Friday, July 29, 2016

On Wailing Places

Pope Francis made a detour from the joyful gathering of hundreds of thousands of Catholic young people gathered in Krakow Poland in order to visit a wailing place at the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Bierkenau.

The Holy Father chose to speak no words in his visit to Auschwitz.  His dignified silent prayer was sufficient witness.  Pope Francis stopped and prayed at the darkened cell which once held St. Maximilian Kobe. To memorialize his visit, Pope Francis wrote in the guest book in Spanish:  "Lord, have pity on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty."

After his silent visit the facilities, Pope Francis spent time meeting with surviving victims from Auschwitz and righteous gentiles who helped rescue some Holocaust victims.

From Auschwitz, Pope Francis attending a large outdoor gathering praying the Stations of the Cross. Pope Francis' meditation tried to address the disteleological surd of where is God when there is so much pain and suffering in the world.  The Pontiff's answer is that Jesus is joined with us in our suffering as he himself experienced so much on the Via Dolorosa.  If we join our trials with God then such suffering can be redeeming.

The visit to Poland and World Youth Day are dedicated to Divine Mercy. Visiting this wailing place is a melancholy reminder that God can use suffering as art of the sanctification of the world.  

An Ignatian Invocation at the DNC in Philly

Father William Byron, S.J. offered an Ignatian invocation at the Democrat National Convention in Philadelphia.

Fr. Byron had been the President of Scranton  University as the Catholic University in America. While he served as a Pastor of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown, DC, he became acquainted with parishioner John Podesta, an adviser to President Bill Clinton.

Byron's prayer weaved scripture, the saints and contemporary contemplation into an invocation. This  prayer seemed like a much more appropriate appeal to the divine than the Pastor's Polemic Prayer at the RNC, but perhaps that was an outlier.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Remembering a Modern Martyr of Normandy

Two terrorists aligned with ISIS took hostages during a morning Mass in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy France.  The Muslim terrorists forced Fr. Jacques Hamel to kneel at the altar and then they slit the throat of the 84 year old curate as they reportedly videotaped the brutality.

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi. S.J., lamented the martyrdom of Fr. Hamel, noting: “We are particularly stricken because this horrible violence occurred in a church — a sacred place in which the love of God is proclaimed — with the barbaric killing of a priest." 

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Bit on Pastor's Polemic Prayer at GOP Cleveland Convention

Pastor Mark Burns Prays for Donald Trump at Republican National Convention

As the 2016 Republican National Convention, a.k.a. "The Trump Show", kicked off in Cleveland, it was centered by a "special" prayer  from Pastor Mark Burns. Ordinarily, invocations are placid, pro-forma prayers which remind attendees of Divine Providence. But this is the Trump Show.


Well, the Trump Show promised that is was going to have star power and entertainment, so the choice of a televangelist for a Benediction is not surprising. However, the content of Burns' polemic prayer deserves some discernment.

The prayer seems to elevate Donald Trump into an ascending super saint, which seems ironic considering Trump's ambivalent approach to religion.  


What seemed remarkable was a prayer which cast Hillary Clinton and the Democrat Party as the enemy.  Put in a theological framework, they are the Devil incarnate.  There is no rationale given as to why liberal's are not following an orthodox path for the polity, just that they are the enemy. 

 Four years ago, the Catholic Archbishop of New York Timothy Cardinal Dolan gave an ecumenical benediction to the GOP which extolled the virtues of America( freedom and liberty), challenged the faithful to remember all Americans, and humbly asked God for guidance and protection of  Governor Romney and Representative Ryan.  It should be noted that Cardinal Dolan also gave the closing benediction at the 2012 Democrat Convention, in which he challenged those gathered about religious liberty and abortion as he prayed for those gathered. 


Perhaps it is a difference in approach and theological grounding, but Pastor Burns commanded God to give Donald Trump authority to become President and defeat the enemy rather than beseeching Divine Providence for wisdom and humility to lead our Nation. 

Despite Pastor Burns' benediction, hopes that the Trump Show will spur party unity needs more than hype and a prayer. Aside from ephemeral politics, this prayer epitomizes how so many born agains hopped on the Trump Train while regular church going evangelicals fret about a leader who publicly lacks humility, evokes values which seem counter to Christianity and seems to use his associations with faith communities rather than walking in faith on the campaign trail.

Fulton Sheen on the Wicked

Fulton Sheen on the Wicked

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

On Re-Orienting Vatican II Catholics' Divine Worship

Cardinal Robert Sarah on Reorienting Vatican II Catholics' Divine Worship

Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship Cardinal Robert Sarah's strong defense of ad orientem worship is no surprise.  However, Cardinal Sarah suggestion at the Sacra Liturgia Conference in London to push to re-orient Vatican II Catholics posture away from versus populum positioning during the Liturgy of the Eucharist by the beginning of Advent 2016 was shocking. The announcement was greeted by prolonged applause at the Conference, indicating that the mostly clerical audience was behind the move.

It took over a decade for ICEL and the USCCB to implement the Third Translation of the Roman Missal (which supplanted a dynamic translation of the Mass with a fixed translation), but this major change was accompanied with a year's worth of educating the People of God.  While the symbolism of reorienting most Novus Ordo Masses to the traditional ad orientem orientation may be praiseworthy, this may be a hard teaching, particularly for more progressive parishes that have taught that the Mass is a celebration of a sacred family meal. 

If Cardinal Sarah's modest proposal does come into fruition, it may challenge many casual "spirit of Vatican II" Catholics approach to Divine Worship.  It would be ironic that such contemporary Catholics, who have reveled in this progressive tact of Pope Francis' reign, may feel desolation with what may be considered a traditionalist retrenchment by Pope Francis' choice for Prefect of the CDW.

Before an Ad Orientem rubric is implemented, it is crucial for Catholics to understand why this has been the traditional posture of Divine Worship and to disabuse the faithful of any misconceptions about the change in optional practice of  versus populum worship.

Post Scriptus 07/11/16:

It seems that CDW Prefect Cardinal Sarah's "Modest Proposal" on Mass orientation has been countermanded by the Vatican