I had lunch with a priest friend today. Some nice Indian food seemed a perfect way to accompany a mealtime chat on the feast of the apostle to India
Later tonight, I noticed Jim Martin’s essay on Thomas, plus the commentary there. I liked his reflection on Jesus and where some modern believers part company with him:
The Risen Christ is gentle with doubters, with those who need reconciliation, and with those who are so confused that they cannot see him. Are we? Our church today seems filled with people who, when faced with doubt and sin and confusion, seem to want only to scold, castigate and condemn. But look at the way Jesus deals with doubt. He shows. He forgives. He calls someone’s name. In such gentle ways are people brought to know Jesus.
But Fr Martin is not exactly correct here. According to Saint Mark, there were other doubters. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, but when …
She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. (Mark 16:10-11)
There were the two walking into the country who met Jesus …
And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. (Mark 16:13)
And the whole band of apostles were criticized:
Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.(Mark 16:14)
We should keep all these Resurrection stories in mind–all the more reason to be gentle with doubters. They are family, after all. Brothers to be sure.
Some apostles, the most famous of them, are identified as brothers. James and John, as you know. Peter and Andrew, too. Thomas is the fifth apostle identified as a brother. And closer than a brother–a twin. Who might that twin be? Does that relationship have significance like the disciple whom Jesus loved? Is Thomas just like us? Are we that twin?
Even in the conclusion of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus quickly moves on from apostolic criticism. There is a mission to be engaged. Thomas responded by spreading the Gospel as far afield as any of the Twelve. And today, we’ve surpassed that. Still a lot of work to do, and not just for the institutional successors of the apostles. All believers are called to be not only evangelical, but apostolic as well. No doubt, it’s only what younger sisters and brothers would do to respond to the example of an older sibling. No doubt.
I saw this CathNews story from Australia and a few things about it just seemed a bit off. Archbishop Mark Coleridge on the ritual reception of the pallium in Rome last week (from CNA/EWTN news):
It’s a shot in the arm at a time when I think we need that.
I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Church is in great need of a new vigor and sense of evangelism. I was a bit curious about the former Archbishop of Canberra participating in this ceremony. Clearly, the pallium is a function of being appointed to a new archdiocese, and less about being named as an archbishop. Moving from Canberra to Brisbane would be sort of like Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington DC being assigned as head of the Catholic Church in the third-largest American city, namely Chicago.
I hadn’t planned on commenting about Archbishop Coleridge at all. And then I read the lead-off article in the latest edition of Worship, a piece by Georgia Masters Keightley titled, “Summorum Pontificum and the Unmaking of the Lay Church.”
And a few pieces fell together.
Ms Keightley’s premise is that the re-advance of the 1962 Missal is theologically troubling. She cites the poverty of this form on three matters: the General Intercessions, the Rite of Peace, and the Offertory Procession.
These rites were ancient, and nearly universal to the early Church, up through the Middle Ages. According to Ms Keightley, they signify concrete and appropriate expressions of the baptismal priesthood of the laity, and our role in the world as priests, prophets, and kings–a continuation, in other words, of Christ’s explicit mission during his time on earth.
Ms Keightley criticizes the reintroduction of the 1962 Missal as being out of step with the conciliar views on the laity and our mission in the world. She suggests that the “performance” of these rites by lay people embody what is to be done in the world, our evangelical mission to “the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15)
It struck me that the careerism model has also sullied the effort of evangelization. Archbishop Coleridge is correct to cite …
(The pallium) is a call not just to me as the archbishop who wears it but it is a call to whole Church to be more apostolic and you can only become more apostolic by entering into deeper communion with the See of Peter.
While I’m not prepared to suggest that deeper Communion with Peter isn’t congruent to being “more apostolic,” I think I would question some modern practices as not exactly reflecting a proper Petrine communion. Canberra to Brisbane isn’t exactly a lateral move, but I suspect eyebrows would raise if Donald Wuerl had a forthcoming transfer.
The awarding of the pallium is so far removed from the ordinary experience of the faithful of a diocese. I don’t think I go out on a limb by saying that most Catholic priests never see this ceremony. Is it likely that Australian Catholics, who like most of the rest of their countrymen and women, aren’t easily impressed by ceremony, especially empty ceremony.
What seems far more likely is that ordinary Catholics are more deeply formed by ordinary rites, possibly even some of the rites overlooked by traditionalist Catholics.
