Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Paschal Triduum

The Triduum begins tonight with Holy Thursday celebration of the institution of the Eucharist and memorial of the Last Supper... it continues tomorrow with the commemoration of Christ's crucifixion and death on Good Friday... and concludes Saturday evening with the Easter Vigil. I wish everyone blessings during this solemn time. I decided not to post anything this week, and instead will be spending my time in quiet reflection, prayer, and enjoying the company of my family. I suggest you do the same in preparation for Easter.

I know there are some big stories this week, and I have been keeping up on them. I'll post a few links on Monday to make up for my lack of Friday Headline Round-up. Until then... have a blessed Triduum and Easter celebration.

Friday, March 22, 2013

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like. I'll serve up more next Friday...

Inaugural Homily of Pope Francis Invites Us All to be Protectors - "How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God's presence and receptive to God's plans, and not simply to his own." [Includes video]

Greek Patriarch to Attend Papal Inaugural Mass for First Time Since 1054 - "...this is an unprecedented event in modern times, and Bartholomew noted that, even before the schism, a patriarch from Istanbul did not usually attend a papal inauguration."

What I Saw at the Installation Mass - "Some details about the events of March 19 appear below..."

9 things you need to know about Pope Francis's inaugural Mass

Video: Pope Francis before his Inaugural Mass stepping down from popemobile to bless disabled man. Very moving.

Video: Pope Francis prays before the tomb of St. Peter

Pope Francis greets parishioners outside church after Mass - [One more video that shows Pope Francis' unique style.]

Should We Be Concerned About Pope Francis's Inaugural Mass? - [Jimmy Akin does a great job answering some liturgical concerns people may have had before the Inaugural Mass...and also here.] See also: Is Pope Francis a Liturgical Liberal? and this: The Liturgical Direction of Pope Francis: A Diatribe Against the Diatribes

Pope Francis and the Case for (Guarded) Traditionalist Optimism - "If Pope Francis strikes down Summorum Pontificium then we can start worrying.  Yet why don't we wait until that happens, and not before?"

What Does The Pope’s Motto Really Say? The Latin motto explained - The motto of Pope, 'Miserando Atque Eligendo' has aroused some people to send me questions." And this: Pope Francis’ coat of arms and motto, explained

Pope Francis in no hurry to move into papal apartment - "More than a week after his election, he’s still residing in the Vatican’s modern guest house, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he eats meals with others in the common dining room and can walk to some of his appointments in the Vatican." See also: Black Shoes and In the Vatican, The Pope of Chaos also this:Vatican guards find Pope Francis' openness a handful

Pope Francis takes over Vatican's top secret dossiers -"Fr. Georg has the task of guiding Bergoglio in his journey through the Vatican's secrets"

The early signs are clear. Pope Francis is a reformer. - [This piece is from just a couple of days after the Conclave...but it still rings true.]

On Holy Thursday, Pope To Prison - "In a sudden announcement this morning from the Holy See, Pope Francis has yet again turned Vatican protocol on its head – shredding the earlier plan to begin the Easter Triduum in St Peter's Basilica, the new pontiff has instead opted to go to a juvenile prison in Rome to celebrate Holy Thursday's Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, at which he'll wash the feet of 12 inmates."

'Unpredictable pope' to wash feet of 12 prisoners - See also: Unclean - "He's really going to put his example of service right in front of our faces, over and over again until we get it."

In Defense of Benedict XVI: The Diametric Diatribes - "First, the pundits will say that Francis is a model of humility.  There is nothing wrong with this of course, except for the unspoken suggestion that Benedict was not.  Humility comes in many forms."

Benedict XVI Put Liturgy Front and Center - "The revivification of true liturgical reform was inspired not so much by the Holy Father’s words, as important as they were. It was primarily inspired by his actions. He had a devotion to the liturgy that was manifested in the joyful and solemn way he celebrated it."

Holy Father’s Election: Surprise Within Continuity - "We’re all obviously still getting to know him, but what can we say about Pope Francis thus far? How does he compare to his recent predecessors?"

A New Francis - "I am a Benedictine oblate and will always love St Benedict and love Benedict XVI for his amazing papacy, but I’m ready now for a Franciscan spirit in the church and look forward to the next amazing chapter in the great saga of Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."

Mary Untier of Knots - Pope Francis' Favorite Marian Image - "It is interesting that this Marian devotion of Pope Francis is rooted in Bavaria - it therefore creates a bridge between the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and that of Pope Francis."

Headline: The First Green Pope - [Not exactly... Read the article to find out why. The media tries desperately to find their story and often get it wrong.]

The media wants ‘reform’ but what we really need is renewal - "The perceived demand for reform needs, then, to be contrasted with the evidence that the Church is not so much dying, but evolving."

