Wednesday, December 31, 2014

FRANCIS EFFECT OR BENEDICT EFFECT? CATHOLIC POPULATION UP BY 15 MILLION WORLDWIDE!

Catholic World News - December 31, 2014



The world’s Catholic population increased by 15 million in the past year, with some growth on every continent, according to new statistics from the Fides news service. 

The latest figures, which date to the end of 2012, show a worldwide Catholic population of 1.2 billion. That accounts for 17.49% of the world’s overall population: a figure that is down slightly from the previous year’s 17.50%.

The number of Catholics grew most rapidly in Africa and the Americas (which are treated as one continent in Vatican statistics), with Asia following and Europe and Oceania lagging behind.

The number of Catholic priests was up slightly, to 414,313. That growth was very irregular, however; the numbers were significantly up in Asia (1,364) and Africa (1,076), but down sharply in Europe (-1,375). A similar pattern was evident in the number of female religious, but that figure was down more than 10,000 worldwide, settling at 702,529.

UNSAFE AT ANY MASS! WHEREAS FATHER RALPH NADAR, I MEAN, ALLAN MCDONALD OPINES ON THE SAFETY OF THE COMMON CHALICE AND THE CHURCH'S LIABLITY IN THIS REGARD

What do the Chevy Corvair and the Common Communion Chalice have in common? Both are unsafe at any speed and any Mass!

 Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile by Ralph Nader, published in 1965, is a book accusing car manufacturers of resistance to the introduction of safety features, like seat belts, and their general reluctance to spend money on improving safety. It was a pioneering work, openly polemical but containing substantial references and material from industry insiders.

The subject for which the book is probably most widely known, the rear-engined Chevrolet Corvair, is covered in Chapter 1—"The Sporty Corvair-The One-Car Accident". 

My Ralph Nader Comments: Just this morning, the news reported that many states in the USA are experiencing the  H3N2 Flu epidemic and it is more serious than the H1N2 Flu of a few years ago. Georgia right now is a hot zone for it. Nationwide almost 15 children have died. There are no statistics yet on elderly people who have died of the flu and others with compromised immune systems and other health related issues.

When the H1N2 flu was merely threatening many communities, most bishops throughout the USA including then Bishop Kevin Boland of the Savannah Diocese mandated that the common chalice no longer be given to the laity while the epidemic was a possibility. He also mandated that the "sign of peace" cease at all Masses too and that hand sanitizer be available at the doors of the Church and in the sanctuary for EMHC's to use prior to distributing the Host. 

This was the first time that the bishops of the USA acknowledged that the common chalice for the laity could spread a communicable disease such as the flu. Obviously if this is true it can also spread other viruses and diseases, the most worrisome the deadly meningitis virus that can be spread especially to college age kids after drinking after someone else on the same glass, can or chalice.

A couple of months ago when the flu was starting to hit our schools, I requested permission from our current Bishop Gregory Hartmayer to discontinue the use of the common chalice. He gave me permission.

I really wonder if the liturgical custom of having upwards to 30 people drinking from the common chalice is a custom that should continue in the Church now that it is known that it is unsanitary and can cause people with compromised immune systems to become ill from a virus left on the chalice and in the case of the flu or meningitis, it could cause death at any time of the year, not just flu season!

We all know that city and county health departments would not condone the Catholic practice of having a great number or any number of communicants drinking from a common chalice. If we were a restaurant, our food and drink license would be revoked for doing so!

I ask the lawyers out there. If in fact communicable diseases can be "caught" from drinking from a communal chalice during Mass, does this open dioceses up to lawsuits especially now that bishops have acknowledged publicly for the first time that the flu can be caught from drinking from the common chalice?


TO WATCHNIGHT OR NOT TO NIGHTWATCH ON NEW YEAR'S EVE; THAT IS THE QUESTION!

The first so-called "nightwatch" Mass I celebrated (as far as I recall, a term I use more frequently now that I have turned 61) was with the turn of the new millennium on January 1, 2000! Although the naysayers at the time said that the new millennium actually began on January 1, 2001! Such purist rubbish, but I digress.

Then when I came to St. Joseph Church in 2004 with two brand newly ordained parochial vicars, they insisted on  a midnight Mass on New Year's Eve and I allowed them the luxury but told them that one Midnight Mass a year was more than enough for me and my constitution and that they could go it alone and with anyone else who cared to show up. They may have gotten a hundred or more. I don't know, because when 2005 woke up I was sound asleep!

Liturgically, Mass can be celebrated at any time of day or night. In Baltimore there was at St. Vincent de Paul Church downtown a midnight Mass each Sunday morning. This was in the 1970's and I believe this tradition with the same pastor continues to this day. If someone knows, please let me know. Some classmates and I went to the Midnight Mass there on a regular Sunday and the pastor was kind enough to invite us into the rectory kitchen afterward for some fixings. I can't remember his name, but he had a beard!

There are only two times a year that a "night" or midnight Mass are prescribed. The first of course is Christmas and the second is the Great Vigil of Easter. Most of us, though, celebrate the Easter Vigil right at sundown rather than late in the night. But technically the vigil should take place around 11 PM Holy Saturday with the blessing of the fire and Paschal candle, procession, lengthy, extended Liturgy of the Word, Holy Baptism and Confirmation. Then the Liturgy of the Eucharist ideally begins Easter Sunday at 12 midnight. But whoa! I don't think most can handle it. I know I can't.

But what about midnight Mass on New Year's Eve/Day? Is Christmas Midnight Mass enough or do we need another one a week later?

From Wikipedia: 

A watchnight service is a late-night Christian church service. In many different Christian traditions, a watchnight service is held late on New Year's Eve, and ends after midnight. This provides the opportunity for Christians to review the year that has passed and make confession, and then prepare for the year ahead by praying and resolving.[1] The services often include singing, praying, exhorting, and preaching.

The founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, originated watch night services in 1740, sometimes calling them Covenant Renewal Services.[2][3] The services provided Methodist Christians with a godly alternative to times of drunken revelry, such as Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.[2] Today, a Methodist watchnight service includes singing, spontaneous prayers and testimonials, as well as scripture readings; the liturgy for this service is found in The United Methodist Book of Worship.

In Anglican or Roman Catholic churches, this ceremony is often replicated in the form of a Midnight Mass or Eucharist.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

POPE FRANCIS IS CAUSING CONSTERNATION AND PERPLEXITY AND NOT JUST WITH SOME WHO POST COMMENTS ON MY BLOG

I too vacillate from perplexity to applause when it comes to Pope Francis. He is not consistent and is confusing. His words and actions are easily manipulated to be used against the Church by those who have their own agenda either in or outside the Church. I suspect Pope Francis read this article. Wearing the ornate papal stole for the Urbi et Orbi blessing may have been a result of it? Who knows?

