A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Saturday, April 30, 2005


Many people talk about how Christianity needs to adapt itself to the world of today.

The tragically funny thing is that people have always been saying that, because there is always tension and even conflict between the way of the world and the way of Christ.

Our Lord himself warned us of this from the very beginning, as we hear in today’s Gospel (John 15:18-21):

"If the world hates you,
realize that it hated me first.

”If you belonged to the world,
the world would love its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
and I have chosen you out of the world,
the world hates you.

”Remember the word I spoke to you,
‘No slave is greater than his master.'
If they persecuted me,
they will also persecute you.

”If they kept my word,
they will also keep yours.
And they will do all these things to you
on account of my name,
because they do not know the one who sent me."

Faithful Christians are always nonconformists in the world, for true happiness is to be found in conformity with Christ.

Curriculum vitae

He was a brilliant professor of theology during the time of the Council.

He was made a bishop, then a Cardinal, and finally the chief enforcer of the faith, showing a great zeal against heresy.

And then he was elected Pope.

During his pontificate, his personal holiness shone brightly even as he was involved in great and sometimes controversial endeavors to help build up the Church and its people in an age that was violently opposed to it.

Pope Pius V died early in the seventh year of his pontificate 433 years ago tomorrow. He was canonized in 1712.

Month's Mind - Terri Schiavo

Terri Schiavo died a month ago on the last day of March (requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei): a good time to remember the need for prayer and practical steps to save people like her in the future.

We must pray for Terri, her parents, and those who mourn for her: that the Lord may be good to them in his mercy.

We should pray for those who sought her death: that they may have true repentance and contrition.

We must focus our energies to help people like Terri in the future through
  • Serious public education and evangelization
  • Doing what we can to coordinate private and public resources so that people in Terri’s condition can always receive care
  • Lobbying for appropriate legislation on state and federal levels
  • Electing legislators at all levels who will work effectively for a true “culture of life”
  • Working for the selection or election of local judges who in such cases are diligent in their finding of fact and faithful in their interpretation of law.

Friday, April 29, 2005

The Arms of Benedict XVI

EWTN has an article from CNA about Pope Benedict XVI's coat of arms. Apparently, he has kept the coat of arms he had as Archbishop of Munich and replaced the papal tiara with a bishop's miter (while retaining the Petrine keys, of course) and added the pallium.

In an article last week for Inside the Vatican, Father John Jay Hughes passed on eight-year-old reflections of then-Cardinal Ratzinger on his coat of arms. "'The shell reminds me of my great master Augustine, of my theological work, and of the vastness of the mystery which surpasses all our learning.'" (Father Hughes explains the Augustine connection thusly: "Walking along the seashore as he reflected on the mystery of the Trinity, Augustine came on a child who had dug a hole in the sand and was trying to pour the sea into it with a shell. Augustine realized that his efforts to understand the mystery of God were as futile as the child’s attempt to get the sea into the hole.")

I remember that the seashell figured prominently in the design of his chasuble at his inaugural Mass.

The crowned Moor and the bear carrying a pack are traditional symbols associated with the Archbishop of Munich.

(Hat tip: Ut Unum Sint)

Lay Siege to Heaven

Some decades ago, Louis De Wohl wrote a remarkable series of historical novels based on the lives of saints, many of which are available at Amazon.com and other places.

I particularly enjoyed “Lay Siege to Heaven: A Novel About Saint Catherine of Siena.”

I will allure her

I will lead her into the desert
and speak to her heart.

"God speaks to the heart in silence, solitude, stillness. His voice cannot easily be heard in the midst of noise, turmoil and a pace of life geared to speed and endless commotion.

"When our hearts do respond to his voice, he tells us about the meaning of life, about who he is and who we are; and how to experience the fullness of life by finding his presence in all things, recognizing that he is a mystery beyond all things.

"To some he speaks more insistently; he gives them a taste for silence and tranquillity and a longing to search for him, to encounter him person to person in a deepening dialogue of love. This is the contemplative life. It is a life lived in his presence at the heart of reality where the insecurities, confusion and conflicts of human life can be kept in perspective, as all things move toward the fulfillment of his divine plan.

"Here in our monastery, we seek God in a life of prayer, silence, simplicity, and joy. We do this as Mary did, and in union with her, listening to the Word of God, pondering it in our hearts, and acting upon it in faith. Everything in our daily living is arranged to foster this attitude of receptivity. At the center of our life is the liturgy, through which we offer to God a continual sacrifice of praise, and intercede with the Father of mercies for the universal Church and the needs of the whole world....

"But our life is not all lived in solitude. We live within a warm, joyful community of like-minded women, sharing all aspects of our journey to God in mutual support and sisterly love. In a complex society we try to live in simplicity and frugality, not afraid of our poverty, either material or spiritual, which associates us more closely with the poor. This spirit of poverty impels us with lively confidence in the Lord, "who for our sake became poor so that by his poverty we might become rich." (2 Cor. 8:9), and frees us from anxiety about material possessions. We know the dignity of human labor and strive to use our natural talents for the enrichment of the whole community.

"While we live within a cloister, separated aterially from the world, the Church has appointed us for the work of divine praise and intercessory prayer, which situates us at the very heart of the Church and the world. We embrace that world by recreating in our monastery a place of love, peace, and delight in the Lord, which in faith we believe radiates a hidden apostolic fruitfulness. We do not preach with our voices; ours is a concrete, lived out proclamation of the Good News.

"The heart of our religious consecration and the apostolic vocation of the Dominican Order demands that we embrace a penitential way of life in a total gift of self.

"Would you like to share our life, or simply to know us better? Then, with Jesus we say: 'Come and see.'"

from the website of the Monastery of Mary the Queen
Contemplative Dominican Nuns in Elmira, New York


What today’s society exalts as “autonomy” is really just a dictatorship of whims, opening a shining door to a future of ever increasing darkness.

In today’s Gospel (John 15:12-17), our Lord reminds us of a better path:

It was not you who chose me,
but I who chose you
and appointed you
to go
and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father
in my name
he may give you.

We do well to reject the dictatorship of whims and submit in love to the Lordship of Christ.

The little girl was very, very, very pious

Her parents had made plans for her, plans for a “normal” life, but the little girl could not be swayed.

She had already seen Jesus.

Word of her spiritual experiences spread. When she was still in her twenties, even Popes would pay heed to her and not only for pious inspiration.

Her words would thwart the plans of princes and would stir people of faith to dramatic action for the causes of truth, peace, and the freedom of God’s word.

Catherine, the pious little girl from Siena, died in Rome shortly after her 33rd birthday on this very day in 1380. She was canonized in 1461 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970.

(I feel inadequate in attempting to describe the remarkable life and thought of this incredible woman. Others - most especially Lauren at cnytr - do a much better job).

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Seven priests arrested in China

Catholic News Service reports that "Seven underground Chinese priests of the Zhengding Diocese were arrested April 27 while attending a retreat led by a recently released underground bishop, a U.S.-based advocacy group said.

"The arrests were made in the city of Jinzhou by police and officers of China's religious bureau, reported the Stamford, Conn.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation. The retreat was led by Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding, who had been under 24-hour police surveillance from about March 30 to April 25. Bishop Jia was warned by Chinese officials not to initiate any religious activities after the surveillance was lifted, the foundation said in an April 27 statement."

The secret of endless love

Today’s first reading (Acts 15:7-21) and the Gospels of today and tomorrow (John 15:9-11 and 12-17) give us the secret of endless love.

  • The secret of endless love is fidelity to God in thought, word, and deed.

    “If you keep my commandments,
    you will remain in my love,
    just as I have kept my Father's commandments
    and remain in his love.”

  • The secret of endless love is self-sacrifice.

    “This is my commandment:
    love one another as I love you.
    No one has greater love than this,
    to lay down one's life for one's friends.”

  • The secret of endless love is God’s free gift of grace.

    “…We are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus…”

Jesus said to his disciples:

"As the Father loves me,
so I also love you.

"Remain in my love….

"I have told you this
so that my joy might be in you
and your joy might be complete."

