Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ora et Labora

Delving ever deeper into the Golden Oldies, this morning's General Audience focused on the sixth-century Spaniard St Isidore of Seville... but with an even bigger moral:
Even today at the start of the third millennium Christians must pray, but they must also act together for the good of their fellow human beings. Prayer is indispensable but not if it disconnected from charity-inspired action in the service of others.

Benedict XVI devoted his thoughts in today’s general audience to Saint Isidore of Seville, a Father of the Church who lived between the 6th and 7th centuries, who even today teaches us about the need for the right mediation between the desire to lead a contemplative life and the duty to devote oneself to the service of others.

To the more than 20,000 people present in St Peter’s Square, the Pope focused on Isidore’s thoughts. “Considered the last Christian Father of Antiquity,” he believed that in imitating Christ, who had an active life and at the same time withdrew to the “mountain” to pray, Christians can “devote themselves to contemplation without denying themselves an active life; behaving differently would not be right. In fact as one loves God through contemplation, one loves one’s fellow human beings through action.”

In looking at Saint Isidore’s life, Benedict XVI said the former was the brother of Bishop Leander, whom he succeeded in 599 AD, who raised him in an environment that befitted the life of a studious monk. The two had a rich library of classical Pagan and Christian texts and he was pushed towards “a very strong discipline in dedicating himself to learning.”

As his books show he was interested in all cultural fields, had an “encyclopaedic knowledge” and literary texts that went from Cicero to Gregory the Great.

In order to understand him better it is necessary to remember the complexity of the political times in which he lived.

In his childhood he “experienced the bitterness of exile,” but “felt the thrill of making a contribution to the preparation of a people that was rediscovering its political and religious unity.”

He had huge problems like his relationship with heretics and Jews, “problems which appear real even today, especially if one thinks about what is happening in some regions in which we seem to witness situations similar to those of 6th century Iberian Peninsula.”

A “man with strong dialectical contrapositions’” he went through the same inner conflict his friend Pope Gregory the Great and Saint Augustine experienced, i.e. a conflict “between the desire for solitude to meditate and the need for charity towards his brothers, whose salvation, he felt, was his charge.”

Men of God, he said, do not want to get involved in secular things and grieve when they are burdened with responsibilities, but they accept what they would like to escape from and avoid if that is God’s will.

“This synthesis of a life that seeks God’s contemplation and dialogue through prayer and the reading of the Holy Scriptures as well as action in the service of the human community is Isidore’s great lesson to us, Christians of today, who are called to bear witness to Christ at the start of the new millennium.”
...and lest anyone missed the shockwaves, Rome's ranking Trid -- the president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission Cardinal Dario Castrillion Hoyos -- made some waves during a visit to London last weekend by voicing the pontiff's desire for "all the parishes" to offer liturgical celebrations according to the 1962 Missal:
Castrillon Hoyos also told a June 14 press conference in London that the Vatican was writing to all seminaries to ask that candidates to the priesthood are trained to celebrate Mass according to the extraordinary form of the Latin rite, also known as the Tridentine Mass, restricted from the 1970s until July 2007 when Pope Benedict lifted some of those limits.

The cardinal, who was visiting London at the invitation of the Latin Mass Society, a British Catholic group committed to promoting Mass in the Tridentine rite of the 1962 Roman Missal, said it was "absolute ignorance" to think that the pope was trying to reverse the reforms of the Second Vatican Council by encouraging use of the rite.

"The Holy Father, who is a theologian and who was (involved) in the preparation for the council, is acting exactly in the way of the council, offering with freedom the different kinds of celebration," he said.

"The Holy Father is not returning to the past; he is taking a treasure from the past to offer it alongside the rich celebration of the new rite," the cardinal added.

When asked by a journalist if the pope wanted to see "many ordinary parishes" making provision for the Tridentine Mass, Cardinal Castrillon, a Colombian, said: "All the parishes. Not many, all the parishes, because this is a gift of God.

"He (Pope Benedict) offers these riches, and it is very important for new generations to know the past of the church," said Cardinal Castrillon, president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," which works to help separated traditionalist Catholics return to the church.

"This kind of worship is so noble, so beautiful," he said. "The worship, the music, the architecture, the painting, makes a whole that is a treasure. The Holy Father is willing to offer to all the people this possibility, not only for the few groups who demand it but so that everybody knows this way of celebrating the Eucharist in the Catholic Church."...

The cardinal said parishes could use catechism classes to prepare Catholics to celebrate such Masses every Sunday so they could "appreciate the power of the silence, the power of the sacred way in front of God, the deep theology, to discover how and why the priest represents the person of Christ and to pray with the priest."

In "Summorum Pontificum," Pope Benedict indicated that Tridentine Masses should be made available in every parish where groups of the faithful desire it and where a priest has been trained to celebrate it. He also said the Mass from the Roman Missal in use since 1970 remains the ordinary form of the Mass, while the celebration of the Tridentine Mass is the extraordinary form.

The document did not require all parishes to automatically establish a Tridentine Mass schedule, but it said that where "a group of faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition exists stably," the pastor should "willingly accede" to their request to make the Mass available.

Cardinal Castrillon told the press conference, however, that a stable group could mean just three or four people who were not necessarily drawn from the same parish.
The comments came as, for the first time in nearly four decades, a Pontifical High Mass in the "Old Rite" was offered in Westminster Cathedral.