Benedict XVI entrusts Italy to the Blessed Virgin. Fr. Z rants

You may have seen this yesterday.

POPE ENTRUSTS ITALY TO VIRGIN’S PROTECTION

VATICAN CITY, 27 MAY 2011 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Benedict XVI presided over the praying of the Rosary together with the bishops of Italy, entrusting the people of Italy to the Virgin. The Italian bishops were gathered for a General Assembly on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the political unification of Italy.

After praying the Luminous Mysteries, Benedict XVI addressed the Italian bishops, recalling that this basilica “is the first in the West dedicated to the Virgin Mother of God”, and that on 1 January 2000, Pope John Paul II opened the Holy Door “entrusting the Jubilee Year to Mary. Today we also wish to cross the threshold of this Most Holy “Door”, which is Christ, and we ask the Virgin Mary to sustain our journey and to intercede for us”.

“The dispositions of the Virgin’s heart – listening, receptiveness, humility, faithfulness, praise, and waiting -”, he said, “correspond to the inner provisions and the gestures that shape Christian life. Aware that they express what God desires of the Church, they are what nourish her”.

“Faith, in fact”, he continued, “is not alienation. The experiences that poison the dignity of humanity and the quality of social life are other [than faith]. … Italy, celebrating 150 years of political unity, has reason to be proud of the presence and outreach of the Church, which does not pursue privileges nor intend to substitute the responsibilities of political institutions. Respectful of the State’s legitimate secularity, the Church is attentive to sustaining the fundamental rights of the human person. Among these are foremost ethical instances and therefore the openness to transcendence, which constitute values prior to any state jurisdiction because they are inscribed in the very nature of the human person“.

The Church recalls “the duty to promote and protect human life in all its stages and to concretely support the family“. In this context he referred to the problem of unemployment “that compromises the serenity of planning for family life in young persons, seriously damaging the authentic and harmonious development of society”.

The Pope urged the prelates to encourage “the faithful laity to overcome every spirit of small-mindedness, distraction, and indifference, and to participate in social life in the first person. Promote the formation of initiatives inspired by the Church’s social doctrine so that those who exercise political and administrative responsibilities do not fall victim to the temptation to exploit their positions for personal interest or the thirst for power”.

“Taking education as the theme of this decade’s pastoral commitment, you have sought to express the certainty that Christian existence – the good life of the Gospel – is precisely the demonstration of an accomplished life. In this way you assure a service that is not just religious or ecclesial but social as well, contributing to building the city of humanity. Take heart, then! In spite of every difficulty, ‘nothing is impossible for God’”.

Benedict XVI concluded by entrusting the Italian peoples to the protection of Mary “Mater unitatis”, so that the Lord might grant them “the invaluable gifts of peace and fraternity, and therefore harmonious development. That political forces might also be helped to live this anniversary of Unity as an occasion to strengthen the national union and to overcome every prejudicial conflict. That diverse and legitimate sensitivities, experiences, and perspectives might be rebuilt in a wider picture in order to seek together that which truly contributes to the good of the country. That the example of Mary might open the path to a more just, mature, and responsible society, capable of rediscovering the profound values of the human heart.

I hope elsewhere in his talk the Holy Father spoke to the bishops about our liturgical worship.

We need a Church wide “Marshall Plan”.  No renewal of the Church can take place without a revitalization of our Catholic worship.  Without a renewal of worship, all our other efforts will be lacking.

We are beset from within and from without.  At the same time, our obligations to strive for greater holiness and fidelity within the Church, and to bring the Good News and Christ to the rest of the world, both remain.  We must be renewed internally, so as to be effective externally. This is an ad intra imperative (Catholics considered as Catholics among themselves) and also an ad extra mission (Catholics considered in relation to the wider world).

Catholics, as Catholics, have been shoved out of the public square.  They are more often than not excluded from contributing to discussion of the burning questions of our day.  This is usually because Catholics themselves, as Catholics, excluded themselves from contributing a genuinely Catholic voice because they are either dissenters or because they are weak or because they are ignorant or because they are cowardly.

Catholics must contribute to the discussion in the public square, or as Pope Benedict called this phenomenon the “digital continent”.  We have an obligation, each of us according to our vocations, to shape the world around us to the extent we can.  Holy Church has a God-given mission to teach both ad intra and – of course – ad extra.