Heavy surf at the Vatican

ZENIT has an interesting story about the very heavy traffic that hit the Vatican's web servers during the past month.

The foreigner

was an educated young man who spoke gently and showed great care for people. Everyone who knew him said he had a kind heart.

Nonetheless, the government saw him as a threat and the Prime Minister decided to take dramatic action. Early one morning, they swept through the compound where the young man was, catching him and his associates off guard.

The Prime Minister came to the scene and personally split open the skull of the kind young man.

St. Peter Chanel, French-born missionary and parish priest, was thus martyred on this very day 164 years ago in an island kingdom of Oceania. He was canonized in 1954.

"If I were to look at these setbacks

from a human standpoint, I would be tempted, like the foolish people of this corrupt world, to complain and be anxious and worried, but that is not how I look at things. Let me tell you that I expect more serious setbacks, more painful ones to test your faith and confidence."

Very soon after he wrote these words, this devout and hardworking priest died.

But the religious communities he had barely begun would flourish and his devotional works become widely read, benefiting the humble and the great alike. For example...

“At one point I began to question any devotion to Mary, believing that, if it became too great, it might end up compromising the supremacy of the worship owed Christ. At that time, I was greatly helped by a book by Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort entitled 'Treatise of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin.' There I found the answers to my questions. Yes, Mary does bring us closer to Christ; she does lead us to him, provided that we live her mystery in Christ.”

Pope John Paul II, “Gift and Mystery”
quoted on www.montfortmissionaries.com

Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort died on this very day in 1716 and was canonized in 1947.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

More on eBay

Catholic News Service reports that "Catholics are being urged to boycott eBay because the popular auction Internet site allowed an Iowa man to try to sell a Communion host purported to be consecrated by Pope John Paul II. The host was later withdrawn by the seller, no money exchanged hands and the host was properly disposed of according to church law. However, groups calling for the boycott contend that eBay should not have allowed the auction of an item sacred to Catholics.... Groups backing the boycott include the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property. A Web site has been set up (at) www.boycottebay.org."

UPDATE: eBay is reported to have changed its policy to prohibit sales of the Eucharist and other "highly sacred items."

On my own?

We like to feel independent, autonomous, and self-sufficient and sometimes we succeed -- or at least, we think we are succeeding... but not completely and not forever.

We are finite beings. Even when we think we are being independent, autonomous, and self-sufficient, we are still dependent upon the will and the gifts of God.

If we cut ourselves off from God, if we are not keeping ourselves open to his will and his grace, we will be unable to sustain even what we have.

In today’s Gospel (John 15:1-8), our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ makes it very clear:

"Remain in me, as I remain in you.

"Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you

unless you remain in me.

"I am the vine, you are the branches.

"Whoever remains in me and I in him
will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.

"Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.

"If you remain in me
and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want

and it will be done for you.

"By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit

and become my disciples."

Christian Carnival

This week's Christian Carnival - an ecumenical collection of posts from various Christian blogs - is online at Wittenberg Gate.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Pastores Dabo Vobis

"'I will give you shepherds after my own heart.'"
Jeremiah 3:15

  • "Are you interested in the priesthood?
  • "Do others notice priestly qualities in you?
  • "Are you more than just curious about the priesthood?
  • "Do you feel God has something great planned for you?
  • "Do you wonder how you can better serve God and the Church?
  • "Have you ever wondered if you could meet the challenges of priestly life?

"If you have ever asked yourself any of these questions, you are not alone. If these questions are in your heart and on your mind take some time to explore our web site. Answering these questions and discerning God's will in your life is an exciting process and a time of profound grace."

from www.omahapriests.org
the Vocations site of the Archdiocese of Omaha

Separation anxiety

Ye have heard how I said unto you,
I go away, and come again unto you.

If ye loved me, ye would rejoice,
because I said, I go unto the Father:
for my Father is greater than I.

And now I have told you before it come to pass,
that, when it is come to pass,
ye might believe.

In today’s Gospel (Jn. 14:27-31), our Lord speaks these words of comfort to his disciples as he prepares them for his imminent death.

Our Lord speaks these words also to us who experience the dread and the anxiety of separation. Sometimes it is because we have lost or may lose a person who has been a critical part of our lives. Sometimes it is because we have been or may soon be separated from an environment to which we have become accustomed.

Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid.

We must always embrace the will of the Father, from whose love nothing can separate us.

When we experience either the pain or the fear of separation, we must find refuge and strength in God, who gives peace the world cannot give.

The love of Christ impels us to embrace the Father’s will and to move ever forward in that will and in that love.

We are human: we feel fear and pain and so much else, but we are also eternally gifted with the Divine in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who strengthens us and comforts us in all the things we must endure in this world.

Neither pain nor fear need keep us from accomplishing the will of God by his grace.

Arise, let us go hence.

What do you mean “we”...?

Some have observed that Pope Benedict XVI used the pontifical or royal “we” in his first address to the Cardinals the day after his election, in contrast to the great Pope John Paul II who used the first person singular “I”.

Actually, Pope Benedict XVI seems to be following the same practice as the great Pope John Paul II: first person singular in modern languages and first person plural in Latin.

Catholic Carnival XXVIII

This week's Catholic Carnival - a collection of posts from various Catholic blogs - is online at The Curt Jester.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Apologies to Adalbert

whose optional memorial I neglected Saturday. Chased from his diocese of Prague (twice) and later murdered (in 997), his evangelization efforts eventually bore fruit and his memory came to be cherished.

Papal profile

Benedict XVI

UPDATE - A portrait of Pope Benedict XVI in full side profile appeared for a time on the Vatican website. A new portrait was subsequently subsituted and appears above.

It was probably just a coincidence the only other full side profile papal portrait on the Vatican website belonged to Pius XII.

John Paul IPaul VIBl. John XXIIIPius XIIPius XIBenedict XVSt. Pius XLeo XIII

The great Pope John Paul II

The Belly of the Beast

A cryptic reference at the end of today’s first reading (1 Peter 5:5b-14) hints that Saint Peter is writing this letter from Rome – the center of that era’s evil empire.

As the Acts of the Apostles testifies, Saint Paul also carried on the work of the Lord in that infamous city.

That was a very dangerous place to be and it was there that both Apostles would be slain, but it was there that the Lord wanted them to work.

If we think about it, many of us are living and working in the center of today’s evil empire: in the very gut of a globalized culture of materialism, hedonism, and selfishness.

It is a very dangerous place to be. Even if we are not openly attacked for our faith, the temptation to go along with the way of the world can be very strong and seductive.

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying,
Come out of her, my people,
that ye be not partakers of her sins,
and that ye receive not of her plagues.

(Rev. 18:4)

Some hear the call of the Lord to cut themselves off from the world physically, going off into monasteries or the life of a hermit while supporting the rest of us in prayer.

Most of us, however, are called to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the midst of the world, while striving through the grace of God to keep ourselves unsullied by it.

It is a dangerous place to be, but it is here that the Lord calls us to do his work.

So we must be faithful to doing to Lord’s work, even in the midst of an unfriendly world, even in the face of insidious temptations. We must be very diligent in seeking the Lord’s help in remaining faithful. It is too easy to slip, to become distracted, to be lulled, to rationalize, or to just go along with others.

We must keep ourselves focused on our task and also immersed in the Lord, through prayer and the Sacraments as well as by reading Scripture and other books that keep us strong for our work in the faith.

It is critically important for us to perform regular spiritual safety or reality checks, most especially in a daily examination of conscience but also periodically taking a look at our lives as they reflect the truth of Christ (or not) and then seeking the Lord’s grace in Penance so that we may come ever closer to the perfection to which he calls us. Miserere mei, Domine.

Not all of us are called to live all our lives in isolation from the world; many times we must live and labor in the very heart of this world’s darkness. Yet no matter where we may be, we must be faithful and powerful in the light, the truth, and the love of Jesus Christ.

Administrative Professionals Day

is Wednesday.

The Assistant was proficient in state-of-the-art word processing and thus a valuable asset to the CEO.

The CEO was under tremendous pressure, trying to stay at least one step ahead of the law (sometimes, they said, the way the CEO escaped the clutches of the authorities was a miracle).

