Sunday, August 28, 2005

Quaerite Faciem Eius Semper

B16 paid tribute to his favorite saint on his feast day at this morning's Angelus. As a delegation from the North American College was present in the Castel Gandolfo courtyard, it was often difficult hearing the Pope over the hysterics coming from down below. "Beware of screaming American seminarians" is the prevailing Roman wisdom of these days... and those Gianicolo boys sure like being the head cheerleaders.

But today is the memorial of St. Augustine. And Joseph Ratzinger is nothing if not a committed Augustinian. Noting the commentary of the "Son of Tears" on Psalm 104's exhortation to "Seek always his face," Benedict said, "The discovery of the 'face of God' is inexhaustible. The more we enter into the splendor of divine love, the more beautiful it is to continue forward in seeking it out."

He sounds like the new Tracy Chapman single. I kid you not. But I digress....

The context of this meditation is extremely important. Even though he's been back for a week, the Pope again spoke about the experience of World Youth Day, focusing particularly on his take as to two things: what the young people gathered in Cologne were seeking, and what they need to know.
Not only the young people, but the community and its pastors must always be extremely conscious of a fundamental fact of evangelization: that where God does not take the first place, where he is not recognized and adored as the supreme good, the dignity of man is jeopardized.
And speaking of his encounter with the German bishops, he made his own what he felt was the youth's request: "Help us to be disciples and witnesses of Christ."

As if he didn't before, it seems this Pope is focusing in more and more on that magic "A" word -- authenticity. Authenticity of witness, authenticity of message, authenticity of life. It provided the whole context of this morning's meditation. He's not looking for young people (and, for that matter, seminarians) who are going to scream, sing and dance under his window to go home and be unable to remember, let alone embrace, a single substantive thing he said.

We saw the evolution of this from the start of the pontificate, with the emphasis on Petrine ministry as servant of communion, not temporal behemoth. And what a point -- it seems Ratzi's never known anyone who truly found God in a tiara, either.

He knows that what draws people -- draws them substantively as opposed to superficially (big difference there) -- is not trappings, titles and torches, but tangible commitment, joy, human warmth and integrity. Those who sacrifice the latter qualities for the former, so the theory goes, basically hand a double victory to those who seek to discredit the face of the entire enterprise.

By their fruits, not their decibel levels, shall you judge them.

PHOTO: AP/Andrew Medichini



Blogger Perry Lorenzo said...

Terrific stuff, ain't it?!

But what I want to know is: how do you get the Angelus greeting before it is posted either on ZENIT or on the Vatican website? Perry

28/8/05 09:34  
Blogger CDE said...

He knows that what draws people -- draws them substantively as opposed to superficially (big difference there) -- is not trappings, titles and torches, but tangible commitment, joy, human warmth and integrity.

You hit the nail on the head this time, Rocco.

But I still maintain that high-decibel-level seminarians can be authentic. They are authentically happy to have such a spiritual father. And I would venture to guess that it is not a superficial, passing thing.

28/8/05 11:33  
Blogger Matthew Lickona said...

But is it just possible that the trappings, titles, and torches are not intended to draw people - that the majesty and splendor of the Church are intended not to dazzle the plebes, but rather to pay homage to God? Is it possible that there is no inherent opposition between "trappings, titles, and torches" and "tangible commitment, joy, human warmth and integrity"? My answer: yes.

And Rock, please go easy on the seminarians. They have already made a decision to spend their lives in God's service in a very particular and demanding way - responding to the call to the priesthood. If they suffer from an excess of enthusiasm... well, there are worse things.

28/8/05 12:01  
Blogger Todd said...

Not sure the seminarians aren't deserving of a bit of roughing up in print. They're in training. They have yet to prove themselves in ministry. Their present role is to learn, not to be God's cheerleaders. Vatican II teaches seminarians "should be taught to seek Christ in the faithful meditation on God's word, in the active participation in the sacred mysteries of the Church, especially in the Eucharist and in the divine office, in the bishop who sends them and in the people to whom they are sent, especially the poor, the children, the sick, the sinners and the unbelievers."

If a seminarian were to experience the same outward joy in service, I would say the outbursts are genuine. We could consult with the poor, the children, the sick, the sinners, and theunbelievers of Rome and ask if these guys are in character or out.

28/8/05 12:21  
Blogger CDE said...


One does not have to respond to every situation in exactly the same way for it to be an authentic response.

Are you insinuating that they might be less fervent about their pastoral work than about seeing the Pope?

I wouldn't take offense at this kind of enthusiasm. It is not impossible that it represents a fervor born of the love of the heart of Jesus... the sort of the St. John Vianney used to talk about. And I would definitely say that is a good quality in a seminarian. It was generally the men who lost that kind of fervor who ended up in one form of infidelity either during or after their time in seminary...

At the very least, objecting to the enthusiasm is a bit like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic as it sinks... There are far more weighty formational issues to be addressed by the upcoming review...

28/8/05 13:01  
Blogger Matthew Lickona said...

Todd -
Why is it our place to rough up those who are still in formation? I'm trying to put myself in a NAC seminarian's shoes - in the heady environs of Rome, under a new papacy. They have the rest of their lives to look forward to in ministry, in far more mundane circumstances. Your quote says they should be taught to seek Christ in the people to whom they are sent - but they haven't been sent yet, so why the jibe about asking the poor of Rome about them?

28/8/05 13:06  
Blogger Jeff said...

Well, once again, it should be noted that Todd is a defender of what he calls "'dissent'" and refuses to say clearly whether he BELIEVES that women cannot, as a matter of faith, be ordained priests. So, it's no wonder we find him where we do on these issues. He always seems to hit the nail on the thumb. An intelligent, warm, patient, well-intentioned guy, but very confused about the nature of the Faith.

One of my best friends is a Melkite woman and quite shy and undemonstrative. When she heard the announcement that Ratzinger had been Rocked to the Top, she leapt in the air as high as she could, pumped her fists above her, and shouted, "YAH!!!!" Many of us DO understand Ratzinger and know he's not just some Rottweiler. We love him and would have chosen him above anyone else for Pope. And we trust him. Why should joy and enthusiasm be a badge of shame? Do these same complainers get all grumpy at shouts of enthusiasm during a Rock-the-Jejune Mass or try to tamp down shouts of Hallelujah during an African-American Gospel-Agape? I doubt it. We're HAPPY. Get over it.

I have been lucky enough to be able to read an advance copy of the Pope's forthcoming book, "On the Way to Jesus Christ." The themes of Christ as the revelation of the Face of God, long sought and of the necessity of belief in God and in Christ as the necessary foundation for any social renewal of the world are more deeply explored in that wonderful work. He says that globalization WITHOUT Christ will not lead to unity, but to war, destruction and violence that can only be compared to a second Fall of Babel. Read it! Read it! It's coming out in October and is even better than Truth and Tolerance.

28/8/05 13:24  

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