Benedict XVI’s Sermon for Chrism Mass: hits hard about priesthood, disobedience, zeal for souls

The Holy Father’s sermon for Holy Thursday Chrism Mass (in the morning, not the even “Last Supper” Mass).

UPDATE: This sermon is starting to get some sizzle.  The New York Times is out and the head line is “Pope Assails ‘Disobedient’ Among Priests.”, and the writer’s, Donadio’s, first line refers to Benedict again as “God’s Rottweiler”.  Hell’s Bible is not trying to be complimentary, but this is exactly what we need!   I would by far, leaps and bounds, want to have them talk about the Pope as a “Rottweiler” right now.  He isn’t like that, and we know that, but, right now, I want hard-ball, not soft-ball.  We do better with “Rottweiler” than “grandpa”.  Let the Pope be Pope. Let Benedict be Benedict.

With my emphases and comments.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At this Holy Mass our thoughts go back to that moment when, through prayer and the laying on of hands, the bishop made us sharers in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, so that we might be “consecrated in truth” (Jn 17:19), as Jesus besought the Father for us in his high-priestly prayer. He himself is the truth. He has consecrated us, that is to say, handed us over to God for ever, so that we can offer men and women a service that comes from God and leads to him. [QUAERITUR:] But does our consecration extend to the daily reality of our lives – do we operate as men of God in fellowship with Jesus Christ? This question places the Lord before us and us before him. “Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus and more closely conformed to him, denying yourselves and confirming those promises about sacred duties towards Christ’s Church which, prompted by love of him, you willingly and joyfully pledged on the day of your priestly ordination?” After this homily, I shall be addressing that question to each of you here and to myself as well. Two things, above all, are asked of us: there is a need for an interior bond, a configuration to Christ, and at the same time there has to be a transcending of ourselves, a renunciation of what is simply our own, of the much-vaunted self-fulfilment. We need, I need, not to claim my life as my own, but to place it at the disposal of another – of Christ. I should be asking not what I stand to gain, but what I can give for him and so for others. Or to put it more specifically, this configuration to Christ, who came not to be served but to serve, who does not take, but rather gives – what form does it take in the often dramatic situation of the Church today? [NB:] Recently a group of priests from a European country issued a summons to disobedience, and at the same time gave concrete examples of the forms this disobedience might take, even to the point of disregarding definitive decisions of the Church’s Magisterium, such as the question of women’s ordination, for which Blessed Pope John Paul II stated irrevocably that the Church has received no authority from the Lord. Is disobedience a path of renewal for the Church? [Remarkable.  Benedict used this moment to answer that dissident group.  If any of those men have the slightest Catholic sense left in them, I imagine they would have to feel deep shame that Peter would on Holy Thursday itself use them as an example of the OPPOSITE of what priests should be.] We would like to believe that the authors of this summons are motivated by concern for the Church, that they are convinced that the slow pace of institutions has to be overcome by drastic measures, in order to open up new paths and to bring the Church up to date. But is disobedience really a way to do this? Do we sense here anything of that configuration to Christ which is the precondition for true renewal, or do we merely sense a desperate push to do something to change the Church in accordance with one’s own preferences and ideas?

But let us not oversimplify matters. [QUAERITUR:] Surely Christ himself corrected human traditions which threatened to stifle the word and the will of God? Indeed he did, so as to rekindle obedience to the true will of God, to his ever enduring word. His concern was for true obedience, as opposed to human caprice. Nor must we forget: he was the Son, [and we are not] possessed of singular authority and responsibility to reveal the authentic will of God, so as to open up the path for God’s word to the world of the nations. And finally: he lived out his task with obedience and humility all the way to the Cross, and so gave credibility to his mission. Not my will, but thine be done: these words reveal to us the Son, in his humility and his divinity, and they show us the true path.

[QUAERITUR:] Let us ask again: do not such reflections serve simply to defend inertia, the fossilization of traditions? No. Anyone who considers the history of the post-conciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal, which often took unexpected forms in living movements and made almost tangible the inexhaustible vitality of holy Church, the presence and effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. And if we look at the people from whom these fresh currents of life burst forth and continue to burst forth, then we see that this new fruitfulness requires being filled with the joy of faith, the radicalism of obedience, the dynamic of hope and the power of love. [I am not entirely surely I understand what he is talking about in that paragraph.]

Dear friends, it is clear that configuration to Christ is the precondition and the basis for all renewal. But perhaps at times the figure of Jesus Christ seems too lofty and too great for us to dare to measure ourselves by him.  [St. Augustine makes this point, suggesting that the lives of saints are better models which we can actually imitate.] The Lord knows this. So he has provided “translations” on a scale that is more accessible and closer to us. [Saints.  Note what the Pope is doing here.  Christ is the Word made flesh.  Saints are the Word's "translations".] For this same reason, Saint Paul did not hesitate to say to his communities: Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. For his disciples, he was a “translation” of Christ’s manner of life that they could see and identify with. Ever since Paul’s time, history has furnished a constant flow of other such “translations” of Jesus’ way into historical figures. We priests can call to mind a great throng of holy priests who have gone before us and shown us the way: from Polycarp of Smyrna and Ignatius of Antioch, from the great pastors Ambrose, Augustine and Gregory the Great, through to Ignatius of Loyola, Charles Borromeo, John Mary Vianney and the priest-martyrs of the 20th century, and finally Pope John Paul II, who gave us an example, through his activity and his suffering, of configuration to Christ as “gift and mystery”. The saints show us how renewal works and how we can place ourselves at its service. And they help us realize that God is not concerned so much with great numbers and with outward successes, but achieves his victories under the humble sign of the mustard seed.  [Holy Church has always given two great gifts to all of humanity, not just to her own members: art and saints.  Both art and saints reflect the beauty of God's truth.]

