Here is the text of the Holy Father’s sermon for his Holy Mass in The Bronx, in NYC. My emphases and comments:
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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus tells his Apostles to put their faith in him, for he is "the way, and the truth and the life" (Jn 14:6). Christ is the way that leads to the Father, the truth which gives meaning to human existence, and the source of that life which is eternal joy with all the saints in his heavenly Kingdom. Let us take the Lord at his word! Let us renew our faith in him and put all our hope in his promises!
With this encouragement to persevere in the faith of Peter (cf. Lk 22:32; Mt 16:17), I greet all of you with great affection. I thank Cardinal Egan for his cordial words of welcome in your name. At this Mass, the Church in the United States celebrates the two hundredth anniversary of the creation of the Sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville from the mother See of Baltimore. The presence around this altar of the Successor of Peter, his brother bishops and priests, and deacons, men and women religious, and lay faithful from throughout the fifty states of the Union, eloquently manifests our communion in the Catholic faith which comes to us from the Apostles. [There is no conflict betwee being an American and being a Catholic!]
Our celebration today is also a sign of the impressive growth which God has given to the Church in your country in the past two hundred years. From a small flock like that described in the first reading, the Church in America has been built up in fidelity to the twin commandment of love of God and love of neighbor. In this land of freedom and opportunity, the Church has united a widely diverse flock in the profession of the faith and, through her many educational, charitable and social works, has also contributed significantly to the growth of American society as a whole. [The Church has made a huge contribution in the United States.]
This great accomplishment was not without its challenges. Today’s first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, speaks of linguistic and cultural tensions already present within the earliest Church community. At the same time, it shows the power of the word of God, authoritatively proclaimed by the Apostles and received in faith, to create a unity which transcends the divisions arising from human limitations and weakness. Here we are reminded of a fundamental truth: that the Church’s unity has no other basis than the Word of God, made flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Not in formulas, or abstractions, but in the Divine Person of the Lord!] All external signs of identity, all structures, associations and programs, valuable or even essential as they may be, ultimately exist only to support and foster the deeper unity which, in Christ, is God’s indefectible gift to his Church.
The first reading also makes clear, as we see from the imposition of hands on the first deacons, that the Church’s unity is "apostolic". It is a visible unity, grounded in the Apostles whom Christ chose and appointed as witnesses to his resurrection, and it is born of what the Scriptures call "the obedience of faith" (Rom 1:5; cf. Acts 6:7).
"Authority" … "obedience". To be frank, these are not easy words to speak nowadays. Words like these represent a "stumbling stone" for many of our contemporaries, especially in a society which rightly places a high value on personal freedom. [Remember the distinctions he made yesterday, with young people, about "freedom".] Yet, in the light of our faith in Jesus Christ – "the way and the truth and the life" [He links authority and obedience to the Lord’s Person.] – we come to see the fullest meaning, value, and indeed beauty, of those words. The Gospel teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love. Only by losing ourselves, the Lord tells us, do we truly find ourselves (cf. Lk 17:33). True freedom blossoms when we turn away from the burden of sin, which clouds our perceptions and weakens our resolve, and find the source of our ultimate happiness in him who is infinite love, infinite freedom, infinite life. "In his will is our peace". [This is a quote from Dante’s Divina Commedia, Par. 3.85: E’n la sua volontade è nostra pace]
Real freedom, then, is God’s gracious gift, the fruit of conversion to his truth, the truth which makes us free (cf. Jn 8:32). And this freedom in truth brings in its wake a new and liberating way of seeing reality. When we put on "the mind of Christ" (cf. Phil 2:5), [I love that. The Word was clothed in our nature, and we put on Christ.] new horizons open before us! In the light of faith, within the communion of the Church, we also find the inspiration and strength to become a leaven of the Gospel in the world. We become the light of the world, the salt of the earth (cf. Mt 5:13-14), entrusted with the "apostolate" of making our own lives, and the world in which we live, conform ever more fully to God’s saving plan.