Suffereing the Unsufferable Fools - "It’s hard for you to grasp this, I know, but the Church belongs to Christ, not you. Christ is not impressed by your ideas. Christ is not intimidated by your pompous arguments. Christ is not persuaded to change the Truth to suit you or anyone else. If the gates of Hell itself will never prevail against His Church, what makes you think you will?"

Biden: I Must Attend Mass for Pope Francis or “I’ll Lose My Soul” - [Uuuumm... If you think that's how the deal works, then you have some big problems.]

Doubters of Darwin, here's your evidence - "If the research is confirmed, then it will add itself to the growing mountain of evidence that supports the widely accepted consensus that Darwinian evolution is the mechanism by which organisms evolve."

Astronomers photograph the fingerprint of God - "The data explains why the universe takes the form and structure that it does now. The distribution of galaxies, the clumping of matter, and the appearance of everything is well explained by the data."

Discounting Parents’ Rights - "According to our esteemed Attorney General, the right to choose the best education for your child is not a fundamental individual liberty. When it comes to the education of our children, the government – not the parents – is the final authority."

The Supreme Court’s First Assault on Marriage - "In its forthcoming decision, the Court may give marriage the legal coup de grace. Or it may surprise us, redeem itself, and use the occasion to correct the drift of legal thought on sexuality, marriage, and the rights of children. All three are inextricably linked."

I’m Gay and I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage - "The notion of same-sex marriage is implausible, yet political correctness has made stating the obvious a risky business. Genderless marriage is not marriage at all. It is something else entirely."

Cookie Cutter Christians - "The reason that the Church is the world’s most aggressive adversary against mindless passivity and blind conformity is precisely because she stands by the truth."

Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave Church - [This piece is about evangelical Christians...but the lessons learned there can certainly translate into a better understanding of our Catholic faith and our youth.]

Interesting short video from Fr. Barron: Is beauty really all in the eye of the beholder?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Catechism for the Year of Faith

Part of a continuing series.A selected quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in honor of the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013)

751 The word "Church" (Latin ecclesia, from the Greek ek-ka-lein, to "call out of") means a convocation or an assembly. It designates the assemblies of the people, usually for a religious purpose. Ekklesia is used frequently in the Greek Old Testament for the assembly of the Chosen People before God, above all for their assembly on Mount Sinai where Israel received the Law and was established by God as his holy people. By calling itself "Church," the first community of Christian believers recognized itself as heir to that assembly. In the Church, God is "calling together" his people from all the ends of the earth. The equivalent Greek term Kyriake, from which the English word Church and the German Kirche are derived, means "what belongs to the Lord."

752 In Christian usage, the word "church" designates the liturgical assembly, but also the local community or the whole universal community of believers. These three meanings are inseparable. "The Church" is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ's Body.

753 In Scripture, we find a host of interrelated images and figures through which Revelation speaks of the inexhaustible mystery of the Church. The images taken from the Old Testament are variations on a profound theme: the People of God. In the New Testament, all these images find a new center because Christ has become the head of this people, which henceforth is his Body. Around this center are grouped images taken "from the life of the shepherd or from cultivation of the land, from the art of building or from family life and marriage."

763 It was the Son's task to accomplish the Father's plan of salvation in the fullness of time. Its accomplishment was the reason for his being sent. "The Lord Jesus inaugurated his Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God, promised over the ages in the scriptures." To fulfill the Father's will, Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church "is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery."

765 The Lord Jesus endowed his community with a structure that will remain until the Kingdom is fully achieved. Before all else there is the choice of the Twelve with Peter as their head. Representing the twelve tribes of Israel, they are the foundation stones of the new Jerusalem. The Twelve and the other disciples share in Christ's mission and his power, but also in his lot. By all his actions, Christ prepares and builds his Church.

766 The Church is born primarily of Christ's total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. "The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus." "For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the 'wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.'" As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam's side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross.

767 "When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that he might continually sanctify the Church." Then "the Church was openly displayed to the crowds and the spread of the Gospel among the nations, through preaching, was begun." As the "convocation" of all men for salvation, the Church in her very nature is missionary, sent by Christ to all the nations to make disciples of them.

768 So that she can fulfill her mission, the Holy Spirit "bestows upon [the Church] varied hierarchic and charismatic gifts, and in this way directs her." "Henceforward the Church, endowed with the gifts of her founder and faithfully observing his precepts of charity, humility and self-denial, receives the mission of proclaiming and establishing among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God, and she is on earth the seed and the beginning of that kingdom."