Dear friends, I would like briefly to touch on two more key phrases from the renewal of ordination promises, which should cause us to reflect at this time in the Church’s life and in our own lives. [Whew!  Getting heavy...] Firstly, the reminder that – as Saint Paul put it – we are “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4:1) and we are charged with the ministry of teaching (munus docendi), which forms a part of this stewardship of God’s mysteries, through which he shows us his face and his heart, in order to give us himself. At the meeting of Cardinals on the occasion of the recent Consistory, several of the pastors of the Church spoke, from experience, of the growing religious illiteracy found in the midst of our sophisticated society. [Could this same "religious illiteracy" be a factor in the disobedience of certain priests?] The foundations of faith, which at one time every child knew, are now known less and less. [This is so true, but it has been true for YEARS.  It has been said again and again.] But if we are to live and love our faith, if we are to love God and to hear him aright, we need to know what God has said to us – our minds and hearts must be touched by his word. [Nemo dat quod non habet.] The Year of Faith, commemorating the opening of the Second Vatican Council fifty years ago, should provide us with an occasion to proclaim the message of faith with new enthusiasm and new joy. We find it of course first and foremost in sacred Scripture, which we can never read and ponder enough. Yet at the same time we all experience the need for help in accurately expounding it in the present day, if it is truly to touch our hearts. This help we find first of all in the words of the teaching Church: the texts of the Second Vatican Council [Some of the disobedient might try reading them for the first time.] and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are essential tools which serve as an authentic guide to what the Church believes on the basis of God’s word. And of course this also includes the whole wealth of documents given to us by Pope John Paul II, still far from being fully explored.

All our preaching must measure itself against the saying of Jesus Christ: “My teaching is not mine” (Jn 7:16). We preach not private theories and opinions, but the faith of the Church, whose servants we are. Naturally this should not be taken to mean that I am not completely supportive of this teaching, or solidly anchored in it. In this regard I am always reminded of the words of Saint Augustine: what is so much mine as myself? And what is so little mine as myself? [Typical Augustinian paring/aporia.] I do not own myself, and I become myself by the very fact that I transcend myself, and thereby become a part of Christ, a part of his body the Church. If we do not preach ourselves, and if we are inwardly so completely one with him who called us to be his ambassadors, that we are shaped by faith and live it, then our preaching will be credible. I do not seek to win people for myself, but I give myself. The Curé of Ars was no scholar, no intellectual, we know that. But his preaching touched people’s hearts because his own heart had been touched.

The last keyword that I should like to consider is “zeal for souls”: animarum zelus. It is an old-fashioned expression, not much used these days. In some circles, the word “soul” is virtually banned because – ostensibly – it expresses a body-soul dualism that wrongly compartmentalizes the human being. Of course the human person is a unity, destined for eternity as body and soul. And yet that cannot mean that we no longer have a soul, a constituent principle guaranteeing our unity in this life and beyond earthly death. And as priests, of course, we are concerned for the whole person, including his or her physical needs – we care for the hungry, the sick, the homeless. And yet we are concerned not only with the body, but also with the needs of the soul: with those who suffer from the violation of their rights or from destroyed love, with those unable to perceive the truth, those who suffer for lack of truth and love. We are concerned with the salvation of men and women in body and soul. [Zelus animarum leads to salus animarum.] And as priests of Jesus Christ we carry out our task with enthusiasm. [Zelus!] No one should ever have the impression that we work conscientiously when on duty, but before and after hours we belong only to ourselves. A priest never belongs to himself. People must sense our zeal, [there it is again] through which we bear credible witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us ask the Lord to fill us with joy in his message, so that we may serve his truth and his love with joyful zeal. Amen. [I have on my shelf a signed copy of his book of some years ago on priesthood called "Servitori della vostra gioia".]

UPDATE:

I have now seen AP’s article by Nicole Winfield, who is usually more careful with what she writes.

Pope denounces dissident priests on celibacy
By NICOLE WINFIELD

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI denounced priests who have questioned church teaching on celibacy and ordaining women, saying Thursday they were disobeying his authority to try to impose their own ideas on the church. [...]

No, Nicole. I don’t think that is a fair characterization. The Holy Father wasn’t talking about HIS own authority, was he. Read the sermon. Hepful hint: Other than the fact the Pope is talking about JESUS throughout, focus on the section where Benedict says “Blessed Pope John Paul II stated irrevocably that the Church has received no authority from the Lord.”. Whose authority are the priests defying? Not just Benedict’s.

Most of the article focuses on the position of the dissidents in Austria.  There is some truly slithery thought in the rest of the AP piece.  If any of you in the USA or other English-speaking countries think you have it bad with your priests and bishops, thank God you not in Austria, so beautiful, once so Catholic, now so confused.  Corruptio optimi pessima.

 

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Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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49 Responses to Benedict XVI’s Sermon for Chrism Mass: hits hard about priesthood, disobedience, zeal for souls

  1. chcrix says:

    “Let us ask again: do not such reflections serve simply to defend inertia, the fossilization of traditions? No. Anyone who considers the history of the post-conciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal….[I am not entirely surely I understand what he is talking about in that paragraph.]”

    Could it be a conciliatory gesture to the VaticanII-istas?

