Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Fathers Have Spoken: Part III

VATICAN CITY, JUN 20, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during this morning's general audience to the figure of St. Athanasius ofAlexandria (circa 300-373), calling him a "column of the Church," and a"model of orthodoxy in both East and West." Before the audience, which was held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope visited the Vatican Basilica where he greeted faithful gathered there.

After noting how St. Athanasius' statue was placed by Bernini, alongside statues of other doctors of the Church (St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose andSt. Augustine), around the cathedral of St. Peter in the apse of the Vatican Basilica, the Pope described the Alexandrian saint as a "passionate theologian of the incarnation of the 'Logos,' the Word of God," and "the most important and tenacious adversary of the Arian heresy which then threatened faith in Christ by minimizing His divinity, in keeping with a recurring historical tendency which is also evident in various ways today." (VIS News Service-Wednesday July 20th)

Wow... I think he may be on to something here! Orthodoxy as a means of addressing a heresy which is "also evident in various ways today". I'm serious... would he have put that comment in there if he didn't mean it? I'll keep with my original viewpoint... hold on tight!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Brief History Of Reform Part II

"A good question to ask of all music heard at liturgy is this: does it work toward the sacramental end of liturgy to reach outside the bounds of time and strive to enter into eternity? While that might appear an unfair burden to place on any art form, consider the astonishing reality and mystery of what takes place on the Altar. The very sacrifice of Christ on the cross is renewed and made present by virtue of words spoken by the celebrant in liturgy. To accomplish such an act in time requires that the bounds of time and space are transcended, a claim that is itself singularly radical in an age of rampant skepticism.

Considering this, it is not much to ask that music at liturgy not overtly draw from external forms that have nothing whatever to do with such transcendent concerns. The chant and the sacred-music tradition, in contrast, grew up around a profoundly secure faith, a faith that in our age is believed to be impossible. To employ this music at Mass, then, expresses a confidence in these timeless claims, and illustrates them in ways that work through the senses to provide evidence of things unseen. There is something inexpressibly calming about the sole employment of the human voice, the absence of meter and sharp edges, that comes with the use of chant; it causes time and space to recede and contemplation of transcendence to displace earthly concerns. Through liturgical music, we hear the sacred so that we can more fully believe in the reality of sacred things."

Arlene Oost-Zinner & Jeffrey Tucker“Why Sacred Music Matters”Sacred Music, Fall 2004 pp.3-18

[If you haven’t before read this excellent article from Sacred Music, I would urge you to take the time to do so. There is also an excellent guide to introducing authentic Sacred Music into your parish on the Saint Cecilia’s website as well.] – Chironomo

I would like to continue here with a theme that I have taken up several times already, particularly in light of the “will there be reform or not?” discussions going on as a result of the inevitable clash between the Church’s institutional slow pace and our cultural impatience. I began here with an excerpt from an excellent article by Jeffrey Tucker and Arlene Oost-Zinner because of it’s core statement: “Considering this, it is not much to ask that music at liturgy not overtly draw from external forms that have nothing whatever to do with such transcendent concerns”. This observation has more to do with why reform will eventually happen than all of the arguments about continuation of tradition or relevance of music to modern culture.

The fact is that most of what passes as liturgical music today simply doesn’t work as liturgical music, and reform will eventually have to happen. To begin, let me say again that I believe firmly that there will be reform (I’m speaking here about reform of Sacred Music specifically, and reform of liturgical practices in general), and that it will be more than a simple statement like “more Gregorian Chant and Latin should be used at Mass” in a document that most everyone would ignore anyway.

Such statement already exist in documents from a) Pope John XXIII b.) Pope Paul VI c.) Pope John Paul II d.) Pope Benedict XVI. Pope John Paul I didn’t get a chance to issue any documents on the subject, but if given the chance, history demonstrates that he probably would have affirmed this as well. And if every Pope from the last 50 years, three of them being first-hand observers of the decline of Sacred Music in the Church, have expressed a consistent vision of what constitutes Sacred Music or music at least appropriate for the Liturgy, and this vision is in conflict with styles, trends, habits or whatever you want to call them that are current in the Church, for whatever reason, history bears out that eventually the Church’s liturgical tradition will re-assert itself and the encroaching style will join the dozens of other examples from music history. And the history is quite persuasive on this issue.

