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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

CDWDS Prefect on Youth and the Mass

From Fr. Finigan's excellent blog comes this gem (also taken from the New Liturgical Movement) concerning young people and the Mass.  This past summer, His Eminence, Antonio Cardinal Canizares Lloera, Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, was interviewed by a German publication.  One of the subjects that he touched upon concern youth and the liturgy.  The prefect makes this interesting observation:

We need a new introduction to Christianity. Also for children and young people. An introduction to the liturgy does not only mean to know something about the celebration, although of course that is indispensable both theologically and doctrinally. Young people and children should participate in liturgies celebrated with great dignity, which are entirely permeated by the mystery of God in which the individual konws himself to be included. Active participation does not mean to do something, but to enter into the worship and the silence, into listening and also the prayer of petition and all that which really constitutes the liturgy. As long as that does not happen, there will be no liturgical renewal. We have to turn around one hundred eighty degrees. Youth ministry should be a place where the encounter with the living Christ in the Church takes place . Where Jesus Christ appears as someone of yesterday, neither liturgical education nor active participation is possible. As long as the awareness of the living Christ does not awake again, nothing will come of the much-needed renewal.
Cardinal Canizares Lloera makes some very solid points in his statement.  I often wonder what kind of formation our youth receive when it comes to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, especially where music is concerned.  The trend nowadays is to incorporate elements from the Protestant Praise and Woship genre into these Masses for the youth.  While this style may work for the Protestants, I see it as something that is incompatible with the Holy Sacrifice.  A lot of the songs, while having some basis in the psalms, sound more like pop tunes, especially when drums, electric guitars and bass guitars are thrown in for good measure.  When this happens, it appears to me that the sacred nature of the liturgy is lost.  Some of the songs also seem focus on "me" and "we", making us the principle actors.  "Here I am to worship" is more along the lines of what I am doing, rather than focusing on the Who I, and the rest of the faithful, have come to worship.

Youth ministry needs to have a solid liturgical component as part of its mission.  It is not enough to have the kids show up at Mass and give them music that is akin to something they hear on their secular radio stations. Cardinal Canizares-Lloera makes a strong case that liturgical preparation should happen.  The young people need to understand just what is happening during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  They need to be taught that during the Mass, the veil between heaven and earth and time and space is lifted and that we are entering into a profound encounter with God. 

The Prefect also touches upon an important aspect of the liturgy, that it should be celebrated with great dignity.  In some of the "youth" Masses that I have attended, there seems to be an absence of this dignity.  It all seems to take on the appearance of some casual, warm and fuzzy gathering.  Everything seems to be relaxed including, lamentably, the rubrics in a well-inteded, but, misguided effort at making the Mass relevent to the teens.  The homily can certainly touch upon issues concerning teenagers and how these relate to the readings of the day, but, the young people need to realize that the Holy Sacrifice is something different, something extraordinary.  The ineffable Paschal Mystery unfolds before us at every Mass, but, how often do the young people get to hear that?  It is not enough to simply get them to the church for Mass.  We need to do our part to introduce them to the Church's most glorious treasure.  We need to make every effort to teach them Sacred Music, as defined by the authoritative documents of the Church and the writings of the popes, incluing Pope Benedict XVI.

Cardinal Canizares-Lloera is saying nothing new.  In fact, as I read his statement, I am reminded of one of the findings made in the Lineamata for the Synod on the Eucharist, wherein the Synod Fathers listed the music in the "youth Masses" as a shadow.  While the Prefect did not specifically touch upon the music, it is not a stretch to say that certainly the music used in these particular liturgies should also be dignified. 

As adults, we are responsible for handing on the Faith to the next generation.  Part and parcel of that Faith is our treatment and understanding of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  The Second Vatican Council stresses that the Mass is th "source and summit" of our life as the Church.  However, if we do not properly hand down what we ourselves have received, as St. Paul writes in First Corinthians, then we will be failing our youth. 

To read Fr. Finigan's commentary on the subject, please follow the link below:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Domine, non sum dignus

I got to noon Mass a little late, but, I still managed to listen to the readings.  On my way to my parish, I was wondering what to blog about this evening.  I found my topic in today's Gospel account by St. Matthew, the one about the centurion. 

Originally, I wanted to start some sort of an online catechesis on the coming revised Roman Missal, mainly for my fellow Catholics in our diocese.  I figured the best way to start would be tackling the sentence:  "And, with your spirit."  However, today's Gospel prompted me to shift from the Introductory Rites to the Communion Rite.

St. Matthew relates the account of a centurion who beseeches Jesus to heal his servant.  Jesus stands ready to grant the request, but, the centurion has a rather surprising response:

 [8] And the centurion making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter  under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.

This is a remarkable statement coming from a Roman, and a centurion with ]soldiers under his command.  The centurion must have had great love for his servant to take on this posture of humility before Jesus, declaring his own unworthiness to have Him come under his roof.  The centurion even goes so far as to call Jesus "Lord." 

So profound is this humble plea that it is restored to its proper place, its proper context, within the Communion Rite in the revised English-language translation of the Roman Missal.  Currently, we pray

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed. 
Somehow, the 1973 translation misses the profound humility expressed in the Latin text:

Domine, non sum dignum ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabatur anima mea.
The revised translation of the Roman Missal reads:

Lord, I am not worthy
that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word
and my soul shall be healed.

Although we are fashioned in the image and likeness of God, our nature is marred by sin.  These words remind us of our unworthiness as we come before God, Himself, in Holy Communion. We make the centurion's humble plea our own.  When we receive Holy Communion, whether on the tongue or by the hand, the Sacred Host goes into our mouths.  Jesus enters our bodies through our mouths, literally coming under our roof. 

The second part of the prayer recognizes that our souls stand in need of healing.  Just as the woman who reached out and touched Jesus' garment receives healing and holiness from Jesus, we, too, receive healing and holiness from Him in a more profound way than simply touching his cloak.  Jesus not only enters our bodies, he also enters our hearts and our souls, bringing much needed healing and holiness to us.  By the marks on His glorious body, we are healed. 

I am reminded of what my spiritual director once said in a homily.  Jesus did not merely come to heal people from physical infirmities.  Were that the case, disease and illness would have been wiped out from the face of the Earth.  But, m Jesus did not come for just that.  Every time Jesus healed someone, He not only cured the bodily ailments, but, he also, more significantly, touched upon the spiritual infirmity and restored wholeness and holiness to the soul.  That is why, most of the time, a physical healing also carried with it the forgiveness of sins. 

