The Gardens of Castel Gandolfo

Pope Benedict XVI at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, Rome, Italy - 26 Jul 2010Catholic watchers know of the summer vacation spot for popes. Astronomy buff may know of it as the location for the Vatican Observatory, run by Jesuits–even before Pope Francis. BBC has a nice video feature on Pope Francis opening up the gardens there to the public. Why wouldn’t I be surprised?

Osvaldo Gianoli, director of the residence there, has a brief interview in the segment. The gardens were acquired in 1596, developed as a papal retreat in the 17th century, and renovated under the orders of Pope Pius XI in the 1930’s.

The head gardener is pretty dry and funny, too. A tour costs 26 euros.

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DPPL 5: For Clergy and Religious Heads

STA altar at night smallWe hear who the intended readers are for the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (DPPL). It’s a hierarchical thing: first bishops, then clergy, then heads of religious communities:

5. The operative proposals of this Directory, which are intended solely for the Latin Church and primarily for the Roman Rite, are addressed firstly to the Bishops, whose office entails presiding over the worshipping community of the dioceses, promoting the liturgical life and coordinating other forms of worship (Cf. Lumen Gentium 21; SC 41; Christus Dominus, 15; Directorium de pastorali ministerio Episcoporum, Typis Polyglotis Vaticanis 1973, 75-76, 82, 90-91; CIC, can. 835, ‘ 1 and can. 839, ‘2; Vicesimus quintus annus, 21.) with it. They are also intended for the Bishops’ closest collaborators – their episcopal Vicars, priests, deacons and especially the Rectors of sanctuaries. These proposals are also intended for the major Superiors of the institutes of consecrated life -both male and female, since many forms of popular piety arose within, and were developed by, such institutes, and because the religious and the members of the secular institutes can contribute much to the proper harmonization of the various forms of popular piety with the Liturgy.

It is true that some forms of piety were developed by lay people within religious “institutes.” (Vatican-speak for religious communities.) But the responsibility for harmonization lies with the ordained.

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EG 262: A Renewed Missionary Impulse

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis,  giving “Reasons for a Renewed Missionary Impulse” in Evangelii Gaudium, suggests a believer pray and work. He begins by making a very audacious statement:

262. Spirit-filled evangelizers are evangelizers who pray and work. Mystical notions without a solid social and missionary outreach are of no help to evangelization, nor are dissertations or social or pastoral practices which lack a spirituality which can change hearts.

Would some interpret this as a criticism of many Catholic intellectual and working strains? What is the problem if some dissertation expresses the truth?

These unilateral and incomplete proposals only reach a few groups and prove incapable of radiating beyond them because they curtail the Gospel. What is needed is the ability to cultivate an interior space which can give a Christian meaning to commitment and activity.[Cf. Propositio 36]

A balance of contemplation and action:

Without prolonged moments of adoration, of prayerful encounter with the word, of sincere conversation with the Lord, our work easily becomes meaningless; we lose energy as a result of weariness and difficulties, and our fervor dies out.

It is a matter of nourishing and sustaining the evangelizers of the Body.

The Church urgently needs the deep breath of prayer, and to my great joy groups devoted to prayer and intercession, the prayerful reading of God’s word and the perpetual adoration of the Eucharist are growing at every level of ecclesial life. Even so, “we must reject the temptation to offer a privatized and individualistic spirituality which ill accords with the demands of charity, to say nothing of the implications of the incarnation”.[Novo Millennio Ineunte 52] There is always the risk that some moments of prayer can become an excuse for not offering one’s life in mission; a privatized lifestyle can lead Christians to take refuge in some false forms of spirituality.

The appeal occasionally heard from introverts, for example, might suggest withdrawal into a personal refuge. But the missionary impulse asks many things of the various believers, and God is certainly well aware of the set of gifts of the extreme introvert, and may still urge an offering of those gifts in a certain way. Careful discernment is needed, not being just like everyone else.

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DPPL 4: Nature and Structure of the Document

STA altar at night smallLet’s examine the “Nature and Structure” of the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (DPPL).

4. This Directory contains two parts. The first, entitled Emerging Trends, provides the elements necessary for the harmonization of Liturgy and popular piety. It draws on the experience which has matured during the long history and emergence of the contemporary problematic (Chapter 1). The teachings of the Magisterium are systematically restated since they are indispensable for ecclesial communion and fruitful action (Chapter 2). Finally, the theological principles, according to which difficulties concerning the relationship between Liturgy and popular piety are approached and resolved, are stated (Chapter 3). The possibility of realizing a true and fruitful harmonization of Liturgy and popular piety can only be achieved by a wise and committed respect for these presuppositions. Conversely, overlooking them leads to nothing but reciprocal and futile ignorance, damaging confusion and contradictory polemics.

This first part will cover sections 22-92. History will be summarized in DPPL 22-59, the Magisterium in 60-75, and finish up with the theology of popular piety in 76-92. If we maintain daily posts, that should take us well into the Fall.

