Gerhard Müller, Bishop of Regensburg, takes over from retired Cardinal Levada as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Liam sent me this link, with the following commentary from “New Catholic” at Rorate Caeli:
Müller’s nomination is also meant as a sign of a positive reevaluation of Liberation Theology, of which Müller is an enthusiast, in the Vatican – signaled by an article by Müller himself highlighting “positive” aspects of this dreadful movement published last December in L’Osservatore Romano. Which considering last week’s news on the collapse of the Church in Brazil, the one most ravaged by Liberation Theology, probably means people in the Vatican simply cannot understand numbers… Or do they want those numbers?
If the traditionalists are dismayed, is that good news for the Church? My friends know I don’t subscribe to the enemy-of-my-enemy meme. I see equal opportunity splinters all over the place. Will Bishop Müller be a CDF head in the image of Joseph Ratzinger, an active theologian as well as a bureaucrat? Or should we pay more attention to the man as an administrator: the guy who blew up consulting bodies in his diocese, alienated himself from his brother bishops somewhat, and extended a hard line to stray sheep regardless of their ideology?
I think the internet conservative Catholics are really in trouble spiritually, if they expect like-minded leadership in their own image, and start spouting “heresy” at every bishop’s every published word–which they watch carefully, I’m sure. Given what I’ve seen in the comboxes at RC and WDTPRS, the ministry of Peter sure has it’s work cut out for it in the cyber-age.
In this context, we sure hope we’re sheep:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least sisters or brothers of mine,
you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”
Some readings strike me as safe and comforting choices for a funeral. Some seem gutsy. This passage is the latter. It comes at the conclusion of a two-chapter (Matthew 24-25) discourse on the Reign of God. Jesus is preaching in Jerusalem, and this final conclusion pretty much lays out God’s vision of who are worthy citizens of the coming Reign, and who are not.
On one level, this passage may be about a person of good works, a person who found the real presence of Christ among hungry people, thirsty people, strangers, naked, sick, and imprisoned people. To me, this section is as explicit as John 6. A lack of care for God’s “least ones” is as much a rejection of the Lord as walking out of the banquet feast on one’s own terms. Like Judas.
The passage is also deeply Christ-centered. It is the undeniable teaching of the Lord. It is a caution for all living believers: if you want the sure path to eternal life, follow this advice and care for the “least ones” as you would care for the Lord himself.
I would be nervous about this gospel getting preached at my funeral. But I’ve known people who were exemplars at Matthew 25. And I could see it as eminently suitable for them. What about you?
The other Sunday I was in my office, and I heard an insistent tapping for about five minutes.
Mr Goldfinch wasn’t at all camera shy.
If he really wants to come to church, I suggested he look for the entrance the bats use.
As the Fortnight for Freedom continues, so does our series looking at the freedoms and trials of various women. My good friend Rae Reilly generously offered to write an essay. Given her recent sojourn Down Under, the choice of saint seemed a natural.
I became acquainted with St. Mary MacKillop this winter while spending 3 months in Brisbane, Australia. It was the imposing sculpture of her in a little chapel on the grounds of the Cathedral of St. Stephen that ignited my interest in her.
The figure, created by John Elliott in 1998, is larger than life. Placed in a small devotional area separated from the sanctuary by a screen, it filled the space, allowing me to examine it closely. This was no static figure – it caught St. Mary mid-stride. Why was the wood so rough, so cut up? I learned it was made from the truck of a century-old tree, cut into pieces and then recombined. Why were the hands so large? There were places where it looked as though twigs had been clipped off, leaving little stubs. Why? Then there was the face – smooth, warm. I almost ignored the 4-panel screen. But then I noticed some writing and drawings. What were those about?
St. Mary MacKillop is known for establishing, with Fr. Julian Tenison Woods, Australia’s first religious order, the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart (1867). She was the first sister and first Mother Superior, taking the name Mary of the Cross. To her, crosses were blessings, challenging her to learn and grow. The Order’s emphasis was on educating the poor and serving the needs of the orphans, neglected children, the aged poor, and others in need. The sisters lived as the miners, farmers, and railroad workers did in the rugged outback where they educated the children. The schools they established were open to all, regardless of ability to pay. The sisters went to any rural area needing their services. They often supported themselves by begging. The Order grew and spread through Australia and beyond. By her death, 750 had entered the Order, establishing 106 houses including 12 institutions which sheltered 1000 people in need. One hundred seventeen schools had served 12,409 students.
Good story, good works. However, politics became her cross. She was another Worthy Woman who, like Mother Marie-Anne Blondin in yesterday’s “Worthy Women” contribution, DID stand up to the clergy and bishops – over and over again.
The bishop in Adelaide ordered a Commission to examine the Order. Among the recommendations – giving the local priest authority over each convent. When she presented her concerns to the bishop she was excommunicated, though that was lifted several months later before the bishop’s death.
She traveled to Rome to receive formal approval of the Rule of the Order. After more than a year, the governing structure was approved: it would be governed by the Superior General and her council. Sr. Mary of the Cross became the first Superior General. In spite of Rome’s approval, bishops in Australia continued efforts in a variety of ways and over many years to have diocesan control over the sisters’ communities within their dioceses. After yet another (the last) effort by the bishops to gain power over the Order, Mother Mary and several others successfully appealed to Rome to retain their governance, with its headquarters in Sydney.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it. Investigations, Council recommendations, desire for power over the women. Time spent dealing with these issues keeping Mother Mary and others from their mission to serve the poor.
Throughout, Mother Mary MacKillop remained dedicated to God and her mission. She wrote often to her Sisters, encouraging them. Some of these writings are found in her handwriting on the panels in the devotional area where I first met St. Mary.
“Have courage and think of the noble work to which the Will of God has called us all. I think of the love too deep for words to express, with which God watches over this children.” (Aug. 6, 1870)
“Never see a need without doing something about it.” (1871)
“We have had much sorrow and are still suffering its effects, but sorrow or trial lovingly submitted to do not prevent our being happy – it rather purifies our happiness, and in so doing draws our hearts nearer to God.” (1883)
And from her final letter to the Sisters:
“Whatever troubles may be before you, accept them cheerfully, remembering whom you are trying to follow. Do not be afraid. Love one another, bear with one another, and let charity guide you in all your life.” (Jan. 12, 1909)
St. Mary MacKillop’s work and legacy are larger than life. The rough texture of the sculpture mirrors the rough life in the bush where she and her sisters worked and lived – and her toughness in dealing with challenging politics. The huge hands – capable and hard working. Her posture – determined and forward moving. Her face – filled with compassion for those in need and with a passion for God.
A quick post today with brief comments on the introductory rites …
A. Introductory Rites
17. The introductory rites of the Mass of the dedication of an altar take place in the usual way except that in place of the penitential rite the bishop blesses water and with it sprinkles the people and the new altar.
Note that the rite of sprinkling is always done at this Mass, and that the altar is sprinkled here, during the introductory rites.
B. Liturgy of the Word
18. It is commendable to have three readings in the liturgy of the word, chosen, according to the rubrical norm, either from the liturgy of the day (see no. 15) or from those in the Lectionary for the rite of the dedication of an altar (nos. 704 and 706).
19. After the readings, the bishop gives the homily, in which he explains the biblical readings and the meaning of the dedication of an altar.
After the homily, the profession of faith is said. The general intercessions are omitted, since the Litany of the Saints is sung in their place.
We’ll get to the details of these rites after the introduction, chapter IV is complete.