This magnificent vision of a world being transformed by the liberating truth of the Gospel is reflected in the description of the Church found in today’s second reading. The Apostle tells us that Christ, risen from the dead, is the keystone of a great temple which is even now rising in the Spirit. [The Rising is continuous in us, the living stones built into the temple!] And we, the members of his body, through Baptism have become "living stones" in that temple, sharing in the life of God by grace, blessed with the freedom of the sons of God, and empowered to offer spiritual sacrifices pleasing to him (cf. 1 Pet 2:5). And what is this offering which we are called to make, if not [in freedom] to direct our every thought, word and action to the truth of the Gospel and to harness all our energies in the service of God’s Kingdom? Only in this way can we build with God, on the one foundation which is Christ (cf. 1 Cor 3:11). Only in this way can we build something that will truly endure. Only in this way can our lives find ultimate meaning and bear lasting fruit.
Today we recall the bicentennial of a watershed in the history of the Church in the United States: its first great chapter of growth. In these two hundred years, the face of the Catholic community in your country has changed greatly. We think of the successive waves of immigrants whose traditions have so enriched the Church in America. [NB: So long as it is authentic inculturation.] We think of the strong faith which built up the network of churches, educational, healthcare and social institutions which have long been the hallmark of the Church in this land. We think also of those [What follows also reprises the Holy Father’s comments yesterday on vocations.] countless fathers and mothers who passed on the faith to their children, the steady ministry of the many priests who devoted their lives to the care of souls, and the incalculable contribution made by so many men and women religious, who not only taught generations of children how to read and write, but also inspired in them a lifelong desire to know God, to love him and to serve him. How many "spiritual sacrifices pleasing to God" have been offered up in these two centuries! [So short in the history of the Church, but having accomplished so much!] In this land of religious liberty, Catholics found freedom not only to practice their faith, but also to participate fully in civic life, bringing their deepest moral convictions to the public square and cooperating with their neighbors in shaping a vibrant, democratic society. [Catholics in the public square is an important point for Pope Benedict. He is fighting for our voice and striving to reinvigorate our Catholic identity.] Today’s celebration is more than an occasion of gratitude for graces received. It is also a summons to move forward with firm resolve to use wisely the blessings of freedom, in order to build a future of hope for coming generations.
"You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people he claims for his own, to proclaim his glorious works" (1 Pet 2:9). These words of the Apostle Peter do not simply remind us of the dignity which is ours by God’s grace; they also challenge us to an ever greater fidelity to the glorious inheritance which we have received in Christ (cf. Eph 1:18). They challenge us to examine our consciences, to purify our hearts, to renew our baptismal commitment to reject Satan and all his empty promises. They challenge us to be a people of joy, heralds of the unfailing hope (cf. Rom 5:5) born of faith in God’s word, and trust in his promises.
Each day, throughout this land, you and so many of your neighbors pray to the Father in the Lord’s own words: "Thy Kingdom come". [A prayer common to all Christians.] This prayer needs to shape the mind and heart of every Christian in this nation. It needs to bear fruit in the way you lead your lives and in the way you build up your families and your communities. It needs to create new "settings of hope" (cf. Spe Salvi, 32ff.) where God’s Kingdom becomes present in all its saving power.
Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom also means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society. It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in Christ’s victory and a commitment to extending his reign. [Not being complacent, perhaps, about non-Catholics?] It means not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity and scandal. It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, [we cannot separate faith from life] and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness. It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life, [as some Catholic politicians do everywhere in the world! ] since, as the Second Vatican Council put it, "there is no human activity – even in secular affairs – which can be withdrawn from God’s dominion" (Lumen Gentium, 36). It means working to enrich American society and culture with the beauty and truth of the Gospel, and never losing sight of that great hope which gives meaning and value to all the other hopes which inspire our lives. [He is pressing the issue of the public square very strongly!]
