Thursday, June 29, 2006

Solemnity of SS Peter and Paul

Pope Benedict's Homily highlights from Asia News Italy:

Benedict XVI dedicated his entire homily to the primacy of Peter and later,
the reflection for the Angelus too, focusing on three Gospel passages that draw
attention to him. At the end of the mass, in his words to the crowd gathered in
St Peter’s Square for the recital of the Angelus prayer, he recalled the
martyrdom of Peter and Paul, and after apologizing for the delay due to the
prolonged rite in the basilica, he said: “This is why the Bishop of Rome,
Successor to the apostle Peter, undertakes a specific ministry in the service of
the doctrinal and pastoral unity of the People of God scattered around the
world.”
During the mass, explaining the logic of the three Gospel passages,
he said they “tackle the same task, but the diversity of situations and imagery
used makes it clear for us what interested and interests the Lord.” The first
was the passage from Matthew in which “his specific task is conferred upon him
through three images: that of the rock that becomes the foundation or
cornerstone; that of the keys and of loosening and binding”. At this time,
continued the pope, “I do not intend to interpret once again these three images,
which the Church, throughout the centuries, has constantly explained anew;
rather, I would like to draw attention to the geographical and chronological
context of these words. The promise was made near the source of the Jordan, at
the border of Jewish land, on edge of the Pagan world. The moment in which the
promise was made marks a decisive turning point in the journey of Jesus: now the
Lord is walking toward Jerusalem, and for the first time, he tells his disciples
that this journey towards the Holy City is a journey to the Cross.” “Both things
go together and determine the inner place of the Primacy, in fact, of the church
in general: the Lord is continually on a journey towards the Cross, towards the
lowliness of the suffering and killed servant of God, but at the same time, he
is also headed for the vastness of the world, in which He goes before us as the
Risen Lord, so that the light of his word and the presence of his love may shine
in the world.”
“The Church – and Christ in it – still suffers today. In the
Church, Christ is relentlessly mocked and stricken over and again; there are
always efforts to push it out of the world. The small boat of the Church is
forever being buffeted by the wind of ideologies that penetrate it with their
waters, seemingly condemning it to sink. And yet, right in the suffering Church,
Christ is victorious. Notwithstanding everything, faith in Him is renewed in
strength again and again. Still today, the Lord commands the waters and reveals
himself as the Lord of the elements. He stays on his boat, the ship of the
Church. Thus even in the ministry of Peter is revealed on the one hand the
weakness of what comes from man, but together with the strength of God.”
The
second passage recalled by Benedict XVI was that from the Gospel of Luke which
is about the Last Supper, when “Jesus, straight after the institution of the
Sacrament, talked about the meaning of being disciples, the ‘ministry’, in the
new community: he said it was a commitment of service, the same as He himself,
who was among them as one who served. And then he turned to Peter. He said Satan
had demanded to sift the disciples like wheat.” Akin to the biblical narrative
of Job, “this is what happens to the disciples of Jesus – in all times.”
However, “Jesus continues: ‘I have prayed for you that your own faith may not
fail’ (Lk 22:32). The prayer of Jesus is the limit posed on the power of evil.
The prayers of Jesus are the protection of the Church. We can seek refuge under
this protection, cling to it and be sure of it. But, as the Gospel tells us,
Jesus prayed especially for Peter: ‘that your faith may not fail’. There it is:
don’t ever allow this faith to become dumb, always reinvigorate it again, even
in the face of the cross and all the contradictions of the world – this is the
task of Peter. This is precisely why the Lord does not only pray for the
personal faith of Peter but for his faith in the service of others. This is what
He means when He says: ‘and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your
brothers’ (Lk22:32).”
“The Lord entrusts to Peter the responsibility for his
brothers through the promise of his prayer.”
The third reference to the
Primacy that Benedict XVI referred to was from the Gospel of John (21:15-19).
“The Lord rose and as the Risen Lord he entrusted his flock to Peter. Here too,
the Cross and the Resurrection are intertwined. In his words to Peter, Jesus
portends his journey towards the cross. In this Basilica, erected over the tomb
of Peter – a pauper’s grave – we see that the Lord, thus, through the Cross,
always triumphs. His power is not a power according to the rules of this world.
It is a power of goodness, of truth and love, which is stronger than death. Yes,
his promise is true: the power of death, the gates of hell will not prevail
against the Church He built for Peter (cfr Mt 16:18), and that He, precisely in
this way, continues to edify in person.”

U.S. Archbishops Wuerly, Niederauer, and DiNardo Receive Palium from Pope

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

No Comment

From the Holy See Press Office:

"I have no comments to make on news that has appeared in various organs of the press concerning ongoing contacts between a Holy See delegation and the Chinese authorities."

