VATICAN INSIDER: ST. JOHN CANTIUS, THE STORY OF A CHICAGO PARISH

VATICAN INSIDER: ST. JOHN CANTIUS, THE STORY OF A CHICAGO PARISH

My guest this week in the interview segment of “Vatican Insider” is a longtime friend, Fr. Frank Phillips, former pastor for 30 years at Chicago’s well-known St. John Cantius Church. After a number of years, we met serendipitously over my vacation at a pre-investiture ceremony for the Order of the Holy Sepulchre that was held at St. John Cantius.

I’ve always been intrigued by the rich history of this parish and you will be too as you hear Fr. Frank talk of his 30 years here, of his love of reverent and beautiful liturgy, of his founding of a religious community, the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, and so much more.

Thanks to Fr. Frank’s dedication, inspiration, as well as decades of both material and spiritual renewal, the current pastor, Fr. Josh Caswell and his staff offer many liturgies during the week, including morning, afternoon and evening prayers, vespers and high and low Masses in both Latin and English.

Astonishingly enough, the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius today work in 3 parishes in 2 dioceses in Illinois, offering 57 public Masses weekly and hearing more than 700 confessions each week! Yes, you read that right!

First called the Society of St. John Cantius by Cardinal George, the name was later changed to the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius.  The reference is to St. John of Kenty, Poland!

Here are some of the dozens of photos I took at the Holy Sepulchre liturgy on September 24. Some kind of technical glitch prevented me today from uploading all the pictures I took but when I finally make that happen, there are many photos and many stories to tell What you see is only a small representation of the main body of the church, the reliquary room and what I call the Polish chapel, a room in which Fr. Phillips had recreated to one-third original size the main altar of St. Mary Church on Market Square in Krakow. You’ll love the story of this Polish parish!

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Just a bit of history from the wonderful website (www.cantius.org):

In July of 1988, His Holiness Pope John Paul II issued the motu proprio, “Ecclesia Dei,” calling for a wide and generous application of the indult of 1984, which renewed the celebration of Mass according to the Missal of 1962 (the Tridentine Mass, also known as the Extraordinary Form of the Mass). His purpose was to fulfill the rightful need of those attached to this liturgical tradition and to bring those members of the laity affiliated with the Society of Pius X back into the true fold.

​Late in 1988, in response to Pope John Paul II’s request in his motu proprio, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin contacted Fr. Frank Phillip about establishing St. John Cantius Church as the site for the renewed celebration of the Tridentine Mass in the Archdiocese of Chicago. As a result of discussions between Fr. Phillips and Fr. Robert Kealy of the Archdiocese of Chicago and with the approval of Fr. Phillips’ superiors on the Provincial Council of the Congregation of the Resurrection, it was decided that the Indult Tridentine Mass would be celebrated on a weekly basis at St. John Cantius Church.

The first of these Masses was held on February 4, 1989. For many years, a group of Archdiocesan priests celebrated this Mass on a rotating basis.

 

 

NEW METROPOLITAN ARCHBISHOPS RECEIVED PALLIUMS BLESSED BY POPE – A SAINT, BABY LAMBS AND PALLIUMS

NEW METROPOLITAN ARCHBISHOPS RECEIVED PALLIUMS BLESSED BY POPE

Today’s solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles and patron saints of Rome is a heartfelt celebration, both in the Vatican and throughout the Eternal City. The main event is always the papal Mass in St. Peter’s basilica when metropolitan archbishops, named by the Pope since the previous June 29th are given the symbols of their authority and their link to the See of Peter, the palliums blessed by the Pope.

Today, 32 of the 44 metropolitan archbishops named since last June 29 were present in St. Peter’s basilica and received the blessed palliums from the hands of the Holy Father.

The palliums were brought from the confessio area beneath the papal altar to Pope Francis who blessed them. Later in the Mass, the archbishops received the palliums in which looked like a gift-wrapper box. The nuncio of each archbishop’s country will actually place the pallium on his shoulders in a ceremony in his home cathedral.

