Rorate Caeli

Receive the... what?

Cardinal Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires and, according to many reports, runner-up in the last conclave, kneels down and receives a... blessing from Protestant ministers (and from Raniero Cantalamessa...) in an ecumenical meeting in the Argentinian capital (June 19, 2006).

Tip from Radio Cristiandad.
Original image URL:

The Pope meditates.

The several reports on the opinions of the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Archbishop Ranjith, released in the past few weeks, have been confusing not a few faithful. The common feature both of the Tagespiegel report of May 22 (read excerpt here) and of the I Media remarks of June 22-23, reported by both Le Figaro and CWN, was that the actual answers given by the Archbishop were not given in their entirety.

In its Sunday edition, the semi-official daily of the Church in France, La Croix, published the whole text of the actual interview given by the Archbishop, reporting complete answers. Amidst some well-known thoughts of the Secretary, these excerpts are particularly revealing:

...If the use of the vernacular language is accepted, especially for the Liturgy of the Word, the decree [Sacrosanctum Concilium] details precisely that the use of the Latin language shall be preserved in the Latin Church. On these subjects [language and position relative to the altar], we wait for the Pope to give us his indications.

It is necessary to make clear that this rite, that of the Missal of Saint Pius V, is not an "outlaw". Should it rather be encouraged? It is the Pope who will decide it.


Due to professional events (not problems, just events), only truly urgent news will be published in the next few days. It is unlikely that there will be any such news...

Ut queant laxis
Resonare fibris
Mira gestorum
Famuli tuorum,
Solve polluti
Labii reatum,
Sancte Ioannes.


Sancte Ioannes Baptista,
ora pro nobis!

Bartolucci returns for one day

Domenico Bartolucci, the man chosen by Pius XII to guide the Pontifical Sistine Choir for life (and shamefully dismissed from his position by Pope John Paul II, advised by Piero Marini), will direct his dear choir for one day: today.

Sandro Magister informs in his blog that the Saint John's Day concert will be directed by Bartolucci and will be performed before the Holy Father. It will include Bartolucci's composition for the occasion ("Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Benedicto", for six voices) and several compositions by Palestrina, including the Credo of the Missa Papae Marcelli. After the presentation, Pope Benedict will deliver a special speech.

Read more about Bartolucci here and here.
Torrente voluptatis tuæ potabis nos, Domine!

Sodano, stay till September!

The persistent rumors regarding the resignation of Cardinal Sodano as Secretary of State and the nomination of Cardinal Bertone as his replacement have been confirmed today. The Pope has, nevertheless, asked the current Secretary to remain in his position until September 15.

The Vatican "foreign minister" and Sodano's number two, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, has been named to replace Cardinal Szoka (also from September 15) as president of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State and chairman of the Governatorate of the Vatican City State, which means Lajolo's name will probably be included in the next consistory.

Tying Together a Few Mysterious Strands with the SSPX

As noted below by my colleague, Brian Mershon has published an interview with Bishop Rifan. Having just read, within the past few weeks, the texts that DICI published (story on this blog here), and especially the interview with Cardinal Ricard, a few phrases used by Bishop Rifan stick out.

I think that, tying these two interviews together, we may get a better idea of what the Holy Father is planning to do by way of SSPX reconciliation.

Cardinal Ricard had said:

"I think the pope wishes to make a gesture to show that the door is not closed, a gesture of good-will. In the coming months, we will see what concrete expression that will take. Then it will remain to be seen whether the Fraternity will take the next step."

That this "gesture of good-will" is probably not going to be the liberation of the Tridentine Mass is suggested by Bishop Rifan's remarks

Q. One of the two preconditions the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) have requested since 2001 was a public affirmation that the Classical Roman liturgy has never been abrogated. If this first step is eventually granted, what do you predict will happen next?

A. I think that it is very true that this affirmation of the cardinals that the Classical Roman liturgy has never been abrogated. The continuation of this usage, allowed by the Holy See, is a proof. But this universal indult has nothing to do with this precondition of the Society of St. Pius X; it will be a realization of the personal will of the Holy Father, independent of this good request.

That leaves us with the second probable option: the mysterious "gesture of good-will" that the Pope will make will be the lifting of the SSPX excommunications.

Bishop Rifan says:

Q. Do you think there are sufficient grounds for the Pope to grant the second precondition — lifting the decrees of excommunications (or declaring them null and void) against the bishops of the SSPX and Archbishop Castro de Mayer?

A. The Pope can lift the decree of excommunication, as a sign of benevolence, in order to facilitate the conversations with the SSPX. That was my suggestion [to the Pope] during the conversations.

Here, Bishop Rifan uses the same exact phrase used by Cardinal Ricard: the Pope will make a "gesture of good-will (geste de bienveillance)," says Ricard; lifting the excommunications will be a "sign of benevolence," says Rifan.

Cardinal Ricard's second statement, that after this "gesture" is made, "it will remain to be seen whether the Fraternity will take the next step," corresponds to what Bishop Rifan says next:

After this lifting of the decree of excommunications, they will be in the similar condition of the Greek Orthodox, from whom the Pope [Paul VI in 1964] lifted the decree of excommunication too. Afterwards, they will need the canonical regularization and the correction of doctrinal mistakes.

I think we can get a pretty good idea, from these two interviews, what will take place after the Society's General Chapter and the election of the new Superior-General. In all likelihood, if the odd similarity between Cardinal Ricard's "geste de bienveillance" and Bishop Rifan's "sign of benevolence" is not just coincidence, the Pope will lift the SSPX excommunications as a preliminary first step; it will then be the expectation of the Pope that the SSPX will "take the next step," that is, accept "the correction of doctrinal mistakes."