The ad intra dimension entails Catholics knowing who they are and what they believe.  If we don’t know who we are as Catholics, we will never be able to articulate anything clearly about the burning questions of our day and make a contribution as Catholics according to our vocations. If we don’t know these things, if we are not firm in them, then we are vulnerable to every manner of marginalization and, don’t doubt it, persecution.

We will be marginalized and persecuted anyway.  We may as well strive for holiness and salvation within the hardships we will inevitably face as living signs of contradiction.

There is an incremental erosion of human, common sense values taking place.  At a certain point, the erosion will pick up speed and, suddenly, we will wake up in a new kind of world.  Similarly, the process of revitalizing our identity and our Church will also take time.  Our gains will be slow and incremental.  Brick by brick.  And, in worldly terms, we may make no discernible progress in our lifetimes.

For the near future, we must not be complacent or one day soon we will find we are living a nightmare.

In Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the emancipation proclamation for the older Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, we have a mighty gift and tool to help us revitalize our Catholic worship, to reconnect with our tradition and identity as worshiping Catholics.  Summorum Pontificum will be one of the important events of Pope Benedict’s pontificate.  In a new, corrected English translation of the Missale Romanum for the Ordinary Form, we have another great tool to help many Catholics hear more clearly what Holy Church, and Christ through her, desires to convey in her official liturgical worship of Almighty God.

No renewal of Holy Church and our identity, our ability to contribute to and shape the world around us as Catholics, is possible without a renewal of our liturgical worship.

We must have wide-spread use of the Extraordinary Form, greater use of Latin and our traditional liturgical elements in the Ordinary Form, and – in the English-speaking world – a warm embrace for the new, corrected English translation of Holy Mass.

To save our world we must save our liturgy.

And even if the world is slipping beyond our reach, we must nevertheless relentlessly seek through grace and elbow grease the salvation of our souls and those of our loved ones and as many as will come with us.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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17 Responses to Benedict XVI entrusts Italy to the Blessed Virgin. Fr. Z rants

  1. teaguytom says:

    Maybe the Holy Father will give a talk on liturgical worship on the Feast of Peter and Paul. Perfect opportunity to be seater with ferula in hand and his new tiara on his head. The chance the emphasize his authority as Vicar of Christ over all bishops and that his words have influence and not a dead letter.

  2. irishgirl says:

    That’s a good thought, teaguytom! A perfect day for the Holy Father to ‘lay it on the line’!

  3. AvantiBev says:

    I pray everyday for my cugini in Italia especially in this 150th anniversary year of her Risorgimento and this 100th year anniversary of my Nonno and Nonna landing in New York WITH THEIR PASSPORTS from the Kingdom of Italy properly stamped and waiting their turn for medical inspection at Ellis Island. Italia is going to need all of our Lady’s protection and all her strength if they are to survive the onslaught of North African and Balkan Islamic invaders which more p.c. minded folk call “undocumented immigrants”. Talk about one day soon “living a nightmare”. The Jihadis hold up signs: “Islam will conquer Rome.” Too many leftists including some of our clergy are sanguine about this prospect. If such a thing came about, how shocked they would be to feel the scimitar blade at their traitorous throats.
    Islam is totally incompatible with the strength and beauty we Italian women possess. I pray La Fallaci is giving an earful to Dio right now.

  4. UncleBlobb says:

    A related Quaeritur: Fr. Z, what as lay people can and should we do to effect a positive change for the Mass/Liturgy? I am assuming prayer is number one and I do that. I am reluctant to pester priests or my bishop out of wanting to be humble, and for fear of merely wanting my own preferences (and perhaps out of being a coward too), as I assume that the Mass is their providence.

  5. catholicmidwest says:

    The concept of humility is the most misunderstood concept in all of Catholicism. Humility consists of radical truthfulness. To recognize your weaknesses and your gifts and be honest about them is humility.

    It is *NOT* humility to pretend you don’t have a gift when you do. You should never lord it over someone if you have a gift, but you must recognize it without hubris and then use it for good. That’s humility. Likewise if you have a weakness, don’t be touchy about it. Recognize it without rubbing other peoples’ noses in it, and work on it quietly and peacefully but with effort. Accept other peoples’ help with gratitude and peace when they offer to help you because they see you’re struggling. That’s humility.

    As for requesting from the clergy what you have a right to, by virtue of canon law, you are not being humble by refusing to speak up. Real humility speaks up about the truth, while not trying to damage anyone. It is what it is. There is nothing wrong with saying so.

  6. Centristian says:

    “I hope elsewhere in his talk the Holy Father spoke to the bishops about our liturgical worship.”