Monday, June 26, 2006

Traveling Pope--To Germany in September

Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls today announced that Benedict XVI will make an apostolic trip to Germany from September 9 to 14, where he will visit Munich, Altotting and Regensburg.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Pope's Angelus

From Asia News Italy:
Recalling the feast celebrated on Friday 23 June, Benedict XVI said: “The consecration of the Sacred Heart was – and still is in some countries – a tradition in some families, which kept an image of the same in their homes. The roots of this devotion are embedded in the mystery of the Incarnation; it is precisely through the Heart of Jesus that the Love of God for mankind is revealed in a sublime way.” Genuine worship of the Sacred Heart, which became widespread in the seventeenth century, “preserves all its validity”, continued the pope. It “attracts above all souls thirsty for God’s mercy, as they find there an infinite font from which to draw the water of Life, capable of irrigating the desert of the soul and of making hope blossom again.”

Benedict XVI also recalled that the solemn feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is also the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. He said: “I take the opportunity to invite all of you, dear brothers and sisters, to pray for priests always, that they may be valid witnesses to the love of Christ.

Turning to the feast of the birth of John the Baptist – marked yesterday – the pope highlighted the expression “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). This expression, he said, “is programmed for each and every Christian”. The pope said: “Our life is always ‘relative’ to Christ and it is realized by welcoming Him, Word, Light and Spouse, of whom we are the voice, lamp and friends (cfr Jn1:1,23; 1:7-8; 3:29)”.

Dwelling on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the pontiff said: “Allowing the ‘I’ of Christ to replace our ‘I’ was, in exemplary manner, the ardent desire of the Apostles Peter and Paul, who the Church will venerate in a solemn feast on 29 June. St Paul wrote of himself: “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me. (Gal 2:20).”

Before the prayer of the Angelus, the pope also recalled the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, “Heart of a Mother, who continues to keep watch with tender concern over us all. May her intercession grant that we will always remain faithful to our Christian vocation.”

Thursday, June 22, 2006

New Secretary of State at Vatican

Effective September 15th...Our Lady of Sorrows... (a Papal sense of humor?)

Via the Vatican itself...

Pope Benedict accepts Sodanno's retirement and replaces him with Card. Tarcisio Bertone as has been widely speculated.

Also accepts retirement of Cardinal Szoka as governor of the Vatican City State and replaces him with Bishop Giovanni Lajolo.

Social Encyclical Coming from the Pope in 2007

From Catholic News:

Pope Benedict will next year release his first social encyclical on globalisation to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's encyclical Populorum Progressio, an Italian newspaper predicts.Catholic World News reports
that according to an Italian business daily, Il Sole 24 Ore, "unofficial
information" points to an encyclical on "ethical and spiritual questions posed
by the process of globalisation."The year 2007 will bring the 20th anniversary
of the encyclical Sollicitude Rei Socialis, in which John Paul II commented on
world economic affairs, the Italian daily notes.

What Amy Was Doing Yesterday

Besides waiting at O'Hare late into the night to return home...

From The Courrier Post:

Following the remarks by the bishop, author and daily blogger Amy Welborn
echoed Galante's quest to listen to the laity, by asking reporters to do the
same.
The northern Indiana resident admonished the media to do a better job
of reporting what is going on within the Catholic Church.
The author of
De-Coding Da Vinci: The Facts Behind the Fiction of the Da Vinci Code said
reporters should talk more with parishioners, rather than focusing on a handful
of church experts.
Welborn said her 5-year-old blog (www.amywelborn.com) receives
about 10,000 unique visitors a day.
The response to her blog is a raw and
unedited look at what Catholic people around the world are thinking.
She
said her "hyperinformed Catholic" community of readers want journalists "to let
Catholics tell their own story."
If they had the chance, Catholics would
tell the media to "stop trying to label us as either conservative or liberal,"
Welborn said. "Stop trying to put labels to Catholic theological
questions."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

From The Great Temptor

Visit his page and you'll find out what Augustine really didn't say too!

From What Does the Prayer Really Say:
His Eminence Dionigi Card. Tettamanzi wrote a book on “The Great Tempter” entitled in the original Italian Il Grande Tentatore (Edizioni Piemme, 2001). In this useful little volume, indeed on the book’s back cover, Card. Tettamanzi gives us ten salutary points by way of a “decalogue against temptation”:
1. Do not forget that the devil exists.
2. Do not forget that the devil is a tempter.
3. Do not forget that the devil is very intelligent and astute.
4. Be vigilant concerning your eyes and heart. Be strong in spirit and virtue.
5. Believe firmly in the victory of Christ over the tempter.
6. Remember that Christ makes you a participant in His victory.
7. Listen carefully to the word of God.
8. Be humble and love mortification.
9. Pray without flagging.
10. Love the Lord your God and offer worship to Him only.

Recommended Books

First for Apologetics:


For a modern Biblical understanding of St. Paul:



The Book that is outselling the Da Vinci Code in Paraguay:



And an excellent primer on Opus Dei by Scott Hahn (I read a galley of it):

Because of Heat, Pope Abbreviates

He's on the road to being a great one too!

He seemed a little hoarse and looked flushed toward the end of the Audience.

From Ansa Italy:

The heat on Wednesday got to Pope Benedict XVI, who cut short his address to a packed St. Peter's Square because of the soaring temperatures .

"Because it's too hot, I would like to abbreviate," the 79-year-old pope said .

