30 April 2008
28 April 2008
23 April 2008
21 April 2008
I did manage to see most of the Holy Father's visit, albeit through the haze of coughing and gasping! I'm looking forward to reading the texts of his various talks and homilies.
I'd appreciate your prayers. I don't have the patience to be a very good patient.
15 April 2008
"For at least the past eight centuries, popes have had their own personal coats of arms in addition to the symbols of the Apostolic See," the archbishop said in the Vatican newspaper. While each papal shield is unique, the elements surrounding it had more or less remained the same for centuries -- until now. Gone is the beehive-shaped crown whose actual use in important ceremonies was abandoned during the papacy of Paul VI.
For Pope Benedict's ensign, the more modest and recognizable miter has taken its place. But the silver miter has three gold stripes to mirror the symbolism of the papal tiara's three tiers: "order, jurisdiction and magisterium," said Archbishop Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo. A vertical gold band connects the three stripes in the middle "to indicate their unity in the same person," he said. The white pallium with black crosses draped below the shield “indicates the (bishop's) role of being pastor of the flock entrusted to him by Christ," wrote Archbishop Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo.
What has not changed and has been part of papal emblems for centuries is the Holy See's insignia of two crossed keys, which symbolize the powers Christ gave to the apostle Peter and his successors. The gold key on the right represents the power in heaven and the silver key on the left indicates the spiritual authority of the papacy on earth. The cord that unites the two keys alludes to the bond between the two powers. Nestled on top of the keys lies the unique shield of Pope Benedict, which is based on his coat of arms as archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany, and is particularly rich in personal and spiritual symbolism, wrote Archbishop Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo.
The shield is divided into three sections -- each of which has its own symbol. The central element on a red background is a large gold shell that has theological and spiritual significance for the pope, the archbishop said. The shell recalls a legend in which St. Augustine came across a boy on the seashore who was scooping water from the sea and pouring it into a small hole he had dug in the sand. When the saint pondered this seemingly futile activity, it struck him as analogous to limited human minds trying to understand the infinite mystery of the divine.
"The shell reminds me of my great master Augustine, of my theological work and of the vastness of the mystery which surpasses all our learning," wrote then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in his 1997 memoirs Milestones. Archbishop Cordero di Montezemolo wrote that the shell has long symbolized the pilgrim, "a symbolism Benedict XVI wants to keep alive" after Pope John Paul II, "the great pilgrim." The shell is also present in the coat of arms of the Schotten monastery in Regensburg, Germany, to which the pope "feels very spiritually close," the archbishop said.
The upper left-hand section of the shield depicts a brown-faced Moor with red lips, crown and collar; it is a symbol of the former Diocese of Freising dating back to the eighth century. Though it is not known why the Moor came to represent Freising, in Milestones, the pope said for him "it is an expression of the universality of the church which knows no distinctions of race or class since all are one in Christ."
Finally, a brown bear loaded with a pack on his back lumbers up the upper right-hand section of the shield. The bear is tied to an old Bavarian legend about the first bishop and patron saint of the Diocese of Freising, St. Corbinian. According to the legend, when the saint was on his way to Rome, a bear attacked and killed his horse. St. Corbinian punished the bear by making him carry the saint's belongings the rest of the way to Rome. Archbishop Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo said the bear symbolizes the beast "tamed by the grace of God," and the pack he is carrying symbolizes "the weight of the episcopate."
The pope said in his memoir, “I have carried my pack to Rome and wander for some time now through the streets of the Eternal City. When release will come I cannot know. What I do know is that I am God's pack animal, and, as such, close to him."
He spent his childhood and adolescence in Traunstein, a small village near the Austrian border, thirty kilometres from Salzburg. In this environment, which he himself has defined as "Mozartian", he received his Christian, cultural and human formation.
His youthful years were not easy. His faith and the education received at home prepared him for the harsh experience of those years during which the Nazi regime pursued a hostile attitude towards the Catholic Church. The young Joseph saw how some Nazis beat the Parish Priest before the celebration of Mass.
It was precisely during that complex situation that he discovered the beauty and truth of faith in Christ; fundamental for this was his family’s attitude, who always gave a clear witness of goodness and hope, rooted in a convinced attachment to the Church.
During the last months of the war he was enrolled in an auxiliary anti-aircraft corps.