[And now the Vicar of Christ is going to give specific challenge to the Catholic Church in the USA… to all Catholics]
And this, dear friends, is the particular challenge which the Successor of Saint Peter sets before you today. As "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation", follow faithfully in the footsteps of those who have gone before you! Hasten the coming of God’s Kingdom in this land! Past generations have left you an impressive legacy. In our day too, the Catholic community in this nation has been outstanding in its prophetic witness in the defense of life, in the education of the young, in care for the poor, the sick and the stranger in your midst. On these solid foundations, the future of the Church in America must even now begin to rise! [Don’t loose your path! Maintain continuity!]
Yesterday, not far from here, I was moved by the joy, the hope and the generous love of Christ which I saw on the faces of the many young people assembled in Dunwoodie. They are the Church’s future, and they deserve all the prayer and support that you can give them. And so I wish to close by adding a special word of encouragement to them. My dear young friends, like the seven men, "filled with the Spirit and wisdom" whom the Apostles charged with care for the young Church, may you step forward and take up the responsibility which your faith in Christ sets before you! May you find the courage to proclaim Christ, "the same, yesterday, and today and for ever" and the unchanging truths which have their foundation in him (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10; Heb 13:8). These are the truths that set us free! They are the truths which alone can guarantee respect for the inalienable dignity and rights of each man, woman and child in our world – including the most defenseless of all human beings, the unborn child in the mother’s womb. [Is this the first explicit mention of the unborn during the visit? The crowd applauded strongly for the first time in the sermon!] In a world where, as Pope John Paul II, speaking in this very place, reminded us, Lazarus continues to stand at our door (Homily at Yankee Stadium, October 2, 1979, No. 7), let your faith and love bear rich fruit in outreach to the poor, the needy and those without a voice. Young men and women of America, I urge you: open your hearts to the Lord’s call to follow him in the priesthood and the religious life. Can there be any greater mark of love than this: to follow in the footsteps of Christ, who was willing to lay down his life for his friends (cf. Jn 15:13)? [More applause.
The Holy Father is pressing his message for young people. I am reminded of what the Holy told Peter Seewald in his book long interview about feeling like a grandfather preserving things for his grandchildren, rather than for his children. There seems to be in his thought a generational leap. I find that comment from, I think, Salt of the Earth, truly fascinating. It was made at a time, I think, when Papa Ratzinger was thinking he might retire. He may have a different perspective now, but it seems to me that this view is still strong. This isn’t any sort of abandoning of anyone, but rather an special hope for the young who, perhaps, are not burdened with some of the baggage of last generation.]
In today’s Gospel, the Lord promises his disciples that they will perform works even greater than his (cf. Jn 14:12). Dear friends, only God in his providence knows what works his grace has yet to bring forth in your lives and in the life of the Church in the United States. [Do not be presumptuous, either!] Yet Christ’s promise fills us with sure hope. Let us now join our prayers to his, as living stones in that spiritual temple which is his one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Let us lift our eyes to him, for even now he is preparing for us a place in his Father’s house. And empowered by his Holy Spirit, let us work with renewed zeal for the spread of his Kingdom.
"Happy are you who believe!" (cf. 1 Pet 2:7). Let us turn to Jesus! He alone is the way that leads to eternal happiness, the truth who satisfies the deepest longings of every heart, and the life who brings ever new joy and hope, to us and to our world. Amen.
* * *
Queridos hermanos y hermanas en el Señor:
Les saludo con afecto y me alegro de celebrar esta Santa Misa para dar gracias a Dios por el bicentenario del momento en que empezó a desarrollarse la Iglesia Católica en esta Nación. Al mirar el camino de fe recorrido en estos años, no exento también de dificultades, alabamos al Señor por los frutos que la Palabra de Dios ha dado en estas tierras y le manifestamos nuestro deseo de que Cristo, Camino, Verdad y Vida, sea cada vez más conocido y amado.