His words were applauded by the some 25,000 sun-baked pilgrims gathered in the piazza for the pontiff's midweek audience .

The German-born pope's short homily focused on St. James the apostle .

Benedict urged Christians to "be ready to follow Christ, even when he asks us to leave the boat of our human securities" .

"If we follow Christ as St. James did, then we know that even when we encounter difficulties, we are on the right road," the pope concluded .

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

1. Et cum Spiritu tuo..."And with your spirit"

From the New Testament texts... Galatians 6:18 "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen" and 2 Timothy 4:22 "The Lord be with your spirit."


Fr. Joseph Jungman S. J. had two footnotes about the origin of this, one in which he called the phrase a Semitism that simply meant "and also with you" (which obviously is what the original ICEL translators focused on to arrive at the translation that we have been using over these past years). Yet another footnote alludes to the fact that this reply in the usage of the Church's liturgy was given only to a priest or bishop and that the implication was that the greeting was to the Holy Spirit that the ordained minister had received upon their ordination. St. John Chrysostom mentioned this in a homily and an early Council of the Church reinforced its meaning.

What saying "And With Your Spirit" can teach us...

The Liturgy is the work of the Holy Spirit, not the individual presider. In fact there is no "individuals" in the liturgy save the Body of Christ. Our response acknowledges the one Holy Spirit poured upon the presider and reminds us that the work we witness in this Eucharist is the Opus Dei...the work of God.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Glimpse Inside the Conclave

From Cardinal Anthony Okogie of Lagos as reported in Catholic News:

Reminiscing on his first Conclave experience, the Cardinal said that if he was elected Pope he would have collapsed, explaining that to be elected Pope one must be able to speak more than four international languages.

"That place they call Conclave is a top secret place and I was going there for the first time, like many of the cardinals. I was filled with big awe. I felt as if I wasn't really in the world especially when they said 'everybody out of the room.'

"You will swear and after that they will read the rules and regulations and thereafter the ballot papers are distributed. There is no nomination," he explained.

Cardinal Okogie said that they were free to interact with anybody until the order is given for all that non-eligible electors to go out as the papers are distributed to the electors.

"I believe really that there is something supernatural about the Conclave," he said, wondering how everybody could be backing one particular individual but after the first ballot, that person's name would suddenly disappear.

Mass Revision not Massive Changes

What the bishops are voting on is a more accurate translation of the Mass. If you've attended Mass in Spanish you already know that the English translation isn't exactly the same.
Aren't people use to the current translation? Absolutely.
So why change? Because the translation we currently use isn't exact and doesn't match the Scripture from which it is taken.
Pray for the bishops.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Now Amazon for Groceries

For all you non perishibles...?

St. Andrew: Pope's Audience on a Hot Roman Day


From Asia News Italy:

Today, Benedict XVI drew a picture of the personality of the brother of Simon, Andrew, who was the “first-called”, and therefore he is known as the “Protoclete”. The Pope said: “It is certain that because of the brotherly relationship between Peter and Andrew, the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople feel, in a special way, like sisters.” He continued: “To highlight this relationship, my predecessor Pope Paul VI, in 1964, restored the relics of St Andrew, which until then had been kept in the Vatican Basilica, to the Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop of the city of Patrasso in Greece, where according to tradition, the apostle was crucified.

The Pope did not talk merely about Andrew’s role as evangelizer of the Greek world; he also drew attention to his attitude when faced with the Cross on which he was to die. Tradition has it that Andrew defined the Cross as “blessed” because it was taking him to Jesus: an attitude that invites the faithful “to consider and to welcome” evils that strike us, “our crosses… as part of the cross of Christ”.

After recalling that the Gospels mention Andrew several times, showing him to be an eminent figure among the Twelve, the Pope added: “Very ancient traditions see Andrew not only as the interpreter of some Greeks meeting Jesus, they consider him as the Apostle of the Greeks in the years following Pentecost; they inform us that for the rest of his life, he proclaimed Jesus to the Greek world. Peter from Jerusalem reached Rome through Antioch to exercise his universal mission; Andrew, meanwhile, was the apostle of the Greek world: thus they appear in life and in death as true brothers – a brotherhood that is symbolically expressed in the special ties of the Sees of Rome and Constantinople, truly sister Churches”.

Benedict XVI also recalled the tradition of the death of Andrew at Patrasso, “where he too was submitted to the torment of crucifixion. At that supreme moment, however, like his brother Peter, he asked to be put on a cross different to that of Jesus. In his case, it was a saltire, x-shaped, tilted cross, that would become known as the ‘cross of St Andrew’. This is what the Apostle is said to have uttered on that occasion, according to an ancient narrative (from the early sixth century) entitled the Passion of Andrew: ‘Hail, O Cross that has been sanctified by the body of Christ, and adorned with his limbs as with precious stones! Before the Lord was nailed to you, you inspired fear on earth, but now you inspire heavenly love, and are desired as a blessing. Believers know how much joy you possess, how many gifts you have prepared. Thus I come to you assured and joy-filled, so that you may graciously receive me, the disciple of Him who hung upon you; O most beautiful cross that received majesty and beauty by carrying the body of Christ!... Take me, o cross, release me from my life among men and bring me to the Master so that through you he will receive me, he, who through you has saved me. Hail o Cross, yes hail!’” Evident here, continued Benedict XVI, is a very profound Christian spirituality, which considers the Cross not so much an instrument of torture as an incomparable means of full assimilation with the Redeemer. We must learn a very important lesson from this: our crosses acquire value if they are considered and welcomed as part of the cross of Christ, if they are touched by the reflection of his light. It is only through that Cross that our sufferings too are made noble and acquire their true meaning. The apostle Andrew, then, teaches us to follow Jesus promptly (cfr Mt 4:20; Mk 1:18), to speak to Him enthusiastically when we meet, and especially to cultivate a relationship of genuine familiarity with him, well aware that only in Him, we find the ultimate sense of our life and death.”