The Holy Father, seated in an armchair not far from the celebrated statue of the first pope, St. Peter, presided at the first part of Mass, the Liturgy of the Word, and he delivered the homily (Pope at Mass: Church called to promote a culture of care – Vatican News)

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the College of Cardinals, presided at the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The bronze statue of Peter on this day, as well as on February 22, feast of the Chair of Peter, wears stupendous vestments, the triple tiara and a papal ring on a finger of his extended hand.

The Vatican today also released Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter “Desiderio desideravi”on the liturgy, addressed to “the People of God,” Pope: ‘Overcome polemics about the liturgy to rediscover its beauty’ – Vatican News

A SAINT, BABY LAMBS AND PALLIUMS

When Pope Francis announced on May 29 this year that he would create 21 new cardinals, most observers were surprised when he gave the date of the consistory to create new cardinals as August 27, 2022, three months later. Consistories have historically taken place within a month of the announcement of the cardinals-elect.

Interestingly enough, exactly four years ago today in St. Peter’s Square, June 29, solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Pope Francis presided at Mass with the new cardinals he created the previous day, having announced them a month earlier, and with other members of the College of Cardinals.

During Mass the Pope blessed the palliums worn by metropolitan archbishops that for years were placed on the shoulders of the archbishops by the Pope on this very feast day. This year the palliums were handed in a box to the new metropolitan archbishops.

In 2015, Francis changed the traditional ceremony in which the prelates receive the pallium, deciding that the public ceremony of investiture of the pallium on metropolitan archbishops would henceforth take place in their home dioceses and not in the Vatican as has been the case under recent pontiffs.

The pallium is a white, woolen circular band embroidered with six black crosses which is worn over the shoulders and has two hanging pieces, one in front and another in back. Worn by the Pope and by metropolitan archbishops, it symbolizes their authority as archbishop and expresses the special bond between the bishops and the Roman Pontiff.

In a 1978 document, “Inter Eximina Episcopalis,” Pope Paul VI restricted its use to the Pope and metropolitan archbishops. Six years later, Pope John Paul decreed that it would be conferred on the metropolitans by the Pope on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Every year in the Vatican, on January 21, in keeping with the tradition for the liturgical memory of St. Agnes, two lambs, blessed earlier in the morning in the Roman basilica named for this saint, are presented to the Pope. The lambs are raised by the Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains. When their wool is shorn, the Sisters of St. Cecelia weave it into the palliums (pallia is another plural form) that, on the June 29th feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, are given to new metropolitan archbishops as signs of their office.

Usually in attendance at the January 21 ceremony in the Apostolic Palace are 21 people, including two Trappist fathers, several nuns, two canons of the Chapter of St. John, the dean of the Roman Rota, and two officials from the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, and a number of other invited guests.

The baby lambs, under one year of age, are normally tucked into wicker baskets, and both lambs and baskets are adorned with red and white ribbons and flowers, white to symbolize purity and red to signify the blood of a martyr. In 2004 St. John Paul II blessed the lambs during a general audience in the Paul VI Hall as both the audience and St. Agnes’ feast day occurred on a Wednesday.

Agnes died about 305 and is buried in the basilica named for her on Rome’s Via Nomentana. Historical accounts vary about the birth, life and manner of death of Agnes but generally it is recounted that, in order to preserve her virginity, she was martyred at a very young age, probably 12. She is usually depicted with a lamb because the Latin word so similar to her name, agnus, means “lamb.” The name Agnes is actually derived from the feminine Greek adjective hagné meaning “chaste, pure.”

In 2011, L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican paper, carried an interview with Sr. Hanna Pomniaowska, one of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth who prepares the lambs every year for their Vatican visit. This order of nuns has been preparing the baby lambs for over 130 years and it was their founder, Blessed Frances Siedliska, who started this custom in 1884. Up to that date another order of nuns had prepared the lambs but it became difficult when the nuns began to age. At that time the Sisters of the Holy Family took over the duties.

Two lambs are brought to the sisters on January 20 by the Trappist Fathers of Tre Fontane (Three Fountains). The nuns then bring the lambs to the top floor of their residence where there is a terrace with a laundry room where the lambs are washed with delicate soap usually used for children until their wool is white as the driven snow and they are dried with a hair dryer that, in recent years, has replaced the towels they once used.

