Yesterday's penitential celebration for youth of the Diocese of Rome was remarkable. Catholic News Service reports that some 200 priests heard confessions. St. Peter's Basilica was filled with the youth attending, with those who could not get inside watching by television, with priests available for them too. The Pope too went into a confessional to hear confessions for 35 minutes. English translations of the Holy Father's homily are available from the Vatican and from Teresa Benedetta at Papa Ratzinger Forum (scroll down). It is still possible to watch the video online on KTO (French Catholic TV). I got home from work last night after the EWTN broadcast started, but was able to watch most of it.
Two retired bishops announced their departure from the Episcopal Church yesterday and today. One of them, Bishop Daniel Herzog of Albany, New York, has become Catholic.
Catholic News Service today has an article about the Motu Proprio, expected to be released soon, expanding the use of the Tridentine Mass. The article's focus is on the Pope's efforts to bring unity, and it mentions that some people will be looking to the Motu Proprio "not
only for a liturgical verdict, but also for a sign of his reconciling
The coming week's Catholic news and broadcasts include events related to the beatification process for Pope John Paul II and Holy Week. A broadcast schedule for key events is posted here. I will update it periodically if more information becomes available and, meanwhile, there are links to schedule information by the broadcast sources.
Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Preacher of the Pontifical Household, has begun a series of reflections on the Sunday Gospels for each week of Lent. Zenit has posted an English translation of his reflection for this Sunday (tomorrow) and will probably provide translations of each week's reflection. As for previous Lenten and Advent reflections, I will add links to this post each week and move the post up to the top. In the first reflection, Father Cantalamessa stated his theme for Lent:
"Faced as we are with attacks on the historical veracity of the Gospels
from every quarter and with the continual manipulation of the figure of
Christ, it is more important than ever that the Christian and the
honest reader of the Gospel know the truth of the teachings and reports
that the Gospel contains.
"I have decided to use my commentaries on the Gospels from the
beginning of Lent to the Sunday after Easter for this purpose. Taking
each Sunday Gospel as our point of departure, we will consider
different aspects of the person and the teaching of Christ to determine
who Jesus truly is, whether he is a simple prophet and great man, or
something more and different than these."
The attempt of some scholars and critics to reduce Jesus to a
normal Jew of his time, who would not have in fact said or done
anything special, is in total contrast to the most certain historical
data that we have of him. Such views can only be understood as guided
by a prejudicial refusal to admit that something transcendent could
appear in human history. These reductive approaches to Jesus cannot
explain how such an ordinary being became -- as these same critics say
-- 'the man who changed the world.'"
"The word with which Jesus begins his preaching resounds in this Gospel
passage: conversion. I would like to point out, however, that
conversion is not only a duty, it is also a possibility for all, almost
a right. It is good and not bad news! No one is excluded from the
possibility of changing. No one can be regarded as hopeless."
"But the novel and unheard of thing in the relationship between
Jesus and sinners is not his goodness and mercy toward them. This can
be explained in a human way. There is, in his attitude, something that
cannot be humanly explained, that is, it cannot be explained so long as
Jesus is taken to be a man like other men. What is novel and unheard of
is Jesus' forgiveness of sins."
"All of the doubts about Jesus' attitude toward the family and marriage
will fall away if we take into account the whole Gospel and not only
those passages that we like. Jesus is more rigorous than anyone in
regard to the indissolubility of marriage, he forcefully confirms the
commandment to honor father and mother to the point of condemning the
practice of denying them help for religious reasons (cf. Mark 7:11-13)."
"Let us leave aside historical questions now and dedicate a moment to
contemplating him. How did Jesus act during the Passion? Superhuman
dignity, infinite patience. Not a single gesture or word that negated
what he preached in his Gospel, especially the beatitudes. He dies
asking for the forgiveness of those who crucified him."
Picture: Christ Carrying the Cross, Albrecht Altdorfer, pen and black ink and grey wash over black chalk, about 1510 to 1515. Probably part of a series, this was a design for a stained glass window. The actual window no longer survives. Photo by me. More here.
Update 4/1/07: Zenit today posted a translation of Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre's testimony provided by the Postulator of the Cause of the Pontiff's Beatification. The translation that follows is my own translation made March 29 from a French transcript published by La-Crois, attributed to the Totus Tuus website from May 2006l.