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Did He Challenge Them The Way Jesus Challenged?

Being with sinners and outcasts definitely is what Jesus did, but he brought them a life giving message that changed them forever--that seems to be what's missing here:

Ousted Newton priest cheered at gay pride service


``I told a friend of mine, about a month ago, that I was going to be here today, speaking at the gay pride interfaith service, and she said to me, `What's a Catholic priest doing at a gay pride service?' Cuenin said. ``My response was, `Why wouldn't a Catholic priest be here?' In the tradition of my own Christian faith, it seems to me, as I read it, that Jesus was always with those who were often the target of hatred and persecution."

Trinity Sunday-Pope's Angelus

From Asia News Italy:

This Sunday, dedicated to the most Holy Trinity, Benedict XVI addressed 40,000 people who came to St Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus. He stressed how “thanks to the Holy Spirit, who leads to understanding of the words of Jesus and guides one into all the truth (cfr Jn 14:26; 16:13), believers may know, so to speak, the intimacy of God himself, discovering that He is not infinite solitude but communion of light and love, life given and received in an eternal dialogue between Father and Son in the Holy Spirit – Lover, Loved One, and Love, to echo St Augustine.”

And although men cannot see him now, “the entire universe, for those who have faith, speaks of the One and Triune God. From the stellar systems to the microscopic particles, all that exists goes back to a Being who communicates through a multiplicity and variety of elements, like an immense symphony”, in which “all beings are arranged according to a harmonic dynamism that we can analogically call ‘love’. But it is only in the human being – free and endowed with reason – that this dynamism becomes spiritual; it becomes responsible love as a response to God and neighbour in a sincere giving of self. In this love, the human being finds his truth and happiness. Among the many analogies of the ineffable mystery of the One and Triune God that believers are capable of discerning, I wish to cite the family. This is called to be a community of love and life, in which diversities must come together to form a ‘parable of communion’.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Fr. Benedict on Venerable Solanus Casey

An Interesting Visitor, in the one sentence where Fr. Benedict references recently visiting St. Felix Friary where he once witnessed Solanus in ecstasy--I was with him, in fact drove him there. It was a blessed event as he would stop and recount his experiences of this future saint(I pray) of the Church.

Expect a Clarification from Cardinal McCarrick

McCarrick: Same-Sex Civil Unions Acceptable, But Not Marriage

I think it is the term "union" that should be unacceptable to a Catholic, not the "rights" issues.

New Bishop of Raleigh, New Auxiliary for Philly

The Holy Father has:

Appointed Bishop Michael Francis Burbidge, auxiliary of Philadelphia, U.S.A., as bishop of Raleigh, (area 82,524, population 4,073,983, Catholics 188,101, priests 138, permanent deacons 37, religious 118), U.S.A. He succeeds Bishop Francis Joseph Gossman, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

Appointed Msgr. Daniel E. Thomas of the clergy of the archdiocese of Philadelphia, U.S.A., pastor of the parish of Our Lady of the Assumption, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 5,652, population 3,875,021, Catholics 1,479,895, priests 1,048, permanent deacons 224, religious 3,733). The bishop-elect was born in Philadelphia in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1985.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Jesus Only Changed the Name of One


Simon bar Jonah, from the weekly audience:

Jesus did not usually change the names of his disciples”, in fact, “He never gave a new name to any of his disciples. However he did so with Simon, and that name, translated in Greek as Petros, would crop up several times in the Gospels and would end up by replacing his original name. This fact takes on particular significance when one recalls that in the Old Testament, changing a name was usually a prelude to entrusting one with a mission (cfr Jn 17:5; 32:28ff). In fact, the intention of Christ to attribute special importance to Peter within the Apostolic College emerges in many instances: in Capernaum, the Teacher went to lodge in Peter’s house (Mk 1:29); when the crowd flocked to the banks of the lake of Gennesaret, Jesus chose Peter’s boat from the two moored there (Lk 5:3); when in particular circumstances, Jesus took three disciples to accompany him, only Peter is always recalled as the first of the group: the same happened in the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus (cfr Mk 5:37; Lk 8:51); in the Transfiguration (cfr Mk 9:2; Mt 17:1; Lk 9:28), during the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (cfr Mk 14:33; Mt 16:37). And again: it was Peter who was approached by the tax collectors at the Temple and the Teacher paid for himself and for Peter alone (cfr Mt 17: 24-27); it was Peter whose feet He washed first at the Last Supper (cfr Jn 13:6) and it was only for him that He prayed so that his faith would not fail and that he may in turn strengthen his brothers (cfr Lk 22: 30-31)”.

