So, Damian Thompson of the Telegraph has a rather interesting, but troubling, report about some moves that may be in the works in the Vatican:
I’m hearing horrible rumours from Rome that Archbishop Piero Marini, former master of ceremonies for John Paul II, may be made Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.
Please, Pope Francis, do not let this happen. The archbishop (not to be confused with the current Vatican MC, Mgr Guido Marini) devised some of the ugliest liturgies in Catholic history for John Paul II – and, moreover, was distinctly snide in his attitude towards Benedict XVI’s much-needed reforms. Even now, as Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith reports for the Catholic Herald, Archbishop Marini is taking veiled sideswipes at the last pope.
Benedict XVI, one need hardly be reminded, is still alive. What could be more wounding to him than the appointment of such a divisive figure to the Church’s top liturgical post? Does Pope Francis really wish to dismantle his predecessor’s legacy? Because there would be no quicker way of doing so than this disastrous move.
While for most people this is a little too “inside baseball” to really understand the impact a move like this would have, it is a troubling report.
A few thoughts:
- Thompson is correct, if this indeed does happen, and while Pope Benedict is still alive it is a slap in the face to everything he did on the liturgical front.
- It really is a step backwards in the truest sense of the word. It would put in charge of liturgical “policy”, if you will, a man that had a liturgical understanding that is not only quite different from what we have seen in recent years, but one that was at the heart of much of what was troubling and damaging to the Church in the time after Vatican II.
- While I understand that Francis and Benedict have a very different liturgical “style” and understanding, this is not the way to magnify the differences. Francis seems to be doing a good job of clearing out the old in the Vatican, it doesn’t make sense to go in this direction, especially with someone that was so divisive even amongst like minded folks.
It is all over the blogosphere, and it isn’t easy to write about, but it appears that Pope Benedict is “suffering from something very severe.”
Damien Thompson of The Telegraph reports, and everyone is quoting, that video of Benedict greeting Pope Francis was hard to watch, but the reports from Fr. Ray Blake are even more troubling:
The health of Benedict XVI has dramatically diminished in the last two weeks, Paloma Gómez Borrero wrote Tuesday night in the Spanish paper El Mundo. According to her, Benedict suffers from something – quote – “very severe”. She adds: “We won’t have him with us for very much longer”.
This could be the long good-bye with Pope Benedict, and even if it gives us some consolation as to why he stepped down from the Papacy, it still doesn’t mend the hurt in our hearts.
Let us all keep him in prayer, specifically what he asked of us:
“Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.”
I write this post with some trepidation. Over the past few weeks I have argued that we should not drive a wedge amongst Catholics, nor be too quick to compare Pope Francis to… anyone really. Therefore I offer this caveat: this post is not a comparison but more to simply state for the record.
What we must not forget is that the media is reporting about Francis what they choose to report. This is the same media that has lambasted the Catholic Church, that has attacked the Faith, and has not given an inch. We should be wary of those sheep that have the teeth of wolves. They would like nothing more than to turn Catholic against Catholic, for remember the world will hate us because of Him.
We will miss you Papa…
In G.K. Cheston’s masterpiece, Manalive, the famous quote states:
“I am going to hold a pistol to the head of the Modern Man. But I shall not use it to kill him–only to bring him to life.”
Even out of context, this quote is powerful and more than likely elicits thoughts within readers of what Chesterton meant by the provocative text. In today’s modern world, it isn’t a hard argument to make that many souls wander aimlessly throughout the world more dead than alive, even as blood courses through their veins with little to know intent on ceasing.
Without spoiling the story for those that haven’t read it, Manalive is a masterpiece and becomes more, dare I say, relevant every day. Chesterton teaches us, in his “subtle as a brick over the head” kind of wa,y that we have chosen our own path of self-destruction and we only need admit this and pick another course. Instead though, modern man prefers the folly of modernity and self-destruction over that of a moral life because the former is more gratifying. ((This is true in a subjective sense, but usually involves insta- vs. long-term gratification, of course.))
What the quote does, is it teaches through opposite expectations.1 When we hear the phrase, “…pistol to the head,” death is instantly conjured. Instead though, Chesterton assures us that it is life that he seeks. Similarly, we find ourselves in that same situation in the waning days of Benedict’s Pontificate.
Pope Benedict is often credited with saying that he, or the Church itself, will in the future be a “smaller, purer Church.” While I, or anybody else for that matter, am hard-pressed to find that exact quote, I have found one that might be the genesis for it. In a book, Faith and Future, published in 1969-70, Benedict wrote:
“The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members.”
So while this isn’t exactly “…smaller, purer…” it is fairly close. Without arguing if they are the same, this quote can stand on its own. Elizabeth Scalia has the rest of the quote, and puts it in better context. For our purposes though, he isn’t talking about a smaller Church because it is dying, or even a bad thing. It is a purification, even if it isn’t the same purer as is insinuated by the wrongly-attributed quote.
As we fast-forward over four decades to present-day, we see the Pope himself laying down his staff to some degree. The bigger demands that the Church is making on all of us, he seems to have said that he can no longer bear. So is Benedict then caving under these demands? Is he saying the Church is too much? Is he saying society is crushing the Church to the point that even he, the Holy Spirit inspired leader of the Church, can no longer bear its burdens?
