Tag Archives: liturgy

Serratelli updates US Bishops on the translation of the new Roman Missal

aserratelli.jpgThe out-going chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, gave the following update to the USCCB today. Bishop Serratelli is now succeeded by the Archbishop of New Orleans, the Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond. The USCCB press release is here.


There has been some discussion recently about a report
surfaced through some segments of the Catholic Press regarding the present
state of the text of the Roman Missal, Third Edition. A number of facts will
hopefully clarify the situation and, in so doing, give us the calm needed to
welcome and implement the new text.

First, it is helpful to keep in mind the
genesis of the final text that is now being prepared for publication. The International
Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) prepared for the English-speaking
Conferences of Bishops preliminary drafts (“green books”) of the 12 sections of
the Roman Missal. After incorporating the feedback and responses of the
individual Conferences of Bishops and the Vatican Congregation for Divine
Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, ICEL then prepared the final
drafts (“gray books”). These were approved by canonical vote by each of the
member Conferences. In approving the gray books, each conference also had the
opportunity to make further suggestions to the Congregation, as was done in
particular by our Conference. We submitted many amendments to the texts. The
Congregation, working with the Vox Clara Committee, carefully listened to what
the bishops said. The Congregation incorporated many of the suggestions of the
various Conferences (including our own), combined with their own review and
changes, and put forth the final text. The Congregation followed the principles
of Liturgiam Authenticam faithfully but not slavishly.

This is the final text
now being readied for publication. This process includes a final review and
copy edit which, given the size of the text, uncovers some minor questions of
consistency, typographical errors, and layout. Those questions are being
addressed by the Congregation for Divine Worship. This review has not dealt
with the translation itself. The critique that has circulated has necessarily
failed to take into account the final version of the text, which incorporates
some corrections issued by the Congregation since the transmittal of the full
text to the English-speaking Conferences of Bishops in August 2010.

To sum up,
there is a final text. It has received a recognitio. As the work of editing and
assembling nears completion, there is assurance that the published text will be
available in more than ample time for implementation in Advent 2011. It is good
to note also that the catechetical preparation for implementation is already
underway and has proceeded with much enthusiasm and wide acceptance by both
clergy and laity. It is clear at this point in time that there is an attitude
of openness and readiness to receive the new text. Let us pray in this time of
transition and change that the Roman Missal, Third Edition, will enable all to
understand more deeply the mysteries we celebrate.

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Divine Worship
November 18, 2010

Dedication of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran

Lateran Basilica.JPGJerusalem, city of God, you will shine with the light of God’s splendor; all people on earth will pay you homage. Nations will come from afar, bearing gifts for the King of Heaven; in you they will worship the Lord. (the lamp-lighting antiphon from the Dedication of a Church)

At first blush some people will ask, why is the Church celebrating the dedication of a church building. The answer is, she’s not. Some history is crucial in understanding today’s liturgical observance.

The cathedral church of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, is Saint John Lateran, not Saint Peter’s Basilica. And by extension, the Lateran basilica is the head of all churches in the world. The confusion between the Lateran and Vatican basilicas is a common and understandable mistake since Saint Peter’s is the place where the bones of Saint Peter are buried and it’s the place where the Pope most often celebrates ecclesial events. The Lateran was a church built by the Emperor Constantine and consecrated in AD 324 by Pope Sylvester. Notice that the church was consecrated 12 short years following the Edict of Milan.
The feast honoring the role of the basilica church in Christendom, indeed, the entire world at one time, is understood in the aphorism: omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput (the mother and head of all churches of Rome and the world). The Lateran is the place that symbolizes the ministry of bishop as teacher, servant and sanctifier; it’s the place where charity is most identifiable.
Visitatio jpgPope Benedict said it well in his 2008 Angelus Address for this feast: “Dear Friends, today’s feast celebrates a mystery that is always relevant: God’s desire to build a spiritual temple in the world, a community that worships him in spirit and truth (cf. John 4:23-4). But this observance also reminds us of the importance of the material buildings in which the community gathers to celebrate the praises of God. Every community therefore has the duty to take special care of its own sacred buildings, which are a precious religious and historical patrimony. For this call upon the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that she help us to become, like her, the ‘house of God,’ living temple of love.”

Catholics don’t celebrate Jewish holy days, why?

Not long ago a friend asked me why Catholics don’t celebrate
the Jewish holy days. Good question.