The nuns are careful to completely dry the lambs so that, at their tender age, they do not fall sick. The room is well heated. After the lambs are dried they are placed in a tub that is covered with straw and closed with canvas so they don’t catch cold. A meal of straw is fed to the lambs who then spend the night in the laundry.

The morning of January 21, the nuns place two small capes on the lambs, one is red to indicate St. Agnes’ martyrdom and the other is white to indicate her virginity. There are also three letters on each mantle: S.A.V. (St. Agnes Virgin) and S.A.M. (St. Agnes Martyr). The sisters weave crowns of interlocking red and white flowers, place them on the baby lambs’ heads, and then put the lambs in a decorated basket. The lambs are tied so they don’t escape. In fact, one of them did escape a few years back, jumping up and running from the altar at St. Agnes basilica.

In the morning the lambs are brought to St. Agnes Basilica where they are placed on the altar and blessed. Following this ceremony, two papal sediari or chair bearers bring the lambs in a van to the Vatican where they are presented to the Holy Father. It is usually the sisters who are celebrating a jubilee of religious vows who are present in the papal residence.

VATICAN INSIDER: FR. JOHN PAUL, A MISSIONARY OF MERCY – POPE FRANCIS POSTPONES JULY TRIP TO AFRICA – LACE AND THE LITURGY

VATICAN INSIDER: FR. JOHN PAUL, A MISSIONARY OF MERCY

My guest this week in the interview segment of Vatican Insider is EWTN’s chaplain to staff, Fr. John Paul. He spends several weeks each year with the Rome bureau staff and this week and next, he’ll talk about that as well as his life as a Missionary of Mercy, with especially meaningful words on being a confessor. It will give you a new and wonderful idea about confessor priests. Next week he will tell us about the third international meeting of missionaries of mercy with Pope Francis.

Here are some photos from Fr. John Paul’s May visit:

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POPE FRANCIS POSTPONES JULY TRIP TO AFRICA

The day’s big news came this morning from Holy See Press Office director Matteo Bruni: “At the request of his doctors, and in order not to jeopardize the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee, the Holy Father has been forced to postpone, with regret, his Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo and to South Sudan, planned for 2 to 7 July, to a later date to be determined.”

Hopefully, we will also be apprised of the therapy the Pope is undergoing as there has been no official news, declarations or statements on this for weeks.

Pope Francis is also scheduled to travel to Canada at the end of July (July 24 to 29, leaving that day for Rome, arriving on the 30th).

LACE AND THE LITURGY

My take on some interesting thoughts expressed yesterday in off-the-cuff remarks by Pope Francis to priests and bishops from Sicily in a morning audience in the Clementine Hall. I had read his entire talk in Italian and had posted the Vatican News summary, neither of which had these remarks as, of course, they were spontaneous. Here are those papal remarks from the CNA story:

In improvised comments during his speech, Francis also addressed a topic that he said “worries” him: the progress of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, particularly relating to the liturgy.

“I don’t know, because I don’t go to Mass in Sicily and I don’t know how the Sicilian priests preach, whether they preach as was suggested in [the 2013 Aapostolic exhortationEvangelii gaudium or whether they preach in such a way that people go out for a cigarette and then come back,” the pope said.

He suggested that after eight minutes of a homily, most people’s attention begins to wane.

Noting that he had seen photos from Masses in Sicily, Francis appeared also to comment on the use of lace on the vestments priests wear while celebrating Mass.

“Where are we 60 years after the Council,” he said. “Some updating even in liturgical art, in liturgical ‘fashion’.”

“Yes, sometimes bringing some of grandma’s lace is appropriate, sometimes. It’s to pay homage to grandma, right?” he continued. “It’s good to honor grandma, but it’s better to celebrate the mother, Holy Mother Church, and how Mother Church wants to be celebrated. So that insularity does not prevent the true liturgical reform that the Council sent out.” (Pope Francis urges Sicily’s Catholic priests to be moral guides — but to drop the lace | Catholic News Agency)

Pope Francis used to advocate that homilies be no more than 10 minutes – now max should be 8 minutes.

And lace – the apparent overabundant use of lace! Let’s check out the papal Masses in St. Peter’s to see what prelates are wearing. I’ve seen lace in the past!