  2. Finarfin says:

    Thank you Fr. for posting Pope Benedict’s homily, as well as your own commentary.

    I have a question though. At the beginning of this post, you note how the Mass on Holy Thursday took place in the morning, and not in the ‘evening, “Last supper” Mass’. Do you think there is anything wrong with the Holy Thursday Mass taking place in the evening?

  3. tonyfernandez says:

    This is a good read, not just for priests, but for all of us. I know I haven’t read the documents of Vatican II or even most of the Catechism. I’m just barely starting to read much of scripture. I know that this is important, and if I want to call myself a Catholic and live as a Catholic, then it will take some of my own time to learn more deeply what it is all about.

    In a way, I think that this is what turns off so many young people today. Catholicism is presented -at least it was to me- much like the Protestant religions. It is not so much based on reason and intellect as it is based on emotions and allegory. [As in the pentecostal or charismatic thing: an appeal to emotions perhaps in the wake of the erosion of devotions.] Sure, that has its place, but I really don’t believe that a faith that has no root in reason can stand firm against the attacks of a modern world. Personally, I noticed my faith starting to grow by leaps and bounds by reading a simple book by Edward Feser that attempted to explain very basic ideas of Thomism. Since then, all I can say is wow. I can only wonder how my faith would grow by reading these other texts and seeing that religion is not just emotional catharsis and singing and clapping. It is a very mature, very reasoned faith. This is something that people can be proud of, yet I fear we are losing souls because this aspect of faith has been tucked away in the corner of our churches for decades.

  4. LouiseA says:

    Holy Father: “Anyone who considers the history of the post-conciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal, which often took unexpected forms in living movements and made almost tangible the inexhaustible vitality of holy Church, the presence and effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. And if we look at the people from whom these fresh currents of life burst forth and continue to burst forth, then we see that this new fruitfulness requires being filled with the joy of faith, the radicalism of obedience, the dynamic of hope and the power of love. ”

    Fr. Z: “I am not entirely surely I understand what he is talking about in that paragraph.”

    Fr. Z, I do not know what post-Vatican II true renewal, living movements, fresh currents of life, or new fruitfulness the Pope is referring to, either. You write that you are not “entirely sure”, but could you please give us your best guess as to what the Pope sees that many of us do not?

    Thank you, and Happy Feastday, Father.

  5. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Dear Fr. Z:
    I think when the Holy Father speaks of renewal movements in the preconciliar history, he is providing a corrective to the hermeneutic of rupture, to the thinking of the Austrian priests who say that fossilization is pre-Vatican II, while post-Vatican II life in the Church must always show change and renewal.

    We can see figures of change and renewal in people such as Don Bosco, Pius X, Katherine Drexel, Pius XII, Fulton Sheen, etc. who before the council introduced change and renewal in the Church BUT did so with the “joy of faith” and with radical obedience. They didn’t have to pander disobedience in order to seek the good of Holy Church and zeal for souls.

  6. Johnsum says:

    Every Bishop and priest should preach about the Holy Father’s message. How many of the readers know that the Year of Faith was declared by the Pope? How many sermons have been preached on it?

  7. Fr_Sotelo says:

    ooops. I’m embarrassed that I completely misread the text and the Holy Father is referring to the post-conciliar era, not the pre-conciliar era. But I think he is still inviting us to consider people after the council who were figures of renewal without being figures of disobedience. He, of course, is a great example of a man after Vatican II with a joyful faith coupled with radical obedience.

  8. LaudemGloriae says:

    I enjoyed reading this. Three comments. 1. I couldn’t help sensing that the comments on obedience and tradition might also have in mind the SSPX. [Reflections by a Pope on disobedience of some priests must inevitably be reflections on disobedience by all priests, including the SSPX.] 2. The stickiness of pinning down “what is tradition?” and/or “who gets to define what tradition is?” remains problematic and Holy Father’s comments seemed uncharacteristically unclear to me. 3. “obedience” is frequently, and sadly, now the word used to prod faithful religious and laity alike into ever deepening waters of unorthodoxy. But what is orthodoxy/tradition and who defines it? Without a clear and accepted definition, who then is disobedient? These questions are intimately caught up with the SSPX dilemma. The resolution one way or the other will have far-reaching implications beyond the fate of one priestly society.

  9. JLCG says:

    I am one of those that were completely shaken by Vatican II and that expected that eventually every aspect of it would be repudiated. Then little by little, meditating, suffering, I came to realize that humility is the first step in our Purgatory (cf Purgatorio canto I) that without plucking the reed of humility the ascent is impossible.
    I have been enriched I am enriched everyday.
    Our thoughts are not God’s thoughts.
    I am happy. Happy the we have had these extraordinary men as shepherds.

  10. TomG says:

    I first saw the report of the Holy Father’s address in the WSJ – so far, so good. Then I noticed the byline: Associated Press. Include me out. Thanks, Fr. Z, for your handling of it.

  11. Pingback: On the other hand, an exceptionally good homily « The Orthosphere

  12. TomG says:

    @tonyfernandez: you’ve made some excellent choices for growth there. Godspeed.

  13. dep says:

    “[I am not entirely surely I understand what he is talking about in that paragraph.]”

    I suspect — and hope — that he’s talking about things such as this very blog and the inspiration behind it, the renewal of authentic liturgy and worship.

