Please pray for me and my brother priests!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Leon Redbone

Leon Redbone

Last night I had the distinct pleasure of seeing the inestimable Mr. Leon Redbone again. What a performance, and what a performer! He is a joy to see on stage. Everything from the beautiful music to the vaudeville-esque patter between songs harkens back to a small town bandstand on a warm summers evening in an earlier, more genteel era. Ahhh. It's just great, great music performed by a talented, one-of-a-kind, perhaps last-of-his-kind, artist. I highly recomend checking out his website,, and going to see him if he is your area.

For your listening pleasure, I have included a YouTube clip of Leon singing "Melancholy Baby."

God love you!
Father V.

Worthy of Division

I have been wanting to post (and have been asked to post) a blog on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's instruction of last week. This is the "subsistit" document that the secular media largely (and wrongly) wrote about as an offense to Protestants and a turning back of the ecumenical clock. In the course of bouncing around the net, I found a commentary on it that I couldn't have written better myself (so why reinvent the wheel?)

It is taken from The Hermeneutic of Continuity, the blog of an English priest, Father Tim Finigan, whose site I read very frequently and enjoy very much. I give kudos to him for this post and his blog in general.

In his blog, he is commenting not so much on the document, but on an article written by a Southern Baptist about the document. The Baptist, while disagreeing with the Church on the point at hand (of course), understands the document better than most Catholics and even, sadly enough, better than some priests.

This article underlies what I think most of my generation finds fault with in the ecumenical movement: a lack of true seriousness. We each need to be who we are to the fullest without fear of offending. Only by stating who we are and what we believe as Catholics without apology, watering down, or embarrassment, can any true dialogue take place, any real discussion happen, and any movement towards unity occur. Our separated brother gets this, and for that I thank him.

Questions and comments welcome.

God love you!
Father V.

Pope John Paul II and evangelist Billy Graham

Southern Baptist Understands "Subsistit" Document

Albert Mohler, a Southern Baptist, seems to be less offended than some Catholics by the recent "subsistit" document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The full title of that document is delightfully bland: Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine of the Church. Pastor Mohler has a refreshingly sensible article entitled No, I'm Not Offended.First off, he says:

No, I am not offended. In the first place, I am not offended because this is not an issue in which emotion should play a key role. This is a theological question, and our response should be theological, not emotional.
Now there's someone we could do "ecumenism" with! He addds,
No one familiar with the statements of the Roman Catholic Magisterium should be surprised by this development.

Rev Mohler, could you come and speak to some Catholics I know? The Pastor is refreshingly straightforward in his assessment of the document:

I appreciate the document's clarity on this issue. It all comes down to this -- the claim of the Roman Catholic Church to the primacy of the Bishop of Rome and the Pope as the universal monarch of the church is the defining issue. Roman Catholics and Evangelicals should together recognize the importance of that claim. We should together realize and admit that this is an issue worthy of division. The Roman Catholic Church is willing to go so far as to assert that any church that denies the papacy is no true church. Evangelicals should be equally candid in asserting that any church defined by the claims of the papacy is no true church. This is not a theological game for children, it is the honest recognition of the importance of the question.
Whilst disagreeing with our theology, he recognises the logical consequences of it:
I also appreciate the spiritual concern reflected in this document. The artificial and deadly dangerous game of ecumenical confusion has obscured issues of grave concern for our souls. I truly believe that Pope Benedict and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are concerned for our evangelical souls and our evangelical congregations. Pope Benedict is not playing a game. He is not asserting a claim to primacy on the playground. He, along with the Magisterium of his church, believes that Protestant churches are gravely defective and that our souls are in danger. His sacramental theology plays a large role in this concern, for he believes and teaches that a church without submission to the papacy has no guaranteed efficacy for its sacraments.
And he understands what is at stake:
The Roman Catholic Church believes we are in spiritual danger for obstinately and disobediently excluding ourselves from submission to its universal claims and its papacy. Evangelicals should be concerned that Catholics are in spiritual danger for their submission to these very claims. We both understand what is at stake.

Now this is a man I could respect and debate with. My next door neighbour (a "Strict and Particular" Baptist) is of similar views. I once greeted him when walking past his house with the suggestion "I don't think either of us is very keen on ecumenism." He warmed to me straight away and we got to talking a little on pro-life issues. That reminds me - I must invite him round for tea.