From Rorate Caeli:
Doubts on the twists and turns of Pope Francis
Vittorio Messori
Corriere della Sera
December 24, 2014

I believe that honesty demands I admit it from the first: perhaps I am abusing the space given to me by my putting forth more than an article but rather what is a personal reflection. I confess that I would have willingly put off writing this, if I had not been asked to do so. Yes, I would have put it off, because my own (and not only my own) appraisal of this pope oscillates continually between support and perplexity, a judgment that changes according to the moment, or a particular occasion, or in relation to subjects that are discussed. A Pope who was not expected. For what it is worth, I was among those who were waiting for a South American and someone who is pastoral, someone with experience of everyday governance, a sort of balance for an admirable professor, a theologian too refined for certain palates, like the beloved Joseph Ratzinger. A Pope who was not expected, but who quickly, right from that very first “Buonasera” has shown himself to be nothing anyone could have forseen, so much so as to make some of the Cardinals who elected him to gradually change their minds about him.

This quality of “not knowing what to expect” continues, agitating the tranquility of the ordinary Catholic who is accustomed to not think too much about faith and morals and who has been exhorted to “follow the Pope”. 
Indeed, but which Pope? The one who gives daily homilies in Santa Marta, the preaching of a parish priest of the old days, with good counsel and wise proverbs, with even firm warnings to not fall into the traps of the devil? Or the one who telephones Giacinto Marco Pannella, who was in the midst of one of his innocuous fasts, and who greets him with “Keep up the good work”! when for decades the “work” of this radical leader consisted of and still consists of preaching that true charity lies in the battle for divorce, abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality for all, gender theory and the like? 
The Pope who recently in a talk given to the Roman Curia sounded like Pius XII with conviction (but really like Saint Paul himself) defining the Church as “the mystical Body of Christ”? Of the one who, in the first interview with Eugenio Scalfari, ridiculed whoever might have thought that “God is Catholic”, as if the one, holy, apostolic Roman Church were an option, an accessory to somehow get to the Holy Trinity according to one’s personal tastes? 
The Argentine Pope who is aware, through direct experience, of the drama of Latin America that is on its way to becoming an ex-Catholic continent, with the exodus in mass of its people to Pentecostal Protestantism? Or the Pope who flies to embrace and wish good success to a dear friend, a pastor actually in one of the communities that are emptying out Catholic communities and doing so exactly with that proselytism that he condemned among his own flock?

One could go on, naturally, with these facets that appear—and perhaps truly are—contradictory. One could, but that would not be right for the believer. They know that they are not to see the Pontiff as an elected president of a republic, or like a king, the heir to another king. Certainly, in a conclave, those instruments of the Holy Spirit, within the context of faith, are the cardinal electors who share the limits, the errors, yes, even the sins that are the mark of all of humanity. But the one and true head of the Church is Christ himself, all powerful and all knowing, who knows a bit better than we do what would be the better choice as regards to his representative at this time in this world. 
This choice can appear disconcerting to the limited vision of those of us who live at this time, but that in the future, from an historical perspective, it will be revealed why this was the right choice. The one who really knows history is surprised and pensive when he discovers that –in the perspective of two thousand years, which is the Catholic perspective—every Pope, whether he is aware of it or not, has carried out the role he was meant to and, in the end, how things were meant to turn out. 

Precisely because of this awareness I have chosen, for my part, to observe, listen and to reflect without hazarding adopting opinions that are intemperate or even reckless. I go back to that question that has been cited too often out of its context: “Who am I to judge?” I am on the same plane as everyone else, just one man. I am not assisted by the “pontifical charisma”, the assistance that is promised by the Paraclete. And to the one who would want to judge, does not the full approval of the “Pope Emeritus” (so different in style, formation and understanding of what needs to be done), repeated many times, in speech and in writing, of what Francis is doing count for nothing?

It is a terrible responsibility for the one who is called today to respond to the question: “ How can we bring the message of the Gospel to contemporary man? How can we show that Christ is not a faded and remote ghost, but is the human face of that creator God who is Savior, who wants to give meaning to life and death to all?” There are many responses to these questions, often contrasting with each other.

Even if it counts but little, after decades of working within the Church, I may well have my own answers to these questions. I may well, I say: the use of the conditional tense here is obligatory, because nothing and no one makes me certain of having had a glimpse of the right way to go. Would I not be taking the risk of becoming perhaps like the blind man in the Gospels who wanted to lead others who were blind and all ended up in the ditch? 
And so, certain pastoral choices made by the “Bishop of Rome”, as he prefers to call himself, persuade me; but others seem to leave me perplexed, they seem to me to be opportunistic, even seeming to be of a brand of populism that generates an interest that is as vast as it is superficial and ephemeral. I might prefer that there be other matters with greater sense of priority and content that would in hope result in an apostolate that is more fertile. I should hope, I should think so, all in the conditional, I repeat, as a perspective of faith demands where even a lay person (as in Canon Law) can express his thoughts and concerns, as long as they are well considered and well motivated, on the ways and means of evangelization I will leave, however, the general strategy and, above all, the custody of the depositum fidei up to the man who came out from the conclave dressed in white. In any case, I have not forgotten how Francis himself recalled in that harsh address to the Curia that it is easy to criticize priests, but how many pray for them? I want to also remember that he, on this earth, is the “first” among priests. And so, I ask of all those who adopt a critical stance those prayers at which the world laughs, but which guide, in secret, the destiny of the Church and the whole world.

[Original version: Italian. Rorate translation by Fr. Richard Cipolla.]

BROTHERS AND SISTERS, THE POPE FRANCIS EFFECT IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH'S FRIEND NOT ENEMY!

There is a good video report on Pope Francis from a French news agency, which you can view at their site by pressing this sentence.

Americans must keep in mind how the Church is viewed by many Europeans, especially in Italy. The Church is the bishops and priests who for the most part seem aloof from rank and file Catholics who do not take a great deal of ownership in their Church because they see the Church not belonging to them but to the bishops and priests.

There isn't the same post-Vatican II pastoral theology in Italy as there is in the USA. Priests seldom mingle with the  laity and when the laity, especially those on the margins of the Church seek the ministry of a priest they are met with a cold shoulder.  My Italian relatives would feel like some of the laity interviewed in  the video that I link above.

Some in the video, though, seem to have spiritual Alzheimers when they fail to remember that Pope Saint John Paul II in his healthy days was quite outgoing and mingled with the laity more so than Pope Francis. Pope Benedict tried to do so in his own introverted way and made great strides at it toward the end of his papacy.

Of course the traditionalists are vilified as the sticks in the mud. And to a certain extent they deserve the criticism heaped upon them. Many comments on my blog seem to forget the good that Pope Francis is accomplishing for the Church, especially moving her away from coverage exclusively on the sex abuse scandal.

The media is becoming more friendly toward the Church precisely because of Pope Francis and he is teaching us all how being Catholic should attract not repel the world.  Some who comment on my blog could learn a lesson on this virtue. Sugar attracts, vinegar repels.