Campos news

Brian Mershon has published an interesting interview granted by the Apostolic Administrator of the Apostolic Administration Saint John Mary Vianney (Campos, Brazil), Bishop Fernando Rifan.

By the way, the "Cathedral" (Main Church) of the Apostolic Administration, the Personal Parish of the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, has updated its website, which includes several recent images, including this one from this year's Paschal Vigil.

Court-mandated reinstatement at the SSPX

The case of Fathers Laguérie and Héry, currently in Bordeaux (who left or were expelled from the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X-FSSPX/SSPX, according to the view of each party), is widely known to those who follow Traditional Catholic news. The SSPX version of the events is available here (English). A different presentation of the facts is available here (English).

After having tried, unsuccessfully, to appeal to ecclesiastical courts, Fathers Laguérie and Héry took their case to the civil courts, with the argument that their procedural rights had been denied by the Society's leadership (or, more exactly, by the "Religious Association Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X", which is the civil name of the District of France of the SSPX).

And, last Thursday, the High Court of Justice of Nanterre (Department of Hauts-de-Seine) delivered its opinion (not yet available online), ordering the Fraternity to reinstate both priests who, according to the Court, had been unlawfully expelled from the Association (the statement of both priests is available here; the District of France has not yet released any official statement).

The Fraternity may appeal.

Segretario Bertone

La Stampa publishes the information released by the Italian news agency Apcom that the Pope has already signed the nomination of Cardinal Bertone to the position of Secretary of State, widely anticipated in the past few months. He will be the first prelate with no previous Vatican diplomatic experience to become Secretary in decades, and the first one from a religious order (he is a Salesian) nominated to the position since 1836 (Cardinal Lambruschini; except for two months in 1848 - Cardinal Orioli, OFM Conv).

Religious persecution in Belgium...

...against Christians, of course -- how dare they homeschool their children?

This is the disgusting level of political and religious persecution reached by the anti-Christian government of the Kingdom of Belgium, political center of the European Union...

The land of Saint Juliana of Liège, the woman chosen by the Lord to promote the Feast of Corpus Christi, celebrated today, has become a pagan nation, and the Church in Flanders and Wallonia has been abandoned by negligent, unbelieving, and irresponsible prelates.

Saint Juliana, pray for the Belgians!

Præcelsum et venerabile Sacramentum,
miserere nobis!



Pope says "yes" to Koran in European classrooms

At least according to Jürgen Rüttgers, Prime Minister (Ministerpräsident) of the wealthiest and most populous state (Land) of the German federation, North Rhine-Westphalia, as reported by La Stampa.

Rüttgers, who had an audience with the Pope yesterday, told the Holy Father what his government has been doing in North Rhine-Westphalia (Koranic teaching for Muslim children in public schools, taught by instructors trained in Germany), and declared that "the Pope has maintained the need to teach religion to the new generations and to strengthen this subject in the schools, even for Muslims", in comments that have amazed the Italian press.

Updates on "The Traditionalist Question"

DICI, the news website of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX/SSPX) presents this fortnight, after months of not very relevant issues, a collection of three very important (or at least interesting) interviews on "the Traditionalist Question". We present below the main excerpts:


In an interview to the Swiss religious news agency APIC (on May 22), Martin Klöckener, professor of Liturgical Sciences at the University of Fribourg, criticizes the dialogue with the "integrists" (as French and French-minded liberals call Traditional Catholics). The summary of the concerns of "progressives" is clear in his answer to the last question:

It is not simple to envisage how things will develop. The Catholic Church should not forget its engagement in favour of ecumenism, its steps towards the Churches of the Reformation. It is not acceptable that a small, very special group, on the right side of the Catholic Church, block the dialogue of the Church as a whole. One cannot make the sacrifice of these dialogues with the other Churches under the pretext of reaching unity with the integrists. It would be too large a sacrifice.


In an article on the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Sinhalese Archbishop M. Ranjith, the German newspaper Tagespiegel (May 22 edition) indirectly mentions the Secretary's opinion on the matter of the "Indult" (unfortunately, Tagespiegel did not provide a direct quote of the exact words of the prelate):

For the Indian [sic] bishop, it is not a question of obtaining an indult and an exceptional authorization given to such or such group of faithful eager to celebrate the old Mass once again, but to cause the Church to return to the faith in the presence of God, particularly through the celebration of Eucharistie.

A very relevant interview of Cardinal Ricard, Archbishop of Bordeaux, chairman of the French Episcopal Conference, and member of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, to the Italian news agency Apcom reveals that Rome will take the first step in the months ahead, after the General Chapter of the FSSPX and the election of its new Superior-General. Then [and, we would add, only then, in a coherent sequence of negotiations], it will be up to the Fraternity to respond to the gesture (of an unknown nature) made by the Holy See.

"I believe that the pope wishes to make a gesture to show that the door is not closed, a gesture of benevolence. In the next months, we will see what will be the concrete expression [of this gesture]. Then it will have to be seen whether the Fraternity will take an additional step ".

In the contacts with the movement founded by French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre as of his accession to the See of Peter, Benedict XVI has shown signs of attention which prove his intention to repair the division achieved in 1988 between Abp. Lefebvre and John Paul II.

DICI will probably provide the whole translation of these texts in its next English edition to be published next Saturday.

Feast of the Sacred Heart and Devotion to the Sacred Heart

We are fast approaching the Feast of the Sacred Heart, and I wanted to share some reflections on this feast and the devotion associated with it in order to help us penetrate more deeply into the mystery it contains for us. I submit this essay, Sacred Heart of Jesus: A Scriptural and Liturgical Meditation, in the hopes that it will increase your love for the Heart of Jesus, and intensify your appreciation for what the Church has given us in this devotion and Feast.

