Canonization Mass live

Video

Saints John XXII and John Paul II are more alive than we are right now – we’re watching the canonization Mass live, through bleary eyes. But it’s all worth it to be a part of this incredible moment in history. I think one of the commentators pointed out that there are four popes present: Pope Emeritus Benedict, Pope Francis, and they just placed the relics of our two new saints near the altar a few minutes ago. What a way to begin Divine Mercy Sunday!

Old keys, new hats

The most famous statue of St. Peter the Apostle is also a little mysterious.  The life-like bronze statue, displayed in St. Peter’s Basilica, is seated upon a marble throne, one hand holding the symbolic keys, the other hand raised in blessing.  The mystery lies in the fact that no one is certain how old the statue really is.  While historical evidence about the statue dates it to the 15th century, according to a long-standing tradition it dates back another thousand years.  It is said that Pope St. Leo the Great commissioned the statue in thanksgiving for the preservation of Rome from Attila the Hun’s attack.

Over the ages, countless streams of pilgrims kissing St. Peter’s foot, a sign of their unity with and obedience to Christ’s Vicar, have worn his foot down to a smooth, thin, sliver of bronze.  Today Pope Francis also honored St. Peter by reverencing the statue, which was arrayed in Papal vestments for today’s Feast of the Chair of Peter, after the Mass installing 19 new cardinals.

Pope Emeritus Benedict was there as well.  Seeing these two living popes share a fraternal embrace always gives us chills, as it reminds us of the amazing times we are living through in the Church today.

Below is a short video from Rome Reports with the highlights of today’s Mass.

St. Bonaventure

Many things can change in a year.  Just last year, Sunday, July 15th, Pope Benedict XVI, in his Sunday Angelus, spoke of St. Bonaventure, the tenth Doctor of the Church, who had a major influence on the Pope’s theological formation.

Here is what the Holy Father had to say about this renowned Franciscan Saint:

Today, 15 July, in the liturgical calendar is the Memorial of St Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, a Franciscan, Doctor of the Church and the successor of St Francis of Assisi at the helm of the Order of Friars Minor. It was he who wrote the first official biography of the “Poverello” and, at the end of his life, he was also Bishop of this Diocese of Albano.

Bonaventure wrote in one of his letters: “I confess before God that the reason which made me most love the life of Blessed Francis is that it resembles the birth and development of the Church” (Epistula de tribus quaestionibus, in Opere di San Bonaventura. Introduzione generale, Rome 1990, p. 29). These words refer us directly to this Sunday’s Gospel which presents the first occasion on which Jesus sent the Twelve Apostles out on mission. Jesus “called to him the Twelve”, St Mark recounts, “and began to send them out two by two…. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics” (Mk 6:7-9). After his conversion Francis of Assisi practised this Gospel to the letter, becoming a very faithful witness of Jesus; and, uniquely bound to the mystery of the Cross, was transformed into “another Christ”, exactly as St Bonaventure describes him.

Jesus Christ is the inspiring centre of St Bonaventure’s entire life and likewise of his theology. We rediscover this centrality of Christ in the Second Reading of today’s Mass (Eph 1:3-14), the famous hymn of St Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians that begins: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”. The Apostle thus shows in the four passages, that all begin with the same words: “in him”, with reference to Jesus, how this plan of blessing was brought about. “In him”, the Father chose us before the creation of the world; “in him” we have redemption through his blood; “in him” we became his heirs, predestined to live “for the praise of his glory”; “in him” all those who believe in the Gospel receive the seal of the Holy Spirit. This Pauline hymn contains the vision of history which St Bonaventure helped to spread in the Church: the whole of history is centred on Christ, who also guarantees in every era new things and renewal. In Jesus, God said and gave all things, but since he is an inexhaustible treasure, the Holy Spirit never ceases to reveal and to actualize his mystery. So it is that the work of Christ and of the Church never regresses but always progresses.

Dear friends, let us invoke Mary Most Holy whom we shall be celebrating tomorrow as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, so that she may help us, like St Francis and St Bonaventure, to respond generously to the Lord’s call to proclaim his Gospel of salvation with our words and, first and foremost, with our lives.

Called to confirm – Pope Francis’ homily for Solemnity of Sts. Peter & Paul

Aside

Not many people in the course of history have been able to celebrate and pray for two popes – at least, not without a schism.  But here we are, thanking God today for two pontiffs, both living, both at the Vatican.  That’s pretty incredible!