    I hope the Holy Father speaks to them about this, too, and rather vigorously. It’s one thing to lift the limitations formerly in place concerning the celebration of the extraordinary form of Mass for those who desire it. That’s great and hopefully the example of the celebration of the one form will rub off on the other. That’s a big hope, however. It also seems like a rather round-about way to address the issue.

    It would be nice if the Holy See would more directly address the issue of lamely-celebrated Masses in the ordinary form, making it clearer to the Church that the traditional Roman ars celebrandi is not something to be observed only with respect to the extraordinary form, but that it should also be seen, more and more, in celebrations of the prevalent ordinary form of Mass.

    It’s marvelous that the Pope, himself, leads by example in this regard but how many simply won’t get it, will dismiss his style of celebration as strictly a “papal thing”, until they’re actually given a clearly-worded mandate to begin to follow that example. “See what I’m doing? That is what you must do in Chicago and in Antwerp and in Buenos Aires, too.” Not “may” do, but “must” do. “If you don’t want to celebrate the extraordinary form of Mass, fine; in that case, however, you’d better celebrate the ordinary form just as properly as I do, so that Catholics everywhere can experience the liturgy of the Roman Rite as it is meant to be experienced.”

    Something…stronger…from the Holy See seems warranted. I would love it if they came out some day in the not too distant future and insisted that the Canon of the Mass be read exclusively in Latin in every case. Or that the Liturgy of the Eucharist must be celebrated ad orientem in churches which still have their original high altars. We’ll see how much of a dent the pope’s good example and Summorum Pontificum make on the status quo; perhaps more of one than I expect.

    If the dent, it turns out, is rather small in the end, I hope the Holy See, recognizing it needs to do more, will not demure.

  7. AM says:

    At a certain point, the erosion will pick up speed and, suddenly, we will wake up in a new kind of world. … For the near future, we must not be complacent or one day soon we will find we are living a nightmare.

    I think this has already happened.

  8. Traductora says:

    This is usually because Catholics themselves, as Catholics, excluded themselves from contributing a genuinely Catholic voice because they are either dissenters or because they are weak or because they are ignorant or because they are cowardly.

    Yes! And of course the press magnifies the voices of the “dissenters,” making it look as if there are more of them and more important than they are. At the same time, it ignores or ridicules orthodox Catholics, and I think a lot of them grow timid and disheartened, especially when they get little support from the heirarchy (who seem pretty intimidated themselves).

    The points about the liturgy are good, and I think we’ve also got to bring back the other visible things, such as processions, medals, May crownings, all the sort of things that make us stand out and make us identifiable as Catholics. I think increasing our visible presence will end by increasing people’s faith, as well.

    Was it Pascal who advised people to act as if they believed, and they would?

  9. chironomo says:

    The discussions about liturgical worship have heated up significantly since 2007 and are heading in the direction of becoming even more heated in the next year. The progressives are throwing everything out there that they can as their progress has been stopped and in many instances reversed…I was just engaged in a discussion with one individual at a prominent prog-blog who called the “arguments put forth” by those who support the new translation “desperate”. I was confused, since the new translation has been approved and will be implemented in November. What exactly is “desperate” about that? On what point are the advocates of the new translation losing? I really was at a loss.

    The issue of the texts, at least a considerable improvement on what we have to work with, has been taken on and completed. I am convinced, given the momentum building, that liturgical music is going to be next on the docket. That battle will make the hubbub over the new translation look like a lover’s quarrel.

  10. Consilio et Impetu says:

    “Ipsam Sequens Non Devias”, i.e. “If you follow her, you will not stray”. This Episcopal Motto of John Francis Cardinal O’Hara may be what the Holy Father’s intention is as he entrusts Italy to the Blessed Mother’s protection. Perhaps the Apostolic Delegates and Nuncios throughout the world should do the same for those nations where they are appointed in their role as Papal Representative. At the Wedding Feat of Cana it is Mary who tells each of us, as she instructed the steward, “Do whatever He tells you.” From the cross Jesus introduced His earthly mother as our mother too. In that role Mary, as our Mother, takes our hands and leads us all to her Son. Through interceding to Mary what we “need” and not what we “want” will be answered. It may not be the answer we want, but our prayers will be answered none the less. Perhaps the Holy Father will also intervene to Mary’s Spouse, Saint Joseph, as Patron of the Universal Church and not just for Italy. Remember, it is the Pope’s intention to restore all of Europe to it’s Christian heritage, so why not start in Italy? Will the Pope make profound announcements wearing the Papal Tiara he recently received? I doubt it. Remember, it was Jesus, crowned with thorns, who asked our Heavenly Father, to “forgive them”. If anything we need to be merciful to one another and follow Mary, as she leads us to Jesus, and in doing so we should no longer follow those who have led us astray.

