Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Are we at the precipice of the actual "springtime" for the Church that so many in the 1960's thought for sure, by way of the mortal sin of presumption, would occur immediately after Vatican II? I'm not clairvoyant, but maybe I am, and I think that we might just be and this is no sin of bragging, just fact. 

I know may traditionalists are very, very discomforted by Pope Francis style of being pope and being almost like a loose canon, but I think he knows what he is doing and I think he is following what the Holy Spirit is telling him to do. 

John Allen of the National Chismatic Reporter, (NCR)interviewed Pope Francis sister and she states that he was always a person who did not like big crowds and would avoid them and not draw much attention to himself. She is shocked at his new personality and the fact that he seems to relish what he is doing. It is also said that Pope Francis as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires was boring and sometimes gave long boring talks. But this has not been the case thus far.

So it appears that the charism of the Office of the Chair of Peter has been handed onto this pope and in a rather unique way for the unique times in which we live.

What the Holy Father is modeling is what the Church in every diocese and parish must do also. We must engage with the world to bring them the good news. We can't do it as we did it in colonial times and force everyone to be baptized, as in South America, but we can do it through the power of love, persuasion and convincing signs and symbols which Pope Francis has done marvelously in the past 7 months.

The first thing he did, which shocked so many of you traditionalists, is that he celebrated Holy Thursday's Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper at that youth prison where he washed the feet of convicted juvenile delinquents including those who are not even Catholic, a muslim or two and several females. 

Is not the Church's mission to go to the whole world with the Good News of Jesus Christ? And when Jesus washes the feet of Saint Peter does He not tell him that He will not share in His life if Jesus does not wash Him? Of course Peter will share in Jesus' crucifixion too, which the washing of his feet foretells. But that is the mission of the Church that we must all share in the cross of Jesus to be bathed clean in His Blood. 

Now the Pope's most controversial style of teaching is the interview. First it was on a plane and unscripted, then there was the one with the Jesuit publication and the latest with the left leaning La Republica Newspaper. The atheist founder of this newspaper will be a changed person for this experience and those who read it, usually leftists in the Italian government and civilian life, will see the papacy and the Church in a new and more positive light and that the pope actually cares about these people to take the time to give this interview.

Shouldn't every parish and every Catholic talk to their friends, Catholics and non-Catholics, believers and non believers with love, respect and the desire to lead them to Christ, which they must choose to do so in completely freedom, not through manipulation or coercion?

So, is a new springtime about to occur in the Church in Europe and America? I am quite willing to give this pope the time he needs to do what he thinks the Holy Spirit is asking him to do. In five or ten years we can evaluate what is going on. Just remember, the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. We may have to suffer this, that and the other, like the confusion that reigned in the Church during the so-called "spirit of Vatican II" so many of us experienced in the 1970's. But even there, God's plan is to bring good out of evil, resurrection out of death. And keep in mind, we are here on earth and in the Church Militant only for a short time, this isn't our true home, so we shouldn't act like it is. Heaven is our true destination and all we need to do is to cooperate with God in bringing about what He wants to give us as a pure gift. 

While the Pope is shaking things up, keep in mind the following:

He's told biblical scholars not to use methods of interpretation that call into question the Church's teachings and to be faithful to the Magisterium--that is big news and he said it within the first month of his papacy.

He's told all Catholics to be faithful to the Magisterium, the pope and bishops in union with him--this is Catholic folks and I fear that many Catholics and even some who comment here, are still Protestant congregationalists at heart when it comes to Catholicism.

He's reinvigorating the devotional life of the Church in a "hermeneutic of continuity" sort of way and insisting on Marian devotion, calling the Church, Holy Mother and inviting devotions to the other saints as well. The Holy Rosary, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, processions and a myriad of other traditional popular devotions are going to be recovered and this is good news indeed.

While he is not opposed to the EF Mass, he does not want the Extraordinary Form imposed on anyone or anyone to think that the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is the normative form of the Mass. It isn't--it is for those who request it and should be under the supervision of local bishops. This bothers traditionalists who thought that the normative Mass of Vatican II would be suppressed. It won't and not even Pope Benedict advocated such silliness.

