Sunday, April 07, 2013

Pope Francis takes possession of the Lateran



Notice the crosier...

I have always loved the crosier of Paul VI - it reminds me of Paul's Letter to the Corinthians: "I determined that while I was with you I would speak of nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified." - 1 Corinthians 2

Notice likewise, the background of the cathedra ... It reminds me of the scene in Zeffirelli's beloved film, Brother Sun, Sister Moon*, when Francis of Assisi meets the Pope, dressed in white.  The movie set was a glittering exaggeration of the real thing.  (I know the many fans of the film are interested to know that.  What?)

"Brothers and sisters, let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God!" - Pope Francis

The content of the Pope's homily is beautiful for Divine Mercy Sunday... he speaks of the Lord's patience.  His attitude brings to mind the beautiful words John Paul I** expressed about Our Lord's patience and mortal sin.

Pati divina - Divine suffering.

A priest once told me that is the Latin root of the word 'patience'.  It's like 'mercy' - derived from the Latin 'miserecordia' - the heart/love moved by pity/misery... or something like that.

Today the Holy Father also spoke of courage - the courage to return to God.  (The word also has a Latin derivative - 'cor' meaning heart):
Adam, after his sin, experiences shame, he feels naked, he senses the weight of what he has done; and yet God does not abandon him: if that moment of sin marks the beginning of his exile from God, there is already a promise of return, a possibility of return. God immediately asks: “Adam, where are you?” He seeks him out. Jesus took on our nakedness, he took upon himself the shame of Adam, the nakedness of his sin, in order to wash away our sin: by his wounds we have been healed. Remember what Saint Paul says: “What shall I boast of, if not my weakness, my poverty? Precisely in feeling my sinfulness, in looking at my sins, I can see and encounter God’s mercy, his love, and go to him to receive forgiveness.

In my own life, I have so often seen God’s merciful countenance, his patience; I have also seen so many people find the courage to enter the wounds of Jesus by saying to him: Lord, I am here, accept my poverty, hide my sin in your wounds, wash it away with your blood. And I have always seen that God did just this – he accepted them, consoled them, cleansed them, loved them.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us be enveloped by the mercy of God; let us trust in his patience, which always gives us more time. Let us find the courage to return to his house, to dwell in his loving wounds, allowing ourselves be loved by him and to encounter his mercy in the sacraments. We will feel his tenderness, so beautiful, we will feel his embrace, and we too will become more capable of mercy, patience, forgiveness and love
. - Papal Homily, Divine Mercy Sunday 2013


 
Heart calling unto heart.


*Song for this post here.  What?  ;)

** Papa Luciani said: "I will limit myself to recommending one virtue so dear to the Lord: He said, 'Learn from me who am meek and humble of heart." I risk saying an error, but I am saying it: the Lord loves humility so much that, sometimes, he permits grave sins. Why? So that those who have committed these sins, afterwards, having repented, may remain humble. One is not tempted to believe oneself half–saint or half–angel, when one knows that one has committed grave faults. The Lord so much recommended: be humble." - Translation thanks to Don Marco.

28 comments:

  1. I suspected it wouldn't be long before the iconic silver papal staff would replace Benedict's golden staff. I still wonder whether or not a new staff will ultimately be commissioned for Pope Francis.

    I do hope the Pope Francises and Pope John Pauls of the world are right and that those who stress God's terrible justice and retribution over "the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God" (per Graham Greene) are all wet.

    I had two thoughts as I attended a Divine Mercy service at the three o'clock hour at my grandmother's old parish:

    1. It's a private revelation; don't invest too much hope in it.

    2. It may be a private revelation but none of it really smells like sulfur to me. Take a chance.

    I haven't been inclined to take chances on private revelations for a long time now and I think I've been right to dismiss them, in general. This one, though...I kind of couldn't bear it if it turned out to be lemon. So I'll take a chance.

    Cue Barry Manilow.