The Assistant facilitated some of the CEO’s most critical correspondence as well as supporting him (and sometimes the number two guy) on travels.

No mere cog in the great corporate machine, the Assistant aspired to write a book. It turned out to be a best seller: the first of a famous genre of very specialized biographies.

The Assistant eventually was promoted to head a major branch and would be well thought of by the people there.

In the end, however, the Assistant was probably caught in the same government sweep that finally destroyed the CEO, the number two, and many others.

The Feast of Saint Mark - assistant and traveling companion to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, author of the earliest Gospel, and Bishop of Alexandria - is celebrated on this day.

Arinze gets upgrade

This morning, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI promoted Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to the order of cardinal bishops.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Benedict XVI's Inaugural Mass Homily

Your Eminences,
My dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Distinguished Authorities
and Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

"During these days of great intensity, we have chanted the litany of the saints on three different occasions: at the funeral of our Holy Father John Paul II; as the Cardinals entered the Conclave; and again today, when we sang it with the response: Tu illum adiuva – sustain the new Successor of Saint Peter. On each occasion, in a particular way, I found great consolation in listening to this prayerful chant.

"How alone we all felt after the passing of John Paul II – the Pope who for over twenty-six years had been our shepherd and guide on our journey through life! He crossed the threshold of the next life, entering into the mystery of God. But he did not take this step alone. Those who believe are never alone – neither in life nor in death. At that moment, we could call upon the Saints from every age – his friends, his brothers and sisters in the faith – knowing that they would form a living procession to accompany him into the next world, into the glory of God. We knew that his arrival was awaited. Now we know that he is among his own and is truly at home.

"We were also consoled as we made our solemn entrance into Conclave, to elect the one whom the Lord had chosen. How would we be able to discern his name? How could 115 Bishops, from every culture and every country, discover the one on whom the Lord wished to confer the mission of binding and loosing? Once again, we knew that we were not alone, we knew that we were surrounded, led and guided by the friends of God.

"And now, at this moment, weak servant of God that I am, I must assume this enormous task, which truly exceeds all human capacity. How can I do this? How will I be able to do it? All of you, my dear friends, have just invoked the entire host of Saints, represented by some of the great names in the history of God’s dealings with mankind. In this way, I too can say with renewed conviction: I am not alone. I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone. All the Saints of God are there to protect me, to sustain me and to carry me. And your prayers, my dear friends, your indulgence, your love, your faith and your hope accompany me. Indeed, the communion of Saints consists not only of the great men and women who went before us and whose names we know. All of us belong to the communion of Saints, we who have been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we who draw life from the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood, through which he transforms us and makes us like himself.

"Yes, the Church is alive – this is the wonderful experience of these days. During those sad days of the Pope’s illness and death, it became wonderfully evident to us that the Church is alive. And the Church is young. She holds within herself the future of the world and therefore shows each of us the way towards the future. The Church is alive and we are seeing it: we are experiencing the joy that the Risen Lord promised his followers. The Church is alive – she is alive because Christ is alive, because he is truly risen. In the suffering that we saw on the Holy Father’s face in those days of Easter, we contemplated the mystery of Christ’s Passion and we touched his wounds. But throughout these days we have also been able, in a profound sense, to touch the Risen One. We have been able to experience the joy that he promised, after a brief period of darkness, as the fruit of his resurrection.

"The Church is alive – with these words, I greet with great joy and gratitude all of you gathered here, my venerable brother Cardinals and Bishops, my dear priests, deacons, Church workers, catechists. I greet you, men and women Religious, witnesses of the transfiguring presence of God. I greet you, members of the lay faithful, immersed in the great task of building up the Kingdom of God which spreads throughout the world, in every area of life. With great affection I also greet all those who have been reborn in the sacrament of Baptism but are not yet in full communion with us; and you, my brothers and sisters of the Jewish people, to whom we are joined by a great shared spiritual heritage, one rooted in God’s irrevocable promises. Finally, like a wave gathering force, my thoughts go out to all men and women of today, to believers and non-believers alike.

* * * * * * *

"Dear friends! At this moment there is no need for me to present a programme of governance. I was able to give an indication of what I see as my task in my Message of Wednesday 20 April, and there will be other opportunities to do so. My real programme of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole Church, to the word and the will of the Lord, to be guided by Him, so that He himself will lead the Church at this hour of our history. Instead of putting forward a programme, I should simply like to comment on the two liturgical symbols which represent the inauguration of the Petrine Ministry; both these symbols, moreover, reflect clearly what we heard proclaimed in today’s readings.

"The first symbol is the Pallium, woven in pure wool, which will be placed on my shoulders. This ancient sign, which the Bishops of Rome have worn since the fourth century, may be considered an image of the yoke of Christ, which the Bishop of this City, the Servant of the Servants of God, takes upon his shoulders. God’s yoke is God’s will, which we accept. And this will does not weigh down on us, oppressing us and taking away our freedom. To know what God wants, to know where the path of life is found – this was Israel’s joy, this was her great privilege. It is also our joy: God’s will does not alienate us, it purifies us – even if this can be painful – and so it leads us to ourselves. In this way, we serve not only him, but the salvation of the whole world, of all history.

"The symbolism of the Pallium is even more concrete: the lamb’s wool is meant to represent the lost, sick or weak sheep which the shepherd places on his shoulders and carries to the waters of life. For the Fathers of the Church, the parable of the lost sheep, which the shepherd seeks in the desert, was an image of the mystery of Christ and the Church. The human race – every one of us – is the sheep lost in the desert which no longer knows the way. The Son of God will not let this happen; he cannot abandon humanity in so wretched a condition. He leaps to his feet and abandons the glory of heaven, in order to go in search of the sheep and pursue it, all the way to the Cross. He takes it upon his shoulders and carries our humanity; he carries us all – he is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. What the Pallium indicates first and foremost is that we are all carried by Christ. But at the same time it invites us to carry one another.

"Hence the Pallium becomes a symbol of the shepherd’s mission, of which the Second Reading and the Gospel speak. The pastor must be inspired by Christ’s holy zeal: for him it is not a matter of indifference that so many people areliving in the desert. And there are so many kinds of desert. There is the desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment, of loneliness, of destroyed love. There is the desert of God’s darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life. The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast. Therefore the earth’s treasures no longer serve to build God’s garden for all to live in, but they have been made to serve the powers of exploitation and destruction. The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.

"The symbol of the lamb also has a deeper meaning. In the Ancient Near East, it was customary for kings to style themselves shepherds of their people. This was an image of their power, a cynical image: to them their subjects were like sheep, which the shepherd could dispose of as he wished. When the shepherd of all humanity, the living God, himself became a lamb, he stood on the side of the lambs, with those who are downtrodden and killed. This is how he reveals himself to be the true shepherd: 'I am the Good Shepherd . . . I lay down my life for the sheep,' Jesus says of himself (Jn 10:14f). It is not power, but love that redeems us! This is God’s sign: he himself is love.

"How often we wish that God would make show himself stronger, that he would strike decisively, defeating evil and creating a better world. All ideologies of power justify themselves in exactly this way, they justify the destruction of whatever would stand in the way of progress and the liberation of humanity. We suffer on account of God’s patience. And yet, we need his patience. God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man.

"One of the basic characteristics of a shepherd must be to love the people entrusted to him, even as he loves Christ whom he serves. 'Feed my sheep,' says Christ to Peter, and now, at this moment, he says it to me as well. Feeding means loving, and loving also means being ready to suffer. Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God’s truth, of God’s word, the nourishment of his presence, which he gives us in the Blessed Sacrament.

"My dear friends – at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love his flock more and more – in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another.

* * * * * * *

The second symbol used in today’s liturgy to express the inauguration of the Petrine Ministry is the presentation of the fisherman’s ring. Peter’s call to be a shepherd, which we heard in the Gospel, comes after the account of a miraculous catch of fish: after a night in which the disciples had let down their nets without success, they see the Risen Lord on the shore. He tells them to let down their nets once more, and the nets become so full that they can hardly pull them in: 'and although there were so many, the net was not torn' (Jn 21:11). This account, coming at the end of Jesus’s earthly journey with his disciples, corresponds to an account found at the beginning: there too, the disciples had caught nothing the entire night; there too, Jesus had invited Simon once more to put out into the deep. And Simon, who was not yet called Peter, gave the wonderful reply: 'Master, at your word I will let down the nets.' And then came the conferral of his mission: 'Do not be afraid. Henceforth you will be catching men' (Lk 5:1-11).