An excerpt follows below:

So what is it, then, that we see in the image of the Sacred Heart? We see love. Given what was said above, does this not therefore mean that we the Holy Spirit? Indeed it does, and indeed we do. Consider the image of the Sacred Heart again, with new eyes, as it were: there is the Heart, wrapped with a Crown of Thorns; in the side of the Heart is the wound from the soldier's lance; atop the Heart sits the Holy Cross; and the whole of the image is surrounded by flames of fire. The thorns and the Cross direct us immediately to the Passion, and this is the first part of the image; the lance-wound directs us to the flow of blood and water, and this is the second image; finally, the flames of fire may be considered as a third image.

The Passion (the images of the thorns and Cross) speaks to us of the Love of God; on the Cross, He makes the full gift of Himself, the complete sacrifice which will transmit life to us. As we have already said, the "Love of God" is nothing less than the Holy Spirit, and thus we see in this first image a picture of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity - that reciprocal gift of Love Himself which is given by the Father to the Son, and back to the Father from the Son. Here, on the Cross, in the Passion, that continual transmission of Love/Spirit between the two Persons breaks out of its circular pattern, as it were, and flows outward towards us. The Love between Father and Son, which is the Spirit, is now extended to us in order to draw us upward into that "inner circle," to incorporate us into the life of the Blessed Trinity. This is the deeply mystical and profound meaning of what St. John says when he describes in words the moment of Our Lord's expiration:

When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (Jn. 19:30)

The Greek phrase here, "gave up his spirit," is charged with meaning: paredoken to pneuma means, on the literal level, that Jesus breathed His last breath (recall that "spirit" and "breath" are interchangeable in the Greek). But the verb paradidomi means "to give into the hands of another"; mystically, the phrase says that Jesus gave as gift His own Spirit. This foreshadows the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost.

Thus we can see that in this "first image" of the Sacred Heart, the Passion that is portrayed by the thorns and the Cross, we contemplate the Spirit that is given as gift - the Love of God extended to Man.

The second image, that of the lance-wound, likewise communicates the dual portrait of Love/Spirit. We saw already that it was at this moment, when the spear pierced Our Lord's Heart, that the blood and water flowed out of Him. The Fathers rightly saw in this an image of the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist, but there is a third image that ties these two together: the Spirit.

The piercing of Christ's Heart and the subsequent flow of life from Him was foretold by Him in these words of the Gospel:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed:

"If any one thirst, let him come to me
and [let him] drink, he who believes in me.
As the scripture has said,
'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'"

Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (Jn. 7:37-39)

Our Lord spoke of the "rivers of living water" which would "flow" forth "out of his heart," which was fulfilled in a literal way when His Heart was pierced on the Cross. But here St. John gives us an added insight into the meaning of this flow of water: "this he said about the Spirit." Primarily, then, we must see in the flow of blood and water from the Sacred Heart of Jesus a symbol of the outpouring of the Spirit - again, the Love of God in Person-form.

This is in complete harmony with the view of the Fathers, who saw the blood as a symbol of the Eucharist, and the water as a symbol of Baptism. If we understand the flow of blood and water as first and foremost a symbol of the Spirit, then under this over-arching umbrella the other two images fit in perfectly: the water of Baptism is what infuses (=pours out) into us the Spirit Himself - hence the words of Scripture, "Repent, and be baptized ... and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38), and "by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body." (1 Cor. 12:13) Likewise, it is in the Holy Eucharist that we are made to drink deeply of the Holy Spirit, according to Scripture. This is why St. Paul says that "all were made to drink of one Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:13), and explains why wine (as the liquid matter which is transformed into the Eucharistic substance of Christ, and thus, suitable to the image of "drinking") is so often set in contrast to the Spirit.

For example, at the great outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the crowds said of the Apostles, "They are filled with new wine" (Acts 2:13), but St. Peter insists, "these men are not drunk ... but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: '... will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh ...'" (Acts 2:15-17). Similarly, in Ephesians St. Paul says, "do not get drunk with wine ... but be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18), and to St. Timothy, "Deacons likewise must ... not hold to much wine ... they must hold the mystery of faith with a clear conscience" (1 Tim. 3:8-9), where "mystery of faith" is a synonym for the Eucharistic Cup (as I argue in my essay, A Note on the Origins of the Phrase Mysterium Fidei).

This relationship between the Eucharistic substance of Christ under the appearance of wine, the way in which wine stands as a symbol of the blood of Christ, the reception of the Eucharistic Christ by drinking the contents of the chalice ... all of this makes the blood of Christ which flowed from His Heart an appropriate symbol of the Eucharist in its liquid species. Since it is the Spirit/Life of Christ that we receive in the Eucharist, then, this image of the blood-as-Eucharist is easily taken up under the umbrella of water-and-blood-as-Spirit.

Thus we can understand this second image of the Sacred Heart, the wound of the lance, as yet another pointer to the Holy Spirit.

Read more of Sacred Heart of Jesus: A Scriptural and Liturgical Meditation

Peter and the Holy Ghost
Hoc est quod dictum est per prophetam Ioel

The days of the Octave of Pentecost, the last universal octave of the liturgical year according to the 1962 (1960) rubrics, bring the name of the Prince of the Apostles constantly to mind. On Monday, Saint Peter proclaims to all Jerusalem the mission ordered by the Lord ("Men, brethren, the Lord commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He Who was appointed by God to be judge of the living and of the dead: to Him all the prophets give testimony, that through His name all receive remission of sins, who believe in Him"). On Tuesday, Saint Peter and the Loved Disciple are sent to Samaria ("...when the apostles that were in Jerusalem had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John; who, when they were come, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost"). On [Ember] Wednesday, Saint Peter exhorts his listeners to receive his word, which is the Word of God ("Peter standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and spoke to them: Ye men of Judea, and all you that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known to you, and with your ears receive my words... this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel, 'And it shall come to pass in the last days... I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh''").