Has lace now become a bad thing because it is part of Tradition?

 

 

POPE FRANCIS: “LITURGY NEEDS TO RETURN TO CENTER OF CHRISTIAN FAITH”

I think each of us can well remember what it was like when Mass could not be celebrated in our parishes but only online during Covid lockdowns last year. Churches were closed to liturgy in Italy at the time but had to be open during the day for people who simply wanted to stop in for a quick prayer or a rosary.

I think we all remember personally attending our first post lockdown Mass, even with social distancing, no holy water, hand sanitizer everywhere and little (or big) stickers on the pews, showing us where we could sit.

However, none of that mattered as much as finally attending Mass in person, as finally receiving the Eucharist, having the Lord Himself nourish us!

The Pope mentions the lockdown in his remarks on liturgy….

POPE FRANCIS: ‘LITURGY NEEDS TO RETURN TO CENTER OF CHRISTIAN FAITH’

Pope Francis sent greetings to participants in an Italian liturgical conference, and said last year’s Covid-lockdown can help the Church rediscover the importance of the Sunday Eucharistic assembly.

By Devin Watkins

As part of the 71st National Liturgical Week, Italian clergy and laypeople are gathered in the northern city of Cremona for a conference organized by the Center for Liturgical Action.

Pope Francis kicked off the 4-day event with a message signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. (Vatican media photo)

In his message, the Pope thanked God that the conference could be held this year in-person, “following last year’s disheartening moment” caused by the pandemic. “The painful decision to postpone the event,” said Francis, “has however confirmed in a new light the chosen theme which seeks to deepen reflection on various aspects of ‘celebrating’, which was put to the test by the spread of Covid-19 and the necessary restrictions to contain it.”

Liturgy and Christian identity

The conference’s theme to which the Pope was referring is “’Where two or three are gathered in my name’: Community, liturgies, and territories.”

He noted that Christians have always come together weekly in Jesus’ name, an act that is closely tied to the Church’s identity.

However, he lamented, weekly Masses were “harshly limited during the most acute phase of the pandemic.” “Yet, love for the Lord and pastoral creativity pushed pastors and lay faithful to experiment with new ways to nourish the communion of faith and love with the Lord and our brothers and sisters, in the expectation of returning to the fullness of the Eucharistic celebration in safety and tranquility.”

Lockdowns worsened existing trend

Pope Francis said last year’s “liturgical fast” was painful, but also illuminated by the mystery of the Cross of Christ and was made fruitful by many “works of charity, fraternal love, and service to those who suffered the most.”

Privation from the Mass, he added, has led the Church to reflect on the importance of the liturgy in the lives of Christians, since “we must also pray with the body.”

The shutdown of churches also highlighted a trend already underway on the Italian peninsula that has seen declining Mass attendance among certain age groups.

“We observe that people’s perception of time and Sunday itself has changed, with consequences on ways of living and feeling part of a community, people, and family,” he said. “The Sunday assembly is therefore misbalanced in terms of generational and cultural presence”.

Mass at center of faith

The Pope then expressed his hope that the liturgical conference might enkindle new ideas and pastoral guidelines to offer to parishes throughout Italy.

“May Sunday, the Eucharistic assembly, the ministries, and the rite emerge from the marginalization toward which they seem to tend inexorably, while rediscovering the centrality of faith and spirituality of the faithful,” he prayed.

Pope Francis concluded his message assuring his prayers for the Church in Italy as it seeks to keep Christ at the center of its liturgical life.

POPE INVITES THE FAITHFUL TO OPEN THEIR EARS AND HEARTS TO GOD’S WORD – NEWS ABOUT CHINA AND THE VATICAN – SOME GOOD NEWS FROM CHINA: CELEBRATIONS AS BISHOP SHAO ZHUMIN RETURNS TO WENZHOU

The China story continues as you will see below, including an interview with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Partolin on Vatican-China relations and then a story about a Chinese bishop released after 7 months of being held by Chinese officials. If you want to know what the issues are for the Catholic Church and the Vatican in China this is a short but must-read article.

There was also the weekly general audience today and Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Mass, highlighting the importance of the Liturgy of the Word.

