due to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its foundation in October of this year. The Italian Women’s Centre (Centro Italiano Femminile, or CIF) was set up in 1944 as a federation of Catholic women’s associations. It was established in response to the need for guidance on civic and social issues which arose at the end of the Second World War, when Italy introduced universal suffrage and millions of women were called to vote for the first time ever.

Pope Francis opened his address by giving thanks for the organization's work over the past 70 years and for its value as witness to the changing role of women within Catholic communities and Italian society as a whole. In recent decades, the Pope said, within the context of other cultural and societal developments, the role of women has been greatly transformed, their participation and responsibilities have increased. It is with great joy, he added, that I see many women sharing pastoral responsibilities with priests, both in theological reflection and by supporting individuals, families and communities, and I hope the space for women to contribute incisively to the life of our Church may continue to increase.

If the contribution of women to the public or professional sphere is important, Pope Francis went on, their contribution to family life is even more vital. But at this point, he said, the question arises naturally – how is it possible for any woman to develop an incisive presence in the many areas of public and professional life where important decisions are made, and at the same time to maintain a special presence within the family? This, the Pope said, is the field of discernment, which requires assiduousness and perseverance in prayer, as well as reflection on the reality of women within society.

It is in dialogue with God, Pope Francis concluded, that Christian women must answer his call – a dialogue which is always supported by Mary. May she – who cherished her divine son, who propitiated his first miracle at the wedding in Cana, who was present on Calvary and at Pentecost – show you the path to understanding the role of women within society.

Listen to Giulia Cirillo’s report: RealAudioMP3



16 comments:

John Nolan said...

In the use of both the vernacular (the psalms and prayers) and Latin (hymn, Magnificat, Pater Noster) and the fact that Gregorian Chant was clearly the default position for the music, can one not say this was what the Liturgical Movement and the Council Fathers intended? And why is this not done in more parishes, considering that the musical resources needed are minimal? No doubt Pater Ignotus would disagree, since he has made sure that his parishioners never have the opportunity to pray the Lord's Prayer in the Church's official and sacred language.

It seems to me that Pope Francis has no problems with this kind of solemn celebration, which if replicated everywhere would transform Catholic worship overnight. Trouble is, it's too formal, beautiful and objective to satisfy the 'spirit of Vatican II' neo-pelagian philistines.

John Nolan said...

And another thing - lay people of both sexes had important and to me quite appropriate roles to play but it was not assumed that they should invade the sanctuary.

Pater Ignotus said...

There is nothing "sacred" about the Latin language. God is equally and properly praised in English, Chinese, Danish, or Russian or whatever language is used. And Catholics who use the vernacular tongue in prayer are every bit as Catholic as those who pray in Latin.

Nick D said...

Sadly, it would seem Pater Ignotus has never read what the popes have written about the use of Latin in prayer

Pater Ignotus said...

Nick - I have. But what popes have said about Latin doesn't make it any more sacred than any other language.

A heartfelt, "Lord I am not worthy" is more sacred than a half-hearted "Domine, non sum dingus" any day of the week.

Anonymous 2 said...

Why must we always make God so small and put Him in a little box? The good news, of course, is that He won’t let us do it and that any such attempts are doomed to ultimate failure.

Study a bit of cosmology and you will understand just how big God really is. Believe in Jesus Christ and you will also see just how close and personal He is too.

Our God is a God of supreme paradox. The Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection together are perhaps the ultimate paradox.

The Miracle of the Mass and the Eucharist is also a paradox. Test it as you will; the species are nothing but bread and wine in material terms. And yet . . .and yet. . .And this is true whether this particular vehicle of God’s grace is expressed in Latin, or in English, or in French, or in Swahili.

I have little doubt that God’s grace manifests in a special way if Latin is the language of choice. Perhaps it is sacred in a particular way that is not easy to put into words but can only be experienced. So, let’s have Latin Masses. But I also have little doubt that God’s grace can manifest in a special way in the other languages too. Perhaps they, too, can be sacred in particular ways that are not easy to put into words but can only be experienced. So, let these other languages be used too.

By all means go and experience a Latin mass as well as Mass in the vernacular. And then be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, including the possibility that He may speak in different ways to different people – through Latin to one and through English or Swahili to another.

