This past Sunday I quoted from the two homilies that Pope Francis has given since the beginning of his pontificate. There were two main themes that I think speak of the future of his time in the Chair of St. Peter: The Cross and Mercy. Here are some pertinent quotes:
From the homily during the mass closing the conclave. After setting up the three 'themes' of the readings as "Walking", "Builiding" and "Professing" he says:
We can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord. When we are not walking, we stop moving. When we are not building on the stones, what happens? The same thing that happens to children on the beach when they build sandcastles: everything is swept away, there is no solidity. When we do not profess Jesus Christ, the saying of Léon Bloy comes to mind: "Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil." When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness.
This already is a great statement by the Pope. We must profess "Jesus Christ as Lord to the Glory of God the Father" . . . But it is the second movement of his homily that brings to the forefront the difficulty of the Christian Way - it is hard because it is the Way of the Cross:
This Gospel continues with a situation of a particular kind. The same Peter who professed Jesus Christ, now says to him: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. That has nothing to do with it. I will follow you on other terms, but without the Cross. When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly: we may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.
In His homily to the Vatican workers at St. Ann's parish in the Vatican the pope had a second theme: Mercy.
In speaking about the story of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus presents what the Pope considers His most important message: Mercy.
E il messaggio di Gesù è quello: la misericordia. Per me, lo dico umilmente, è il messaggio più forte del Signore: la misericordia. (My translation: and the message of Jesus is this: Mercy. For me, I say lastly, it is the strongest message of the Lord: Mercy.)
Non è facile affidarsi alla misericordia di Dio, perché quello è un abisso incomprensibile. Ma dobbiamo farlo! “Oh, padre, se lei conoscesse la mia vita, non mi parlerebbe così!”. “Perché?, cosa hai fatto?”. “Oh, ne ho fatte di grosse!”. “Meglio! Vai da Gesù: a Lui piace se gli racconti queste cose!”. (My translation: It is not easy to entrust oneself to the mercy of God, because it is an incomprehensible abyss. But we must do it! "Oh, father, if you only knew my life, you would not talk to me like that!" "Why?", "What have you done?" "Oh, I have done big things!" "Even better! Go to Jesus; He loves when you tell Him these things!")
Torniamo al Signore. Il Signore mai si stanca di perdonare: mai! Siamo noi che ci stanchiamo di chiedergli perdono. E chiediamo la grazia di non stancarci di chiedere perdono, perché Lui mai si stanca di perdonare. (My translation: Let us return to the Lord. The Lord never gets tired of pardoning: never! It is us who tire of asking His pardon. We ask for the grace to not get tired of asking pardon, because He never tires of pardoning.)
This was sent to me by e-mail and I thought it was an interesting thought experiment.
An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama's socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.
The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan".. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.... (substituting grades for dollars - something closer to home and more readily understood by all).
After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.
The second test average was a D! No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.
As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.
To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. Could not be any simpler than that. (Please pass this on) These are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:
1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.
The sacred music of lent as given by the Church herself is incredibly moving and inspiring. I am sometimes quite amazed that for 40 years we thought we needed to write new hymns and poetry to accomplish what was already given to us by Mother Church. It wasn't even that the 'old' stuff was kept and the 'new' stuff was placed alongside it. It was more of a tossing out of anything that was there and replacing it with modern substitutes.
The problem is that the Catholic faith was contained in a tried and true manner in the Sacred Music Mother Church gave us. The new stuff was often trite, sentimental, shallow and often dismissive of the direction the ancient texts of the mass were directing our worship. To recover a sense of the sacred and of more God-centered worship I think it is time for us to begin exploring the Sacred Music as given to us by the Church.
Linked above is one example of what I feel should have been done 50 years ago. These propers are in the vernacular. They use the texts of the liturgy as given by the Church. They respect the modal character of Gregorian chant and have a penetential sound as appropriate to the season of lent.
I would love to hear these propers incorporated into a parish music program.
