Tuesday, August 7, 2007

From the Desk of the Pastor...

As many pastors do, I have been writing a little note to be included in the Parish Bulletin. After much thought I have decided to start posting them here. So here is my first online edition:

The daily Mass readings for this past Thursday reminded me of the two documents that I have written about the past two weeks. In the Gospel that day Jesus said “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” This saying of Jesus reminded me of Pope Benedict, who without a doubt, is very wise in bringing from the two thousand year old storeroom of the Church both the new and the old. He has recognized that there is value and beauty in what is old as well as in what is new.

Sadly, there are many in the Church, who do not agree, especially in the area of the Sacred Liturgy. Many get nervous, anxious, or even angry when the Church continues to affirm the beauty of things that are considered by some to be “old” and “outdated.” Surely we should be understanding of their hesitation, for many of them had bad experiences of the Church in the past, but we should also be able to affirm that one who is wise sees value in both the old and new. We should be able to recognize that what was once holy must indeed still be holy. If Latin and Gregorian Chant was once holy, then it must still be holy. If the priest facing the same way as the people (which is often mistakenly referred to as “having his back to the people) was once holy, then it still must be holy. If the Mass that nourished countless saints throughout the ages was once holy, it must still be holy. So there is no need to fear! Wisdom is at work in Pope Benedict, for he is bringing from the storeroom of the Church both the old and new.

I hope, that over time, I will have the wisdom to know how to bring both the old and the new from the storeroom of the Church into our Parish. I also hope that all of us will have the wisdom to see the beauty and value of both the old and new, and welcome them both into our Liturgies.

10 comments:

MontanaCatholic said...

OK, maybe we should embrace some of the old - how about the married priesthood that was around the first few hundred years of the Church, starting with Saint Peter? Or how about allowing women in leadership positions as in the time of Jesus? Or how about the pope being the leader AMONG EQUALS as in the beginning of the Church with the Pentarchy of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Andrew, St. James, and St. Mark? Please don't confuse "old" with pre-Vatican II. Those changes were made for very good reasons by a caring Council of Bishops. Changes made for the sake of becomming a Church more like Jesus envisioned are good, changes made for the sake of centralizing power in the Church and marginalizing some Christians is not so good. At least that's how I think Jesus would see it. I pray that you may start to see things that way too.

[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentarchy]

Anonymous said...

Dear father:
It seems to me that, if you consider the context of the sentence you quote:
"Mat 13:47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
Mat 13:48 which, when it was filled, they drew up on the beach; and they sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but the bad they cast away.
Mat 13:49 So shall it be in the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the righteous,
Mat 13:50 and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.
Mat 13:51 Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea.
Mat 13:52 And he said unto them, Therefore every scribe who hath been made a disciple to the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old,"
Jesus seems to be saying something different than what you want him to say about the liturgy. He is talking about going carefully through the old and the new, and getting rid of the junk. But then, Jesus had no liturgy in his day, and so your application is fanciful at best.

Scott said...

"But then, Jesus had no liturgy in his day, and so your application is fanciful at best. "

Well, that's just not true. Even a simple reading of the Gospels shows that modern liturgies come directly from the actions of Christ, having been institued by Him.

Scott said...

Montanacatholic...

It seems that you envision a version of the Church that never was. As for pentarchy, read Acts 2 and see the role of Peter, if that is, the words of Our Lord in establishing him at the head of the 12 are not enough.

As for women in leadership positions, it is interesting that sisters ran the majority of catholic schools and hospitals in the world before Vatican II, only afterwards deciding that they should abandon these roles. As for lay women, all you have to do is look around and see women involved everywhere, though simply not in apostolic governance. They never have been in such a role, even in the early Church. Yet, women are revered in almost every other aspect of the life of the Church.

Finally, you seem to be pitting the work of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council against that of Pope Benedict, himself one of the architects of the council with John Paul II. We always need to remember that the authority which a council has is derived from the same place as the authority that the Holy Father has, namely, Jesus Christ. If The Holy Father is wrong, then the council is wrong. Yet, we know, as any reading of the texts of Pope Benedict will show (I trust that you have read them before criticizing him.) that the Pope and the Council are of one mind, and that his own work is an organic outgrowth of that council, the same one which encouraged the use of Latin, of traditional music, of the hierarchy of the Church, of the subsistence of the Church of Christ in the Holy Roman Catholic Church, and the sacramentality of the Church and the role of the Holy Father. If you search the documents of the Council, you will not find any of the things you seem to be looking for, because they were neither in the mind of the council nor the early Church.

montanacatholic said...

Scott,

“…if that is, the words of Our Lord in establishing him at the head of the 12 are not enough”

Your sarcastic tone is clever, but that is not what I said. I agree the Bishop of Rome is the head, but as a leader among equals. And relying on scripture and/or history does not reveal anything to the contrary. But then again, that is a question that first divided the Church, and one we won’t resolve here.

