He’s great because he is everything. He is a man who wants to do things, wants to build, he founded an order and its rules, he is an itinerant and a missionary, a poet and a prophet, he is mystical. He found evil in himself and rooted it out. He loved nature, animals, the blade of grass on the lawn and the birds flying in the sky. But above all he loved people, children, old people, women. He is the most shining example of that agape we talked about earlier.
Pope Francis’ description of his namesake, given in his recent interview with Eugenio Scalfari, is a popular one, both in style and content. In it is found the reason why the St. Francis-with-the-bird statue winds up in many a garden of those whose identity as Catholics is otherwise nominal. St. Francis had a love for nature. For some that will be the take home from the above statement of the Pope. But there is more in the Holy Father’s description. St. Francis was like Jesus. His life was poetry. He achieved a life of charity rarely found in mere mortals. Pope Francis is building, like his namesake. He is making something more significant of that statue in the garden. Thus, the pastoral method of Pope Francis in his interviews is personal, direct and spontaneous, but I believe we would be mistaken if we took them has haphazard. Continue reading →
I have sat back a bit to observe the reaction to Pope Francis’s interview with Father Antonio Spadaro. So far, I have only mentioned it briefly in my last post where the Holy Father touched upon a topic I was already working on. I do not think anyone is surprised that pundits on the far left and right have interpreted the Holy Father’s remarks as expressing freewheeling liberalism. Neither is it surprising that those loyal to the Holy Father have dedicated most of their time to clarifying what the Holy Father actually said. Hopefully, now more time will be spent assimilating his words without fear of receiving or conveying the wrong message.
I think Pope Francis in the interview is perceived by many commentators the way he must be by the Vatican Police who are constantly challenged in their efforts to maintain a parameter of safety around this man who is of the people, and who finds it necessary to relate directly with them. The Vatican police must wonder if the Holy Father is aware of the danger, because he does not seem to show it. On the contrary, from his contact with the people as well as from his teaching and example, it seems that Pope Francis sees a greater danger in not taking such risks. Continue reading →
“The decree of the Commissioner, dated 11 July, 2013 indicates the purpose of the measure taken which is: ‘the goal of preserving and promoting the internal unity of the Institute as well as the fraternal communion, adequate formation to religious and consecrated life, the organization of apostolic activities, and the correct management of temporal goods.’ Five brothers who in the past had occupied positions of high responsibility in the Institute, at the beginning of 2012 sought out dialogue with the Founder and his Council in order to express what in their view were irregularities, beginning with liturgical choices that did not however, exhaust the list of their concerns. Unsatisfied, they then approached the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Doctrine of the Faith. Those who manifest their conscience to an authority, which in this case is the Church headed by the Pope, by this very action itself, prove that they recognize this authority as such, and which therefore excludes any attitude of ‘rebellion’ on their part towards those in power. The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life recognized extremes and therefore an apostolic visitation began in the second half of that year. Each friar in perpetual vows, as agreed by the General Council then in office, was provided with a questionnaire protected under the secret of one’s conscience.”
But in recent years I have found my relationship to many (not all or even most) traditional Catholics tested and strained. I say “tested” because I have found that if I do not adhere to a rather strict, and I would say “narrow” line, I am relegated to be thrown out of the feast, and there in the “outer darkness” to wail and grind my teeth.
It would seem that for some, I am required to bash bishops, lament that the Church has “never been in worse shape,” and that every single solitary problem in the Church today is “due to Vatican II” and the “Novus Ordo” Mass. Stray too far from this, either by omission or commission, and I am in the hurt locker, the penalty box, and relegated to being no better than one of “them.”
In an order whose predominant attention is to the traditional liturgy. A decree of the Pope appoints an apostolic commissioner
The Congregation for Religious, with the approval of Pope Francis, decided last July 11 to appoint a commissioner to the Congregation of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, a religious order in which the spirituality of Saint Francis of Assisi had, in recent years, been combined with a predominant attention given to the traditional liturgy.
The appointing of a commissioner, one reads in the decree of the vatican ‘ministry’ for religious orders, aims to “protect and promote the internal unity of religious institutes and their fraternal communion, their adequate formation in religious and consecrated life, the organization of apostolic activities “and” the proper management of temporal goods. ” Continue reading →
Fr. Longenecker has a good piece up about how mainstream journalists are misinterpreting the reformist attitude of Pope Francis as a revolutionary spirit. This is the same wishful thinking that was applied to Blessed John Paul II, when after his election he was expected to change all the rules and revolutionize the Church. Fr. Longenecker develops his thought on the matter thus:
The problem with the narrative devised by the secular press is that it is constructed on philosophical presuppositions of which the journalists themselves are probably ignorant. The modern secular world interprets world events and history according to a hermeneutic of revolution or what Pope Benedict called a hermeneutic of rupture. This is essentially a Hegelian understanding of history in which there is thesis, antithesis and synthesis. In other words, there is a status quo, there is the challenge to the status quo and this brings about conflict out of which a new order is born.