The second part, entitled Guidelines, offers a series of practical proposals. It does not claim to be able to include every usage or practice of popular piety to be found in particular locations throughout the world. Mention of particular practices or expressions of popular piety is not to be regarded as an invitation to adopt them where they are not already practised. This section is elaborated in reference to the Liturgical Year (Chapter 4); to the special veneration given by the Church to the Mother of our Saviour (Chapter 5); to devotion to the Holy Angels, the Saints and the Beatified (Chapter 6); to suffrage for the dead (Chapter 7) and to pilgrimage and examples of popular piety connected with shrines (Chapter 8).

In numbered sections, these topics will cover DPPL 94-182 (the Liturgical Year), 183-207 (the Blessed Mother), 208-247 (angels and saints), 248-260 (the dead) , and 261-287 (shrines and pilgrimages), leaving DPPL 288 for a conclusion.

The purpose of the directory is outlined, to offer guidance and keep believers largely to the straight and narrow:

The object of this Directory is to offer guidelines and, where necessary, to prevent abuses or deviations. Its tone is positive and constructive. In the same context, it provides short historical notes on several popular devotions in its Guidelines. It records the various pious exercises attached to these devotions while signalling their theological underpinning, and making practical suggesting in relation to time, place, language and other factors, so as to harmonize them with the Liturgy.

What do you think so far?

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EG 259-261: Spirit-Filled Evangelizers

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdaleneLet’s begin the fifth chapter of Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, and let’s take up the topic of “Spirit-filled evangelizers.

259. Spirit-filled evangelizers means evangelizers fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost, the Spirit made the apostles go forth from themselves and turned them into heralds of God’s wondrous deeds, capable of speaking to each person in his or her own language. The Holy Spirit also grants the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel with boldness (parrhesía) in every time and place, even when it meets with opposition. Let us call upon him today, firmly rooted in prayer, for without prayer all our activity risks being fruitless and our message empty. Jesus wants evangelizers who proclaim the good news not only with words, but above all by a life transfigured by God’s presence.

Many introverts protest they are not called to do bold things. But boldness is not just a matter of frequent and significant conversations with many people. A disciple can be bold in many ways, and Pope Francis reminds us that a transfigured life is what the Lord wants most of all.

What not to expect from the EG 259-288:

260. In this final chapter, I do not intend to offer a synthesis of Christian spirituality, or to explore great themes like prayer, Eucharistic adoration or the liturgical celebration of the faith. For all these we already have valuable texts of the magisterium and celebrated writings by great authors. I do not claim to replace or improve upon these treasures. I simply wish to offer some thoughts about the spirit of the new evangelization.

What is expected? Consider that no single individual can accomplish a spirited evangelization on her or his own. The activity of the Holy Spirit is essential. If we’re not sure we have it, and not sure the Church has it, then the solution is to pray for it.

261. Whenever we say that something is “spirited”, it usually refers to some interior impulse which encourages, motivates, nourishes and gives meaning to our individual and communal activity. Spirit-filled evangelization is not the same as a set of tasks dutifully carried out despite one’s own personal inclinations and wishes. How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelization full of fervor, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction! Yet I realize that no words of encouragement will be enough unless the fire of the Holy Spirit burns in our hearts. A spirit-filled evangelization is one guided by the Holy Spirit, for he is the soul of the Church called to proclaim the Gospel. Before offering some spiritual motivations and suggestions, I once more invoke the Holy Spirit. I implore him to come and renew the Church, to stir and impel her to go forth boldly to evangelize all peoples.

Pope Francis’ own desire is spelled out: “How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm …” The Spirit provides such words for him, as she does for any of us.

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Welcoming A New Pastor

Frequent commentator Jimmy Mac sends this video link of the welcome of their new pastors. The un-mic’ed one is Fr Jack McClure, once a colleague of mine at the student center a few years back and a fellow refugee from Kansas City.

I will confess: Jack is a good guy. I also laud the use of the hymn tune Thaxted. Overall, I think Jim’s parish does a great job with liturgy–from what I can tell from this video.

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What About Beatitudes?

TissotBeatitudesIn the Friday round-up, David Gibson at RNS noted this image captured at a South Carolina McDonald’s. Which leaves some questions in my mind …

Does remembering the Sabbath to keep it holy have any impact on how a fast food restaurant does business on Sunday? I mean: one might suggest it close for business, but at the very least do employees get time off to go to church? Super-sized lunch breaks at mid-morning?

When a manager authorizes this, does it represent a personal commitment to virtue, or is it just a publicity statement? Or worse, is it a suggestion that other people need to beef up their morality?

Do you smell a lawsuit coming?

About a decade ago, a parishioner tried to foist a pre-fab Ten Commandments monument on the parish. With Knights of Columbus funding, he was successful. But I wondered then, as I wonder now, why so many Christians aren’t on a bandwagon for the Beatitudes?

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