POPE INVITES THE FAITHFUL TO OPEN THEIR EARS AND HEARTS TO GOD’S WORD

During his catechesis at the weekly general audience, Pope Francis told those present that Christians need to be constantly open to and challenged by the Word of God. By Linda Bordoni (for Vaticannews)

Pope Francis invited the faithful to place themselves in silent openness to God’s saving message as it resounds in the ecclesial assembly and is a fundamental aspect of God’s constant dialogue with his people.

The Pope’s words came on Wednesday during the general audience as he continued his ongoing catechesis dedicated to the Eucharist with a reflection on the Liturgy of the Word.

During Mass, he said, God speaks to his people through the Liturgy of the Word, and the same Holy Spirit who inspired the sacred Scriptures opens our minds and hearts to that living word.

“That’s why,” he explained, “personal choices regarding the readings are not acceptable.” He invited priests to use the readings listed in the Church’s Lectionary, and not replace them by reading from other sources – such as newspaper articles. This is something, he said, that favours ecclesial communion.“God’s Word is God’s Word! We can read the newspaper later on. In Church we read God’s Word. It is the Lord speaking to us.”

If you chat you cannot be listening to the Word of God

The Pope also reflected on the behavior of Church-goers pointing out that if one chats during Mass, one doesn’t hear God’s Word. He urged them to open their hearts in silence to be able to receive His message and then put its indications into practice.

“We need to listen! Since we do not live ‘by bread alone’, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God, we need to be constantly open to, and challenged by, that word, in our lives as individuals and in our life as a Church. This is why we talk about the Liturgy of the Word as ‘the table of God’s Word’ that the Lord sets to nourish our spiritual life.”

Active participation

The Responsorial Psalm, Francis said, favors God’s dialogue with his people as it sets the meditative mood for the next reading and he invited the faithful to participate “at least in the response”. The Liturgical proclamation, he added, expresses and favors ecclesial communion and accompanies believers in their journey of faith.

We need good readers

Francis also reflected on the need for good readers and psalmists, whom, he said, must practice: “this favors an atmosphere of receptive silence” he said. “We know that the Lord’s Word is an indispensable aid to avoid getting lost: it lights up our path. …. How could we undertake our earthly pilgrimage, with all of its burdens and challenges without being regularly nourished and enlightened by God’s Word that resounds in the Liturgy?”
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In conclusion the Pope noted that it is not enough to listen only with ears, but with open hearts so that the Word can make its way inside us and make itself evident in our hands “as we carry out good works”.

NEWS ABOUT CHINA AND THE VATICAN

Cardinal Parolin, “Why we are in dialogue with China”

An interview with the Secretary of State who responds to the accusations made against the Holy See regarding the ongoing contacts, “We trust that the Chinese faithful, thanks to their spirit of faith, will know how to recognize that our action is animated by trust in the Lord and does not answer to worldly logic”


(From a La Stampa interview) – Several signals (including opaque operations, actual political manipulations, and even sabotage) indicate that important developments may occur in contacts between the Holy See and the Government of the People’s Republic of China. The time is right to listen to an authoritative word, which will help to grasp what the Pope and the Holy See really have at heart. And with our Chinese brothers and sisters in mind, help to dispel suspicions and artificial fumes, to look at the ecclesial heart of the whole question, outside politicized narratives. For this reason, Vatican Insider interviewed Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of His Holiness.

Eminence, what can you tell us about the dialogue between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China?
“As it is well known, with the advent of “New China”, there were, for the life of the Church in that great country, moments of serious contrasts and severe suffering. Since the eighties, however, contacts have been established between representatives of the Holy See and of People’s China, who have known different seasons and alternating events. The Holy See has always maintained a pastoral approach, trying to overcome the contrasts and making itself available for a respectful and constructive dialogue with the civil authorities. Pope Benedict XVI well represented the spirit of this dialogue in his 2007 Letter to Chinese Catholics, “the solution to existing problems cannot be pursued via an ongoing conflict with the legitimate civil authorities ” (n. 4). In Pope Francis’ pontificate, the ongoing negotiations move exactly along these lines: constructive openness to dialogue and fidelity to the genuine Tradition of the Church”.