And then he moves from the present situation with Pope Francis to the root problem of this revolutionary interpretation:
This contrast between reform and revolution sheds light on the recent history of the Catholic Church. The Second Vatican Council was a reforming council, but it was not a revolutionary council. Unfortunately, in an age of revolution, with the zeitgeist one of revolution, the council was hi-jacked by those who could not see the world in anything but revolutionary terms. Thus I still hear Catholics speak about “pre-Vatican II” and “post Vatican II” as if a great revolution took place. The other day a fellow priest condemned our plans for a traditional style church saying that “It is pre-Vatican II. We are supposed to build modern churches now that encourage participation.” The true interpretation of the second Vatican Council is that it reformed the church, but did not bring about a revolution. The Second Vatican Council corrected, adjusted and expanded the ministry of the church and the truths of the faith through the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit. It was never intended to be revolutionary and iconoclastic. The wreckage of the Catholic Church in the wake of Vatican II was an abuse, not a right use.
I completely agree with Father’s assessment. I would just mention that the revolutionary interpretation of both Pope Francis and the Council is facilitated by a counter-revolutionary spirit which accepts the revolutionary interpretation of the Council in the name of preserving Tradition. In fact, many traditionalists, including those who are in full communion with Rome and attend the novus ordo frequently, subscribe to the position that Vatican II was a revolution that must be answered with a counter-revolution.
The critique of Pope Francis is from both the progressive and traditionalist edges of the Church. It is the same critique with opposing motives.
Dr. Tracey Rowland recently spoke at the ”Sacra Liturgia Conference” in Rome to the great approval of those attached the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. But she also made the mistake of suggesting that there are some obstacles to a wider attendance of that form of the liturgy due to problems among those who regularly attend:
And this is the judgment: Because the light is come into the world and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil. For every one that doth evil hateth the light and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved. But he that doth truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest: because they are done in God.
Pope Francis has been shining a light on issues of conscience and preaching the faith in his daily homilies and applying the Word of God to the lives of his hearers. In a particular he continues to return to the them of docility to the Holy Spirit and discerning the way through the modern world, avoiding the extremes and staying on the path of reform and renewal. Continue reading →
“The hour of the law’s fulfillment, is when the law reaches its maturity when it becomes the law of the Spirit. Moving forward on this road is somewhat risky, but it is the only road to maturity, to leave behind the times in which we are not mature. Part of the law’s journey to maturity, which comes with preaching Jesus, always involves fear; fear of the freedom that the Spirit gives us. The law of the Spirit makes us free! This freedom frightens us a little, because we are afraid we will confuse the freedom of the Spirit with human freedom. “
Pope Francis continued, the law of the Spirit, “takes us on a path of continuous discernment to do the will of God” and this can frighten us. The Pope warned that this fear “brings two temptations with it.” The first, is to “go backwards” to say that “it’s possible up to this point, but impossible beyond this point” which ends up becoming “let’s stay here”. This, he warned, “is the temptation of fear of freedom, fear of the Holy Spirit.” A fear that “it is better to play it safe.” Pope Francis then told a story about a superior general who, in the 1930’s, went around compiling a list of regulations for his religious, “a work that took years.” Then he travelled to Rome to meet a Benedictine abbot, who, upon hearing all he had done, replied that in doing so he “had killed his Congregation’s charism”, “he had killed its freedom” since “this charism bears fruit in freedom and he had stopped the charism”.
“This is the temptation to go backwards, because we are ‘safer’ going back: but total security is in the Holy Spirit that brings you forward, which gives us this trust – as Paul says – which is more demanding because Jesus tells us: “Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law”. It is more demanding! But it does not give us that human security. We cannot control the Holy Spirit: that is the problem! This is a temptation. “
Pope Francis noted that there is another temptation: that of “adolescent progressivism”, that de-rails us. This temptation lies in seeing a culture and “not detaching ourselves from it”.
“We take the values of this culture a little bit from here, a little bit from there , … They want to make this law? Alright let’s go ahead and make this law. Let’s broaden the boundaries here a little. In the end, let me tell you, this is not true progress. It is adolescent progressivism: just like teenagers who in their enthusiasm want to have everything and in the end? You slip up … It’s like when the road is covered in ice and the car slips and go off track… This is the other temptation at the moment! We, at this moment in the history of the Church, we cannot go backwards or go off the track! “