Here is Pope Francis’ homily for today, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul:

Your Eminences,My Brother Bishops and Priests,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are celebrating the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, principal patrons of the Church of Rome: a celebration made all the more joyful by the presence of bishops from throughout the world. A great wealth, which makes us in some sense relive the event of Pentecost. Today, as then, the faith of the Church speaks in every tongue and desire to unite all peoples in one family.

I offer a heartfelt and grateful greeting to the Delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, led by Metropolitan Ioannis. I thank Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I for this renewed gesture of fraternity. I greet the distinguished ambassadors and civil authorities. And in a special way I thank the Thomanerchor, the Choir of the Thomaskirche of Leipzig – Bach’s own church – which is contributing to today’s liturgical celebration and represents an additional ecumenical presence.

I would like to offer three thoughts on the Petrine ministry, guided by the word “confirm”. What has the Bishop of Rome been called to confirm?

1. First, to confirm in faith. The Gospel speaks of the confession of Peter: “You are Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16), a confession which does not come from him but from our Father in heaven. Because of this confession, Jesus replies: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church” (v. 18). The role, the ecclesial service of Peter, is founded upon his confession of faith in Jesus, the Son of the living God, made possible by a grace granted from on high. In the second part of today’s Gospel we see the peril of thinking in worldly terms. When Jesus speaks of his death and resurrection, of the path of God which does not correspond to the human path of power, flesh and blood re-emerge in Peter: “He took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him … This must never happen to you” (16:22). Jesus’ response is harsh: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me” (v. 23). Whenever we let our thoughts, our feelings or the logic of human power prevail, and we do not let ourselves be taught and guided by faith, by God, we become stumbling blocks. Faith in Christ is the light of our life as Christians and as ministers in the Church!

2. To confirm in love. In the second reading we heard the moving words of Saint Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tm 4:7). But what is this fight? It is not one of those fights fought with human weapons which sadly continue to cause bloodshed throughout the world; rather, it is the fight of martyrdom. Saint Paul has but one weapon: the message of Christ and the gift of his entire life for Christ and for others. It is precisely this readiness to lay himself open, personally, to be consumed for the sake of the Gospel, to make himself all things to all people, unstintingly, that gives him credibility and builds up the Church. The Bishop of Rome is called himself to live and to confirm his brothers and sisters in this love for Christ and for all others, without distinction, limits or barriers.

3. To confirm in unity. Here I would like to reflect for a moment on the rite which we have carried out. The pallium is a symbol of communion with the Successor of Peter, “the lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and of communion” (Lumen Gentium, 18). And your presence today, dear brothers, is the sign that the Church’s communion does not mean uniformity. The Second Vatican Council, in speaking of the hierarchical structure of the Church, states that the Lord “established the apostles as college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from their number” (ibid., 19). And it continues, “this college, in so far as it is composed of many members, is the expression of the variety and universality of the people of God” (ibid., 22). In the Church, variety, which is itself a great treasure, is always grounded in the harmony of unity, like a great mosaic in which every small piece joins with others as part of God’s one great plan. This should inspire us to work always to overcome every conflict which wounds the body of the Church. United in our differences: this is the way of Jesus! The pallium, while being a sign of communion with the Bishop of Rome and with the universal church, also commits each of you to being a servant of communion.

To confess the Lord by letting oneself be taught by God; to be consumed by love for Christ and his Gospel; to be servants of unity. These, dear brother bishops, are the tasks which the holy apostles Peter and Paul entrust to each of us, so that they can be lived by every Christian. May the holy Mother of God guide us and accompany us always with her intercession. Queen of Apostles, pray for us! Amen.

They Picked Up Stones

By guest blogger Dr. David Delaney

Thursday’s Gospel reminds me of the dangers of the fallen heart.  The Pharisees, the teachers of the law, were so sure that they knew the fullness of the Law (Jn 8:51-59).  However, when faced with the Law’s fullness, Jesus who is the Law, they could not recognize Him.  He did not conform to their limited understanding of God.  They refused to step back and ask themselves if this might be a new Prophet, even the Messiah.  Their hearts were closed to a re-evaluation of their interpretation of the law; they did not consider if they understood it only partially.