From 1946 to 1951 he studied philosophy and theology in the Higher School of Philosophy and Theology of Freising and at the University of Munich.
He received his priestly ordination on 29 June 1951.
A year later he began teaching at the Higher School of Freising.
In 1953 he obtained his doctorate in theology with a thesis entitled "People and House of God in St Augustine’s Doctrine of the Church".
Four years later, under the direction of the renowned professor of fundamental theology Gottlieb Söhngen, he qualified for University teaching with a dissertation on: "The Theology of History in St Bonaventure".
After lecturing on dogmatic and fundamental theology at the Higher School of Philosophy and Theology in Freising, he went on to teach at Bonn, from 1959 to1963; at Münster from 1963 to 1966 and at Tübingen from 1966 to 1969. During this last year he held the Chair of dogmatics and history of dogma at the University of Regensburg, where he was also Vice-President of the University.
From 1962 to 1965 he made a notable contribution to Vatican II as an "expert"; being present at the Council as theological advisor of Cardinal Joseph Frings, Archbishop of Cologne.
His intense scientific activity led him to important positions at the service of the German Bishops’ Conference and the International Theological Commission.
In 1972 together with Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac and other important theologians, he initiated the theological journal "Communio".
On 25 March 1977 Pope Paul VI named him Archbishop of Munich and Freising. On 28 May of the same year he received episcopal ordination. He was the first Diocesan priest for 80 years to take on the pastoral governance of the great Bavarian Archdiocese. He chose as his episcopal motto: "Cooperators of the truth". He himself explained why: "On the one hand I saw it as the relation between my previous task as professor and my new mission. In spite of different approaches, what was involved, and continued to be so, was following the truth and being at its service. On the other hand I chose that motto because in today’s world the theme of truth is omitted almost entirely, as something too great for man, and yet everything collapses if truth is missing".
Paul VI made him a Cardinal with the priestly title of "Santa Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino", during the Consistory of 27 June of the same year.
In 1978 he took part in the Conclave of 25 and 26 August which elected John Paul I, who named him his Special Envoy to the III International Mariological Congress, celebrated in Guayaquil (Ecuador) from 16 to 24 September. In the month of October of the same year he took part in the Conclave that elected Pope John Paul II.
He was Relator of the V Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which took place in 1980 on the theme: "Mission of the Christian Family in the world of today", and was Delegate President of the VI Ordinary General Assembly of 1983 on "Reconciliation and Penance in the mission of the Church".
John Paul II named him Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the International Theological Commission on 25 November 1981. On 15 February 1982 he resigned the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. The Holy Father elevated him to the Order of Bishops assigning to him the Suburbicarian See of Velletri-Segni on 5 April 1993.
He was President of the Preparatory Commission for the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which after six years of work (1986-1992) presented the new Catechism to the Holy Father.
On 6 November 1998 the Holy Father approved the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals, submitted by the Cardinals of the Order of Bishops. On 30 November 2002 he approved his election as Dean; together with this office he was entrusted with the Suburbicarian See of Ostia.
In 1999 he was Special Papal Envoy for the Celebration of the XII Centenary of the foundation of the Diocese of Paderborn, Germany which took place on 3 January.
Since 13 November 2000 he has been an Honorary Academic of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
In the Roman Curia he has been a member of the Council of the Secretariat of State for Relations with States; of the Congregations for the Oriental Churches, for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, for Bishops, for the Evangelization of Peoples, for Catholic Education, for Clergy and for the Causes of the Saints; of the Pontifical Councils for Promoting Christian Unity, and for Culture; of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, and of the Pontifical Commissions for Latin America, "Ecclesia Dei", for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law, and for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law of the Oriental Churches.
Among his many publications special mention should be made of his "Introduction to Christianity", a compilation of University lectures on the Apostolic Creed published in 1968; "Dogma and Preaching" (1973) an anthology of essays, sermons and reflections dedicated to pastoral arguments.
His address to the Catholic Academy of Bavaria on "Why I am still in the Church" had a wide resonance; in it he stated with his usual clarity: "one can only be a Christian in the Church, not beside the Church".
His many publications are spread out over a number of years and constitute a point of reference for many people specially for those interested in entering deeper into the study of theology. In 1985 he published his interview-book on the situation of the faith (The Ratzinger Report) and in 1996 "Salt of the Earth". On the occasion of his 70th birthday the volume "At the School of Truth" was published, containing articles by several authors on different aspects of his personality and production.