“Peter himself is, after all, aware of his unique position: it is he who often, in the name also of the rest, speaks out, asking for an explanation for some difficult parable (Mt 15:15) or the exact meaning of a precept (Mt 18:21) or the formal promise of reward (Mt 19:27).”

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Pope: Stay Together and Pray if You Want the Holy Spirit


Actually, it is Jesus Christ who said this and the Pope is reminding us today in his homily:

Staying together was the condition imposed by Jesus to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit; a prerequisite of their harmony was prolonged prayer. In this, we can trace a formidable lesson for any Christian community. At times, it is thought that effective missionary work depends mainly on careful planning and consequent intelligent implementation through concrete commitment. Certainly, the Lord asks for our collaboration, but before any answer we may give, his initiative is necessary: it is his Spirit that is the true protagonist of the Church. The roots of our being and our actions lie in the knowing silence and providence of God.

The images that St Luke uses to indicate the descent of the Holy Spirit – wind and fire – recall Sinai, where God revealed himself to the people of Israel and conceded a covenant with them. (cfr Ex 19:3ff). The feast of Sinai, that Israel used to celebrate 50 days after Easter, was the feast of the Pact. Talking about tongues of fire (cfr Acts 2:3), St Luke wants to represent Pentecost as a new Sinai, as a feast of the new Pact in which the Covenant with Israel is extended to all the peoples of the Earth. The Church has been Catholic and missionary right from the time it was born. The universality of salvation is significantly highlighted by the list of numerous ethnicities of those who heard the first proclamation of the Apostles (cfr Acts 2:9-11).

The People of God, who found their first configuration on Sinai, have now been enlarged to the extent that they are no longer bound by any borders of race or culture, of space or time. As opposed to what happened with the tower of Babel (cfr Gen. 11:1-9), when men who wanted to build a path to heaven with their own hands, ended up by destroying their own capacity for mutual understanding, in Pentecost, the Spirit, with the gift of tongues, reveals how his presence unites and transforms confusion into communion. The pride and egotism of man always create division and build walls of indifference, of hate and of violence. The Holy Spirit, on the contrary, makes hearts capable of understanding the languages of all, because it re-establishes the bridge of authentic communion between Earth and Heaven. The Holy Spirit is love.

But how to enter into the mystery of the Holy Spirit, how to understand the secret of Love? The pages of today’s Gospel take us today to the Cenacle where, once the last Supper was over, a sense of confusion saddened the Apostles. The reason was that the words of Jesus had raised worrying questions: He talked about hatred of the world for him and his followers, he talked about his mysterious departure and there were many other things yet to be said, but for the time being, the Apostles were not capable of carrying the burden (cfr Jn:16:32). To tackle them, he explains the meaning of his distance: he will leave, but he will return; in the meantime, he will not abandon them, he will not leave them orphans. He will send the Consoler, the Spirit of the Father, and it will be the Spirit who will lead them to understand that the work of Christ is a labour of love: the love of He who has sacrificed himself, the love of the Father who gave him up.

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Pope Benedict and Me



From the Vatican website...

Pope Benedict's Catechesis "Who Was St. Peter?"

And what we can learn from his example...emphasis is mine in the text below, from The Church:

1. Peter, the fisherman

by Benedict XVI, May 17, 2006


Dear brothers and sisters, in the new series of catecheses, we have tried above all to understand better what the Church is and what idea the Lord has about this new family of his. Then we said that the Church exists in people, and we have seen that the Lord entrusted this new reality, the Church, to the Twelve Apostles. Let us now look at them one by one, to understand through these people what it means to experience the Church and what it means to follow Jesus. We begin with St Peter.

After Jesus, Peter is the figure best known and most frequently cited in the New Testament writings: he is mentioned 154 times with the nickname of Pétros, "rock", which is the Greek translation of the Aramaic name Jesus gave him directly: Cephas, attested to nine times, especially in Paul's Letters; then the frequently occurring name Simon (75 times) must be added; this is a hellenization of his original Hebrew name "Symeon" (twice: Acts 15:14; II Peter 1:1).

Son of John (cf. John 1:42) or, in the Aramaic form, "Bar-Jona, son of Jona" (cf. Matthew 16:17), Simon was from Bethsaida (cf. John 1:44), a little town to the east of the Sea of Galilee, from which Philip also came and of course, Andrew, the brother of Simon.

He spoke with a Galilean accent. Like his brother, he too was a fisherman: with the family of Zebedee, the father of James and John, he ran a small fishing business on the Lake of Gennesaret (cf. Luke 5:10). Thus, he must have been reasonably well-off and was motivated by a sincere interest in religion, by a desire for God - he wanted God to intervene in the world -, a desire that impelled him to go with his brother as far as Judea to hear the preaching of John the Baptist (John 1:35-42).