Aquí, en este País de libertad, quiero proclamar con fuerza que la Palabra de Cristo no elimina nuestras [!] aspiraciones a una vida plena y libre, [He seems in this simple way to make their aspirations for freedom and a better life his own, and so subtly.] sino que nos descubre nuestra verdadera dignidad de hijos de Dios y nos alienta a luchar contra todo aquello que nos esclaviza, empezando por nuestro propio egoísmo y caprichos. Al mismo tiempo, nos anima a manifestar nuestra fe a través de nuestra vida de caridad y a hacer que nuestras comunidades eclesiales sean cada día más acogedoras y fraternas.
Sobre todo a los jóvenes les confío asumir el gran reto que entraña creer en Cristo y lograr que esa fe se manifieste en una cercanía efectiva hacia los pobres. También en una respuesta generosa a las llamadas que Él sigue formulando para dejarlo todo y emprender una vida de total consagración a Dios y a la Iglesia, [Applause! And remember the commitment not just God, but the Church… don’t fall away from the Catholic Church! So many people fall away.] en la vida sacerdotal o religiosa.
Queridos hermanos y hermanas, les invito a mirar el futuro con esperanza, permitiendo que Jesús entre en sus vidas. Solamente Él es el camino que conduce a la felicidad que no acaba, la verdad que satisface las más nobles expectativas humanas y la vida colmada de gozo para bien de la Iglesia y el mundo. Que Dios les bendiga.
Ciao Fr. Z,
This is useful. Grazie 1000. Courtney
I’m so glad he touched on the subject of obedience. There is a great misundertanding out there in which those of us who are loyal and desiring of living obediently to the Church, and ultimately the Gospel, are accused of not being able to think for ourselves.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Only one who is truly free can choose a path of humble obedience.
It is not the obedient who are held captive by the Church, but the disobedient who are held captive by the world!
Where can one find a translation of the Spanish portion?
An absolutely beautiful Mass. An extraordinarily compelling homily.
But what was up with that recessional? The 4th movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has got to be one of the MOST inappropriate selections for ANY Catholic Mass (‘though one that I hear far too often. I believe that OCP has further perverted it):
O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern laßt uns angenehmere
anstimmen und freudenvollere.
Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligthum!
Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng getheilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.
Wem der große Wurf gelungen,
Eines Freundes Freund zu sein;
Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,
Mische seinen Jubel ein!
Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele
Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!
Und wer’s nie gekonnt, der stehle
Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!
Freude trinken alle Wesen
An den Brüsten der Natur;
Alle Guten, alle Bösen
Folgen ihrer Rosenspur.
Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,
Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod;
Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,
Und der Cherub steht vor Gott.
Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen
Durch des Himmels prächt’gen Plan,
Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,
Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.
Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
Brüder, über’m Sternenzelt
Muß ein lieber Vater wohnen.
Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?
Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
Such’ ihn über’m Sternenzelt!
Über Sternen muß er wohnen.
Finale repeats the words:
Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
Brüder, über’m Sternenzelt
Muß ein lieber Vater wohnen.
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium,
Freude, schöner Götterfunken
How can a song with pagan themes like the above be appropriate for any Christian service, much less the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?
As I heard it and have quickly scanned it, I am struck by the references to the social (as well as personal) aspects of the kingdom. Dare we say the social reign of Christ the King?
Peter speaks though Benedict!
Thy Kingdom Come!
the top part of the homily (particularly the bit about “putting on Christ”) reminds me very much of Orthodoxy…which is not a bad thing.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone would publish all these great homilies in book form.
Don’t know whether this has been already posted, but I read that Cardinal Lopez Trujillo has died in Rome at 72. He was a very good man who suffered from diabetes for many years.
Father Z wrote: “The Holy Father is pressing his message for young people.”
As did Popes Paul VI and John Paul II. But it is only via the Liturgy that the majority of young Catholics will learn to think and act in traditional Catholic fashion.
I believe that the Holy Father would have sent the greatest and most powerful message that a Pope had given to young people in decades had he confirmed them, so to speak, in the Traditional Latin Mass.