771 "The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains here on earth his holy Church, the community of faith, hope, and charity, as a visible organization through which he communicates truth and grace to all men." The Church is at the same time:
- a "society structured with hierarchical organs and the mystical body of Christ;
- the visible society and the spiritual community;
- the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches."
These dimensions together constitute "one complex reality which comes together from a human and a divine element":
The Church is essentially both human and divine, visible but endowed with invisible realities, zealous in action and dedicated to contemplation, present in the world, but as a pilgrim, so constituted that in her the human is directed toward and subordinated to the divine, the visible to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, the object of our quest.
O humility! O sublimity! Both tabernacle of cedar and sanctuary of God; earthly dwelling and celestial palace; house of clay and royal hall; body of death and temple of light; and at last both object of scorn to the proud and bride of Christ! She is black but beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, for even if the labor and pain of her long exile may have discolored her, yet heaven's beauty has adorned her.18

775 "The Church, in Christ, is like a sacrament - a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men." The Church's first purpose is to be the sacrament of the inner union of men with God. Because men's communion with one another is rooted in that union with God, the Church is also the sacrament of the unity of the human race. In her, this unity is already begun, since she gathers men "from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues"; at the same time, the Church is the "sign and instrument" of the full realization of the unity yet to come.

776 As sacrament, the Church is Christ's instrument. "She is taken up by him also as the instrument for the salvation of all," "the universal sacrament of salvation," by which Christ is "at once manifesting and actualizing the mystery of God's love for men." The Church "is the visible plan of God's love for humanity," because God desires "that the whole human race may become one People of God, form one Body of Christ, and be built up into one temple of the Holy Spirit."

787 From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings. Jesus spoke of a still more intimate communion between him and those who would follow him: "Abide in me, and I in you. . . . I am the vine, you are the branches." And he proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him."

788 When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit. As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: "By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation."

789 The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she gathered around him; she is united in him, in his body. Three aspects of the Church as the Body of Christ are to be more specifically noted: the unity of all her members with each other as a result of their union with Christ; Christ as head of the Body; and the Church as bride of Christ.

792 Christ "is the head of the body, the Church." He is the principle of creation and redemption. Raised to the Father's glory, "in everything he [is] preeminent," especially in the Church, through whom he extends his reign over all things.

795 Christ and his Church thus together make up the "whole Christ" (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ...

808 The Church is the Bride of Christ: he loved her and handed himself over for her. He has purified her by his blood and made her the fruitful mother of all God's children.

809 The Church is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the soul, as it were, of the Mystical Body, the source of its life, of its unity in diversity, and of the riches of its gifts and charisms.

Friday, March 15, 2013

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like. I'll serve up more next Friday...

Understandably, I have devoted this week's entire headline round-up to the biggest news of the wekk...


LONG LIVE POPE FRANCIS! - [A round-up of reactions to Pope Francis' election - including a video of his first address to the crowds gathered at St. Peter's]

Without Christ crucified, Church a 'pitiful' organization, Pope says - "Pope Francis made his remarks at the Mass to close the conclave on Thursday evening in the Sistine Chapel with all of the cardinal electors present."
Pope Francis to cardinals: 'I hope God forgives you' - "The newly elected Pope Francis joked with cardinals over dinner telling them he hopes God forgives them for having chosen him."

Pope Francis Offers His Second Blessing to Pregnant Mom, Unborn Baby - [Includes video of Pope Francis on his first outing. Near the end of the short video is the blessing.]

Pope Francis' first 24 hours: Doing it his way - "In his first 24 hours in office, Pope Francis has already given indications that he may not be intimidated by those words, as he creates his own style of being pope."

Pope who? Learning more about the man who is Pope Francis

Ten Facts about Pope Francis

The First American Pope - Commentary from George Weigel: "The swift election of Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, S.J., as bishop of Rome is replete with good news — and not a little irony."

Argentina will be celebrating in the days ahead - "No one here was prepared for his election..."

The First Pope Named Francis - "A name that reflects his humble life. Having become archbishop of Buenos Aires 1998, he left empty the sumptuous episcopal residence next to the cathedral. He went to live in an apartment a short distance away, together with another elderly bishop. In the evening he was the one who saw to the cooking. He rarely rode in cars, getting around by bus in the cassock of an ordinary priest."

The Case for Francis - "There is much that we will be able to learn from Pope Francis if we have the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the heart to accept him.  At the end of the day, it was a marvelous moment for the Church. "

A man of firsts, Pope Francis is remarkably humble and conservative - "His humility is already becoming legendary. Even when he was to be presented for the first time, he declined the use of a platform that would have elevated him above the other cardinals, instead preferring to remain at the same height as they. 'I'll stay down here,' he is reported to have said."

Pope Francis, a conservitive man of contrasts - " is hoped that Pope Francis brings a measure of reform and refreshment to a Church that need now more than in decades past, to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit."

