Today, the Church presents us with readings that pertain to the Good Shepherd. In his Regina Caeli address at noon (Roman time), Pope Benedict XVI noted that:
On this Sunday it is natural to remember the Shepherds of the Church of God, and those who are being formed to become Shepherds. I therefore invite you to say a special prayer for bishops -- including the Bishop of Rome! -- for parish priests, for all those who have a responsibility in leading the flock of Christ, that they might be faithful and wise in carrying out their office.
From the first day of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has striven to become a true shepherd to the flock that Christ entrusted to him in his Petrine ministry. Through his preaching, his teaching and his rulings, Pope Benedict XVI continues to tend and feed the lambs that Jesus referred to when he charged St. Peter to tend and feed his sheep and lambs.
One way that Pope Benedict continues to tend his flock revolves around the liturgy. On Friday, the instruction to Summorum Pontificum, the Motu Propio on the Extraordinary Form fo the Mass, was finally released. Universae Ecclesiae offers both the shepherds (bishops and priests) and the sheep a means for sound and practical application of Summorum Pontificum. While Blessed John Paul II began the work of restoring the use of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (often called the Traditional Latin Mass) and established the Pontifical Commission Ecclesiae Dei to provide assistance, there were still restrictions on its use. In 2007, with his Motu Propio, Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI greatly eased such restrictions and gave every priest the right to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. However, there were some clarifications that needed to be made. Universae Ecclesiae gives us these clarifications and more. In subsequent posts, I will break down some of the document's important features.
Pope Benedict officially signed off on the instructions on April 30, 2011, the feast of Pope St. Pius V. Pope St. Pius V, whose reign during the Reformation set the Church's liturgical house in order, giving us the beautiful Tridentine Roman missal. Now, some 500 years later, Pope Benedict XVI has restored this magnificent liturgy so that the sheep may once again experience its noble grandeur.