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.