VNO 3: For The Bishop

Another “top four” VNO Mass is “For The Bishop.” The rubric at the top of the page reads as follows, very similar to VNO #2:

This Mass is said on the anniversary of the Ordination of the Bishop wherever special celebrations are held, provided they do not occur on a Sunday of Advent, Lent or Easter, on a Solemnity, on Ash Wednesday, or on a weekday of Holy Week.

I wonder if we see almost nothing of this because liturgical directives that permit most VNO Masses come from the bishop, and it might seem self-serving for a bishop to endorse his own anniversary. My sense is that a significant anniversary could be observed, especially in the cathedral, perhaps the 10th, 15th, or 20th.

To me, the most interesting text is the entrance antiphon:

I will look after my sheep, says the Lord,
and I will appoint a shepherd to pasture them,
and I, the Lord, will be their God.
(Ezekiel 34:11-23, 24)

These are a few verses paraphrased somewhat from the prophet’s oracle of the shepherds that begins with verse 1 of that chapter. Prior to verse 11, the message is not a happy one for Israel’s leaders. Still the optimal shepherd is described in verses 12 through 16a, which I think would be a good text to match to this antiphon:

As a shepherd examines his flock
while he himself is among his scattered sheep,
so will I examine my sheep.
I will deliver them from every place
where they were scattered on the day of dark clouds.

I will lead them out from among the peoples
and gather them from the lands;
I will bring them back to their own country
and pasture them upon the mountains of Israel,
in the ravines and every inhabited place in the land.

In good pastures I will pasture them;
on the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land.
There they will lie down on good grazing ground;
in rich pastures they will be pastured on the mountains of Israel.

I myself will pasture my sheep;
I myself will give them rest.
The lost I will search out,
the strays I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
and the sick I will heal.

Verses 25 through 31 would also be fine choices.

The shepherd imagery is present throughout the first four prayers of this Mass. The Communion antiphon is taken from Matthew 20:28:

The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Others may have different thoughts, but I would approve the yoking of this text to one of the New Testament canticles, especially Philippians 2:5-11. It moves us from the sheep and shepherd images of the Old Testament to the imitation of Christ.

Those assembling the Roman Missal thought as well of the anniversary of a bishop as they did for a poe. What do you make of that? Other comments?

Some years ago, we blogged on Masses And Prayers For Various Needs And Occasions. In the GIRM, sections 368-378 cover the universal regulations on their use. You can check our brief comments here and here and here. The USCCB’s unannotated text on the matter is here.


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Aparecida 100ab: Shadows In Demographics and Ecclesial Health

Section 100 outlines “Shadows,” and they mention eight, in contrast to the seven of Aparecida #99. Let’s start with basic demographics, starting with the observation that 3 out of 7 Catholics in the world are Latin American:

a) Latin America and the Caribbean are very important to the Catholic church, given their ecclesial dynamism, their creativity, and the fact that 43% of all the faithful live here; however, we note that the percentage growth of the Church has not kept pace with population growth. On average, the increase of the clergy, and especially of religious women, is falling behind population growth in our region. (Whereas the Latin American population grew almost 80% in the 1974-2000 period, priests grew by 44.1% and religious women by only 8%. (Cf. Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae.))

The particulars of the numbers may vary, but it’s pretty much the situation worldwide. In the vacuum of Catholic culture adrift, discipleship hasn’t quite been discovered as the difference-maker.

That said, it’s not about turning back the clock, either. And the pope emeritus has said as much:

b) We regret some efforts to return to a certain type of ecclesiology and spirituality contrary to the Vatican II renewal (Cf. Benedict XVI, Address to Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, and Higher Prelates of the Roman Curia, Thursday, December 22, 2005.) and some reductionist interpretations and applications of the conciliar renewal; we regret the absence of authentic obedience and evangelical exercise of authority, infidelities in doctrine, morality, and communion, the shortcomings of our living out the preferential option for the poor, and significant numbers of secularizing lapses in consecrated life under the influence of a merely sociological rather than evangelical anthropology. As the Holy Father stated in his Inaugural address to our conference, “one can detect a certain weakening of Christian life in society overall and of participation in the life of the Catholic Church.” (Cf. Benedict XVI, introductory address)

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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Aparecida 99defg: Highlights In Missionaries, Pastoral Renewal, Social Doctrine, Ecclesial Organization

The Aparecida bishops listed seven positive efforts in Latin American ministry. We looked at the first three some days ago. Here are the other four:

d) The selfless commitment of so many men and women missionaries is striking. To this day they are performing an invaluable work in evangelization and promotion of human development in all our peoples through an array of works and services. Likewise noteworthy are the many priests, religious women and men, laywomen and laymen from our continent who are involved in the mission ad gentes.