H/T to Pro Ecclesia who in turn credits Vox Nova

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Language of Tradition

Raymond Arroyo, who many of you might know from EWTN's news program The World Over, penned this fine op-ed piece, The Language of Tradition, for the Wall Street Journal. I think he gets to the root of the Motu Proprio, and what is hoped for by its release from all who appreciate the document.

It's not about language, as one commentator put it, it's about tradition, and maintaining, as Cardinal Ratzinger said, the truth that "what at one time was holy for the Church will always be holy." I pray that this is the first big step to a broad and wide liturgical renewal that is truly in tune with the heart and mind of Christ and His Church.

This form of the Holy Mass is not for (as widely said and believed,) 'right-wingers', 'ultra-conservatives', or those who reject Vatican II. (It was the Mass said at the opening and closing of the Council!) It is for all Catholics as part of their patrimony, and indeed for the whole Church, that we might flow with the stream of holy tradition and, in the heart of the Church, practice the hermeneutic of continuity that Pope Benedict speaks of so beautifully.

God love you!
Father V.

The Language of Tradition
The pope brings back the Latin Mass.
Friday, July 13, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

While drafting the decree that would return the old Latin mass to Catholic altars around the world, Pope Benedict XVI rightly predicted that reaction to his directive would range from "joyful acceptance to harsh opposition." But what he did not anticipate was the reaction of pundits and not a few clerics who have tried to dismiss the decree as a curiosity--a nonevent that is likely to have little effect beyond a few "ultraconservative" throwbacks. David Gibson, the author of "The Coming Catholic Church," says that the announcement is "much ado about nothing," and French Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard says that he doesn't "see a tsunami coming." But there is much more at play here than satiating the liturgical appetites of a few traditionalists.

The legislation (made public on Saturday) allows a pastor, on his own authority, to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, codified in the 16th century. Following the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the venerable Mass--in which cries of "sanctus, sanctus" rose like incense around the altar--fell out of practice. It was actively suppressed in some quarters--though never outlawed by the church. Pope John Paul II encouraged celebrations of the old rite in a declaration he issued in 1988, although the permission of the local bishop was required for a priest to offer it. This new legislation removes the middleman and puts the Latin Mass on a par with the widely celebrated vernacular Mass. In the words of the pope, these Masses constitute "two usages of the one Roman rite."

It is an open secret that many in the Roman Curia (including top Vatican officials) were opposed to the decree. Bishops in Germany, France and England grew angry over the prospect of reviving the old Mass. British Bishop Kieran Conry said that "any liberalization of the use of the [Latin] rite may prove seriously divisive. It could encourage those who want to turn back the clock throughout the church." According to several prelates I have spoken to, Bishop William Skylstad, the president of the American Bishops Conference, flatly told the pope that the U.S. bishops opposed any revival of the old rite. Why would the pope risk alienating so many of his own churchmen to appeal to a relatively small group of "disaffected" Catholics?

Reform of the liturgy has been a central concern for Pope Benedict for decades. Disgusted by some of the liturgical experimentation he witnessed in the past few decades, the pope suggested in a letter to the bishops (issued along with the decree) that these "arbitrary deformations of the liturgy" provoked his actions. There is little room for such tomfoolery in the old Mass, whose focus is on the Eucharist and not on the assembled or the celebrant.

During an interview I conducted with the pope in 2003, before his election, he said of the Latin Mass: "[What] was at one time holy for the church is always holy." He also spoke of the need to revive the "elements of Latin" to underscore the "universal dimension" of the Mass. Before Vatican II, a Mass celebrated in New York was identical to the Mass celebrated in Israel. That is not true today. For a faith that crosses borders and cultures, common language and practice in worship are essential signs of unity.

The pope's decree also underscores for Catholics the origins of the new Mass and the continuity of the two rites. Pope Benedict tells his bishops that as a result of his decree, "the celebration of [the vernacular Mass] will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage." By placing the two Masses in close proximity, the pope is hoping that the new Mass will take on the sensibilities of the old. The pope is betting that sacrality and reverence will win out over innovation and novelty, no matter which rite people choose.

There are inevitable problems: Many priests today simply don't know Latin. But they can learn it, or at least enough of it to get through the Mass. The movements of the traditional rite can also be gleaned from older clergy and from groups like the Fraternity of St. Peter that offer intensive instruction in the ritual. Just as the laity have grown accustomed to the incessant hand-holding and hand-shaking that make the Mass look like a hoe-down, they will learn to embrace the gestures of the old liturgy. Parishioners can actively follow the Mass using a Missal, which usually provides side-by-side translations. Listening with attention will be required. But who said worshiping God should be effortless?