I can’t help but see a parallel here to recent criticisms of our Holy Father Francis from some Catholics who are concerned about his liturgical sensibilities.  I share their concern for authentic liturgy.  I strongly believe that a liturgy that helps us to understand we are at once on earth and in heaven, is necessary for the new evangelization.  However, a group of these “liturgically sensitive” Catholics seems to have allowed this concern to affect the openness of their hearts to our newly elected Vicar of Christ and have given themselves up to suspicion and even contempt.  Like the Pharisees, some have even taken to calling him the equivalent of “possessed.”

Pope Francis is going to be full of surprises for all of us.  Before Pope Francis, we had two great teaching popes who used their personal gifts to bring a new synthesis of the faith to the contemporary world.  Francis will be another great teaching Pope, but he will be more sparing in his use of words.  He will use words, but he will demonstrate them in action in ways that will surprise most of us, and unfortunately, his demonstrations will become a stumbling block to others who have not fully understood the teaching of his predecessors.

Blessed John Paul the Great emphasized in his writings the necessity of acting in love, in accord with the teachings of Christ through His Church.  His message that we must not be afraid, gave us the hope that Christ was still faithful to His promises, the He is still alive in His Church. Benedict XVI, perhaps the greatest theological intellect to grace the papal office since St. Gregory the Great (though JPII was not far behind), emphasized the need for faith.  He fought especially against the dictatorship of relativism by which the enemy seeks to undermine the reasonableness of belief.  Benedict demonstrated that greatness of intellect does in fact bring one to deep faith in Christ.  A most important message for our time.

By most accounts of those who know him, Pope Francis like his predecessors, is a very intelligent man of great faith, humility, love and holiness.  However, his personal style is more like his name’s sake.  While St. Francis was a great evangelist, we have nothing of his writings.  He was a man of living out the words he preached (though there is no evidence he said “preach always and if you must, use words”).  I believe that this is what we will see from Pope Francis.  He will teach using few words, which will be followed by provocative acts of love and humility.

Expect to see love lived out in ways that will teach us anew what it means to be a Christian.  For those of us who have read the words of the previous popes, but not yet let these words fully penetrate our hearts and convict us by how we live, expect to be a little bit uncomfortable.  However, we must let our hearts be docile and trust in Christ that He is still leading His Church through Pope Francis.

I believe that this is the papacy of love; it is the necessary final step in experiencing the new springtime in the Church, the fruits of the last 30 years of preparation for this new evangelization.  When as faithful Catholics we begin to allow our actions to authentically witness to Christ, the pagan empire will begin its Christian conversion once again.  Let us open our hearts to Christ in His Vicar.  Let us not be one of the Pharisees who begins to pick up stones…

Dr. Delaney is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, Texas.  He previously wrote for the now defunct Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex blog.

One Chair, One Church

In yesterday’s Gospel Our Lord warns “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.  Therefore do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example.”

The Chair of Moses was not just a figure of speech, it was an actual chair, which symbolized the authority held by Moses.  After Moses died, this authority passed to Joshua, then to the Judges, then to the prophets, and then to the Great Assembly.

In Exodus Moses says, “… the people come to me to inquire of God; when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God and his decisions.”

God has now fully revealed Himself to us through His Son, and He still has a representative on earth who preserves the statues of God.  He sits on the Chair of Peter.  He is the Pope.  The significance of the Feast of the Chair of Peter, which we celebrated last week, is that the man sitting in the Chair of Peter (the new Chair of Moses) has teaching authority.  His task is to preserve the purity of doctrine, so that we can be certain we are professing the true faith, or as the Catechism says, so the People of God can abide “in the truth that liberates” (CCC 890).

For more on the continuity between the Chair of Moses and the Chair of Peter see Steve Ray’s website here.

The Catholic Church has been led by many successors to St. Peter 264 to be exact.  Some have been holy, some have been martyrs, and some were downright scoundrels.  But no matter how awful their personal lives were they never defiled the purity of doctrine which it was their duty to preserve.  The Holy Spirit guides and protects Christ’s Church.

The great blessing of our times is that we have had popes whose example we can follow.  They teach not just with doctrine but by their personal holiness.  The one thing you hear over and over again from those who meet Pope Benedict is that he is so humble. He truly lives what Our Lord said, “The greatest among you must by your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”