The Mission of the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity is, in fact, inseparable from the mission of Peter and of his successors for the visible unity and unified government of the Church. Communion with the faithful means above all communion with the visible Peter, assurance of communion with the invisible Spirit of God.

Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. ...

And therefore, if a man refuse to hear the Church, let him be considered - so the Lord commands - as a heathen and a publican. It follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit. ...

Let every one then abhor sin, which defiles the mystical members of our Redeemer; but if anyone unhappily falls and his obstinacy has not made him unworthy of communion with the faithful, let him be received with great love, and let eager charity see in him a weak member of Jesus Christ. ...

Now since its Founder willed this social body of Christ to be visible, the cooperation of all its members must also be externally manifest through their profession of the same faith and their sharing the same sacred rites, through participation in the same Sacrifice, and the practical observance of the same laws. Above all, it is absolutely necessary that the Supreme Head, that is, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, be visible to the eyes of all, since it is He who gives effective direction to the work which all do in common in a mutually helpful way towards the attainment of the proposed end. As the Divine Redeemer sent the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, who in His name should govern the Church in an invisible way, so, in the same manner, He commissioned Peter and his successors to be His personal representatives on earth and to assume the visible government of the Christian community.

May the primacy of Peter, entrusted to poor human beings, be always exercised in its original sense as desired by the Lord, so that it may be recognized still more in its true meaning by our brothers as yet not in full communion with us.
Benedict XVI

Papal Heresies

Benedict XVI. Formerly held in suspicion by the Holy Office. Former professor of Dogmatic Theology at the notoriously liberal Tubingen University. Former member of the elitist group of periti who served as advisors at the Second Vatican Council. What are we to make of the man?

Some have already decided, and indeed, decided from the moment he was elected: he was a heretic, he still is a heretic, and as long as he continues to be a heretic he cannot be pope. Of course, demonstrating this about Ratzinger should not at all be difficult - he's published hundreds of articles and books in several different languages since he was a priest and professor of theology. And indeed some have attempted to do just this.

In Pope or Heretic? An Evaluation of Benedict XVI, several statements of the Holy Father, whether uttered before of after his election, are considered and analyzed.

While the pope hardly stands in need of my defense, I find that I must take the opportunity to answer some of the rhetorically-posed questions concerning Benedict XVI's orthodoxy. Increasingly I have been receiving emails from readers of this site, providing quotes from Benedict XVI (whether as pope or as Cardinal Ratzinger) that are intended to prove his heterodoxy. I have yet to see a quote that wasn't ripped from its context, squeezed through the filter of deep suspicion, interpreted in the worst possible light, and isolated from other statements within the body of Benedict XVI's work.

Perhaps most representative of this phenomenon is the quote being bandied about the Internet concerning what Father Ratzinger said with regard to Eucharistic Adoration. The quote, in part, reads as follows:

Eucharistic adoration or quiet visiting in church can, reasonably, not simply be thought of as conversation with the God who is thought present in a locally-circumscriptive manner. Statements such as "God lives here" and conversation with the locally-thought God based on such [thinking] express a mistake [misjudgment] of the Christological event as well as the idea of God, which necessarily repels the thinking man who knows about the omnipresence of God. If one were to justify going to church on the grounds that one must visit the God who is only present there, this would indeed be a justification which would make no sense and would rightfully be rejected by modern man. (Ratzinger, Die sakramentale Begründung christlicher Existenz, p. 26, source)

Of course, it has been claimed and will continue to be claimed that Ratzinger is here rejecting the practice of Eucharistic Adoration, and by extension, repudiating the dogma of transubstantiation. But anyone who is more than superficially familiar with his work knows exactly what he is saying here: he speaks of something very similar to this false way of thinking in Introduction to Christianity, when he discusses how pagan religions build shrines and then superstitiously believe that they can only worship their gods at those places. The key ideas in the above quote are expressed in such phrases as "locally-circumscriptive [lokal zirkumskriptiv]" and "one must visit the God who is only [nur] present there." For those who may be a bit unsure of the meaning of "locally-circumscriptive," it means "to restrict to a particular location." In other words, it is false to think of God as being present in the Church in a way that would restrict His presence to that location alone. Not only is this rightly rejected by modern man, it ought to be rejected by any orthodox Catholic who knows his faith.

Other quotes deal with Ratzinger/Benedict's views on the Jews, the Eucharist, the Papacy, Ecumenism, and more. Read Pope or Heretic? An Evaluation of Benedict XVI.

Receive my words

Peter standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and spoke to them: Ye men of Judea, and all you that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known to you, and with your ears receive my words. (Acts of the Apostles, from the Epistle for the Ember Wednesday of Pentecost)

This position of pre-eminence that Jesus meant to confer upon Peter is apparent also after the resurrection: Jesus charged the women to take the news to Peter, as distinct from the other Apostles (cfr Mk 16:7); it is to him and to John that Mary Magdalen rushes to inform them about the overturned stone at the entrance to the sepulchre (cfr Jn 20:2) and John allows Peter to go ahead when the two reach the empty tomb (cfr Jn 20:4-6); Peter would be the first among the Apostles to testify to an apparition of the Risen Lord (cfr Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5).

His role, decisively emphasized (cfr Jn 20:3-10), marks the continuity between his pre-eminence among the apostolic group and the pre-eminence he would continue to enjoy in the community born from the paschal events, as attested in the Book of the Acts (cfr 1:15-26; 2:14-40; 3:12-26; 4:8-12; 5:1-11.29; 8:14-17; 10; etc.).