  14. rachmaninov says:

    It seems the Holy Father was talking about the new movements eg Communion and Liberation, Focolare. This is from The Ratzinger Report “What sounds full of hope throughout the Universal Church – and this even in the midst of the crisis that the Church is going through in the Western world – is the upsurge of new movements that no one has planned and no one called into being…I am thinking for instance of the Charismatic Renewal movement, the Neocatechumenals, the Cursillo movement, the Focolarini, Communion and Liberation, and so on…In the heart of a world dessicated by rationalistic scepticism a new experience of the Holy Spirit has come about, amounting to a worldwide renewal movement. What the New Testament describes, with reference to the charisms, as visible signs of the coming of the Spirit, is no longer merely ancient, past history: this history is becoming a burning reality today.”

  15. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Wow. That’s a homily.

  16. AaronStreeting says:

    Let us ask again: do not such reflections serve simply to defend inertia, the fossilization of traditions? No. Anyone who considers the history of the post-conciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal, which often took unexpected forms in living movements and made almost tangible the inexhaustible vitality of holy Church, the presence and effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. And if we look at the people from whom these fresh currents of life burst forth and continue to burst forth, then we see that this new fruitfulness requires being filled with the joy of faith, the radicalism of obedience, the dynamic of hope and the power of love.

    Consider the Missionaries of Charity, the Sisters of Life, Communion and Liberation, the campus missionaries in FOCUS, EWTN, the Charismatic Renewal (at least in legitimate forms), 40 Days for Life, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, Catholic Answers, the homeschooling movement, lay-run Catholic schools, new Catholic colleges and universities, Project Rachel, FSSP, the JP2 seminarians… all of these movements burst forth from the post-conciliar Church. So many people who are affiliated with these movements or who are touched by these groups are on fire with love of Christ and are devoted to the Church. These are the fruits of Vatican II. The fossilized remnants of the pre-conciliar era: Notre Dame, Jesuits and other dissenting religious orders, those that reject Vatican II such as SSPX, the chanceries, the parochial and diocesan schools, etc. are the groups that have been spreading distrust, false teaching, anger, resentment, and confusion.

    While I will agree that the aftermath of Vatican II accelerated the collapse of the institutional church in the West, these institutions would not have collapsed so quickly if many of the problems weren’t already present. Socialism, modernism, and communism had spent the previous 150 or so years working to destroy and infiltrate the Church. Vatican II laid the groundwork for the renewal that will ultimately triumph.

  17. LouiseA says:

    Thanks, rachmaninov.
    May the Pope soon remove his rose-colored Vatican II glasses.
    http://downwindersatrisk.org/2010%20graphics/rose-colored-glasses%202.jpg

  18. Our Lord always works with us with awesome irony.

    The obedient are condemned as disobedient by the disobedient, but only so that the obedient might shine all the more.

    Obedience is joyful, enthusiastic, full of love.

    Obedience, from ob+audire, so that the listening to the Church is so intense, so filled with love, that we are eager to do the will of the one who speaks.

    We listen to our Heavenly Father. We listen for that one Word, that Logos, He speaks throughout eternity. We hear Jesus, the members of whose Mystical Body we become.

    Listening, obedience… not to be feared, not to be subjected to cynicism, but to be lived with humble thanksgiving.

    Thanks, Pope Benedict!

  19. Peggy R says:

    That was a great homily of nuts and bolts of the faith, the priesthood, and the authority of the Church. God bless the Holy Father!

  20. APX says:

    As a person who has had 3 Rottweilers over the past nearly 20 years, I’m not sure I understand why the press would use the analogy of the pope being “God’s Rottweiler”. Do they mean the pope is noble, loyal, faithful, and family unity orientated, yet protective of that family that it shouldn’t be attacked or harmed by anyone or anything? Yeah, I guess come to think of it, they’re right about with that analogy.

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  22. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    He speaks with a clarity and balance that transcend the vapid divisions in the Church, and which speak from the very heart of the truth of our faith. It is my great hope that he is bracing the two factions for the (possible) reintegration of the Lefebvrists on or around his birthday in a week and a half. Perhaps he knows something, perhaps not.

    Both the extreme right – who remind me of the Donatists in their conceit to judge worthiness of the Catholicism of others, and the left – who remind me of the Monatists in their conceit of imaging a New Truth made for them and their place in time, must transcend themselves by obedience to the unchangeable Truth who is Christ, a truth reflected in an exemplary way by all the saints of history and which is also present in the post-conciliar movements of the church. This is a real integralism, and the Holy Father is right and loving to correct and teach those who idolize their positions and ideas.

    Finally, I am reminded of Cardinal George’s reflection that what we all need is to be “simply Catholic.”

  23. Long live our Holy Father!

    “Let us ask again: do not such reflections serve simply to defend inertia, the fossilization of traditions? No. Anyone who considers the history of the post-conciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal, which often took unexpected forms in living movements and made almost tangible the inexhaustible vitality of holy Church, the presence and effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. And if we look at the people from whom these fresh currents of life burst forth and continue to burst forth, then we see that this new fruitfulness requires being filled with the joy of faith, the radicalism of obedience, the dynamic of hope and the power of love.”

    I’m guessing this means those movements that have been faithful to Holy Mother Church post VII. Inertia, the tendency of a body to resist changes in motion (acceleration). As a physicist, we say that Forces have agents. Obedience, hope, love are both agents and results. Those that have seen growth post VII have been faithful, obedient and in accordance with charity. Beautiful sermon by our Holy Father.