Ms Keightley argues that the 1962 Missal is a challenge to the evangelical nature of the Church, citing Ad Gentes 2, 11, and 15. SP seems to contravene the notion that the evangelical project is something for all believers, and not just a mission of the clergy and religious. And this is not to suggest that other elements, other rites, or the Scriptures cannot or do not communicate the urgency of the mission orientation. SP did not abrogate the Great Commission, certainly. But what is at stake is the regular reinforcement provided in the three rites lacking in the Tridentine liturgical practice. One important insight:
(I)t is in performance of the Church’s liturgy, whose ritual acts embody the memory of Jesus’ own priestly, prophetic and servant activity, that the Spirit of God is present and operative, continuing to form believers in the ways of witness and mission. And, just as Jesus’ messianic work was understood to have begun at his Baptism, this is also where the Spirit’s work in Christians begins.
As for the three rites mentioned, Ms Keightley suggests that even after the General Intercessions were moved in the liturgy and evolved into a Penitential Rite (Kyrie Eleison) faithful Christian never lost their sense of intercessory prayer, and the innate understanding that our experience of prayer should lead us to concern for the concrete needs of those around us.
The Rite of Peace, by kiss, embrace, clasping of hands, bow, or whatever sign, is a display ofcommunioand something more than play-acting, or even practice. The Rite of Peace urges believers to “genuine community … in Christ, offering their common thanksgiving and praise to the Creator.”
As for the procession with gifts, Ms Keightley writes:
Perhaps more than any of the other liturgical reforms of Vatican II this action testifies most emphatically that it is all of the Church’s priestly people, clergy and laity together, who embody Christ’s priesthood and who in company with their Lord offer the eucharistic sacrifice Sunday after Sunday.
The reclamation project of the clergy-centered Church is worrisome. Archbishop Coleridge:
I’ve been saying that in my meager six weeks in Brisbane that we are at a time in the Church in Australia – and in Brisbane in particular in my case – that we have to become more missionary.
I don’t doubt it. But the Catholic liturgy needs to reinforce this week after week, day after day, and Mass after Mass. And the archbishop, and all of us, can realize that the missionary apostolate is assigned to every baptized believer, not specialists, not wearers of the pallium, not those who appear close to Peter, either by pilgrimage, state in life, or intellectual association.
Most bishops receive the pallium once in a lifetime. Their flock(s) see it week after week. But seeing, while it might be believing, isn’t the same as acting and doing. I’m sure that Archbishop Coleridge’s second pallium rite was quite moving. If any of us had been in attendance, we would doubtless report it was quite an experience. But the concern is not for those special few thousand. It’s more for the entire Church. Even Fulton Sheen could not sway a whole nation to Catholicism, popular and well-regarded as he was.
I think the experiment with the 1962 Missal can engage more deeply on these grounds, and less on peripherals, even important peripherals such as the treatment of Jews in the Good Friday prayers. To my friends who feel attached to the old form, I’d have to ask: what do you have that instills the needful sense of mission of all the baptized? Or will you be content to rest on a sense of Catholic entitlement, to be serviced by the clergy, and to blame others for the decline in faith and Christian practice?
John Allen reports on the fourth bishop to be “fired” in sixteen months. The Holy Father seems to be pulling the trigger finger, but not in what you would consider high-profile sees. Central Africa, Sicily, the Australian outback, and now an archbishop in Eastern Europe. Even the interpid NCR writer seems at a loss. The best he can come up with is financial irregularities from Archbishop Róbert Bezák’s predecessor.
Commentary from the HuffPo:
In the face of U.S. lawsuits seeking to hold the pope ultimately responsible for pedophile priests, the Holy See has argued that bishops are largely masters of their dioceses and that the pope doesn’t really control them. The Vatican has thus sought to limit any liability to the bishops themselves, arguing that the pope doesn’t exercise sufficient control over them to be held responsible for their bungled response to priests who rape children.
The ability of the pope to actively fire bishops, and not just passively accept their resignations, would seem to undercut the Vatican’s argument. Still, no bishop in recent memory has been forcibly removed for mishandling an abuse case.
It will be predictable that child welfare advocates hammer home the point about letting abuse-enablers go free. But for every firing, you have a few bishops like Joseph Martino of Scranton who resign and can take their pick of reasons to explain it away. And who knows? Maybe the resignations are all covers for serious wrongdoing. Or maybe the Congregation of Bishops is paying too close attention to the hermeneutic of nepotism.
So, keep guessing, people. The archbishop acknowledged at Mass this weekend he’s been muzzled. He’s not talking. Rome’s not talking. Did somebody mention recently something about a dialogue of the deaf?
The Fortnight for Freedom is wrapping up. One of our readers urged me not to forget the doctor and mystic, Teresa of Avila.
Like Hildegard, there is a wealth of information out there about her. You can start with her books on the spiritual life. Or get it about herself from her own pen. She was born about a decade before Elizabeth I of England, and a few years after Luther took a nail to a church door in Germany.