"Today too the Church and the successors of the Apostles are told to put out into the deep sea of history and to let down the nets, so as to win men and women over to the Gospel – to God, to Christ, to true life. The Fathers made a very significant commentary on this singular task. This is what they say: for a fish, created for water, it is fatal to be taken out of the sea, to be removed from its vital element to serve as human food. But in the mission of a fisher of men, the reverse is true. We are living in alienation, in the salt waters of suffering and death; in a sea of darkness without light. The net of the Gospel pulls us out of the waters of death and brings us into the splendour of God’s light, into true life. It is really true: as we follow Christ in this mission to be fishers of men, we must bring men and women out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation and onto the land of life, into the light of God.

"It is really so: the purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men. And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.

"The task of the shepherd, the task of the fisher of men, can often seem wearisome. But it is beautiful and wonderful, because it is truly a service to joy, to God’s joy which longs to break into the world.

* * * * * * *

"Here I want to add something: both the image of the shepherd and that of the fisherman issue an explicit call to unity. 'I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must lead them too, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd' (Jn 10:16); these are the words of Jesus at the end of his discourse on the Good Shepherd. And the account of the (miraculous catch of fish) ends with the joyful statement: 'although there were so many, the net was not torn' (Jn 21:11). Alas, beloved Lord, with sorrow we must now acknowledge that it has been torn! But no – we must not be sad! Let us rejoice because of your promise, which does not disappoint, and let us do all we can to pursue the path towards the unity you have promised. Let us remember it in our prayer to the Lord, as we plead with him: yes, Lord, remember your promise. Grant that we may be one flock and one shepherd! Do not allow your net to be torn, help us to be servants of unity!

"At this point, my mind goes back to 22 October 1978, when Pope John Paul II began his ministry here in Saint Peter’s Square. His words on that occasion constantly echo in my ears: 'Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ!'

"The Pope was addressing the mighty, the powerful of this world, who feared that Christ might take away something of their power if they were to let him in, if they were to allow the faith to be free. Yes, he would certainly have taken something away from them: the dominion of corruption, the manipulation of law and the freedom to do as they pleased. But he would not have taken away anything that pertains to human freedom or dignity, or to the building of a just society.

"The Pope was also speaking to everyone,especially the young. Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? And once again the Pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation.

"And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen."

Greater than Jesus?

“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me
will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.”

These words from today’s Gospel (Jn. 14:1-12) are somewhat mind-blowing.

Whoever believes in Christ will do greater works than Christ himself?

Who can top taking away the sins of the world, reconciling all things in himself, restoring us to God, and opening the gates of heaven?

No one, of course - no one is greater than the Lord Jesus - but that’s not what our Lord is talking about.

Keep in mind that our Lord’s public ministry lasted only three years and that he stayed within a fairly small geographical area.

Yet, after our Lord returned to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit, what wondrous works were accomplished!

People sought healing from Christ through a touch of his garment, people later sought healing from the shadow of his chief Apostle Peter. And there have been so many other miracles and signs.

But the greatest work of those who have believed in Christ is to have brought billions of other people to faith in the Lord and to have spread his Gospel to every corner of the globe.

All of this work, of course, took place in and through Christ crucified and risen and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

There is much more work to do: billions more who need Christ, including so many who have wandered away from faith.

By the grace of God, we need to keep up the good work and to accelerate it.

“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me
will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.”

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Haven’t I seen you before?

In today’s Gospel (Jn. 14:7-14), our Lord says,
“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

We need to live our lives in such a way
so that in all our words, in all our deeds,
and in our entire attitude,
whoever sees us,
sees Christ.

Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me
will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.

Plus ça change

plus c'est la même chose

In today's first reading (Acts 13:44-52)
  • Nearly the entire population of a city comes to hear the word of the Lord from an Apostle
  • Opinionmakers see the crowds and are filled with jealousy
  • They contradict what the Apostle says "with violent abuse"

(Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose - "the more things change, the more they remain the same" - Alphonse Karr)

The unknown soldier

His name was George.

He was a soldier.

He believed in Christ and they killed him for it.

That’s really all we know about him.

But people remembered the name of George, the warrior who died for Christ, and long after the facts of his life were forgotten, tales about him were told and retold and grew in the telling (the most famous of which – in which he slays a dragon - was encompassed in a collection known as “The Golden Legend”).

Thus, St. George is famous, and yet also unknown.

But we know that he was a soldier who died for Christ and that is a more wonderful accomplishment than anything.

The feast of St. George is celebrated on this day.

Friday, April 22, 2005

U.S. delegation to Papal Inaugural

U.S. President George W. Bush today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to the Inaugural Mass of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on April 24, 2005.

The President's brother, the Honorable Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida, will lead the delegation.

Members of the Presidential Delegation are the Honorable Michael Steele, Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, and Carl A. Anderson, Chief Executive Officer, Knights of Columbus. Accompanying Members of the Delegation are Helen Alvare, Associate Professor of Law, Catholic University of America, and Frank Hanley, President Emeritus, International Union of Operating Engineers.

All five are Catholics.

"I am the way and the truth and the life”

"No one comes to the Father except through me."

These magnificent words of our Lord in today’s Gospel (Jn. 14:1-6) are familiar even to those who are not great students of the Gospels.

And yet, in today’s politically correct world, anyone who might think to take these words seriously is condemned by this world’s elites - even by those who call themselves “Catholic” and “Christian.”

To be sure, God works in mysterious ways: that is to say, in and through the person of our Lord Jesus Christ in a mysterious way that is real even when not explicitly apparent.

Our job as Christians is to help make that connection more explicitly apparent and to help make people’s connection with Christ fuller, deeper, and more complete.

We need to respect sincere people of all faiths and to be sincere ourselves in our dialogue with them as part of our proclamation of the Truth of Jesus Christ, who is the perfect revelation of God, the one Mediator, and the only Savior and who reaches out in love to all people.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Catholic Carnival

This week's Catholic Carnival is available here.

Sending and receiving

We know from Scripture, history, and experience (including the negative reaction in certain quarters to Pope Benedict XVI) that the world does not always receive well those who are faithful messengers of God.

We are accused of arrogance, when in fact we are being honest and humble: we are not the masters of the message, we are not the Lord, we are simply those who are sent.

As our Lord says in today’s Gospel (Jn, 13: 16-20):

Verily, verily, I say unto you,
The servant is not greater than his lord;
neither (is) he that is sent
greater than he that sent him.

Nobody likes rejection, but when we are rejected by others for being faithful to Christ, we are not the ones being rejected.

Verily, verily, I say unto you,
He that receiveth whomsoever I send
receiveth me;
and he that receiveth me
receiveth him that sent me.

May we always receive Christ fully and be faithful to him wherever we are sent.

"Speaks to the inner adult in all of us"

Great column today by Peggy Noonan on Opinion Journal

"Did you see them running to St. Peter's Square as the bells began to toll?"


"Why did they run?"


"We want someone who stands for what is difficult and right, what is impossible but true. Being human we don't always or necessarily want to live by the truth or be governed by it. But we are grateful when someone stands for it. We want him to be standing up there on the balcony."


"The choosing of Benedict XVI, a man who is serious, deep and brave, is a gift. He has many enemies. They imagine themselves courageous and oppressed. What they are is agitated, aggressive, and well-connected.

"They want to make sure his papacy begins with a battle. They want to make sure no one gets a chance to love him. Which is too bad because even his foes admit he is thoughtful, eager for dialogue, sensitive, honest.

"They want to make sure that when he speaks and writes, the people of the world won't come running.

"What to do to help? See his enemies for what they are, and see him for what he is. Read him--he is a writer, a natural communicator of and thinker upon challenging ideas. Listen to him. Consult your internal compass as you listen, and see if it isn't pointing true north.

