Tuesday, 12 April 2016

More on Amoris Laetitia

Further to my recent post, in which I urged people to read Amoris Laetitia through Catholic eyes, there are a few more thoughts milling around in my head.

One is that, although I stand by that post, it would not be true to say that I have not been troubled by Amoris Laetitia. If I were pope...  And of course, therein lies the absurdity. I am not (Deo gratias).

Another is this. Many who are unhappy with the document are attributing ill-intent to the Holy Father. I believe that to be profoundly, spiritually, dangerous. We are commanded not to judge. In a traditional Catholic understanding, that means, specifically, not judging the state of another's soul (we are allowed to judge actions, of course: indeed it is often necessary to do so). So I worry for those who think that they can judge the Holy Father's intentions, and judge them to be malign, for that strikes me as perilously close to judging the state of his soul (indeed, some may have been foolhardy enough to pronounce on that, too!) And to proclaim such opinions in public as facts is even more problematic.

A further thought is this: even if I were to believe that the Holy Father has an agenda which is not consistent with Catholic teaching and tradition, there is still a Catholic way to read the situation, as well as the document.  I do not believe that God will abandon His Church. I also know that God respects and uses the office of sacred officials, even despite the office-holder. Consider the prophetic words of the Jewish High Priest: It is better that one man should die for the nation.  The High Priest meant one thing, perhaps; but God used him, in his official role, to proclaim a truth beyond his understanding. Perhaps I should seek to read Amoris Laetitia in that light: is God speaking through this document in a prophetic way?

There is no doubt that we live in troubling times. There is no doubt that many will use Amoris Laetitia to advance ideas and practices contrary to tradition. But my responsibility is first and foremost for my own reaction: it is for that that I will answer to God. 

Rushing to judgement is perilous indeed.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Reading Amoris Laetitia - as a Catholic

I have been reading some of the comments on Amoris Laetitia with great interest; and in particular I have been struck by the Protestant approach taken by so many commentators.

It's a bit like when my Protestant friends find a verse in the Bible that appears to contradict Catholic teaching. Look, look, they say, The Bible says 'All have sinned.' Therefore the Catholic Church can't be right about Mary being free from sin.

It's quite endearing in its naivety. And perhaps I am unkind to ask them whether it means that Christ, too, has sinned, since that is the plain meaning of the verse.

For the way in which Catholics read the Bible is different. We read it in the light of the teaching of our Holy Mother, the Church, whose book it is. Where we find an interpretation that contradicts the declared teaching of the Church, we know that that interpretation is wrong. We know that the text is inerrant, of course: also on the authority of the Church.

Turning to Amoris Laetitia, I think that many are reading it, as I said, in that Protestant spirit. Thus the delightful Sede Vacantists wrench individual verses out of context, interpret them in the most anti-Catholic way, and present them as evidence (satisfactory to them, if to nobody else) that the Holy Father is not in fact the Pope.

Likewise, certain prelates have looked to find what they want to find in the text, and used it to pursue their own pre-determined agenda.

And the same is true of those who want to demonstrate... well, whatever they want to demonstrate.

My point being that we should not approach the text seeking to demonstrate whatever we already think about the Holy Father, or the State of the Church, or anything else.  We should read it, in the first instance, to learn.

And when it comes to interpreting any ambiguities, we should interpret them in the light of the established teaching of the Church.

And should it happen that there are passages that we find impossible to reconcile with the established teaching of the Church (and I do not yet know if that is the case, as I have not yet read the whole thing, still less compared the English translation with the Latin official text), then we must conclude either that we are failing as interpreters, or that there is an error in the text. For the Church does not guarantee the inerrancy of every papal pronouncement. We know that no Pope can reverse or contradict what we have received as the Faith, but rather that his role is to preserve and transmit that sacred deposit. 

But such a conclusion should be the last thing we seek, the last that we reach, and not the first.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

My considered comment...