Our friend John Donaghy who contributed earlier to this series, is himself a missionary serving for a decade now in Central America. To be sure, it is not about First World persons exporting themselves to those who are perceived as being more needy. It is arrogant to enter into a new culture with the attitude we have nothing to learn and everything to teach.

The mission apostolate might be to the peripheries very close to one’s home, and with cultures very familiar to the servant. These days we speak of mission as a contrast to the attitude of maintenance. The principle of the “new” mission impulse is the same: a “first” proclamation of the Gospel, even to the baptized–those who may have missed the route to discipleship the first time around.

On the so-called “new” evangelization, including a successful (but unfortunately distrusted) vector, base communities:

e) Efforts at pastoral renewal in parishes are growing, fostering an encounter with the living Christ through various methods of new evangelization, becoming a community of evangelized and missionary communities. In some places church base communities are seen to be flowering, according to the criterion of preceding General Conferences, in communion with the bishops and faithful to the church’s magisterium. The presence and growth of ecclesial movements and new communities that spread their charismatic, educational, and evangelizing wealth is appreciated. The importance of family, childhood, and youth ministries is now recognized.

It’s good to know that new efforts are appreciated. And likewise in the North, we’re just catching on to the importance of small groups to develop, support, and deepen faith. Even our communities with full-time clergy do not have the manpower (sic) to reach to every possible gathering of faith. Small communities meeting in households are absolutely essential to the day-to-day challenges of Gospel life.

An initiative from the laity:

f) The Social Doctrine of the Church constitutes a priceless treasure, which has inspired the testimony and action in solidarity of lay men and women, who are ever more concerned for their own theological formation, as true missionaries of charity, and who strive to effectively transform the world according to Christ. Countless lay initiatives in the social, cultural, economic, and political realm, now draw inspiration from the permanent principles, the criteria for judgment, and the guidelines for action from the Church’s Social Doctrine. The development of social ministry, as well as the work of Caritas on its various levels, and the wealth of volunteer work in a wide range of apostolates with social impact, are appreciated. The ministry of communications has developed, and the Church has more means than ever for evangelizing culture, thereby partly offsetting groups that are constantly gaining adherents by shrewd use of radio and television. We have radio stations, television, film, print media, Internet, web pages and RIIAL, [Multimedia Network of the Church in Latin America – Red Informática de la Iglesia en América Latina] which make us hopeful.

All through this hemisphere, I’d say this has been one of the most visible fruits, partly perhaps because it has deep roots in the pre-conciliar Church.

Under “organization,” a collection of efforts:

g) The diversification of ecclesial organization, with the creation of many communities, and new jurisdictions and pastoral organisms has enabled many local churches to make progress in establishing collaborative ministry to better serve the needs of the faithful. Likewise interreligious dialogue, when it follows the norms of the magisterium, can enrich the participants in different encounters. In other places schools of ecumenism have been created or ecumenical collaboration has taken place in social matters and other initiatives. A search for spirituality, prayer, and mysticism, in reaction to materialism, is evident and expresses hunger and thirst for God. Moreover, appreciation for ethics is a sign of the times that indicates the need to overcome hedonism, corruption, and the absence of values. We further rejoice at the deep feeling of solidarity that characterizes our peoples and the practice of stewardship and mutual aid.

Counting them off: new dioceses, new associations, new pastoral initiatives, ecumenism and interfaith efforts, the spiritual life, ethical formation, and stewardship. Any thoughts?

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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VNO 2: For The Pope

The second Mass listed for Various Needs and Occasions is “For the Pope,” and this liturgy is designated “Especially on the Anniversary of Election.” Currently, the anniversary is March 13th, which will always be Lent.

There is an important rubric that precedes the given antiphons and prayers:

This Mass is said, with the color white, on the anniversary of the election of the Pope in places wherever special celebrations are held, provided they do not occur on a Sunday of Advent, Lent or Easter, on a Solemnity, on Ash Wednesday, or on a weekday of Holy Week.