What are the concrete expectations of the Holy See from this dialogue?
“First of all, I would like to make a premise: in China, perhaps more than elsewhere, Catholics have been able to preserve, despite the many difficulties and sufferings, the authentic deposit of faith, keeping firmly the bond of hierarchical communion between the Bishops and the Successor of Peter, as a visible guarantee of faith itself. In fact, communion between the Bishop of Rome and all Catholic Bishops touches the heart of the Church’s unity: it is not a private matter between the Pope and the Chinese Bishops or between the Apostolic See and civil authorities. Having said that, the main purpose of the Holy See in the ongoing dialogue is precisely that of safeguarding communion within the Church, in the wake of genuine Tradition and constant ecclesiastical discipline. You see, in China there are not two Churches, but two communities of faithful called to follow a gradual path of reconciliation towards unity. It is not, therefore, a matter of maintaining a perennial conflict between opposing principles and structures, but of finding realistic pastoral solutions that allow Catholics to live their faith and to continue together the work of evangelization in the specific Chinese context”.

TO READ ENTIRE INTERVIEW, CLICK HERE: http://www.lastampa.it/2018/01/31/vaticaninsider/eng/inquiries-and-interviews/parolin-why-we-are-in-dialogue-with-china-C8mlJsD0PDNsmsx7db6ZIJ/pagina.html

SOME GOOD NEWS FROM CHINA: CELEBRATIONS AS BISHOP SHAO ZHUMIN RETURNS TO WENZHOU

He had been in the hands of the police for seven months. Pressure exerted to make him join the Patriotic Association (Click here for video: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Celebrations-as-Msgr.-Shao-Zhumin-returns-to-Wenzhou-(Video)-42977.html

Wenzhou (AsiaNews) – Msgr. Peter Shao Zhumin, bishop of Wenzhou (Zhejiang), recognized by the Holy See but not by the government, has returned to his diocese. On January 27th he was welcomed by the faithful with a celebration, prayers and a song specially composed for his return. The song praises him as “our dear bishop who leads us to Christ. Our bishop is the good shepherd … your name is always in our hearts “. (AsiaNews photo)

On May 18 he was taken from his diocese by public security forces and members of the Religious Affairs Bureau and held in Xining (Qinghai), 2500 km from Wenzhou, still under police escort. As of January 4 he is free to move and is no longer escorted by security personnel. Sources from the diocese had told AsiaNews that he would stop in Beijing at the hospital to be treated following an ear operation.

In all these months, police exerted psychological pressure on him to make him join the Patriotic Association, the Party body that wants a Church independent of the Holy See. Faced with his refusal, in early December, representatives of religious affairs asked him to sign a document with the four conditions for receiving government recognition. They include his support for the principle of an independent Church; support for self-nomination and self-ordination [of the bishops]; concelebration with an illegitimate bishop, not recognized by the Vatican; submission to the new religious regulations that will be launched next February. But again Msgr. Shao refused.


For decades the Catholic community of Wenzhou – about 130,000 faithful – has been divided between official and non-official communities: more than 80 thousand belong to the unofficial community. There are 70 priests, divided equally between the two communities. Msgr Shao, 54, despite being a member of the underground Church, is also appreciated by the official community.
Following the bishop’s abduction, the German ambassador to Beijing Michael Clauss spoke up for his release. Even the Holy See had expressed concern over its fate.

POPE FRANCIS: WE CAN ASSERT WITH MAGISTERIAL AUTHORITY THAT THE LITURGICAL REFORM IS IRREVERSIBLE – AMATRICE, ONE YEAR LATER

Papal tweet August 24: Humanity needs hope in order to live and needs the Holy Spirit in order to hope.

A lot to ponder in this talk today by Pope Francis. I can’t wait to talk to some officials and experts in liturgy about the content, in particular because the Holy Father did not go into specific detail about change, what stays, what was perhaps on the way out and should go – or might stay – etc.

POPE FRANCIS: WE CAN ASSERT WITH MAGISTERIAL AUTHORITY THAT THE LITURGICAL REFORM IS IRREVERSIBLE

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis gave an important address on the liturgical reform on Thursday, speaking to participants of the 68th Italian National Liturgical Week.