For my Lenten, and subsequently Eastertide, reading, I have been re-reading our Holy Father Emeritus' wonderful Jesus of Nazareth (Part 2).

I have just reached the passage where he is talking (retrospectively, as it were, since this is in the Epilogue) about today's Gospel.

In the Gospel, Our Lord, from high on the mountainside, where He is in communion with His Father, descends to the Lake, where the apostles (those doughty fishermen) are struggling in their boat against a strong headwind. He walks to them over the water, and suddenly their boat, which they had feared was foundering, is at its destination.

The Holy Father Emeritus comments: This is an image of the Church - intended also for us. The Lord is 'on the mountain' of the Father. Therefore he sees us. Therefore he can get into the boat of our life at any time. Therefore we can always call on him; we can always be certain that he sees and hears us. In our own day, too, the boat of the Church travels against the headwind of history through the turbulent waters of time. Often it looks as if it is bound to sink. But the Lord is there, and he comes at the right moment. "I go away, and I will come to you" - that is the essence of Christian trust, the reason for our joy.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia!

Happy Easter!

Today is the day of the new creation: all is made new in Christ.

And we sing with joy to His Blessed Mother, given to us as our Mother from the Cross: for the next forty days, instead of the Angelus, which honours the Incarnation, we will sing and pray the Regina Caeli, celebrating the Resurrection.

The Regina Caeli: first the Gregorian Chant, then the arrangement by Gregor Aichinger.

Regina caeli
V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

O Queen of Heaven rejoice, Alleluia: 
For He whom thou didst merit to bear, Alleluia,  
Has risen as He said, Alleluia. 
Pray for us to God, Alleluia. 
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, Alleluia. 
For the Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia. 

Let us pray: O God, who gave joy to the whole world by the Resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of eternal life.  Through the same Christ our Lord.   Amen.  

For those who pray #twitterangelus, the Regina Caeli in tweetable format is here.

Christ makes all things new, and the joy of the reality of Easter far outweighs any problems in the Church or beyond.

May all my readers have a very happy and blessed Eastertide.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Good Friday Improperia

Here is Victoria's magnificent setting of the Good Friday Improperia, or Reproaches (incidentally, the other place in our liturgy where we retain some Greek, along with the Kyrie).

It is worthy of note that in the official liturgy of the Church, we find Latin, Greek and Hebrew; just as the inscription on the Cross was in Latin Greek and Hebrew.

Here is the full text (the motet only contains a couple of the verses)

Popule meus, quid feci tibi?
Aut in quo contristavi te?
Responde mihi. 

Quia eduxi te de terra Aegypti: 
parasti Crucem Salvatori tuo. 

Hagios o Theos. Sanctus Deus.
Hagios Ischyros. Sanctus fortis.
Hagios Athanatos, eleison himas. 
Sanctus immortalis, miserere nobis. 

Quia eduxi te per desertum quadraginta annis: 
et manna cibavi te, et introduxi te in terram satis bonam: 
parasti Crucem Salvatori tuo.

Quid ultra debui facere tibi, et non feci?
Ego quidem plantavi te vineam meam speciosissimam:
et tu facta es mihi nimis amara:
aceto namque sitim meam potasti:
et lancea perforasti latus Salvatori tuo.

Ego propter te flagellavi Aegyptum cum primogenitis suis:
et tu me flagellatum tradidisti.
Popule meus…

Ego te eduxi de Aegypto, demerso Pharone in mare Rubrum:
et tu me tradidisti principibus sacerdotum.
Popule meus…

Ego ante te aperui mare:
et tu aperuisti lancea latus meum.
Popule meus…

Ego ante te praeivi in columna nubis: 
et tu me duxisti ad praetorium Pilati.
Popule meus…

Ego te pavi manna in desertum: 
et tu me cedisti alapis et flagellis.
Popule meus…

Ego te potavi aqua salutis de petra:
et tu me potasti felle et aceto.
Popule meus…

Ego propter te Chananeorum reges percussi:
et tu percussisti arundine caput meum.
Popule meus…

Ego dedi tibi sceptrum regale:
et tu dedisti capiti meo spineam coronam.
Popule meus…

Ego te exaltavi magna virtute:
et tu me suspendisti in patibulo crucis.
Popule meus…


O my people, what have I done to thee?
Or how have I offended you?
Answer me.