This is one of the “top four” VNO Masses, in that it can replace an ordinary Sunday or any observance of a feast or any kind of memorial. The provision for using this Mass is “wherever special celebrations are held.” I suppose the home diocese of the Pope is a given, as would be the city of Rome. In my thirty-plus years of liturgical service, I’ve never been part of a celebration of a papal anniversary. Nor do I recall hearing of one taking place in ordinary parishes.

The given antiphons are Matthew 16:18-19 (You are Peter) for entrance and John 21:15, 17 (Do you love me more than these?) for Communion. Musing on the Psalm I might use with these, maybe the 40th. A New Testament canticle might be a better choice, or perhaps even the greeting in 1 Peter 1:3-9.

The Roman Missal give three options for the Collect, and I find none of them really strong. Best moment is in choice #1:

… grant that he … may be for your people a visible source and foundation of unity in faith and of communion.

Weakest in #3, where the prayer in its English translation speaks of God the Father as “shepherd of souls.”

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The Cardinal Müller Tempest

Bad weather continues in a corner of the Catholic blogosphere over a supposed conversation between Pope Francis and Cardinal Gerhard Müller that supposedly resulted in an immediate dismissal of the latter from his position at the top of the CDF. Some eyewitness noticed the former asking the latter five questions, and when the answers received were not the ones wanted, *266 let the room without returning with a present.

Interesting that the publishing website, racking up comments and hit counts as the rain falls, doubles down on its anonymous-sourced news. This, in spite of the Cardinal Müller’s wish that the false story be corrected. Mystification there also that persistence in the Five Question Story could harm the Cardinal. What damage, a faithfulcatholic asks, could happen to someone whose wishy-washiness on liberation theology is so conveniently forgotten when he can be raised up as a martyr to the Cause?

Well … the outgoing CDF head is painted as a milquetoast, unwilling to join the Dubia Four, unwilling to stand up to a mean old man in white, unwilling to engage in some ecclesiastical blow-up that will really drive up the site visit meters at the faithfulcatholic sites. In the end, maybe liberation theology will come back to haunt him.

In all seriousness, while I can appreciate the efforts of those in pajama media to aspire to journalism that makes a difference, there is a basic moral situation for any believer who is serious about faithfulness. If the conversation actually happened, the reporting of it is gossip. If the purpose was to out bad behavior of the pope, then it is also detraction, which is a serious wrong. I suppose if none of the story’s readers have emerged with a lesser opinoon of the Holy Father, the damage is more or less minimal. On the other hand, this story, if untrue, is calumny, which is another thing entirely.

The catechism, 2539, cites St Gregory the Great, linking these offenses to a capital sin:

“From envy are born hatred, detraction, calumny, joy caused by the misfortune of a neighbor, and displeasure caused by his prosperity.”


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A Fourth Way

… to sainthood. Because the other three aren’t always adequate to find the right fit. NCRep news bit here. The secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes, Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci wrote:

(T)he new norms arise from the sainthood congregation wanting to look into the question of whether men and women who, “inspired by Christ’s example, freely and willingly offered and sacrificed their life” for others “in a supreme act of charity, which was the direct cause of death,” were worthy of beatification. For example, throughout history there have been Christians who willingly put themselves at risk and died of infection or disease because of aiding and serving others, he wrote.

Seems like there’s an opening here for parents. Or even children who care for elderly parents.

Looks like the end of a process:

Francis approved the congregation carrying out an in-depth study of the new proposal in early 2014, the archbishop wrote. After extensive input, discussion and the work of experts, the cardinal and bishop members of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes approved in 2016 “a new pathway for beatification of those who offered their lives with explicit and recognized Christian” reasons.

Looks like a good thing to me. Any observations?

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NPM Cincinnati

According to social media platforms, many of my friends are in the Queen City this week for NPM’s convention. Thirty-two years ago was my first experience. Same city. I was part of a music ministry that led Liturgy of the Hours for conventioneers.

My reaction to the experience in the exhibit hall: dry eyes. I wasn’t blinking much. Seeing booth after booth of people and businesses providing not only music but art, vestments, books, and such–I hadn’t experienced anything like that. I liked the smaller NPM events. The school experience was superior–for me, anyway.

What’s different today is the ability to monitor goings-on via the internet. A few things look interesting to me. Conventions are always a pick-and-choose event. I’ve been to some number of them. I hope to find one useful bit. If I can find that in each session I attend, I consider it a success.

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