While one can say that sin is not necessarily mentioned in the story of the centurion and his slave, I submit that a case can be made that not only was the slave healed, but, so was the centurion.  Sin causes spiritual blindness because it does not allow our souls to see the things of heaven clearly.  Granted, our mortal minds cannot fully grasp these divine mysteries, we can at least begin to perceive them with the eyes of faith when we are healed of our sins.  The Roman centurion had a spiritual blindess brought on by Origin Sin, a condition that we all share.  But, something made him go to Jesus.  The mere fact that the centurion recognized something in Jesus, something more than just  a traveling miracle worker, says a lot.  Roman centurions had to recognize that the emperor, in this case, Tiberius Caesar, was a living god.  They also had to offer sacrifices and praise to a whole pantheon of Roman deities.  But, the fact that the centurion addresses Jesus as "Lord", a term reserved only for a deity, leads me to believe that the tiny mustard seed of faith was already growing inside his heart.  That small opening was all that Jesus needed.  That recognition on the part of the centurion that Something, Someone, greater than Caesar, Jupiter and Mars was standing before him was perhaps the beginning of faith.  The scales of sin that clouded his vision were slowly falling off of the eyes of his soul.

When we beseech Jesus, from the depths of our hearts, to heal our souls after declaring our own unworthiness to receive Him, we give Jesus that opening to come into our souls.  These words help us to recognize our littleness as we kneel before His greatness.

The law of prayer is the law of belief.  In other words, we pray as we believe.  The restoration of this prayer in English (I make this emphasis because in Spanish, this plea  was never altered) makes the centurion's humble declaration our own cry for Jesus to heal our souls, unworthy as we are. We pray this prayer, and therefore, like the centurion, we believe.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Looking at Liturgical Vestments

Fr. Uwe Michael Lang offers us an eye-opening reflection on the issue of liturgical vesture. The focus on his article revolves around the term "noble simplicity.

A lot of the times, when we see or hear the word "simplicity", we often associate this with a bare bones notion of things. But, as Fr. Lang explains, that is not necessarily the case:

In face of Judas' protest that the anointing with precious oil was an unacceptable "waste", given the need of the poor, Jesus, without diminishing the need for concrete charity towards the needy, declared his great appreciation for the woman's action, because her anointing anticipated "that great honor of which his body will continue to be worthy after his death, indissolubly linked as it is to the mystery of his Person" ("Ecclesia de Eucharistia" No. 47). John Paul II concludes that the Church, as the woman of Bethany, "does not fear to 'waste', investing the best of her resources to express her adoring wonder in the face of the incommensurable gift of the Eucharist" (ibid. No. 48). The liturgy calls for the best of our possibilities, to glorify God, the Creator and Redeemer.

Sadly, whenever the subject of doing something to beautify our liturgies is brought up, whether it's about sacred furnishings, vessels or vesture the same argument that Judas made is used by those who do not want to make the investment. They say that the Lord would rather we spend the money on taking care of the needy than by glorifying Him. However, while taking care of the needy is an important component, as Fr. Lang notes, we must remember that the first commandment is to love God. Loving God also means offering him the best that we have for worship. We need to be imitators of Abel and not Cain.

Even in parishes that may not have many resources, care must be made to give God the best that they can. While the vestments may not necessarily be made from silk and precious fibers, they should be of noble appearance and clean. They should be something that is worthy for use in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

When the Lord dictated to Moses the specifics of how He was to be worshipped by Ancient Israel, He laid out some very specific parameters, down to how the priestly vestments should look. The Church, as the New Israel, maintains the same demand for the best that can (and should) be offered and used. The sacred furnishings, the vessels and the vestments are dedicated to the service of the Lord so that, through these, we can offer fitting worship, worship that is worthy, dignified, solemn and noble. Fr. Lang reminds us that beauty is an important component of the Mass. While the beauty that we strive to offer the Lord pales in comparison to his own Divine Majesty, it gives us a foretaste of the mangnificence of the heavenly liturgy in the new Jerusalem.

Fr. Lang's article can be read in its entirety by following this link:ZENIT - The Noble Simplicity of Liturgical Vestments

Looking at the First Sunday of Advent

Advent is one of my favorite times of the year.  I enjoy the simplicity and solemnity of this holy season.  While Advent is a penitential season, it does not have the same nature as that of Lent.  A priest blogger calls Advent the season of "joyful penitence."

But, Advent tends to bring with it some challenges, especially where Christmas is concerned.  While the malls, city streets and other places are decked with Christmas decorations (some having been put up even earlier than Thanksgiving) and the radio stations (even our own local Catholic one) are blaring with holiday tunes, we need to remember that we are in Advent.  I know that in my case, I struggle with Advent, not so much because of the encroachment of Christmas, but because this time of the year tends to be most trying. 

I woke up at the ungodly hour of 4AM this past Friday.  Like a zombie, I made my way to the local mall to cash in on some massive sales.  It was cold.  My patience was trying, especially with the long lines.  A few stores away from me, one poor woman was involved in some altercation that resulted with her being rushed to the hospital by EMS because her head was split open.  Over the weekend, my patience grew very thin with parking issues, eternal waiting periods and frustrations with coupons.  Even though I love Advent, it just tends to bring out the worst in me.

This morning's Mass, though, gave me some much needed respite.  We chanted O Come, O Come Emmanuel for the entrance procession.  Although I jumped the gun and started the hymn ahead of everyone, it still felt good belting it out.  It was just what I needed.  The homily carried over from last week's theme on judgment and how in the end, we are the ones who must make that choice of whether to go into eternal life or be locked up in the dreaded place of perpetual torment.  The celebrant also reminded the faithful that we are in Advent, not Christmas, explaining to us that Christmas begins on the evening of December 24th.  But, he also noted that this is not to say that we should all be crumudgeons about it.  We could go to the office parties and get-togethers; however, we should be mindful that these gatherings are merely the appetizers for the real feast.  Of course, he also reminded us of something that keeps plaguing me every Advent: the issue of sharing myself with others.  Acts of charity don't always involve  handing money out.  Acts of charity involve yelling at the guy in the massive Ford Excursion who is taking up two valuable spaces at the mall parking lot or getting mad at the woman in front of me at the check-out line who still can't make up her mind if the fuschia lipstick or the pale pink is a better choice as she is standing in front of the cash register. 

During the offertory, we chanted Creator of the Stars of Night, the same hymn that was used the night before at the Vatican during the First Vespers for the First Sunday of Advent.  I have always loved both of the hymns and it really meant a lot to me to sing them this morning.  I felt the joy that had been sorely lacking this weekend.  It gave me hope that I won't be a total washout this Advent.