He has received numerous "Honoris Causa" Doctorates, in 1984 from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota; in 1986 from the Catholic University of Lima; in 1987 from the Catholic University of Eichstätt; in 1988 from the Catholic University of Lublin; in 1998 from the University of Navarre; in 1999 from the LUMSA (Libera Università Maria Santissima Assunta) of Rome and in 2000 from the Faculty of Theology of the University of Wrocław in Poland.
It was built to house the relic of the chains with which St. Peter was bound when he was imprisoned in Jerusalem. The chains were a gift to Pope Leo I from the Empress Eudoxia. When he saw them, the Pope put them near the chains with with which St. Peter had been bound in the Mamertine Prison in Rome, and the story is that they were miraculously fused together. And there they are to this day, in a reliquary at the high altar of this basilica.
San Pietro in Vincoli is famous also for being the home of Michelangelo's magnificent statue of Moses. Sculpted in 1515 and intended originally to be one of forty statues comprising the tomb of Pope Julius II, the huge project was never finished. Instead, this single statue with its surrounding carvings serves as the memorial to the pontiff who was a major benefactor to the great artist.
The basilica underwent major renovations over the past several years, and on each visit we were able to follow the progress. On our last two visits we have been able to see it in all its splendor.
14 April 2008
13 April 2008
That shift, demonstrated in both style and substance, by Archbishop José Gomez is a marked contrast to Archbishop Emeritus Patrick Flores, who stepped down three years ago.
The traditional wing of the church sees Gomez as someone who's correcting what they consider liberal inroads made over many years in the nearly 700,000-member archdiocese. (Read the whole article.)
12 April 2008
11 April 2008
He spoke of the distilled message of John Paul's reign: "Be not afraid," the words "of the angel of the Resurrection, addressed to the women before the empty tomb." Which words were themselves a condensed message: Nothing has ended, something beautiful has begun, but you won't understand for a while.
Benedict was doing something great leaders usually don't do, which is invite you to dwell on the virtues of his predecessor. (Read more)
10 April 2008
Rev. Oscar Cantú, STL was born December 5, 1966, in Houston, TX, the son of Ramiro and Maria de Jesus Cantú, natives of small towns near Monterey in Mexico. He is the fifth of eight children, five boys, and three girls. Father Cantú is a product of Houston’s Catholic Schools, attending Holy Name Catholic School and St. Thomas High School. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Dallas, Dallas, TX. He then received his Masters in Divinity and Masters in Theological Studies from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. He continued the Pontifical Gregorian University, located in Rome Italy where he earned his S.T.L. in Dogmatic Theology. He currently is completing his work for a doctorate in Dogmatic Theology. Father Cantú was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Houston on May 21, 1994. He has spent his priestly career working in parishes throughout the Houston metropolitan area. His first assignment following his ordination was as parochial vicar at St. Christopher Parish in Houston. Since 2003, he has taught at University of St. Thomas in Houston. He also has taught at St. Thomas at St. Mary’s Seminary. Father Cantú is fluent in Spanish, Italian, and French.
Currently he is serving as Pastor at Houston’s Holy Name Parish, his childhood parish where, in the early 60’s, his parents became close friends with a young priest, Father Patrick Flores, who went on to become the Archbishop of San Antonio. Fr. Cantú’s father immigrated to the United States as a young man. He worked in Chicago where he leaned to be a machinist. Tired of the cold weather and the long distance from his native country, he moved his wife and two children to Houston. While Mr. Cantú only received a 6th grade education, his life of hard work taught him to place a high value on education. Seven of his eight children attended Catholic schools in Houston at a great financial sacrifice for the family, four of them went on to college, three of them have attained their master s degrees.
While still a seminarian, Father Cantu worked on a committee made up of diocesan leaders and chaired by Laredo’s Bishop James Tamayo. Its purpose was to develop, promulgate, and promote a plan for Hispanic ministry. Since his ordination, Father Cantú has participated in number of ministries and movements in Houston. He was involved in the Christian Family movement, a national network of parish/neighborhood small groups of Catholics and their families who come together to reinforce their Christian values and are encouraged to reach out to others. He conducted three retreats per year with the youth of the CFM movement in the Galveston‐Houston Archdiocese. Father Cantu worked with those preparing for marriage through the Engaged Encounter ministry. From 20004 to 2007 Father Cantú co-hosted an interfaith radio show in Houston called “Show of Faith.” His co-hosts included a Jewish rabbi and a protestant minister. The program discussed issues from the perspective of their individual faith traditions. Father Cantú has also been involved in The Metropolitan Organization (TMO). Its mission is to publicly address important social issues in the community such as fair housing, immigration, education and many others.
