Tag Archives: Augustine DiNoia

From Bethlehem to Golgotha to glory: connecting with the tragedy in Newtown in the Christian view

The beauty of Nativity has been marred by the tragedy
in Newtown, Connecticut. Naturally, some good hardly find joy, hope, people,
love with the terrible loss; some even question the existence of a God who
really knows and loves us. Here is the text of a sermon delivered on the Third
Sunday Advent by Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, OP, at the National Shrine
here in Washington. The archbishop is a gift theologian, trained at Yale and now works at the Holy See. 

As we prepare to celebrate the 12th day of Day of Christmas perhaps it is worthwhile reflecting on what needs saying.

Brothers and sisters in Christ. A week ago today, in St.
Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, Connecticut, the Dominican Fr. Peter John
Cameron opened his homily with the startling words: “Never before has the
Massacre of the Holy Innocents taken place before the Birth of Christ. But that
is what has happened in Newtown.” At another point in his homily he mentioned
that he had run into a man that morning who reported that someone had said to
him that Christmas should be canceled this year.  “No,” Fr. Cameron
declared, “Christmas will not be canceled! We need Christmas more than ever!
Because the only way that we can make sense of this horror is if God himself
becomes flesh and comes to dwell among us as our Friend. We need the presence
of Jesus Christ in our midst to rescue us from this misery.”
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DiNoia preaches the Red Mass, Washington, DC: Man without God isn’t more free but in greater danger

JADiNoia.jpgThe annual Red Mass celebrated by Archbishop Donald Wuerl at Saint Matthew’s Cathedral (Washington, DC) was preached by Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, OP, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship (Rome). Today’s Red Mass is the 57th and was sponsored by the John Carroll Society. Present was the Vice President, the Chief Justice and four other justices. Archbishop DiNoia’s homily follows.


In anticipation of the official opening of the Supreme Court term tomorrow, we unite in prayer today in this solemn liturgy in order to invoke the Holy Spirit upon the distinguished justices, the judges, attorneys, and lawmakers, professors and students of the law, the law clerks and paralegals, and upon all others who serve us in the various sectors of the legal profession. We give thanks to God for their precious service, and we humbly pray, “Holy Spirit, Lord of light / From the clear celestial height / Thy pure beaming radiance give”(Veni Sancte Spiritus, Pentecost Sequence, trans. Nat. Lit. Conf. England and Wales, 1967).

The annual invocation of the Holy Spirit at the start of the judicial year in Washington reflects a 700 year old tradition honoring the sacred character of the law and the vital civic role of its guardians. Indeed, the practice of celebrating a Red Mass–“red” because of the color of both the liturgical vesture and the traditional judicial robes–at the opening of the judicial term is as old as the legal profession itself. According to historian James Brundage (cf. The Medieval Origins of the Legal Profession, University of Chicago Press, 2008), the emergence of a distinctive legal profession in the West dates roughly to the thirteenth century–precisely when the first recorded celebrations of the Red Mass occurred in Paris in 1245 and in Westminster in 1301. It may well be that the widespread practice of celebrating a votive Mass of the Holy Spirit at other similar occasions–like the start of the academic year–originated with the tradition of the Red Mass.

Trinity Flamelle.jpgThe celebration of the annual Red Mass signals the profound esteem which the Church has for the Supreme Court and the legal and judicial institutions of this nation, for the invocation of the Holy Spirit on this occasion springs from nothing other than the trinitarian faith which is at the very center of her faith. “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our dwelling with him.” Christ teaches and the Church proclaims that God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, desires to share the communion of trinitarian life with creaturely persons, that–in the famous formulation of St. Irenaeus–God who is without need of anyone gives communion with himself to those who need him. Christ teaches us, moreover, that it is the Holy Spirit who plays a critical role in fitting individual persons and the Church herself for this high destiny. “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, that the Father will send in my name…will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” Thus we can pray: Veni Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit! “Thou, on us who evermore / Thee confess and thee adore, / With thy sevenfold gifts descend. / Give us comfort when we die; / Give us life with thee on high; / Give us joys that never end.”