  24. mwa says:

    @ finarfin 9:52am
    Fr. was simply pointing out that this was the sermon from the Chrism Mass, which always takes place in the morning, rather than from the Holy Thursday evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

    The Chrism Mass would seem a particularly apt occasion for the Holy Father’s address. Fr. Paul Turner wrote, ” Since the bishop is the only minister in the diocese who may consecrate chrism, this Mass highlights his ministry and our union with him. He will not baptize and confirm everyone in the parishes of the diocese, but he will be symbolically present in the chrism which the priests and deacons will use. In recent years, this Mass has also acknowledged the ministry of priests. It invites them to renew their commitment of service and to receive the prayers and support of the people. The Mass of Chrism gathers the faithful of the diocese at their mother church with their shepherd to prepare for celebrations of Christ in all our churches throughout the year.”

  25. irishgirl says:

    Wow-another ‘home run’ by our Holy Father!
    Bravissimo! May he reign many more years!
    God’s ‘Rottweiller’? More like ‘German Shepherd’! German Shepherds are just as fierce as Rottweilers in protecting their charges! RRRROWF!

  26. irishgirl says:

    Oops-that should be ‘ROTTWEILER’ (one ‘l’).
    (ate too much chocolate from a gift bag I got this morning at our adoration chapel-had to eat everything before it melted)

  27. Joe Magarac says:

    Let us ask again: do not such reflections serve simply to defend inertia, the fossilization of traditions? No. Anyone who considers the history of the post-conciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal, which often took unexpected forms in living movements and made almost tangible the inexhaustible vitality of holy Church, the presence and effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. And if we look at the people from whom these fresh currents of life burst forth and continue to burst forth, then we see that this new fruitfulness requires being filled with the joy of faith, the radicalism of obedience, the dynamic of hope and the power of love.

    This paragraph seems to me to be classic Benedict. He is one of the most honest thinkers and writers I know, in that he always presents the best possible version of a counter-argument before refuting it.

    Here, he is suggesting that the Austrian priests (who have been opposing celibacy and threatening to devise new services with increased roles for women) may claim that they are doing what they are doing because they have tried to persuade the hierarchical Church to allow their new ideas, but to no avail, because it is hide-bound, fossilized, and closed to new ideas.

    In response, Benedict suggests that there is a sharp contrast between groups like these Austrian priests, who at their core offer something that is bitter and negative because it is opposed to the Church’s teaching, and groups like Mother Theresa’s sisters, EWTN, Fr. Groeschel’s Franciscans, all of which offer something new and positive and which have been approved by the Church hierarchy. In other words, he is showing that the Church is NOT fossilized or closed to new ideas, it is just closed to bad ideas.

    I wish more people could write and think like Benedict does. He takes the Austrian priests’ best possible defense for their conduct (that they have to act to bring the Church up to date, and that they must do so outside regular channels because the Church hierarchy is closed to new ideas), presents it in a fair and sympathetic light, and then calmly, and kindly, completely eviscerates it.

  28. anilwang says:

    Fr. Z: “I am not entirely surely I understand what he is talking about in that paragraph.”

    I think I understand. There are two contexts. If you look at past councils (e.g. Council of Trent), there were changes in the liturgy and common praxis which did inspire real renewal.

    If you look at Vatican II, well we all agree it hasn’t been implemented yet, but it will be. It’s clear the “The biological solution” and rabid secularism are forcing a return to Tradition, even if a weaker Pope down the line would rather not make any waves. A hundred years from now, the bad parts of Vatican II will be a distant memory and the good parts will remain. God’s will shall not be thwarted by polka dancing bathing suit wearing clown “masses”.

    So what are some of the good parts? IMO, the laity of 2012 are far more knowledgeable in the faith and much more active and have more tools. The lay Catholic of today actually reads encyclicals and regularly refers to the Catechism (which is also more lay friendly with cross references on modern day topics of concern) are more able to do apologetics (both due to courses and podcasts and due to things like the Theology of the Body). While the number of knowledgeable lay Catholics is still quite small, I have no doubt that if the knowledgeable lay Catholics of today were around when Humanae Vitae was released and “the Spirit of Vatican II” raised its ugly head, that the media would not have gotten away with convincing the average Catholic that “contraception is okay and by the way the Kinsey Report says all Catholics do it and a lot worse” and liberal priest would not have gotten away with the wreckovation of parishes and local “masses”.

  29. Tina in Ashburn says:

    What a wonderful exhortation to obedience, learning, and duty.

    “Anyone who considers the history of the post-conciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal”
    I am guessing the Pope means that in spite of the changes in practices of the Church, the Faith survived and faithful groups are growing, and re-discovering the Faith as it once was, as the Faith was meant to be – not just the empty practices. Perhaps the confusion [persecution] itself has sent many of us to read and learn firsthand what the Faith is, rather than trusting the wolves dressed as shepherds.
    This statement could be easily misinterpreted as support for the confusion of the post-Vatican II Church and world.
    The “inertia” the Pope refers to can cut both ways, as we can get fossilized in senseless tradition for tradition’s sake, and still lose the reason for actions; and the inertia can also describe the fascination with senseless change, without a root in the Faith.
    Just guessing here.

    “growing religious illiteracy”
    The world seems less and less Christian, it seems less and less aware of Christian tenets, morals and practices, turning every part of the ignorant [tho sophisticated] world into mission territory. On top of that the clergy sometimes can be the most ignorant of the Faith, causing no end of confusion and continuance of ignorance. This illiteracy seems almost insurmountable at this point.

    I hope there are those who will listen, and work towards healing their own illiteracy, come to understand the grace and nature of obedience to authority, and get to work!