"Look at what he said at the beginning of the papal conclave: It is our special responsibility at this time to be mature, to believe as adults believe. 'Being an "adult" means having a faith which does not follow the waves of today's fashions or the latest novelties.' Being an adult is loving what is true and standing with it."


At the invitation of the Bishop of Phoenix group of five sisters from Mother Angelica's monastery are establishing themselves on a mountain in the Arizona desert.

"Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament is our fulfillment. To be His spouses and adorers is our identity and our joy. Our vocation can be summed up in one single word: ADORATION. Our vocation is the embracing of 'the one thing necessary.'

""You have not chosen Me," Our Blessed Lord said to His disciples, "No, I have chosen you."

"Each and every one of us has been chosen to bear fruit for the Kingdom, and our baptism is a special mark of this choice. Beyond this, though, some are chosen and set apart for God alone in the consecrated life.

"Totus Tuus sums up the life of a religious: TOTALLY YOURS. This totality is lived out through profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. Poverty says God is enough for me; Chastity says His Love possesses me; and Obedience says YES to whatever this Love demands of me.

"What are the requirements of entering the Poor Clare of Perpetual Adoration at Our Lady of Solitude???

  • "You must be a single woman between the ages of 21 and 35
  • "Have a High School education
  • "Be a Catholic in good standing
  • "Have good physical and psychological health

"If you are discerning a vocation and are interested in learning more about our Community, please contact us at vocations@desertnuns.com"

From the website www.desertnuns.com

(tips of appropriate head coverings to: Father Ethan and Curt Jester)

"The Anchoress is in counterattack mode"

So says Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz in this morning's Media Notes Extra as he features a post by fellow blogger The Anchoress energetically addressing the onslaught of unfair attacks on the new Pope.

Okay, you can all keep your jobs...

Pope Benedict XVI today confirmed the heads of all Vatican departments in their positions donec aliter provideatur (until something else is provided for).

The Wanderer

When he was a young boy, he loved God and before he was fifteen tried (unsuccessfully) to become a monk.

Then the temptations of life caught his attention and he wandered.

Years later, he found himself again at the doors of a monastery and he committed his life to God.

However, it was not clear what God wanted to do with him. He felt called to the contemplative life of a hermit. On the other hand, his father had left him an estate with which might do great good for the poor. In the end, he submitted to the will of his superiors and committed himself to the monastic life.

Now committed to the service of God, the young man blossomed. He was blessed with a pious spirit, abundant energy, and a phenomenal intellect. He would quickly be called to greater and greater levels of responsibility (within three years he would be the number two man in the monastery), but his mind and his spirit soared further and in between his daily administrative tasks he wrote philosophical and theological works of great skill and insight.

He continued to write even after he was almost literally dragged into becoming a Bishop. It was not just humility that made him reluctant to accept that office. Powerful political forces sought to dominate the Church and make it a tool of the State. He would rise to the challenge and defended the autonomy of the Church and the Gospel, sometimes with bold action, sometimes with careful nuance.

Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, died on this very day in 1109. His truly classic theological works include the Proslogium and Cur Deus Homo. His thought was admired by diverse philosophers such as Descartes and Hegel. St.Anselm of Canterbury was canonized in 1492.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A day in the life

After Mass this morning, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, visited his old office at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Later, he broke the seal on the Papal Apartments.

He had lunch at Domus Sanctae Marthae with some members of the Curia, deciding about some of his engagements for the days ahead:

  • Friday: meeting with all the Cardinals still in Rome
  • Saturday: holding a press conference
  • Sunday: presiding at his Inaugural Mass at 10 a.m. (Rome time)
  • Monday: receiving official delegations (UPDATE - this was later changed to after Mass on Sunday, with a visit to the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls to take place on Monday)

In the afternoon, he went back to his old apartment (getting ready for the move).

For the moment, the Holy Father has decided to stay in his quarters at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Nota bene

Those who have some familiarity with Latin would do well to look at the original text of the address Pope Benedict XVI gave this morning.

Inter alia, it appears to confirm recent news reports about his Latin prowess.

Pope Benedict XVI's 1st Address

From the Vatican Information Service, here is a translation from the original Latin of the first message of Pope Benedict XVI which he delivered in Latin at the end of this morning's Mass with the members of the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel.

"Grace and peace in abundance to all of you! In my soul there are two contrasting sentiments in these hours. On the one hand, a sense of inadequacy and human turmoil for the responsibility entrusted to me yesterday as the Successor of the Apostle Peter in this See of Rome, with regard to the Universal Church. On the other hand I sense within me profound gratitude to God Who - as the liturgy makes us sing - does not abandon His flock, but leads it throughout time, under the guidance of those whom He has chosen as vicars of His Son, and made pastors.

"Dear Ones, this intimate recognition for a gift of divine mercy prevails in my heart in spite of everything. I consider this a grace obtained for me by my venerated predecessor, John Paul II. It seems I can feel his strong hand squeezing mine; I seem to see his smiling eyes and listen to his words, addressed to me especially at this moment: 'Do not be afraid!' (Noli timere!)

"The death of the Holy Father John Paul II, and the days which followed, were for the Church and for the entire world an extraordinary time of grace. The great pain for his death and the void that it left in all of us were tempered by the action of the Risen Christ, which showed itself during long days in the choral wave of faith, love and spiritual solidarity, culminating in his solemn funeral.

"We can say it: the funeral of John Paul II was a truly extraordinary experience in which was perceived in some way the power of God Who, through His Church, wishes to form a great family of all peoples, through the unifying force of Truth and Love. In the hour of death, conformed to his Master and Lord, John Paul II crowned his long and fruitful pontificate, confirming the Christian people in faith, gathering them around him and making the entire human family feel more united.

"How can one not feel sustained by this witness? How can one not feel the encouragement that comes from this event of grace?

"Surprising every prevision I had, Divine Providence, through the will of the venerable Cardinal Fathers, called me to succeed this great Pope. I have been thinking in these hours about what happened in the region of Cesarea of Phillippi two thousand years ago: I seem to hear the words of Peter: 'You are Christ, the Son of the living God,' and the solemn affirmation of the Lord: 'You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church ... I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven'.

"You are Christ! You are Peter! It seems I am reliving this very Gospel scene; I, the Successor of Peter, repeat with trepidation the anxious words of the fisherman from Galilee and I listen again with intimate emotion to the reassuring promise of the divine Master. If the weight of the responsibility that now lies on my poor shoulders is enormous, the divine power on which I can count is surely immeasurable: 'You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church'. Electing me as the Bishop of Rome, the Lord wanted me as his Vicar, he wished me to be the 'rock' upon which everyone may rest with confidence. I ask him to make up for the poverty of my strength, that I may be a courageous and faithful pastor of His flock, always docile to the inspirations of His Spirit.

"I undertake this special ministry, the 'Petrine' ministry at the service of the Universal Church, with humble abandon to the hands of the Providence of God. And it is to Christ in the first place that I renew my total and trustworthy adhesion: 'In Te, Domine, speravi; non confundar in aeternum!' ("In you, O Lord, do I hope; never let me be confounded" Psalm 31:2)

"To you, Lord Cardinals, with a grateful soul for the trust shown me, I ask you to sustain me with prayer and with constant, active and wise collaboration. I also ask my brothers in the episcopacy to be close to me in prayer and counsel so that I may truly be the 'Servus servorum Dei' (Servant of the servants of God). As Peter and the other Apostles were, through the will of the Lord, one apostolic college, in the same way the Successor of Peter and the Bishops, successors of the Apostles - and the Council forcefully repeated this - must be closely united among themselves. This collegial communion, even in the diversity of roles and functions of the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops, is at the service of the Church and the unity of faith, from which depend in a notable measure the effectiveness of the evangelizing action of the contemporary world. Thus, this path, upon which my venerated predecessors went forward, I too intend to follow, concerned solely with proclaiming to the world the living presence of Christ.