Even Fr. Z who would have some issues with Pope Francis can see the good that he is accomplishing by being the face of Catholicism that is attractive rather than cynical, dower and mean-spirited: 

The “Francis Effect” and remembering to talk about God

Be sure to check out Andrea Galiarducci’s latest Monday Vatican analysis.
“A must today as ever: Talking about God in light of Pope Francis’ missionary push”

Galiarducci opines that Pope Francis has had some success in polishing the Church’s image. Francis has even been able to say some tough things to the European Parliament and not get blasted in the press for it. You will recall that he tackled the problem of abortion and infertility, calling Europe a “grandmother”, that is, no longer able to bear children. He inspired the wrath of the Fishwrap’s feminists, but the secular press gave him a pass. Similarly, the UN launched a couple nasty attacks on the Church, but they didn’t stick. Teflon seems to be part of the “Francis Effect”.

On the other hand, the way that Pope Francis speaks may be taking us away from serious, or deeper talk about God, which I think we can all recognize is important
.
Thus, Galiarducci points out that Benedict XVI (Emeritus) has suggested as a topic for his annual Sch├╝lerkreis (study meeting with former students held in August): “How to speak about God in the contemporary word.”

Even while the Church is getting a PR boost, in large part because of Pope Francis’ style, we can’t stop talking about God. As a matter of fact, how can we use the present positive upswing in order to talk about deeper issues?

It is possible that Benedict XVI has been watching what is going on in the world and the Church in this pontificate and has put his finger on a weak spot.

I am mindful of something Card. Sarah said in November.  HERE
“It’s very important to express that the hunger we are suffering today is not having God in our life, in our society,” the cardinal said Nov. 7. He explained that Benedict XVI’s encyclical insists that charity is the way we express our faith. Although giving food is necessary, “the main food is God.”
He recounted a story from one of his two trips to Syria to visit refugees. He met a small child who asked him: “does God really exist? Why did he let my father be killed?”
This child had everything, the cardinal observed, including food and medicine, but still lacked the most essential thing, which is the assurance that God exists and is close to him.
“(So) charity today is not only to act for social work, for material assistance, but really to bring the Gospel to the people.”

Sunday, December 28, 2014

HOT OFF THE TELEVISION SET! INSIDE THE VATICAN: 60 MINUTES

For all the silly naysayers about Pope Francis, I say wake up silly Catholics! This pope has the world's attention and this is good for the new evangelization!

WHAT IS IT WITH THE SOUTHEAST AND THE DIOCESES OF SAVANNAH AND CHARLESTON?

This is St.Teresa of Avila's new Church in Augusta, GA:

Twenty miles away in Aiken, South Carolina, there is the new St. Mary Help of Christians being built even as I write:

Then there is this church being built about 100 miles outside of Augusta near Greenville, South Carolina, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary:

Then about 10 miles south of Savannah in Richmond Hill, Georgia, there is this building program and new church at St. Anne's:


And then, of course, is the newly restored altar railing at St. Joseph Church, Macon:


My final comment: There must be something in the water in the Dioceses of Savannah and Charleston!


HOW HOLLYWOOD PORTRAYS THE CATHOLIC MASS PRIOR TO VATICAN II AND AFTER VATICAN II! IS THE PROBLEM HOLLYWOOD OR THE CHURCH? I ASK; YOU ANSWER!



A friend of mine, a parish priest in the Archdiocese of Westminster, sent me a link to this video earlier today. It is an extract from the 1944 film Christmas Holiday starring Deanna Durbin and shows part of a Christmas Mass. It was filmed at St Vibiana’s, the former Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which was damaged in the Northridge earthquake of 1994 and sold to the city. St Vibiana’s has since been replaced by the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The music in the clip includes Puer natus in Bethlehem, the Kyrie from Licinio Refice’s Missa Choralis and Adeste fideles.
Our grateful thanks to a kind NLM reader who remastered the clip and made it available to us. 
 
My comments: This clip, apart from the actors that are depicted which would have been done in a studio, is a real Mass as it would have been celebrated in 1944. It tells you that even Hollywood had respect not only for the Catholic Church of that period, but for her liturgy, for her Mass. What else explains a Hollywood movie dedicating so much time to the screen for a Catholic Mass and portraying a lay woman in the movie so moved by it and the season it is celebrating to experience a sort of conversion.
 
This is the way we were! Please note that there is no order when these Catholics actually approach the altar railing (communion railing) and this is during the time the priest is completing the Sacrifice by his reception of Holy Communion. After this, there is the laity's additional Confiteor with absolution (eliminated in the 1962 EF Missal) and then the Ecce Agnus Dei with the laity's Dominus Non Sum Dignus. By this point the railing would have been full of communicants and those standing in the aisle would have knelt on the floor!
 
This Mass captured the religious and spiritual imagination of Catholics, non Catholics and non-believers. 
 
What can we say about the Ordinary Form of the Mass beginning around 1970 to this very day. What are the sentiments it produces for television and movie producers?
 
This Saturday Night Live Clip of a couple of weeks ago captures the sentiments of Hollywood today as it concerns the Catholic Church and her Mass. Yes, it is a caricature and the way so many celebrate the Ordinary Form today inspires this kind of modern caraicature of the Church. Compare this with the 1944 sentiments about the Catholic Mass. 
 
It is sad, so sad, that the Bishops of the Church and yes, the popes of the Catholic Church have allowed this sort of thing to happen to the Mass where this kind of caricature touches the reality of so many Catholics today when they attend Mass!
 
 
 
 
 

ONE CANNOT EVALUATE POPE FRANCIS WITHOUT FIRST UNDERSTANDING HIS ITALIAN WAYS AND HIS ITALIAN SENSE OF HUMOR AND HOW HE USES THE ORDINARY ITALIAN LANGUAGE IN THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY POSSIBLE WITH ITALIANS!

At minute 12 and second 40 (12:40) Pope Francis begins his discourse with large Italian Families in the Paul VI Hall on Sunday morning, December 28th, the Solemnity of the Holy Family. Before he reads his speech to these families with numerous children and I mean numerous, His Holiness first asks if he could pose a question to them. "What time did you get up this morning to arrive here?" The children say 3 AM, 4 AM, 5 AM! Then the Pope says, "well then, you must be quite sleepy now or something to that effect!" But now I will read you my speech and really put you to sleep!"

One has to hear the pope say this in Italian. It is hilarious and I can hear my own mother or some of my Italian relatives saying this and everyone laughing at it. In fact it brought tears to my eyes as I laughed so hard. It's an Italian thing!

But if a reporter wrote down what the Pope said and one didn't have the opportunity to listen to it and understand it, one would miss the humor of this pope altogether. One cannot interpret this pope without understanding his Italian, peasant background and the ordinary way he speaks Italian which endears him to Italians. Italian is meant to be a language of the heart not necessarily of the intellect.