Pope Francis I: a humble man from the New World whose first challenge is to end the scandals - "I know this is a downbeat response to what, for Catholics, is a joyful and hopeful event. But savage reform to the curia is required so that Pope Francis can (should he wish) take advantage of the successful Benedictine reforms..."

Pope Francis and the Humility of Orthodoxy - "He is the 'insider' outsider, or perhaps the 'outsider' insider. He upholds Church teaching without apology, and he is already being viewed as a 'pope of the people.'"

Scola betrayed by the Italians from the very first vote - "Scola's path to the Holy Throne was blocked by the confluence of two alliances and of two distinctly different evaluation systems: the non-European one (South America in particular), on the one hand, planned on bringing the papacy out of the old continent for the first time. On the other hand, there was the Curia group led by the nemesis-allegiance of Bertone and Sodano, who are inexorably hostile to Scola."

Traditionalists and Pope Francis: Can We Take a Deep Breath and Please Calm Down? - "Within minutes of His Holiness' appearance on the loggia, some trads began an online campaign claiming that he was a persecutor of orthodox priests in Argentina." [Of course there are some areas of concern: Habemus Problems, PF1. But this piece says it well: "...forgive me for not combing the Internet for evidence of all the faults and missteps of Cardinal Bergoglio.  At this moment, I feel obligated before God to add my humble prayers to those of all the loyal sons and daughters of the Holy Father throughout the whole world for him."

Who’s the important one? - [An interesting piece by Fr. Z, first relating his own personal encounters with Pope Francis before his election, and second analyzing the new Pope's views on Baptism and how closely it matches Benedict's view. See also, Fr. Z's experience at the moment of Pope's Francis' election: How I received our new Pope.]

Papamoon! - "I, for one, am going to bask in the joy  and excitement of getting to know our new pope.  We've got plenty of time ahead of us, and if these first days are any indication, he is going to keep us on our toes."

It's a Great Day to Be Catholic - "To behold what happened in the Vatican today is to behold the fruits of Christ's promise that he would establish one Church, and that he would never abandon it."

And here are a few tidbits about the Conclave itself: Conclave Begins with 'Extra Omnes' [video]The Traditions and History Behind the “White Smoke Over the Vatican”Who is In the Sistine Chapel?

A couple of great pictures below of Pope Francis. The day after his election he took the bus with the other Cardinals rather than ride in a limo. Awesome...

Oh...wait...I need to pay my bill at the hotel:

See also, this nice write-up.

Check out this video of Pope Francis as he greets some of the Cardinals. Just watching this short clip (there is no audio of voices - just a musical track) you get a sense of Pope Francis' personality simply from his body language. He seems very warm and personable.

But perhaps the best image for capturing the spirit of our new pontiff is this...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Catechism for the Year of Faith

Part of a continuing series.A selected quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in honor of the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013)

688 The Church, a communion living in the faith of the apostles which she transmits, is the place where we know the Holy Spirit:

- in the Scriptures he inspired;

- in the Tradition, to which the Church Fathers are always timely witnesses;

- in the Church's Magisterium, which he assists;

- in the sacramental liturgy, through its words and symbols, in which the Holy Spirit puts us into communion with Christ;

- in prayer, wherein he intercedes for us;

- in the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up;

- in the signs of apostolic and missionary life;

- in the witness of saints through whom he manifests his holiness and continues the work of salvation.

689 The One whom the Father has sent into our hearts, the Spirit of his Son, is truly God. Consubstantial with the Father and the Son, the Spirit is inseparable from them, in both the inner life of the Trinity and his gift of love for the world. In adoring the Holy Trinity, life-giving, consubstantial, and indivisible, the Church's faith also professes the distinction of persons. When the Father sends his Word, he always sends his Breath. In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable. To be sure, it is Christ who is seen, the visible image of the invisible God, but it is the Spirit who reveals him.

702 From the beginning until "the fullness of time," the joint mission of the Father's Word and Spirit remains hidden, but it is at work. God's Spirit prepares for the time of the Messiah. Neither is fully revealed but both are already promised, to be watched for and welcomed at their manifestation. So, for this reason, when the Church reads the Old Testament, she searches there for what the Spirit, "who has spoken through the prophets," wants to tell us about Christ.

By "prophets" the faith of the Church here understands all whom the Holy Spirit inspired in living proclamation and the composition of the sacred books, both of the Old and the New Testaments. Jewish tradition distinguishes first the Law (the five first books or Pentateuch), then the Prophets (our historical and prophetic books) and finally the Writings (especially the wisdom literature, in particular the Psalms).