Father Cantú will be ordained a bishop in a ceremony in the Archdiocese of San Antonio on June 2, 2008.
We give thanks to God for this appointment, and we will keep Father Cantú very much in our prayers.
Almighty God, who by thy Son Jesus Christ didst give to thy holy Apostles many excellent gifts, and didst charge them to feed thy flock; Give grace, we beseech thee, to all Bishops, the Pastors of thy Church, that they may diligently preach thy Word, and duly administer the godly Discipline thereof; and grant to the people, that they may obediently follow the same; that all may receive the crown of everlasting glory; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
08 April 2008
The last time we were here we had many of the members of our Upper School Honors Choir with us. The chapel grew more and more full as visitors in the main church found their way down to the crypt where we were celebrating Mass, enchanted by the music.
This basilica, built in 1924 over the ruins of more ancient churches, marks the traditional site of the transfiguration of Christ in the presence of Peter, James and John, along with the appearance of Moses and Elijah. There are depressions in the shape of two footprints in the rock. I'm not sure if this was the work of Jesus, or of some over-eager monks in an earlier age.
But Mt. Tabor is the spot. It's been attested to from the earliest days of the Church. It's an inspiring place to visit and a most peaceful place to pray.
We've had many parish pilgrimages which have included Assisi, and we take groups of our academy students there regularly.
Construction on the basilica began almost before St. Francis had drawn his last breath. Well, not really. He died in 1226, was canonized in 1228, and in that very same year the cornerstone was laid by Pope Gregory IX. The land was known originally as Collo d'Inferno (Hill of Hell) because it was the place where criminals were executed. After the basilica was started it became known as the Hill of Paradise.
The Lower Basilica was completed in 1230, and the body of St. Francis was interred there. Immediately it became a major destination for pilgrimages.
I've had the privilege of offering Mass on three different occasions at the tomb of St. Francis in the Crypt Chapel. At other times we've celebrated Mass in the Lower Basilica, or in other chapels. But each time it's a spiritual treat, allowing us to draw closer to the Little Poor Man through the one Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The original church, which is the sanctuary today, was built between 1738 and 1750. In 1868 the church was enlarged, with the neo-Gothic nave being added. In 2004 it was Richard Vosko-ized, but even he couldn't completely destroy the old girl. I swear, that man must have spent his childhood trying to force square pegs into round holes.
The only unfortunate part of the redesign was the attempt to make the long nave into a round space. Happily, nothing in that project is irreversible, so when we regain our senses the building can be put back to its intended orientation. Right now, it's a little bit like seeing the Queen of England showing up in a pantsuit. But it could be worse.
A gorgeous and recent addition to the cathedral is the retablo, which was crafted in Mexico, and installed by artisans who travelled to San Antonio. An added bonus is that it incorporates the tabernacle in the center, right where it should be. Now if we can just get the altar moved back to its proper position in front of it...
07 April 2008
As is evident in these pictures, the façade is a riot of colorful mosaic work, with intricate carving and a multitude of statues. Our Italian pilgrimages often include an afternoon in Orvieto, and I never tire of looking around the cathedral and spending time in prayer before the Miraculous Corporal.
I was ordained as an Anglican deacon in this cathedral in 1975. There were two times in the year that ordinations took place: Petertide and Michaelmass. I was in the Petertide class. Maybe that was partly what put my feet on the path which led me to the Barque of Peter... who knows?
I wish I could say I remember the ordination ceremony in every detail, but I'd be untruthful. I can remember the anticipation. I can remember the incredibly long processional, since there were about forty of us being ordained that day. And I can remember how strange it felt to be wearing a clerical collar, although most of us kept our chins held very high to make sure everyone could see. Ah, youthful pride.
One other item of interest connected to this very lovely cathedral: the sometime Dean was Samuel Crossman, who wrote one of my favorite hymn texts, "My Song is Love Unknown."
My Saviour’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take frail flesh and die?
