Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

In With the Old

Archbishop Raymond Burke is the head of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church's highest court, subject in law only to the Holy Father himself. On last Sunday, Oct 18, 2009, he sang the Tridentine Mass according to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. It was the first time the High Tridentine Mass was sung in Latin in St. Peter's for forty years.

In her blog, Mary Ann Kreitzer points out that forty might not be a coincidence. In biblical thought, it is the number signifying penance, conversion, and waiting for God. Forty is the number of days of rain in Noah's day; of days spent sitting in the ark waiting for the world to dry; of years wandered in the desert; of days til Nineveh be overthrown; of days our Lord spent fasting and praying. The thought is hers, and I got the beautiful picture (at right) from her as well.

I will not go nearly so far as to say that the Church has been in exile away from the true Mass, and now we've got it back. That's all bosh. Where the bishop is, there is the Church (according to St. Ignatius of Antioch); when the Pope speaks, Peter has spoken (according to St. Augustine of Hippo). The Church has given us a new liturgy, the Liturgy of 1971 of Paul VI. According to our Holy Father, that is and will remain the ordinary ritual for the Mass in the Latin ("Roman") church.

But I will go this far: I think the Church is waking up. I think we are finally starting to wander out of the desert of our own denseness. I think those who are daily deciding to stick with her come what may, have counted the cost, are counting the cost, and have a better sense of what we are doing. Fewer and fewer remain who do so only because everybody else is doing so. Just a couple generations ago, so many Catholics had memorized answers that they did not understand, felt they mustn't question or probe, and were mostly content not to do so. The faith of those who remain is harder won, and we may yet be made to fight harder still to continue in the race of faith. Sincere seekers are asking questions with an openness to answers, and they are being answered by knowledgeable Christians who are open to questions. I do not dare say that the Church has been chastened, but I think it is clear that we are being chastened. And we are waking up.

Click the picture for thoughts about
Rev. Mr. Fernando Saenz' first mass as deacon

We will bring that wakeful alertness with us wherever we go. We will bring those questions, and those answers, to the world. We will bring our understanding with us when we go out, because God is giving us a new heart for Him. And we will understand what God is doing even when we do not understand the language of the liturgy in which He is doing it. From October 6 to 15, while traveling in Italy and Germany, I had occasion to attend Mass twice in English, once in Italian, and twice in German. The German sounded a LOT like English, and phrases here and there had refreshingly similar sounds, but I understood hardly any of it. I know more Italian than German, but the Italian sounded even stranger - singsongy and light. At one English-language Mass the microphones were turned down a bit low, so I missed most of it. "Why not Latin?" I thought, "Just as easy to understand!" The other English-language Mass was beautiful, quiet, with an air densely packed by prayer; that was the Mass in which my newly-ordained friend preached for the first time. Seven or eight of us filled up half the chapel. Several Italians, mostly young and presumably understanding only a little, popped in to take up the empty pews. They didn't know it was the day after Fernando's ordination. They didn't know English. We did not know Italian. But somehow, in that place, praying privately together, publicly as a community of new acquaintances and strangers except for Christ, we knew exactly what we were doing. The Mass is the Mass is the Mass, the same in every language and in every place. We knew exactly what we were doing. We were awake.

Somehow, I sense that the growing urge within the Church for the Tridentine liturgy, even if we experience it only periodically, is a sign that we are coming awake.

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