719 John the Baptist is "more than a prophet." In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah. He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel; he is the "voice" of the Consoler who is coming. As the Spirit of truth will also do, John "came to bear witness to the light." In John's sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels. "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. . . . Behold, the Lamb of God."

720 Finally, with John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to man of "the divine likeness," prefiguring what he would achieve with and in Christ. John's baptism was for repentance; baptism in water and the Spirit will be a new birth.

721 Mary, the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God, is the masterwork of the mission of the Son and the Spirit in the fullness of time. For the first time in the plan of salvation and because his Spirit had prepared her, the Father found the dwelling place where his Son and his Spirit could dwell among men. In this sense the Church's Tradition has often read the most beautiful texts on wisdom in relation to Mary. Mary is acclaimed and represented in the liturgy as the "Seat of Wisdom."

In her, the "wonders of God" that the Spirit was to fulfill in Christ and the Church began to be manifested..

722 The Holy Spirit prepared Mary by his grace. It was fitting that the mother of him in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" should herself be "full of grace." She was, by sheer grace, conceived without sin as the most humble of creatures, the most capable of welcoming the inexpressible gift of the Almighty. It was quite correct for the angel Gabriel to greet her as the "Daughter of Zion": "Rejoice." It is the thanksgiving of the whole People of God, and thus of the Church, which Mary in her canticle lifts up to the Father in the Holy Spirit while carrying within her the eternal Son.

723 In Mary, the Holy Spirit fulfills the plan of the Father's loving goodness. Through the Holy Spirit, the Virgin conceives and gives birth to the Son of God. By the Holy Spirit's power and her faith, her virginity became uniquely fruitful.

724 In Mary, the Holy Spirit manifests the Son of the Father, now become the Son of the Virgin. She is the burning bush of the definitive theophany. Filled with the Holy Spirit she makes the Word visible in the humility of his flesh. It is to the poor and the first representatives of the gentiles that she makes him known.

725 Finally, through Mary, the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, the objects of God's merciful love, into communion with Christ. And the humble are always the first to accept him: shepherds, magi, Simeon and Anna, the bride and groom at Cana, and the first disciples.

726 At the end of this mission of the Spirit, Mary became the Woman, the new Eve ("mother of the living"), the mother of the "whole Christ." As such, she was present with the Twelve, who "with one accord devoted themselves to prayer," at the dawn of the "end time" which the Spirit was to inaugurate on the morning of Pentecost with the manifestation of the Church.

727 The entire mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit, in the fullness of time, is contained in this: that the Son is the one anointed by the Father's Spirit since his Incarnation - Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.

729 Only when the hour has arrived for his glorification does Jesus promise the coming of the Holy Spirit, since his Death and Resurrection will fulfill the promise made to the fathers. The Spirit of truth, the other Paraclete, will be given by the Father in answer to Jesus' prayer; he will be sent by the Father in Jesus' name; and Jesus will send him from the Father's side, since he comes from the Father. The Holy Spirit will come and we shall know him; he will be with us for ever; he will remain with us. The Spirit will teach us everything, remind us of all that Christ said to us and bear witness to him. The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth and will glorify Christ. He will prove the world wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment.

732 On that day, the Holy Trinity is fully revealed. Since that day, the Kingdom announced by Christ has been open to those who believe in him: in the humility of the flesh and in faith, they already share in the communion of the Holy Trinity. By his coming, which never ceases, the Holy Spirit causes the world to enter into the "last days," the time of the Church, the Kingdom already inherited though not yet consummated.

We have seen the true Light, we have received the heavenly Spirit, we have found the true faith: we adore the indivisible Trinity, who has saved us.

737 The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. This joint mission henceforth brings Christ's faithful to share in his communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prepares men and goes out to them with his grace, in order to draw them to Christ. The Spirit manifests the risen Lord to them, recalls his word to them and opens their minds to the understanding of his Death and Resurrection. He makes present the mystery of Christ, supremely in the Eucharist, in order to reconcile them, to bring them into communion with God, that they may "bear much fruit."

738 Thus the Church's mission is not an addition to that of Christ and the Holy Spirit, but is its sacrament: in her whole being and in all her members, the Church is sent to announce, bear witness, make present, and spread the mystery of the communion of the Holy Trinity (the topic of the next article):
All of us who have received one and the same Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit, are in a sense blended together with one another and with God. For if Christ, together with the Father's and his own Spirit, comes to dwell in each of us, though we are many, still the Spirit is one and undivided. He binds together the spirits of each and every one of us, . . . and makes all appear as one in him. For just as the power of Christ's sacred flesh unites those in whom it dwells into one body, I think that in the same way the one and undivided Spirit of God, who dwells in all, leads all into spiritual unity.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus Papam!