I am grateful that the Church, in her holy wisdom, grants us this season of joyful penitence, even though, at times, it seems as though Advent brings out the worst in me.  But, as one version of the forthcoming Prayer after Communion for Tuesday of the First Week of Advent reminds us:
Replenished by the food of spiritual nourishment,
we humbly beseech you, O Lord,
that through our partaking in this mystery,
you may teach us to judge wisely the things of earth
and hold frim to the things of heaven.
A blessed Advent to all!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The New Zealand Approach

In exactly one year from today, the Church in the United States will debut the revised translation of the Roman Missal.  Despite the leaks and the controversy, this revised Roman Missal stands as something of great importance to the Church. 

According to our friends at Chant Cafe, the revised Order of the Mass has already made its debut in New Zealand!   What they have done is a hybrid of sorts.   While New Zealand is using the revised Order, the rest of the current 1973 version remains in use (the Propers and the Commons).  This is actually a good compromise for starters.  It eases the faithful into getting used to new texts.  Why we could not do this in the United States is something that I do not understand.  Considering the fact that composers have had their hands on the revised text for the better part of two years and are already releasing the new settings (although, the ones produced by ICEL are still far superior to the usual OCP/GIA pieces), it might have been a good idea to take the New Zealand approach.  The faithful need to get used to the texts and make them their own.  It's not enough to simply look at something written on what amounts to be a liturgical training manual and just practice the words.  These words should be prayed, chanted, in their proper context. 

We have an excellent example of this in the recent Papal Visit to the United Kingdom.  Although only the revised versions of the Gloria, the Sanctus and the Memorial Acclamation were set to music and used for al of the liturgies (except the one at Westminster Cathedral, which used Latin), the bishops of England and Wales, and Scotland managed to use the internet and other teaching tools to get the faithful to learn these in time for the visit.  It was no small effort, but, this concerted collaboration between the composer, the two bishops conferences, the choirs and the faithful certainly produced something magnificent in so short a time.

I can understand the need for catechesis; however, we had that two-year window of opportunity to do just that, educate the faithful and get them familiar with the revisions.  That is why the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments granted the recognitio to the Ordinary back in 2008 so that, first and foremost, the composers could get their hands on the texts and produce fitting music to accompany these grand words, and, second, to catechize the faithful.

If Scotland and England managed to at least learn some of the new settings in a short amount of time, why can't the rest of us?  If New Zealand can have a hybrid version of the Roman Missal as a starter, why not the United States?  This, perhaps, would have been a better option than having us wait another year.

But, there is another point to consider.  I suppose that I take after my maternal grandfather who was the epitome of German efficiency.  The father of nine children, he ran his household like an efficient, well-oiled machine.  While I do not take after him insofar as punctuality is concerned, I try to be efficient in other areas.  However, this kind of efficiency does not necessarily translate in every area, the Church being one of them.

Rome has her own ways of doing things.  What may be efficient to me does not necessarily mean the same thing to the Church.  Inasmuch as I think that the New Zealand model may be a better, more efficient approach, the Church has chosen not to take that route, at least not in the United States.  I had a long talk with my spiritual director on this topic.  Perhaps rather than whining about not having the translation yesterday, I should concentrate my efforts on catechizing my fellow Catholics on why we will even have this revised Roman Missal in the first place.

The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns Traditional Catholic Advent Hymn

Here is another beautiful Advent hymn, The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns". This is a perfect hymn for the first Sunday of Advent because it speaks to the two comings of Christ. It is also a great recessional for the Solemnity of Christ the King. Enjoy!

Creator Of The Stars Of Night Catholic Traditional Advent Hymn

Here is another magnificent Advent hymn. The original Latin version was chanted this evening at St. Peter's Basilica during the First Vespers of Advent. If only we could hear this magnificent hymn during Advent in our local parishes...

O Come O Come Emmanuel

This is the quintessential Advent hymn. Although I don't agree with the YouTube poster's explanation of the song, it does not take away from its haunting beauty and magnificence! Too bad we did not get to chant this venerable hymn at tonight's Mass.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Let's not have the wheels fall off the bus

While the secular media continues to analyze and overanalyze the recent statement made by the Holy Father in "Light of the World", the Church, at least in the Anglophile world, faces a very serious problem almost along the lines of the infamous Wikileaks that have plagued the national security of the United States and her allies. 

It seems that someone has anonymously leaked the revised Roman Missal in its entirety.  The Pray Tell blog has posted the link on its website:

Unfortunately, rather than causing great joy throughout the English-speaking world, the leak has yielded much consternation, debate, concern and, in some cases, indignation.  Sadly, most of these reactions from the very folks who have been in favor having a revised translation in the first place.

I have started to wade through the 1,000+ pages in this revised Roman Missal.  The trouble is, no one really knows if this is the final version that will make its debut in our parishes exactly a year from now.  While the prayers proper to the faithful are unchanged (NB: it is confirmed that the Holy See denied the final request for the inclusion of the very problematic, "Christ has died..." acclamation), the controversy lies in the parts reserved to the celebrant:  the propers, prefaces and commons.  Folks who seem to be in the know call what is on Wikispooks a bad translation.  Some say that the original 2008 release was far superior.  However, unless one is a bishop, or a very close friend of his or her local Ordinary or Metropolitan, there is little chance that the books that the USCCB voted on during this long, drawn out process, will ever make their way to the internet.  If someone has the link, I would like to see it to make comparisons.

Of course, I can understand the need for revisions, especially on a document of this magnitude.  Translations, especially liturgical ones, are never an easy process.  It's almost like writing new legislation or amending existing law.  There is an old saying at the Texas Capitol that watching the legislative process unfold is a lot like watching sausage being made.  Neither is a pretty process.  I ought to know.  I partcipated first-hand in the legislative sausage-making process for 12 years.  I suspect that a lot of sausage was made by both Vox Clara and ICEL during the deliberations.  But, while the process is ugly, the result can be quite delicious.

Natrually, there are naysayers who debunk the whole thing and will try to derail both the process and the end product.  To make matters worse, the opponents of the revised translation, mainly the ones who started the infamous blog, "What if we just said wait", are having a field day.  They seem to be taking pleasure in what many think is an implosion of something that many of us have longed for and anticipated with great hope.  As I see it, these dissenters are succumbing to pride.  Pride always comes before the Fall. 

This whole brouhaha reminds me of comments that the Holy Father made to the bishops when he announced that he was lifting the excommunications sanctioned on the four SSPX bishops:

 If you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another."
I fear that this is what is happening here.  There are not a few people who would like to see the wheels fall of this particular bus.  More would also like to see those of us who have ardently supported this revised Roman Missal, including Pope Benedict XVI, the CDWDS (past and present prefects), Vox Clara the improved ICEL, and Bishop Arthur Serratelli, thrown under the bus.  While some of their concerns might be well-meaning, there are some who have just been full of venom when expressing their total displeasure with even the idea of a revised translation.  Sadly, these have been the ones doing the most biting.  Having read some of their comments, it seems to me that they would be willing to start pushing the defenders of the final version of the revised Roman Missal (whatever that may be) under the bus, one by one.