His behaviour is considered so decisive that it is the focus of observations and even of criticism (cfr At 11:1-18; Gal 2:11-14). Peter occupies a leadership role in the Council of Jerusalem (cfr At 15 and Gal 2:1-10) and it is precisely because of his being a witness to the authentic faith that Paul himself recognized in him a certain quality of “first” (cfr 1 Cor 15:5; Gal 1:18; 2:7ff; etc.).

Further, the fact that all the key texts referring to Peter can be traced back to the context of the Last Supper, when Christ confers upon Peter the ministry of strengthening his brothers (cfr Lk 22:31ff), reveals how the Church born from the paschal memory celebrated in the Eucharist, finds one of its constitutive elements in the ministry entrusted to Peter.

Benedict XVI, General Audience (June 7, 2006)
Transl. by AsiaNews

Readings in Preparation for Corpus Christi

Ego sum panis vitae. As we have just been reminded in the previous post, these are the words found in today's Gospel Reading. They serve as a reminder that the Eucharistic Feast of Corpus Christi is nine days from now - don't forget to begin a Novena.

In preparation for this great feast of Corpus Christi, I would simply like to provide links to several essays on the subject of the Eucharist as it is found in the Scriptures. The essays range from focusing on Old Testament types to more focused exegesis on New Testament narratives and explicit proofs - it would be difficult to provide any kind of coherent summary here, so I will simply provide each link with a short description.

There are, maybe not so coincidentally, exactly nine essays linked below. Perhaps the reader will find some fruit in reading these essays one at a time during each of the following nine days.

Old Testament
The King Who Would Be Priest: The Son of David and the Holy Eucharist - demonstrates that the Catholic Church is the Kingdom of God come to earth, because the kingdom that Jesus inaugurated is a kingdom of priests, a Eucharistic Kingdom.

The Todah Sacrifice: From Shadow to Substance - examines the details of the Old Testament todah sacrifice in order to show why this sacrifice in particular so perfectly foreshadowed both the Sacrifice of Calvary and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The Return of the Kings: Some New Considerations on the Typological Relationship between Jesus and David - considers the gradual growth and spread of David's kingdom as it is reported in the Old Testament, and shows how this slow kingdom growth mirrors the Gospel accounts of Jesus and the spread of His kingdom. Of necessity this includes the Eucharistic allusions found in David's actions while bringing the Ark to Jerusalem.

New Testament
Known in the Breaking of the Bread: Emmaus and the Eucharist - A sacramental reading of the Lucan narrative of the Emmaus Road. Explores the Eucharistic symbolism behind the text.

Sacramentalism in St. John's Gospel - a sweeping overview of the entirety of St. John's Gospel, highlighting the many places where the Beloved Disciple alludes to the sacraments of the Catholic Church (especially the Eucharist), whether through words or narrative symbols.

The Once-for-All Sacrifice of Christ: Temporal and Terminated or Eternal and Perpetual? - discusses why the phrase in Hebrews "once for all" should be understood as denoting a perpetual sacrifice, not a temporal and terminated event.

Holy Infant, Bread of Heaven - a meditation on the Incarnation in light of the Eucharist, and vice versa.

The Wedding at Cana - examines the Eucharistic meaning of the Wedding at Cana, as well as the Marian meaning of the text, and the way the text foreshadows Our Lord's Passion.

Meditation on John 6: The Bread of Life - covers the entirety of St. John chapter 6, including the miracle of the multiplication of loaves, Our Lord walking on the water, and the "Bread of Life" discourse. Shows the typology embedded in the first two miracles that help us understand the discourse as a reference to the Most Holy Eucharist.

Ego sum panis vitæ

"I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from Heaven, that, if any man eat of it, he may not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is My flesh for the life of the world." (from the Gospel for the Ember Wednesday of Pentecost)

...what is charity? "Love the Lord God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; love thy neighbour as thyself:" and thou hast done alms first to thine own soul, within thy conscience.

Whereas if thou neglect this alms, give what thou wilt, give how much thou wilt; reserve of thy t goods not a tenth, but a half; give nine parts, and leave but one for thine own self: thou doest nothing, when thou doest not alms to thine own soul, and art poor in thyself. Let thy soul have its food, that it perish not by famine.

Give her bread. What bread, thou wilt say? He speaketh with thee Himself. If thou wouldest hear, and understand, and believe the Lord, He would say to thee Himself, "I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven."...

Saint Augustine

Benedict XVI and the Future of the Mass

In a post on this blog three days ago, it was said:

This Thursday, the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops assembled at the Vatican to develop and approve the schema of the [post-Synodal] "Apostolic Exhortation", the papal document regarding the liturgy. Everything seems to indicate the solemnity and ceremony of another era shall be return to the Mass. This document is expected in October, along with the indult favoring the Tridentine Mass.

What does it mean, in practical terms, that "the solemnity and ceremony of another era" will be returned to the liturgy? What shape will this reform-of-the-reform take? Will it be something that Traditionalists can fully embrace? Tolerate? Will it simply be more of the same?

A now out-of-print book by Fr. Brian Houghton called Mitre and Crook may offer us some clue as to what the revised liturgy will look like. In this fictional book, Houghton chronicles the activity of a Bishop Forester (of Stamford) in the late 1970s, when the bishop finally decided that he was done participating in the revolution, and the time had come to clean up the mess.

Much in the same way that the revolution took its initial steps by first revising the Mass, so also Bishop Forester began the "reform of the reform" (if you will) in his diocese by laying down new laws for the celebration of the liturgy. His approach to the problem seems to very closely mirror the thought of Benedict XVI: the future reform must curb excesses, stop abuses, and restore the sacred to the Mass, but it must not consist of a total rejection of the Novus Ordo, for this would do much greater harm to the credibility of priests, bishops, and Rome itself.