Pope Francis
Two hundred sixty-fifth Successor to Peter, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Patriarch of the West, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Servant of the Servants of God.

"And now, we take up this journey:  Bishop and People.  This journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches.  A journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us.  Let us always pray for one another.  Let us pray for the whole world, that there may be a great spirit of fraternity.  It is my hope for you that this journey of the Church, which we start today, and in which my Cardinal Vicar, here present, will assist me, will be fruitful for the evangelization of this most beautiful city. "

Click here for the official Vatican page announcing the election of our new Holy Father.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Musings

A few random thoughts and ponderings to start the week...

Well, I have no idea who will be the next pope, but I will make one prediction. I am certain we will have a new pontiff by the end of this week. From what I have read, the general consensus is that three days is about how long it will take for the election to conclude. The Cardinals have had some time to get to know one another, and if the process drags out to long it would make the new pope seem a compromise candidate...and that is not what the Church needs right now. As for who the Cardinals will elect - there are much wiser opinions than mine to consult.

+        +        +

As talk of the conclave increased this past weekend, a non-Catholic (atheist) friend asked the following question:

"If all the cardinals are listening to god tell them who the next pope should be, shouldn't it be a unanimous vote the first time, every time? 
My reply:
"No...The Cardinals will not necessarily select a pope on the first vote, because frankly people are imperfect listeners.God may 'speak' to them in subtle ways, and they may do their best to discern the will of God, but they still have free will and can be influenced by other sources. God does not use us as mindless tools to do his work - we must cooperate and sort out His will from our own desires.
These are the CARDINALS. Shouldn't THEY, of all people, be able to get a name out of god? If they can't manage that simple feat, why does anyone bother praying?"
"I'm impressed that you think so highly of Cardinals...that you think they have a direct line to God. But they are people, just like you and me - flawed. However, I would point out that the Church has lasted for nearly 2000 years. It is the oldest continually operating institution in the world. It has outlasted countless nations, monarchs, governments, and other human institutions...and this despite the flawed character of Cardinals and Popes. God doesn't work the way you seem to imply (working against human will and forcing His way on the Church), He works despite human flaws and uses sinful, flawed individuals who cooperate in His work. That is a messy process. But it has worked for centuries. I have confidence it will work this time too. They don't get it on the first vote because they are not machines taking dictation from God. It is more of a conversation that unfolds over time. That's what prayer is...and that's why we bother doing it."
Where in the bible does it ever say that God mumbled to someone or was not clear in exactly what he wanted?
First of all, who says that the Bible is the only source for our understanding of God? God acts and speaks in many ways. But if you are looking for a Biblical reference, I do have at least one in mind:
Kings chapter 19, beginning at verse 11. There we see that God makes Himself known in a still, small voice. It is easy to be confused or distracted by the bigger things of the world. It is easy to be wrapped up in those dramatic events or even confuse them with God. But God is most often found in more subtle ways, difficult to perceive. Or, in other words, sometimes God "mumbles."
See also 1 Samuel chapter 3. There God speaks to Samuel directly, and Samuel confuses the voice of God for someone else. So, according to the Bible, it is not always clear when God is speaking to us...even when the words are plainly spoken.
But like I said above, as Catholics we don't have to rely solely on the Bible for this knowledge.

Hmmm. I'll be damned.
Yes... you probably will be. But there's still time to repent. lol ;)
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Remember to keep the Cardinal electors and the whole Church in your prayers as we await the announcement: Habemus Papam!

Almighty and ever living God,
we ask you to bestow your blessings
and wisdom upon our Cardinals
whose task it is to elect a new successor
to the Chair of Peter.
Illumine their minds and hearts
to elect a man who is strong in faith and morals.
A holy man.  A man who has a clear vision
of your Son Jesus Christ.
A man who will not break
under the pressures of the world
or those inside the Church who wish
for a Church that conforms to the world.
A man who with your guidance
will confront the challenges of the world
and those within the Church.
A man who will inspire the world to follow Christ
and who will cleanse the Church
of the filth that has entered it.
A man who will bring about unity among Christians.
Listen to our prayer which we make
in the name of Christ your son.

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Friday, March 8, 2013

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like. I'll serve up more next Friday...

Habemus Datam – Conclave Starts Tuesday - "...late Tuesday afternoon, the electors will gather in the Pauline Chapel, processing from there into the Sistina as the Litany of the Saints is chanted."

The Path Toward the Conclave - "A push from most cardinals for ample discussion time delayed an originally fast-track plan for an early conclave."

Team America Shut Down - " a Vatican press briefing, Lombardi explained why the wildly popular press conferences the U.S. cardinals were holding at the North American College were being shut down..." [Obviously this is old news, but it's from George Weigel and he always has something insightful to say.]

