This is the “new” feast of St. Pius V…rumor has it that on the “traditional” feast date (later this week that the motu proprio on the Tridentine Mass will be released). For all of you who don’t understand (attention media types), Amy has prepared a Motu Proprio Tip Sheet.
I consider myself something of an expert on this matter, having migrated from the North (where the Church was receeding) to the South in 1976 when the Church was still very much a minority player in the south. I watched this expansive growth that largely took place after Vatican II–and therefore was truly a “Vatican II” church, not as much the renovation church of the North.
From St. Anthony’s Messenger, my office neighbor is quoted:
A Southerner who moved North 15 years ago to assume the job of associate publisher at Our Sunday Visitor Publishing House in Huntington, Indiana, Msgr. Owen Campion has a clear perspective on differences between the Northern and Southern Church. His family goes back generations in Nashville, Tennessee, where he used to edit the diocesan newspaper, The Tennessee Register.
The city of Nashville is now five percent Catholic, but was only two percent Catholic when he was growing up, he tells me in a phone interview last January. But there the Catholic Church provided a protective, closed system of its own.
Owen attended a Catholic elementary school staffed by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. “Most of the sisters were from Tennessee, and I think that was rather important because they conveyed a certain sense of ownership in the local Church.” Owen went on to attend what was then the only Catholic high school for boys in Nashville, administered and taught by diocesan priests. (Later as a young priest he would teach history there.) “The Diocese of Nashville was unique among Southern dioceses because there were no foreign-born priests, and there were very few priests who were not born in Tennessee.”
Because his family knew the families of the priests and nuns, as a young man he was never afraid of them. He says he could always separate their personality from their role.
Msgr. Campion remembers an incident when he first started serving Mass in sixth or seventh grade at his parish. The servers were new and “the boy beside me and I didn’t know what to do next, bring up the cruets or the Latin responses or whatever. We started whispering back and forth. After Mass, the celebrant, who was recently ordained, just exploded at us. He told us our constant talking had been so distracting that he had almost forgotten where he was, that this was so disrespectful. I went home really shaken.
“I shared that with my dad and told him, ‘You know, Father was just so angry this morning and flew off the handle, and I don’t know if I ever want to go back.’ And I remember my dad said, ‘Now, don’t worry about that. That is the way everyone in his family is. I played baseball with his father and his uncle and, if they missed a pitch, they’d get so angry sometimes they’d walk off the baseball field….Father is a good man, a good priest, and our families have been friends for years. They are even distantly related to us.’
“The point I am making,” Msgr. Campion continues, “is that this old network of family and acquaintances put that priest and others into human dimension. And after I went on to the seminary and then was ordained, this priest became one of my best friends. And I watched him lose his temper on many occasions, and I always remembered what Dad said when he painted it as some genetic trait in that family.”
Msgr. Campion went on to college at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama, where about 30 percent of the students came from Tennessee and about 30 percent from Alabama, and then to St. Mary’s Seminary near Baltimore to study for the priesthood. At that time St. Mary’s had more than 20 students from Tennessee. He was ordained in 1966.
In his opinion, Southern communities that had a Catholic institution like St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville have had an easier time dealing with the new growth. St. Thomas Hospital, still run by the Daughters of Charity, gave Catholics a source of pride and presented a public face of the Catholic Church as a caring and generous institution where everyone was treated, which impressed non-Catholics. “Good medical care was combined with caring in the human sense. Such institutions, like St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham or Providence in Mobile or Saint Joseph’s in Atlanta, allowed the Catholic Church to have visibility in society far beyond what its numbers would predict. I think it is a pity that health care is changing.”
He thinks the new growth of the Catholic Church is not considerable among African-Americans because of the legacy of segregation and the Catholic Church’s late embrace of the civil-rights movement. His high school was the first in the South to integrate, and graduated its first four-year integrated class in 1958. But in general, Msgr. Campion believes, “The way that the institutional Church either treated or was indifferent to African-Americans is shameful.”
On the plus side, he notes that the Franciscans often served parishes peopled by blacks. He has high praise for Archbishop James F. Lyke, O.F.M., of Atlanta, one of the first African-American bishops, who died in 1992.
I’ve hit a bump in the road…mainly being on the road for over a week. I was able to record the readings throughout my time away, but alas I haven’t been able to do the next week as I’m way behind on a number of things including sleep. So I think, I’ll start working on getting everything going in a few days–but none for most of this week. Sorry.
Its an Metrolink train, right off the beach on the Pacific Ocean.
Yesterday the Vicar General of the St. Petersburg Diocese gave me a short tour of a truly unique church (in Florida anyways). St. Mary’s. Even though I’d been to St. Petersburg quite a few times, I’d never noticed this beautiful church before.