I remember an incident that happened to me back in my days at the University of Texas at Austin. I was catching the West Campus shuttle.  Somehow, the overzealous driver slid the doors shut and I was caught halfway between the back steps of the bus and air.  This went on for a few blocks.  I hung on for dear life because I needed to stay on that bus.  I managed to make it safely to my destination in one piece.  As far as the revised Roman Missal is concerned, I am bound and determined to hang on to this bus.  I am confident that the driver, Pope Benedict, is not one who is going to let the wheels fall off of  the bus nor is he going to put the CDWDS, Vox Clara, ICEL, the clergy and the faithful who have long supported this revised Roman Missal under it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Musings

Things sometimes don't happen by chance.  Watching the History Channel's program on the history of Thanksgiving got me thinking.  While HC gave its own reasons for why Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday (it seems that the woman requesting this special holiday equated it with something having to do with her minister), I suspect that perhaps, there might be something deeper.

The word "thanksgiving" actually has its roots in the Church's liturgy.  While we use the word "Eucharist" to signify both the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the term also means "thanksgiving."  Inasmuch as we gather for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sundays in fulfilment of our weekly obligation, we sometimes forget that the first Eucharist was celebrated by no less than Jesus, Himself, during the Last Supper, which fell on a Thursday.  

One could say that the scene played out today in so many homes is a domestic version of what we celebrate every time we gather for the Eucharist.  Just as a family is gathered around the dinner table, the Church gathers her family around the Table of the Altar.  In Isaiah, we hear the account of the people being gathered by God on His holy mountain:

And the Lord of hosts shall make unto all people in this mountain, a feast of fat things, a feast of wine, of fat things full of marrow, of wine purified from the lees. (Isaiah 25:6)
It seems to me that our secular Thanksgiving feast is a foretaste of what we will one day experience on God's holy mountain.  Our Eucharist is the foretaste of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb foretold in the Book of Revelation.

Just some food for thought on this Thanksgiving Day!

Confusion over what "Active Participation" Means

It seems to me that of all of the terms found in Sacrosanctum Concillium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy given to us by the Second Vatican Council, "active participation" stands as the most misunderstood. 

This misunderstanding has not escaped the Vatican, especially the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.  According to Malcolm Cardinal Ranjinth, then secretary to the CDWDS, who quoted Pope Benedict XVI during an address the former official delivered in St. Louis in 2008:

The pope, in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, defines actuosa participatio as a call to a total assimilation in the very action of Christ the High Priest. It is in no way a call to activism, a misunderstanding that spread widely in the aftermath of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Stated Cardinal Ratzinger: “what does it [active participation] mean...? Unfortunately the word was very quickly misunderstood to mean something external, entailing a need for general activity, as if as many people as possible, as often as possible, should be visibly engaged in action” (The Spirit of the Liturgy, 2000, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, p. 171).

We know that in many places this led to the amalgamation of the sanctuary with the assembly, the clericalization of the laity and the filling up of the sanctuary with the noisy and distracting presence of a large number of people. One could say that virtually Wall Street moved into the sanctuary. But was that really what the Council Fathers advocated? Cardinal Ratzinger does not think so. For him, “the real ‘action’ in the liturgy in which we are all supposed to participate is the action of God Himself. This is what is new and distinctive about Christian liturgy: God Himself acts and does what is essential” (ibid, p. 173).
Sadly, this kind of activity is something that occurs in some parishes down here in the South Texas hinterland, especially when special events find themselves imbedded within the Mass, such as birthday blessings.  For example, after the post-Communion prayer, the celebrant invites the honoree to come to the sanctuary to receive a special blessings.  Then, right before he imparts the blessing, the celebrant invites the faithful in the pews to extend their right arms to also "offer" their own blessing, so that they, too, could participate as a community.  It happened this morning when I went to Mass at another parish.  It also happens on a regular basis at my dad's parish.

While the celebrants may mean well, this "ritual" appears nowhere in the authoritative liturgical books promulgated and recognized by the Holy See.  This is not how the Church defines "active participation".  In fact, the Church actually disapproves of this.  In Ecclesia de Mysterio, the Holy See specifically states that:

2. To promote the proper identity (of various roles) in this area, those abuses which are contrary to the provisions of canon 907 are to be eradicated. In eucharistic celebrations deacons and non-ordained members of the faithful may not pronounce prayers -- e.g. especially the eucharistic prayer, with its concluding doxology -- or any other parts of the liturgy reserved to the celebrant priest. Neither may deacons or non-ordained members of the faithful use gestures or actions which are proper to the same priest celebrant. It is a grave abuse for any member of the non-ordained faithful to "quasi preside" at the Mass while leaving only that minimal participation to the priest which is necessary to secure validity.

Every effort must be made to avoid even the appearance of confusion which can spring from anomalous liturgical practices.
During the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the imparting of a blessing is reserved solely to the celebrant (be he a bishop or a priest).  In 2008, the CDWDS further reiterated this fact:

Lay people, within the context of Holy Mass, are unable to confer blessings. These blessings, rather, are the competence of the priest (cf. Ecclesia de Mysterio, Notitiae 34 (15 Aug. 1997), art. 6, § 2; Canon 1169, § 2; and Roman Ritual De Benedictionibus (1985), n. 18).
The faithful can certainly join their prayers to his, but, this should be done without any sort of visual manifestation.   The celebrant imparts these blessings alone, without the help of a deacon, let alone the faithful.   It would be a stretch to characterize this as "active participation" since this is not the kind of participation that is called for in Sacrosanctum Concillium. 

Perhaps Cardinal Ranjinth defines "active participation" best when he says that:

This kind of participation in the very action of Christ, the High Priest, requires from us nothing less than an attitude of being totally absorbed in Him. Says the cardinal “the point is that, ultimately, the difference between the actio Christi and our own action is done away with. There is only one action, which is at the same time His and ours — ours because we have become ‘one body and one spirit ‘with Him” (ibid p. 174).
Active participation, thus, is not a giving way to any activism but an integral and total assimilation into the person of Christ who is truly the High Priest of that eternal and uninterrupted celebration of the heavenly liturgy.

The Council’s Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, too, as we know, spoke of this when it defined liturgy further as a foretaste of the “heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem towards which we journey as pilgrims, and in which Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the sanctuary and of the true Tabernacle” (cf. Rev. 21:2; Col. 3:1; Heb. 8:2)-(SC 8).