A response to the question as to why we
don’t celebrate the Jewish holy days would be along these lines: the Paschal
Triduum is the Christian Passover, the true Pasch. Even the Greek and Latin
name for Easter tells us that (as also the derivation of the name for Easter in
Spanish, French, Italian from the same root).

In one sense, Jesus’ teaching was
in continuity with Judaism (Mt 5.17: “Think not that I have come to abolish
the Law”); but he also in Matthew 5 puts himself forward as a higher Lawgiver
than Moses (“you have heard it said, but I tell you…”). I suggest
reading Rabbi Jacob Neusner’s book, A Rabbi Talks with Jesus, which makes this
point very clear. The Pope himself said in Jesus of Nazareth that Neusner’s book is
an excellent example of honest and reasoned argument between a believing Jew
and the Jesus of the gospels.

Read more ...

Forgiven by the grace of Christ, a homily for All Saints & All Souls in light of indulgences and the Reformation

Basil, PAZ, & Ambrose.jpg

The following homily was delivered yesterday for the 31st Sunday Through the Year at the Abbey of Saint Mary and Saint Louis by a dear friend, R. Dom Ambrose Bennett, STL. Dom Ambrose (on the right in the photo) is a priest, monk and teacher at the Abbey.
Besides taking his turn in celebrating Mass for the Abbey, he also celebrates the Mass of Blessed John XXIII at the Oratory of Ss Gregory and Augustine.
At this time of year, as we approach the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, and when the Church calls upon us to meditate upon the Communion of Saints and prayer for the faithful departed, it is fitting that we should consider a much-neglected point of Catholic doctrine and practice: that is, indulgences. First, what is an indulgence?
First, let me say what indulgences are not: they are not permissions to commit sins or anything of that sort. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “an indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven” (CCC 1471). Surely everyone is aware that being forgiven of sin does not make all the effects of past sin simply disappear: we can still have bad habits, damaged relationships, diminished love of God as a result of those sins. In other words, there are temporal effects of sin, even after absolution. Indulgences are still eminently helpful in impressing upon us two inseparable truths: that we are saved by grace and that in the process of penance and renewal, we are not alone but are assisted on the way of conversion by the entire Communion of Saints who have gone before us. In other words, we do not gain indulgences to be forgiven for our sins: we gain them because we have already been forgiven by the grace of Christ. Indulgences help us to bring forth the fruits of true repentance and to heal the after-effects of sin.
Synaxis of All Saints.jpg

To gain an indulgence, one must do three things: go to confession, do the particular penance or prayer or spiritual exercise to which the indulgence is promised, and also pray for the Pope’s intentions. An indulgence is called partial if it heals some of the after-effects of forgiven sin; an indulgence is called plenary if there is no real attachment to sin and a full conversion toward God. As important as the external practice of penance is, the Catechism itself teaches that indulgences are only means to an end: that is, metanoia or conversion of heart (CCC 1430). So there is nothing mechanical or legalistic about Catholic teaching or practice in granting indulgences for prayer, penance, and works of charity.
At this time of the year in particular, the Church calls upon us to be mindful of the holy souls in purgatory. To help us do this, there are special indulgences for the faithful departed during the next week.
On All Souls’ Day, which is on Nov. 2. On All Souls, we are encouraged to gain a plenary indulgence for the holy souls in purgatory. To do this, on All Souls’ Day, simply visit a church or public oratory and recite the Our Father and the Creed for the holy souls plus any prayer you wish for the Pope’s intentions. Then be sure to go to confession and to receive Holy Communion within a week. You may also gain a plenary indulgence from Nov. 1 to Nov. 8 if you visit a cemetery and pray for the holy souls in purgatory.
Why is this important? Aren’t the deceased who have died in the love of God in God’s hands? What more remains to be done? Well, the need for purgatory is based on the same truth as indulgences: there are lingering imperfections in us even when we are essentially right with God. The holy souls who have departed this life are justified by the Precious Blood of Jesus and therefore assured of salvation; and yet, they have lingering imperfections. The purifying pains they feel are not those of a torture chamber but of being delayed in their union with God whom they love above all things. In this life, we can do penance and almsgiving after we repent; the holy souls are no longer in a position to do those active works of penance. So the theologians have coined the term satispassion for their experience in purgatory: that is, the souls in purgatory experience a passive purification in the encounter with God’s perfect holiness.
Because the holy souls are no longer able to make new choices or do active penances, they have great need of our prayers and penances and Masses, offered on their behalf. These assist the souls in their final transformation that will make them fit to enjoy the Beatific Vision of God himself. These sanctified souls will in turn remember us and intercede for us before God when they have entered into heaven. Indulgences gained and offered on behalf of the faithful departed are simply an especially effective form of prayer for the dead; there is nothing “automatic” about indulgences for the faithful departed. Even though the Church’s power of the keys does not extend to those who have died, yet the bond of charity and mutual intercession endures even beyond death.

