Sunday, November 30, 2014


 Pope Francis said the following at the conclusion of Sunday's Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy in Istanbul (Constantinople) my comments at the end:

...By happy coincidence, my visit falls a few days after the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of Unitatis Redintegratio, the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Christian Unity.  This is a fundamental document which opened new avenues for encounter between Catholics and their brothers and sisters of other Churches and ecclesial communities.

            In particular, in that Decree the Catholic Church acknowledges that the Orthodox Churches “possess true sacraments, above all – by apostolic succession – the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are still joined to us in closest intimacy” (15).  The Decree goes on to state that in order to guard faithfully the fullness of the Christian tradition and to bring to fulfillment the reconciliation of Eastern and Western Christians, it is of the greatest importance  to preserve and support the rich patrimony of the Eastern Churches.  This regards not only their liturgical and spiritual traditions, but also their canonical disciplines, sanctioned as they are by the Fathers and by Councils, which regulate the lives of these Churches (cf. 15-16).

            I believe that it is important to reaffirm respect for this principle as an essential condition, accepted by both, for the restoration of full communion, which does not signify the submission of one to the other, or assimilation.   Rather, it means welcoming all the gifts that God has given to each, thus demonstrating to the entire world the great mystery of salvation accomplished by Christ the Lord through the Holy Spirit.

 I want to assure each one of you here that, to reach the desired goal of full unity, the Catholic Church does not intend to impose any conditions except that of the shared profession of faith.  

 Further, I would add that we are ready to seek together, in light of Scriptural teaching and the experience of the first millennium, the ways in which we can guarantee the needed unity of the Church in the present circumstances.  The one thing that the Catholic Church desires, and that I seek as Bishop of Rome, “the Church which presides in charity”, is communion with the Orthodox Churches.  Such communion will always be the fruit of that love which “has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (cf. Rom 5:5), a fraternal love which expresses the spiritual and transcendent bond which unites us as disciples of the Lord...

(Read Pope Francis' full statement here.)

My comments:

I doubt that there can be anytime soon full corporate unity with the Orthodox Churches and I emphasize Churches. These are a conglomeration of national Churches in various eastern and western countries. Some are more open to ecumenical dialogue and relations but others are quite hostile to it.

The most important thing that the Eastern Orthodox could do corporately is what the Catholic Church has stated already in Vatican II's Unitatis Redintegratio, the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Christian Unity about the Catholic Church under the pope. They have not reciprocated and this needs to come first I would think, in terms of our sacramental system and the validity of all our sacraments including Holy Orders.

It seems that the Catholic Church is progressive in acknowledging the validity of all the Sacraments of the Orthodox so much so that we allow Catholics by Church law to receive Holy Communion or any other Sacrament (except of course Holy Orders) when in need or in an emergency, such as there being no Catholic Church available on Sunday and a Catholic attends Divine Liturgy, the Catholic may according to Catholic law receive Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church. However, and this is a big HOWEVER, the Orthodox do not permit us and thus Catholics would do well to respect their wishes in this regard until they officially change their position. (I realize some renegade Orthodox priests might allow it and I suppose in that setting it would be fine to receive).

Keep in mind, though, the Catholic Church's view of the sacraments of the Eastern Orthodox does not apply to any Reformation Church since the sacramental system was destroyed by them at the reformation. This includes the Anglican Communion's sacramental system.

However, the Catholic Church's canon law does permit in unusual situations a Protestant to receive Holy Communion in a Catholic Church under the following strict canons:

1. There is no Protestant Church available for the Protestant to attend.

2. The Protestant who is validly baptized believes what the Catholic Church teaches about the Mass and the Holy Eucharist especially regarding the "real presence" although they may not be aware of or completely understand or use the term "transubstantiation." But it is implied in their personal belief. 

3. The local bishop, after having been petitioned, gives his permission--this is critical folks and cannot be dispensed!

The other way toward true ecumenism is what the Pope of ecumenism established, Pope Benedict that is.

The Anglican Ordinariate is the way toward corporate unity with Protestants. The genius behind this is that the issues surrounding the validity of the Sacraments of the Protestant denominations is thoroughly resolved and what is valid and legitimate in these denominations spirituality, piety and liturgical theology is maintained, the patrimony of what developed after their separation from Rome.

This has the potential of bringing back into full communion Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians under a similar ordinariate for them. Thus the breach with the historic Protestant Reformation Churches could be healed and other Protestants could find a home in one of these Ordinariates easily enough!

However, the first order of business must be doing the same with the SSPX and making them completely regular in the Church by removing any canonical suspensions from their bishops and priests and allowing Catholics to freely receive the sacraments in their churches and chapels. This is easier done than solving the issues of unity with the Orthodox and Protestants!


Banal is described as drearily commonplace and often predictable; trite.

In this photo when Pope Benedict visited Istanbul and participated in the Divine Liturgy with the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch, this is what Pope Benedict wore: surplice over street cassock, mozzetta with ermine and ornate papal stole:
In this photo above, Pope Benedict respects the liturgical splendor of the Orthodox liturgy and what he wears matches or is in continuity with that liturgy while still maintaining the Latin Rite ethos. 

Today, Pope Francis celebrated with the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch the same Divine Liturgy in the same Orthodox cathedral. However, he chose not to turn the house or street cassock of the pope into a liturgical one by donning the surplice, mozzetta and papal stole. No, he simply placed a plain, banal and ugly stole over his street clothes and the stole isn't even properly ironed! It looks simply slovenly:
This would be similar to me being asked to join the Greek Orthodox Church down the road from me for their Sunday Divine Liturgy.  I come with my black suit and clerical shirt and pants and simply place an ugly stole over it rather than wearing the prescribed choir dress for a priest in this setting. It would be a bit insulting I think to the Orthodox whose theology of the liturgy is heavenly not banal. How would that promote ecumenism beyond what we already have with the Orthodox?

I've said it before and I'll say it again, as a Jesuit, Pope Francis is still stuck in the 1970's liturgical milieu and the ethos of the Church as some kind of non-governmental organization (NGO) promoting social work. The social teachings of the Church are critical to being Catholic; but atheists could embrace Catholic Social teachings without belief in God.  In fact social work without the belief in God or salvation exercised purely in an altruistic way out of concern for others seems more heroic than those who do it simply for a future reward in heaven. 

But back to vestments. When I went into the seminary in 1976, the first thing I noticed was how austere the vestments were for Mass in the chapel. (When we had small group Masses in the priest's apartments in the seminary, they seldom wore vestments except with a stole over their clerical shirt.)