Hence, everything we do should help us to achieve that and that alone is the true meaning of the “participatio”: a taking part in a bigger actio. Participatio itself is, I would say, in this sense, an ars [art] where we ourselves are not the artists; neither do we follow an art taught or handed down to us by others, but allow the Lord to be the artist through us, becoming part of what He does. As far as we are concerned, it is participatio in the order of “esse” — being. All that we do in liturgy makes us achieve that union with the eternal high priest, Christ and His sanctifying offering. The more we become part of the oratio of Christ, His eternal self-offering to God as the expiatory Sacrificial Lamb (Rev. 14:1-5), so much more would it be able to transform us into the Logos and make us experience the redeeming effects of such a transformation. Without that, as Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, we would radically misunderstand the “theo-drama” of the liturgy, lapsing into mere parody (cf. ibid p. 175).

We are not called to be creative during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  We are not called to invent rituals and rites and insert them into the Mass under the guise of "active participation."  In fact, both Sacrosanctum Concillium and Redemptionis Sacramentum expressly prohibit this.  Active participation means uniting our complete selves to what is happening at the altar, joining our prayers to those of the priest.  It does not mean taking on gestures (and, sadly, in some cases, words) that are proper to the celebrant alone. 

Again, Cardinal Ranjinth offers sound guidance:

As Pope John Paul II stated in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, “Liturgy is never anyone’s private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated”; and so “no one is permitted to undervalue the mystery entrusted to our hands; it is too great for anyone to feel free to treat it lightly and with disregard for its sacredness and its universality” (EE 52).

Indeed, liturgy is a treasure given to the Church, which is to be jealously guarded. This is so also because it is the actio Christi realized in and through the Church, which is His own Body, in its three-fold extension — the Church Victorious, the Church Purifying and the Church Militant.
Again, these celebrants may have the best of intentions, but, they are going about this the wrong way.  They can invite the faithful to join their prayers to his, but, not to the extent that they should copy the gestures that are proper to him.  It's as though we are letting the alleged "spirit of Vatican II" overrule what the Council actually said. 

This, I believe, is where the heart of the problem lies.  The Second Vatican Council did not call for some creative experimentations to infiltrate the Mass.  It was quite clear in its prohibition against anyone introducing elements into the Mass on his own authority. 

We do not have the right to alter the rites.

What Really Makes Us Sick

A bad stomach ailment sidelined me last night.  The pain was incredible, to say the least.  I did not have a breakthrough until about 1AM this morning. 

Interestingly enough, the breakthrough came on two different fronts.  As delicately as I can put this, I had the opposite of diarrhea.  It is not something that I would wish on anyone.  It's one of the worst stomach pains in the world.  I could not release anything; but, when it finally came, there was so much relief.  That's the first breakthrough.

The second one was actually quite profound.   A couple of nights prior to my illness, I had supper with my spiritual director.  Oddly enough, we talked about holding things inside (sin) and how these can damage our souls.  Sunday, he preached about the damaging effects of sin in our souls.  He preached about how we should fear sin because it kills the soul's health. 

As I lay in bed, recouperating from my ailment, I thought about what he had said.  The pain had prevented me from going to Mass last evening.  I really felt bad.  But, as I lay down, staring into space, the gravity of the words he preached and the conversation that we had hit me worse than a blow to the groin.  I was in a lot of pain because my body could not release the bad stuff.  A nurse friend of mine told me that had I not been able to release, it could have actually turned worse.  What I experienced in my stomach is actually pale in comparison to what the soul experiences when it cannot release itself from the bondage of sin through Confession.  Prior to my release, I was painfully bloated.  Prior to the release of sin, the soul is painfully bloated. 

But, when the medicine finally kicked in and started to do its thing (six hours later), I felt so much better after the release. I was finally able to rest.  And, so it is with going to Confession.  There have been many times that, as soon as the priest imparts absolution on me, I start feeling the release of the proverbial 800-pound gorilla.  My soul feels lighter because the chains that bound it and would not allow it to release all of that vile and waste are suddenly gone. 

Sometimes, God uses the most graphic things to teach us the most important lessons.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

If only parishes could adopt this model

I enjoy reading the MusicaSacra forum because of the kinship I feel to those who post there.  It's a forum for those who have a genuine love of Sacred Music.  A lot of sharing and venting goes on there.  Most of it is constructive.

Tonight, I share something posted on this respected forum:

  2. 1. The Musical Chapel of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter is happy to welcome ‘guest’
    choirs who wish to animate the Liturgy. They must demonstrate their suitability and
    be able to guarantee a quality of song that is worthy of it surroundings.
  3. 2. The Musical Chapel of St. Peter’s Basilica follows the norms of the Magisterium of the Church regarding liturgical song, and especially the Chirograph of John Paul II and the latest pronouncements of Benedict XVI in the matter of liturgical music.
  4. 3. The liturgy is celebrated in the Latin language, according to the Roman Rite. Gregorian
    chant has first place. The guest choir is expected to chant the Ordinary of Holy Mass
    in alternation with the Musical Chapel of the Basilica.
  5. 4. As a general norm, the chants from the Ordinary to be executed are:
    Sundays of Advent: Missa XVII Credo IV
    Sundays of Christmas: Missa IX Credo IV
    Sundays of Lent: Missa XVII Credo IV
    Sundays of Easter: Missa I Credo III
    Sundays of Ordinary Time: Missa XI Credo I
    Feasts of Ordinary Time: Missa VIII Credo III
    Feasts of the B.V. Mary: Missa IX Credo IV
    Feasts of the Apostles: Missa IV Credo III
  6. 5. The guest choir may sing:
    - at the Entrance procession until the moment when the celebrant reaches the altar.
    The Gregorian Introit is sung by the Musical Chapel of the Basilica.
    - at the preparation of the gifts and relative offertory,
    - at Communion, after the Gregorian antiphon has been sung,
    - at the end of Mass, after the Blessing.
    The program of music must follow the Liturgy of the day and will be agreed upon
    with and approved by the Choirmaster.
  7. 6. Singing in St. Peter’s is a stupendous prospect: all those who wish to do so may apply
    to the Chapel Prefect, in full freedom, without restrictions on the part of any
    organization, travel agency, or other. The application, which will be vetted by the
    Choirmaster, is to be sent if possible along with some recordings useful for verifying
    the qualifications of the choir and with a proposal of songs for the liturgy in which
    the choir is requesting to participate.
  8. 7. Participation in the Capitular Mass is free of charge. Nonetheless, the Chapter of St.
    Peter’s Basilica accepts with gratitude the free offerings of guest choirs who wish to
    participate in maintaining quality liturgical service in the Basilica. An official receipt
    will be issued.
  9. These norms were approved by the Most Reverend Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in an audience of 17 December 2006 and he has mandated their publication.
    Msgr. Tarcisio Cola
    Canon of St. Peter’s

Reading this, I wonder why we can't employ the same standards in the average parish.  It would certainly lead to greater solemnity, dignity and majesty in the Mass. 