I also made a visit to the Cathedral bookstore–where the bookstore manager told me how much she loved one of Our Sunday Visitor’s new books and couldn’t keep it on the shelves. The book? “A Pocket Guide to the Mass” She was surprised when I told her that I was the author.
On another front, I received an email from a teacher in Iowa yesterday who said that she is using The How to Book of the Mass with her youth group. They talked about one section of it last night and said that the kids were the most interested they have ever been about any subject–the session ran an hour over!
I made a quick visit to my parents last night in upper Florida. My brother in law made an early bold prediction that Kentucky will beat Florida in football (he’s from Kentucky). Since he and my sister moved to Florida–the Gators have won three national champions….and the last time that we were in Lexington together the Gators were actually losing 21-0 in the fourth quarter (the Zook era)but ended up winning…I reminded him of that…we’ll see.
Meanwhile, I’m tired of being on the road.
Our catechetical journey through the early Church brings us to the remarkable figure of Origen of Alexandria. This great teacher of the faith was highly esteemed by his students not only for his theological brilliance, but also for his exemplary moral conduct. His father, Leonides, was martyred during the reign of Septimius Severus. Though Origen himself always had a deep yearning to die a martyr’s death, he decided that the best way to honour his father and glorify Christ was by living a good and upright life. Later, under the emperor Decius, he was arrested and tortured for his faith, dying a few years later. Origen is best known for his unique contribution to theology: an “irreversible turn” which grounded theology in Scripture. He emphasized an allegorical and spiritual reading of the word of God, and demonstrated how the three levels of meaning—the literal, the moral, and the spiritual—progressively lead us to a deeper prayer life and closer relationship with God. Origen teaches us that when we meditate on God’s word and conform our lives to it, we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us to the fullness of truth. May we follow Origen’s example by praying with scripture, always listening attentively to God’s word.
One wonders if the pope sees in his election as pope a similar path when he says this of Augustine’s ordination “The beautiful dream of the contemplative life disappeared, Augustine’s life fundamentally changed. Now he had to live with Christ for all.” No Bavarian retreat to contemplate the truth, but a mission to share the truth to the world!
Benedict XVI illustrated Augustine’s path to conversion, recalling the “three conversions” that the saint experienced, which “in fact were a single great conversion in seeking the face of Christ and then walking together with him.”
“The first fundamental conversion was the interior road to Christianity, toward the ‘yes’ of faith and baptism,” he explained. According to some historians, Augustine’s baptism took place on Easter in 387.
Augustine “was always tormented by the question of truth. He wanted to find truth,” the Holy Father explained.
“He always believed — sometimes rather vaguely, sometimes more clearly — that God exists and takes care of us,” the Pontiff said. “But to truly know this God and Jesus Christ and come to say ‘yes’ to him with all the consequences this entails — this was the great interior struggle of his youth.
“He tells us that, by means of Platonic philosophy, he accepted and recognized that ‘in the beginning was the Word,’ the Logos, creative reason. But philosophy did not show him any road to reach this Word; this Logos remained distant and intangible.
“Only in the faith of the Church did he find the second essential truth: The Word was made flesh. And in this way he touches us and we touch him.”
Augustine’s “second conversion” took place after his baptism in Hippo, in Africa; he founded a small monastery and by popular demand was ordained a priest by force, the Pope explained.
Benedict XVI continued: “The beautiful dream of the contemplative life disappeared, Augustine’s life fundamentally changed. Now he had to live with Christ for all.
“He had to translate his knowledge and sublime thoughts into the thought and language of the simple folk of his city.
“The great philosophical work of a lifetime, which he had dreamed of, remained unwritten. In its place we were given the gift of something more precious: the Gospel translated into the language of daily life.”
“This was the second conversion that this man, struggling and suffering, had to undergo,” the Pope added. “He must always be there for everyone; always with Christ he must give his own life so that others might find Christ, the true Life.”
St. Augustine’s third conversion took place when he discovered that “only one is truly perfect and that the words of the Sermon on the Mount are completely realized only in one person: in Jesus Christ himself,” the Holy Father said.
He added: “On the other hand, the whole Church — all of us, including the apostles — must pray every day: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, St. Augustine wrote.
“Augustine saw the final step of humility — not only the humility of inserting his great thought into the faith of the Church, not only the humility of translating his great knowledge into the simplicity of proclamation, but also the humility of recognizing that the merciful goodness of a God who forgives was necessary for him and the whole pilgrim Church.
“And we make ourselves resemble Christ, the perfect one, to the greatest extent possible, when we become merciful persons like him.”