In fact, I will argue the opposite. He is stepping aside not to signify, or accept, that the Church is losing… but in fact – to bring it to life.
For many of us that are fans of Pope Benedict, his teachings, and his direction as Pope – the idea of losing Benedict was, and now is, frightening. From Summorum Pontificum, to the humble way he lead and taught, Pope Benedict was an answer to prayers as we found our way out of the darkness that came on the heels of the modernization in the Church.
But what we have gained in theology and liturgical “reform of the reform,” many of us have lost in the simplest of teachings – community. For so many of us we cared less how far we had to travel, or where we had to find purer Church, we were willing to make the sacrifice. What we lost in the process was the human connection to the Divine. We had forsaken Jesus’ direction to John and his Mother while on the Cross, to find the purity of the upper room.
So as we descend into some difficult days ahead, full of fear and unknowing, whom do we have to support us through the days ahead? Certainly we have not let go of the hand of Christ, but do we have those around us to walk unified through whatever may be ahead on this path? Have we driven so far as to leave behind any sort of support network should we face days of trial?
If the Pope’s decision can teach us anything, especially his most ardent and thankful supporters, it should be that He must increase, and we must decrease. If we truly believe that we are the Body of Christ, we must be that in such a way that isn’t synthetic but authentic. If we believe in that beauty will save the world, and therefore “Save the Liturgy, Save the World, then we must also believe that love can conquer the world.
There is no greater love, than for a man to lay down his life for another. Yet, if the only life we have laid down is the person inside of us wanting something or desiring something, even if it is true, beautiful, or good… we still have forgotten our brothers and sisters beside us.
So let us come alive in these next few days, and weeks. Let us take this opportunity to become smaller – as people, as a Church, and as communities. Let us reduce down our daily lives to that which is important. If Christ is our center, than those whom He loves should also be our center.
Love can, and will, conquer the world. The Pope is stepping aside not to end his teachings, not to quit – but to begin their rebirth, to bring them fully alive.
He must increase, we must decrease.
- I am sure this is a literary or rhetorical device of some type, but I didn’t feel confident to classify it correctly. [↩]
Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in æternum! Amen.
What a day to write my first post as guest blogger here at Defend Us in Battle, right? Before I get into my pithy thoughts on the announcement of the Holy Father’s upcoming resignation, let me introduce myself briefly.
My name is Allison (aka “Ms. Allie”) and I am the blogger over at All Things Christ!. I am a young adult Catholic woman with a penchant for traddy things and who is never afraid to share her thoughts, especially on anything remotely Papist. I am honored that Joe would even ask me to serve as a guest blogger and I hope that my posts will contribute to the blog in some small way rather than detract from it and cause him to lose readers.
I woke up this morning to get ready for Mass and went through my normal routine: get up, turn on laptop, check email, turn on the news, and start to get ready.
My mother comes into my room and asks, “Allie, have you heard about the Pope resigning? What’s going on with that? Is it true?” As soon as she said that, the story came up on the news.
I was in shock. I covered my mouth with my hands, closed my eyes, and fought back tears.
I can’t say this is coming out of nowhere. He has been mentioning it in the past that if he felt he could not fulfill his duties as Holy Father to the degree he saw that was necessary for the office, that he would resign. We’ve seen how weak he has become with his cane and his rolling platform. At the beginning of his pontificate, he would make impromptu comments. He’s become more and more dependent on prepared remarks (that are no less profound than his impromptu remarks). He remains intellectually sharp as a tack. Listening to him speak portrays that all so clearly.
But our dear Pope has gotten weaker. We cannot say that he is taking this lightly. This prayerful man has probably been thinking and meditating on this for a very long time. Much time spent before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and much consultation with his confidantes at the Vatican.
As the confirmations came through the morning, I couldn’t help but feel my heart breaking. All through the morning I have been getting texts and Facebook messages from friends (it’s what happens when you’re “The Papist” among your circle of friends) asking me for information on what’s going on and what it means.
With every report, every message, every remark, my heart breaks. This was our Holy Father. My Holy Father. He means so much to me really. He and I go back a bit.
He was the catalyst for my desire to become a theologian (which has begun to come to fruition by my earning a BA in Theology and my pursuing an MA in Theology) when I was a girl at my all-girls Catholic high school.
To be honest, he was the one who got me through the religion classes. The school was great. I got a great education in everything but religion (which is unacceptable). I would sit in religion class with the class text open on my desk with a Ratzinger (he was Cardinal Ratzinger at the time) hidden on my lap. My first Ratzinger book that I read was “Called to Communion,” his work on Ecclesiology. Then came his great book on the liturgy, “The Spirit of the Liturgy.” Both of those books I later read in college for my Theology degree (I wrote a major paper on the liturgiology of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI my sophomore year).
Pope Benedict has done so much for the Church and the world. Though he has many nay-sayers, I know for a fact that for every detractor, there are many more persons who genuinely love and support this holy and humble man of God whose only desire has been to make Him better known and loved through his work as a priest, a professor, CDF prefect, and finally as Pope. Pope Benedict has never shied away from proclaiming the Truth in its fullness, even when it wasn’t “popular.”