Since Vatican II, generations of Catholics have participated in Masses and repeated actions that they have no historical appreciation or understanding of. This move by the pope will not only provoke a healthy conversation about why Catholics do what they do but ground them in the beauty and meaning of the liturgy, both new and old.

Mr. Arroyo is the author of "Mother Angelica" and news director of EWTN, a Catholic broadcasting network.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Summorum Pontificum

I have been told for years, usually by those who want to excuse some wacky or heterodox practice, "It's a big Church, you know, and you need to be open to everything." I would respond in the affirmative, "Absolutely. That's why there's room for people like you, and people like me." At this point the conversation would end, as they really had no room for people like me in their "big Church" paradigm.

This all being said, yesterday, the Holy Father issued a Motu Proprio "freeing" the 1962 Missale Romanum of Blessed Pope John XXIII. What a wonderful move towards both welcoming back those people who, striving to remain faithful, felt disenfranchised by the sudden abandonment of the old Mass, and accommodating those who simply love the 'Latin' Mass. Plus, I think that the move will expose more people, especially my generation, to the old Mass, and generate in them a desire to see the new Mass celebrated with reverence, devotion and solemnity. I truly hope that, as the Pope said, both forms of the Roman rite will inform and shape each other.

We need to, as the pope said, make room for everything in our hearts that the faith allows. Let us rejoice at the latest movement of the Holy Spirit working through St. Peter, and offer a te Deum that the "big Church" just got a little bigger.

This article come from Catholic News Agency, and is a pretty good rundown.

God love you!

Father V.

Pope establishes the full return of the Roman Missal from 1962 with new letter

Today marks the historic issuance of Pope Benedict’s apostolic letter on the use of the Roman Missal of 1962. The much talked about letter begins with the Pope giving a history of the use of the Roman Missal, and then provides, among other things, an explanation of the purpose of this Motu Proprio.Before launching into the history of the pre-Vatican II Missal, the Pope makes the distinction that while some believe that it was done away with by the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, this was never the case. “I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.”

In order for his new letter to be understood correctly, Benedict XVI gives his readers some historical context.

Liturgical History

Some have argued that since no new norms were given for the use of the old Missal that it was de facto discarded. However, the Pope responded that, “At the time of the introduction of the new Missal, it did not seem necessary to issue specific norms for the possible use of the earlier Missal. Probably it was thought that it would be a matter of a few individual cases which would be resolved, case by case, on the local level.”

“Afterwards, however, it soon became apparent that a good number of people remained strongly attached to this usage of the Roman Rite, which had been familiar to them from childhood.”

Benedict also mentioned Archbishop Lefebvre, who led a breakaway group from the Church called the Society of St. Pius X. Amongst this group, “fidelity to the old Missal became an external mark of identity; the reasons for the break, which arose over this, however, were at a deeper level.”

Pope Benedict then described the turmoil surrounding the reform of Vatican II and the struggle of many of the faithful who wished to preserve the pre-conciliar Missal. “This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear.”

On a personal note, the pontiff mentioned his own experience of the Vatican II “period with all its hopes and its confusion.” In addition, he said, “I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.”

Pope John Paul II’s Reforms

Given this painful context, Benedict XVI explained that John Paul II felt obliged to provide guidelines for the use of the 1962 Missal which came in the form of his Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei (2 July 1988).

This document did not give specific instructions for the use of the Missal but only provided general guidelines for Bishops to allow this usage of the Roman Rite. At the time, the Pope primarily wanted to assist the Society of Saint Pius X to recover full unity with the Successor of Peter, and sought to heal a wound experienced ever more painfully.

“Unfortunately this reconciliation has not yet come about. Nonetheless, a number of communities have gratefully made use of the possibilities provided by the Motu Proprio.”

Reason for Benedict’s Motu Proprio

The main purpose of this Motu Proprio is to “provide precise juridical norms so that the Church can attain fuller unity” and “to free Bishops from constantly having to evaluate anew how they are to respond to various situations.”

The full text of the Motu Proprio can be found in our Documents section or by clicking here.