The vestments were full flowing but without any ornamentation. The theology then was to appear poor in a liturgical setting and that the vestment itself was the symbol and you don't put more symbols on a symbol. The later, in particular, is what I think Pope Francis continues to embrace in his vestments. His are very 1970's looking to me, especially the one he wore for his installation Mass.

The seminary also dispensed with the ornate candlesticks on the altar in favor of a pillar (one!) candle on it without a candlestick to hold it!  The gold chalices and patens were replaced by earthenware ones and the cups looked to me like plant pots one would have at home.

There was a theology behind this, based upon puritanical simplicity that is alien to authentic Catholic theology and ethos for the Mass, what the Orthodox and Eastern Rites call the Divine Liturgy.

I wonder if the Orthodox or the Eastern Rites feel comfortable with a pope whose style of dressing his part evokes the 1970's banalities and liturgical "dumbdownedness" based on a false and erroneous humility of poverty? Would they want this Pope of Rome prescribing the vestments they should use and modelling it for them as Pope Francis did today?

Saturday, November 29, 2014


I've removed the name of the religious sisters' order whose "spirituality" statement I found on the internet.

Except for the name being removed, this is exactly how it appears. Would anyone like to dissect it for its orthodoxy and paganism?

We, Sisters of************* are persons who have always responded to the urgent needs of our world. As persons of compassion, we are taking our cue from our 2007 Congregational Chapter, which says in part “Urgency to respond to the groanings of a disconnected fills us."
Collaborating with others, we work then to protect and restore Earth's healthy living systems; to act with justice and to alleviate the sufferings of people, especially the poor; to live the gospel of Jesus, to strengthen our unity with the Church and to deepen our quality of life together among ourselves.
Our engagement with the Earth, with others, with the Church, and with each other strengthens the communion we share and allows us to participate in the Mystery of Transformation.


A new tradition for Thanksgiving Day! UGH!
When I worked at Macy's between 1972 to 1976, we were closed on Sunday until my last year there when they would open on Sunday's a 1:00 PM during the Christmas season, starting the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I remember resenting those good Christian shoppers who were shopping for the first time on Sunday. How could they betray our Lord like that was my sentiment!

We didn't call the Friday after Thanksgiving "black Friday" at that time, but it was busy, busy, busy nonetheless.

I loved working at Macy's during the Christmas season and I loved all the people and it felt like Christmas to me to see so many Christmas shoppers. And the store was gloriously decorated for Christmas by late October or early November even in the 1970's.

I worked in downtown Augusta and the store windows seem to be in competition with each other to have the best Christmas display. It was wonderful. Of course it was the secular side of Christmas, but very traditional. No marshmallow time of the year in the winter for these retailers.

That brings me to the despicable trend of stores opening on Thanksgiving Day. What's up with that? and now Thanksgiving Day is the busy day and black Friday is just another shopping day.

Both in Augusta and Macon, the reports are that parking lots were half full by midday on black Friday and crowds shopping were down. Everyone did their shopping on Thanksgiving Day.

How stupid is that. Why not let black Friday remain black Friday and have a day of rest on a major secular/relgious holiday on Thanksgiving Day.

Stop the world and let me off please!


The Order and wording of  the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass began to change when I was about 12 years old. I'd like to the focus on the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar which became the Penitential Act.

As a 12 year old I loved the English. I loved the priest facing the people and I loved the fact that the Mass was being simplified and made shorter. I loved the being made shorter part the best!

The first thing that was shortened was the Prayers at the Foot of the altar, which we were encouraged to participate. It became the one that is normally used for Requiems and during Passion week. It was basically the same except Psalm 42 was eliminated. Less Scripture in the Mass, how cool was that if it made the Mass shorter!

Eventually the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar were eliminated altogether and became part, but now named the Penitential Rite, of the Introductory Rite. Introductory Rite sounded secular to me then and certainly now compared to PATFOTA. Blah sounding, no?

Then it moved from the Foot of the Altar to the priest's chair situated centrally in the church where the tabernacle once had a pride of place. But I digress.

The Order of the Introductory Rite, I mean, the PATFOTA was changed. It began now with the Sign of the Cross; the Greeting, the invitation to acknowledge one's sins, the Confiteor, absolution, Kyrie, Gloria and Collect.

Apart from the new order, the thing that I noticed the most was the lack of movement and choreography. There was no visual beauty to the reform of the Introductory Rite.  It became blah and in your face blah!

As we who celebrate the EF know, the PATFOTA begins at the foot of the altar. There is bowing and movement, then the priest gracefully ascend to the altar, kisses it and moves to the Epistle Side for the Introit and Kyrie and back to the center for the Gloria and then turns to greet the Assembly and returns to the Epistle Side of the altar for the collect. It is prayer with one's body with graceful movement, ascending choreography.

Not so with the revised "Introductory Rite" with its "penitential act." The priest reverences the altar and goes to his chair. There he remains like a plaster statue. From the Sign of the Cross to the Collect one has visual blah! There is no ascending movement or choreography whatsoever, simply blah. One might as well keep one's eyes closed and visualize the older visual beauty of the EF Mass.

Short of recovering the PATFOTA, which could be possible even for the Ordinary Form, what about a compromise?

Restore the Order of the Introductory Rite to that of the EF but maintain the OF's wording, so to speak.

At the sung Mass, the following could take place:

1. A processional hymn or instrumental processional which ends when the celebrant gets to the Foot of the Altar.

2. At the foot of the altar, ad orientem, the priest begins with the Sign of the Cross, but no greeting, and launches into the call to acknowledge one's sins. After some silence, all recite the Confiteor together. After the absolution, the celebrant ascends to the altar to reverence it and incense it as the Introit is chanted.

3. Then the celebrant goes to his chair for the chanting of the Kyrie and Gloria followed by the Greeting and Collect.

Wouldn't this restore the Order of the Mass to that of the EF, while maintaining the revised shorter Penitential Act, but always using the Confietor or second choice that follows it in the revised Missal? And wouldn't it give some visual, liturgical beauty to the Introductory Rite?

Friday, November 28, 2014


 It seems to me that the Ordinary Form of the Mass was revised with the purpose of chanting it. In fact, dropping the designations of "low, high and solemn high" for a Mass with Music and a Mass without Music was to assist in allowing for some of all of the Mass to be chanted.

At one time, even after ordination and because of poor seminary formation in the 1970's, I thought a Mass with music meant that we sang hymns during the Mass, like an "opening hymn, closing hymn and maybe something at Communion time." So early on after I was ordained I would insist even at a daily Mass we sang at these places.

