Saturday, August 21, 2004

Icon of Christ on the Cross

In his latest Word from Rome, John Allen expands on the Holy Father's recent visit to Lourdes.
What we saw in Lourdes, I believe, was the apotheosis of his transformation from "supreme pastor of the Catholic church," to quote the formula in the Code of Canon Law, into a living symbol of human suffering, in effect, an icon of Christ on the cross.
Instead of harping and droning on the pope's frail health like so many reporters do, Allen examines it in light of Christ and the faithful at Lourdes and goes on to outline three extremely important points that suggest a deepening in the pope's role in the world today.
First, papal handlers are no longer bothering to deny or minimize the extent of the pope's physical difficulties.

Second, the trip seemed to ratify a theological reading of John Paul's suffering as iconic of Christ's.

Third, the trip put into full public view the unique bond John Paul now has with the sick and suffering of the world.
In other words, the Holy Father's health conveys a much needed witness of the reality of suffering to a world that spends billions to escape suffering. It illustrates the purpose of Christ's suffering and ultimate victory over death. Yes, the Holy Father suffers even as he leads us, but in that suffering we find Christ present. In that suffering, we paradoxically find strength. Clearly, God still has a profound message to convey through this powerful world figure, Pope John Paul. The Holy Father led us through a remarkable era of growth and vigor as the 20th century drew to a close. Now, he leads us through suffering so that we open the new millennium with a healthy humility and awareness of humanity.
For all the ink that's been spilled about John Paul the politician or John Paul the globetrotter, in the long run it may be this period of his papacy, John Paul the invalid, that leaves the deepest impression. We may find that 50 years from now, it's not his role in the collapse of Communism that we remember, but these years of decline and public suffering. He... forces us to confront the reality of decline and death.
The legacy of John Paul the Great will be a multi-faceted one, indeed. I pray for many more years, but I know that, even centuries after our beloved pope has gone, the Church and the world will continue to benefit from all that he has taught us. He will continue to teach us, and I am honored to have been alive during the pontificate of such a great world leader.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

14th century French lyrical poetry

Je vivroie liement, a song by Guillaume de Machaut.

1.) Je vivroie liement,
Douce creature,
Se vous saviés vraiement
ma cure.
2.) Dame de meintieng joli,
Plaisant, nette et pure,
Souvent me fait dire 'ai mi!'
Li maus que j'endure
3.) Pur vous servir loyaument.
Et soié seüre
Que je ne puis nullement
Vivre einssi, se longuement
Me dure.
4.) Car vous m'estes sans mercy
Et sans pité dure.
et s'avés le cuer de mi
Mis en tel ardure
5.) Qu'il morra certeinnement
De mort trop obscure,
Se pour son aligement
Merci n'est procheinnement
Be sure to hear this song sung and read the English translation. To whom do you think she is singing? :)
To be Catholic...

We profess to believe in a Church, an assembly of believers, that is catholic. While there is a nominal value to the big-C title, Roman Catholic, the adjective catholic was always used to identify the Church as manifesting particular properties that distinguished it from the myriad of heretical sects that have abounded through history. The Church is catholic, meaning it is universally apparent and one in unity of doctrine. It is also visible and organized, as attested to by St. Ignatius of Antioch in his letter to the Church at Smyrna, written approx. 110 AD:
Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he ordains [i.e., a presbyter]. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.
This makes the term peculiar to one assembly of believers throughout the world where the teaching of Christ can be found, sent out by Christ on a mission to the entire world.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, in paragraphs 22-28 of his 18th catechetical lecture, written approx. 350 AD, wrote intensely about what is meant when we profess that we believe in the Catholic Church.
[The Church (Greek "ecclesia" = assembly)] is called Catholic [(Greek "katholicos" = universal)] then because it extends over all the world, from one end of the earth to the other; and because it teaches universally and completely one and all the doctrines which ought to come to men's knowledge, concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly; and because it brings into subjection to godliness the whole race of mankind, governors and governed, learned and unlearned; and because it universally treats and heals the whole class of sins, which are committed by soul or body, and possesses in itself every form of virtue which is named, both in deeds and words, and in every kind of spiritual gifts.
Based on this, St. Cyril went on to give an important admonition:
And if ever thou art sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord's House is (for the other sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens "houses of the Lord"), nor merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God...

In this Holy Catholic Church receiving instruction and behaving ourselves virtuously, we shall attain the kingdom of heaven, and inherit Eternal Life; for which also we endure all toils, that we may be made partakers thereof from the Lord.
It is the peculiar Church that is Catholic, and at the same time, it is also One, Holy, and Apostolic. The mother of us all. Protected by Christ in spite of the sinfulness of its members in view of the merits of His death and resurrection.


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