Go to minute 12:40, tone of voice and words used in Italian are very important to interpret the Italian properly and the Italian who speaks:

POPE FRANCIS IS A MORALIST, SOMETHING POST-VATICAN "INTELLECTUALS" DON'T LIKE!


As I wrote in the post below this one, Ignatian spirituality is what guides Pope Francis. Most Catholics have not studied Ignatian spirituality and thus don't understand Pope Francis. His Holiness confounds them and the world.

I was listening the "Conversation with Cardinal Dolan" on satellite radio on Saturday, but taped this past Tuesday. There was an interview with an Englishman or maybe he was Irish who has just written a biography on Pope Francis. I can't remember his name or the title of the book now, but evidently it is well worth reading. He was very articulate and they even spoke of Pope Francis' dress down of the curia this past Monday. Cardinal Dolan was quick to note that the 15 points Pope Francis made were directed to everyone in the Church, but specifically to the curia and even to His Holiness himself. That is important to keep in mind. It was the conclusion of Advent and thus the "dry run" to the Final Judgement and the examin that takes place before God, which I suspect will have more than 15 points!

As a moralist, Pope Francis is constantly calling everyone in the Church to conversion, a change of life, an examination of conscience. And Pope Francis is like one of those  men who stands on Bourbon Street in New Orleans trying to get the passersby to come into the establishment. Not only are Catholics talking about Pope Francis, but Protestants and non-believers. The world is fascinated with the man and he has given a gentler face to Catholicism in some ways but also has given fire and brimstone in other ways.

Catholics are to be obedient to the Pope in the areas of Faith and Morals. Pope Benedict spoke more about the Faith in terms of doctrine. Pope Francis speaks more about morals and moralizing. He has spoken more about the devil and his temptations. He has warned the mafia that if they don't repent they will go to hell and he uses the word hell and eternal damnation to describe what will happen to them! But he has said the same thing to rank and file Catholics at his daily Mass asking who do they follow the devil or Christ, each have a final eternal destination! It all hinges on lifestyle and sin. Unrepentant sin deserves damnation. The repentant sinner does not deserve or merit salvation but is given the gift by a gracious God in Christ.

This may puzzle some who think Pope Francis is about to sell out the Church's morality for something bogus as it concerns sexuality, marriage and divorce. It remains to be seen what will happen, but I doubt seriously that a moralizing Jesuit pope will water down Catholic morality in any area but he might well make conversion to Christ easier for some sinners, a carrot and stick approach, if you will.

John Allen has a good summary on The Top Five Over-Covered Vatican Stories of 2014.

The following is very insightful:

On the subject of media coverage, Christmas 2014 offered an object lesson in the difference a pope makes in the way some awfully strong medicine goes down.
In brief remarks on Friday for the feast of St. Stephen, the pope complained of a “fake sugar coating” that sometimes comes with Christmas, and this year no one can accuse him of not doing his part to rip it off.

During the two traditional rhetorical peaks of the Christmas season — the pope’s annual address to the Roman Curia, the senior officials of the Vatican, last Monday, and the Christmas Day Urbi et Orbi message, to the city and the world — Francis delivered some old-fashioned fire and brimstone rather than holiday cheer.

On Monday, Francis took the mandarins of the Curia to the woodshed, ticking off a catalog of 15 spiritual diseases with which he believes they’re at times infected, including the “terrorism of gossip” and “spiritual Alzheimer’s.”

Granted, Francis wasn’t entirely negative. He thanked people for their hard work, and at one point joked that priests are like airplanes — they only make news when they fall, but most are still flying. He also tried to show concern for his staff by scheduling a separate session with employees of the Vatican City State and their families, something popes haven’t done in the past.
Still, the overall thrust was rightly taken as a fairly stinging indictment.

On Christmas Day Francis turned his ire to the world, blasting it for “complicit silence” and a “globalization of indifference” to a whole laundry list of ills, beginning with the abuse and exploitation of children and the “brutal persecution” currently underway in Iraq and Syria.
The pope became visibly emotional discussing the suffering of children, saying, “Truly there are so many tears this Christmas, which join the tears of the child Jesus.”

Media coverage of both performances was enthusiastic. The Curia speech was hailed as a reformer speaking truth to power, while the Urbi et Orbi was seen as a classic statement of Francis’ compassion.

While the speeches were masterfully crafted to ring bells, it’s worth pausing for a moment to ponder how reaction might have played out if it had been a different pope who said these things — for instance, had it been Pope Benedict XVI.

(For the record, Benedict easily could have given either speech. In 2005, he famously penned a Good Friday meditation about the need to confront the “filth” in the Church, and of course he suffered through the tawdry Vatican leaks affair, so he yields to no one in grasping the need for a housecleaning. He’s also passionate about the suffering of innocents and social justice, in part reflecting a family legacy of involvement in populist Bavarian farmer and labor movements in the 19th century.)

Had it been Benedict XVI, there’s a good chance the take-away might have been, “What a downer!”
Images of a tired, isolated, and defensive pope offering an increasingly bleak and hopeless diagnosis might have been framed, and it’s not much of a leap to imagine words such as “apocalyptic” and “pessimistic” featuring prominently in much commentary.
Yet because few people are inclined to see Francis in those terms, even his harsh rhetoric somehow comes off as uplifting and inspiring.

To put the point differently, Pope Francis now occupies a fairly unique spot on the global landscape as a high-profile public figure who can deliver bad news without it being written off as sour grapes. Some of the drama of 2015 may rest in how he chooses to spend that capital.

My Final Comment: While there is continuity between Pope Benedict and Pope Francis, Pope Francis gets away with harsh rhetoric while Pope Benedict would not have been given a pass and would be dismissed by the press. In fact, the press seem to cease to cover Pope Benedict altogether. We can't say that with Pope Francis. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

TO UNDERSTAND POPE FRANCIS AND HIS PONTIFICATE, WE MUST UNDERSTAND IGNATIAN SPIRITUALITY AND ITS SPIRITUAL EXERCISES


Is Pope Francis giving the Church and the world Ignatian spirituality and the spiritual exercises? The concepts of the Church as a field hospital in the midst of a battle, the culture of encounter, God's personal love for everyone and for creation, the motivation of the heart over the mind and so on, which have become synonymous with Pope Francis papacy do not originate with Pope Francis but with Saint Ignatius of Loyola!

I grew up in Augusta and have been pastor in Macon for the past 11 years. Both of these cities inherit the spirituality of the Jesuits as both were southern strongholds for the Jesuits, both having churches built by the Jesuits. I resonate with so much of what Pope Francis says and teaches because it is integral to both Macon and Augusta's experience of Catholicism precisely because of the Jesuits and Ignatian spirituality!

Watch the video and read about Ignatian spirituality and you will see Pope Francis in all of it! I report; you decide!