Martin Luther .jpg

Now on this very date, the 31st of October 1517, four hundred and ninety-three years ago, a German monk started a theological earthquake about indulgences that shattered the unity of Western Christendom. That monk’s name was Father Martin Luther. He suffered from terrible scruples, and especially from a paralyzing fear whenever he considered God’s justice and infinite holiness. In the depth of this spiritual crisis, Father Martin Luther came to the realization that our justification–that is, being put in a right relation with God–is a pure gift of grace that comes by self-surrendering faith in the Cross of Christ.
How tragic that Luther’s personal realization of a central Christian truth led to that destructive revolution known as the Protestant Reformation! After all, countless saints have come to the same realization, and led them to build up the Body of Christ with their holiness. St. Thérèse of Lisieux expressed that very truth so beautifully when she wrote:
After earth’s Exile, I hope to go and enjoy You in the Fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for Your Love alone with the one purpose of pleasing You, consoling Your Sacred Heart, and saving souls who will love You eternally.
In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands, for I do not ask You, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is stained in Your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in Your own Justice and to receive from Your Love the eternal possession of Yourself. I want no other Throne, no other Crown but You, my Beloved!
However, Martin Luther’s was the sort of man who can see one Christian truth clearly and other truths not at all. Soon he began to make the heretical claim that indulgences and belief in purgatory amounted to a denial of the grace of Christ, and finally incurred excommunication for his stubborn errors. Before he reached that point of no return, however, Luther wrote these touching words in a letter to Pope Leo X:

Leo X.jpg

I never approved of a schism, nor will I approve of it for all eternity…. That the Roman Church is more honored by God than all others is not to be doubted. St. Peter and St. Paul, forty-six Popes, some hundreds of thousands of martyrs, have laid down their lives in its communion, having overcome Hell and the world; so that the eyes of God rest on the Roman Church with special favor. Though nowadays everything is in a wretched state, it is no ground for separating from the Church. On the contrary, the worse things are going, the more should we hold close to her, for it is not by separating from the Church that we can make her better. We must not separate from God on account of any work of the devil, nor cease to have fellowship with the children of God who are still abiding in the pale of Rome on account of the multitude of the ungodly. There is no sin, no amount of evil, which should be permitted to dissolve the bond of charity or break the bond of unity of the body. For love can do all things, and nothing is difficult to those who are united (Martin Luther to Pope Leo X, January 6, 1519).

Truer words were never spoken! How unspeakably sad that Luther finally decided not to send this letter to the Pope. How differently things might have turned out if Luther had sent it, and if the German princes had not gotten involved!

Jesus in the home ofZaccheus.jpg

In a sense, all of that is water under the bridge. To pass judgment over the rights and wrongs of that period is not a pressing issue at this time. However, many Catholics are under the impression that the Second Vatican Council did away with indulgences and purgatory and that Luther was right to reject them. This is a great and destructive error: what was true and holy before the Second Vatican Council remains true and holy now. Still in our time, one who gains an indulgence for himself or for the holy souls hears our Savior’s words spoken to the penitent Zachaeus, who did penance when he was already forgiven: “Today salvation has come to this house… For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Lk 19.10).
On All Souls Day priests have the privilege of celebrating the Mass three times according to Pope Benedict XV’s 1915 apostolic constitution, Incruentum altaris (or in Italian if you prefer). A note: it is a rare occurrence during the liturgical year when the priest celebrates three Masses on a given day without permission from his Ordinary or pastoral necessity. Here the Pope decrees that a priest may offer one Mass with a particular intention which carries with it the gift of a stipend and the remaining two Masses the intention would be for all the faithful departed and then for the Holy Father; no stipend is received for these two Masses.

When man seeks God, then is truly free… Pope recalls the teaching of Roman Guardini

H2O News has a short video clip on the Guardini Foundation meeting with the Pope.

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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