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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Veni Creator Spiritus - Invocation of the Holy Spirit



Veni Creator Spiritus ("Come Creator Spirit") is a hymn believed to have been written by Rabanus Maurus in the 9th century. When the original Latin text is used, it is normally sung in Gregorian Chant. As an invocation of the Holy Spirit, in the Roman Catholic Church it is sung at the feast of Pentecost (Terce and Vespers). It is also sung at occasions such as the entrance of Cardinals to the Sistine Chapel, the election of a pope, as well as at the ordination of bishops and priests, at the sacrament of Confirmation, the dedication of churches, the celebration of synods or councils, the coronation of Kings and Queens, the profession of members of religious institutes and other similar solemn events. 

The hymn in English is also widely used in the Anglican Communion at the ordination of Bishops and Priests. 

Sung purely by les Moines bénédictin de l'abbaye Saint-Martin de Ligugé


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Father Rutler: The Holy Spirit

Father George W. Rutler
The poet W.H. Auden once lectured me about the wrongness of modern translations rendering Holy Ghost as Holy Spirit. His frail case was that there are certain drinks, too, that can be called spirits. This made no sense. “Spirit” is a Latinism far older than “Ghost,” which goes back no further than the Old English “gast” and the German “Geist.” As a matter of taste, preference for “Ghost” is as anachronistic as thinking that the Baroque style of chasubles sometimes called the “fiddleback” is much more traditional than the Gothic style.
 
The Hebrew word for spirit, “ruach,” sounds like breathing, and pneumatic tires are called that after the Greek word for wind. There is indeed a “variety of spirits,” but to confuse the Holy Spirit with any vague parody is foggy superstition. The apostles mistook Jesus for a ghost when he walked on water, and they only knew that his risen body was not a ghost when he ate fish and honey. A modern form of superstition is the vague emotionalism of those who say that they are spiritual but not religious. The Master will have none of that, for he is Truth: “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
 
Christ told the disciples after the Resurrection that he must leave this world of time and space in order to send the Holy Spirit. There are on record fifteen appearances of the Risen Christ, including three after Pentecost: once seen by Stephen as he was dying, another speaking to Paul on the way to Damascus, and then to John on Patmos. But each appearance was followed by a disappearance enabling the Holy Spirit, as the bond of love between the Father and the Son, to invigorate the Church.
 
By what seems a paradox, because the actions intersect time and eternity, Christ goes away so that through his Holy Spirit he can be with us always. This becomes most graphic each day at Mass when the Holy Spirit is invoked upon the bread and wine so that they become Christ’s body and blood. That moment on the Eucharistic altar fulfills the prehistoric instant when God breathed his spirit into Adam and, countless ages before that, when the Spirit of God “moved upon the face of the waters” and began everything.
 
None of this is conjecture, because it is a response to actual events: “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (John 14:26). The Fountain of Youth that explorers in futility tried to find, like pharmacists and cosmetic surgeons today, is a ghostly illusion and a superstitious cipher for life eternal: “You send forth your Spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth” (Psalm 104:30).

 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Father Rutler: Laughter

Father George W. Rutler
I think the heroic nineteenth-century archbishop in Cuba, Anthony Mary Claret, was off the mark when he disapproved of laughter because Jesus is not known to have laughed. I might be a bit glum, too, if I had barely escaped fifteen assassination attempts. But Ignatius of Loyola said, “Laugh and grow strong,” and John Bosco protested, “I want no long-faced saints.” Philip Neri kept a book of jokes, and Teresa of Avila prayed: “Lord, save me from these saints with sullen faces.”
 
The Bible is a cornucopia of laughter in all its forms. There is cruel laughter, as when the Philistines mocked the blinded Sampson (Judges 16:25). Sarah laughed cynically when told that she and Abraham would have a child. Jesus himself was the target of ridicule when he said that the daughter of Jairus was not dead, and most viciously when the soldiers crowned him with thorns. “Their laughter is wanton guilt” (Sirach 27:13).
 
Then there is gracious laughter, or “risibility,” which Aquinas said indicates human rationality. Reason can be misused, and so laughing at what is sad is insane, and artificial heartiness, accompanied by insincere guffaws and Falstaffian backslapping, is vulgar. Dostoyevsky named laughter as “the most reliable gauge of human nature.”
 
Did Jesus laugh? The Quaker theologian Elton Trueblood wrote a book, The Humor of Christ, inspired by his seven-year-old son, who burst into laughter upon hearing the Lord speak of the hypocrite who ignores the log in his own eye. For the first time, Trueblood recognized the pointed playfulness of the Master’s hyperbole.
 
The Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53:3; 1 Peter 2:24) wept when Lazarus died and when Jerusalem shuttered itself against him, and hardest of all in his Agony surrounded by twisted olive trees. But surely, he did not frown when he gathered children around him, or when he dined with disreputable people, for which he was criticized by the prune-faced Pharisees (Matthew 11:19). In the Beatitudes he promised that those who mourn would laugh, and he was most blessed of all.
 
As perfect man, his risibility was perhaps like the sound of a violin that most thrills someone with perfect pitch. Emerson said that “Earth laughs in flowers.” You might say that Jesus laughed with the wildest flowers because they were more splendid than Solomon. Mirth is an interior disposition for happiness, far different from frivolity, which is why Chesterton said that Jesus hid it, not compromising the outward protocols of Semitic gravity.   Laughing and weeping support each other. “A merry heart does good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22), and “Sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better” (Ecclesiastes 7:3). That nearly perfect mortal, John Vianney, told an imperfect penitent: “I weep because you do not.” The Christ in him could also say: “I laugh because you do not.” 


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Cardinal Eijk: The Church’s Ultimate Trial

Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht, Netherlands. (YouTube)
The German bishops’ conference voted by a large majority in favor of directives which entail that a Protestant married to a Catholic may receive the Eucharist after meeting a number of conditions: he must have carried out an examination of conscience with a priest or with another person with pastoral responsibilities; he must have affirmed the faith of the Catholic Church, as well as having wished to put an end to “serious spiritual distress” and to have a “desire to satisfy a longing for the Eucharist.” 

Seven members of the German bishops’ conference voted against these directives and sought the opinion of some dicasteries of the Roman Curia. The consequence was that a delegation from the German bishops’ conference spoke in Rome with a delegation from the Roman Curia, including the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The response of the Holy Father, given through the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the delegation of the German Conference, that the Conference should discuss the drafts again and try to achieve a unanimous result, if possible, is completely incomprehensible. The Church’s doctrine and practice regarding the administration of the Sacrament of the Eucharist to Protestants is perfectly clear. The Code of Canon Law says about this:

“If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.” C.I.C./1983, can. 844 § 4 (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) no. 1400).

This therefore applies only to emergencies, especially where there is a risk of death.

Intercommunion is, in principle, only possible with Orthodox Christians, because the Eastern Churches, although not in full communion with the Catholic Church, have true sacraments and above all, by virtue of their apostolic succession, a valid priesthood and a valid Eucharist (CCC no 1400, C.I.C./1983 can. 844, § 3). Their faith in the priesthood, in the Eucharist and also in the Sacrament of Penance is equal to that of the Catholic Church.

However, Protestants do not share faith in the priesthood and the Eucharist. Most German Protestants are Lutheran. Lutherans believe in consubstantiation, which implies the conviction that, in addition to the Body or Blood of Christ, bread and wine are also present when someone receives them. If someone receives the bread and wine without believing this, the Body and Blood of Christ are not really present. Outside this moment of receiving them, there remains only the bread and wine and the body and blood of Christ are not present.

Obviously, the Lutheran doctrine of consubstantiation differs essentially from the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, which implies the faith that what is received under the figures of bread and wine, even if administered to someone who does not believe in transubstantiation and even outside the moment of administration, remains the Body or Blood of Christ and that it is no longer the substances of bread and wine.

Because of these essential differences, communion should not be administered to a Protestant, even if married to a Catholic, because the Protestant does not live in full communion with the Catholic Church and, therefore, does not explicitly share faith in her Eucharist. The differences between faith in consubstantiation and that of transubstantiation are so great that one must really demand that someone who wishes to receive Communion explicitly and formally enters into full communion with the Catholic Church (except in case of danger of death) and in this way explicitly confirms his acceptance of the faith of the Catholic Church, including the Eucharist. A private examination of conscience with a priest or with another person with pastoral responsibilities does not give sufficient guarantees that the person involved really accepts the faith of the Church. By accepting it [the Eucharist], the person can, however, do only one thing: enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.

The draft directives of the German bishops' conference suggest there are only a few cases of Protestants, married to Catholics, who would like to receive Communion by making use of these directives. However, experience shows that in practice these numbers will generally increase. Protestants who are married to Catholics and see other Protestants married to Catholics receiving Communion will think they can do the same. And in the end even Protestants unmarried to Catholics will want to receive it. The general experience with this type of adjustment is that the criteria are quickly extended.  