Ten Elements of Ignatian Spirituality

Ignatian spirituality is one of the most influential and pervasive spiritual outlooks of our age. There's a story behind it. And it has many attributes. This page provides an introduction to it.

1. It begins with a wounded soldier daydreaming on his sickbed.

Ignatian spirituality is rooted in the experiences of Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), a Basque aristocrat whose conversion to a fervent Christian faith began while he was recovering from war wounds. Ignatius, who founded the Jesuits, gained many insights into the spiritual life in the course of a decades long spiritual journey during which he became expert at helping others deepen their relationship with God. Its basis in personal experience makes Ignatian spirituality an intensely practical spirituality, well suited to laymen and laywomen living active lives in the world.


2. The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

This line from a poem by the Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins captures a central theme of Ignatian spirituality: its insistence that God is at work everywhere”in work, relationships, culture, the arts, the intellectual life, creation itself. As Ignatius put it, all the things in the world are presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily. Ignatian spirituality places great emphasis on discerning God's presence in the everyday activities of ordinary life. It sees God as an active God, always at work, inviting us to an ever-deeper walk.

3. It's about call and response ”like the music of a gospel choir.

An Ignatian spiritual life focuses on God at work now. It fosters an active attentiveness to God joined with a prompt responsiveness to God. God calls; we respond. This call-response rhythm of the inner life makes discernment and decision making especially important. Ignatius' rules for discernment and his astute approach to decision making are well-regarded for their psychological and spiritual wisdom.

4.The heart has its reasons of which the mind knows nothing.

Ignatius Loyola's conversion occurred as he became able to interpret the spiritual meaning of his emotional life. The spirituality he developed places great emphasis on the affective life: the use of imagination in prayer, discernment and interpretation of feelings, cultivation of great desires, and generous service. Ignatian spiritual renewal focuses more on the heart than the intellect. It holds that our choices and decisions are often beyond the merely rational or reasonable. Its goal is an eager, generous, wholehearted offer of oneself to God and to his work.

5. Free at last.

Ignatian spirituality emphasizes interior freedom. To choose rightly, we should strive to be freedom-bird-in-flight free of personal preferences, superfluous attachments, and preformed opinions. Ignatius counseled radical detachment: We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one. Our one goal is the freedom to make a wholehearted choice to follow God.

6. Sum up at night what thou hast done by day.

The Ignatian mind-set is strongly inclined to reflection and self-scrutiny. The distinctive Ignatian prayer is the Daily Examen, a review of the day's activities with an eye toward detecting and responding to the presence of God. Three challenging, reflective questions lie at the heart of the Spiritual Exercises, the book Ignatius wrote, to help others deepen their spiritual lives: What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I to do for Christ?

7. A practical spirituality.

Ignatian spirituality is adaptable. It is an outlook, not a program; a set of attitudes and insights, not rules or a scheme. Ignatius' first advice to spiritual directors was to adapt the Spiritual Exercises to the needs of the person entering the retreat. At the heart of Ignatian spirituality is a profound humanism.├é It respects people's lived experience and honors the vast diversity of God's work in the world. The Latin phrase cura personalis is often heard in Ignatian circles. It means care of the person”attention to people's individual needs and respect for their unique circumstances and concerns.

8. Don't do it alone.

Ignatian spirituality places great value on collaboration and teamwork. Ignatian spirituality sees the link between God and man as a relationship a bond of friendship that develops over time as a human relationship does.Collaboration is built into the very structure of the Spiritual Exercises; they are almost always guided by a spiritual director who helps the retreatant interpret the spiritual content of the retreat experience. Similarly, mission and service in the Ignatian mode is seen not as an individualistic enterprise, but as work done in collaboration with Christ and others.


9. Contemplatives in action.

Those formed by Ignatian spirituality are often called contemplatives in action. They are reflective people with a rich inner life who are deeply engaged in God's work in the world. They unite themselves with God by joining God active labor to save and heal the world. It an active spiritual attitude”a way for everyone to seek and find God in their workplaces, homes, families, and communities.

10. Men and women for others.

The early Jesuits often described their work as simply helping souls. The great Jesuit leader Pedro Arrupe updated this idea in the twentieth century by calling those formed in Ignatian spirituality men and women for others. Both phrases express a deep commitment to social justice and a radical giving of oneself to others. The heart of this service is the radical generosity that Ignatius asked for in his most famous prayer:

Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.

AUGUSTA CHRONICLE'S TAKE ON METRO AUGUSTA'S NEW CATHOLIC CHURCH, THE DIOCESE'S LARGEST! IT WAS DESIGNED AROUND TRADITIONAL STAIN GLASS WINDOWS, STATIONS OF THE CROSS AND ALTARS FROM CLOSED NORTHEAST CATHOLIC CHURCH BUILDINGS!





The Church, designed by my parishioners at St. Joseph Church in Macon (Azar/Walsh, Kevin Walsh and Kamal Azar), was designed around Myer Stain Glass windows and traditional altars harvested from dead churches in the northeast and re-purposed for a grand new use in the south!

The Church can seat up to 1400. It has a large traditional choir loft with a brand new pipe organ (don't know what kind) and behind the choir loft which is accessed by a full service elevator and stairs is a large choir room, a bride's room and full service restrooms!

There is also a day chapel that seats up to 150 people for daily Mass, small funerals and weddings. It can be accessed by code 24 hours a day and can be locked off from the main part of the church. 

This article and the photos are from Saturday, December 27th's Religion section highlighting last Saturday's dedication/consecration of St. Teresa of Avila Church in Grovetown, a suburb of Augusta:

New church facility now diocese's largest

By Lisa Kaylor
Staff Writer
Friday, Dec. 26, 2014







The stained-glass windows were not made to fit the new St. Teresa of Avila sanctuary. The sanctuary was made to fit the windows – and the altars and the Stations of the Cross.

The Rev. Mike Ingram, the pastor of the parish, found the 100-year-old items shortly after he arrived at St. Teresa. Building the sanctuary was one of the main reasons he’d been assigned to the church, he said.

He contacted King Richard’s Liturgical Design and Contracting to search for the stained glass, the 6-foot-tall Stations of the Cross, and all three of the altars. The company purchased them from closed churches in New England. Then the architects designed the 40,000-square-foot building around the pieces.

Pointing to the windows, encased in Gothic-style arches, Ingram said he has learned that the value of stained glass can be determined by the number of faces in the artwork. One of the windows, for example, has five.

“They’ve told us we need to insure the windows alone for $1.75 million – just the windows. And we paid probably about $300,000 (for all),” he said.

The church building, at 4921 Columbia Road in Grovetown, now makes St. Teresa the largest church in the Diocese of Savannah in terms of seating, Ingram said. It can seat 1,200 people for one Mass, which will help accommodate the church’s tremendous growth.