But Pope Benedict wanted the EF to influence the OF in terms of ethos and spirituality. Pope Francis is cracked open that very real possibility for the entire Latin Rite Church by allowing the Roman Missal of the Anglican Ordinariate to have in its appendix the options of "The Prayers at the Foot of the altar" to replace the Penitential Act (and thus a revised order of Mass for the Introductory Rite) as well as the EF's Offertory Prayers and the Last Gospel and rubrics for the Roman Missal more in keeping with the EF missal. This is big news folks and under Pope Francis' watch. He could have easily have excluded these things from the Anglican Ordinariate. I think it is a sign of things to come for our revised Roman Missal in the Ordinary Form which may well include these options in the Appendix!

Every formal Mass I've seen with Pope Francis has been beautiful. The Benedictine altar arrangement remains, the Introit is always chanted, as well as the Offertory and Communion Antiphons. There is always a bit of Latin somewhere in his Masses, although not in the consistent ways as Pope Benedict.

He doesn't distribute Holy Communion to the laity and he certainly isn't opposed to people standing to receive. At the Vatican, we are told when we distribute Holy Communion at papal Masses by one of the MC's not to give Holy Communion in the hand--that is a specific instruction. I know you see priests giving Holy Communion in the hand at papal Masses, but that is in contradiction from what we are told to do.

The Holy Father continues at St. Peter's to distribute Holy Communion to the deacons who kneel to receive from the Holy Father and by way of intinction.

This Pope is pastoral and most of his life as a priest and bishop has been pastoral, not academic. We are not use to this kind of pope and I don't think we've had one like this in centuries. Thus he speaks as a pastor, not an academic and knows what Catholics experience in the messiness of their lives as I do as a pastor.

He is going to develop a pastoral theology on the papal level which we have not seen and I think this too will lead to the "new springtime" that so many thought would happen in the 1970's.

So, my concluding remarks to anxious traditionalists is give this pope and the Holy Spirit time, don't carp, and be happy (blessed) not sad (cursed)!


John Nolan said...

Father, Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae do not say that the EF "is for those who request it and should be under the supervision of local bishops". It could be argued that this was the situation pre-2007, and if it is indeed what the Holy Father wants, then SP is a dead letter (and since it has juridical force he would have to formally abrogate it, although this will not happen in Benedict's lifetime).

Pope Benedict wanted the EF to be fully accepted as part of the Church's liturgical life, so in a sense it is indeed normative.

Anonymous said...

Francis refuses to even acknowledge his is pope, lives in a motel has discarded everything not to his personal liking from the first moment he was elected. He is the first pope in history to purposefully commit liturgical abuse and knowingly cause scandal to the only people in the Church who actually believe and try to live the Faith. He is also the first pope in history to forbid people from celebrating the ancient rite of the Mass, not even Paul VI did that. Francis sees the doctrines of the Church as stumbling blocks to Christ instead of the straight path to Him, that is why he says we can't be concerned with rules. He says he can't judge yet he accuses people who like "triumphant" liturgy of not believing in the Resurrection. That sounds pretty judge mental to me. He goes out of his way to appeal to people who not only disagree but hate the teachings of the Faith while mocking simple faithful who send him a spiritual bouquet. The real St.Francis tried to convert non believers to the Faith, this Francis calls that solemn nonsense. He even refused to invoke the Trinity and make the sign of the cross over journalists because some of them weren't believers. I dare say even an atheist would not consider it insulting to be in the present at an audience and not receive the blessing. I don' t believe in Judaism but I would welcome a blessing by a Rabbi if it were offered me. To bend over backwards and pretend something isn't terribly wrong is unbelievable. And as for the Marian devotion lets not forget he placed a BEACH BALL on our Lady's altar. An altar where Holy Mass is offered. He couldn't have lit a candle which would have been more in line with what ordinary Catholic practice has been for thousands of years. No, he had to make another outlandish gesture that he knew would appeal to the people. None of this will call anyone to conversion it will just cause more confusion.