What should we be praying for as we invoke the Holy Spirit on the justices and on all the rest of us during this Red Mass? As St. Paul reminds us, the Holy Spirit himself helps us to ask for the right things: “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groaning.” We have already heard some verses from the ancient “Golden Sequence” for Pentecost Sunday, the Veni Sancte Spiritus; let us turn to it again to learn more of what we can expect when the Church invokes the Holy Spirit in this solemn setting.

Veni Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit! “Thou, of all consolers best, / Thou the soul’s delightful guest, / Dost refreshing peace bestow; / Thou in toil art comfort sweet; / Pleasant coolness in the heat; / Solace in the midst of woe.” In praying to the Holy Spirit, for, among other blessings, consolation, peace, and solace, the Church understands the nearly overwhelming complexity of the climate which envelops the practice of law and the administration of justice today.

And perhaps not just today. It was precisely such complexity that gave rise to the legal profession in the 13th century as popes, kings and bishops found it impossible to carry out their duties without expert legal advice. You will be amused to learn that, during this period, there was lively debate about whether popes should be elected from the ranks of theologians or of canon lawyers: as a theologian, it pains me to report that learned opinion favored the election of qualified lawyers to the See of Peter.

In all seriousness, no informed observer can fail to acknowledge that the social and cultural pluralism of our times–not to mention the relentless and sometimes pitiless public scrutiny to which you are subjected–makes the work of judges and lawyers today very hard indeed. The Church prays that, amidst the clamor of contending interests and seemingly intractable moral disagreements, the Holy Spirit will help you to maintain your personal integrity and professional equilibrium. Not for nothing, then, do we invoke the Holy Spirit today with these poignant words. Veni Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit! “Heal our wounds, our strength renew; / On our dryness pour thy dew; / Wash the stains of guilt away. / Bend the stubborn heart and will; / Melt the frozen, warm the chill; / Guide the steps that go astray.”

The words of the prophet Ezechiel recall another important element in our invocation of the Holy Spirit today. “I will put my Spirit within you,” he says, “and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees.” Positive law rests on certain principles the knowledge of which constitutes nothing less than a participation in the divine law itself: the pursuit of the common good through respect for the natural law, the dignity of the human person, the inviolability of innocent life from conception to natural death, the sanctity of marriage, justice for the poor, protection of minors, and so on. The legal profession is entrusted with the discernment and administration of justice and the rule of law according to an objective measure–in effect, according to principles–not of our own making. A consensus about these principles inspired the founders of modern democracies, and although it was profoundly influenced by Judaism, Islam, and Christianity (think of Averroes, Maimonides and Aquinas), this consensus was understood to transcend religious and cultural differences. Thus, it follows that the invocation of the Holy Spirit in the Red Mass is a prayer for light and guidance. Among the things for which we ardently pray is the wisdom to affirm and maintain those profound truths about human nature that are at the foundation of the common life we treasure in this great nation. “Holy Spirit, Lord of Light … / Come thou light of all that live … / Light immortal, light divine.”

Pentecost.jpgAt the deepest level, our invocation of the Holy Spirit here today manifests the conviction that the democratic state does not so much confer the most fundamental human rights and the duties of citizenship as acknowledge their existence and source in a power beyond the state, namely in God himself. Your presence here today bears eloquent witness to the enduring power of this conviction.

Yet, as she invokes the guidance and consolation of the Holy Spirit today, the erosion of this conviction is a source of deep concern for the Church. The alternative view–until recently more or less successfully resisted by dem
ocratic societies like ours–is the idea that man can find happiness and freedom only apart from God
. This exclusive humanism has been exposed as an anti-humanism of the most radical kind. Man without God is not more free but surely in greater danger. The tragic history of the last century–as John Paul II and Benedict XVI have unceasingly reminded us–demonstrates that the eclipse of God leads not to greater human liberation but to the most dire human peril. That innocent human life is now so broadly under threat has seemed to many of us one of the many signs of this growing peril. Gabriel Marcel said somewhere that in our time “human flesh has undergone such intolerable outrage that it must receive some kind of reparation in glory…The world today can be endured only if one’s spirit is riveted on [the] hope of the resurrection… If this hope were shared by a greater number, perhaps, respect for the flesh and for the body, so terribly lacking in our time, would be restored.” Thus, along with wisdom and light, today we must also beg the Holy Spirit for the gift of hope in the resurrection.