“I’ve added over 250 new families since Jan. 1 of this year,” Ingram said. “We’re just growing at an incredible pace.”

Nearly 15 years ago, the pastor at the time, the Rev. Thomas Peyton, purchased 44 acres on Columbia Road, the site of an old driving range. He built two buildings on the property – a family life center that seats about 900 and an educational building, where today more than 700 children attend Faith Formation classes.

There was nothing out there then but a couple of old subdivisions, and the congregation consisted of about 600 families. Now subdivisions are springing up everywhere around the church, and the congregation has grown to more than 2,000 families, Ingram said.

“It’s incredible,” Ingram said. “We’re in the right place at the right time.”

Ingram said when he arrived at the parish more than three years ago, his goal was to challenge his parishioners to be better stewards of the gifts God has given them, whether that’s money or time.

“I’m a strong, strong advocate for what us as Catholics call the spirituality of stewardship. It’s the time, talent and treasure you give back to God,” he said.

He said the parishioners responded incredibly well, which has been instrumental in helping to build the church.

“I feel like I’m the most blessed priest in the world,” he said.

The church is continuing to grow. Construction is underway on a columbarium, for burial of cremated remains. It will provide a more convenient resting place for church members and their loved ones after death, as well as provide an endowment source to provide for the upkeep of the property and buildings.

Bishop Emeritus J. Kevin Boland, who assigned Ingram to St. Teresa to build the church and attended the dedication, said the building is the completion of a dream.

“This is a magnificent tribute to the people, to resolve to build this whole complex here. The church is the last part of it – the biggest part of it. From there, we get our spiritual energy to do what we do,” he said.

Friday, December 26, 2014

FOR PEE DEE'S SAKE! IT'S NOT A BLAST FROM THE PAST ANYMORE, BUT A BLAST IN PRESENT AND FOR THE FUTURE!

This is from the Diocese of Charleston, SC. The reporter thinks the Tridentine Mass, affectionately known as the Extraordinary Form, is a blast from the past. Really?????
WBTW-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Florence, SC

MY FORMER PARISH IN AUGUSTA MAKES CHRISTMAS NEWS

On Christmas Day evening at home in Augusta, Georgia, I'm watching the local news and I get a Christmas gift: my former parish and its pastor make the news. This Church has been on the same property in downtown Augusta since 1810! The new church in the video was begun in 1857 and completed and consecrated in April of 1863 in the middle of the War between the States. It is a half a block away from the childhood home of President Woodrow Wilson whose dad was the pastor of the church next door, First Presbyterian Church.

The newscaster or writer makes a couple of mistakes at the end. The Catholic Church in N. Augusta (across the Savannah River in South Carolina) is Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, not Our Lady Peace which also had Christmas Day Mass. Then she seems to indicate that Saint Paul United Methodist Church also had Mass. Interesting!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

ORDINARY FORM SOLEMN MIDNIGHT MASS AT SAINT JOSEPH CHURCH CELEBRATED AD ORIENTEM FOR TWO YEARS IN A ROW!

We had glorious Christmas Solemn Masses all in the Ordinary Form. For the second year in a row, our Midnight Mass (actually at Midnight, no actually at 12:10 AM as our choral prelude went a bit over time) was celebrated ad orientem for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The choir was splendid as was the congregation's singing. After the Latin Introit, all sang with gusto "Come All Ye Faithful" accompanied by organ, trumpet and tympani. The entire Mass was chanted including all the priest's parts.

The Kyrie was the Mass of the Angels and all chanted the Jubilatio Deo Gloria in Latin--splendidly I might add.

We chanted Credo III in Latin genuflecting at the "Incarnatus est..." I was pleased to hear behind me so many in the congregation chanting it with gusto.

The Sanctus, Mystery of Faith and Great Amen were from the Mass of Creation (but with organ, trumpet and tympani it was majestic).

The Agnus Dei was Took's Mass of the Holy Trinity, which is truly splendid.

But the most important and completely uncontroversial aspect of our Solemn Sung Midnight Mass was that it was celebrated ad orientem for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The Introductory and concluding Rites were from the chair and the Liturgy of the Word is as it is done in the Ordinary Form, from the ambo.

But it was completely normal and I needed to make no explanation about it, none whatsoever and no one blinked an eye, asked why we did it or complained that it was so "pre-Vatican II." This is major growth for modern Catholics to say the least!

And finally, while our altar railing isn't going to be blessed until January 4th's EF High Mass at 2 PM, people approached the ministers of Holy Communion who stood behind the railing and received either standing or kneeling, in the hand or on the tongue. I had several people kneel and receive in the hand. Even receiving in the hand while kneeling appears to me to be more reverent.

A blessed Christmas to you all and to all a good night!


CHANGING PAPAL STYLES FOR THE CHRISTMAS URBI ET ORBI BLESSING

Pope Francis with a plain red stole last year:
And this Christmas morning wearing the ornate papal stole Pope Benedict often wore:

The Mozetta with ermine look and the plain look:

And finally, Pope Benedict's evolving look and in order:




Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A BLESSED CHRISTMAS TO ALL: THE HOLY FATHER'S LATIN SOLEMN MASS AT MIDNIGHT OR 10:00 PM

The Christmas Mass at Night is mostly in Latin and quite beautiful with traditional Latin Chants. The Credo is the Jubilatio Deo version (Chant III) but when it came time for all to kneel for the "Incarnatus est..." the Gregorian Chant stopped and a operatic soprano soloist sang an elaborate version of it and quite effectively.



And the following is Christmas Day's Urbi et Orbi message. The pope appears at about minute 9. And not since the night of his election, Pope Francis uses the ornate papal stole for the actual blessing which is placed upon him at minute 21:12. It truly is papal looking. Now if only the mozzetta and other papal trappings, but alas even small gifts are something.

The Following is the homily for the Midnight Mass:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Is 9:1). “An angel of the Lord appeared to [the shepherds] and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Lk 2:9). This is how the liturgy of this holy Christmas night presents to us the birth of the Saviour: as the light which pierces and dispels the deepest darkness. The presence of the Lord in the midst of his people cancels the sorrow of defeat and the misery of slavery, and ushers in joy and happiness.

We too, in this blessed night, have come to the house of God. We have passed through the darkness which envelops the earth, guided by the flame of faith which illuminates our steps, and enlivened by the hope of finding the “great light”. By opening our hearts, we also can contemplate the miracle of that child-sun who, arising from on high, illuminates the horizon.

The origin of the darkness which envelops the world is lost in the night of the ages. Let us think back to that dark moment when the first crime of humanity was committed, when the hand of Cain, blinded by envy, killed his brother Abel (cf. Gen 4:8). As a result, the unfolding of the centuries has been marked by violence, wars, hatred and oppression. But God, who placed a sense of expectation within man made in his image and likeness, was waiting. God was waiting. He waited for so long that perhaps at a certain point it seemed he should have given up. But he could not give up because he could not deny himself (cf. 2 Tim 2:13). Therefore he continued to wait patiently in the face of the corruption of man and peoples. The patience of God. How difficult it is to comprehend this: God’s patience towards us.