Chanting the propers never entered my mind and I never experienced this in the post Vatican II Mass either in my home parish or in the seminary. The first time I heard the propers sung at a Mass, either I was celebrating or attending, was at Most Holy Trinity in Augusta when we started to celebrate a Latin Ordinary Form Mass once a month at our Saturday Vigil. And it was our choir director who did it. I had to ask her where she got these Latin Chants not knowing even by 2000 that these still existed for the Ordinary Form Mass in Latin. Wow!

I do not have a trained voice for singing, but I can carry a tune and people tell me I have a nice voice. I am not a virtuoso and I can't perform a secular song as entertainment although I have a nice singing voice. I have what I like to call a fine liturgical voice that is not geared toward virtuosity. I can chant and sing liturgical music and even lead it. I can chant the priest parts of the Mass in a prayerful, liturgical way without coming across as an entertainer.

I've always sung at Mass and have always know how to chant the opening prayer and preface with relative ease. I do have a gift to improvise the written text of the Preface if I get off note and can recover also without it being too obvious to the congregation.

However up until 1991, I seldom chanted my parts of the Mass except for special feasts and solemnities to enhance these, what was taught to us as "progressive solemnity."

In 1991 I inherited a sung Mass at my new assignment of Most Holy Trinity in Augusta. Every Sunday all the stops were pulled out at the 10:00 Sunday Mass, including the use of incense and Holy Water each Sunday. It was then that I began to sing my parts of the Mass every Sunday.

But it has only been in the last eight years that I've begun to sing all my parts at Sunday Mass, including the Sign of the Cross, greeting, introduction to the penitential act and all other parts. I even chant the epiclesis and words of consecration for the Eucharistic Prayer.

What do you think? Is the Ordinary Form of the Mass made to be chanted or not. Do you prefer the priest parts chanted or spoken?

In fact even at our daily Mass, we chants the congregational parts for the Alleluia, Sanctus, Mystery of Faith, Great Amen and Lamb of God. The Congregation is led by the lector to recite the Introit and Communion Antiphons from the missalette. We chant the congregational parts in Latin, which our daily Mass congregation knows by heart.

Doing this for daily Mass would not be permitted in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Yes Virginia, both these Masses at St. Joseph Church face the symbolic or liturgical east, both are ad orientem! Why? because the celebrant of the Mass faces a crucifix in front of him (although barely seen in the first photo) and does so also when the celebrant faces the same direction as the congregation. The crucifix for both the congregation and the laity is the point of the symbolic or liturgical east according to Pope Benedict. Thus when facing the congregation, the celebrant must have a crucifix in front of him for him to see and orient himself as the point of the symbolic or liturgical east where the crucifixion occurred in Jerusalem.

When the celebrant faces this way, the common crucifix for the celebrant and congregation doesn't work and thus an additional crucifix central on the altar for the celebrant to see is required for the "symbolic" ad orientem or facing eastward liturgically:

 When the priest faces this way a common crucifix or both the celebrant and congregation is all that is needed:

Those who think it is retro to celebrate the Catholic Mass toward the east like Bishop James Conley does in his ultra modern cathedral are apoplectic that this tradition is finding a recovery in the 21st century.

Yet, this tradition of the celebrant facing eastward for the Mass is the most ancient tradition of the Church and still maintained by the eastern rite of the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

However, traditionalists who have a narrow view of ad orientem should reorient their narrow view to a wider one. At St. Joseph Church, no matter which way the priest faces the altar, toward the nave or toward the apse, symbolically he is facing the liturgical east. Why?  Because of the placement of the crucifix in front of the celebrant, not the direction the priest and people are geographically facing.

At the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, the celebrant faces the geographic west  toward St. Peter’s Basilica. Symbolically Saints Peter and Paul face each other. At all the major basilicas in Rome beginning with Rome's cathedral, St. John Lateran, the first to be built by Constantine when Catholicism became the law of the Roman Empire, basilicas were built with a free standing altar and the celebrant facing the geographical east while at the same time facing those in the nave who faced him.

The ancient great basilicas all had the celebrant facing the geographical east all the while facing the nave except for St. Paul’s. When the Church was able to go public in Rome with St. John Lateran the celebrant facing the geographical east was the earliest tradition for church buildings, but the real question is when did the symbolic “liturgical east” develop?

It is important to keep in mind that after Vatican II the major basilicas did not have to reorient their altars whatsoever. the novelty, though that developed in the late 1960's or early 70's was the reorientation of candlesticks and the central crucifix. At St. Peter's the novelty was for very low flung candlesticks and no crucifix. Then Pope St. John Paul placed four taller candlesticks on its altar and a large crucifix, but it was to the side, not central.

 Pope Benedict recovered  the emphasis on the central crucifix on the altar even when the celebrant faces the nave, thus the crucifix becomes the point of the symbolic liturgical east, not necessarily the direction of the celebrant.

 It seems both traditions in this regard, the central crucifix or celebrant and congregation facing the same direction developed in close proximity. In the immediate aftermath of Vatican II when the altars were repositioned a central crucifix still remained for some years until liturgists decided otherwise somewhere in the very late 1960′s or early 70′s. They didn’t want the elements of bread and wine (consecrated or not) to be in competition with candles and cross or obscured by these let alone the celebrant. The whole concept of competition with what is on the altar and being able to see the bread and wine prior to consecration and afterward seems to be the modern novelty (abuse) based upon an over-emphasis on meal to the detriment of sacrifice. Of course the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is both sacrifice and banquet, not either/or but both/and.

In my parish one of our four Sunday (Ordinary Form) Masses is toward the apse for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but for all Masses here, there is still a central crucifix although low-flung on the altar serving the purpose that Pope Benedict suggests. And in my church when I face the congregation I am facing geographically eastward and when facing away, geographically westward but all Masses are symbolically eastward. I love ad orientem! Don't you?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I am annoyed with the various "marshmallow world" commercials for Target. They are trying to get us to go there and buy Christmas presents but they refuse to use the term Christmas in any of their ads or even the more secular Holiday. Now it is a marshmallow world in the winter! A winter festival in other words.

I dislike that commerce exploits Christmas to no end for financial gain, but I despise Target's attempt at making Christmas into something else altogether. Let's boycott Target!


I have a disclaimer, I do wear my watch during Mass and on the right wrist because years ago I developed a rash under the watch on my left wrist.

But prior to Vatican II, it was the custom to remove one's watch to celebrate Mass so that nothing would distract from the elevations and at other times during the Mass.

Today even modern popes wear their watch during Mass, I think beginning with St. Pope John Paul II and continuing with Pope Benedict and now Pope Francis (unfortunately Pope Francis even looks at his watch during Mass, ugh!).

The other thing I don't like, and never have done is wear a ring since becoming a priest. I think only a bishop should wear a ring and certainly no priest should every wear rings during the celebration of the Mass! How tacky!