Summary of the Twelve Articles of Summorum Pontificum

The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI (Novus Ordo) is the ordinary form to be
used for the liturgy while the Missal promulgated by Pius XII and then by
Bl. John XXIII (Missal of 1962) is the extraordinary form. The 1962 Missal was never outlawed.

In Masses without the people, priests can use the 1962 Missal except during the Triduum.

Communities or Institutes of Consecrated Life or Societies of Apostolic Life can use the 1962 Missal.

The faithful who wish to attend the Masses mentioned in Art. 2 can do so with permission.

Where a group desiring the celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 Missal stably exists in a parish, let the pastor accede to their requests willingly. There may only be one such celebration on Sundays and feast days.

In Masses according to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII the readings can be proclaimed in the vernacular.

If the faithful cannot obtain the celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 Missal from their pastor, let them go to their Bishop, if he cannot accommodate them, let them go to the Ecclesia Dei Commission.

If a Bishop wishes to grant a request for the use of the old Missal and is somehow prohibited, let him go to the Ecclesia Dei Commission for advice and help.

Pastors are allowed to celebrate the sacraments of Baptism, Matrimony, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick and Confirmation according to the 1962 Missal as the good of souls may suggest. Priests can also pray using the Roman Breviary of Bl. John XXIII.

Bishops can erect a personal parish for the celebration of the Roman rite according to the older forms.

The Ecclesia Dei Commission is to have the form, duties and norm for action that the Roman Pontiff may wish to assign to it.

The Ecclesia Dei Commission will exercise the authority of the Holy See by maintaining vigilance over the observance and application of these dispositions.

Whatever is decreed by Us by means of this Motu Proprio, we order to be firm and ratified and to be observed as of 14 September this year, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, all things to the contrary notwithstanding.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Surprise! You are now a Bigot

This great article comes from my diocesan newspaper, The Boston Pilot. It is written by Dr. Michael Pakaluk, a fine man and a good Catholic. The article speaks to our situation here in Massachusetts, regarding indoctrination in homosexual ideology, which, even if you do not live in Massachusetts, will most likely be coming to a school near you in the not-to-distant future.

He addresses the ripples in the pond of culture caused by the rock of same-sex marriage that has been thrown in spite of the efforts of those who know better trying to prevent it. Most of these cultural ripples are not fully understood yet. This decision to destroy the common understanding of marriage will effect so many more than those directly involved. This article covers just a few of those ripples.

All it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.

Questions and comments are welcome and appreciated.

God love you,

Father V.

Surprise! You are now a bigot

In my last column, I argued in effect that Catholic parents should no longer send their children to public schools in Massachusetts. Seek a private or parochial school, instruct your child at home, or simply leave the state. Why? Because public schools are now required by law to be instruments of indoctrination in gay ideology.

Few Catholic parents seem to grasp this point, because they do not yet appreciate the revolution that has been worked in our laws over the last four years. They think that when “same-sex marriage” was recognized legally, the only thing that changed was that tolerance was extended to a handful of people. Not so. What really happened, is that the apparatus of the state changed its direction of support. Those laws that used to support you (admittedly, only in a vestigial and minimal way) have now been turned against you.

In order to see how the schools must now act, it helps to reflect carefully on the civil rights movement of the ‘60s. Think first about the long decades of segregation in the South and “separate but equal.” Think about the absurdity of a black-skinned man not being able to use the same water fountain or restaurant as a white-skinned man, because his skin was a different color. When you recall these things, are you feeling angry again? Now think of that righteous anger as expressed in the zealous efforts of the civil rights activists. Think of all the righteousness and moral fervor that was directed by those activists in the North against any bigots and white supremacists in the South who defended segregation.

Think next about how the public schools became enlisted in efforts to combat racism. I do not mean desegregation and busing. I mean: Black History Month; textbooks which prominently displayed interracial couples; films about how wrong prejudice is; discussions about the importance of accepting different people regardless of their appearance. The schools, rightly so, saw it as their solemn duty to educate children against racism. They aimed to eliminate racism, and the entire curriculum in the school was adapted to this goal.

I am asking you to contemplate these things because, as a Catholic parent, you won’t have the slightest idea what you are up against unless you appreciate that now you are on the receiving end of a similar assurance of moral righteousness.

“Same-sex marriage” is ultimately based on a misguided analogy with racism. It presupposes that, just as we shouldn’t treat someone differently based on the color of his skin, so we shouldn’t treat someone differently based on his sexual proclivities and patterns of sexual behavior.