Part of the problem with the lack of quality music that we have in many of our parishes lies with the publishing houses, especially the big two: OCP and GIA.  OCP seems to only promote their stable of composers in their "liturgical" guides and usually do not give any importance Sacred Music.  GIA, in my opinion, had some credibility until they pretty much vandalized the Worship III hymnal with revised "inclusive" language that took all of the beauty out of the hymns.  Smaller hymnals, like Adoremus and the St. Michael Hymnal, make valiant efforts at providing parishes with Sacred Music.  However, it is hard to compete with the marketing gurus from OCP and GIA. 

I do take comfort in two seminarian friends of mine who are members of a schola in the Archdiocese of San Antonio.  These young men have grown in their love of Sacred music and they show great promise.  I only hope that  St. Cecilia will continue to help guide them throughout their journey to the priesthood so that they can lead their parishes by example.  It is a shame, though, that the Archdiocese did not see fit to use its own schola to provide the music for the Installation Mass of its new Archbishop, the Most Rev. Gustavo Garcia-Siller.   I was disappointed with the Gloria.  I was excited when I heard the Latin, but, then, the choir launched into Spanish and merely used the Latin as the refrain.  The Gloria was excruciatingly long.  The responsorial psalm was worse, having been accompanied by what sounded like Mariachis.  The psalm has its own tone; it's not supposed to sound like a regular song, let alone a performance piece.   

One can only hope that with the advent of the revised translations, parishes will try and take a serious and hard look at their music programs.  Even though some of the settings released by OCP and GIA do not do the revised translations justice, maybe these pieces can serve as the catalyst for a true change, a real reform of the reform.

Viva Cristo Rey!

Today marks an important feast day in the Church's liturgical calendar, especially for those of us who live along the Texas-Mexico border.   While the optional memorials are for Pope St. Clement and St. Columba, the third one, Blessed Miguel Pro, strikes a poignant note that is very close to home.

In its 1917 constitution, Mexico put in place severely strict anti-Catholic laws.  Nine years later, dictator/president Plutarco Calles vigorously enforced this edict, engaging in a wholesale reign of terror against the Church.  This prompted the closings of churches throughout Mexico.  Thus, Mexican Catholics underwent severe persecution to the point that the Church had to go underground.

At the same time, a young Jesuit priest, Fr. Miguel Pro, returned to his native Mexico.  For over a year, at great risk to his life, he ministered to the faithful in Mexico City, celebrating clandestine Masses and making pre-dawn calls to baptize infants, bless marriages and hear confessions.  What makes Fr. Pro so remarkable was that he would do all of this in disguise.  When celebrating Mass at a safe house, he would show up as a dandy.  He would arrive at someone's doorstep dressed as a beggar so that he could go and baptize a baby.  He even donned the uniform of an auto mechanic to give a secret retreat.  Furthermore, Fr. Pro was not in the best of health.  While in Belgium, he underwent surgery for a stomach ailment and his superiors feared that his poor health might be a detriment.  But, with courageous resolve, Fr. Pro vigorously pressed on in his ministry.

While Fr. Pro was beloved among the Mexican faithful, the Mexican authorities reviled him.  Many times, they tried to capture him, but, each time, he managed to elude them, until one November day in 1927.  An assassination attempt was made on former president Alvaro Obregon.  The vehicle used was traced back to one of Fr. Pro's brothers, even though he had sold the car months before the attempt.  The authorities used this as a means of capturing both the brothers, including the elusive priest.   A neighbor betrayed Fr. Pro and his brothers and they were arrested. On November 13, 1927, Mexican dictator Calles ordered the execution of Fr. Pro under the guise that he was involved in the assassination attempt.  In reality, Calles wanted Fr. Pro executed as a means of inflicting fear upon the Mexican faithful.  To further make his point, Calles ordered photographers to document Fr. Pro's execution to use it as a warning to any Catholics who wanted to defy the government.

Instead, the opposite happened.  Rather than inflict fear, the photographs give us a record of Fr. Pro's holiness and courage.

Here, Fr. Pro is led out to face the firing squad.  Prior to this, Fr. Pro encouraged his brothers and his fellow prisoners and imparted absolution on those who were also to be killed that day.

Fr. Pro kneels before the execution is to take place.  His executioners asked him if he had one final request and he told them that he wanted to pray.

Fr. Pro extends his arms in the form of a cross.  Before this moment, though, he takes his crucifix on one hand and his rosary on the other.   Rejecting the blindfold, he boldy shouts:  May God have mercy on you! May God bless you! Lord, Thou knowest that I am innocent! With all my heart I forgive my enemies!"   Then, he makes his final profession of faith:  "Viva Cristo Rey!"  As he says this, the soldiers fire a volley of bullets towards him.

Oddly enough, even though Fr. Pro fell, the bullets did not kill him, as one of the soldiers sent to check on him discovered.  The soldier then fired a point blank shot into Fr. Pro and killed him.

The next day, at his funeral, the streets of Mexico City teemed with thousands of faithful who were boldy professing their faith in Christ the King.  Throngs surrounded the hearse bearing his body.

These people risked their lives to pay homage to a priest who sacrificed himself for them and for Christ to the point of death.

In 1988, the Venerable Pope John Paul II beatified Fr. Miguel Pro, praising the young priest for his valor, his courage, his intense zeal and joy and his unwavering witness, especially as he offered himself as a martyr.

It's no mere coincidence that Blessed Miguel Pro's feast falls on a date that is so close to that of the Solemnity of Christ the King. In some years, both feasts manage to coincide.  While his last words were "Long live, Christ the King", perhaps Blessed Miguel's most eloquent witness came as the bullets started to hail down upon him.  The word "martyr" means witness.  In his homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King, Pope Benedict told the newly created cardinals that their red vesture also signfies blood and that sometimes, their bold witness to the faith may mean the shedding of blood.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Looking at the Rest of the Holy Father's Words

While the media picked up on only one select phrase from the upcoming "Light of the World" Q & A book with Pope Benedict XVI, there are other exerpts that they ignored.  Sandro Magister, in his online magazine, Chiesa, provides an English translation of some of the topics covered by the Holy Father.  In light of the fact that we are in the waning days of the Church's liturgical year, the sections on the Last Things and the Second Coming are most relevent.