La-Croix's article about Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre -- the nun whose reported cure from Parkinson's disease was selected by the diocesan beatification process as the most compelling miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II -- included the down-loadable text of her testimony about her own healing. The miracle has not yet been confirmed by the Vatican. Here is an English translation of that text:
Testimony of the nun miraculously cured by the intercession of John-Paul II
I was stricken with Parkinson's disease, diagnosed in June 2001, which was lateralized on the left, which left me very handicapped, being left-handed. The disease developed slowly at first but, at the end of 3 years, the symptoms grew worse, accentuating the tremors, stiffness, pains, insomnia. Beginning April 2, 2005, the disease left me more devastated from week to week. I saw myself decreasing day by day, I could no longer write, being left-handed, or if I did it, I was barely legible. Driving was almost no longer possible for me except on very short trips, for my left leg experienced periods of “freezing” and the stiffness did not make driving easy. It took me more and more time to accomplish my work, which had become very difficult, working in a hospital environment. I was tired and exhausted.
After the announcement of the diagnosis, it was very difficult for me to look at John Paul II on television. However, I was very close to him in prayer and I knew that he could understand what I was living through. In the same way, I admired his strength and his courage, which motivated me to fight and to love this suffering, because without love, it had no meaning. I can say that it was a daily struggle, but my only desire was to live it in faith and to cling with love to the Father’s will.
On Easter 2005, I wanted to see our Holy Father John Paul II on television because I knew inside that it would be the last time that I could see him. All morning, I prepared for that meeting, knowing that it would be very difficult for me (it reminded me of what I would be in a few years). That was hard for me, being relatively young. But something unexpected in the service did not allow me to see him again.
Then, on the evening of April 2, 2005, we were gathered together in community to join with Rome in the prayer in St. Peter’s Square, by live broadcast, thanks to the French television channel of the Diocese of Paris (KTO). With my Sisters, we learned by live broadcast about the death of John Paul II. For me, everything rocked, it was a collapse, I had just lost a friend, the one who understood me and gave me the strength to keep going. In the days that followed, I felt a great emptiness but, at the same time, I had the certainty that he was always present.
On May 13, on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Benedict XVI made the waiver official, opening the Process of Beatification for John Paul II. From May 14, my Sisters from all the communities of France and Africa prayed by intercession of John Paul II, asking for my healing. They would ask without ceasing until the announcement of my healing.
I was then on vacation. My time of rest completed, I returned that May 26, completely exhausted by the disease. However, since May 14, a verse from the Gospel of St. John had filled me: "If you believe, you will see the Glory of God."
On June 1, I could do no more, I fought to keep going and to stand up. On the afternoon of June 2, I went to find my superior to ask her to end my professional activity. She asked me to hold off a little until my return from Lourdes in August, and she added: "John Paul II has not said his last word." During that meeting with my superior, John Paul II was present in our exchange, an exchange that took place in peace and serenity. She gave me a pen and asked me to write "John Paul II.” It was 5:00 p.m. With much difficulty, I wrote "John Paul II." Before the illegible writing, we remained a long moment in silence. The end of the day passed like other days.
After evening prayer at 9:00 p.m., I went back past my office then went back to my room. It was between 9:30 and 9:45. I felt the desire then to take a pen to write, a little as if someone had said to me, "Take your pen and write." To my great surprise, the writing was very legible. I did not understand very well, and I lay down. That was exactly 2 months since John Paul II had left us for the Father’s House. At 4:30 a.m., I woke up, amazed at having slept. With a jump, I left my bed, my body was no longer sore, no more stiffness, and inside I was no longer the same. Then, an interior call, a power pushed me to go to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. I went down to the oratory. I prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. A great peace enveloped me, a feeling of wellbeing. Something too great, a mystery difficult to explain with words. Then, still before the Blessed Sacrament, I contemplated the luminous mysteries of John Paul II. Then, at 6 a.m., I left to join my sisters in the Chapel for a time of prayer followed by the Eucharist. I had about 50 meters to walk, and there, I realized that my left arm was swinging with my walking, unlike usual, when that one remained motionless beside my body. I noticed also a lightness in my whole body, a flexibility that I had no longer known for a long time. During that Eucharist, I was filled with a great joy and a great peace. It was June 3, feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. At the conclusion of the Mass, I was convinced that I was cured – my hand was not shaking any more. I left to write again, and at noon, I abruptly stopped all my medications.