  30. Clinton R. says:

    Despite what the Holy Father says, Cardinal Schonborn and the dissidents in Austria and around the world will continue to espouse teachings that run contrary to the Catholic Church. We know nothing will happen, vis a vis excommunications or censuring or any other disciplinary measure. Whatever value Vatican II brought has been largely outweighed by the poison injected by liberals who see Vatican II as an excuse to dissent from Catholic tradition and sound doctrine. Look at the state of American Catholic universities. Just about all of them have apostized from the Faith and are now bastions of sin and religious indifference. The problem is that Vatican II is written vaguely enough that dissidents like to use the ‘spirt of Vatican II’ argument to justify their actions and have done so to such a large degree that they have created for themselves a new church complete void of any holiness or reverence. No longer is there any urgency to proselytize and teach the Catholic faith to all people. Why would we, when Vatican II is perceived as giving equal dignity to all religions? When we look at pre Vatican II councils and papal encyclicals and bulls, the language is quite clear and one is not left guessing about what we are supposed to take from reading them. When the Catholic faith is rapidly decreasing in Europe and the United States and elsewhere, I can’t see how Vatican II should be celebrated or seen as bringing in a renewal of the Church. That said, I pray for His Holiness, Benedict XVI and for all priests of Our Lord’s Holy Catholic Church.

  31. Pingback: as we should also do likewise…”Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” « raven's randomness

  32. BaedaBenedictus says:

    From the New York Times piece:

    **The Vatican fears that the initiative could cause a schism in the church. For his part, Father Schüller [the organizer of the Call to Disobedience] has called the Vatican an “absolutist monarchy” and said that the church’s resistance to change might lead to rupture anyway.

    In a telephone interview on Thursday, Father Schüller said he was surprised by Benedict’s words. “But I don’t think they were very harsh,” he said. “There was no threat or sanction implied.”

    “I think that in the history of the Church, a lot has changed, even if not always voluntarily,” Father Schüller said. “There has been new science, new technology, new practices. The teachings are always changing.”**

    Amid the talk over getting the SSPX to accept a “Doctrinal Preamble” before letting them back in, isn’t it about time that Rome come up with a doctrinal preamble for “in good standing” clerics like Fr. Schüller and many many others like him to affirm?

    The old Oath Against Modernism would do fine, perhaps with revisions to accommodate newest varieties of the “synthesis of all heresies”.

    ….or not?

  33. discerningguy says:

    This was a great homily. However, I can’t help but think that this almost sounds like a “farewell homily,” as if he might abdicate. I would have never thought of this had I not been seeing the loudmouths in the media talk about it, of course. I think my head would explode if Papa abdicated. Oh boy.

  34. anilwang says:

    Clinton R,
    The Dutch Catechism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_Catechism) was released immediately after Vatican II, so it’s clear that there were problems in that part of the world before Vatican II.

    The Winnipeg Statement (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winnipeg_Statement) was released immediately after Humanae Vitae (which should have been a non-event since it says nothing that aren’t said in previous encyclicals, except for the Pope’s predictions). So something was messed up in Canada as well.

    It’s also possible to find liturgical books on “Green Masses” just before Vatican II (sorry, I can’t find a reference now, but the last time I checked it was still available in Amazon’s used books), and Catholic education was also slowly accepting modernism. So something was wrong in the U.S. as well.

    So problems existed back then that likely would have manifested anyway, though in a manner slow enough that we wouldn’t notice that anything was wrong, until it was too late. Liturgy is no protection on doctrine. Witness the Eastern Orthodox (who have a very old liturgy) and their “new consensus” that contraception is okay (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_contraception#Current_views).

    Granted, Vatican II gave an opportunity for the problems manifested more clearly, but it also provided for tools to stomp out the problem and expose the rot that was slowly building up. Now that its exposed, it can be dealt with, even if that means that the Church will shrink and the remaining moderates are shamed into admitting that modernism is deadly to Catholicism.

    Bishop Fulton Sheen (who was by no means a friend of the NO mass) once wrote, “It is a historical fact that whenever there is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit as in a General Council of the Church, there is always an extra show of force by the anti-Spirit or the demonic. Even at the beginning, immediately after Pentecost and the descent of the Spirit upon the Apostles, there began a persecution and the murder of Stephen. If a General Council did not provoke the spirit of turbulence, one might almost doubt the operation of the Third Person of the Trinity over the Assembly”

  35. Captain Peabody says:

    What a homily. Ad multos annos!

  36. dnicoll says:

    AMEN to the PanzerKardinal. Long may he continue as God’s Rottweiler. I love our Pope.

  37. @finarfin
    I believe that Fr. Z was only referring to the fact that there are only two Masses that may be celebrated on Holy Thursday:
    1) the Chrism Mass (celebrated by the Ordinary and supposed to be attended by all the priests [and normally deacons] of the diocese), at which the priests renew their commitment to their ordination vows and the Ordinary consecrated the sacred oils which are then distributed to representatives of each parish/mission/community/campus ministry and so forth. It is always celebrated in the morning. In my diocese (by permission) it is anticipated to the Tuesday in Holy Week, as the diocese covers a large enough geographical area that it would be difficult for many of the priests to return to their parishes in time for:
    2) The Mass In cena Domini, the Mass that most Catholics think of as ‘the Holy Thursday Mass’, the one that commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist (and may optionally include the washing of the feel of 12 men). According to the rubrics, this Mass must be celebrated in the evening to coincide with the timing of the Last Supper and to truly be ‘the next day’ liturgically.

    The fact that there are two Masses on Holy Thursday means that the Church has the opportunity to hear two great homilies from our Holy Father. May we all be listening!