Because I led thee out of the land of Egypt: 
thou hast prepared a Cross for thy Saviour.

O holy God! O holy God!
O holy strong One! O holy strong One!
O holy and immortal, have mercy upon us.
O holy and immortal, have mercy upon us.

Because I led thee through the desert for forty years: 
and fed thee with manna, and brought thee into a land exceeding good: 
thou hast prepared a Cross for thy Saviour.
O holy God!…

What more ought I to have done for thee, that I have not done? 
I planted thee, indeed, My most beautiful vineyard: 
and thou hast become exceeding bitter to me: 
for in my thirst thou gavest me vinegar to drink: 
and with a spear thou hast pierced the side of thy Saviour.
O holy God!…

For thy sake I scourged the firstborn of Egypt:
Thou hast given me up to be scourged.
O my people…

I led thee out of Egypt having drowned Pharaoh in the Red Sea:
and thou hast delivered Me to the chief priests.
O my people…

I opened the sea before thee:
and thou hast opened my side with a spear.
O my people…

I went before thee in a pillar of cloud:
and thou hast led me to the judgment hall of Pilate.
O my people…

I fed thee with manna in the desert;
and thou hast assaulted me with blows and scourges.
O my people…

I gave thee the water of salvation from the rock:
and thou hast given me gall and vinegar to drink.
O my people…

For thy sake I struck the kings of the Canaanites:
and thou hast struck my head with a reed.
O my people…

I gave thee a royal sceptre:
and thou hast given a crown of thorns for my head.
O my people…

I exalted thee with great strength;
and thou hast hanged me on the gibbet of the cross.
O my people…


Listen, weep, and pray.

The Annunciation and Good Friday

A couple of years ago I posted about the Annunciation falling in Holy Week; and learned a lot from a couple of excellent people on Twitter, as recorded here, including John Donne's excellent poem Upon the Annunciation and Passion Falling upon One Day. 1608.

This year, of course, the Annunciation falls on Good Friday. A wonderful topic for a blog post; and fortunately someone more learned than me has already undertaken that task, and produced a completely fascinating post.  If you don't know the Clerk of Oxford's site, now is the time to visit it, and read  'This doubtful day of feast or fast': Good Friday and the Annunciation.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Passion Sunday

Today, in the traditional calendar, is Passion Sunday.

Here is what my (old, in fact my late Father's) Missal has to say on the subject.
This, the fifth Sunday in Lent, takes its name from its being the day on which Holy Church begins her solemn and mournful commemoration of our Lord's Passion. Henceforth, in the Divine Office, hymns in honour of our Lord suffering, take the place of those proper to Lent; the Preface of the Holy Cross is said at daily Mass; the psalm Judica Me Deus, and the Glory be to the Father are omitted, as in Masses of the Dead; and the portions of the Holy Gospels appointed to be read, are those referring to the plotting of the Jews against Christ, and to the incidents of the last days of his ministry upon earth. Very striking is the veiling in churches - in allusion to the words 'Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple' read in the Gospel of the day - of all the crosses, statues and sacred pictures, at other times so helpful to the devotion of the faithful.
I have blogged before about Passiontide, and the suppression thereof, both here, and as a followup, here, so I won't go on about it any more.

However, do notice that many churches have reintroduced (and some of course had never abandoned) the veiling of the statues and crucifixes today. But one wonders why? (Although I am of course in favour.) But what do they think they are doing? There is no more Passiontide, and the Gospel read at Mass today was the woman taken in adultery, not Our Lord's declaration that 'Before Abraham was, I AM' and his subsequent leaving the temple. 

The integration and resonance of tradition has been lost, and we are the poorer for it.