Our enactment of this ancient ritual of the Red Mass joins us to the generations of judges and lawyers who pursued their professions conscious of their need for divine grace and guidance, for enlightenment, for consolation, for refreshment, for solace, for healing, for comfort, for hope. May these wonderful blessings of the Holy Spirit be yours today!

Veni Sancte Spritus! Come Holy Spirit!

“Come, thou Father of the poor,

Come with treasures which endure…

Light immortal, light divine,

Visit thou these hearts of thine,

And our inmost being fill.” Amen.

DiNoia on the challenges to faith in Christ

In early June Dominican Archbishop Augustine DiNoia addressed a full house people at New York’s Yale Club on some challenges to the faith and why faith in Christ is reasonable. His talk was titled “Facing the Challenges to Faith in Christ Today: The Dominican Way,” the text of his talk is here: DiNoia Facing the Challenges to Faith in Christ Today 2010.pdf

Claudia McDonnell’s article in the Catholic New York, “Faith and Reasoning,” gives a digest of the talk and issues.

Archbishop DiNoia was ordained a bishop in July 2009 and is the Secretary to the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Disciple of the Sacraments at the Holy See.

J. Augustine DiNoia ordained bishop

Since you have purified
yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another
intensely from a pure heart
. (1 Peter 1:22)

Procession JA DiNoia ord.jpg

Today, a most beautiful DC day, with great joy and fanfare
the Church ordained Father Joseph
Augustine DiNoia
, O.P., 66, a bishop. The setting was the beautiful Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The drama of the Liturgy couldn’t come together in your theological imagination better than when you read the words in dome over the sanctuary which reads, in part: “Jesus has pored forth His Spirit you see and hear.” Right, the Lord poured forth his Spirit upon Father Augustine ordaining him a bishop.

He was appointed by the Holy
Father the titular archbishop of Oregon City. Even more to the point, he’s the
archbishop secretary of the Congregation
for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
; this office
is part of the Roman Curia so Archbishop DiNoia works for the Pope.

Coronation of the Virgin.jpg

Cardinal Levada was the consecrating prelate with the assistance of Archbishop Thomas Cajetan Kelly, OP and Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl. Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera was supposed to be here but he forgot his passport at home and didn’t have time to run back to the Vatican to get it and make the flight. Easily 250 priests and a handful of bishops including three other cardinals.

The image to the right is of Fra Angelico’s Coronation of the Virgin (at the Convent of San Marco) was used for the invitation, worship aid and remembrance card. Talk about theology and Liturgy!

When the Papal Bull was read by the Dominican Provincial Father Dominic Izzo you heard the Pope say of DiNoia: you are a beloved son, suitable for the office of bishop because you manifest gifts of mind and heart, piety, diligence, experience and prudence; you are now asked by the Church to use these gifts for the up-building of the Church through the work of Liturgy and the sacraments.

Anointing JA DiNoia.jpg

In the context of the Eucharist, family, friends, colleagues (past and present) and others who thought it best to attend, gathered to pray for the Spirit to come down upon Father Augustine so that he receive the gift of the fullness of Order, i.e., a bishop. We were reminded by Cardinal Levada that following ancient belief and practice the mission given to the apostles through Holy Spirit and imposition of hands the Tradition is preserved until today. The action of the Holy Spirit and the Church Father Augustine was conformed to the three-fold work of Christ as teacher, shepherd and priest not for himself but to join with Saint Peter and the apostles, Pope Benedict and the entire college of bishops in communion with the pope. Therefore, the doctrine is that a real “communio” exists with Augustine and the Pope and with every bishop in the world. So our Catholic belief here is that Father Augustine lives as Christ’s vicar because of his episcopal character having particular care and solicitude for all the Church.