    (With Fr_Sotelo and others, I would add to the list of good post-Vatican II developments all the EF orders such as FSSP, ICKSP, IBP, as well as those secular priests who answered Our Lord’s call to offer the EF, both before and after Summorum Pontificum. And the new orders such as the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, who outgrow their motherhouse every year even as they race to build more space. And the priests, religious, and laity answering the call of Anglicanorum coetibus.)

    IMHO, the Holy Father really knocks out two grand slam home runs with his Holy Thursday homilies. Viva il Papa!

  38. Widukind says:

    How does one reognize authentic renewal? I simply offer this reflection of what I sensed
    with the Church and her response to the council as I was growing up in that time, being in Grade School. (I often contemplate the past in terms of images from those moments – as how the light is shining, of what I smelled and heard. The emotion that springs forth from this is real, but it is so hard to describe.) The before and after sensings almost seem schizophrenic to me now. I picture the Church in its early Vatican II days, as an old house, warm with dark colors, smelling a bit like Dove soap and a tinge of mothballs – giving a sense of loving preservation. The rooms are filled with large furniture, covered in maroon velveteen, the cupboards and closets are jam-packed with treasures, busting out at every opportunity. A grandfather or grandmother takes me by the hand to explore – pointing out the neat, interesting things, allowing me to feel and handle much of it. It seems as a dream come true, and the desire to return is aching, for I am wanting to delve into further exploration of the treasures. It was a joyous excitement that pervaded the future. Alas, when I do return, the house has been emptied, it is now cold, it is no longer warm and dark, as the windows are undressed, letting in light through streaked panes, revealing a very bad repainting job in odd hues. Housekeeping is lacking, the light fixtures are naked bulbs giving off a glaring cold glow that hurts the eyes, and causes obscene and hideous shadows to be cast. The furniture is tacky, mismatched, and uncomfortable. Senseless music blares. The house has had a heart attack. Its soul and its hope have been exteriminated. It is forbidden to ever mention Grandpa and Grandma. Those early years seemed to me so promising and hopeful, maybe because those who were leading had love in their hearts, they cherished continuity. Overnight it seemed, was the revolution, and these leaders breathed out with the fury of hate and anger for all that had been. They terrorized the past, only to leave a bleak future. Cold, empty, devisive, and silly the house had become. Sentiment was abolished. I am sensing now that the hateful anger has now been subdued – especially in all that Benedict has accomplished. We can now speak of Grandpa and Grandma, and all the treasures that they had. Even with a bit of daring we can now let it be known that some of those treasures had been rescued and hidden, waiting for the light of a better day. The rape and the pillage is hard to fathom. It seems to have come like a strike of lightning. I just cannot remember how it happened, but that it just did. It was a late summer day, just before school was to start, and I was riding my bicycle past school. There was one of my past teachers, a sister, no longer in her habit, but with lay clothes and her legs were exposed for all to see. I about fell off my bicycle, and the sense came to me of disappointment, of sadness and finality – it would never be the same again, and it wasn’t. We simply had to agree that it was a nice change. So what does authentic renewal look like? – anything that brings a sense of warmth and darkness, of joy and excitement, of being loved as by grandparents. It has a lastingness to it, because it has a past that is itself long and lasting. If it is squeeky, if it is silly, if it is thin, if it is simplified, if it seems as if some clown had just pulled it out of someone’s a–, then it is not authentic.

  39. frjim4321 says:

    1) I don’t know if it was helpful to include a scolding of respectfully dissident priest in a homily at mass. [Why does that not surprise me.] As usual, political agendas in homilies usually end up undermining any positive impact that the homily may have. (The main reason I stay away from politics in homilies.) [Liberals make everything they don't like into a political issue even when it clearly has nothing to do with politics.]

    2) I think the questionable paragraph was an honorable mentioned being tossed in the direction of Opus Dei, the Neo-Catechumenal Way and elements of the Legionaries movement which are important revenue sources.

  40. Bender says:

    Yeah, what the Holy Father says, for all those who took issue with what I said in the Entrusting the SSPX to Mary and imploring God’s will post. Multiple times he mentions the Council in his remarks on obedience — the strongest words on obedience I have ever read from this so-called “enforcer” from the CDF.

    And even going so far as to include “We are concerned with the salvation of men and women in body and soul,” which some here had tried to use as a justification for refusing to simply submit.

    The question is — will they listen?

  41. Bender says:

    And if we look at the people from whom these fresh currents of life burst forth and continue to burst forth, then we see that this new fruitfulness requires being filled with the joy of faith, the radicalism of obedience, the dynamic of hope and the power of love.

    The Vatican translators are better than they used to be, but still sometimes leave something to be desired. Teresa Benedetta does a much better job, but since the “official” translation is being put out much faster these days, she hasn’t been doing her own translation as much these days.

    Still, the phraseology of this last part seems a bit off here. As translated here, it suggests that “the joy of faith,” etc. follows or is subsequent to “this new fruitfulness,” as opposed to being prior to it.

    This is purely a guess, especially not knowing the original, but I would suspect that gets it backward, and a better wording would be –
    “then we see that a requirement of this new fruitfulness is being filled with the joy of faith, the radicalism of obedience, the dynamic of hope and the power of love”
    or
    “then we see that this new fruitfulness is dependent upon being filled with the joy of faith, the radicalism of obedience, the dynamic of hope and the power of love”

  42. Supertradmum says:

    Disobedience is a direct result of sins in other areas, such as sexual sins, or sins regarding the Faith, or simply, the sin of Pride. Disobedience usually is a result of some other weakness and becomes a rationalization for that other sin. So, for example, if a woman uses contraception, she starts with selfishness and ends up with gross disobedience. For a priest, he may start with a serious sin and then become radicalized and rebellious because of that sin.