“it is interesting that sisters ran the majority of catholic schools and hospitals in the world before Vatican II, only afterwards deciding that they should abandon these roles”. I’d be interested in knowing where you get that fact – that they, as a group, and as a result of Vatican II, consciously decided to abandon these roles. Huh?

“…though simply not in apostolic governance” -exactly.

“If The Holy Father is wrong, then the council is wrong.” Wow, if that doesn’t create a circular argument. So the Bishop of Rome can interpret the council any way he wants, and if people disagree with him, they are disagreeing with the council?

“If you search the documents of the Council, you will not find any of the things you seem to be looking for, because they were neither in the mind of the council”

See Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church Christus Dominus, 18

~~’Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4–5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.’ (Sacrosanctum Concilium 14)

~~All human beings are called to belong to the Church. Not all are fully incorporated into the Church, but "the Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christ, but who do not however profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter" (Lumen Gentium, 15) and even with "those who have not yet received the Gospel," among whom Jews and Muslims are explicitly mentioned (Lumen Gentium, 16).

I was fortunate enough to meet and attend a seminar from one of (if not the) last remaining American bishops to have attended the council. And his statements are what alerted me to the fact that many in the Church do not agree with the council, that the goals of the council have not fully been reached, and that there are many in the hierarchy who actively seek to reverse the decisions of the council.

As newspapers, blogs, and conversations have been commenting in the past few weeks, I am far from alone in thinking that the recent statements by the Bishop of Rome cannot be construed as anything but disagreeing with the goals of Vatican II. But, you can decide that for yourself...

Father Christensen said...

I have yet to see any evidence that anything the current Roman Pontiff has said or done is contary to anything in the Documents of the Second Vatican Council.

If someone can point out to me where he has violated anything in those documents I will happily change my mind.

But after reading the documents and studying them in Seminary (for eight years!) I have yet to find anything that does not correspond with what the Pontiff has done since beginning his pontificate. I have however found much to confirm what he has done (and hopefully will continue to do). For instance, lets take the issue of Latin in the Liturgy. The documents make quite clear that "the use of Latin is to be retained." Seems pretty clear to me, but apparently others do not see it quite so clearly. In fact they seem to think that it means quite the opposite.

This whole conversation reminds me of a recent conversation I had with one of my brother priests. This particular priest is quite upset with the Holy Father and with the many priests who think along the same line as the Pope. He tried telling me that the Second Vatican Council got rid of all that Latin and all those "old vestments" and those cassocks. I told him I have never seen anything in the documents about the prohibition of such things. I asked him if he could show me where the documents said that these things were prohibited. He responded that he had never actually read the documents, but that someone present at the Council told him that this is what the Bishops meant to say.

I think this sort of attude is a bad one. I don't think anyone has any authority to comment on what the council said or did not say until they have read the documents and studied them in light of the history and 2000 year tradition of the Church. As someone (I can't remember who) said "It is better to keep one's mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and prove it."

montanacatholic said...

Wow, a priest calling someone stupid because they havn't spent 8 years in seminary studying a document like him - how Christian. Seems to me that you think yourself better than the lay people and better than someone who has been a priest, a bishop, and an archbishop for over 50 years and was actually a MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL. I'll say a few prayers for you today.

Father Christensen said...

I called nobody stupid. I did not say anything about being superior to the laity nor did I comment on how I am "better" than anyone who actually attended the council. If you read my comments none of those things are there. I guess this is just another example of people trying to bring out the "spirit" of texts rather than what was actually written.

montanacatholic said...

"I think this sort of attude is a bad one. I don't think anyone has any authority to comment on what the council said or did not say until they have read the documents and studied them in light of the history and 2000 year tradition of the Church. As someone (I can't remember who) said "It is better to keep one's mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and prove it.""

How is that is not basically calling someone stupid? How could one construe this any other way? With your permission then, perhaps I'll send your reply on in a letter to the editors of the Argus Leader and the Garretson Weekly, and let folks decide for themselves.

Thank you for the non-apology, and for making a young Catholic who is simply trying to learn more and be more involved in his faith feel inferior just because he hasn't attended seminary...

For now, I think I'll try to find a more welcoming blog.

montanacatholic said...

"Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority."

"The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people's powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation."

"Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language."


"The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ's faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration. They should be instructed by God's word and be nourished at the table of the Lord's body; they should give thanks to God; by offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him, they should learn also to offer themselves; through Christ the Mediator [38], they should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other, so that finally God may be all in all."

"For this reason the sacred Council, having in mind those Masses which are celebrated with the assistance of the faithful, especially on Sundays and feasts of obligation, has made the following decrees in order that the sacrifice of the Mass, even in the ritual forms of its celebration, may become pastorally efficacious to the fullest degree.

The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved.

For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance; elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage, are now to be discarded; other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the vigor which they had in the days of the holy Fathers, as may seem useful or necessary."


-CONSTITUTION ON THE SACRED LITURGY SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM
SOLEMNLY PROMULGATED BY
HIS HOLINESS POPE PAUL VI
ON DECEMBER 4, 1963


http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19631204_sacrosanctum-concilium_en.html