Recipe for a Pope: a Christlike Man Who Can Govern and Unite - "Ask any Vatican official or leading Church figure in Rome what one of the most important characteristics of the new pope should be, and, chances are, they’ll say he must have an ability to govern."

The Unique Impossibility of the Papacy - "To be pope is to take on a task that is, by precise theological definition, impossible. Like every other office in the Church, the papacy exists for the sake of holiness. The office, though, is a creature of time and space, and holiness is eternal."

I find the idea of an "American Pope" to be intriguing and increasingly POSSIBLE. And so, here are a couple of article about just that: An American in Rome, Bound for the Chair of Peter, and Pope Prediction: 10 Reasons Cardinal Burke Will Be the Next Pope  ...NOTE: After posting this headline round-up for the week, I found this piece, which fits nicely with these two previous articles: Is an American Pope Possible, or Prudent?

Papal tailors ready no matter what size the new pope is - "Three sizes of cassocks for the future pope are displayed in the window of the Gammarelli clerical tailor shop in Rome March 4. At the request of the Vatican the famous shop has prepared three sizes of clerical wear to be used by the new pope immediately after his election."

A look at the three ballot urns that will be used in the conclave - [Video: Interesting to see...not really my tastes, artistically.]

Little-known Facts about a Papal Conclave - "Much media coverage of a conclave, both secular and Catholic, consists of speculation about who is papabile, what changes the Church must make during the next pontificate, and where the next pope will come from.  More or less well-informed opinion tends to crowd out a faith perspective.  Here are a few little-known facts about a papal conclave that might help to restore it."

On Castel Stroll, Paparazzi Snap Papa Ratzi - [This is kind of a non-story...but the title is funny.]

Benedict XVI Honored by Eastern Orthodox Hierarchs - "Benedict XVI played an important role in modern efforts to heal the schism between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches."

Pope Benedict XVI’s Helicopter Ride Full of Historical Images and Analogies - "Perhaps the helicopter ride of the Holy Father made many of the media’s gatekeepers cringe because those historical landmarks (the Coliseum, the Apian Way) were like many modern secular government’s landmarks, supposedly everlasting."

I Am the Benedict XVI Generation - "I have grown up in Catholicism during the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI. The man who appeared on that balcony eight years ago has been a steady factor in my journey as a Catholic. "

Cardinal O'Brien scandal reminds us of corruption before the Protestant Reformation - [In a way this story is somewhat comforting... to remember that the Church has been through darker times.]

Stand By for an Important Announcement - "Normally, the Feast of the Annunciation falls on March 25, nine months before Christmas. This year, however, March 25 is the Monday of Holy Week, and the Church considers Masses for Palm Sunday, any time in Holy Week, or any time from Easter through the Sunday after Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday) to be so important that even this Marian feast cannot replace one of them."

More Latin Stuff... - "One of the most irritating comments when a traditional hymn or antiphon is suggested is 'Oh, you can't have that... no-one knows it!' Well, no-one will ever know it unless they get to hear it - after all, that's how they got to know the hymns they do know."

This week (March 7, to be precise) was one of the Feast Days for my patron saint, Thomas Aquinas. Here is a piece on this Angelic Doctor of the Church: The Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

Why is Seafood Allowed on Fridays in Lent? St Thomas Aquinas Provides the Theological Answer

March: The Month of Saint Joseph - "...the month of March is associated with a saint whose primary feast falls two days later, on March 19: Saint Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the foster father of Jesus Christ."

Do Catholics Have Minds and Wills of Their Own? - "The long journey to God and toward personal fulfillment requires conforming our minds to truth and our wills to what is good."

Why so many Protestants do not consider Catholics Christian - "What would seem like a very complicated topic is in fact very simple. It can be broken down into two broad reasons..."

The Stumbling Block of Mary - "Unlike the rest of us lugs, Mary had a clean slate - so that she could serve both as a fitting model for us of the perfect Christian and the most holy of saints, and also so that she could serve as the only fitting mother of the Man Who was God. 

Video: The Precise Moment an Atheist Finally Explains to Piers Morgan What It Means to Be Catholic -[You have got to watch this video. What kills me is that the atheist understands it better than "Catholic" does.]

Contraception and Celibacy - "What I am suggesting is that the self giving and service of the celibate priest may start to remind people of the true meaning of marriage. The true meaning of marriage is that it is a sacrament of self sacrifice and service."

In Defense of Marriage - "I believe we need to proclaim the good news about marriage, not just anew, but in a new way."

Ruling on Fetal Pain-Abortion Ban Could Lead to Supreme Court Battle - "An Idaho judge has struck down the law the state of Idaho approved that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the scientific evidence showing unborn children feel pain."