But with that said, is Bishop Conley's watch a distraction?


I saw this at the Deacon's Bench! Cool, no?
From The Catholic Review in Baltimore:
A man fishing at the Loch Raven Reservoir in north Baltimore County some two decades ago was convinced he had snagged a big fish after his line hooked something substantial.
After reeling in his haul, the angler had no fish. He had, however, caught something even more remarkable: a large Gothic monstrance used by Catholics to hold the Eucharist for worship.
Unsure what the ornate object was, but thinking it looked “churchy,” the man took the monstrance to a local Catholic church. A priest examined the vessel, suggesting that the man take the beautiful brass finding to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore, where it subsequently remained in storage for years.
During a joyous Nov. 23 Mass that attracted hundreds of people to the historic basilica, Archbishop William E. Lori placed the consecrated host inside the restored monstrance fished from the water and carried it in a solemn procession to the church’s undercroft.
There, he placed the monstrance atop a gleaming altar inside a new adoration chapel that he dedicated to be used in a special way to pray for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
“Using a monstrance fished out of a lake, we will ask the Lord to send us new ‘fishers of men,’ ” Archbishop Lori said in his homily prior to dedicating the new chapel, “both here in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and in the whole church.”
How the monstrance found its way into the reservoir is a mystery, Archbishop Lori said, “but how it found its way here to the basilica is a remarkable sign of God’s providence.”
Archbishop Lori announced that the new adoration chapel will be dedicated to the basilica’s 24th rector, Monsignor Arthur Valenzano, in gratitude for his “goodness and priestly example.” The surprise announcement stirred the congregation to give the priest a prolonged standing ovation during which Monsignor Valenzano, who is battling cancer, smiled and placed a hand over his heart.
Monsignor Valenzano established a small adoration chapel in the same spot as the new one in 2011. It is located near the tombs of several archbishops of Baltimore, including the nation’s first bishop, Archbishop John Carroll.
The new chapel features an altar inspired by the basilica’s side altars in the upper church.
The adoration chapel altar includes an octagonal baldacchino, a canopy with metal shingles that Archbishop Lori said were set in a pattern inspired by the design of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
“The tiles of blue glass which cover the interior of the baldacchino and serve as a backdrop for the monstrance recall the water of the lake from which the monstrance emerged,” Archbishop Lori said, “and also the words of the Lord to the Apostles, the first fishers of men, to ‘put out into the deep.’ ”
Read more.


Except for House Hunters and House Hunters International and maybe Bizarre Foods and a couple of other HGTV shows, I hate reality television shows, like the Housewives of Atlanta and the Kardashians, so you get my drift?

But will this Lifetime Television show make it? Will it inspire more vocations to women's religious orders? At least Lifetime knew that the ratings would plummet if they chose an LCWR group of women religious to be the orders that these girls would consider, just like LCWR vocations have plummeted. So there is some good logic here that even TV execs know but the LCWR types are complete obliviously, in denial in other words.

But here's the movie trailer:


When I die and go to heaven (I know, I know, I'm being presumptions here), I want to find out as quickly as possible who assassinated President Kennedy and the behind the scenes intrigue.

And now retired Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has elevated a conspiracy theory about the election of Pope Francis to an unnecessary level with a letter to the editor in London's Daily Telegraph on November 25th, three days after the anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. You can read the whole story on it HERE. Again, this is DaVinci Code stuff. I'm sure a movie based on the book will soon follow:
"Papal Plot" would be a good name for the new movie produced by Oppie Taylor, I mean Ronnie Howard!


Bishop Jame Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska celebrates the Ordinary Form of the Mass in his ultra-modern Cathedral (I think it was built in the late 1960's, but I don't know for sure).  But with the traditional altar accoutrements and the Liturgy of the Eucharist ad orientem in this con-celebrated Ordinary Form Mass, even the modern Risen Christ imposed on the cross, popular in the late 1960's and 70's doesn't look bad.

In fact, the most modern church in the round even, would be vastly improved with the traditional altar arrangement and ad orientem Mass.

I've always thought the stripping of the altar of its tall six candlesticks and central crucifix really made the altar and sanctuary look bare. I hated it the first Sunday I saw it in my home parish in Augusta (without any word from the pastor as to why it what done, btw) in the late 1960's.  It had two small rinky-dink candles on it and the priest's chair behind it in the central place where the tabernacle had been with the tabernacle moved to a side altar. As a young teenager the symbolism of this to me was that the priest had elevated himself to the starring role of the church building and Christ in the tabernacle had been demoted. It was incongruous to me at the time and still is today.

But anyway here is some liturgical eye-candy:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


John Allen at CRUX writes about Pope Francis and the two most powerful speeches of his pontificate today directed towards Europe's ruling class:

STRASBOURG, France — History’s first pope from outside the West traveled to the heart of secular Europe Tuesday and delivered a sharp wake-up call, warning European leaders that the continent risks irrelevance if it doesn’t recover its founding values, drawing in part on its Christian legacy.

Pope Francis delivered back-to-back speeches to the European Parliament and the Council of Europe that amounted to a strong call to Europe to get both its social and its spiritual house in order.

Before roughly 750 members of the European parliament, Francis bluntly said today’s world is becoming “less and less Eurocentric,” that Europe often comes off as “elderly and haggard,” that it’s less and less a “protagonist” in global affairs, and that the rest of the planet sometimes sees it “with mistrust and even suspicion.”

“Where is your vigor?” Francis asked the Council of Europe, deliberately speaking through it to the entire continent. “Where is that idealism that inspired and ennobled your history?”

Despite being on the ground just four hours, Francis’ presence seemed historic since, in a sense, the New World was meeting the Old Continent.

Speaking in Italian, Francis argued that many of the specific political problems facing Europe, from immigration and extremism to rising youth unemployment, have a spiritual core. He denounced what he called a “cult of opulence which is no longer sustainable,” based on exaggerated individualism that breeds violations of human dignity.
To shake off its malaise, he said, Europe needs to recover a sense of values and mission, one foundation for which is religious conviction.

“A Europe which is no longer open to the transcendent dimension of life,” Francis said, “is a Europe which risks losing its own soul.”

Francis said that despite his sober diagnosis, he wanted to deliver a message of “hope and encouragement” that Europe can dust off its original vision, based on the post-World War II founders of the European Union who were often inspired by Christian ideals, including the social teaching of the Catholic Church.
Tuesday’s brief day trip had been billed as the pontiff’s chance to lay out a vision for Europe and he didn’t disappoint, delivering two of the most substantive speeches of his papacy in a span of less than four hours.