It’s actually something of an advantage that the adherents of Contemporary Liturgical Music (or CCM or Folk-Pop or Life-Teen …) are often blissfully unaware of the numerous attempts throughout history to bring the “music of the people” into the Church.Perhaps the first such examples were the seemingly innocuous types of improvistation on the various chants of the Mass:

Consistently with St. Gregory's idea of dwelling longer on the invocation, the Kyrie was sung (is still sung) with long neums on most of its syllables. In the Middle Ages they seem to have found these neums wearisome. So they inserted clauses to fit the notes; one neum became a series of single notes with a text. There was a huge variety of these farced Kyries everywhere.”(Fortescue, pp. 234, 236, 238-9)

It seems that even in the Middle Ages, the Priests couldn’t just follow what’s in the book, could they? And so they continued to write their own texts and slip them into the liturgy, usually under the cover of music:

"The first sequences are attributed to Notker Balbulus of St. Gallen (d. 912). There was at his time no clear manner of writing musical notes, the neums (without lines) were only suggestions for people who already knew the melody by heart. It was then difficult to remember them, especially the long neums of the iubilus, which accompanied no words. A monk from Jumieges came to St. Gallen; Notker saw that in his books words were fitted to the notes of neums, apparently only as a help to memory. Notker then, following his example, adapted texts to the iubilus for all feasts in the year. His adaptations were so attractive that they were no longer used merely as a kind of memoria technica, but were actually sung in churches. These texts were Sequentiae...or Prosae...." (Fortescue, pp. 272-3)

And it seems that the madness continued for quite a while….

"After Notker, Adam of St. Victor (d. 1192), Ekkehart of St. Gallen (d. 973), Gottschalk of Limburg (d. 1098), Thomas of Celano (d. ca. 1250) are the most famous writers of sequences...There were then curious developments in sequences, such as one would expect in popular compositions...There were so-called sequences about wine and beer; one John Nass wrote one about Martin Luther: 'Invicti Martini laudes intonent Christiani.' It was time the development of Notker's idea should stop. In nothing does the prudence of the Tridentine reformers so shine as in their treatment of the question of sequences. At that time there was a perfect plethora of these compositions. The great number had little or no value either as poetry or devotional works; the whole idea of the sequence was merely a late farcing. All these additional texts were abolished by the reform of Pius V."" (Fortescue, p. 274-5)

But eventually, albeit 600 years or so later, Pius V put an end to the works of the “St. Loius Jesuits of the Middle Ages” and said enough is enough. And so how many of us are familiar today with the works of Notker Balbulus of St. Gallen? We can hope for a similar historical fate for Joncas, Schutte et al…

And then there were those “Parody Masses”….

The parody mass is a musical setting of the mass, typically from the 16th century, that uses multiple voices of another pre-existing piece of music, such as a fragment of a motet or a secular chanson, as part of its melodic material. "Parody" often has nothing to do with humor, as in the modern sense of the word; while in some cases bawdy secular songs were indeed used in composition of Masses, equally often non-liturgical sacred music such as motets formed the basis for parody masses. The parody mass was a very popular model during the Renaissance. The Council of Trent, in a document dated September 10, 1562, banned the use of secular material, "...let nothing profane be intermingled ... banish from church all music which contains, whether in the singing or the organ playing, things that are lascivious or impure."(Wikipedia –“Parody Mass”)

Ok, they only made it for about 60 years or so. It just seems that every time those“bawdy, profane secular tunes” make their way into the Mass, the Church turns around and makes it known that they, and those who promote them, are no longer welcomed. A little further down the road, somebody had the great idea that the same music that was being acclaimed in the concert halls would make excellent music for worship…