And remember that the same God Who is behind the Big Bang also knows every hair on our heads (which, in my own case, His job is a lot easier =))..



Anon friend said...

Dingus? It is "dignus", Pater...

George said...

Pater:
It looks like your fingers slipped
while you were typing. The last part of your comment ended up being "Lord I am not an Australian dog"
It's "dignus", of course.
Spell check won't catch Latin errors.
(Although I don't know-maybe it will catch some?)

Gene said...

Yes, Goerge, and "dingus" is also slang for the male sex organ. So, Pater is saying in Latin, " Lord, I am not a dingus." And, of course, he doth protest too much…LOL!

Pater Ignotus said...

woof

John Nolan said...

How strange that my first two comments, which were completely in accordance with Catholic teaching both before and after Vatican II, and from someone who is quite rightly regarded as a traditionalist, should have generated so many comments.

Of course the first of the usual suspects to raise his head above the parapet was our old friend Pater Ignotus. His dislike of Latin is probably due to the fact that he abandoned the study of it many moons ago. I would recommend he read Bl. John XXII's Veterum Sapientia, which, fortunately for him, is available in English.

'Sacred languages', that is to say those in which the Scriptures were written, or have a long history of liturgical use are Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Old Church Slavonic, are recognized as such. English is too associated with the Protestant heresy to be so regarded; and although the 16th century English of Cranmer and the Authorized Version may be considered as "fixed" (actually it isn't - Shakespeare scholars are at pains to point out that there are lot of ambiguities in his use of language), English is continually evolving at a pace that no-one, even lexicographers, are able to keep up with.

When I quote from Canon Law in Latin, it is not because I am trying to score points; I am not a Latinist - I can't think and speak in Latin in the way that I can in French and German - it is because it is the original and authoritative text, or as the Germans would say, the Urtext.

Henry said...

An incisive comment from an article in the current issue of The Latin Mass journal:

"The Second Vatican Council, in harmony with the Magisterium before it, says that the language of the liturgy is and shall remain Latin, while allowing for a limited use of the vernacular, and that Gregorian chant has and shall have chief place as the music proper to the Roman Rite. To the extent that the Church has abandoned Latin and chant or allowed them to be abandoned, she has rejected the decisions of the Council and therefore deserves to be deprived of that 'second spring' for which Pope John XXIII prayed. . . . The Church will fail miserably in the New Evangelization unless she first cleans up her own house."

John Nolan said...

On one occasion when Benedict XVI celebrated Vespers, he had the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in cope and mitre, in the sanctuary. This was the same Pope who as a cardinal in 2000 had quite correctly referred to the Reformation "Churches" as being merely "ecclesial communities".

This shows two things - Benedict's innate courtesy, and the fact that he was above all "the Pope of Christian unity". This also explains "Anglicanorum Coetibus", something that could not have happened under his predecessors, since neither Paul VI nor John Paul II really understood Anglicanism.

Ol' Blue Eyes said...

Perhaps Pater Ignotus was watching an old 1970 Frank Sinatra movie, Dirty Dingus Magee, when he responded to this post. Frank must be one of PI's heroes, since they both like to do it their way!

Joe Potillor said...

I normally do not defend PI, but in this circumstance I will, since the Church strictly speaking isn't just Roman, there is of course room for the vernacular (in Byzantium, we use English)…that said, for the Roman Church, I think the implementation of the vernacular has been an abject disaster and reversed the unity in Liturgy that once existed.

John Nolan said...

Joe, there are some who argue that Hebrew and Greek, being the original languages of Scripture, are 'sacred languages' but Latin is not; however, its continuous use as the liturgical language of the Western Church from the fourth century onward qualifies it in most people's minds as such.

PI claims, in his usual reductionist way, that no languages are sacred, the sacredness consisting in what is expressed, rather than in the medium of expression; it is a sustainable point of view, but to my mind and that of many others an overly narrow one.

I have attended the Byzantine Rite as celebrated by the Ukrainian Catholic Church here in the UK; it is in either OCS or modern Ukrainian, never in English. The Russian Orthodox cathedral in London, however, does use English, though by no means exclusively.