The European Parliament is the lone institution whose members are directly elected by the 500 million citizens living in 28 member states of the European Union, while the Council of Europe brings together 47 countries whose combined population is more than 800 million. Francis’ appearance marked the second time a pontiff has addressed these two institutions, after John Paul II in 1988.

(On that occasion, the late Ian Paisley, then-leader of Northern Ireland’s Protestants, had to be dragged out of the parliament chamber while denouncing the pope as the Anti-Christ. No such disruption marred today’s speech, as Francis drew strong applause at several points and an extended standing ovation at the end.)

Heading into the trip, Francis was expected to engage the hot-button questions facing Europe’s political class: rising immigration and youth unemployment, gains posted in May by far-right nationalistic movements, and backlash against austerity measures imposed by many governments as part of the ongoing Eurozone crisis.

The pope did raise several such issues. On hunger, for instance, the pontiff said “it is intolerable that millions of people around the world are dying … while tons of food are discarded every day from our tables.”

On labor, Francis said “the time has come to promote policies which create employment,” and to “restore dignity to labor by ensuring proper working conditions.”

“What dignity can a person ever hope to find,” the pope asked the parliament, “when he or she lacks food and the bare essentials for survival, and worse yet, when they lack the work that confers dignity?”

Some of the pope’s most passionate language came in a call for “fair, courageous and realistic” immigration policies, especially on behalf of waves of poor migrants from Africa and the Middle East who often try to reach Europe by making perilous crossings over the Mediterranean Sea.
“We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery!” the pope said, referring to the estimated 20,000 people who have died over the past two decades attempting to make the journey.

As other victims of what Francis once again denounced as a “throw-away culture,” Francis cited “the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned and uncared for, and children who are killed in the womb.”

Francis also delivered a strong ecological message, saying “our earth needs constant concern and attention” and insisted that it must not be “disfigured, exploited and degraded.”

Francis took up one of the standard complaints lodged against European political institutions, which is that they suffocate diversity under a bland bureaucratic uniformity. Resentments along those lines have been credited with fueling the rise of far-right Euro-skeptic parties, including the National Front in France and the “Five Star” movement of comedian Beppe Grillo in Italy.

“Unity does not mean uniformity of political, economic, and cultural life, or ways of thinking,” the pope said. “Indeed, all authentic unity draws from the rich diversities which make it up.”

On most of those points, the pope drew strong applause. The heart of his argument, however, seemed to cut deeper than a laundry list of specific political concerns.

Francis rued what he called a “great vacuum of ideals which we are currently witnessing in the West,” including “forgetfulness of God.” In place of a humanistic vision, he said, what Europe breeds today are “uniform systems of economic power at the service of unseen empires.”

Francis insisted that recovering Europe’s Christian history and entering into “meaningful” and “open” dialogue with its religious traditions “does not represent a threat to the secularity of states, or to the independence of the institutions of the European Union.”

Instead, he said, it’s the basis for “a humanism centered on respect for the dignity of the human person.”

The 2,000-year history that links Europe and Christianity, he said, “isn’t free of conflicts and errors, even sins,” but at its best, it’s driven by “the desire work for the good of all.”

Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, was often accused of being “Eurocentric,” in the sense of focusing excessively on European culture. To date, Francis has faced the opposite charge, often being seen as neglectful of Europe in favor of focusing on zones of greater growth and dynamism for the Catholic Church today, such as Asia and Africa.

Yet Francis’ twin speeches on Tuesday suggested that substantively he’s got much the same agenda for Europe as his two predecessors, and both texts frequently cited John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
In fact, his Strasbourg speeches were arguably the most “Ratzingerian” texts of Francis’ papacy, featuring references and vocabulary often associated with Pope Benedict: The risks of “dictatorships of relativism,” as well as a philosophical tendency to see human beings as radically isolated “monads.”

In other words, this may have been a pope from the New World, but the message for the Old Continent hasn’t changed: If Europe wants to save its soul, it needs to make room for values inspired in part by its Christian past.


If the Congregation for Divine Worship simply emphasizes the sobriety of the Latin Rite Mass and its reverence and piety, then the Congregation for Divine Worship will have provided an "immensity of majesty" ethos for the Liturgy and its proper celebration throughout the world, which this photo below does not convey in the least. May this come to an end!
 What can we expect from the Congregation for Divine Worship under Cardinal Sarah? I'm not sure, because this congregation has moved slowly but methodically over the years and in a more orthodox, traditional way since St. Pope John Paul II. He ordered the revision of the English translation of the Mass as far back as the late 1980's. He revised the General Instruction of the Roman Missal in 2002.

The unknowns concern the vernacular revisions of the Roman Missal. The one in English is completed. I don't see any major change by going backwards  in any dramatic way with future revisions of the English Roman Missal. I do think there will be some tweaking, but that will be minor and most laity won't even notice it.

For example, some of the phrasing and/or wording of the Prefaces of the revised English need some tweaking. The Preface for Christ the King has this oddity: "the immensity of your majesty." Certainly there is a better way to translate this?

But we still await the Italian revision and the Portuguese revision (being one of the worst of all translations) as well as other translations. Will the translating method be changed? Will it be shifted to Bishops' Conferences. If these things happen, then yes, we will be going backwards, not walking forwards.

What has happened with the Congregation for Divine Worship since Pope Francis became pope that might give us some indication of where this congregation will go?

First of all many things that Pope Francis approved where in the works under Pope Benedict. Pope Francis confirmed these right away:

1. The name of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was added to all Eucharistic Prayers. It was first added to the Roman Canon under the pontificate of St. Pope John XXIII. Pope Francis approved this immediately, within weeks of becoming Pope.

2. The revised Anglican Ordinariate Roman Missal was approved by Pope Francis. It allows Elizabethan English for the Mass, a revised Roman Calendar that is more like the EF's Calendar while still faithful to the Ordinary Form's Lectionary. It allows in the appendix, EF elements to be used as an option for the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, Ad Orientem, Holy Communion kneeling, the EF's Offertory Prayers and the Last Gospel, all as options.

In my mind, the Anglican Ordinariate's Revised Roman Missal is the big news of this Pontificate. Pope Francis approved it, although it was certainly prepared under Pope Benedict. Pope Francis could have certainly revised it or ordered its approval delayed after evaluation of it. He did not.

I'm not sure why other bloggers do not understand the significance of this revised Missal which was a collaboration of both the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In fact, when I was in Rome last year at a visit to the Congregation for Divine Worship, I asked an official there if we could expect the options allowed to the Anglican Ordinariate Missal to be applied to the Ordinary Latin Rite Missal. He said, if there are advocates for it, certainly.

I would think there are advocates. I believe Cardinal Burke still sits on the Congregation for Divine Worship as a member of one of its committees. Does anyone know if this is still true? He would be a wonderful advocate.