He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed-for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
Who at my need His life did spend.
Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.
Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight,
Sweet injuries! Yet they at these
Themselves displease, and ’gainst Him rise.
They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they save,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
That He His foes from thence might free.
In life, no house, no home
My Lord on earth might have;
In death no friendly tomb
But what a stranger gave.
What may I say? Heav’n was His home;
But mine the tomb wherein He lay.
Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.
The Church of St. Thomas is actually prettier from the outside than this picture shows. This is a side view, and doesn't show the façade or the full tower. The present building is actually an extensive expansion and renovation of the original, and is built in the Perpendicular style, which was the very latest architectural fashion in the 1300's, allowing for huge expanses of glass windows. Although I used to go here often to pray, my strongest memory is both fond and terrifying. This was the place where I first officiated at Evensong as a young theological student. Those of us at the Theological College used to have to go out to preach or officiate at Morning or Evening Prayer, all as part of our practical training. Several of the churches around Salisbury had to endure this, and when my turn came it was Sarum St. Thomas that drew the short straw.
You can scarcely see it in this picture, but there is one of the finest examples of a Doom painting over the arch of the sanctuary. It had been whitewashed over for the duration of several generations, but was finally uncovered and restored. Christ the Judge is the central figure, with lots of figures of the saved and of the damned. One of the more amusing aspects of this is that the painting apparently was given by a wealthy merchant. There are plenty of bishops amongst the damned, but there's not a single merchant headed to hell!
The story of St. Minas has all the ingredients of one of those first-class stories of the saints -- an Armenian prince serving in the Roman army under the Emperor Decius, who leaves his soldiering to become a hermit, but who is then arrested for being a Christian and is thrown to the wild beasts, but of course the beasts won't attack him and so he's beheaded, and not to be thwarted, Minas picks up his head and walks across the River Arno, as would be expected of any self-respecting saint.
A small shrine was built on this spot in the 8th century, but by the beginning of the 11th century construction on the large church was begun. The wonderful marble façade was started in the late 11th century and finished in the 12th century.
05 April 2008
04 April 2008
In the first portion of the competition, the students performed three prepared pieces of contrasting styles. In the second (and more nerve-wracking!) portion, students were escorted into a room and were presented with a piece of music that they had never before sung. They were given approximately six minutes during which time, with the help of student section leaders, they analyzed the piece and determined the notes of their voice part using solfege names (Do-Re-Mi, etc). They then sang through the piece two times, once with piano accompaniment and once unaccompanied. The judges were impressed with the performance of our students, particularly as this was their first time participating in this event.
An added bonus to the weekend was that it provided us with an opportunity to bond with our “sister” Anglican Use Church, Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston. The clergy, staff and parishioners of OLW graciously provided us with rehearsal space on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Following the contest on Saturday afternoon, the choir returned to Our Lady of Walsingham to sing for the Vigil Mass in their beautiful church. After Mass, the students enjoyed a wonderful meal provided by the parishioners of OLW, and then loaded into the vehicles for the drive back to San Antonio.
We owe special recognition and appreciation to Mrs. Chalon Murray, Assistant Director of Music, for her coordination of the weekend’s events and for leading the Upper School Honors Choir to victory.
03 April 2008
02 April 2008
Also keeping vigil with us were the Apostles themselves, through their relics which were placed beside the altar. This reliquary contains relics of the Eleven, St. Matthias, St. Paul and St. Barnabas.
As I receive more pictures from Holy Week and Easter, I'll select some to be posted.
I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though this body be destroyed, yet shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger.
For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For if we live, we live unto the Lord; and if we die, we die unto the Lord. Whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; even so saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labors.
This is the Italian parish in San Antonio, founded by immigrants from the Calabria region of Italy, dedicated to their local and beloved saint. The 15th century founder of the Franciscan Minims, St. Francis of Paola was one of the great and holy hermits in the history of the Church. He was given the task by the Pope to prepare King Louis XI of France for a holy death.
The story of this Calabrian saint couldn't be much further from our Anglican roots, but nonetheless he was a great spiritual patron to us in our early days, and I look forward each year to offering the Mass in his honor.
Here is a picture of the church dedicated to him here in San Antonio.
It was our spiritual home for the first few years of our existence, and those of us who were part of those "early days" remember with fondness and with gratitude the hospitality we were shown.