Top 10 Best Things About Rand Paul's Filibuster - [From VatholicVote...] "Here are my favorite things about the #StandwithRand phenomenon."

Capitalism and the Common Good - " seems to me that while some modifications may well be necessary – most of which would consist of eliminating rather than adding government to the mix – there is no better thing one can do for the world’s poor than to promote and defend capitalism, and no worse thing one can do than to attack it or refuse to understand it on its own terms"

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Quote of the Week

"We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as definitive and has as its highest value one’s own ego and one’s own desires. The church needs to withstand the tides of trends and the latest novelties. We must become mature in this adult faith, we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith."
- Pope Benedict XVI

Catechism for the Year of Faith

Part of a continuing series.A selected quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in honor of the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013)

632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was "raised from the dead" presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection. This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ's descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.

633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, "hell" - Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek - because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into "Abraham's bosom": "It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham's bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell." Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.

634 "The gospel was preached even to the dead." The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment. This is the last phase of Jesus' messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ's redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.

639 The mystery of Christ's resurrection is a real event, with manifestations that were historically verified, as the New Testament bears witness. In about A.D. 56 St. Paul could already write to the Corinthians: "I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. . ." The Apostle speaks here of the living tradition of the Resurrection which he had learned after his conversion at the gates of Damascus.

643 Given all these testimonies, Christ's Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples' faith was drastically put to the test by their master's Passion and death on the cross, which he had foretold. The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized ("looking sad") and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an "idle tale". When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter evening, "he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen."

645 By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion. Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ's humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father's divine realm. For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.

648 Christ's Resurrection is an object of faith in that it is a transcendent intervention of God himself in creation and history. In it the three divine persons act together as one, and manifest their own proper characteristics. The Father's power "raised up" Christ his Son and by doing so perfectly introduced his Son's humanity, including his body, into the Trinity. Jesus is conclusively revealed as "Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his Resurrection from the dead". St. Paul insists on the manifestation of God's power through the working of the Spirit who gave life to Jesus' dead humanity and called it to the glorious state of Lordship.

649 As for the Son, he effects his own Resurrection by virtue of his divine power. Jesus announces that the Son of man will have to suffer much, die, and then rise. Elsewhere he affirms explicitly: "I lay down my life, that I may take it again. . . I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." "We believe that Jesus died and rose again."

651 "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain." The Resurrection above all constitutes the confirmation of all Christ's works and teachings. All truths, even those most inaccessible to human reason, find their justification if Christ by his Resurrection has given the definitive proof of his divine authority, which he had promised.

652 Christ's Resurrection is the fulfillment of the promises both of the Old Testament and of Jesus himself during his earthly life. The phrase "in accordance with the Scriptures" indicates that Christ's Resurrection fulfilled these predictions.

654 The Paschal mystery has two aspects: by his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life. This new life is above all justification that reinstates us in God's grace, "so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." Justification consists in both victory over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace. It brings about filial adoption so that men become Christ's brethren, as Jesus himself called his disciples after his Resurrection: "Go and tell my brethren." We are brethren not by nature, but by the gift of grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection.

658 Christ, "the first-born from the dead" (Col 1:18), is the principle of our own resurrection, even now by the justification of our souls (cf. Rom 6:4), and one day by the new life he will impart to our bodies (cf.: Rom 8:11).

659 "So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God." Christ's body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys. But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity. Jesus' final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God's right hand. Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul "as to one untimely born", in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.

663 Henceforth Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father: "By 'the Father's right hand' we understand the glory and honor of divinity, where he who exists as Son of God before all ages, indeed as God, of one being with the Father, is seated bodily after he became incarnate and his flesh was glorified."

664 Being seated at the Father's right hand signifies the inauguration of the Messiah's kingdom, the fulfillment of the prophet Daniel's vision concerning the Son of man: "To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." After this event the apostles became witnesses of the "kingdom [that] will have no end".

670 Since the Ascension God's plan has entered into its fulfillment. We are already at "the last hour". "Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect." Christ's kingdom already manifests its presence through the miraculous signs that attend its proclamation by the Church.

671 Though already present in his Church, Christ's reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled "with power and great glory" by the King's return to earth. This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ's Passover. Until everything is subject to him, "until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God." That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ's return by saying to him: Marana tha! "Our Lord, come!"

673 Since the Ascension Christ's coming in glory has been imminent, even though "it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.". This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are "delayed".

675 Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.

678 Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus announced the judgment of the Last Day in his preaching. Then will the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light. Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God's grace as nothing be condemned. Our attitude to our neighbor will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love. On the Last Day Jesus will say: "Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."