Beginning in the 18th century and continuing through the 19th, many composers wrote what are effectively concert Masses, which by virtue of employing forces too large, or lasting such a considerable duration, prevent them being readily used in Worship. The Requiem Masses of Gossec, Berlioz, Verdi, and Dvořák are essentially dramatic concert oratorios. A counter-reaction to this tendency came from the Cecilian movement, which recommended restrained accompaniment for liturgical music, and frowned upon the use of operatic vocal soloists.” (Wikipedia; Concert Masses)

But the “too large a size” and “considerable duration” of these works didn’t stop the operatic soloists who also sang in Church from singing excerpts from these concert works at Mass. And they figured if they could sing opera-like religious music at Mass, it must be OK to sing actual operatic arias too. Sound familiar? And of course we know what happened to the operatic vocal soloists and singing of operatic arias and concert works in Church at the end of the 19th Century… can you say “Tra Le Solicitudini”? Yet another Pope Pius, this time Pius X, came down hard on this particular incursion of the popular music genre into the liturgy, making what was supposed to be the final and definitive proclamation on Sacred Music, both present and future. At least we thought so…

But leave it to yet another generation about 100 years later to come up with the startlingly original idea of using popular music in Church. And this most recent incursion has only been going on for some 40 years, compared to periods of 600 years for tropes and sequences, 60 or so years for Parody Masses and about 150 years or so with concert music. Still, it seems about the right time, historically speaking, for the Church to once again turn its attention to the most recent corruption of its music liturgy and, once again, make a forceful proclamation restoring the authentic liturgical tradition of the Church. It seems to just be the way it goes in the Catholic Church. Maybe we can look forward to an entry in Wikipedia in about 2050 that goes something like this;

Liturgical Folk-Pop (li-tur-ji-kǔl fōk-pop) n.

Contemporary Catholic Liturgical Folk-Pop music developed following the Vatican II reforms, which allowed for the usage of vernacular language in the Roman Catholic Mass, although this music was by no means intended by these reforms, and in fact the actual reforms called for a continuation of the Church’s traditional music, primarily Gregorian Chant and Sacred Polyphony. Further reforms to the General Instruction to the Roman Missal allowed for new settings of chants from the Novus Ordo and new songs to be used in addition to the traditional psalms of the Graduale, which was interpreted by amateur musicians to mean that any music was suitable to use at Church now.

The reforms sparked a wide movement in the Roman Catholic church of the U.S.A. wherein an entire body of older protestant hymnody and newly composed Contemporary Catholic Liturgical Music was hurriedly introduced to the people through new hymnals such as People's Mass Book and We Celebrate and three volumes of Glory and Praise. At this same time, many of the Church’s experienced musicians left in disgust and were replaced by amateur musicians whose generally played guitar rather than organ, and whose repertoire was largely anti-war folk songs and folk- rock songs by Peter, Paul and Mary and Bob Dylan.

The newly composed Contemporary Liturgical Music of the 70s was modeled on these earlier popular songs and included new hits by songwriters such as Ray Repp and Joe Wise and later members of groups such as the St. Louis Jesuits, and the Dameans. The music became commercially lucrative for both publishers and composers and so was heavily promoted despite nagging concerns about its content, both musical and theological.

By the 1990's, and into the early 21st century, the spread of this music had been substantial. In many areas of the United States, and regions throughout the English-speaking world, most or all of the music played during Sunday Mass was taken from this body of work. As a result, more traditional forms of Catholic music (such as Gregorian chant) had been completely abandoned in most parishes. By the early 21st century Catholic Songbooks included mostly Contemporary Catholic Liturgical Music, some hymnody, and a very small collection of Chant to make it appear that these “worship aids” were actually in conformity with church guidelines.