"Before my eyes is, in particular, the witness of Pope John Paul II. He leaves us a Church that is more courageous, freer, younger. A Church that, according to his teaching and example, looks with serenity to the past and is not afraid of the future. With the Great Jubilee the Church was introduced into the new millennium carrying in her hands the Gospel, applied to the world through the authoritative re-reading of Vatican Council II. Pope John Paul II justly indicated the Council as a 'compass' with which to orient ourselves in the vast ocean of the third millennium. Also in his spiritual testament he noted: ' I am convinced that for a very long time the new generations will draw upon the riches that this council of the 20th century gave us'.

"I too, as I start in the service that is proper to the Successor of Peter, wish to affirm with force my decided will to pursue the commitment to enact Vatican Council II, in the wake of my predecessors and in faithful continuity with the millennia-old tradition of the Church. Precisely this year is the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of this conciliar assembly (December 8, 1965). With the passing of time, the conciliar documents have not lost their timeliness; their teachings have shown themselves to be especially pertinent to the new exigencies of the Church and the present globalized society.

"In a very significant way, my pontificate starts as the Church is living the special year dedicated to the Eucharist. How can I not see in this providential coincidence an element that must mark the ministry to which I have been called? The Eucharist, the heart of Christian life and the source of the evangelizing mission of the Church, cannot but be the permanent center and the source of the petrine service entrusted to me.

"The Eucharist makes the Risen Christ constantly present, Christ Who continues to give Himself to us, calling us to participate in the banquet of His Body and His Blood. From this full communion with Him comes every other element of the life of the Church, in the first place the communion among the faithful, the commitment to proclaim and give witness to the Gospel, the ardor of charity towards all, especially towards the poor and the smallest.

"In this year, therefore, the Solemnity of Corpus Christ must be celebrated in a particularly special way. The Eucharist will be at the center, in August, of World Youth Day in Cologne and, in October, of the ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which will take place on the theme "The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.' I ask everyone to intensify in coming months love and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus and to express in a courageous and clear way the real presence of the Lord, above all through the solemnity and the correctness of
the celebrations.

"I ask this in a special way of priests, about whom I am thinking in this moment with great affection. The priestly ministry was born in the Cenacle (ed - the upper room), together with the Eucharist, as my venerated predecessor John Paul II underlined so many times. 'The priestly life must have in a special way a 'Eucharistic form', he wrote in his last Letter for Holy Thursday. The devout daily celebration of Holy Mass, the center of the life and mission of every priest, contributes to this end.

"Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel stimulated to tend towards that full unity for which Christ hoped in the Cenacle. Peter's Successor knows that he must take on this supreme desire of the Divine Master in a particularly special way. To him, indeed, has been entrusted the duty of strengthening his brethren.

"Thus, in full awareness and at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome that Peter bathed with his blood, the current Successor assumes as his primary commitment that of working tirelessly towards the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, this is his compelling duty. He is aware that to do so, expressions of good feelings are not enough. Concrete gestures are required to penetrate souls and move consciences, encouraging everyone to that interior conversion which is the basis for all progress on the road of ecumenism.

"Theological dialogue is necessary. A profound examination of the historical reasons behind past choices is also indispensable. But even more urgent is that 'purification of memory,' which was so often evoked by John Paul II, and which alone can dispose souls to welcome the full truth of Christ. It is before Him, supreme Judge of all living things, that each of us must stand, in the awareness that one day we must explain to Him what we did and what we did not do for the great good that is the full and visible unity of all His disciples.

"The current Successor of Peter feels himself to be personally implicated in this question and is disposed to do all in his power to promote the fundamental cause of ecumenism. In the wake of his predecessors, he is fully determined to cultivate any initiative that may seem appropriate to promote contact and agreement with representatives from the various Churches and ecclesial communities. Indeed, on this occasion too, he sends them his most cordial greetings in Christ, the one Lord of all.

"In this moment, I go back in my memory to the unforgettable experience we all underwent with the death and the funeral of the lamented John Paul II. Around his mortal remains, lying on the bare earth, leaders of nations gathered, with people from all social classes and especially the young, in an unforgettable embrace of affection and admiration. The entire world looked to him with trust. To many it seemed as if that intense participation, amplified to the confines of the planet by the social communications media, was like a choral request for help addressed to the Pope by modern humanity which, wracked by fear and uncertainty, questions itself about the future.

"The Church today must revive within herself an awareness of the task to present the world again with the voice of the One Who said: 'I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.' In undertaking his ministry, the new Pope knows that his task is to bring the light of Christ to shine before the men and women of today: not his own light but that of Christ.

"With this awareness, I address myself to everyone, even to those who follow other religions or who are simply seeking an answer to the fundamental questions of life and have not yet found it. I address everyone with simplicity and affection, to assure them that the Church wants to continue to build an open and sincere dialogue with them, in a search for the true good of mankind and of society.

"From God I invoke unity and peace for the human family and declare the willingness of all Catholics to cooperate for true social development, one that respects the dignity of all human beings.

"I will make every effort and dedicate myself to pursuing the promising dialogue that my predecessors began with various civilizations, because it is mutual understanding that gives rise to conditions for a better future for everyone.

"I am particularly thinking of young people. To them, the privileged interlocutors of John Paul II, I send an affectionate embrace in the hope, God willing, of meeting them at Cologne on the occasion of the next World Youth Day. With you, dear young people, I will continue to maintain a dialogue, listening to your expectations in an attempt to help you meet ever more profoundly the living, ever young, Christ.

"'Mane nobiscum, Domine!' Stay with us Lord! This invocation, which forms the dominant theme of John Paul II's Apostolic Letter for the Year of the Eucharist, is the prayer that comes spontaneously from my heart as I turn to begin the ministry to which Christ has called me. Like Peter, I too renew to Him my unconditional promise of faithfulness. He alone I intend to serve as I dedicate myself totally to the service of His Church.

"In support of this promise, I invoke the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, in whose hands I place the present and the future of my person and of the Church. May the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, also intercede.

"With these sentiments I impart to you venerated brother cardinals, to those participating in this ritual, and to all those following to us by television and radio, a special and affectionate blessing."

(UPDATE - Translating quickly can be challenging, especially translating Pope Benedict's elegant Latin. ZENIT's effort can be found here.)

Christian Carnival

This week's Christian Carnival - an ecumenical collection of posts from various Christian blogs - is online at Pseudo-Polymath.

The Truth

A shy, gentle servant was chosen yesterday as Pope: a man deeply concerned with and strongly committed to Truth, the Truth of Christ.

Some people feel threatened by someone strongly committed to the Truth. Some even go as far as to accuse such people of dark motives.

In today's Gospel (John 12:44-50), our Lord speaks beautifully and gently about truth and condemnation, light and eternal life - words for all of us to live by.

I came into the world as light,
so that everyone who believes in me
might not remain in darkness.

And if anyone hears my words
and does not observe them,
I do not condemn him,
for I did not come
to condemn the world
but to save the world.

Whoever rejects me
and does not accept my words
has something to judge him:
the word that I spoke,
it will condemn him on the last day,
because I did not speak on my own,
but the Father who sent me
commanded me what to say and speak.

And I know that his commandment

is eternal life.

So what I say,
I say as the Father told me.

So too should we speak: with love and fidelity, with gentleness and strength, shining with the light of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pope Benedict's first night

The Vatican announced that this evening, Pope Benedict XVI decided to have dinner with all the Cardinals at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he will stay the night.

Tomorrow morning at 9:00 (Rome time), the Pope will preside at a Eucharistic concelebration with the Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel and will give the homily in Latin.

The Mass for the Solemn Inauguration of the Pontificate will be celebrated at St. Peter’s Sunday, April 24 at 10:00 a.m.

Biography of Pope Benedict XVI

(so far)

Following is the official biography of the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger from Vatican Information Service:

"(Pope Benedict XVI, formerly) Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the International Theological Commission, Dean of the College of Cardinals, was born on April 16, 1927 in Marktl am Inn, Germany. He was ordained a priest on June 29, 1951.