He is a great role model for every Catholic. The Lord doesn’t desire worldly greatness and renown He only wants us to be faithful even and especially when the waters of the world are rough and hope seems dim.
He’s the “Pope of Christian Unity” as Father Z puts it with his desire to work with traditionalists (as in the SSPX and other groups), through his creation of the Anglican Ordinariate with his Apostolic Consitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, and other ways he has sought to serve as a bridge to increased unity between our fellow Christian brothers and sisters.
Besides his great intellectual contributions to the Church, and not at all discounting all his other contributions to Holy Church, one that really sticks out to me, being the traddy Church lady I am, is promulgation of his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. With the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum in 2007, the Holy Father extended the indult for the Traditional Latin Mass that was granted by Blessed Pope John Paul II in his motu proprio Ecclesia Dei that allowed for the TLM be offered with the permission of the local bishop. With Summorum Pontificum, it was no longer necessary for permission to be granted in order for the TLM (and any other liturgical rite connected with the Missal of 1962) to be offered. The Missal of 1962 became the “Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite” and it was reinforced that this was a very important part of the liturgical patrimony of the Church and could not be cast aside as it had been by some in the Church as if it was no longer relevant or necessary.
I will be forever grateful to the Holy Father for that because Summorum Pontificum has opened the EF to a whole new generation of Catholics (both lay and cleric) who, while they did not grow up with it, feel an attachment/affinity to it. It has allowed young Catholics to have a more full view of the rich liturgical tradition of the Church steeped with history, symbolism, and a profound sense of the transcendent.
Father Z made some observations about the Holy Father’s announcement today. Two stuck out:
-The Pope resigned on the World Day for the Sick (Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes).
-When the Pope visited the tomb St. Pope Peter Celestine he took off his pallium and left it on the tomb.
Below that was this picture:
Perhaps the Holy Father knew then or at least was leaning toward tendering resignation (or is it abdication?). I don’t believe in coincidences. It’s not coincidence that Papa Benedict placed his pallium on the tomb of the last Pope to resign in 1294 (719 years). Maybe he was seeking intercession from this Pope. (Correction: the last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415. Pope Celestine reigned for a little over 100 days. My bad.)
Another observation that I do not see as coincidence: the day he announces his resignation is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and World Day for the Sick. Perhaps he didn’t choose this day because of that (though I would not be surprised). Perhaps she picked the day for him? The Pope does have a great love for Mary (as any priest or Catholic should, let alone Pope). I think our Mother in Heaven is going to take care of this dear Papa of ours and help him as he moves from the public face of Holy Church and Vicar of Christ and help him as he transitions to “devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.” Mary is a mother to us all but I think she has a special love for the Pope since he is the Vicar of her Divine Son.
With all of that said, yes, I am sad to hear that the Holy Father is resigning, this “transitional Pope” (kinda like how some said that Blessed Pope John XIII was going to be a “transitional Pope”) has definitely left his mark on Holy Mother Church in so many positive ways. I trust in the Providence of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Lord hasn’t left His Church once, I don’t think He’s planning on changing that any time soon … as in never.
Let us pray for and offer sacrifices for our dear Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI and his successor (and the Cardinals who will be meeting in Conclave to elect him in due time). The Church will go on after this. Yes, it’s painful. Yes, it can be hard to understand. But the Lord will provide His Church with the successor she needs during these difficult times. He always provides.
The time we had Pope Benedict as our dear Papa were about 7 short years but in that time, he has done so much, by the grace of God, for the Church and the world. Let us thank God for him and for the Church he serves so lovingly, selflessly, and devotedly.
If you don’t know already, I am sure you are as shocked as I am. Here is the report:
Pope Benedict XVI will resign from his papal office, effective February 28 at 8:00 PM local time.
“Dear Brothers, I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church,” he said in a statement addressed to cardinals. “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”
“I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering,” he continued in his statement, which was dated February 10 and released by Vatican Radio on February 11. “However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”
“For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is,” he added.
“Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.”
Lots more to come…
For those of you who “don’t do Twitter” the following is the screen capture for the Pope’s first couple of tweets:
While some have “over-played” this news a bit, it is a big moment in the history of the faith.
This is big, not because Twitter itself is all that important in the grand scheme of history, but because it shows a natural progression within the Church. Continue reading
Defend Us In Battle… I am sure that name conjures up many images in the heads of the people that read this blog. The name of a blog certainly is the “first impression” people have of both a blog, and the person behind it. This blog is no different, but the name may not be what it seems, at least at first glance. Continue reading
As many of my long time readers know, I am very big fan of Pope Benedict as both the Pope and as a theologian. His book, The Spirit of the Liturgy, is a key reason I have come to study the faith at a deeper academic and theological level.
The Pope has always championed the Church’s teaching onwhat the Mass is and what it is not. He speaks to this issue from a spiritual and theological perspective. When you read his words, it is clear that the Mass is not some performance or service, but something supernatural and supra-worldly. Continue reading