Henry said...

"Just remember, the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church."

Not against the Eternal Church Militant, Penitent, and Triumphant. But how much consolation is this at a particular time and place here on Earth, where the forces of evil may well prevail, and the Church disappear? And what happens on this human level may depend much the fallible prudential judgment of popes and bishops and we ourselves.

Henry said...

But, Fr. McDonald, aside from weighty theological quibbles, I sure would like to feel like you did when you wrote this piece. What have you been drinking since you got to Rome?

Anonymous II said...

If we look at the history of the Catholic Church, the forces of false religions, especially Islam and, later, the Protestant sects, all sought to destroy the Church. The Church has protected Herself from infection by buttressing Herself against false ideas and making it very clear for centuries that we cannot "cross worship" or do this "interfaith" thing with false religions. Since they could not destroy us by outside attack, it seems that these various sects are now trying to corrupt us from within.

This whole "ecumenical" venture that recent popes have quite fallibly insisted is "irreversible" has no pedigree in the Catholic Church. It's a reflection of outside ideas that have infected the very systemic health of the Church.

Let's look at the record: How many converts to the faith did Paul VI bring in by inviting Protestants to help fabricate the Novus Ordo? How many of the pagan leaders at the various Assisi debacles were converted to the Catholic faith by John Paul II? I can think of only TWO modern popes who had any success in converting people outside the faith: Pius XII, by his example, converted Eugenio Zolli, head rabbi of Rome, to the faith by the end of WWII. Yes, that mean, old pope who is still accused of cooperating with Hitler. Who was the other one? Mean old Benedict XVI, who brought in hundreds of Episcopalian (Anglicans) by easing their pathway into the Church.

All this "reaching out to the world" stuff sounds so nice and friendly. But let's look at the record to see who could really "close the deal" and bring in converts. Alas, it was not the merchants of fluff.

Gene said...

Well, Anonymous and Anonymous II have certainly nailed it...

rcg said...

I do not disagree. I do think Pope Francis is trying get people to feel less threatened and more welcome to approach the Church and listen to her. He has indicated that her teachings are not changed. He does not speak unambiguously, however, and my concern is that the bishops and their staffs will again contort documents to suppress more traditional liturgy, etc. I hope he is going to use his Gang of Eight to keep this in check.

Please explain that the EF is not the normative form: despite the expulsion from '68 to '07 SP informs us that it is, and therefore always was, acceptable. What we call the 'Ordinary Form' is more correctly the Novus Ordo and modification, or maybe even new form, might be more properly called 'vulgar' or 'common' in the polite sense, rather than normative. I mean this question reonozsincerely, and respectfully, not spitefully.

Православный физик said...

A liturgical abuse can never be justified, even if it's the Pope. All of us who fight for correct liturgy were shot in the leg...the Francis effect has lead some parishes to be even MORE lazy with Liturgy than they already were...Kyrie eleison

Anonymous said...

If our history books are correct, there was also a time when Arianism was the "normative" theology of most Catholics. That didn't make it right and thankfully it didn't last.

John Nolan said...

The pope as pastor rather than academic? What about St Pius X? The word 'pastoral' is nowadays used in a sense that Pius would not have recognized - it has become a liberal buzz-word for a range of activities from not singing Chant to ignoring Rome.

Mind you, some of us traditionalists may soon have to treat signals from Rome in a Nelsonian manner.

rcg said...

I suspect the best shepherds were the first veterinarians. The Pope has to understand what is behind and below what he teaches as well as the nature of the beasts he leads.

Gene said...

I have always thought of the term pastoral, as used by moderns, to be somewhat condescending. Priest and preacher have very different connotations, indicating an active presence and a more powerful role. Pastor, pasture...rustic, rural scenes of pleasant countrysides and flowing brooks and folks standing looking at the scenery while the Church falls apart...