3. Finally, this congregation issued a decree that the Kiss of Peace would not be moved to a different location in the Ordinary Form of the Mass but it mandated that it be sober and that it is merely an option, not required.

So Cardinal Sarah, given the immensity of the majesty of his orthodoxy, will continue a trajectory for the Congregation that is already established but he will do so as Rocco Palma indicates:

...The office's new mission is likely to hew closer to Francis' own liturgical approach – as one op summarized it, "Go by the book. Don't make a fuss about it. And remember that liturgy's always a means to an end, not an end in itself."

Not only can I live with Rocco's summary, I wholeheartedly endorse it for everyone in the Church! I also endorse Cardinal Sarah as the next successor of Saint Peter!

As I have said time and again, I love both forms of the Mass and want both forms celebrated as prescribed. The Ordinary Form has many options. These are legitimate but regardless of the options, this Mass needs to recover reverence, piety and awe and it can easily be accomplished on the local level when there is attention to detail and small reforms are initiated. 

But our worship of God at Mass is meant to make us disciples of Jesus in order to bring our faith and good works to the world. Our lives as Catholics should be so attractive that it will draw others to consider what makes a Catholic different and Catholic lives so beautiful.

Is there a beauty in post-Vatican II Catholics' everyday lives? I honestly ask that question especially of the laity. Are Catholics living beautiful lives that attract others to our faith or are they not? 

Monday, November 24, 2014


 We all know that Cardinal Kasper was defacto the mouthpiece of Pope Francis in floating the ideology that Catholics in a second marriage while still being in a Church recognized first marriage could receive Holy Communion under certain circumstances after a penitential act of some kind.

Then at the Synod on the Marriage the next logical consequence of allowing Catholics in an "institutionalized" form of mortal sin, an adulteress second marriage, would be for those who are living together without the benefit of marriage to receive Holy Communion and for same sex couples even in legal so-called marriages to do the same by legitimizing the ideology of gradualism in a so-called new doctrine of pastoral care. 

Then an act of God took place. Cardinal Kasper made racist's remarks to Edward Pentin a reporter saying that Africans have nothing to teach us. It was stunning in and of itself but to add insult to injury Cardinal Kasper lied to the international press and said he had said nothing of any sort until Edward Pentin produced an audio recording proving the Cardinal did say it showing he was not only a racist in this regard but a bald face liar. It was stunning!

Immediately Pope Francis had to distance himself from his mouthpiece. He had to name an African  who was critical of the manipulation of the Synod and evidently with Pope Francis' backing, to a leading position in writing the final agreement that was very conservative.

This whole affair was a turning point for this papacy and high ranking cardinals and not only Americans began to question Pope Francis' style of leadership and the confusion he is sowing in the Church as aging hippies in the Magisterium long for the good old days of the 1970's and are trying to bring it back by making bishops and priests into social workers and the Church into a non-governmental organization (NGO). Folks, that is what was happening in the 1970's and the theology of the priesthood shifted from the cultic to social worker status. The same for the laity's baptismal priesthood too!

Because Pope Francis had aligned himself so closely with a now percieved racist and liar, His Holiness had to distance himself from Kasper and show that His Holiness takes the orthodoxy of Africans seriously. Now in a effort at even greater damage control, His Holiness has named Cardinal Robert Sarah as the only African in the Curia thus far under this pope's pontificate.

Would this have happened without the Holy Spirit revealing the true nature of Cardinal Kasper????Was the Edward Pentin affair only coincidental? I doubt it!

Read also what John Allen wrote about Robert Cardinal Allen prior to the conclave when he had a series of articles in the National Chismatic Reporter (NCR) on the "Papabile of the Day: The Men Who Could Be Pope" by pressing this sentence!

I post Fr. Z's post about Cardinal Sarah as it has links to show that Cardinal Sarah would have none of this making God's priestly people, be they ordained or not, into social workers where authentic worship is regarded as secondary or even non-important:

Pope Francis has appointed Robert Card. Sarah, 69, as the new Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.

Hitherto, Card. Sarah, from Guinea, has been the head of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”.
Not long ago, I posted here about Card. Sarah’s remarks concerning the poor.
Cardinal Sarah, citing Benedict XVI, told CNA that “charity is very linked with the proclamation of the Gospel, and doing charity is not only giving food, giving material things, but giving God too. Because the main lack of man is not having God.
Also, he seems to have seen through the machinations of a certain element active during the recent Synod of Bishops on the family regarding homosexuality.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, emphasized to CNA Oct. 16 that “what has been published by the media about homosexual unions is an attempt to push the Church (to change) her doctrine.”
“The Church has never judged homosexual persons, but homosexual behavior and homosexual unions are grave deviations of sexuality,” the cardinal, who is from the west African nation of Guinea, added.
Card. Sarah wasn’t happy about the manipulation of the Synod.  HERE
I think it was precisely this sort of input from Africans that Card. Kasper feared during the Synod.


Francis has nominated the 69-year-old African cardinal as head of the Congregation that handles affairs relating to liturgical practices in the Catholic Church. He fills the position that was left vacant by Cañizares

Everyone was on tenterhooks waiting to see who would take over from Spanish cardinal Antonio Cañizares as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. The answer came at midday today: The man Francis has chosen to lead the dicastery that deals with liturgical affairs of the Church, is Cardinal Robert Sarah, currently President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, one of the Curia bodies that is eventually going to be merged as part of the Curia reform process.

Cardinal Sarah was born to Catholic family on 15 June 1945 in Ourous, Guinea. He was ordained priest on 20 July 1969 in Conakry and studied theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and a licentiate in Scripture at the "Studium Biblicum Franciscanum" in Jerusalem. In 1979, John Paul II appointed him Archbishop of Conakry at the young age of 34. He was consecrated bishop by the Archbishop of Florence, Cardinal Giovanni Benelli, who was formerly Nuncio to Senegal. In 1985 he was appointed President of the Guinean Bishops’ Conference.

In October 2001 he moved to Rome after John Paul II nominated him Secretary of Propaganda Fide. Nine years later, on 7 October 2010, Benedict XVI chose him as President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum and created him cardinal of the Deaconry of San Giovanni Bosco in Via Tuscolana (Saint John Bosco in Via Tuscolana) in the November Consistory. Sarah is Guinea-Bissau’s first cardinal.

After today’s nomination, the Vatican has an African cardinal leading a Vatican Congregation once again. Nigerian cardinal Francis Arrinze was Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments from 2002 to 2008, while Cardinal Bernardin Gantin from Benin headed the Congregation for Bishops from 1984 to 1998.