By the late 1990’s, this style of music had long since become anachronistic, and absent its long-forgotten association with the peace – and – love culture of the 1960’s , now had no meaning at all. Growing concerns over the texts, which were often in conflict with Catholic Theology, and the musical forms, which were now indistinguishable from Broadway Show ballads, brought the entire subject of Sacred Music to the foreground in the growing reform movement begun by Pope John Paul II and continued by Pope Benedict XVI. This form of music was entirely banned from worship with the “Restoration Proclamation of 2008” of Benedict XVI, which mandated only sacred texts be used at Mass and restored Gregorian Chant and polyphony as the predominate music for the Catholic Mass.
Oh, wouldn’t that be nice….

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

An Interesting Coincidence

In a rather harsh rebuke from the USCCB concerning one particular Theologians views this past March, the following passage pretty much lays down the rules…

Catholic teaching is authenticated by the Church's teaching office that mirrors and transmits the revelation of Christ under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. While there may be individuals who disagree with the teaching of the Church, such divergent views cannot be considered authentic Catholic teaching or the basis for reliable guidance regarding faithful Catholic moral life. It is a serious error, therefore, to claim that the teaching of the Pope and the bishops represents merely one voice among many legitimate voices within the Catholic Church, all of which are vying to be heard and accepted.

The bishops are the successors of the apostles, who were given the authority to proclaim the teaching of Jesus Christ. Jesus himself commissioned the apostles to preach the Gospel in his name. The apostles in turn appointed trusted men to succeed them in this ministry. These successors, the bishops, have thus been authorized to preach and teach in the name of Christ himself. The bishops, therefore, have a responsibility to foster among the faithful those actions that promote holiness and are in accord with the Gospel as well as a duty to condemn those actions which are evil and so are incompatible with living a holy life.

Thus, when the bishops together with the head of the college of bishops, the Pope, invoke the authority given to them by Christ to proclaim that one moral position is correct and another erroneous, this teaching is binding in conscience on all who hold the Catholic faith. It is not one of many possible "Catholic" positions proposed by and debated among various theologians. There is but one Gospel of salvation which has been revealed by our Lord Jesus Christ and which continues to be authoritatively taught within the Catholic Church. Laity and clergy embody and express the sense of the faith precisely when they conform their consciences to what the Church authentically professes and teaches. Therefore, it is illegitimate to set in opposition the belief of some of the faithful and the teaching of the bishops and the Pope

And so today, we find the following bit of news at CNS…

Theological society head warns against publicly criticizing church

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- In his presidential address to the Catholic Theological Society of America, theologian Daniel K. Finn warned the society against issuing public statements critical of church policies or church authorities.

"The problem is that these statements become the public face of the CTSA for nearly everyone who doesn't attend our conventions," he said. "Taken together, they present us as individuals who come together as a group primarily to defend ourselves against hierarchical authority."
"We insiders know this is only a small part of what we are up to," he added. "But no group can control its public image completely, and in my opinion we have done too little thinking about this."

Finn, who teaches theology and economics at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn., spoke on the final day of the society's June 7-10 annual convention in Los Angeles.Two years ago the society's board of directors expressed strong "distress" at the Vatican's condemnation of a book by American Jesuit Father Roger Haight. In 2000 a report from a society committee, headed by Finn, expressed ongoing concern about church policy requiring that Catholic theologians have a "mandatum," or authorization to teach, from the local bishop.In 1998 a society task force report questioning the level of authority of church teaching that women cannot be ordained priests was widely reported and interpreted as challenging the teaching itself.

The women's ordination report and other issues with the 1998 convention led Jesuit Father (now Cardinal) Avery Dulles to criticize the society for "theological dissent" and to call for it "to clarify or restore its Catholic character." Society leaders said Father Dulles had not attended the convention he criticized and had misrepresented its proceedings.

Finn's presidential address focused on the need for theological reflection on the nature of power and its use.

"My own guess is that the church, and Catholic theology more generally, has not understood power with sufficient descriptive accuracy," he said. "It is a more pervasive and far more important part of organizational life than theology has usually recognized.His comments on the society's public stances came near the end, almost as a footnote, although they immediately became a focus of media attention -- in a sense proving what Finn was saying."Outside commentators have often not read our statements carefully and have often attributed to them views not expressed there," he said. "But even this is a lesson in power."