Benedict XVI concluded with this exhortation: “In this hour let us thank God for the great light that radiates from the wisdom and humility of St. Augustine and let us pray to the Lord that he give all of us the necessary conversion each day and thus lead us to the true life.”
Today is his Second Anniversary as pope, here is the frontpage editorial of the L’Observatorio Romano via the Papa Ratzinger Forum:
Two Petrine occasions being lived together as a single intense celebration: The joy of the People of God over the 80th birthday of Benedict XVI continued and was manifest yesterday on a sunny spring morning at the General Audience, on the eve of the second anniversary of his Pontificate.
A spring that is not only ‘metereological’ but above all, spiritual and ecclesial, enveloped St. Peter’s Square with its radiant light. A spring that pulsated with faith and interior joy on this particular Wednesday, still resounding with the loving wishes of all around the world who wished him Happy Birthday and the tens of thousands of pilgrims who had come again to be near the Successor of Peter, honoring him with overflowing filial affection.
Spring is the climate in St. Peter’s Square where more than ever today, the heart of the Church beats. Springlike are the colors on the Square which are a palette of the variegated liveliness of the faithful in all their affection and warmth.
‘Let us praise and thank God for the gift of Papa Benedetto’ says one of the many many streamers enthusastically raised on the Square. A few words with the simple and boundless echo of a universal prayer.
And springlike is the spirit of youthful freshness with which the Pope is experiencing these days. Springlike is this season of his heart and his life. Springlike is the spirit of this ’80-year-old youth’ who – with the gentle smile and sense of fatherhood that he conveyed to the world from the first day of his pontificate – has guided the helm of Peter’s boat without sparing himself.
“Most beloved Holy Father, we are with you always with joy and love in the vineyard of the Lord”, another streamer reads. The prayerful affection of a celebratory people accompanies the intrepid Helmsman of the Church at every step along his way.
News that seldom gets reported in the US papers…
Wolfgang Beinert, parish priest of Pentling,has a theory.
“The Pope at 80 is in excellent form because he feels that he is loved.”
Beinert, who was once a student and then a university assistant to Joseph Ratzinger, says Benedict draws real joy from the office he performs and the goodwill and affection that the faithful give him.
Beinert is right that the people love the Pope. More than that, they celebrate him. And yet, when he was elected two years ago, no one expected anything like this.
Cardinal Ratzinger had the reputation of a backward-looking Catholic and his name was a symbol for conservatism. How will he deal with people, many asked. And what about the media?
But as if he had become another man altogether overnight, Benedict became almost from the very beginning, a cult figure. A million youth celebrated him in Cologne in Augustt 2005. A teenage magazine distributed a poster that said BENEDICT SUPERSTAR.
A year later, Germany celebrated his homecoming to Bavaria. More TV cameras were set up in Bavaria than for the World Cup championships a few months earlier. Never were a Pope’s words so omnipresent in Germany. His books, and books about him, fill the best-seller lists.
In the past year, Benedict attracted almostt 4 million people to St. Peter’s Square, easily double the figure drawn by his predecessor at the height of his popularity.
Perhaps even more important, since Benedict became Pope, the number of Catholics leaving the Church inGermany has dropped, while the humber of converts and returnees is rising.
Marktl, the little town where he was born, is all abuzz. Bakeries still turn out marzizpan miters and Benediktschnitten (cake). Visitors from Italy and Poland come away with bonbonnierres with the Pope’s face on it, as it is on glasses and on souvenir spoons. Devotional stores do booming business.
The town square, where the Holy Father stepped down last September to greet the people, has a four-meter bronze Benedict-pillar showing scenes of his life, and his saying, “he who believes is never alone, in life or in death.”
Marktl now has eight bus parking lots, 15 new work-generating business enterprises and a four-language Internet center.
But the whole of Bavaria has seen a rise in tourism – 100,000 more visitors last year than in 2005. The Marian shrine at Altoetting has seen 20 million pilgrims this year, about 10% more than at any time in the past 10 years.
“Some visitors stand before the baptismal font where the Pope was baptized and weep,” says one tour operator.
The ‘birth house’ will now be a community cente, where people can meet, pray and engage in social activities.
Monday morning, to mark the Pope’s birthday, parish priest Josef Kaiser was scheduled to say a prayer in the room where the Pope was born at the exact time he was born, 4:18 A.M. and then lead a candelight procession to St. Oswald where he was baptized.
Later in the day, children from Marktl and surrounding towns were to release 800 white and yellow balloons, and in the afternoon, Market Square was to be formally renamed Papst-Benedikt XVI Platz