“The Lord has given me a gift I do not deserve and it is also a call to love the Lord even more on the occasion of the Consistory; it is also a call to love the Lord more and to die for Him, for the Gospel, for the salvation of the world… I would like to thank the Holy Father for deciding to grant me this honour. However, I also see this call as having come from God; it is a call to me to lead a more priestly and Christian life. I think today’s world needs God’s people, people who live their lives in such a way that they represent God’s physical presence in the world.”

Sarah is known for his deep spirituality: In nominating him head of the Church’s liturgical dicastery, Francis has chosen a pastor with 22 years of experience leading a diocese. In recent years the new Prefect for Worship attracted a great deal of media attention  after he reminded the world that Africa was exploited by international powers and after a homily he pronounced in 2011 during an ordination ceremony for priests and deacons at the Communauté Saint-Martin in Candes. On this occasion, there was a big focus on liturgical formation and Sarah reminded pastors of their duty to faithfully announce Jesus’ teachings and urged them not to keep quiet about “serious” moral “deviations” 

In an interview with Catholic news agency Zenit last 23 October, the newly-appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship talked about the recently held Extraordinary Synod on the Family and said he did not see the question of the Eucharist for Catholics who divorce who remarry, as one of the “real important challenges that affect families today.” “The crisis of today’s family is in how the concept of marriage and family has changed” as a result of “the effects of a secular and relativistic society.” In another interview with Catholic New Agency published last month, Cardinal Sarah criticised international bodies for making financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations based on gender ideology.

The profile of Robert Sarah, a Curia member with a long experience serving as a pastor in Africa, is rather traditional: On 24 October he had a meeting with priests taking part in the annual Roman pilgrimage of faithful that celebrate mass according to the Old Rite. Hia arrival as head of the dicastery for Worship is therefore unlikely to herald any innovations in the liturgical field.

Those who know Cardinal Sarah well, say he is leaving his current position as President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum – the Pope’s international emergency charity service with a certain trepidation. They also say that the African cardinal took some time to reflect on the nomination which is why it was not announced in a matter of days or weeks. Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke was also informed some time ago – around the same time rumours started going round in the media – about his transferral from the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signatura to the Order of the Knights of Malta. In fact he was informed about this before the Synod, which would prove wrong those who speculated that his removal and new nomination were to do with the views he expressed during the recent Synod Assembly on the family.


These two things are GREAT! as Tony the Tiger says:

Cardinal Sarah had distinguished himself as one of the strongest conservative voices at the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops this year. 

From a 2012 address on the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, in Lyon (France):
The spirit of the Council has at times been understood in a wrong way, as, for instance, in the temptation of making use of the criteria of the world to engage in dialogue with the world. I think in particular of liturgical abuses, of the downsizing of salvation to a temporal messianism, to an understanding of the Christian life as a sort of humanitarian commitment, to the foundation of social actions inspired by dialectic, and therefore losing the originality of the Christian message. But "opening up to the world" does not mean abolishing the contradiction between the Gospel and the world, nor to tone down the Christian message. It is rather to present to our world the message of the Gospel in all its purity. It is Christ who is the light of the world, as the Council affirms.  
 --From Rorate Caeli 


My comments at the end of this Whispers in the Loggia post this morning. I have to say this is great news considering the fact that the other Marini was rumored since the beginning of Pope Francis' pontificate. The best thing that Rocco Palma writes is that Pope Francis wants someone who will promote the liturgy and to celebrate it by the books and without a big fuss over it (obsessing over it like the progressives do with all their stupid creativity and improvisation (such as changing the words of the text and other stupids things that so many (some in Macon) do!) In other words look for more "read the black and do the red!" And look for a revised appendix in the normal Edition of the Roman Missal that allows for the EF elements in the Ordinary Form of the Mass as in the Anglican Ordinariate's new Roman Missal! This is great news to say the least!

From Whispers in the Loggia:
After several weeks of rumors of an impending Curial "earthquake" – ahead of schedule, the first throes of a sweeping, Francis-driven restructuring – the Holy See released a one-line statement that "At 9.30 this morning, the Pope presided over a meeting of the dicastery heads" who comprise the church's central government.

While whatever transpired remains to emerge, the most-awaited of the expected moves has been released with today's appointment of Cardinal Robert Sarah, the 69 year-old Guinean until now in charge of the Vatican's humanitarian efforts, as the new prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. (Above, Sarah is seen on a visit to the Philippines in the wake of last year's Super-Typhoon Yolanda, the catalyst behind the Pope's own planned visit in January.)

Ordained a bishop at 34, in the post overseeing the global church's formal life of prayer, Sarah succeeds Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, who was returned to his native Spain – by some accounts, at his own request – in late August as archbishop of his native Valencia.

Having served as head of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum – in the coming shuffle, likely to be merged with the body for Justice and Peace – since 2010 and before that as #2 at the Propaganda Fide, not much is known about Sarah's background or expertise in matters of worship; lacking a doctorate, the cardinal's final degree was a licentiate in the Scriptures. Then again, the CDW under Francis is not expected to continue along the office's path of recent decades, which saw the congregation preside over revolutionary shifts (e.g. the sweeping re-translation of the English Missal) alongside maintaining an intense disciplinary oversight of liturgical abuses – whether real or perceived – at the local level.

Instead, the office's new mission is likely to hew closer to Francis' own liturgical approach – as one op summarized it, "Go by the book. Don't make a fuss about it. And remember that liturgy's always a means to an end, not an end in itself."

Along those lines, the choice of a prefect whose ministry has been immersed in charity work and the perils of the missions – far removed from the ceaseless boutique "wars" so beloved by polarized Anglo-European elites (whose churches aren't necessarily thriving) – serves above all as a fresh pointer to the risks and messiness of the "peripheries," the concept which remains the key to everything in this pontificate.

MY COMMENTS: The best thing that Rocco Palma opines is that the good Cardinal will do what so many of us who are right minded about the Liturgy have been calling for: "Read the black and do the red" and don't make a fuss about it. It is the heterodox and progressive creatives of the liturgy who have made such a fuss over the liturgy changing it, imposing their personality on it and dumbing it down for decades now. Maybe all this nonsense will come to an end and the true reform of the reform will be actually to implement Sacrosanctum Concilium and do the modern missal as it is written and do the EF as it is written!

Finally, I think we will see the reforms of the Anglican Ordinariate Missal applied to the ordinary Latin Rite reformed missal as an option in the index, and here I mean the EF elements and bringing the two calendars for the Ordinariate and from the normal Latin rite into a unity. This would be the best news of all!