Let's first look at what the Holy Father says about the Last Things:

The last things

This is a very serious question. Our preaching, our proclamation is in effect widely oriented, in a unilateral way, to the creation of a better world, while the really better world is almost not mentioned any more. Here we must make an examination of conscience. Of course, one tries to connect with the audience, to talk to them about what is on their horizon. But at the same time, our task is to break through this horizon, to broaden it, and to look at the last things. The last things are like stale bread to the men of today. They seem unreal to them. Instead, they would like concrete answers for today, solutions for everyday tribulations. But these are answers that go only halfway if they do not also permit me to sense and to acknowledge that I extend beyond this material life, that there is judgment, and that there is grace and eternity. In this sense, we must also find new words and ways to permit man to break down the wall of sound of the finite.
Yesterday's readings for the Solemnity of Christ the King, espeically the Gospel account from St. Luke, were precisely about these Last Things.   St. Luke's version of the Passion tells the story of the rejection of the first thief and the humble proclamation of faith from the Good Thief.  This story is, I believe, a preview of things to come and it gives us an idea of what the judgment will look like.  The judgment is a choice, a choice between living with God for all eternity or facing perpetual damnation.  The first thief looked at Jesus with utter disgust and spent his last gasps of precious oxygen jeering at him and reviling him.  He resisted the magnetic pull of divine love and mercy emitting from Jesus.  The other thief, commonly known as the Good Thief, has a different reaction to Jesus.  He freely admits his guilt unapologetically.  He tells Jesus that he is a sinner and that he deserves death.  Then, he adds, he wants Jesus to remember him when the Lord comes into His kingdom.  That's quite a bold statement to make.  Jesus responds with divine mercy and love, telling him, "This day, you will be with me in paradise."  The first thief chose to reject Jesus; the second one accepted Jesus' love and, quite literally, stole that Sacred Heart.

Now, the second exerpt from the Holy Father's book keeps along the same theme of the Last Things. This time, Pope Benedict addresses the issue of the Second Coming:

The coming of Christ

It is important that in every age the Lord is near. That we also, here and now, are under the judgment of the Lord and we allow ourselves to be judged by his tribunal. It was said that there was a twofold coming of Christ, one in Bethlehem and one at the end of time, until St. Bernard of Clairvaux spoke of an "Adventus medius," an intermediary coming, through which he constantly reenters history. I think that he struck the right tone. We cannot establish when the world will end. Christ himself says that no one knows it, not even the Son. But we must remain so to speak always near his coming, and above all be certain that, in suffering, he is near. At the same time, we should know that we are under his judgment for our actions.
My spiritual director uses the term "already, but, not yet" when discussing salvation.  We are in that "already, but, not yet" time between the two comings of Christ.  But, I think I should like to take his line of thought (and the Holy Father's) a bit further.  At every Mass, we anticipate the second coming of Christ.  At every Mass, Christ is really present under the humble species of bread and wine.  Jesus constantly re-enters our lives in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  While this is not to say that we don't encounter Jesus in our every day lives, we meet him most profoundly, most personally in the Mass, especially when we receive Him, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion.  The sacred liturgy is also our preparation for the Divine Liturgy of heaven, the liturgy that St. John alludes to in the Book of Revelation, the Wedding feast of the Lamb. 

These are the words that the media should report.  Instead, the secular press seems to be fixated on one issue and trying to spin it out of control.   In my opinion, this is yellow journalism at its worst.


Sandro Magister's article may be found on his website:

Picture taken from the Hermeneutic of Continuity Blog

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What It Means to Serve

This is the first Papal Mass that I have missed during Pope Benedict's glorious reign.  It's a shame that EWTN does not see it fit to air a replay in lieu of its regular Sunday evening programming. It seems that the network chooses to air the replay at a time when most people are at Mass.  But, that is for another post. 

At least, insofar as the homily is concerned, I have the Google translate button to help me.  As usual, the homily is classic Benedict.  He begins by tying in the ministry of the Successor of St. Peter and of the cardinals with today's Gospel reading:

The first service of the Successor of Peter is that of faith. In the New Testament, Peter becomes the "rock" of the Church as the bearer of the creed: "we" of the Church begins with the name of the person who first professed faith in Christ, begins with his faith, a faith first and still bitter "too human", but then, after Easter, mature and capable of following Christ to the gift of self, the couple believe that Jesus is truly the King, it is precisely because it was on the Cross, and in that way gave life for sinners. In the Gospel we see that everyone is asking Jesus to come down from the cross. Laugh at him, but it's also a way to clear itself, as if to say: it is not our fault if you are there on the cross is your own fault, because if you were truly the Son of God, King of the Jews, you do not then you'd be there, but save you from going down this infamous gibbet. So, if you stay there, it means that you're wrong and we are right. The drama that takes place under the cross of Jesus is a universal drama, covering all men before God that is revealed for what it is, that is Love. In the crucified Jesus is the deity disfigured, stripped of all visible glory, but is present and real. Only faith can recognize: the faith of Mary, who unites in his heart, even this last piece of the mosaic of the life of her Son, she still does not see everything, but continues to trust in God, repeating once again with the same abandonment "Behold the handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1:38). And then there's the faith of the good thief: a faith very rudimentary, but sufficient to ensure his salvation: "Today you will be with me in paradise." The decisive factor is that "with me." Yes, that's what saves him. Of course, the good thief on the cross at Jesus, but especially on the cross with Jesus And, unlike the criminal, and all others who mock them, does not ask Jesus to come down from the cross or to lower it. He says instead: "Remember me when you come into your kingdom." He sees him on the cross, disfigured, unrecognizable, yet relies on him like a king, indeed, as the King The Good Thief believes what is written on that board over the head of Jesus "The King of the Jews "We believe, and it is reliable. To this already, immediately, in the 'now' of God in heaven, because heaven is this: to be with Jesus, be with God
St. Peter wanted so very much to be with Jesus.  Last Thursday, one of the optional memorials was that of the Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul.  The Gospel reading gives the account of Jesus walking on the water, on his way to the boat to meet the Apostles.  After Peter realizes that it is, in fact, Jesus, he begins to walk on the water, at the Lord's invitation, to be with him.  However, Peter begins to doubt as the sea is lashing about him, and he starts to sink.  He pleads, "Lord, save me."  Jesus stretches out his hand and rescues Peter.  It is Peter's intense desire to want to be where Jesus is that, ironically enough, led to his denial of the Lord.  He followed Jesus as far as he could, but, when he was discovered, Peter did not have the courage to profess that he knew Jesus, that Jesus was his friend and Lord.  He ended up denying the very Lord with whom he wanted to be.  But, like the Good Thief, Peter received forgiveness.  He undid the damage that his triple denial had done by thrice professing his love to Jesus.  Jesus, for his part, reaffirms Peter's mission of feeding and tending the sheep of His Church.

It is precisely this mission of feeding and tending the sheep of Christ's church and how this relates to the Cross that Pope Benedict points out in his homily.  We cannot separate ourselves from the Cross of Christ.  Jesus continually challenges us to take up our crosses and follow him, and not separate ourselves from that cross.  If we separate ourselves from the Cross of Christ, we are then like the rulers, the soldiers and the first thief who want Jesus to come down from that cross.