"It's difficult enough to achieve mutual understanding in a one-to-one conversation," he said. "In public relationships, it's much more difficult and it's a big mistake to presume that the other will hear exactly what we intend to say.

"Whether an organization like the CTSA can influence 'public' understanding depends not just on the words we use but on the pre-existing institutional relationships -- including the electronic and print media -- that will interpret our words and in most cases make only some of them public. ... It would be naive for us to craft statements without gauging their public effect," Finn said.

The problem, he said, is not that CTSA statements have been "erroneous.""The problem is that these statements become the public face of the CTSA for nearly everyone who doesn't attend our conventions," he said.

Finn said the society's reputation for statements critical of church authorities also has had an "internal cost."

"Put simply, there are a lot of conservative theologians who used to attend the CTSA convention who no longer do," he said. "A goodly number are no longer members."

He said the society "should be the place where Catholic theologians from all perspectives within the church come to do their theology."

"Our church is wracked by divisions caused in part by ideological simplicities -- on all sides -- that a professional society like ours can challenge and improve," he said. "Our church and our world need a broader dialogue within the church than is occurring today. I judge that part of the price of achieving that dialogue is making fewer statements that defend theologians against ecclesiastical power."


There are so many things to talk about in this article that I wouldn’t know where to begin. Just a coincidence? I think not…

The Fathers Have Spoken: Part II

Just in case there was any doubt remaining about how we are to interpret the Holy father’s lessons on the Church Fathers, and how they relate to where we are today and what we are doing, we can turn to today’s lesson on “Eusebius; Bishop of Caesarea”. Once again, Benedict has brilliantly framed his own message in the words of one of the great Fathers of the Church. This time though, the lesson from history concerns how we are to interpret lessons from history. Certainly one of his shorter lessons, but definitely to the point:
VATICAN CITY, JUN 13, 2007 (VIS) - Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea in Palestine was the subject of Benedict XVI's catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of more than 30,000 pilgrims.
Pope Benedict explained that this Father of the Church was born around the year 260, and that he was known above all as "the first historian of Christianity" and "the greatest philologist of the ancient Church." He also participated in the Council of Nicaea in 325 during which the Creed was defined and the full divinity of the Son of God affirmed.
"Eusebius' perpetual fame is primarily associated with the ten books of his Church History, with which he managed to save many events, figures and literary works of the early Church from certain oblivion," said the Pope.
Yet the fundamental aspect of Eusebius' work is that his "is a 'Christocentric' history which progressively reveals the mystery of God's love for mankind." It also follows another of the constants of ancient ecclesiastical history, said the Holy Father, namely "the 'moral intention' running through the account. Historical analysis is never an end unto itself; rather it points decisively at conversion, and at an authentic witness of Christian life on the part of the faithful."
"Eusebius addresses a spirited appeal to believers of all times concerning the way they consider the events of history and of the Church in particular. He also appeals to us: What is our approach to the history of the Church?
"Is it," the Pope asked, "the approach of one interested out of simple curiosity, perhaps seeking the scandalous and sensational at any cost? Or is it the approach full of love and open to mystery of people who, through faith, know that in the history of the Church they can discover the signs of God's love and of the great works of salvation He has achieved? If this is our approach, we cannot but be stimulated to a more coherent and generous response, to a more Christian witness of life."
In this context, Pope Benedict quoted "that eminent scholar of the Fathers," Cardinal Jean Danielou who wrote: "There is a hidden component in history. ... The mystery is that of God's works which, in time, constitute authentic reality hidden behind appearances. ... But God creates this history for man, he does not create it without him."
"After so many centuries," the Pope concluded, "even today Eusebius of Caesarea invites believers to feel wonder, to contemplate God's great works in history for the salvation of mankind. And, with the same amount of energy, he calls us to convert our lives. Indeed, faced with a God Who loved us so much, we cannot remain inert. The requirement of love is that all of life be oriented towards imitation of the Loved One."
I think I’m going to go brush up on my Church History now… could come in handy soon!!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Further Hints on the Motu proprio