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  2. Thank you, Terry, for this phenomenal post.

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  4. Sometimes I wonder how to understand and situate approved private revelations within the overall search for truth and deeper meaning of the Gospel, and of who God is.

    It seems to me that, although private revelations are not binding, the Church has approved them as probable and worthy of our pious acceptance and assent (in my understanding anyway).

    And so I think they are significant, though personal discernment is always necessary to tell how one should integrate them into one's life.

    On a somewhat separate note, a question: are the writings of Fr. Gobbi (from the MMP) approved by the Church?

    I don't know what to make of them.

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  5. Patrick:

    I struggle with private revelations. When I read the alleged messages of Our Lord or the Virgin Mary found in relation to private revelations, the messages almost never seem to read like the Jesus or Mary I encounter in the scriptures. A homilist I respect often talks about "smelling" like Jesus. The Jesus of private revelations, to me, so often doesn't "smell" like Jesus at all.

    The Church is confusing with respect to private revelations in a number of ways. In the first place, no Catholic has to pay an ounce of attention to any of them. On the other hand bishops go and name churches after them and Rome institutes feasts on the liturgical calendar in honor of them. And then there's the fact that these private revelations seem to apply only to the Western Church, as if Jesus and Mary don't care about Eastern Catholics. These revelations always demand that we make more use of Western devotions like the rosary and the scapular and the First Fridays, &c, &c, &c...things unknown in the Eastern Church, which manages to go on, somehow, without any of that stuff.

    For these reasons and others (such as prophecies which go unfulfilled, or partially unfulfilled, or sort of fulfilled but not really, except when they've been written down by the "seers" after the fact) I tend to avoid private revelations as useless or worse.

    But this one...if it's somehow diabolical I just can't figure out what Satan's tactic is. Trust in God's mercy and turn to him constantly for forgiveness, confessing your sins? Seems a rather counterintuitive approach for Hell, to say the least. I can understand making simple folks neurotic about having to say certain private devotions every single day or compelling them to wear a certain piece of cloth or jewelry or else, deluding people into imagining that salvation comes through medals and scapulars and rosaries (which lets them off the hook about feeding the poor and clothing the naked and all that awful stuff). But a continuous and relentless appeal to God's mercy? Nope. That smells a lot like Jesus to me.

    Of course, Faustina could have been making it all up or might have been imagining things; canonizations aren't infallible and neither are saints. Even so, if it should turn out to be false, there just doesn't seem to be any possible harm in any of it, at least.

    With respect to Divine Mercy, ultimately, I still prefer to put my reliance on Christ's promise to his apostles (and their successors) recorded in the scriptures that whatsoever sins they shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven. That we can be absolutely certain of.

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  6. Thank you, James.

    I struggle with them too.

    “The Church is confusing with respect to private revelations in a number of ways…”. That is basically what I was getting at. How can we be told, on the one hand, that they are not binding or necessary, though probably true, and yet there is such public, formal ‘acceptance’ of them in so many ways?

    “…canonizations aren’t infallible.” Is that true? I never knew that.

    “Faustina could have been making it all up…”. I could grant that her imagination could play a part in her understanding of, or transmission or expression of, the revelations, but I don’t see how, if she is indeed a saint and if the Church has approved of the Divine Mercy message, that she could have been just making it all up.

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  7. One doesn't have to follow the 'formula' of the devotions as St. Faustina communicated them. However, the Second Sunday is established as the Solemnity of Divine Mercy, with a plenary indulgence attached.

    "Divine Mercy Sunday" was officially established for the universal Church by a decree of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on May 5, 2000. The Vatican did not create a new feast day for the Church, but it gave a new name for a day that was already a "solemnity" (i.e., a feast of the highest class) in the Church's liturgical calendar: the octave day of Easter, that is, the Second Sunday of Easter. The document said that from now on this solemnity would be called "Divine Mercy Sunday." Thus the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday is not an optional celebration for dioceses and parishes who happen to like that sort of thing. Rather, Divine Mercy Sunday is now the official title for this solemnity in the Roman Missal.