Through the course of history, the light that shatters the darkness reveals to us that God is Father and that his patient fidelity is stronger than darkness and corruption. This is the message of Christmas night. God does not know outbursts of anger or impatience; he is always there, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, waiting to catch from afar a glimpse of the lost son as he returns; and every day, with patience. The patience of God.

Isaiah’s prophecy announces the rising of a great light which breaks through the night. This light is born in Bethlehem and is welcomed by the loving arms of Mary, by the love of Joseph, by the wonder of the shepherds. When the angels announced the birth of the Redeemer to the shepherds, they did so with these words: “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12). The “sign” is in fact the humility of God, the humility of God taken to the extreme; it is the love with which, that night, he assumed our frailty, our suffering, our anxieties, our desires and our limitations. The message that everyone was expecting, that everyone was searching for in the depths of their souls, was none other than the tenderness of God: God who looks upon us with eyes full of love, who accepts our poverty, God who is in love with our smallness.

On this holy night, while we contemplate the Infant Jesus just born and placed in the manger, we are invited to reflect. How do we welcome the tenderness of God? Do I allow myself to be taken up by God, to be embraced by him, or do I prevent him from drawing close? “But I am searching for the Lord” – we could respond. Nevertheless, what is most important is not seeking him, but rather allowing him to seek me, find me and caress me with tenderness. The question put to us simply by the Infant’s presence is: do I allow God to love me?

More so, do we have the courage to welcome with tenderness the difficulties and problems of those who are near to us, or do we prefer impersonal solutions, perhaps effective but devoid of the warmth of the Gospel? How much the world needs tenderness today! The patience of God, the closeness of God, the tenderness of God.

The Christian response cannot be different from God’s response to our smallness. Life must be met with goodness, with meekness. When we realize that God is in love with our smallness, that he made himself small in order to better encounter us, we cannot help but open our hearts to him, and beseech him: “Lord, help me to be like you, give me the grace of tenderness in the most difficult circumstances of life, give me the grace of closeness in the face of every need, of meekness in every conflict”.

Dear brothers and sisters, on this holy night we contemplate the Nativity scene: there “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 9:1). People who were unassuming, people open to receiving the gift of God, were the ones who saw this light. This light was not seen, however, by the arrogant, the proud, by those who made laws according to their own personal measures, who were closed off to others. Let us look to the crib and pray, asking the Blessed Mother: “O Mary, show us Jesus!”.

ANOTHER SPIN ON POPE FRANCIS' MERRY CHRISTMAS DRESSDOWN OF THE CURIA FROM A VATICAN INSIDER

This is copied from the Vatican Insider:

Cardinal Lajolo on the speech to the Curia: nothing like this has ever happened before

The cardinal claims: 'The Pope talks about himself as well. Gossip can kill'

Giacomo Galeazzi Vatican City 'To be honest, nothing like this has ever happened before'. Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, the former Vatican governor and foreign minister, does not hide his surprise. 'It is the first time this has happened; never before had a Pope set us in the Curia a series of pathologies that we must examine ourselves on.' All along, says the cardinal who has been head of some of the most important offices of the Holy See for many years,  'the exchange of Christmas wishes has been a customary occasion, that follows a usual pattern'.

What did you expect from Pope Francis' speech?

'On this occasion, his predecessors would usually say nothing but the most relevant events of the past year. They summed up the principal events in the Church and in their apostolic activity. So you could have expected Francis to talk about his travels to the Holy See and Turkey, instead he said nothing about them. Maybe he will refer to these in his speech to the ambassadors to the Vatican.'

How did you welcome the Pope's warning?

'It is the request of an examination of conscience, of an end-of-the-year confession. For the first time a Pope asks the Curia to examine itself on a number of problematic issues. For instance, on the basis of my experiences of the Curia, I believe that a simplification of procedures would diminish scandals.'

Why does the Pope implicate cardinals and bishops?

'The seven deadly sins are within all of us. Even the Pope often calls himself a sinner. And if he is a sinner, never mind us. Scandals will continue to exist as long as the world exists. The Gospel says that it is necessary for scandals to take place, but those who cause them will be sorry. It is the word of Christ, which is unquestionable for us.'

So you cannot avoid scandals?

'It is the duty of the superiors in the Curia to make sure these things do not happen. And since he holds the most responsibility, the Pope is the first one to deal with them. Reforming institutions is necessary but it is not enough. We need a conversion of the hearts. The Church needs constant reformations, and the Roman Curia in particular, which gathers the tensions and issues of the local Churches throughout the whole world.

Will the reforms under way at the moment be enough?

'it is useful for ecclesiastical institutions to become simpler and more efficient but there are men whose hearts are known to be a mess within them. Tacitus' question is extremely current; what do we need good laws for, if we do not have good values? Honest conduct is not established by law. Francis asks us to carefully reflect on our behaviour and our weaknesses, thinking of the evil that we do. Starting from gossip, that can kill.'

SUPPORTING LAW ENFORCEMENT SINCE NONE OF US WHO AREN'T IN LAW ENFORCEMENT REALLY KNOW WHAT LAW ENFORCERS GO THROUGH

Recently a brother priest commented to me concerning the protests against law enforcement in light of the various deaths of black citizens at the hands of law enforcement. He said to me that none of us white people really know what fear blacks have of law enforcement and how they feel harassed by them.

I don't doubt for one minute that there are some racists in law enforcement. I also know, having worked in a parish with a significant black population that there is a "racism" towards some whites simply based upon color and nothing more. Racism is a two way street.

But with that said, I must offer a disclaimer. My brother was in law enforcement for well over 30 years and was cleared by the Sheriff's department for two or three incidents when he had to shoot and kill someone who was going to kill him.

My nephew is currently in law enforcement and knows the terror of trying to deal with individual law breakers that could kill you in a second if they had the chance.

So most of us who are not in law enforcement don't really know the psychological angst that many in law enforcement go through day and night. The person they pull over for a routine traffic ticket could shoot them in the face. Such happened last year in Augusta and several other killings of law enforcement in the Augusta metro area.

Protesting law enforcement and shouting words of hate, names of disrespect and pleas that they be killed is irresponsible and like shouting out fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire.

Law enforcement has a system to deal with officers who kill a suspect in the line of duty. It is a legal process. Agree or disagree with the outcome is fine but respect for the law is a necessity even if one disagrees with an investigation or a grand jury's findings. 