The details of Bishop Forester's reform are given in Mitre and Crook in the reproduction of the text of Bishop Forester's letter to the priests of his diocese. This letter, along with some introductory comments, can be found in my essay Reforming the Revolution: The Future Shape of the Mass. The reader is invited to review this piece of history and draw his own conclusions: can we expect Benedict XVI's reform to closely resemble the reforms implemented by Bishop Forester? Does the logic displayed by His Excellency seem to be consonant with what we know of Benedict XVI's thoughts on matters liturgical? Is a reform such as the one detailed by Bishop Forester something that a Catholic could support? With a liturgical "reform of the reform" looming in the not too-distant future, it may be wise to begin consider these issues as real possibilities.

Rorate monitoring service...

It is true that Bishop Fellay, in the Le Figaro article, used the expression "l'élan de réconciliation"-- but, in this case, this cannot be translated as "enthusiasm", as if Rome had "lost the interest" (as some have WRONGLY interpreted). We chose the translation "movement" because Fellay expressly used, after "l'élan de réconciliation" the word "freiné" (that is, "halted", as in "frein", the "brake" of a machine or of a car).

How on Earth could this mean that "Rome has lost the interest" if Fellay himself says that the process has been halted, DESPITE the fact that it is willed by Pope Benedict, by forces in the Vatican or elsewhere??? Rome IS the Pope; Fellay says that the Pope wills the process; therefore, Rome has lost no "enthusiasm"... but non-papal forces IN Rome or "elsewhere" have succeded in "braking" it for now.

This weblog did not originally begin as a news service, but the constant bias against all things Traditional led us to try our best to provide at least accurate translations and analyses.

Fellay: "The movement towards reconciliation has been halted"

One of the most important French national dailies, Le Figaro, reports this Monday on the Pentecost weekend Traditionalist pilgrimages in France (the Ecclesia Dei pilgrimage, from Paris to Chartres; and the FSSPX pilgrimage from Chartres to Paris). The most relevant portion of the article, though, are the words of the Superior-General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX/SSPX), Bishop Bernard Fellay, who celebrated Mass for the second group of pilgrims yesterday. Asked about the reconciliation process with the Holy See, he answers:

"My impression," he explains, "is that the movement to reconciliation willed by the Pope has been halted, at the Vatican or elsewhere". He also recognizes, however, that, in any event, "nothing shall come, undoubtedly, before [their] General Chapter".

Does "elsewhere" mean France?...

For extensive information on the upcoming General Chapter of the FSSPX, read this.

Post-Synodal document and "Tridentine Indult" in October?

Nicola Bux, the well-known scholar, author, and consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, speaks to the Mexican newspaper Milenio on the Maciel affair. The most interesting part of the article, though, is related to another kind of purification -- the purification of Holy Liturgy.

[Nicola] Bux, author of the acclaimed book "The Lord of Mysteries: The Eucharist and Relativism" and professor of comparative liturgy, states, regarding this theme, that ''the liturgy of Pope Benedict XVI will be more spiritual, without post-Conciliar abuses. Following the Second Vatican Council, there was much confusion in the liturgy. Much of the responsibility lies with the diocesan bishops, who are not vigilant. I believe that Benedict XVI will renew the value of Latin, a language which was never abolished, and the Gregorian repertory.["]

And his words proved true. This Thursday, the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops assembled at the Vatican to develop and approve the schema of the [post-Synodal] "Apostolic Exhortation", the papal document regarding the liturgy. Everything seems to indicate the solemnity and ceremony of another era shall be return to the Mass. This document is expected in October, along with the indult favoring the Tridentine Mass.
We have mentioned Father Bux here before .

IMPORTANT - Rome answers:
When does a Catholic become a non-Catholic?

The important letter from Cardinal Herranz, head of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, to all presidents of episcopal conferences, signed last March and approved by Pope Benedict XVI, removes all doubts concerning the details of the theological and formal canonical steps which must be taken by a Catholic before the appropriate authority may classify him as a non-Catholic. (CLICK FOR LARGER VIEW)

Source: La Croix.

Three New Offerings on 7th Day Adventism, Vatican II, and Our Lady

Another busy week of research and writing is coming to a close, and I wanted to share with the Rorate Caeli audience some of the fruits of this week's labor.

In Dies Domini: Is Saturday the True Sabbath?, an essay published in the current issue of From the Housetops, the Seventh-Day Adventist argument is considered and refuted from both Scripture and Church History. Why do we worship on Sunday, when God specifically commanded us to keep holy the seventh day, which is Saturday? The catechisms all admit: the Church changed the observance of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. But how can the Church do this, when God Himself said that the seventh-day Sabbath was an "everlasting covenant," and "a perpetual sign"? The essay will undoubtedly be of interest, even to those who do not interact with Seventh-Day Adventists, as it goes into some detail describing the Divine Logic of worshiping Christ as God on the eighth day, not the seventh.