  11. joanofarcfan says:

    If only the Holy Father would celebrate the EF himself once in a while, in public, it would go a long way in encouraging acceptance of this form.

  12. EWTN Rocks says:

    Uncle Blobb,

    You asked Fr. Z, “what as lay people can and should we do to effect a positive change for the Mass/Liturgy? I am assuming prayer is number one and I do that. I am reluctant to pester priests or my bishop out of wanting to be humble, and for fear of merely wanting my own preferences (and perhaps out of being a coward too), as I assume that the Mass is their providence.”

    Not to take away from Fr. Z’s response, I thought I would offer my perspective. Most priests are very reception to new ideas and fresh perspectives, and encourage parishioners to be actively involved in their parish communities. They may also suggest participation in parish ministries, including the pastoral council, liturgy committee and sacristan (to name just a few!) as another way to offer new ideas. If your parish offers Mass in the Ordinary Form, please consider requesting Mass in the Extraordinary Form to, as Fr. Z. mentions in his post, help “revitalize our Catholic worship, to reconnect with our tradition and identity as worshiping Catholics.”

    Most importantly, do not be afraid of priests – they are people too, prone to the same sins and temptations as you and I.

  13. benedetta says:

    I think that it certainly can be very wearying to attempt to have any sort of respectful dialogue in the context of the dictatorship of relativism which constrains us all and with which some have chosen to act as agency. Entrusting a situation over which we have little to no control to the Blessed Mother is one solid step.

  14. Jenice says:

    Father, you listed Summorum Pontificum and the new translation as important gifts and tools from our beloved Holy Father. I agree, and would add one more: The Anglican Ordinariate. The Anglican liturgy is beautiful, and was originally Catholic. I hope it will positively influence the liturgy that may eventually become the tertium quid.

  15. Jason says:

    As an American of Italian descent, I’m all for the Holy Father entrusting Italy to the Blessed Mother’s protection.

    How about go the next step and, in communion with all Bishops, consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart? Not the world, Russia.

    I know I’ll probably get taken to task for suggesting it. But call me a good Italian son. When your mother tells you to do something, you don’t second guess it or tweak it, you do it. Especially if that Mother is Mary, Most Holy.

  16. Brooklyn says:

    How about go the next step and, in communion with all Bishops, consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart? Not the world, Russia.

    I know I’ll probably get taken to task for suggesting it. But call me a good Italian son. When your mother tells you to do something, you don’t second guess it or tweak it, you do it. Especially if that Mother is Mary, Most Holy.

    Ah, Jason, my thoughts exactly. My hope and prayer is that the Holy Father is taking a step in that direction. I once asked a good, holy priest why Russia was not consecrated to Mary’s Immaculate Heart as she requested, and the only response I received was “I don’t know.” One can only wonder how different the world might have been if this had been done.

    I was also very struck by one of Father Z’s comments:

    No renewal of Holy Church and our identity, our ability to contribute to and shape the world around us as Catholics, is possible without a renewal of our liturgical worship.

    We must have wide-spread use of the Extraordinary Form, greater use of Latin and our traditional liturgical elements in the Ordinary Form, and – in the English-speaking world – a warm embrace for the new, corrected English translation of Holy Mass.

    To save our world we must save our liturgy.

    Just yesterday I listened to a talk by the late Mark Davies in which he discussed the abolition of the Latin Mass in England back in the 1500′s, when Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury introduced the book of common prayer and the Latin Mass was officially outlawed. There was actually an uprising of Catholics in 1549, with the result of over 5500 giving their lives to preserve the Mass. It is somewhat unsettling how similar the Novus Ordo Mass is to Cranmer’s mass. But that aside, I believe we too, as the English were back in the 1500′s, must be willing to do whatever we can to preserve the liturgy. As Mark Davies implied in his talk, destroying the Mass destroyed the people. The Mass is absolutely essential to salvation.

  17. Bprayer says:

    Concerning Fatima consecration http://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/FatimaConsecration.htm
    According to this article he did consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart to and was told by Sr. Lucia that the consecration fulfilled the request.