Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rome Conference 2: the talks, Day 2

When looking at the conference programme before setting off I saw that the first morning was due due to begin at 8.30am with a lecture on Three Patristic Texts on the Priesthood. This looked like a daunting topic for an early morning start. However Fr Carola`s talk brought to life the teaching of Ss Gregory Nazianzus, John Chrysostom and Gregory the Great and made them relevant to our age and situations. Fr Joseph Carola SJ has been Professor of Patristic Theology at the Gregorian University (in Rome) since 2002. When the opportunity for questions came after the talk the topic of priests facing a crisis in their vocation and leaving active ministry came up. Fr Carola spoke of how quite a number of his former pupils at the Greg have left active ministry. It is a question of knowing that a priest will eventually face a crisis and for there to be support systems to help a priest at that stage to help him get over this and remain faithful to his vocation. Unfortunately this is still not well provided for and priests are left to sink or swim. I`m glad I was one of the many who bought a copy of Fr Carola`s new book ( just published this month) entitled Conformed to Christ Crucified: Meditations on Priestly Life and Ministry which consists of Father`s sermons and reflections on this theme. The book is published by the Gregorian and Biblical Press.

Next we heard from Fr Dodaro OSA the director of the Patristic Institute Augustinianum in Rome. His talk was entitled The Priest as sinner in the thought of St Augustine and dealt with the Donatist view of the clergy as spiritual superstars such that if a priest was found to be less than perfect it greatly troubled the Donatist laity as for them the efficacy of the sacraments if not their validity depended on the sanctity of the minister. While it is easy to fall back on the theory of ex opere operato, Fr Dodaro spoke of Augustine`s awareness of the priest as sinner and the need to avoid putting the priest on a pedastal in today`s Church. There must be a way for the priest to convey that he too needs forgiveness from God and needs the prayers rather than praise of his congregation.
The third talk of the morning was by Mgr Feichtinger of the CDF who spoke on The Hermeneutics of the Inquisition which was not as might be deduced from the title a look at the work of the CDF but an exploration of the philosophical background to the `Hermeneutic of Continuity`.

In the evening, after dinner (where we were joined by the Australian ambassador to the Holy See) we were treated to a talk by Blackfen`s Fr Tim Finigan ( pictured above in mid-speech). Fr Finigan`s experiences as a seminarian seemed familiar to the conference. (`Take a stone out of a bag and pretend you are that stone and what do you want to say` etc) He recounted a visit by Mother Teresa to the English College where she caught sight of what was the must-have book of the time, `I`m OK. You`re OK` which moved her to say `Well I`m not OK and you`re not OK. That`s why we need Jesus.`! Fr Finigan echoed the thought I often have ( and the last words I ever said to bishop Kevin Dunn before his death) which is that I wake up every morning and no matter how bad the weather or whatever problems there are, I thank God that Ratzinger is Pope. Father also asked us to thank God for Pope John Paul II who started the fight back against the collapse of the Church. Father`s speech was very warmly received.
And after that I retired for the night.


G. Ravel. said...

This fascination with stones must have been quite widespread in the 70s and 80s. About 30 years ago I was invited to a Charismatic Renewal meeting at St. Mary's cathedral. Much against my better judgement, but out of curiosity, I agreed to go. The first thing I noticed was that the first few rows of pews had been turned around so that the presenters were facing the people and had their backs to the sanctuary. My immediate thought was that it was appalling disrespect against our Blessed Lord in the tabernacle but what do I know?
The highlight of the evening was the appearance of a very earnest young lady who stood with her eyes closed, head tilted backwards, and exhibiting a pained expression of intense concentration. "Just imagine we are all stones," she intoned. "Stones all look the same on the outside but when they are broken they all have different layers and colours inside. People are like stones," she continued, "but we see only the outside of our stones whereas Jesus sees right inside and is aware of all our different layers and colours." If it had not been for the fact that I was inside a cathedral I would have burst our laughing; but then I thought how appalling that this nonsense was being promoted in the mother church of the diocese. I then sat with my eyes closed and with a pained expression on my face but for an entirely different reason to the speaker. The experience had such an impact, however, that I have never looked upon stones in such a simple way since. Who really knows what is going on inside a stone?

Thomas More said...

"I thank God that Ratzinger is Pope."

Is that on the basis that he was the least worst option?

1. B16 has never celebrated the TLM as Pope.
2. He has done nothing to reform (improve?) the Novus Ordo.
3. He has confined the TLM into a convenient box with a bizarre time-warp of 1962 and the denigrating designaion of "Extraordinary Form".
4. He continues to appoint bishops, certainly in England, from exactly the same Magic Circle as before.
5. Archbishop Longley may be an honourable exception to this - an English bishop who actually went to university!
6. In the archdiocese of Westminster there is no TLM High Mass or even a regular sung Mass on a Sunday. There are only two regular (Low) Msses for the whole diocese.

What is it that B16 has done that makes you thank God for him?

Norah said...

This may be useful:


Norah said...

the need to avoid putting the priest on a pedastal in today`s Church.

I don't think that that is the what is happening in today's Church, at least in my corner of the world. What we have is the priest trying desperately to convince us that he is just like us, no special gifts, no ontological change at ordination - really most women in the parish know more than he which is why he never gives a solemn blessing or preach on a truth of the Faith because it might look as if he was putting himself above us. Some even tell the odd slightly off colour joke (not at Mass) to be even more ordinary.

Fr Michael Brown said...