He was a believing and practising Jew who trusted in the active presence of God in his people's history and grieved not to see God's powerful action in the events he was witnessing at that time. He was married and his mother-in-law, whom Jesus was one day to heal, lived in the city of Capernaum, in the house where Simon also stayed when he was in that town (cf. Matthew 8:14ff.; Mark 1:29ff.; Luke 4:38ff.).

Recent archaeological excavations have brought to light, beneath the octagonal mosaic paving of a small Byzantine church, the remains of a more ancient church built in that house, as the graffiti with invocations to Peter testify.

The Gospels tell us that Peter was one of the first four disciples of the Nazarene (cf. Luke 5:1-11), to whom a fifth was added, complying with the custom of every Rabbi to have five disciples (cf. Luke 5:27: called Levi). When Jesus went from five disciples to 12 (cf. Luke 9:1-6), the newness of his mission became evident: he was not one of the numerous rabbis but had come to gather together the eschatological Israel, symbolized by the number 12, the number of the tribes of Israel.

Simon appears in the Gospels with a determined and impulsive character: he is ready to assert his own opinions even with force (remember him using the sword in the Garden of Olives: cf. John 18:10ff.). At the same time he is also ingenuous and fearful, yet he is honest, to the point of the most sincere repentance (cf. Matthew 26:75).

The Gospels enable us to follow Peter step by step on his spiritual journey. The starting point was Jesus' call. It happened on an ordinary day while Peter was busy with his fisherman's tasks. Jesus was at the Lake of Gennesaret and crowds had gathered around him to listen to him. The size of his audience created a certain discomfort. The Teacher saw two boats moored by the shore; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. He then asked permission to board the boat, which was Simon's, and requested him to put out a little from the land. Sitting on that improvised seat, he began to teach the crowds from the boat (cf. Luke 5: 1-3). Thus, the boat of Peter becomes the chair of Jesus.

When he had finished speaking he said to Simon: "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch". And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets" (Luke 5:4-5). Jesus, a carpenter, was not a skilled fisherman: yet Simon the fisherman trusted this Rabbi, who did not give him answers but required him to trust him.

His reaction to the miraculous catch showed his amazement and fear: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Luke 5:8). Jesus replied by inviting him to trust and to be open to a project that would surpass all his expectations. "Do not be afraid; henceforth, you will be catching men" (Luke 5:10). Peter could not yet imagine that one day he would arrive in Rome and that here he would be a "fisher of men" for the Lord. He accepted this surprising call, he let himself be involved in this great adventure: he was generous; he recognized his limits but believed in the one who was calling him and followed the dream of his heart. He said "yes", a courageous and generous "yes", and became a disciple of Jesus.

Peter was to live another important moment of his spiritual journey near Caesarea Philippi when Jesus asked the disciples a precise question: "Who do men say that I am?" (Mark 8:27). But for Jesus hearsay did not suffice. He wanted from those who had agreed to be personally involved with him a personal statement of their position. Consequently, he insisted: "But who do you say that I am?" (Mark 8:29).

It was Peter who answered on behalf of the others: "You are the Christ", that is, the Messiah. Peter's answer, which was not revealed to him by "flesh and blood" but was given to him by the Father who is in heaven (cf. Matthew 16:17), contains as in a seed the future confession of faith of the Church. However, Peter had not yet understood the profound content of Jesus' Messianic mission, the new meaning of this word: Messiah.

He demonstrates this a little later, inferring that the Messiah whom he is following in his dreams is very different from God's true plan. He was shocked by the Lord's announcement of the Passion and protested, prompting a lively reaction from Jesus (cf. Mark 8:32-33).

Peter wanted as Messiah a "divine man" who would fulfil the expectations of the people by imposing his power upon them all: we would also like the Lord to impose his power and transform the world instantly. Jesus presented himself as a "human God", the Servant of God, who turned the crowd's expectations upside-down by taking a path of humility and suffering.

This is the great alternative that we must learn over and over again: to give priority to our own expectations, rejecting Jesus, or to accept Jesus in the truth of his mission and set aside all too human expectations.

Peter, impulsive as he was, did not hesitate to take Jesus aside and rebuke him. Jesus' answer demolished all his false expectations, calling him to conversion and to follow him: "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men" (Mark 8:33). It is not for you to show me the way; I take my own way and you should follow me.

Peter thus learned what following Jesus truly means. It was his second call, similar to Abraham's in Genesis 22, after that in Genesis 12: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel's will save it" (Mark 8:34-35). This is the demanding rule of the following of Christ: one must be able, if necessary, to give up the whole world to save the true values, to save the soul, to save the presence of God in the world (cf. Mark 8:36-37). And though with difficulty, Peter accepted the invitation and continued his life in the Master's footsteps.

And it seems to me that these conversions of St Peter on different occasions, and his whole figure, are a great consolation and a great lesson for us. We too have a desire for God, we too want to be generous, but we too expect God to be strong in the world and to transform the world on the spot, according to our ideas and the needs that we perceive.