Don’t get me wrong: I agree that the analogy rests on a hundred confusions. Skin color is irrelevant to our character (as Martin Luther King famously said), but how we act sexually is not irrelevant. There is no “natural” skin color, but there is a natural and right use of sex organs. Male and female are complementary, but it’s nonsense to speak of complementary skin colors. Again, the fact that some men desire to have relations with other men no more inevitably settles their identity as “gay,” than the fact that most men desire to have relations with all other attractive women inevitably settles their identity as “promiscuous.”

But it hardly matters that the analogy makes no sense. That might have mattered, if a law proposing “same-sex marriage” were ever debated by the people and voted on, because then the arguments bearing on its nonsensicality could have been stated and discussed. But there was no public discussion, and there was no vote. Four whacky justices were abetted by one weak-willed governor and a hundred cowardly legislators.

Now the analogy is firmly embedded in law. But then so is a chief consequence of the analogy, namely, that anyone who rejects “same-sex marriage” is an irrational bigot whose hateful views should be suppressed. And that (I trust) includes you.

Suppose you are a decent family man, not unlike David Parker in Arlington, working hard at a job and trying to raise a family. You take it for granted, as something unquestioned, that only a man and a woman can get married. The alternative strikes you as ridiculous, not even up for debate. Perhaps you are religious and you base your views ultimately on the Bible or Church teaching, or perhaps you simply have good sense. As for homosexuality, you perhaps distinguish between the feelings and the actions; and you wouldn’t think it a good thing to engage in the latter, even if you had the desire to do so.

In the state of Massachusetts, something happened to such a person between 2003 and today. Four years ago he was a good family man and an upstanding citizen. His views were still reflected in the law and supported in the schools. Today, however, that same man is a bigot. The law is against him, and public schools on principle must teach that such a person is filled with hatred (a “homophobe”) and despicable. Indeed, the schools are obliged to teach his own children that he is a bigot. More than that, they’ll do so convinced that they are fulfilling their high moral duty. And any sign of resistance on his part will be interpreted by them as only more evidence of the man’s bigotry.

They’ll no more listen to him than the SJC, the governor, or the Legislature did before them.

They’ve left such a man little alternative but to vote with his feet.

Michael Pakaluk is currently finishing three books:
a textbook on accounting ethics;
a translation of Aristotle’s ethics;
and a biography of Ruth V.K. Pakaluk.

The Patron Saint of "Unloved" Children

I came across this great article at The Catholic Education Resource Center. They continue to amaze me with the quality of their articles!

This great saint, Margaret of Cortona, speaks to the plights of many modern children, (and not only to those in families afflicted with divorce). I believe that the rise in, especially young, teenage promiscuity springs from the common feeling among many children that they are unloved. Parents are detached, and are very often selfishly more concerned with their own careers, lives, and pleasure than with true parenting. Children are not a blessing and the fruit of married love, but another achievement to be met, another level of status to be had. (Just think of the number of people who delay, or are advised to delay, children in marriage so that the couple might 'enjoy themselves first'.) Society teaches that life is cheap, schools promote a very utilitarian view of the world, and the culture infuses us with a practical despair that "this is all there is."

Children need to be loved, and taught to love. This happens in the family. When the family breaks down, love is sought elsewhere. What tends to be found in not love, but sex, usually with someone more than happy to exploit the neediness that is all to common in the unloved.

St. Margaret knew this all to well, and escaped the sad ending of so many who search for love in all the wrong places. Let us take this moment to pray for the unloved, the exploited, and those who should love and protect, that all may reflect and act upon the love that God has for them and loves as He wills them to love.

Questions and comments are welcome! Don't forget to vote in the Blogger's Choice Awards! The link is at the top right corner of the page.

God love you!
Father V.

Saint Margaret of Cortona

Saint Margaret of Cortona is an inspiration for all those in recovery who have come from homes where a step-parent resented having to care for the children of the new-found spouse.

St. Margaret of Cortona

This is very common today where people divorce and remarry, bringing their children into the relationship with a new spouse. This is especially difficult for parents who are more concerned with spousal relation ships than with the welfare of their own children. Such parents are often ignorant of the specific behaviors and dynamics inherent to divorce and step-family living. Such was the case with Margaret.