On June 7, I went as planned to the neurologist, who had followed me for 4 years. He noticed with surprise the disappearance of all the signs although I had not taken any more treatment for 5 days. Beginning the next day, my superior general confided our thanksgiving to all the communities. The whole congregation then began a novena of thanksgiving to John Paul II.
It has now been 10 months since I ceased all treatment. I have resumed normal activity, I write without any difficulty, I drive again, and on very long distances. I can say that this is like a second birth, a new life because nothing is like before any more.
Today, I can say, that a friend has gone far from our earth and is nonetheless so close now to my heart. He caused the desire to grow in me for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and the love of the Eucharist, which have an essential place in my life each day.
What the Lord gave to me to live by the intercession of John Paul II is a great mystery, difficult to explain with words, as great as it is, as strong as it is – but nothing is impossible for God. Yes, "If you believe, you will see the glory of God."
A 45-year old French nun whose order is devoted to right to life issues was mysteriously cured from Parkinson's Disease in the one miracle decided to have been the most compelling in the beatification process of Pope John Paul II. She will be in Rome next week for the close of the diocesan beatification process. At that time, the question of whether to beatify John Paul II will go to the Vatican for further consideration and a final decision. The Vatican has not yet confirmed the validity of the reported miracle, as the process will move only next week from the Diocesan to the Vatican level.
Catholic News has an article about the nun, who is Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre of the Little Sisters of Catholic Motherhood. Catholic World News also has an article in English. Catholic News Service has an article on the March 30 press conference, where she met reporters together with Archbishop Claude Feidt of Aix, in whose diocese her surprising recovery took place.
KTO French Catholic TV will have an online video of Sister Pierre and Archbishop Feidt, with the testimony of nuns of her order, available for viewing on April 2. The video first aired March 30 at 8:55 p.m.
La-Croix has a French news article with links for more information and a photo of a nun from her order praying in the chapel. Another French news daily, Le Figaro, is reported to have broken the story first. The nun's testimony is available in French for Download (Download soeur.rtf). Here is a link to my English translation of her testimony from that transcript. And here is a link to her order's website (See here too.) with photos of the nuns. When an official translation appears online, I will add a link to it on the same page with my own translation.
The close of the diocesan beatification process will be televised this coming Monday on Vatican Television. A Mass for Pope John Paul II will follow, televised by EWTN and Vatican Television. See the post below listing television coverage from now until Easter, which has links to information and online broadcast sources.
An earlier post on the close of the diocesan beatification process is here.
On March 24, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the bishops of Europe in addressing a Congress on "50 Years After the
Treaty of Rome: Values and Perspectives for the Europe of Tomorrow.". Links to English translations of that speech appear in this earlier post from this blog.
Magister referenced the Pope's longer address on Europe, given as Cardinal Ratzinger on April 1, 2005, linking to the Italian text of that 2005 address. An English translation is available from Zenit on the Catholic Education Resource Center website and in several parts on the Zenit website: Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Continuing a series about the Church Fathers, Pope Benedict spoke about St. Irenaeus in today's General Audience. St. Irenaeus lived from about 135 or 140 to 202 or 203. He was probably born in Turkey, and he was bishop of Lyon, in what is now France, when he wrote Against Heresies, defending the faith against gnostic heresies.
"With these arguments, very briefly summarized here, Irenaeus refutes
the very foundation of the aims of the gnostics, of these
intellectuals: First of all, they do not possess a truth that would be
superior to the common faith, given that what they say is not of
apostolic origin, but invented by them. Second, truth and salvation are
not a privilege monopolized by a few, but something that everyone can
reach through the preaching of the apostles' successors, and, above
all, that of the Bishop of Rome."
To double-check schedules and for more information about the broadcasts, follow the links below:
Thursday, March 29:
Pope Benedict XVI presides at a Penance Service for the young people of Rome: Live EWTN, Vatican Radio, Vatican TV 8:30 a.m. Pacific, 11:30 a.m. Eastern, 5:30 p.m. Rome; Rebroadcast EWTN 6:00 p.m. Pacific, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Video of this event is available for viewing online in the archives of KTO (Click on "Regarder la video.")
Passion According to St. Matthew, composed by Bishop Hilarion Alfeev of Vienna, Russian Orthodox Church, concert from Rome, EWTN, 12:00 noon Pacific, 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time; 7:30 p.m. Pacific, 10:30 p.m. Eastern.