    Does this affect catechesis” Of course, one can only really teach what one actually believes. So, the disobedient priest teaches disobedience in so many ways, including disregarding Rome, the hierarchy, and all the “rules”, which become a burden to those who rebel. “His yoke is easy and His burden is light” to the meek and humble of heart.

  43. Peter in Canberra says:

    Yes, a great sermon with much to ponder.

    just to observe that the responses to the same sermon are of a different tenor over @ Roarte Caeli.

    Somewhat like them, I’m worried how the words about fossilization of traditions will be used by conservatives and liberals, who still outnumber (enormously) those who desire to rediscover Tradition and traditions. The lens that these words will be read through, by some at least, will be those of post-V2 ‘renewal’ which did the Church the ‘favour’ of “getting rid of all that outdated stuff”

  44. cdnpriest says:

    frjim4321 said:
    I don’t know if it was helpful to include a scolding of respectfully dissident priest in a homily at mass.
    ________
    With all due respect, I have a hard time believing that the priests in question were “respectfully dissident”, whatever that expression means. Priests promise to teach the Catholic Faith, not their own pseudo-religion. Fidelity to their promise of obedience is essential to their spiritual health as priests of Jesus Christ. The Holy Father’s “scolding”, as you call it, is an act of paternal, apostolic charity. It is one of the spiritual acts of mercy.

  45. Centristian says:

    frjim4321 saith:

    “…which are important revenue sources.”

    I’m sure there’s a word in Italian that we haven’t got in English for a remark that one finds objectionable, yet hysterical. There always seems to be a word in Italian for things like that.

    At any rate, I think you’re right, Fr. Jim, to be honest. I think movements like Focolare and our favorite punching bag around here, the Neocat Way, are precisely what the Holy Father is referring to. I would normally have ended that sentence with the words “I’m afraid” but, really, I have to wonder if I should be afraid.

    Freaky as I find the Neocats, Pope Benedict XVI obviously sees tremendous value in the movement. I sometimes wonder if I don’t need to readjust my own paradigm a bit to allow myself to see how something like the Neocatechumenal Way is entirely harmonious with orthodox Catholic Christianity. Instead of being disappointed with the pope on that score, perhaps I could imagine that he would be disappointed with me for not “getting it”. I don’t know, it may be that my boundaries are too narrow. Perhaps if the Holy Father is such a strong champion of this movement, I ought not simply reject it out of hand based upon my understanding from the gifts that I possess, which are utterly inferior to the gifts he possesses.

    If the Holy Spirit really and truly is working through these movements that I have been unable to personally reconcile with my understanding of Catholicism, then maybe I need to revisit my understanding of Catholicism. I would hate to find out at the end of my journey that I had missed out on where the Holy Spirit was leading Christ’s followers; that I had cleaved to a position on the road that the saints had all passed and moved far ahead of.

    Is there, I wonder, a danger of that?

  46. frjim4321 says:

    [Liberals make everything they don't like into a political issue even when it clearly has nothing to do with politics.]

    I was using the term politics broadly for example as it is used in the expression “sexual politics” or “office politics.” The movement in Austria clearly has implications for church politics. There is a voting block of European cardinals that is not insignificant. Granted moderates and progressives have been squeezed out over the past 30 years, but how the Vatican can best harness the enthusiasm and vibrancy of those segments of the Church is a matter of political maneuvering.

    When there is scolding in a homily it tends to be the only thing that people remember, hence it undermines the rest of the message.

  47. maryh says:

    @AaronStreeting has a great list of signs of renewal.
    @anilwang is very correct, I think, about the increased Catholic literacy of a lot of the laity, which exists at the same time as the illiteracy of most Catholics in the western world.
    Because of lack of catechising, many laypeople have had to make their way on their own. My own way led through La Leche League, Couple to Couple League, and actually reading Humanae Vitae. The results when you get back to fundamental teaching that way is a feeling first, of resentment, that it was kept from you, and second, of wanting to get the good news out. You have to struggle with the first and go with the second.
    As for the Neocats, I don’t know much about them. What do you guys have against them?

  48. AnAmericanMother says:

    When there is scolding in a homily it tends to be the only thing that people remember, hence it undermines the rest of the message.
    That sort of thinking is what leads to feel-good sermons full of empty calories and no meat. And to failure to teach the Faith (especially the parts that are counter-cultural). And, eventually, an entire generation (or two) that has no idea what Catholic teaching entails, so they are preyed upon by wolves in sheep’s clothing.
    Don’t call it “scolding” but think of it instead as “fraternal correction” . . . a necessary if sometimes difficult task to undertake.

  49. Ambrose Jnr says:

    Following up on other comments about the new movements, I would suggest that the Neo-cats are much less of a danger than the Focolare…if a future pope imposes the EF on them as their daily Mass beside their own liturgical doings during which receipt of communion would be forbidden, all is solved…the Focolare though lean towards indifferentism from what I gather, and this is truly dangerous…

    Are we not brothers and sisters through the covenants established by the Holy Trinity? Accordingly, muslims, atheists etc. are made in the lovable image of God, but only become our brothers and sisters by accepting baptism, isn’t it? So unity with muslims and atheists, as wished for byt he focolare, is truly dangerous…