She was born in 1247 in Tuscany, the daughter of a farmer. Her mother died when Margaret was seven years old. Her father remarried. The stepmother considered Margaret a nuisance. As is very common today among children who feel unwanted, Margaret was easily drawn to a man who showed her the attention and love she craved, and so she ran off with him, bore him a son, and lived as his mistress for nine years. In 1274 he was murdered by robbers, and his body dumped in a shallow grave.

Margaret saw the incident as a sign from God. She confessed to the affair and returned to the Sacraments. She tried to return to her father's house, but he would not accept her. She and her son took refuge with the Franciscan Friars in their nearby shelter in a town called Cortona. Still young and attractive and very needy, Margaret had trouble resisting men who sensed her vulnerability and wanted to use her. Each affair was followed by periods of deep self-loathing. To make herself unappealing to local young men, she tried to mutilate herself but was stopped by a Franciscan friar named Fr. Giunta.

She earned her keep by caring for the sick poor, living on alms, asking nothing for her services. At the age of 30, having fallen in love with the Franciscan charism, of which she was a grateful beneficiary, she became a Franciscan tertiary. The sense of belonging that this commitment gave her helped Margaret develop a deep and intense prayer life and to overcome her need for attention from men.

In 1286 she received a charter to work with the sick poor. She gath ered others of like mind, and formed them into Franciscan tertia ries. They were later given the status of a congregation, and called the Poverelle (Poor Ones). Soon she founded a hospital in Cortona for the sick poor. Sharing her "experience, strength, and hope", she preached against vice to any who would listen. She gradually developed a great devotion to the Eucharist and the Passion of Christ. Her spiritual life taught her the great graces given her through her trials. She came to see the power of Christ's passion as operative in her own life, where through her per - severance in overcoming vice, through being "crucified to the world" by denying her wounded impulses, she "rose from the dead" to the new life of grace which bore great fruit for her, for the Church, and for the poor.
Drawn by her tenderness, affection, and understanding love, the poor flocked to her. And yet despite this, the sins of her earlier life followed her the rest of her life, and she was forever the target of local gossips. Margaret bore this with great equanimity, always praying for her persecutors. And so let us add Margaret of Cortona to our list of helpers.

St. Margaret of Cortona, pray for us!

Father Emmerich Vogt, O.P. "Saint Margaret of Cortona." The Twelve Step Review (Spring 2007).
Reprinted with permission from Father Emmerich Vogt, O.P.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Suffering of Christ

I apologize for a lack of blogging lately! I have been up to my ears in work, and traveling quite a bit.

This morning, I came across this passage from Cardinal Ratzinger's "Via Crucis" meditations from 2005 while reading the wonderful blog Rorate Caeli . I was struck by the Cardinal's words and thought they related nicely to todays Gospel. In the Gospel (Luke 9: 51-62) we see Christ calling, and those to whom He calls delaying their response. The choose the "I" over His call, and consequently abandon their vocations. How often do we do this? How often do we put God's will on hold to follow our own plan of life? How often do we draw up our own "map to heaven" instead of following the path blazed by Christ on His cross? Far too often I fear. We are afraid to follow Christ, afraid of the cost of discipleship, all the while ignoring the simple fact that all He calls us to is friendship with God the Father, a true holiness that leads to divine happiness.

Hope, however, is not lost! We can always approach Him in the confessional and ask Him to once again heal our soul, damaged only by our self-afflicted wounds of sin. In this sacrament, as in all the sacraments, He is continually transforming us, making us more like Him, so that what the Father sees and loves in us becomes nothing other than what the Father sees and loves in Christ. If have any hope of saying "yes" to the gift of Heaven, we must begin that "yes" to God now. We must decrease, so that in us Christ may increase. We must be transformed in Christ, but first we must acknowledge our need for transformation, and submit to that transformation through the means He has established: The Church.

Questions and comments are welcomed. Enjoy the reflection by Cardinal Ratzinger, and God love you!

Father V.

Calix benedictionis, cui benedicimus, nonne communicatio sanguinis Christi
est? et panis, quem frangimus, nonne participatio corporis Domini est?
(Offertory for the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus

Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church? How often is the holy sacrament of his Presence abused, how often must he enter empty and evil hearts! How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there! How often is his Word twisted and misused! What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him! How much pride, how much self-complacency! What little respect we pay to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where he waits for us, ready to raise us up whenever we fall!

All this is present in his Passion. His betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his Body and Blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts:

Kyrie eleison – Lord, save us.

Cardinal Ratzinger
Via Crucis at the Colosseum
March 25, 2005