The liturgical reform, he said, did not “flourish suddenly,” but was the result of a long preparation. It was brought to maturity by the Second Vatican Council with the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, “whose lines of general reform respond to real needs and to the concrete hope of a renewal; it desired a living liturgy for a Church completely vivified by the mysteries celebrated.”

The direction marked out by the Council, the Pope continued, found expression in the revised liturgical books promulgated by Blessed Paul VI. But “it is not enough to reform the liturgical books; the mentality of the people must be reformed as well.” The reformation of the liturgical books was the first step in a process, he said, “that requires time, faithful reception, practical obedience, wise implementation” on the part first of the ordained ministers, but also of the other ministers, and indeed, of all who take part in the liturgy.

Today, Pope Francis said, “there is still work to do in this direction, in particular rediscovering the reasons for the decisions made with the liturgical reform, overcoming unfounded and superficial readings, partial receptions, and practices that disfigure it.” He said that this is not a question “of rethinking the reform by reviewing its choices, but of knowing better the underlying reasons [for it]… [and] of internalizing its inspirational principles and of observing the discipline that governs it.”

The Supreme Pontiff insisted, “After this magisterial, and after this long journey, we can assert with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.”

Reflecting on the theme of this year’s Liturgy Week – “A living Liturgy for a living Church” – Pope Francis dwelt on three points:

1)The liturgy is “living” in virtue of the living presence of Christ; Christ is at the heart of the liturgical action.

2)The liturgy is life through the whole people of God. By its nature, the liturgy is “popular” rather than clerical; it is an action for the people, but also by the people.

3) The liturgy is life, and not an idea to be understood. It brings us to live an initiatory experience, a transformative experience that changes how we think and act; it is not simply a means of enriching our own set of ideas about God.

The Church, Pope Francis said, “is truly living if, forming one single living being with Christ, it is a bearer of life, it is maternal, it is missionary, going out to encounter the neighbour, careful to serve without pursuing worldly powers that render it sterile.”

The Holy Father concluded his reflection by noting that the Church in prayer, insofar as it is catholic, “goes beyond the Roman Rite” which, although it is the largest, is by no means the only Rite within the Church. “The harmony of the ritual traditions, of the East and of the West,” by means of the same Spirit, gives voice to the one only Church  praying through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, to the glory of the Father, and for the salvation of the world.”

AMATRICE, ONE YEAR LATER

It certainly sounds like the today’s papal tweet applies to the people of Amatrice and nearby towns!

Today marks the first anniversary of the tremendous 6.2 quake that killed 299 people last year in central Italy, in particular the charming town of Amatrice which was basically razed to the ground. The entire rebuilding process will be very, very long, as you see in the photos below and the accompanying article. Posted August 23 on www.thelocal.it

One year after an earthquake struck the Amatrice region – and less than 24 hours after another struck the island of Ischia in the Gulf of Naples – Italy on Thursday will remember the 299 victims killed in the August 23rd, 2016, disaster that still haunts the country.

Survivors will hold a candle-lit procession in the early hours, even as Ischia island to the south, recovers from Italy’s latest quake — and critics again criticize the government for failing to shore-up the nation’s poorly constructed buildings. (photo afp April 2017)

It was well before dawn on August 24, 2016 when a 6.0-magnitude quake razed much of Amatrice and the surrounding region, killing families in their beds or trapping them in dust-filled cavities in the rubble.

Children in their pajamas were pulled lifeless from the debris, one youngster having used up the last of the oxygen tunnelling in the wrong direction in a futile bid to reach safety.

There was more to come. Shell-shocked locals suffered three more violent quakes, on October 26 and 30 and January 18 — the last one sparking an avalanche that would wipe out a hotel and kill 29 people. (photo afp: April 2017)

Damage to homes, schools, hospitals and churches in the region are estimated at 23.55 billion euros ($27.7 billion).

Hours before dawn on Thursday, relatives of the 239 victims who died in Amatrice on the 24th will meet at 1:30 am to remember their loved ones with candles and prayers.

At 3:36am the moment the earthquake struck, a bell will toll 239 times, before a memorial mass is held.