"His father, a police officer, came from a traditional family of farmers from Lower Bavaria. He spent his adolescent years in Traunstein, and was drafted into the auxiliary anti-aircraft service in the last months of World War II. From 1946 to 1951, the year in which he was ordained a priest and began to teach, he studied philosophy and theology at the University of Munich and at the higher school in Freising. In 1953 he obtained a doctorate in theology with a thesis entitled: The People and House of God in St. Augustine's doctrine of the Church.' Four years later, he qualified as a university teacher. He then taught dogma and fundamental theology at the higher school of philosophy and theology of Freising, in Bonn from 1959 to 1969, in Munster from 1963 to 1966, and in Tubinga from 1966 to 1969. From 1969, he was professor of dogmatic theology and of the history of dogma at the University of Regensburg and vice president of the same university.

"He was already well known in 1962 when, at Vatican Council II at the age of 35, he became a consultor to Cardinal Joseph Frings, archbishop of Cologne.

"Among his numerous publications, a particular place belongs to the "Introduction to Christianity," a collection of university lessons on the profession of apostolic faith, published in 1968; and to "Dogma and Revelation" an anthology of essays, sermons and reflections dedicated to the pastoral ministry, published in 1973.

"In March 1977, Paul VI appointed him Archbishop of Munich and Freising and on May 28, 1977 he was consecrated - the first diocesan priest after 80 years to take over the pastoral ministry of this large Bavarian diocese.

"Created and proclaimed cardinal by Paul VI in the consistory of June 27, 1977, he assumed the titles of the suburbicarian Church of Velletri-Segni (April 5, 1993) and of the suburbicarian Church of Ostia (November 30, 2002).

"On November 25, 1981 he was nominated by John Paul II as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and as president of the Biblical Commission and of the Pontifical International Theological Commission.

"He was 'relator' of the 5th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (1980). He was president delegate to the 6th Synodal Assembly (1983).

"Elected vice dean of the College of Cardinals November 6, 1998, the Holy Father approved his election, by the order of cardinal bishops, as dean of the College of Cardinals on November 30, 2002.

"As President of the Commission for the Preparation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, after 6 years of work (1986-92) he presented the New Catechism to the Holy Father.

"He received an honoris causa degree in jurisprudence from the Free University of Maria Santissima Assunta on November 10. 1999. He became an honorary member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences,November 13, 2000."

"He was elected Bishop of Rome April 19, 2005 and took the name Benedict XVI.

"His inauguration Mass will be Sunday, April 24."

Yesterday, when he was a Cardinal...

the Pope-to-be gave the following homily just before the conclave. It is complex but heartfelt. The media, eager for controversy, focused on one narrow section, but the soon-to-be Pope Benedict XVI's expressions of humility, awe, and love for the Lord resonate powerfully in light of today's events.

* * * * * * *

"At this hour of great responsibility, we listen with particular attention what the Lord says to us in his own words. From the three readings I would like to examine just a few passages which concern us directly at this time.

"The first reading gives us a prophetic depiction of the person of the Messiah - a depiction that takes all its significance from the moment Jesus reads this text in the synagogue at Nazareth, when he says:

"'Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing'
(Lk 4,21).

"At the core of the prophetic text we find a word that - at least at first glance - seems contradictory. The Messiah, speaking of himself, says that he was sent

"to declare a year of mercy from the Lord
and a day of vindication
(ed. - in Italian, "vendetta")
by our God" (Is 61,2).

"We hear with joy the announcement of a year of mercy: divine mercy puts a limit to evil - as the Holy Father told us. Jesus Christ is divine mercy in person: to meet Christ means to meet the mercy of God.

"The mandate of Christ has become our mandate through the anointing of priesthood. We are called to declare - not only in word but in life, and through the efficacious signs of the Sacraments - the 'year of mercy from the Lord.'

"But what does the prophet Isaiah mean when he announces the 'day of vindication (vendetta) by our God?'

"In Nazareth, in his reading aloud of the prophet's text, Jesus did not pronounce these words - he concluded with announcing the year of mercy. Was this perhaps the reason for the scandalized reaction to his preaching? We do not know.

"In any case, the Lord offered his authentic comment on these words by being put to death on the cross.

"'He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross,' says St. Peter (1 Pe 2,24).

"And Saint Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians:

"'Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree," that the blessing of Abraham might be extended to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.' (Gal 3, 13s).

"The mercy of Christ is not a cheap grace; it does not presume a banalization of evil.

"Christ carries in his body and on his soul all the weight of evil, all its destructive force. He burns and transforms evil through suffering, through the fire of his suffering love.

"The day of vindication (vendetta) and the year of favor come together in the paschal mystery, in Christ dead and risen.

"This is the 'vendetta' of God:
he himself, in the person of the Son,
suffers for us.

"The more we are touched by the mercy of the Lord, the more we draw closer in solidarity with his suffering - and become disposed to fill up in our flesh 'what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ' (Col 1, 24).

* * * * * * *

"We pass to the second reading, the letter to the Ephesians, which basically deals with three things: first, with the ministries and charisms in the Church - as gifts of the Lord risen and ascended into heaven; then with the maturing of faith and of knowledge of the Son of God as a condition and the essence of unity in the body of Christ; and, finally, with the common participation in the growth of the body of Christ - that is, of the transformation of the world into communion with the Lord.

"Let us dwell on only two points.

"The first is the journey towards "the maturity of Christ" as it is said - simplifying it a bit - in the Italian text.

"More precisely, according to the Greek text, we should speak of the 'measure of the fullness of Christ,' to which we are called to reach in order to be true adults in the faith.

"We should not remain small children in faith, in a state of minority. And what does it mean to be a small child in faith?

"Saint Paul answers: it means 'tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery' (Eph 4, 14). A very apt description today!

"How many winds of doctrine we have known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking... The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves - thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to (classical) Liberalism, even to libertarianism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth. Every day new sects are created and what Saint Paul says about human trickery comes true, with cunning which tries to draw those into error (cf Eph 4, 14).

"Having a clear faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and "swept along by every wind of teaching," looks like the only attitude (acceptable) to today's standards.

"We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires.

"We, however, have a different measure: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism.

"Being an 'adult' means having a faith which does not follow the waves of fashion or the latest new thing.

"A faith that is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ is adult and mature.

"It is this friendship which opens us up to all that is good and gives us the criteria to discern between the true and the false, between deceit and truth.

"We must become mature in this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith - only faith - that creates unity and that takes form in love.

"On this theme, Saint Paul offers us some beautiful words - in contrast to the continual ups and downs of those were are like small children, tossed about by the waves: (he says) make truth in love as the basic formula of Christian existence.

"In Christ, truth and love coincide. To the extent that we draw near to Christ, in our own life, truth and love merge.

"Love without truth would be blind; truth without love would be like "a clashing cymbal" (1 Cor 13,1).

* * * * * * *

"We come now to the Gospel. Out of its richness I would like to make only two small observations.

"The Lord addresses to us these marvelous words:

"'I no longer call you slaves...I have called you friends'
(Jn 15,15).

"So many times we feel like
(and it is true)
that we are only useless servants. (cf Lk 17,10).

"And despite this, the Lord calls us friends,
he makes us his friends,
he gives us his friendship.

"The Lord defines friendship in a dual way.

"There are no secrets among friends: Christ tells us all everything he hears from the Father; he gives us his full trust, and with that, also knowledge. He reveals his face and his heart to us. He shows us his tenderness for us, his passionate love that goes to the madness of the cross. He entrusts us, he gives us (as priests) power to speak in his name: 'this is my body...,' "I absolve you....'

"He entrusts his body, the Church, to us.

"He entrusts our weak minds and our weak hands with his Truth: the mystery of God Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the mystery of God who 'so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son' (Jn 3, 16).

"He made us his friends - and how do we respond?

"The second element with which Jesus defines friendship is the communion of will.

"For the Romans "Idem velle - idem nolle," (same desires, same dislikes) was also the definition of friendship.

"'You are my friends if you do what I command you.'
(Jn 15, 14).

"Friendship with Christ coincides with what is said in the third request of the Our Father:

"'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.'

"During the hour in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus transformed our rebellious human will into a will shaped and united to the divine will. He suffered the whole drama of our autonomy - and placing rightly our will in the hands of God, he gave us true freedom:

"'Not my will, but your will be done.'