Here then, dear brothers, it is clear the first and fundamental message that the Word of God says to us today: to me, the Successor of Peter, and to you, Cardinal. He calls us to be with Jesus, Mary, and do not ask him to come down from the cross, but stay there with him And that, as a result of our ministry, we do not only for ourselves but for the whole Church, throughout the God's people we know from the Gospels that the cross was the critical point of the faith of Simon Peter and the Apostles. It 'clear and could not be otherwise: they were men and thought, "according to men" could not tolerate the idea of a crucified Messiah. The "conversion" of Peter is fully realized when he stops wanting to "save" to accept Jesus and be saved by Him Surrender to want to save Jesus from the cross and agree to be rescued from his cross. "I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And once you have turned again, strengthen your brethren "(Lk 22:32), said the Lord. The ministry of Peter is all in his faith, a faith that acknowledges that Jesus suffered from the outset as genuine as a gift of our heavenly Father, but a faith that must pass through the scandal of the cross, to become authentic, truly "Christian "to become" rock "on which Jesus would build his Church. Participation in the Lordship of Christ occurs in practice only in sharing with its lower, with the Cross. Even my ministry, my dear brothers, and therefore yours too, it's all in the faith. Jesus can build on us as much as his Church is in us that true faith, Easter, faith that Jesus does not want to come down from the Cross, but relies on Him on the Cross. In this sense, the authentic site of the Vicar of Christ is the Cross, continuing in the obedience of the Cross.
Even those of us who are not cardinals are called to this fundamental principle of the cross.  St. Paul tells us that we should glory in the Cross of Christ.  He tells us that he wants to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.   The Cross is also the real seat of power, the real throne of our King.  In his meditations on the Way of the Cross, Pope Benedict wrote that Pilate was a prophet inspite of himself, when he inscribed "This is the King of the Jews" on the board above Jesus' head.  Despite his weakness and his motives, Pilate managed to get one thing right, the Kingship of Jesus.

There is also that element of marriage.  Marriage, one might ask, and celibacy, how does that compute?   When a prelate is elevated to the rank of cardinal, he receives a ring directly from the Holy Father.  Pope Benedict explains its significance:

It is a 'hard to this ministry, because it aligns with the thinking of men - that natural logic which also remains active even in ourselves. But this is and remains our primary service, the service of faith, which turns all his life: to believe that Jesus is God, who is the King precisely because it has reached that point, because he loved us to the end. And this paradoxical majesty, we must bear witness and proclaim it as did he, the King, that is following the same path and striving to take his own logic, the logic of humility and service, the grain of wheat that dies in order to bear fruit . The Pope and the Cardinals are called to be deeply united, first of all in this: all together, under the guidance of the Successor of Peter, must remain in the lordship of Christ, thinking and acting according to the logic of the Cross - and this is never easy or granted. This must be compact, and because we do not unite ourselves to an idea, a strategy, but we combine the love of Christ and his Holy Spirit. The effectiveness of our service to the Church, the Bride of Christ, is mainly dependent on this, from our fidelity to the divine kingship of Love crucified. For this reason, the ring that you today, seal your covenant marriage with the Church, depicts the image of the Crucifixion. And for the same reason, the color of your dress alludes to the blood, a symbol of life and love. The Blood of Christ, according to ancient iconography, Mary collects from the pierced side of the Son died on the cross, and the apostle John contemplates while flows along with the water, according to the prophetic Scriptures.
In this next paragraph, the Holy Father drives home the point of the wisdom of the Cross, using the Epistole of St. Paul to the Colossians, today's second reading, as a reference:

Dear Brothers, here comes our wisdom: sapientia Cross. Has reflected deeply on this St. Paul, the first to draw an organic Christian thought, centered just on the paradox of the Cross (cf. 1 Cor 1.18 to 25, 2.1 to 8). In the Epistle to the Colossians - of which today's liturgy proposes the Christological hymn - a consideration of Pauline, fertilized by the grace of the Spirit, already reached an impressive level of synthesis in expressing an authentic Christian understanding of God and the world of personal salvation and universal, and everything is centered on Christ, the Lord of hearts, history and the cosmos: "It 's like it to God who dwells within him all the fullness and through him and in him all things are reconciled , having pacified with the blood of his cross and things on earth, and those who are in heaven "(Col 1:19-20). This, dear brothers, we are called to proclaim to the world: Christ "the image of the invisible God," Christ "the firstborn of all creation" and "those who are raised from the dead", because - as the Apostle writes - "He is to have primacy over all things "(Col 1,15.18). The primacy of Peter and his Successors is totally at the service of this primacy of Jesus Christ, the Lord alone in the service of his Kingdom, that his lordship of love, and so it is spread, renews men and things, transforms the land and makes it sprout in peace and justice.

These words call to mind what Jesus told his Apostles in yesterday's Gospel account proclaimed at the public consistory:  whoever wants to be greatest in the Kingdom of heaven must be the servant of all.   This "Lordship of Love" that the Holy Father preaches finds its meaning in service for the Son of Man "came not to be served, but to serve."

The final paragraph brings everything home:

Within this design, which transcends history and at the same time, is revealed and realized in it, is placed the Church, "body" of which Christ is the "head" (cf. Col 1:18). In the Letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul speaks explicitly of the lordship of Christ and puts it in relation to the Church. He makes a prayer of praise to the "greatness of the power of God, who raised Christ and the Lord has made universal, and concludes:" All because he [God] has put his feet / and given to the Church as head over all things: / it is his body, / the fullness of him who is the perfect fulfillment of all things "(Eph 1:22-23). The very word "fullness", which belongs to Christ, Paul attributes it to the church here, participation: the body, in fact, part of the fullness of the Head. Here, venerable Brother Cardinals - and I say to all of you who share with us the grace to be Christians - that's what our joy to participate in the Church to the fullness of Christ through the obedience of the Cross, "partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light", have been "transferred" into the kingdom of the Son of God (cf. Col 1:12-13). For this we live in perpetual thanksgiving, and also through the testing is not less than the joy and peace that Christ left us as a deposit of his kingdom, which is already among us, that we look with faith and hope, and a foretaste charity. Amen.

And so it is.  There is unspeakable joy, Good News, even in the midst of suffering, even in the midst of Calvary.   Let us pray that we, too, may be brought to the fullness of Christ, glorying in His Cross, so that we may also hear the words that Jesus spoke to the Good Thief:  "This day, you will be with me in paradise."

Disclaimer:  I apologize for the formatting and translation issues.  I am still trying to get accustomed to my new laptop and the formatting is still quite rocky.