As part of an on-going series of articles that attempt a Traditional Catholic interpretation of the Vatican II documents, Gaudium et Spes: A Traditionalist Reading looks at a wide range of opinions on this lengthy document - from liberals to conservatives to Traditionalists. Is this document heretical? Harmful? Rambling, but still innocuous? Out-dated? Of particular interest to readers of this blog will be the discussion in this essay about Cardinal Ratzinger's famous statement: Gaudium et Spes represents a "countersyllabus":

What does it mean that Gaudium et Spes is a "countersyllabus"? Ratzinger's words are basically self-explanatory: the Syllabus addressed a politico-religio-historical situation by taking a hard-line approach, what Ratzinger would consider a kind of fortress mentality. How does the Church relate to this kind of world? According to Pius IX, She doesn't relate to it; She cuts Herself off from it and raises the bastions (to anticipate another of Ratzinger's statements). But in the time between the Syllabus and Gaudium et Spes, according to Ratzinger, that particular world-situation had been changing: we had the "new ecclesiastical policy of Pius XI" which "produced a certain openness toward a liberal understanding of the state"; likewise, "exegesis and Church history adopted more and more the postulates of liberal science"; perhaps more significant, "liberalism, too, was obliged to undergo many significant changes in the great political upheavals of the twentieth century." Did the Syllabus still speak to the current situation, or was there need of a reappraisal? Apparently the council fathers felt that such a reappraisal was necessary.

But in what way is GS a "countersyllabus"? How is it a "revision"? Perhaps the answer lies in the orientation of GS - the willingness of the Church to say to the Modern World, "We've already condemned these principles, but now let's talk about why they must be condemned - let's 'dialogue' on these subjects."

Certainly GS did not revoke the Syllabus or turn it on its head; in fact, in many ways GS reaffirmed the teaching of the Syllabus on several points. For example, GS approaches the Modern World precisely with the assumption that human reason is not the "ultimate standard by which man can and ought to arrive at the knowledge of all truths of every kind." (Syllabus, n. 4) GS rejects the idea that "the faith of Christ is in opposition to human reason and divine revelation not only is not useful, but is even hurtful to the perfection of man" (ibid., n. 6), and for this reason the Church continues to recognize Her mission to bring the truth of Divine Revelation to the world.

Ratzinger's words, ultimately, must be understood in the sense that GS is the complement to the Syllabus. The English dictionary gives the definition "contrary" or "opposing" to the word "counter" (as in "countersyllabus") as its primary meaning, and this seems to be how Ratzinger's words are inevitably interpreted: GS is the contrary-to-the-syllabus document. But the word has a secondary meaning as well: "corresponding" or "complementary." Taken in this light, Ratzinger would be saying that GS is the corresponding-complement-to-the-syllabus.

Finally, Jon Field gives us the fourth part of his Mary as Mediatrix of Grace: A Trinitarian Approach series. This installment shows in what way both the Church and Our Lady function as spiritual mothers - or rather, how they together function as one spiritual mother. That is to say, the motherhood of Mary is not something in addition to the motherhood of the Church - they share single motherhood. Field explains how this can be:

How can Mary and the Catholic Church both be one Mother? This at first glance seems to be a muddle. The answer lies in the fact that the Catholic Church (considered as the Bride of Christ) is an extension of the perfections of Mary, the ultimate Bride of Christ. Every perfection that can be found in the Saints from the beginning of the world to the end of time are just faint participations in the perfections of Mary. These perfections of the Saints add nothing new to the Church, since Mary possesses them fully under her Son. Therefore Mary (as the Bride of Christ) contains the fullness on the perfections of the Church within her. In this way, Mary could be said to be, in a certain sense, the Church herself!

In fact, according to several Fathers, she sums up all the "perfections" of the Church in her own person; she is the Catholic Church (considered as bride - not head) in miniature. St. Thomas of Villanova writes:

As at the creation of the world all creatures were condensed into man who is therefore called microcosm (the little world), so at the restoration of the world all the perfections of the Church and the Saints have been gathered in one in the Blessed Virgin. Hence Mary may be called the microcosm of the Church, for she by herself is more precious and more worthy than the whole universe. (In Fest. Nativ. B.M.V., Conc. 3, n. 8, quoted in Mother of God, Mary in Scripture and Tradition [Augustine Publishing Co., 1987], pp. 27-28)

This statement would not be true if Mary did not possess all the Church's perfections. If Mary, let us say, possessed only the perfections of humility and charity in their fullness, and the martyr Saints of the Church possessed the perfections of patience and fortitude in their fullness, then the martyrs being added to the Church, under Mary, would increase the perfection of the Church; would add something to the perfections of Mary. But if Mary contains all the perfections in a supreme way, then none of the other members of the Church can increase those perfections in themselves.

Of course these perfections are "increased" by being multiplied in many members rather than just one. But the point is that the perfections themselves are not increased one iota.

To put it in more philosophical language, Mary contains the perfections of the Church intensively but not extensively. It is true that the more members that are added to the Church the more that perfection increases extensively. But the perfections are not increased in themselves; they are not increased intensively. If I teach the mathematical truth to children that 1+2=3, that truth will pass from my mind into many minds. In this sense the truth will be increased (accidently) as it is multiplied in many minds. But the truth itself (substantially), 1+2=3, will remain itself; it will not be increased or perfected at all!

In the same way, Mary as first member of the Church under her Son, passes on her perfections to the rest of her children. We receive those perfections and participate in them in various ways without in any way increasing them. Just like Creation adds nothing to God, so the Church adds nothing to Mary. Every perfection that the Church has (considered as bride alone) participates in Mary, just like every perfection in the universe participates in God.

We can conclude that the Church can not be viewed as an entity apart from Mary or alongside Mary. We do not have two Mothers, but rather one. That mother is Mary, whose maternal mediation is extended to us through the Church. In other words, the Church is our Mother precisely because she is the extension of the work of Mary. Her work is not something "other" than Mary. The Church does not "mother" us half the time, and Mary the other half. It is not a co-ordinated effort - like two horses pulling a cart; rather it is a sub-ordinated work like an author writing a letter through the instrumentality of a pen. Both the author and the pen do the whole work, the former acting through the latter. In like manner we do not have two "part time" mommies sharing work shifts. Rather the Church "mothers" us all the time - from baptism to death - but as an extension of Mary's motherhood. Therefore every grace that is mediated to us through the Church is a grace mediated by Mary. Mary acts in the Roman Catholic Church as a mother to us. That is why we call the Roman Catholic Church our Mother! We can truly say with Saint Clement, "One only Mother Virgin. Dear it is to me to call her the Church" without in any way denying that Mary is the Mother Virgin; rather by saying so we are affirming it!