Bringing young people to the Traditional Latin Mass and urging them to love and appreciate said Mass would have launched the necessary Holy Ghost spiritual revolution that the (Latin) Church in America requires to reinvigorate Catholic identity to the hilt.
Young people love Pope Benedict XVI. Young people loved Popes Paul VI and John Paul II.
But during the past 40 or so years, each wave of young (Latin) Catholics has bolted the Faith in alarming numbers as the result of the practical elimination of the Traditional Latin Mass from the Church.
I ask sincerely…does anybody disagree with my post?
The Spanish translation:
“Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord:
“I salute you with affection and I am happy to celebrate this Holy Mass to give thanks to God for the bicentennial of the moment in which the Catholic Church in this nation began to develop. On looking at the way of faith traveled along these years — not free of difficulties, either — we praise the Lord for the fruits that the Word of God has given these lands, and we declare/show our desire for what Christ — the Way, the Truth, and the Life — be more known and loved in every way.
“Here in this country of liberty, I want to proclaim with force that the Word of Christ does not eliminate our [!] aspirations for a full and free life, but that our true dignity of children of God finds us and encourages us to fight against all that enslaves us, beginning with our own egoism and whims. At the same time, it puts heart into us to show our faith through our life of charity and of making our ecclesial communities become more warm and fraternal every day.
“Above all, I entrust the young with assuming the great challenge that is entailed in believing in Christ and managing to make this faith be shown in an effective nearness to the poor. Also in a generous response to the call that He keeps on making — to leave everything and embark on a life of total consecration to God and to the Church
[Applause! And remember the commitment not just God, but the Church… don’t fall away from the Catholic Church! So many people fall away.]
in priestly and religious life.
“Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to look at the future with hope, permitting Jesus into your lives. Only He is the Way that leads to the happiness that does not end, the Truth that satisfies the most noble human expectations, and the Life heaped up with joy, for the good of the Church and the world. May God bless you.”
Again there seems to be themes of diversity being united in Christ and also living stones. There is also the mention of the four marks of the Church. Coupled with his emphasis on Pentecost during this trip, and also the importance of the freedom and of the seeing with the eyes of faith that we get when we enter into the Church…I wonder if we will be seeing a document in the future addressing the Church…perhaps it will come in a document on Faith…or even be included with the one on the Word of God (which transforms us when recieved with Faith and leads us to the unity of the Church)?
Sorry. I accidentally used italics instead of bolding on “our true dignity“, and then I forgot to close the italics.
I was at the Mass. It was simply amazing that the ENTIRE stadium applauded when the Holy Father spoke of the sanctity of unborn life!
I mentioned the death of Cardinal Lopez Trujillo (and that he would have been the one to preside over a conclave were it to be held between now and November 2015) in the thread on the anniversary of Pope Benedict’s election.
Jim of Maryland, if the practice of the recent past is any indication, the Holy Father’s talks and homilies will be published in book form. Ignatius Press has recently published his Wednesday talks on the apostles…an amazing collection! I can barely sit still in anticipation of the document that will come out of the Oct synod of bishops on scripture. The Holy Father’s Erasmus lecture in 1988 puts a serious smackdown on the dominance of the historical-critical method in biblical studies and urges scholars to spend some time reading and thinking and praying with the Fathers! I would point out that the homily posted here and all of his other talks and homilies are so amazing precisely b/c they speak right to the heart of the believer with unwavering truth. No mucking about with psychobabble or socio-political rhetoric or ecclesial doublespeak…just the plain Word spoken clearly, decisively, and with great love. Though I am a big fan of JPII…I truly love this Pope! In my homily at U.D. last night I used several quotes from a couple of his homilies. For the first time ever I actually got a little choked up preaching, and had I allowed myself to be caught up, I would have departed from my text and “Gone Baptist” on the congregation. I actually had to restrain myself…Fr. Philip, OP
I beg us not to start using the word “smackdown” when speaking about this pope. It isn’t a Christly word and not Benedict’s method. Some hoped for that when he was elected – someone even sending me a button that read, “Join the Ratzinger smackdown!” Please, he’s gotten out from under that impression – it shouldn’t be revived for the sake of our own agenda.