THE MORAL CORRUPTION AND DUPLICITY OF THE GERMAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCE

I read at the Praytell blog the following concerning the German Bishops' Conference and their pastoral sensitivities:

The Catholic bishops in Germany continue to wrestle with the manner of dealing with those divorced and remarried. A large majority of them advocate that, in justified individual cases, Catholics in a second marriage be admitted to Eucharist and Reconciliation. A minority wishes to hold to the current regulations that the divorced and remarried certainly belong to the church and are part of the community, but generally cannot be admitted to the sacraments. The bishops are in agreement that pastoral accompaniment of faithful whose marriages failed and who have entered into a new relationship is to be intensified.
These positions, first released in Bonn on Monday, are to be found in the considerations of the German Bishops’ Conference titled “Theologically Responsible and Pastorally Appropriate Ways of Accompanying the Divorced and Remarried.”
Surely the purpose of posting this was to show how progressive and with it (hip, if you like) the bishops of Germany are and  they are trail blazing a path for the rest of the Church especially as she approaches the synod on marriage next year.

But then the comments in the post took an interesting turn that pointed out the bishops of Germany corruption and duplicity and just how unpastoral they really are. I will print a couple of those insightful comments:

1. The German church wants as many people to keep paying the church tax, which is 8-9% of income, collected by the government and distributed to the churches. In fact, not paying the church tax is the only thing that would cause you not to be admitted to the Sacraments there.

2.  The German Bishops Conference published a formal decree forbidding the administration of Communion, Confession, or burial should one not pay the Church tax.
Funny…. Communion for the divorced and remarried (i.e. no annulment), but suck it if you don’t pay the tax.

3.  By the way, the German Bishops used to maintain that one who did not pay the Church Tax was subject to Excommunication. The Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts overruled this position of the German Conference, leading them to published the aforesaid decree, which prohibits reception of the Sacraments unless in danger of death.
Decree may be found here: http://www.dbk.de/fileadmin/redaktion/diverse_downloads/presse/2012-145a-Allgemeines-Dekret-Kirchenaustritt_Dekret.pdf

My Final Comments: So the German Bishops' Conference has mercy and pity on people in bogus marriages who still are in presumed sacramental marriages but separated from their true spouse. Theological bigamy will be condoned and Communion given but not if you don't pay your church tax even if you are completely a faithful Catholic. Money is the most important thing for German bishops.

 There were other such comments which the moderator of Praytell finally tried to stop and censor since these comments didn't serve his purpose or he didn't do his homework to find out how corrupt the German bishops are.

It would seem that Pope Francis' Merry Christmas talk to the Curia could easily be applied to the German bishops to say the least.

And as I recall, the German Church that produced the Bishop of Bling, is one of the richest Churches in the Catholic world and has some unscrupulous business dealings and investments with makers of pornography which is quite lucrative, that would make the Vatican bank blush. Maybe Cardinal Pell needs to take over the German Bishops' Conference and reform it too!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

PRE-VATICAN II PRAYER AND SPIRITUALITY BETTER THAN POST VATICAN II PRAYER AND SPIRITUALITY: THE LAW OF PRAYER IS THE LAW OF BELIEF


Over at CRUX you can read John Allen's analysis of Pope Francis' scathing criticism of the curia by Pope Francis during his "Merry Christmas Greeting" on Monday, December 22. I suspect Pope Francis is receiving some push back for his radical reforms of the Vatican, the Church and the papacy by the curia and thus the slam, the most public slam.

I often wondered which group opposed Pope Benedict in the curia. Was it progressives who did not like the pre-Vatican II in continuity theology of the Holy Father and his restoration of pre-Vatican II prayer and spirituality and trappings?

And now with Pope Francis is it the conservatives, like Cardinal Burke, who are pushing back and to whom the Pope was directing his scathing remarks?

I don't know. I think it is much more complex and that the curia needs reform but I think publicly humiliating everyone and casting suspicion on them all is not the way to go. But who am I to judge?

But John Allen's analysis including a reminder of Pope Francis praising past members of the curia, those of the pre-Vatican II Church is worth exploring. This is what John Allen writes:

 Even when Francis tries to go positive, his language sometimes comes off as a back-handed tribute. For instance, he often talks about “old-time curialists” he admires, who did their jobs competently and without fanfare, but by describing them as “old-time” he seems to suggest the current crop of Vatican officials isn’t up to the same standard.

What is it about the "old-time curialists" that was so admirable? They were formed by the pre-Vatican II Church, its discipline, its liturgy, its sacraments and its legalism found in Canon Law and other important precepts!  There was a real fear of displeasing God! They went to confession regularly. They were reminded of their smallness before God and God's grandeur as they knelt before him.  They knelt before him in prayer and at Holy Communion if they were not the celebrant of the Mass! 

The pre-Vatican II Mass, with 1500 years behind it, reminded the priest-celebrant of his sinfulness over and over again, first with his private confiteor and absolution by the ministers at the Foot of the Altar and in all of the private prayers of priest during the Mass all of which have been expunged from the contrived post-Vatican II Mass with its theology of haughtiness before God.

Keep in mind that the self-referential Church is the post-Vatican II Church, where the documents of Vatican II became the new Scriptures and was preached more than God the Most Holy Trinity!

By denigrating all things pre-Vatican II, its prayer, its devotions, its liturgies, its sacramental theology, its morality, its obsession with sin and confession, its exaltation of a high Christology and the low theology of mankind, the Church herself has prepared the way for the type of Catholics we have today that Pope Francis criticizes in a scathing way. At it isn't just curialist that need the examination of conscience that the pope preached.

While I applaud Pope Francis, a doctor of the soul, for making the proper diagnosis that afflicts so many post-Vatican II Catholics, and not just curialists, I fear it has not uncovered the actual cause and that he may well be fomenting even more illness in the Church by not doing so.

The pathogen of the spiritual illness described in the pope's Merry Christmas address is post-Vatican II loss of faith and morals and contempt for canon law and other important precepts not to mention a loss of fear of displeasing God! It is a loss of orienting oneself toward the majesty of God during the Liturgy. It is a loss of reverence that leads to haughtiness that is brought on by standing for Holy Communion and receiving the King of Kings in one's hand and in the most casual and sometimes disrespectful ways. It is a loss of the Augustinian awareness of the wormness of mankind and depravity before God that deserves eternal damnation if not for the unmerited mercy and redemption of Jesus Christ in the Sacrifice of the Cross.

It is a loss of the belief that the Mass perpetuates the one Sacrifice of Christ which alone saves us from sin and death.

It is a loss of frequent confession of one's sin and an awareness of our sinfulness by a Mass that emphasizes it to the point of a fault, but a happy fault.

And Holy Father Francis, it is a sense of entitlement to Holy Communion that even those who are privately excommunicated still present themselves for Holy Communion in a state of unforgiven mortal sin, such as being in a second "marriage" while their first sacramental marriage is presumed to continue to exist. But there are plenty of other examples of the haughty reception of Holy Communion without sacramental absolution for mortal sins committed the night before or weeks and years before.

Yes the Law of Prayer is the Law of Belief, for good or ill!