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  8. Oops - And canonizations are infallible. The person is canonized, not their writings.

    Likewise, the very fact that the CDF approved Faustina's writing - that they were free from doctrinal error, should set ones mind at rest - although it is true one doesn't have to accept them. I was always impressed by Pope John Paul II's devotion to the saint and the message of Divine Mercy.

    One needs to remember that devotion to the Sacred Heart was more widely spread throughout the world as a result of 'private' revelation to St. Margaret Mary. A solemnity was also established to honor the Sacred Heart.

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  9. "Jesus I Trust in You" has gotten me through the darkest nights.
    Until reading the comments, I didn't realize anyone would have trouble accepting the authenticity of the message of Divine Mercy. Such a simple message.

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  10. (I should probably just do a post.)

    "The exercise of infallibility comes only when the pope himself proclaims a person a saint. The proclamation is made in a Latin formula of which we offer an approximate translation:


    "In honor of the Holy Trinity, for the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, with the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and of Our Own, after long reflection, having invoked divine assistance many times and listened to the opinion of many of our Brothers in the Episcopate, We declare and define as Saint Blessed N. and inscribe his/her name in the list of the saints and establish that throughout the Church they be devoutly honored among the saints."
    -http://www.ewtn.com/library/liturgy/zlitur373.htm

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  11. Patrick:

    I spoke too certainly it seems with respect to infallibility and canonizations; it appears it's a bit of a disputed point, but that, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia at least, most theologians actually favor the idea that canonizations are infallible. Not sure how that played out with the development of local cults of saints when they became universal without papal canonization, though. Seems to me a hard sell that one can say for certain that somebody is in heaven, but I yield to the Church.

    As far as St. Faustina, I don't believe she is making it up; I only meant to say that anything's possible with these things. I'm in no position to question her integrity and I don't. I might have worded that more tightly. But she could have been deceived or she might have imagined it all, innocently.

    There are saints who have gotten things all wrong because they imagined something or were deceived by visions or simply because they goofed. I think of saints, for example, who denied the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (St. Thomas Aquinas and the entire Dominican order fought against that one), or who misunderstood the dual nature of Jesus Christ before such doctrines were publically defined by the Church. The Apostles, themselves, of course, believed that Jesus Christ had died for good before he utterly gobsmacked all of them by walking through their locked door in the Upper Room after resurrecting.

    At any rate, when the Church teaches that private revelations, being private, needn't be paid attention to, I let it go at that. The idea that "approved" means the same thing as "declared certain" is a mistake that some Catholics make.

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  12. "'Divine Mercy Sunday' was officially established for the universal Church by a decree of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on May 5, 2000..."

    I wonder, though, is it necessarily so that a solemnity called 'Divine Mercy' is a solemnity in celebration of Saint Faustina's 'Divine Mercy' phenomenon, particularly, or would it be more generically a solemnity celebrating God's mercy in general? Obviously it's inspired by Faustina's experiences but I would have to think such a prominent solemnity dedicated, specifically, to a private revelation would constitute a major source of confusion with respect to the level of deference that Catholics actually owe to private revelations.

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  13. I can see what one means by saying that private revelations don't "smell" like Jesus or Mary's words in sacred Scripture, and I feel that too sometimes; but I think one should remember that our Lord probably changes His manner of speaking according to the listener, to be "all things to all men".

    As for Divine Mercy Sunday being primarily in honor of the private revelation or in honor of God's mercy in general, I think it is the second, but inspired by the first. I remember reading last year some evidence that it was held as a special feast in the ancient Church, long before the private revelation, but I don't know where I read it now.

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    1. Sorry, I meant, with Divine Mercy Sunday, the liturgical celebration--obviously there are some aspects which belong solely to the private revelation (which, for my part, I accept).