But when Praytell was opining if the new Prefect would be this cardinal, here are the first few comments, but go there to read others that will be added. That they will be weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth is simply delicious! I am sure they will add another post on this great news for them. Stay tuned!

  • #1 by Karl Liam Saur on November 22, 2014 - 11:42 am
    Well, were this to come to pass, it would strike me as orthogonal to the First World liturgy warriors at both ends.
    Guinea is an overwhelmingly (85%) majority-Muslim country. It would seem to place liturgy in the context of evangelisation under challenging local conditions. Rather than aesthetics or First World-ruddered programs of social justice.
    And, again if it comes to pass, points to people who forthrightly eat crow over the non-appointment of someone like Piero Marini.
  • #2 by Dismas Bede on November 22, 2014 - 1:16 pm
    How interesting. Should he become prefect, and his brother prelates see the accompanying picture, might they all start throwing together various pieces of their wardrobe, and wearing things that were never meant to be worn together. Is it a case of “The more red, the better?”
    Seeing this, the eminent Burke must be dying… again.
    Seriously, though, there is a need for many prelates to be refreshed – or informed for the first time – as to what to wear… when… and with what.
  • #3 by Peter Haydon on November 22, 2014 - 1:36 pm
    I wonder if Cardinal Kaspar’s comments on African bishops are part of the story here.
  • #4 by Reyanna Rice on November 22, 2014 - 2:29 pm
    This seems like such an unlikely pick. I did not read anything in his background to indicate he has any liturgical “chops”. Is this wishful thinking on the part of some?? Papa Francesco usually picks people who have some skill level for the position they will be holding. He is quite logical in this.
  • #5 by Jordan Zarembo on November 22, 2014 - 4:29 pm
    Why wouldn’t Pope Francis pick a head for the CDW who is from the global south? North Americans and Europeans have already built and earnestly defend their respective Maginot Lines of liturgical friction. Liturgy in Africa and Asia is often overshadowed by liturgical ideological strife in the aforementioned areas. Pope Francis would act with eminent logic to appoint Cardinal Sarah or one of his brother African bishops.
    I should hasten to mention that Africa and Asia are diverse continents with many different cultures. I also suspect that Pope Francis knows this, but he is forced to choose a secretary who has the greatest depth and breadth of liturgy across the worldwide church outside of North America and Europe. This is no small task for Pope Francis or his choice for the post.
  • #6 by Jack Feehily on November 22, 2014 - 10:23 pm
    Let’s just hope this is a false report. It makes no sense to me.
  • #7 by Paul Inwood on November 24, 2014 - 5:40 am
  • #8 by Nick Basehore on November 24, 2014 - 5:40 am

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
(23 November 2014)

Today’s liturgy invites us to fix our gaze on Christ, the King of the Universe.  The beautiful prayer of the Preface reminds us that his kingdom is “a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace”.  The readings we have listened to show us how Jesus established his kingdom; how he brings it about in history; and what he now asks of us.

First, how Jesus brought about his kingdom:  he did so through his closeness and tenderness towards us.  He is the Shepherd, of whom the Prophet Ezekiel spoke in the First Reading (cf. 34:11-12, 15-17).  These verses are interwoven with verbs which show the care and love that the Shepherd has for his flock: to search, to look over, to gather the dispersed, to lead into pasture, to bring to rest, to seek the lost sheep, to lead back the confused, to bandage the wounded, to heal the sick, to take care of, to pasture.  All of these are fulfilled in Jesus Christ:  he is truly the “great Shepherd of the sheep and the protector of our souls” (cf. Heb 13:20; 1 Pt 2:25).

Those of us who are called to be pastors in the Church cannot stray from this example, if we do not want to become hirelings.  In this regard the People of God have an unerring sense for recognizing good shepherds and in distinguishing them from hirelings.

After his victory, that is after his Resurrection, how has Jesus advanced his kingdom?  The Apostle Paul, in the First Letter to the Corinthians, says: “for he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (15:25).  The Father, little by little, subjects all to the Son and, at the same time, the Son subjects all to the Father.  Jesus is not a King according to earthly ways: for him, to reign is not to command, but to obey the Father, to give himself over to the Father, so that his plan of love and salvation may be brought to fulfillment.  In this way there is full reciprocity between the Father and the Son.  The period of Christ’s reign is the long period of subjecting everything to the Son and consigning everything to the Father.  “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor 15:26).  And in the end, when all things will be under the sovereignty of Jesus, and everything, including Jesus himself, will be subjected to the Father, God will be all in all (cf. 1 Cor 15:28).

The Gospel teaches what Jesus’ kingdom requires of us: it reminds us that closeness and tenderness are the rule of life for us also, and that on this basis we will be judged.  This is the great parable of the final judgement in Matthew 25.  The King says: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (25:34-36).  The righteous will ask him: when did we do all this?  And he will answer them: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).

The starting point of salvation is not the confession of the sovereignty of Christ, but rather the imitation of Jesus’ works of mercy through which he brought about his kingdom.  The one who accomplishes these works shows that he has welcomed Christ’s sovereignty, because he has opened his heart to God’s charity.  In the twilight of life we will be judged on our love for, closeness to and tenderness towards our brothers and sisters.  Upon this will depend our entry into, or exclusion from, the kingdom of God: our belonging to the one side or the other.  Through his victory, Jesus has opened to us his kingdom.  But it is for us to enter into it, beginning with our life now, by being close in concrete ways to our brothers and sisters who ask for bread, clothing, acceptance, solidarity.  If we truly love them, we will be willing to share with them what is most precious to us, Jesus himself and his Gospel.

Today the Church places before us the example of these new saints.  Each in his or her own way served the kingdom of God, of which they became heirs, precisely through works of generous devotion to God and their brothers and sisters.  They responded with extraordinary creativity to the commandment of love of God and neighbour.  They dedicated themselves, without holding back, to serving the least and assisting the destitute, sick, elderly and pilgrims.  Their preference for the smallest and poorest was the reflection and measure of their unconditional love of God.  In fact, they sought and discovered love in a strong and personal relationship with God, from whence springs forth true love for one’s neighbour.  In the hour of judgement, therefore, they heard that tender invitation: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt 25:34).

Through the rite of canonization, we have confessed once again the mystery of God’s kingdom and we have honoured Christ the King, the Shepherd full of love for his sheep.  May our new saints, through their witness and intercession, increase within us the joy of walking in the way of the Gospel and our resolve to embrace the Gospel as the compass of our lives.  Let us follow in their footsteps, imitating their faith and love, so that our hope too may be clothed in immortality.  May we not allow ourselves to be distracted by other earthly and fleeting interests.  And may Mary, our Mother and Queen of all Saints, guide us on the way to the kingdom of heaven.  Amen.