God chooses a different way. God chooses the way of the transformation of hearts in suffering and in humility. And we, like Peter, must convert, over and over again. We must follow Jesus and not go before him: it is he who shows us the way.

So it is that Peter tells us: You think you have the recipe and that it is up to you to transform Christianity, but it is the Lord who knows the way. It is the Lord who says to me, who says to you: follow me! And we must have the courage and humility to follow Jesus, because he is the Way, the Truth and the Life.



2. Peter, the apostle

by Benedict XVI, May 24, 2006


Dear brothers and sisters, in these catecheses we are meditating on the Church. We have said that the Church lives in people and because of this, in the last catechesis, we began to meditate on the figure of the individual apostles, beginning with St. Peter. We saw two decisive stages of his life: the calling on the Lake of Galilee and then the confession of faith: "You are the Christ, the Messiah." A confession, we said, that is still insufficient, initial though open.

St. Peter undertakes a journey of following. Thus, this initial confession already bears in itself, like a seed, the future faith of the Church. Today we wish to consider two other events in the life of St. Peter: the multiplication of the loaves, and then the passage when the Lord calls Peter to be shepherd of the universal Church.

We begin with the event of the multiplication of loaves. You know that the people had heard the Lord for hours. At the end, Jesus said: They are tired, they are hungry, we must give these people something to eat. The apostles asked him: But how? And Andrew, Peter's brother, calls Jesus' attention to a boy who was carrying five loaves and two fish. But of what use are these for so many people? the apostles wondered.

Then the Lord had the people sit down and had the five loaves and two fish distributed. And all were filled. What is more, the Lord asked the apostles, and among them Peter, to gather the abundant leftovers: 12 baskets of bread (cf. John 12-13). Then the people, seeing this miracle – which seemed to be the much-awaited renewal of the new "manna," the gift of bread from heaven – want to make him their king.

But Jesus did not accept and withdrew to the mountain to pray alone. The following day, on the other side of the lake, in the synagogue of Capernaum, Jesus interpreted the miracle – not in the sense of kingship over Israel with a power of this world in the manner expected by the crowd, but in the sense of gift of self: "The bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh" (John 6:51). Jesus announces the cross and with the cross the true multiplication of loaves, of the Eucharistic bread -- his absolutely new way of being king, a way totally contrary to the people's expectations.

We can understand that these words of the Master – who did not want to carry out a multiplication of loaves every day, who did not want to offer Israel a power of this world – were truly difficult, even unacceptable, for the people. "Gives his flesh" – what does this mean? And even for the disciples, what Jesus said at this moment seemed unacceptable. It was and is for our heart, for our mentality, a "hard" saying that puts faith to the test (cf. John 6:60). Many of the disciples withdrew. They wanted someone who would really renew the state of Israel, its people, and not someone who said: "I give my flesh."

We can imagine that Jesus' words were difficult also for Peter, who at Caesarea Philippi was opposed to the prophecy of the cross. And yet, when Jesus asked the Twelve: "Do you also want to go away?", Peter reacted with the outburst of his generous heart, guided by the Holy Spirit. In the name of all he responds with immortal words, which are also our words: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" (cf. John 6:66-69).

Here, as in Caesarea, Peter initiates with his words the confession of the Church's Christological faith and also becomes the voice of the other apostles and of us believers of all times. This does not mean that he had understood the mystery of Christ in all its profundity. His was still an initial faith, a journeying faith. It would come to true fullness only through the experience of the paschal events.

But, nevertheless, it was already faith, open to a greater reality – open above all because it was not faith in something, but faith in Someone: in him, Christ. Thus our faith is also an initial faith and we must still journey a long way. However, it is essential that it be an open faith that lets itself be guided by Jesus, because not only does he know the way, but he is the way.

Peter's impetuous generosity does not safeguard him, however, from the risks connected to human weakness. It is what we can also recognize based on our lives. Peter followed Jesus with drive; he surmounted the test of faith, abandoning himself to him. But the moment comes when he also gives way to fear and falls: He betrays the Master (cf. Mark 14:66-72). The school of faith is not a triumphal march, but a journey strewn with sufferings and love, trials and faithfulness to be renewed every day.

Peter, who had promised absolute faithfulness, knows the bitterness and humiliation of denial: The arrogant learns humility at his expense. Peter, too, must learn that he is weak and in need of forgiveness. When the mask finally falls and he understands the truth of his weak heart of a believing sinner, he breaks out in liberating tears of repentance. After this weeping, he is now ready for his mission.

On a spring morning, this mission would be entrusted to him by the risen Jesus. The meeting would take place on the shores of the Lake of Tiberias. It is the Evangelist John who refers to the dialogue that took place in that circumstance between Jesus and Peter. One notes a very significant play of words. In Greek the word "filéo" expresses the love of friendship, tender but not total, whereas the word "agapáo" means love without reservations, total and unconditional.

Jesus asks Peter the first time: "Simon … do you love me ('agapâs-me')" with this total and unconditional love (cf. John 21:15)? Before the experience of the betrayal, the apostle would certainly have said: "I love you ('agapô-se') unconditionally." Now that he has known the bitter sadness of infidelity, the tragedy of his own weakness, he says with humility: "Lord, I love you ('filô-se')," that is, "I love you with my poor human love." Christ insists: "Simon, do you love me with this total love that I want?" And Peter repeats the answer of his humble human love: "Kyrie, filô-se," "Lord, I love you as I know how to love."