"In this communion of will, our redemption takes place: being friends of Jesus to become friends of God.

"How much more we love Jesus,
how much more we know him,
how much more our true freedom grows
as well as our joy in being redeemed.

"Thank you, Jesus, for your friendship!

"The other element of the Gospel to which I would like to refer is the teaching of Jesus on bearing fruit:

"'I who chose you and appointed you
to go and bear fruit that will remain'
(Jn 15, 16).

"It is here that is expressed the dynamic existence of the Christian, of the apostle: 'I chose you to go and bear fruit....'

"We must be inspired by a holy restlessness: restlessness to bring to everyone the gift of faith, of friendship with Christ.

"In truth, the love and friendship of God was given to us so that it would also be shared with others. We have received the faith to give it to others - we are priests meant to serve others. And we must bring a fruit that will remain.

"All people want to leave a mark which lasts. But what remains? Money does not. Buildings do not, nor books. After a certain amount of time, whether long or short, all these things disappear.

"The only thing which remains forever is the human soul: the human person created by God for eternity.

"The fruit which remains then is that which we have sowed in human souls: love, knowledge, a gesture capable of touching the heart, words which open the soul to joy in the Lord.

"Let us then go to the Lord and pray to him, so that he may help us bear fruit which remains. Only in this way will the earth be changed from a valley of tears to a garden of God.

"In conclusion, returning again to the letter to the Ephesians, which says (with words from Psalm 68) that Christ, ascending into heaven, "gave gifts to men" (Eph 4,8).

"The victor offers gifts. And these gifts are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

"Our ministry is a gift of Christ to humankind, to build up his body - the new world. We live out our ministry in this way, as a gift of Christ to humanity!

"But at this time, above all, we pray with insistence to the Lord, so that after the great gift of Pope John Paul II, he again gives us a pastor according to his own heart, a pastor who guides us to knowledge in Christ, to his love and to true joy.


I think they're happy

American Seminarians and others in St. Peter's Square celebrating the election of Pope Benedict XVI


(from Vatican Information Service)

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as Supreme Pontiff, the 264th successor of Peter, and has chosen the name Benedict XVI.

The cardinal proto-deacon made the solemn announcement to the people at 6:43 p.m. from the external loggia of the Hall of Blessings of the Vatican Basilica following the white smoke which occurred at 5:50 p.m.

Following are the words of Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez:

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum;
habemus Papam;
Eminentissium ac Reverendissium Dominum,
Dominum Josephum
Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Ratzinger
Qui sibi nomen imposuit Benedictum XVI

(I announce to you with great joy;
We have a Pope;
The most eminent and most reverend Lord
Lord Joseph
Cardinal of Holy Roman Church Ratzinger
Who has taken the name Benedict XVI

The conclave that led to the election of Benedict XVI began on Monday, April 18, 2005 in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, with the extra omnes pronounced at 5:25 p.m. (Rome time) by Archbishop Piero Marini, master of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, following the taking of the oath by the 115 cardinal electors.

The first black smoke took place at 8:04 p.m. the same day. On Tuesday, April 19, there was black smoke at 11:52 a.m. On Tuesday, April 19, there was white smoke at 5:50 p.m.

At 6:48 p.m., the Holy Father Benedict XVI, preceded by the Cross, appeared on the external loggia to greet the people and to impart the Apostolic Blessing Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world).

Prior to the blessing, the new Pontiff addressed the faithful with the following words:

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,

"After the great Pope John Paul II, the Lord Cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.

"I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to work even with inadequate instruments and above all I entrust myself to your prayers.

"In the joy of the Risen Lord, trusting in His permanent help, as we go forward the Lord will help us, and His Mother, Mary Most Holy, is on our side.

"Thank you."

Hall of Blessings

Some clarification about the place from which the Cardinals processed into the Sistine Chapel yesterday.

The "Hall of Blessings" (l'Aula delle Benedizioni) is part of St. Peter's Basilica, above the portico of the main entrance. It is from the balcony of the center window that the newly elected Pope will first appear to the world.

Notes on "Tradition"

"'Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit."42 "And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound, and spread it abroad by their preaching.'43"
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 81

"The Tradition here in question comes from the apostles and hands on what they received from Jesus' teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit. The first generation of Christians did not yet have a written New Testament, and the New Testament itself demonstrates the process of living Tradition.

"Tradition is to be distinguished from the various theological, disciplinary, liturgical, or devotional traditions, born in the local churches over time. These are the particular forms, adapted to different places and times, in which the great Tradition is expressed. In the light of Tradition, these traditions can be retained, modified or even abandoned under the guidance of the Church's Magisterium."
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 83

"'By this appreciation of the faith, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority (Magisterium), . . . receives . . . the faith, once for all delivered to the saints. . . . The People unfailingly adheres to this faith, penetrates it more deeply with right judgment, and applies it more fully in daily life.'56

"Thanks to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the understanding of both the realities and the words of the heritage of faith is able to grow in the life of the Church:

  • "'Through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts';57 it is in particular 'theological research [which] deepens knowledge of revealed truth.'58
  • "'From the intimate sense of spiritual realities which [believers] experience,'59 the sacred Scriptures 'grow with the one who reads them.'60
  • "'From the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth.'61"
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 93-94

In hand

In today’s Gospel (John 10:22-30), our Lord continues his Good Shepherd discourse, going over familiar themes:

My sheep hear my voice,
and I know them,
and they follow me:

And I give unto them eternal life;
and they shall never perish…

And then our Lord adds something more.

…neither shall any one pluck them out of my hand.

My Father, which gave them me,
is greater than all;
and no one is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

What comforting words!
We, the sheep of Christ,
lie perfectly safe in his hand
and in the hand of the Father.

This recalls the beautiful prophecy of Isaiah (and Handel’s exquisite music):

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd:
he shall gather the lambs with his arm,
and carry them in his bosom,
and shall gently lead those that are with young.

There are times in our lives when we feel afraid, insecure, and uncertain. Sometimes it is simply nervous worry and sometimes the cause for our concern is very real and very serious. Sometimes we may fear personal catastrophe and sometimes we may fear for the survival of humanity (if the asteroid doesn’t get us, then the caldera will).

My Father, which gave them me,
is greater than all;
and no one is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

What wonderful peace in being a sheep of Christ: to lay perfectly, invincibly secure in our heavenly Father’s hand.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

How long are you going to keep us in suspense?

A question asked in the Gospel for today, the second day of the Conclave (Jn. 10:22-30).

Catholic Carnival XXVI

Mass on a day of Conclave

Our minds buzzing with questions and issues, we slip into the pew: seeking peace in Church .

In introducing Aged Like a Fine Wine or Spoiled Like Old Milk?, Ales Rarus says "an agnostic friend of mine asked me to post a question that's been bugging him. He wonders how long something must be around before it becomes tradition. As it turns out, he was inspired to ask this in light of the Senate debate over the 'nuclear option.' However, I think it's a very relevant question to Catholics. Given how much the early Church fathers disagreed with each other and how historical events have affected the Church, it'd be interesting to get people's opinions on when teachings become Tradition."

In From Parochial and Plain Sermons, Quenta Nârwenion passes on "a quote from a sermon by Venerable John Henry Newman, on the importance of the Church."

We think about the great Pope John Paul II, about sede vacante, and about who the Conclave might pick.

In Maybe now we'll get the revised translation, Veritas gives "a short post on the deficiencies in the current english language translation of JPII's major philosophical work, Person & Act (The Acting Person), and the hope for the publication of the (ready-to-go) revised translation."

In Sede Vacante Close to an End, Crusader of Justice shares some "Sede Vacante musings."

In Be Not Afraid!, The Blog from the Core offers "some thoughts upon the commencement of the papal conclave."

We hear the Gospel and we are comforted by the words of the Good Shepherd.

In Good Shepherd, a Penitent Blogger humbly offers a reflection on good shepherding.

In I fear no evil, Kevin E. Miller of HMS Blog reflects "on how the Good Shepherd cares for us, especially through the Church and the Eucharist."

We are ready now for the Eucharist.

Deo gratias