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  14. People - do your homework, read your catechism, research, study, pray... You do not need a PhD to know Catholic teaching, doctrine, or tradition.

    Anyway:

    "the object of canonization is that the person declared as a saint is now in heaven and can be invoked as an intercessor by all the faithful. The infallibility of this action is accepted by the majority of Catholic theologians but has not itself been the subject of a definition.


    Thus, with the act of canonization the Pope, so to speak, imposes a precept upon the faithful by saying that the universal Church must henceforth keep the memory of the canonized with pious devotion.

    The 1967 New Catholic Encyclopedia discusses the theological foundation for the infallibility of canonization: "The dogma that saints are to be venerated and invoked as set forth in the profession of faith of Trent (cf. Denz. 1867) has as its correlative the power to canonize. ... St. Thomas Aquinas says, 'Honor we show the saints is a certain profession of faith by which we believe in their glory, and it is to be piously believed that even in this the judgment of the Church is not able to err' (Quodl. 9:8:16).


    "The pope cannot by solemn definition induce errors concerning faith and morals into the teaching of the universal Church. Should the Church hold up for universal veneration a man's life and habits that in reality led to [his] damnation, it would lead the faithful into error. It is now theologically certain that the solemn canonization of a saint is an infallible and irrevocable decision of the supreme pontiff. God speaks infallibly through his Church as it demonstrates and exemplifies its universal teaching in a particular person or judges that person's acts to be in accord with its teaching."

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  15. Why do you have to respond that way, Terry? No one said anything about a PhD.

    I'm trying to understand things, and I appreciate the discussion and points that you and James have made.

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  16. Patrick:

    The fault is mine, I'm afraid. My comments were less tidy than they ought to have been, and I should have have been clearer on the subject before remarking. I've since cleaned things up, but I apologize for being too breezy with my assertions at first. Terry firmness is directed at me, I believe, and rightly so.

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  17. Gosh - I'm sorry Patrick if that came off rude - I didn't mean it that way. I just emailed someone about making comments on how they have to be careful of the sensitivities of others. I write the way I disucss things in conversation - vocal tone and facial expression doesn't come across very well in writing.

    You are still in seminary, aren't you Patrick? I'm surprised you don't know this stuff - and that is not a criticism, just a remark. Not intended to offend.

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  18. Thanks James, for clearing that up.

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  19. I understand. It's ok. And I'm sorry for reacting as I did, probably reading into comments. As you say, it's difficult to communicate well sometimes over the Internet because of the lack of vocal tones, etc.

    I am not actually - left some time ago. I always thought/assumed that the canonization of saints is infallible, which is why I was surprised when James said it is not.

    And, I don't dispute at all what the Church has decided about the Second Sunday of Easter. Yet, I do think James raises a good question here:

    "I wonder, though, is it necessarily so that a solemnity called 'Divine Mercy' is a solemnity in celebration of Saint Faustina's 'Divine Mercy' phenomenon, particularly, or would it be more generically a solemnity celebrating God's mercy in general? Obviously it's inspired by Faustina's experiences but I would have to think such a prominent solemnity dedicated, specifically, to a private revelation would constitute a major source of confusion with respect to the level of deference that Catholics actually owe to private revelations."

    Yesterday I heard of a priest getting some flack for not celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday in any special manner. I don't think he preached or spoke out against it as much as he decided not to recognize it and its link the devotion in any way. It seemed some thought that he was expected to do so, and it made for some unrest within the parish.

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  20. Terry,

    I have been on an off and on hiatus of sorts over the past year from blogging and from reading others' blogs. One beneficial side effect of being back "on" with blogging (and I have to say that such beneficial effects are few and far between) is rediscovering gems such as your blog. I remember yours as a breath of fresh air and sanity, and coming back and reading what you have to say never disappoints.

    Thanks for all you do.