This from a past interview with Cardinal Ratzinger. Although this was a number of years ago, I think the pointed statements he makes here shows some underlying critiques of the litury that are not likely to go away. The emphasis here seems to be on liturgical "form" and the need to have universal norms which are understood to be a part of the tradition of the church. Notice how the words "created" and "creative" are used in a critical sense when referring to the liturgy:

Cardinal Ratzinger: It happened that initially this liturgical reform was assessed as a parting from the tradition and this reform then ever more strongly developed into the idea that the liturgy actually had to be created anew in every community [or parish]. Of course there also quite positive implementations of the reform of the liturgy. Today, here at St. Ottilien, I was able to experience the festive high Mass. There you can see how the renewed theology can truly be a gift. But the notion that the liturgy is based on creativity and that each community creates a liturgy for itself, in many places that has nevertheless proven to be a kind of brushfire.

One shouldn’t generalize but, anyway, these notions have proven to be something that brings along some danger. Because if the liturgy is that which the community creates on its own and in which she reflects herself, then she doesn’t actually come out of herself. And then she actually does not experience what it’s all about. The liturgy is not the place where you display your own creative talents; there are other possibilities for that inside and outside the Church.The liturgy is truly the meeting with that which we have not made and thus it is also the entrance into the great prior gift of history, that should not be mummified, that should not become rigidified, but rather must live on as something that is alive.

This feeling that liturgical reform does not mean that now we do everything differently, and everyone does as he pleases, instead it means that we live in it in a living way, form ourselves into its greatness – and by our living in it, it also continues to develop – this knowledge of what reform actually means, must, I believe, be announced again in parts of the Church.


I think it will not be long before he announces this to certain "Parts of the Church".

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Fathers Have Spoken

This year, beginning during Lent and continuing throughout, Pope Benedict has been presenting a series of addresses, lessons if you will, on the teachings of the Church Fathers. There have been a number of interesting “coincidences” between the specific writings that Benedict has chosen, and issues that are more, how might we say, contemporary. Of course, it makes sense to choose writings relevant to the lives of Catholics today, but today’s message had to be one of the most striking yet. I have highlighted what I consider to be the most interesting statements:


VATICAN CITY, JUN 6, 2007 (VIS) - St. Cyprian, "the first African bishop to achieve the crown of martyrdom," was the subject of Benedict XVI's catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 40,000 people. Cyprian, said the Pope, "was born in Carthage to a rich pagan family" and "converted to Christianity at the age of 35. ... He became a priest and later a bishop. In the brief period of his episcopate, he had to face the first two persecutions authorized by imperial edict, that of Decius (250) and that of Valerian (257-258)," following which many faithful "renounced their faith, or at least failed to comport themselves correctly when undertrial. These were the so-called 'lapsi,' that is, the 'lapsed'."
Cyprian was "severe but not inflexible towards the 'lapsi,' giving them the chance of forgiveness after an exemplary penance." The saint also "showed great humanity and was pervaded by the most authentic evangelical spirit in exhorting Christians to offer fraternal help to pagans during the plague." But he was "irremovable in combating the corruption and sins that devastated the moral life, especially that of avarice."
‘Cyprian wrote many treatises and letters, all of them associated with his pastoral ministry. Little given to theological speculations, he wrote above all for the edification of the community and to encourage the faithful to good behavior."
In the saint's works, the Holy Father explained, "the Church is by far the topic most dear to him. He distinguishes between the visible hierarchical Church and the invisible mystical Church, at the same time forcefully affirming that the Church is one, founded upon Peter. He never tires of repeating that 'whoever abandons the chair of Peter, upon which the Church is founded, deludes himself if he believes he remains in the Church'."
Hence, "the indispensable characteristic of the Church is unity, as symbolized by the seamless robe of Christ; a unity that finds its foundation in Peter and its perfect realization in the Eucharist," said the Holy Father. He then referred to Cyprian's teaching on prayer "which highlights how in the Our Father Christians are shown the correct way to pray." That prayer refers to "us" and "our" rather than to "me" and "mine," said the Pope, "so that he who prays does not pray only for himself. Ours is a public and community prayer. ... The Christian does not say 'my Father,' but 'our Father,' even when praying in the privacy of a closed room, because he knows that everywhere and in all circumstances, he is a member of the one Body."
"Cyprian, then, lies at the origins of that fruitful theological-spiritual tradition that sees the heart as the privileged place of prayer. ... It is there that God meets and talks to man, ... and man listens to God. Let us make our own that 'understanding heart' about which the Bible and the Fathers speak," the Pope concluded. "We have such great need of it."
Ok… so can we all agree that Benedict was not merely teaching a history lesson about the Third Century “lapsi” when he includes a quote like 'whoever abandons the chair of Peter, upon which the Church is founded, deludes himself if he believes he remains in the Church'… now who could he be talking about? Could it possibly, just possibly be connected somehow to a particular document that is rumored to be released very soon? Granted, the pressures which caused the “lapsi” to renounce their faith were maybe more compelling (wild beasts in the Coliseum, etc…), and even so, Cyprian was “severe but not inflexible towards the 'lapsi,' giving them the chance of forgiveness after an exemplary penance” , holding out an olive branch to them because he understood why they renounced their allegiance to the Chair of Peter.
If you have a chance, use the following links and read some of Benedict’s other lessons on the Church Fathers that have been given this year. I can’t help but feel that these are not merely academic history lessons, but are in fact the "Church Fathers Speaking" to us…and we would be wise to listen! I will leave it to you to draw what parallels might exist…
Benedict’s lessons on the Church Fathers:
Origen Part I
Origen Part II
Clement of Alexandria:
Saint Iraneaus of Lyons:
Saint Justin, Philosopher and Martyr: (note particularly the last four passages here speaking about“customs”)
Saint Ignatius of Antioch:
Saint Clement, Bishop of Rome:
Benedict’s lessons on the Early Christians:
Priscilla and Aquila:
Barnabas, Silas and Apollos:
Stephen, the Protomartyr:
An interesting address for the Week of Christian Unity (A theme that runs throughout all of these addresses):

Monday, June 4, 2007

A Hopeful Sign

Concerning the Motu Proprio, this comment was released today, June 4th, from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state

As for the document granting wider latitude for celebration of the Tridentine rite, Cardinal Bertone said that "one shouldn't have to wait long to see it published."The cardinal said the pope was "personally interested in making this happen" and that the pontiff had prepared an accompanying letter explaining the move and expressing the hope for a serene reception by the church.

This seems to be a good sign that we are in the final days of waiting, and from a reliable and informed source. There is also mention here of the accompanying letter, but with a new twist. Cardinal Bertone says that the Pontiff hopes for a serene reception by the church. This would imply that there may be some bracing for a not-so-serene reception going on here. Another curious wording is that the Pope was "personally interested in making this happen”. I say curious because there are a great many other things that Benedict is personally interested in making happen, and it would be a very hopeful sign that he is willing and able to “make them happen” against opposition if he feels that they are in the best interest of the Church.

I wonder also if, following the publication of the Motu Proprio, we might begin seeing a clearer articulation of reforms that are coming, or if the accompanying letter to the Bishops might lay out a plan for liturgical reform as part of the explanation for why the MP is both necessary and desirable. Cardinal Bertone, who has obviously seen the document, had previously referred to the MP as a “nuclear bomb”… quite a strong statement about a papal document. And earlier this year, Bishop Fellay, Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, predicted that when the document freeing the Traditional rite is promulgated, it will be followed "by a war within the Church," resulting in a spiritual war being ignited "identical to that of an atomic bomb,"
Two nuclear bomb references relating to one papal document has to make a person wonder… What exactly is in this document? Hopefully, it will not be long now before we find out…