Palm Sunday, April 1:
Solemn Mass from the Vatican, Live EWTN, Vatican TV 12:30 a.m. Pacific, 3:30 a.m. Eastern, 9:30 a.m. Rome; Rebroadcast EWTN 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Mass for Pope John Paul II at St. Peter's Basilica, Live EWTN, Vatican TV, Vatican Radio 8:30 a.m. Pacific, 11:30 a.m. Eastern, 5:30 p.m. Rome. KTO: I think the broadcast will actually be live at the same time as EWTN anad Vatican TV, but check the KTO website for updates. The KTO website now gives the broadcast time as 7:30 p.m. (19.30) Paris, while the Vatican TV website gives the time for its live broadcast as 17.30. Paris and Rome are in the same time zone. Rebroadcast, EWTN 6:00 p.m. Pacific, 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
Rosary with Youth in the Vatican Grotto, Live (The Pope will not participate in the rosary) Vatican TV, Vatican Radio, KTO 12:00 noon Pacific, 3:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Paris/Rome
The Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) at the Colosseum in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI presiding, Live Vatican Radio, Vatican TV, KTO, 12:10 p.m. Pacific, 3:10 p.m. Eastern, 9:10 p.m. Rome Rebroadcast EWTN 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
The Way of the Cross from Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris. Live KTO TV, 6:00 a.m. Pacific, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, 3:00 p.m. Paris -- and will be available to watch later.
Holy Saturday, April 7:
Easter Vigil at the Vatican, Live EWTN, Vatican Radio, Vatican TV, KTO, 1:00 p.m. Pacific, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, 10:00 p.m. Rome (Vatican TV coverage begins 10 minutes earlier); Rebroadcast EWTN 9:00 p.m. Pacific, 12:00 midnight Eastern.
Easter Vigil at the Basilica, Washington D.C., EWTN 5:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Easter Sunday, April 8:
Solemn Mass of Easter at the Vatican, Live EWTN, Vatican Radio, Vatican TV, KTO, 1:30 a.m. Pacific, 4:30 a.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Rome; Rebroadcast EWTN 9:00 a.m. Pacific, 12:00 noon Eastern; .
Urbi et Orbi Blessing from Pope Benedict XVI, Live EWTN, Vatican Radio, Vatican TV, 3:00 a.m. Pacific, 6:00 a.m. Eastern, 12:00 noon Rome. Rebroadcast EWTN 10:30 a.m. Pacific, 1:30 p.m. Eastern.
Easter Mass from Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, KTO, 9:30 a.m. Pacific, 12:30 p.m. Eastern, 6:30 p.m. Paris
Picture: "Christ Carrying the Cross" attributed to Marco d'Oggiono, Italian, 1495-1500, photo by me. Museum information.
Rite Magazine has an article in the current issue titled Water and Promises about the use of holy water in the liturgies of Easter, especially the liturgy of the Easter Vigil. In that article, Rev. Paul Turner writes about the history and proper use of holy water and its connection with the Sacrament of Baptism and the renewal of our baptismal promises each year at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. Here is an excerpt:
"The renewal of baptismal promises at the Easter Vigil is directly related to our observance of Lent. Lent has a twofold purpose. It prepares the unbaptized to celebrate the rites of initiation by immersing them in a period of spiritual preparation, and it engages the faithful in a period of repentance and renewal. The holy water of Easter, then, also performs a twofold purpose. It baptizes the catechumens, and it seals the period of renewal for the faithful. It brings to a head the spiritual journey of Lent."
From an earlier edition available online, the same magazine has an article by Mary Birmingham titled Baptism, Repentence, about the baptismal and repentent themes of Lent. Her article's focus is the history and practice of the preparation of catechumens for baptism, and the preparation of the faithful for baptismal renewal, during Lent. Here is an excerpt:
"The elect inquire of God and
themselves: Where is conversion still needed before they enter
into this new life? Where does sin still lurk in their lives? In
what way do they still contribute to social sin by their actions,
attitudes and behaviors? The faithful not only echo those same
questions, but they are invited to discern even further: In what
way have they authentically lived their role as priest, prophet,
and king during this past year? Are they willing to stand with
the elect at Easter and for yet another year commit to living a
renewed baptismal life? The Lenten baptismal rites assist us in