`Thomas More` you really are on a different planet. Benedict XVI has done more than we could have hoped for the promotion of the EF. While he has not celebrated it as Pope, maybe he thinks the time is not yet right for that because of the reaction it may cause among those who are still coming to terms with SP; the Pope has to be a figure of unity. However most of the top cardinals in the Curia have celebrated publically. This can only be with the Pope`s encouragement.

Where have you been that you can say he has done nothing to improve thhe Novus Ordo? You may not be aware but there is a new translation about to come out which will greatly increase the solemnity of the OF. Also he has set a wonderful example in celebrating Mass ad orientem on occasion as wellas only giving Holy Communion to comminicants who kneel and receive on the tongue.

As for no 3 I just don`t understand you problem. What else was supposed to happen? I see nothing bad about the term `Extraordinary Form`. In fact it is a master stroke to have removed the 1962 missal from its indult status and to have made it a living part of the whole Church`s liturgical life. The two forms have to be distinguished somehow. I`m not too bothered what they are called.

Glad you are happy with the appointment of Archbishop Longley. I think you will find he is not the only bishop to have been to university. I see the appointment of bishop Mark Davis as a great reason to be hopeful.

Sorry to hear about the situation in Westminster. That is hardly the fault of the Pope unless you are the most extreme of ultramontanes and expect him to run every diocese himself.

Unknown said...

Thomas More, re Point 5:
+Vincent Nichols received his STL from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, got his MA in Theology from the University of Manchester.
+Bishop Longley, by your own admission, went to university.
+Malcolm McMahon has a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Manchester and a degree in Theology from Blackfriars College, Oxford.
All the bishops have degrees. Or does a degree not from Oxford or Cambridge seem not worth anything in your eyes?

Keir Hardy said...

How does having been to university and having a degree ensure a man is somehow a better bishop (as you and your correspondents seem to imply)? Does having a degree in, say, English or Music count for more than one in Social Studies, or Media Studies? Perhaps in the Forest Murmurs World the best would be a degree in Latin (or Greek). Or do I simply detect a trace of eliteism among these postings?

G. Ravel. said...

I think the Cure of Ars had a First Class Honours Degree in life and spiritual care. One thing is for sure, he did not blether on about stones and its associated psychobabble; although I can well imagine him speaking forcibly about mill-stones and little children.

Thomas More stated that Pope Benedict has never celebrated the TLM as Pope. How does he know? The Pope celebrates Mass every day in his private chapel if he has no other public engagements. There is every possibility that he has celebrated both forms since he became Pope. Just because things are not done in the blaze of publicity doe not give anyone the right to assume they know people's every action.

Em said...

The implication was not that someone with a degree would be a better bishop. "Thomas More" stated that Archbishop Longley had been to university and implied that other bishops had not. The other correspondents listed bishops who had been to university.

Fr Michael Brown said...

`Keir Hardy` the requirement for a bishop to have been through higher education is in the Code of Canon Law which asks that a candidate be `outstanding for his solid faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence and human virtues and endowed with other talents` as well as having a good reputation, be at least thirty-five years old and have a doctorate or at least a licence in theology, canon law or scripture or be at least `truly expert` in these disciplines.

I suppose the requirement for a doctorate means that the Church wants a bishop to be a man who is familiar with the cut and thrust of academic debate, can present a case well and has developed analytic skills which will be useful in his difficult work of making the right decisions for the people entrusted to him.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Thanks Norah, that is an interesting article.

Jane said...

I believe that the real Thomas More also thanks God that Ratzinger is Pope!

Thomas More said...

Fr B...

Have you followed the Popes' 'wonderful example' and celebrated the Novus Ordo (aka the "OF") ad orientem and do you only give communion on the tongue to those kneeling?

Thomas More said...

Terry said...

'All the Bishops have degrees'.

Yet can name only two who have degrees.

What degree has the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, to pick a random but relevant eexample?

Fr Michael Brown said...

@ TM: Not yet but I have one or two ideas.

Unknown said...

Thomas More, I only named 2 bishops with degrees as examples. There are many more and you can find it all online. I am not going to list every single one of them for your enlightenment. Do it yourself!

This post was about the conference in Rome that Fr Brown attended. If you have a problem with the Bishop of Hexham, then deal with it yourself directly. Don't hijack this thread for your own grievances.

Adulio said...

Father also asked us to thank God for Pope John Paul II who started the fight back against the collapse of the Church.

With all due respect to the late pontiff, but I see this tendency, even amongst supposedly trad-friendly priests, to ascribe more to the last pontificate, than is actually due. The usual arguments of, "Well he did stand up for pro-life causes and refused to ordain women priests" is rather tiresome. What else is the Pope meant to do as the leader of Christ church on earth?! Are we now to award a medal for every-time the Pope reminds that Jesus is God?

I feel that many American Catholics might feel differently about JP II, particularly those who were in diocese run by bishops who turned a blind eye to the clerical abuse not to mention let the Catholicity of their parishes go to the dogs. True evangelism was significanlty hampered by John Paul's ecumenism (which would not have approved of, nay even discouraged, a mere fifty years ago).

I am sorry if I sound over-critical and a spoil-sport. But as Catholics, we have to accept the truth and the truth is that a sizeable amount of the "auto-demolition" (as Paul VI coined it, as well as starting it) was carried on JP II through his prudential policies.

Just remember the many of the opponents of Summmorum Pontificum were bishops appointed by John Paul II.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Sirian, I share many of your concerns about the pontificate of John Paul II. However he did do good things too and restored confidence to the papacy after the dark days of Paul VI`s `amletismo`.