The third time Jesus only says to Simon: "Fileîs-me?", "Do you love me?" Simon understood that for Jesus his poor love, the only one he is capable of, is enough, and yet he is saddened that the Lord had to say it to him in this way. Therefore, he answered: "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you ('filô-se')."

It would seem that Jesus adapted himself to Peter, rather than Peter to Jesus! It is precisely this divine adaptation that gives hope to the disciple, who has known the suffering of infidelity. From here trust is born that makes him able to follow to the end: "This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God. And after this he said to him, 'Follow me'" (John 21:19).

From that moment, Peter "followed" the Master with the precise awareness of his own frailty; but this awareness did not discourage him. He knew in fact that he could count on the presence of the Risen One beside him. From the ingenuous enthusiasm of the initial adherence, passing through the painful experience of denial and the tears of conversion, Peter came to entrust himself to that Jesus who adapted himself to his poor capacity to love. And he also shows us the way, despite all our weakness.

We know that Jesus adapts himself to our weakness. We follow him, with our poor capacity to love and we know that Jesus is good and he accepts us. It was a long journey for Peter that made him a trustworthy witness, "rock" of the Church, being constantly open to the action of the Spirit of Jesus. Peter would present himself as "witness of the sufferings of Christ and participant of the glory that must manifest itself" (1 Peter 5:1).

When he wrote these words he was already old, having reached the end of his life, which he would seal with martyrdom. He was now able to describe the true joy and to indicate where the latter can be attained: The source is Christ believed and loved with our weak but sincere faith, notwithstanding our frailty. That is why he would write the Christians of his community, and he says it also to us: "Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:8-9).

Decatur woman receives communion from pope during visit to Vatican

Decatur, AL...interesting story of the procedure one goes through to receive such an honor...that also involves praying at the tomb of Pope John Paul II. Yet the reason I'm posting it is more because of the picture which is the first incident where I've seen the pope pictured giving someone Holy Communion in the hand:

Friday, June 2, 2006

Get Ready for the Next "Lost" Apostle

This Fall Wiley will release a book entitled The Lost Apostle: Searching for the truth about Junia based on a canonical text (not apochryphal), Romans 16:7. Now if you look up the passage and you are using any Bible other than the NSRV you are likely to ask "What's the big deal?", well here is a Newsweek piece to give you what the purported big deal is:

What started out as scholarship with an openly feminist political agenda
has evolved into serious and respected inquiry. To understand this change,
consider what has happened to the field during the career of Bernadette Brooten.
As a graduate theology student at Harvard in the late 1970s, Brooten was told
that scholars already knew everything there was to know about women in the
Bible. Yet Brooten, now a professor of Christian studies at Brandeis University,
made the remarkable discovery by reading older versions of the Bible that
Junius, one of the many Christian “Apostles” mentioned by Saint Paul, was in
fact a woman, Junia, whose name was masculinized over the centuries by
translators with their own agenda. Brooten’s discovery became “official” when
Junia’s real name was incorporated into the New Standard Revised Version of the
Bible, which came out in 1989.


Now let me be the first to point out even if the "feminist" discovery is real, it really isn't that big of a deal, since Mary Magdalene has been called Apostle to the Apostles meaning that she was "sent" (the meaning of the word apostle) to those who were also commissioned to be sent. But of course as I'm sure we'll here this relative of St. Paul was something more...

Kneeling Controversy Continues in Diocese of Orange

Great coverage at The Cafeteria is Closed who posts letters written by the pastor who seems a little confused (read the letter he wrote to the 74 year old woman he kicked of the parish council for kneeling).

You can "not believe" what the Church teaches and be welcomed (think John Kerry) in the Church, but God forbid if you don't give in to the demands of the liturgical police (who play fast and loose with Vatican directives interpreting them as they like).

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Is it a Sin to Kneel in Church?

Of course not, and I might add if the priest were praying at Mass he wouldn't even notice what his parishioners are doing...

From the LA Times:

It's AD 2006, and the peasants are much brighter than they used to be. So this question nags at me: Is it really in keeping with the worshipful spirit in an enlightened age that a priest would chastise some in the flock — grown men and women — for kneeling in church during a point in the Mass?

I mean, if you can't kneel in church….

The word "chastise" is too tame; the priest at St. Mary's by the Sea says it's a mortal sin and has invited 55 offending members to leave the church.

They have declined, although I can't imagine why.

As reported in Sunday's paper by The Times' David Haldane, the to-kneel-or-not-to-kneel issue involves a particular moment in the Mass after the priest holds up the chalice and consecrated bread and invokes Christ. For centuries, Roman Catholics knelt after that part of the liturgy. In recent years, however, the Vatican allowed local dioceses to eschew kneeling, and the Orange County diocese has backed the no-kneeling rule during that part of the Mass. Parishioners still kneel during other parts of the service.