Now the Holy Father has informed the delegation of the German episcopal conference that it must discuss again the draft proposals for a pastoral document on, among other things, administering Communion, and try to find unanimity. Unanimity about what? Assuming that all members of the German bishops’ conference, after having discussed them again, unanimously decide that Communion can be administered to Protestants married to a Catholic (something that will not happen), will this — while being contrary to what the Code of Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church say in this regard — become the new practice in the Catholic Church in Germany? The practice of the Catholic Church, based on her faith, is not determined and does not change statistically when a majority of an episcopal conference votes in favor of it, not even if unanimously. 

What the Code of Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church say should have been the reaction of the Holy Father, who is, as the Successor of Saint Peter “the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful” (Lumen Gentium no. 23). The Holy Father should have given the delegation of the German episcopal conference clear directives, based on the clear doctrine and practice of the Church. He should have also responded on this basis to the Lutheran woman who asked him on November 15, 2015 if she could receive Communion with her Catholic spouse, saying that this is not acceptable instead of suggesting she could receive Communion on the basis of her being baptized, and in accordance with her conscience. By failing to create clarity, great confusion is created among the faithful and the unity of the Church is endangered. This is also the case with cardinals who publicly propose to bless homosexual relationships, something which is diametrically opposed to the doctrine of the Church, founded on Sacred Scripture, that marriage, according to the order of creation, exists only between a man and a woman. 

Observing that the bishops and, above all, the Successor of Peter fail to maintain and transmit faithfully and in unity the deposit of faith contained in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, I cannot help but think of Article 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“The Church’s ultimate trial

Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth.”

+Willem Jacobus Cardinal Eijk

Archbishop of Utrecht, Netherlands

Utrecht, 5 May 2018



Saturday, May 5, 2018

Father Rutler: Divine Will, Not Spontaneous Generation

Father George W. Rutler
The exotic concept of spontaneous generation was taken seriously by astute thinkers for a long time before the invention of microbiology. Of course, they knew about the proximate process of birth, but the biological source of life itself exercised such minds as Anaximander six hundred years B.C. and Saint Augustine, Shakespeare, and the philosopher of fishing Izaak Walton, and was at least a puzzle to Darwin.

Spontaneous generation was the theory that living organisms could arise from inanimate matter, like fleas born from dust, or mice from salt and bees from animal blood and, in the speculation of Aristotle, scallops coming out of sand. I came across an unintentionally amusing comment from the 1920 proceedings of the American Philological Society published by the Johns Hopkins University Press: “Since insects are so small, it is not surprising that the sex history of some of them totally eluded the observation of the ancients.”


The advent of micro-imagery photography of infants in the womb destroyed eugenic propaganda that this is not a human life. Those who deny that are on the level of those who continued to insist on spontaneous generation after the Catholic genius Louis Pasteur disproved it in 1859.


Cold people who are not only credulous but cruel, admit that the unborn child is human, but say “So what?” At the recent White House Correspondents’ dinner, an astonishingly vulgar comedienne joked about abortion to the laughter of pseudo-sophisticates in evening dress. But even she slipped and used the word “baby.”

 

Christ used the image of the vine to explain that all life is contingent, not spontaneously generated, but dependent on other lives. “A branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine.” Likewise, those drinking champagne at the fancy dress dinner are related to every fragile life in the womb by a common humanity. To mock that is to de-humanize the self.
 

On the recent feast of Saint George, there was born in England, whose patron he is, Louis, a prince of the royal house. There were celebratory church bells from Westminster Abbey and a salute of cannons. Rightly so, for the birth of every baby is a cause for rejoicing. That same day another baby, one with a neurological infirmity, was deprived of oxygen support by judicial decree and against the will of his parents, who brought him into the world by pro-creation, as stewards of the Creator and not by spontaneous generation. This was in defiance of an effort by Pope Francis to rescue him by military helicopter. As sons by adoption, little Louis and little Alfie are princes of the Heavenly King, not by spontaneous generation, but by divine will. Pope Leo XIII declared in Rerum Novarum“The contention that the civil government should at its option intrude into and exercise intimate control over the family and the household is a great and pernicious error.”


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Archbishop Sample on Youth and Tradition


His Excellency Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon underlines the importance of the witness of the youth which are awe-inspired by the transcendent beauty of the classical form of the Holy Mass and are captivated by tradition. 

Introíbo ad altáre Dei. Ad Deum qui lætíficat iuventútem meam!