Field also tackles the difficult question of how the Church can be called "Mother," when the Church is made up (hierarchically) entirely of fathers. A related question is dealt with: how can Mary be said to mediate grace to us when mediation is the work of the priest? Is Mary a priestess? This installment is arguably one of the most well-presented and interesting contributions from Field to date.

Lessons from Russia:
"Rights advocated by homosexuals are nothing else than right to vice"

Russia has survived so many challenges! Will it survive the demographic implosion of Europe?

Maybe, if the view of people such as Dr. Irina Suluyanova, head of the Biomedical Department of the Russian State Medical University and deputy chair of the Church-Public Council for Bioethics of the Moscow Patriarchate, in the defense of virtue is widespread and firm-- and if Russians stop killing their unborn babies, the unending heritage of the Marxist-Leninist mentality.

Dr. Siluyanova's interview to Interfax is a must-read. The main excerpts below:

- Do you agree with Patriarch Alexy’s statement that the holding of a gay rally in Moscow and similar events are tantamount to suicide for society?

- Certainly, the patriarch is absolutely right. This suicide is manifested in the moral degradation of society, the loss of clear positions and ability to distinguish between vice and virtue. As is well known, both an individual and society as a whole can only exist biologically as long as this ability to discern virtue and vice is not lost. To lose it means to step towards self-destruction. ...

- But sexual minorities claim they defend their rights...

- In my view, to pose the problem as involving human rights in this case is absolutely incorrect. There is no right to vice or moral crime in the list of basic human rights. The rights advocated by homosexuals are nothing else than the right to vice, the way of life which is criminal from the ethical point of view. From the classical ethical perspective, morality first of all fulfills the function of protecting human life. ...

- As a specialist in bioethics, how would you define homosexuality? Is it an illness or a sin?

- This is something to be discussed very clearly, something to which we should not shut our eyes, just as we cannot shut our eyes to people’s traumas and defects. It is the same as looking at a blind man, we would deny his blindness and assure everybody that he is in good health. We should call thing their proper names. It is certainly a moral vice. Until 1980, homosexuality was viewed as a sexual psychopathology, and many psychiatrists and medics uphold this understanding today.
Generally, almost all researchers distinguish two types of homosexuality: the so-called active or inborn and passive or acquired. So, people with inborn homosexuality make up 3% of the total number of people. All that is above this 3 percent represents ‘secondary’ homosexuality, which spreads like an ‘infection’. If such a practice is viewed psychologically as a norm under the influence of cultural trends and liberal guidelines, it is as it were sealed in human physiology and this vice spreads with lightening speed.

It should be added that the threat of spreading homosexuality lies not only in moral degradation and personal ruin but inevitably in human physical destruction. Homosexuality is essentially ‘infectious’. ... In the past when homosexuality was considered to be a pathology, it was treated; people realized that it was their defect and deviation from norm. A person tried to overcome this vice, working at self-improvement, which is essentially the essence of medicine called as it is to cure illnesses, especially those involving human psyche.

-Why then today there is a growing number of medics who refuse to view homosexuality as pathology?

- The point is that in medicine, just as in society, there are its own liberal processes taking place. Medicine is directly dependent on values and worldviews dominating in a society. It is intimately bound up with the person’s understanding of himself and others. And the modern tendency to legalize homosexuality is an example of medical and social problems intertwined. When in 1993 the tenth review of the International Classification of Diseases came into force, homosexuality was moved from the category of ‘diseases’ into that of ‘sexual orientation’ for the first time in the history of these reviews. ...

-Do you know of any historical examples when legalization of homosexuality proved to be destructive for a society?

- One of the most powerful examples is the death of the antique culture caused, among other things, by the lack of clear saving criteria for distinguishing between vice and virtue in sexual relations. It is an example where a failure to make a moral distinction between vice and virtue led to the physical death of a civilization. The identity of antiquity lied, among other things, in ‘naivety of lechery’ when the sexual element came to penetrate all spheres of life. There is ample evidence of sexual perversion that prevailed in that era.

As Chesterton aptly put it, ‘when sex stops being a servant it immediately becomes a despot’. He also said that Christianity came to the world to heal it and did it by the only possible way which is asceticism. It can be said generally that the development of Christian culture was a first sexual revolution which led to a radical review of the problem of human sexuality. ...

The Bible’s strong rejection of homosexuality is a common knowledge. Let us recall the same Book of Leviticus where this kind of relations is punished by death. St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans, describes same-sex relations as ‘reprobate mind’ and those who have it as ‘filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness’ (Rom. 27-31).

In ancient cultures it was transsexuality that to a considerable extent determined the emergence of such religious and mystical cults as worship of Moloch whose ‘priests’ cultivated the rite of castration. This rite can well be accounted for as a testimony to ‘insurmountable physiological and mental aversion’ of one’s own sex and castration as ‘triumph’ of deliverance from it.

-What means can be used to struggle with the spread of homosexuality?

- Today it is necessary simply to conduct mass information campaigns, educational actions and social advertising for society to take it adequately. There is no other way. ...

In the West, all this is done by the hands of those who are themselves bearers of this vice. Naturally, they seek to legalize their depravity as a norm. But a healthy society should have strength to resist it, first of all through firm conviction and statement of the need to call things by their proper names. What is vice is vice, and it can never turn into a virtue. ...