Many people have asked me if only Cardinals can be elected Pope. I came across the following in my recent re-reading of the document regulating Papal Elections Universi Dominici Gregis:
83. With the same insistence shown by my Predecessors, I earnestly exhort the Cardinal electors not to allow themselves to be guided, in choosing the Pope, by friendship or aversion, or to be influenced by favour or personal relationships towards anyone, or to be constrained by the interference of persons in authority or by pressure groups, by the suggestions of the mass media, or by force, fear or the pursuit of popularity. Rather, having before their eyes solely the glory of God and the good of the Church, and having prayed for divine assistance, they shall give their vote to the person, even outside the College of Cardinals, who in their judgment is most suited to govern the universal Church in a fruitful and beneficial way. However the one elected must be capable of being ordained as the bishop of Rome: Can. 332 §1. The Roman Pontiff obtains full and supreme power in the Church by his acceptance of legitimate election together with episcopal consecration. Therefore, a person elected to the supreme pontificate who is marked with episcopal character obtains this power from the moment of acceptance. If the person elected lacks episcopal character, however, he is to be ordained a bishop immediately.
Pope Benedict has just announced his resignation. Let us pray for this successor of St. Peter! Below is the text of his address to the college of cardinals: Dear Brothers, I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrineministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is. Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer. From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
I had (am having) a Catholic moment this weekend. It involved the fact that the Church has obeyed the command of our Lord and Savior to preach the Gospel to all corners of the world (Matthew 28:19). It also involves one of the necessities of life - food!
We Catholics are blessed with a world-wide communion which encompasses all nations and peoples. All Saints parish is a microcosm of this phenomenon. I can prove this simply by the food I was offered - and readily ate this weekend.
On Saturday morning the Vietnamese Community held its monthly fund raiser and they brought over some of their Vietnamese Pork Barbecue replete with rice and fish sauce!
For supper, I went over to some of our parishioner's restaurant: Gosh Ethiopian. I had the Kitfo - tasty! (plus you get to eat it with your hands!!!)
This morning, someone from our Hispanic Community had made tamales and dropped them off - so, hot tamales was my breakfast fare.
This afternoon we are hosting the monthly Philippino Mass and they may have some lechón (roast pig) among the other tasty dishes!
All I can do is say that the Lord is good! We as Catholic know how to fast, but we also know how to feast. We are a joy-filled people because we know the mercy of God! We can't help but feast because the bridegroom is with us! This experience reminds me of the famous quote by Hillaire Belloc:
“Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!”
It is important for us as serious and faithful believers to look at the ramifications of certain ideas from their inception to their execution. What philosophy undergirds a particular action or agenda? Does it respect the dignity of man? Does it protect his God given rights? Does it correspond to the true nature of man or does it distort the Imago Dei? These are serious points to ponder and the Church's true social doctrine does just that!
That being said, there is a great article linked below. What does the Church really teach about social justice? You might be surprised!
They are both very user friendly and packed with content. There are lots of new features including an interactive parish map, instant page translation service, active calanders, easy navigation between the diocesan office pages and tons of great videos hosted by YouTube and Vimeo.
It has been a very long time since I have posted anything. However, the requirements of the New Evangelization and the wonderful gift of the Year of Faith have inspired me to return to this mission field.
There are many and wonderful things that need to be told and Pope Benedict has called upon preachers of the Gospel to utilize the means of social networking to further the announcement of the Good News. It has occurred to me that this is in keeping with the very title of this blog: Praedica Verbum - Preach the Word! This is the season of the manifestation of Christ and we must make Him known to all corners of the world. I will do my best to post meaningful and inspiring entries and to make this one of the ways in which I fulfill my priestly call to announce the Good News!
Fr. David is a Catholic Priest of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN currently assigned to All Saints Parish as an Associate Pastor. He is also the Vice-Chancellor for the Diocese as well as the Vocations Promoter.
The title of the blog, "Praedica Verbum" comes from the Sacred Scriptures where in 2 Tim 4:2 you find written - "praedica verbum, insta oppurtune, importune, argue, increpa, obsecra in omni longanimitate et doctrina." I'll let you try your hand at translating the mother tongue of the Latin Church or, better yet, open the scriptures in order to translate.