I’ll confine my comments today on her program to reform the Carmelite observance, and return herself and her followers, men and women both, to a more strict earlier way of life, emphasizing material poverty and a life of subsistence.
With the approval of Rubeo de Ravenna, the General of the Carmelite Order, she founded about a dozen communities across Spain in the 1560′s and 70′s. These new communities were intent on ”back to basics,” recovering something of the rigor of Carmelite spirituality and practice as it was practiced at the beginnings, about three centuries prior. It must have caused alarm in other quarters, as the word came down from the top that Teresa was to cease her traveling and founding. Choose a place to retire, she was told, and get back into the cloister. She complied with this demand, but maintained an active correspondence intending to overturn efforts to clamp down on her movement.
In King Philip II, she found an eventual ally. Responding to her letter-writing, he called off the Inquisition–many of Teresa’s associates were subjected to greater persecutions. Pope Gregory XIII authorized a provincial to oversee the reform branch of the Carmelites, and the king created a committee to assess Teresa and her work, essentially a protection board to ward off further interference.
More convents were founded in the early 1580′s, just a few years before her death. Her reforms had more staying power than other attempts to get the Carmelites back to basics. Some clergy and bishops in her day were concerned about the proliferation of religious communities–would the Church and people support a convent in “every” town? Teresa made it a point that her communities would remain small, manageable, and self-sustaining.
As an aside, I found it interesting that she died on the night bridging the 4th and 15th of October in 1582, as Pope Gregory’s calendar reforms realigned the accustomed western dates to the solstices and equinoxes.
There is much in Teresa I admired from my reading long ago of The Interior Castle. Her spunk and determination is something I would like to see in my daughter as she approaches her life’s challenges. Her contrition and awareness of sin is something I have yet to approach, and certainly her approval of self-inflicted pain is difficult. Yet there are many aspects to her life to which I find myself drawn. Certainly, any believer can and should look for ways of rigor and challenge and place oneself at the total surrender and service to God. She declined open disobedience, yet she never drew back from pushing, persuading, or politicking. Very definitely a worthy woman to consider.
After the homily the rites particular to this liturgy take place, all pretty much in parallel to the dedication of a full church. Relics first:
20. If it is to take place, the relics of martyrs or other saints are placed beneath the altar after the Litany of the Saints. The rite is meant to signify that all who have been baptized in the death of Christ, especially those who have shed their blood for the Lord, share in Christ’s passion (see no. 5).
Then the Prayer of Dedication follows:
21. The celebration of the eucharist is the most important and the one necessary rite for the dedication of an altar. Nevertheless, in accordance with the universal tradition of the Church in both East and West, a special prayer of dedication is also said. This prayer is a sign of the intention to dedicate the altar to the Lord for all times and a petition for his blessing.
The meaning of these rites:
22. The rites of anointing, incensing, covering, and lighting the altar express in visible signs several aspects of the invisible work that the Lord accomplishes through the Church in its celebration of the divine mysteries, especially the eucharist.
- a) Anointing of the altar: The anointing with chrism makes the altar a symbol of Christ, who, before all others, is and is called ‘The Anointed One’; for the Father anointed him with the Holy Spirit and constituted him the High Priest so that on the altar of his body he might offer the sacrifice of his life for the salvation of all.
- b) Incense is burned on the altar to signify that Christ’s sacrifice, there perpetuated in mystery, ascends to God as an odour of sweetness, and also to signify that the people’s prayers rise up pleasing and acceptable, reaching the throne of God.(See Rev 8:3-4: An angel ‘who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. A large quantity of incense was given to him to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that stood in front of the throne; and so from the angel’s hand the smoke of the incense went up in the presence of God and with it the prayers of the saints.’)
- c) The covering of the altar indicates that the Christian altar is the altar of the eucharistic sacrifice and the table of the Lord; around it priests and people, by one and the same rite but with a difference of function, celebrate the memorial of Christ’s death and resurrection and partake of his supper. For this reason the altar is prepared as the table of the sacrificial banquet and adorned as for a feast. Thus the dressing of the altarc1early signifies that it is the Lord’s table at which all God’s people joyously meet to be refreshed with divine food, namely, the body and blood of Christ sacrificed.
- d) The lighting of the altar teaches us that Christ is ‘a light to enlighten the nations’;(Luke 2:32) his brightness shines out in the Church and through it in the whole human family.
These Scriptural connections are important, not only for their homiletic value. One should keep in mind that preaching an altar dedication is not likely to be great if the address is crammed full of Scripture. A community does need to hear of these connections and be formed by them both before and after the dedication liturgy. Note the combination of sacrifice and meal. Note also the importance of the role of the laity: the priestly mission of the baptized as well as the evangelical project to “the whole human family.”