So Christ didn’t ‘smackdown’ the sellers in the temple?
He didn’t ‘smackdown’ the Pharisees with descriptions like
‘brood of vipers’?
BRING ON THE ‘SMACKDOWN’!!! – Kennedy, Pelosi, etc., to start.
How many years more must we wait? How many abortions?
Others may have different opinions about the proper way
to do things, but certainly ‘smackdown’ IS a legitimate
and Christ-like option.
Tom, I disagree with your post.
I was born after the Second Vatican Council and endured terrible catechetical formation and liturgical life growing up in Southern California. All my siblings left the Church.
I was exposed to beautiful liturgy at St. Michael’s Abbey – Norbertines in Southern California, who celebrate the Novus Ordo in Latin with Gregorian Chant, etc. This is what showed me the wonder and beauty of the liturgy. I have continued my education ever since, and I am thrilled about the Motu Proprio – and I have learned that the Father’s pedagogy throughout all of Salvation History has been gradual and in stages. Pope Benedict did exactly what he should have done on this trip to forward the momentum of the young. Look at the good religious communities/seminaries that are beginning to flourish. Most of my friends are having large families. The renewal is going to take time, but it is well on its way.
I think a “smackdown” can be delivered with great subtlety.
Benedict took this country by the lapels and shook us around for a while, ever so gently.
Fr. Z: “Benedict took this country by the lapels and shook us around for a while, ever so gently.”
Yes, and, as you say, it’s going to take some time for everyone to digest what he said, so gently it was said to us. In his own nice way, he made those who seemingly differ from him look irrelevant because everything he said was basically irrefutable.
By the way, I don’t recall one network enlisting the commentary of Fr. Richard McBrien, Fr. Andrew Greeley, or Sister Joan Chittister. Interesting.
TNCath wrote: “I don’t recall one network enlisting the commentary of Fr. Richard McBrien, Fr. Andrew Greeley, or Sister Joan Chittister.”
Wow. I have to admit that I didn’t watch the televised coverage. Charity required that I restrict myself to reading the published texts, otherwise I would lost my religion multiple times yelling at the commentators. Unfortunately, I do not have Fr. Z.’s patience with knucklehead liturgists, musicians, and presiders…see?!
Can anyone confirm TNCath’s observation? God bless, Fr. Philip, OP
Once again a beautiful word for security purposes!
I watched mostly EWTN for their coverage of the Holy Father’s visit. I am not a huge fan of their commentators, but they are better than what Fox News or the MSM had.
I have pretty much focused on the visit, and pretty much ignored the rest of the news, except for the weather the past week and I do feel much better for it.
I have also been spending more time on Catholic websites, learning more about the little details and why things are as they are.
The Mass yesterday was in ways better than the one in the District, and in other ways, not so great. But that is the nature of having any large gathering.
I was often reminded of the life of our Lord, of hearing in the Gospels that they would have trouble walking for the large crowds. That the Apostles would turn away people and crowds, and little children.
One short scene, a young boy reaches out to the Pope and the Holy Father reaches out to him, but before they can touch a security person forces them both apart. I am sure (since I am married to a law enforcement officer) that the uniformed policeman was only doing what he had been told.
It is a sad commentary that in our love and admiration there are those that could or would cause harm.
I agree that offering the TLM would have given a powerful message but it would also have been a near miracle. More realistically the Mass at St.Patricks could have been orientum though difficult for a concelebration. We’ll see what happens in Australia but bear in mind the Pope will be in Lourdes on 14 September. Coincidence?
Mark O’M: How can a song with pagan themes like the above be appropriate for any Christian service, much less the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?
I guess we had better get up on our ladders with hammer and chisel and knock all those Sibyls off the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, hack them from the floor of the Duomo of Siena.