Other commemorations are planned for Wednesday or Thursday in devastated hamlets nearby, from Accumoli to Pescara del Tronto, whose mayor recalled this week “we didn’t know where to put all the dead”.

Continue reading here: https://www.thelocal.it/20170823/italy-prepares-to-remember-2016-amatrice-earthquake-victims

 

A PRIEST EXPLAINS THE HARD TRUTH OF WHY THE CHURCH IS IN DECLINE

No papal activities today, except for daily morning Mass, nor was there any current or breaking news from the Vatican – not even a daily press office bulletin. So, without further ado – or distractions, I offer a “must read” column of the day. I left the bold as I found it.

I wanted to share this insightful piece with you from Fr. Bill Peckman’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/frbill.peckman1/posts/10208973153114644) that came to my attention via ChurchPOP and my EWTN colleagues:

A PRIEST EXPLAINS THE HARD TRUTH OF WHY THE CHURCH IS IN DECLINE

I spend a lot of time, reading, and prayer on why the Church is decline in this country.

The influx of immigrants from Latin America hides the number decline. Even with this influx, every measurable indicator is down: baptisms, confirmations, marriages, priestly ordinations, numbers of men’s and women’s religious, children in parochial schools and religion programs. It is grim.

How did we get here?

The major error was ditching the transcendent. We domesticated God. We became functional Arians. (This doesn’t mean racist, that would be Aryans.) It means we act as if Jesus was merely human, that He is a guru, self-help teacher, social worker extraordinaire.

To be sure, I am not talking about every parish. But as a Church in this country, we took our eyes off the ball.

Mass started looking less like the worship of God and more like a pep rally. Our churches stopped looking Catholic and were overrun by iconoclasts. We went from churches that exuded Catholic belief visually, to ubiquitous sacred spaces that looked more like theaters.

Some places ran with the theater aspect. Worship transformed to entertainment. What I got out of it became much more important than what I put into it.

By ripping out the transcendent heart out of worship, we reduced Mass. It is little wonder that belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist plummeted. It is little wonder that priestly vocations plummeted. While the generation that ushered these things love them, the subsequent generations fled in droves.

With worship emptied of the transcendent, Catholic life soon followed. Devotional life in parishes dried up. Parish churches became Mass stations. It has been heartening to see a rise in Eucharistic Adoration.

With the focus off the transcendent, awareness also plummeted. Confession lines disappeared. Families shrunk as we started contracepting ourselves out of existence. The loud din of children gave way to seas of gray. Accommodation of the secular culture went largely unchallenged. Causes replaced action. The works of mercy declined as a false idea of social just rose in its place.

In this mileau, it was easy for people to leave. Without the transcendent, we offer nothing more than any fraternal order. Without the transcendent, objective morality withers. With our eyes off the ball, 78% of Catholics simply quit coming to Mass. Without the source and summit that is the Eucharist, the Catholic life dies. It is starved to death.

But those who leave, even if they go nowhere else, still have that longing. Many identify that as “spiritual but not religious.” There is still an unrequited longing for the transcendent. If they cannot find it with us, they will look elsewhere, even if that means cobbling something together themselves. We can sneer and belittle them at our own peril. The fact they aren’t drawn to a pep rally isn’t on them – it is on us.

How do we turn this around?

Lets start with focusing back on the transcendent again. In our structures, our worship, our music, our preaching, and our teaching.

This doesn’t mean we ignore the immanent. Not at all! The lessons from the transcendent must find a home in our lives. If God has placed a longing for Him, then that must be the focus at Mass. If we don’t focus on God there, we will leave people no choice but to look elsewhere.

Let us then, having established the prominence of God in our lives, revel in our being counter cultural. We are in the world but not of the world. We are yeast, light, salt, and whatever other transformative description Jesus uses to describe His people.

If we look and act the same as the secular culture around us, then we can hardly be a witness to the throngs of people who are searching for something to fill that God sized hole in their souls. After all, St. Augustine reminds us that our hearts are restless until they rest in Christ.

Our eyes need to be on the ball. Our eyes need to be on Christ. Not on the congregation. Not only the priest. They need to be on Christ.

My duty as a priest, as a pastor of souls, is to be sure the focus is on Him