The notion of episcopal solicitude means that a bishop builds up the body of Christ not only at the local level but worldwide. How is this done? Going back to the point of calling on the Spirit to come down upon the person to be ordained and the anointing with oil. Delving deeper into this dramatic Liturgy we notice that the Church invokes the Trinity, the saints and angles to come upon Father Augustine who abandons himself to Christ in humility in an act of humility seen in his prostration before the altar. Moments later the cardinal imposed hands (with the other bishops) and poured oil on the head and gave the visible ornaments of the bishop’s office (ring, mitre and crosier). Capping the ritual off was the seating of the bishop and the sign of peace. BUT, I think we need to reflect on the cardinal’s words when said we are all to look to the “destiny of divine embrace” as all of heaven gazes down upon Augustine. Here we realize the promises of Christ. And to that, the saints and angels lift Augustine’s gaze heavenward while the Trinity gives the grace to preach the gospel with constancy and faithfully.

Cardinal Levada reminded us of the tall order DiNoia was called to: to live and teach Gospel in truth. As a point in history he renews his commitment to the truth of Gospel. Remember: truth is not a thing but a Person. Truth, you will recall, makes us free for the service of Christ oriented toward the liberation of the world.

A nice point of continuity with Dominican history is that Archbishop DiNoia used the crosier of Father Benedict Edward Fenwick, OP, founder of the Dominican Province of Saint Joseph and bishop of Cincinnati. Other points of continuity were the presence of the archbishop’s chaplains Dominican Fathers Gabriel B. O’Donnell (JAD’s ordination classmate & my spiritual father) and Romanus Cessario. One can’t overlook all of the Dominican family and friends who travelled long distances to support him.

Archbishop DiNoia’s episcopal motto is In
Oboedientia Veritatis
. The explanation given comes from a papal homily:

JA DiNoia arms.jpg

beautiful phrase from the First Letter of St. Peter springs to my mind. It is
from verse 22 of the first chapter. The Latin goes like this: ‘Castificantes
animas nostras in oboedentia veritatis.’ Obedience to truth must ‘purify’ our souls
and thus guide us to upright speech and upright action. In other words,
speaking in hope of being applauded, governed by what people want to hear out
of obedience to the dictatorship of current opinion, is considered to be a sort
of prostitution
: of words and of the soul. The ‘purity’ to which the Apostle
Peter is referring means not submitting to these standards, not seeking
applause, but, rather, seeking obedience to the truth
This is the fundamental
virtue for the theologian, this discipline of obedience to the truth
; it makes
us, although it may be hard, collaborators of the truth, mouthpieces of the
truth. For it is not we who speak in today’s river of words, but it is the
truth which speaks in us, who are really purified and made chaste by obedience
to the truth. So it is that we can truly be harbingers of the truth.” (Pope
Benedict XVI, Redemptoris Mater Chapel, Apostolic Palace)

JA DiNoia remarking.jpg

Finally, the whole ecclesial event was a wonderful grace for Archbishop DiNoia and in that my own friendships were renewed by seeing so many very friends, plus making new ones.

J. Augustine DiNoia, Dominican & Archbishop

J A DiNoia OP.jpgToday, the Holy Father nominated Dominican Father Joseph Augustine Di Noia, 66, as the archbishop secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disciple of the Sacraments. He is given the archepiscopal dignity and is assigned the Titular See of Oregon City.

A native of New York, a professed member of the Order of Friars Preachers, DiNoia possesses an earned doctorate from Yale and he is an esteemed professor. He is the past editor of the Thomist (a journal of Theological research and opinion). Until now Archbishop-elect DiNoia was the under-secretary for the CDF.
Archbishop-elect Joseph Augustine DiNoia, O.P. will be ordained to the episcopacy by His Eminence, William Cardinal Levada at the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC on 11 July 2009.
Blessings, my friend! May God grant you many years!

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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