    Jay

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  21. "Yesterday I heard of a priest getting some flack for not celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday in any special manner. I don't think he preached or spoke out against it as much as he decided not to recognize it and its link the devotion in any way. It seemed some thought that he was expected to do so, and it made for some unrest within the parish."

    Patrick, I work at one of the most prominent parishes in my diocese as sexton and "Divine Mercy Sunday" was not celebrated as such. I'm responsible for setting the altar missal, and the missal (which I'm looking at right now...I have a copy at my desk) says "THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER", all caps, then, below that, in parentheses and in lower case "(or of Divine Mercy)". There is nothing in the text of the propers that actually references the Divine Mercy, as such, apart from the Collect beginning "God of everlasting mercy...". The propers are all entirely evocative of the Easter celebration (as, of course, they would be).

    I've heard others (my mother included) complain that "Divine Mercy Sunday" was not celebrated at their parish (much to their annoyance), but you can't say anything, of course. I just shook my head and tut-tutted with them. Those who claim that "Divine Mercy Sunday" WAS celebrated at their parish probably mean that the celebrant's sermon was dedicated to the Divine Mercy or that there was some Divine Mercy devotion offered before or afterwards.

    I'm not under the impression, though, that it is obligatory for parishes to celebrate "Divine Mercy Sunday" as such and I can understand why many priests would prefer not to take the focus away from Paschaltide in order to highlight a celebration which seems so strongly associated with a private revelation.

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  22. "I can understand why many priests would prefer not to take the focus away from Paschaltide in order to highlight a celebration which seems so strongly associated with a private revelation."

    I don't think that celebrating the Divine Mercy as such would take away the focus from Paschaltide. I think God's mercy, especially as it is expressed through the devotion, is one of the great fruits of Christ's Resurrection and triumph over sin and death.

    I do see, though, how a celebration of it during a typical Sunday Mass in a parish could become problematic because it stems, seemingly, from a private revelation.

    A few years back, a priest who was assigned to my parish had a devotion to Divine Mercy. The pastor, rather than dedicate one or all of the usual Sunday Masses to it, permitted the other priest to have a special Divine Mercy Sunday Mass at 3pm that day, where it was made known that the Mass, even as it fulfilled the typical Sunday obligation, would be especially geared towards the devotion to the Divine Mercy.

    I thought that was a good way to handle it.

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  23. I think the connection between Paschaltide and Divine Mercy is spelled out here in a good way:

    "Pope John Paul II made the surprise announcement of this change in his homily at the canonization of St. Faustina on April 30, 2000. There, he declared: "It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church, will be called ‘Divine Mercy Sunday.' "

    By the words "the whole message," Pope John Paul II was referring to the connection between the "Easter Mystery of the Redemption" — in other words, the suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, followed by the sending of the Holy Spirit — and this Feast of Divine Mercy, the Octave Day of Easter, which fulfills the grace of atonement as lived through by Christ Jesus and offered to all who come to Him with trust.

    This connection is evident from the scripture readings appointed for this Sunday. As John Paul said, citing the Responsorial Psalm of the Liturgy, "The Church sings … as if receiving from Christ's lips these words of the Psalm." "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His steadfast love (= mercy) endures forever" (Ps 118:1). And then, Pope John Paul II developed the connection further: "[This comes] from the lips of the risen Christ, who bears the great message of Divine Mercy and entrusts its ministry to the Apostles in the Upper Room: ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you. … Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20:21-23)."

    http://www.thedivinemercy.org/mercysunday/dms.php

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  24. "I don't think that celebrating the Divine Mercy as such would take away the focus from Paschaltide. I think God's mercy, especially as it is expressed through the devotion, is one of the great fruits of Christ's Resurrection and triumph over sin and death."

    Pardon me. When I say "as such" I mean "Divine Mercy" according to the St. Faustina revelations. Sorry for the confusion.

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  25. Thanks very much Jeff - great to hear from you.

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  26. All this kindness and consideration toward others--I'm not sure this is really even a blog any more. ;-)

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