I awoke this morning to the sound of rain. It turns out the forecast is for rain all day today in the vicinity of the retreat house.
My first thought was one of disappointment that the retreatants would not be able to wander over to the Sacred Heart chapel (one of my favorite spots; I wrote about it here), sit out on the dock that juts into Lake Winnebago, walk on the nature trail, or pray the outdoors stations of the cross.
But then I began to settle into the cocoon of silence the rain enhances. The retreatants are already in the silence of not speaking (and I hope also refraining checking e-mails or surfing the net).
Somehow the rain seems to intensify the silence of my surroundings. As I sit here writing this, the only sounds I hear are the quiet movements of the chefs preparing breakfast (the staff here does a better job of respecting the silence of retreats than any other retreat house I’ve been to) and the rain falling against the window of my room.
I also remind myself that God always gives people on retreat exactly what they need. And that the retreatants can and will find God in the rain just as they would have found God at the lake, the trail, the chapel or the stations.
Please keep me and the retreatants in your prayers.
Whose definition of ‘God’ will be found? The God of our fathers, I pray. . .
In the 4th and 5th centuries, St. John Chrysostom (349–407) and St. Augustine (354–430) in word and writings spoke of the home church and the family (as a domestic church) as the cornerstone of the faith. Is not each family a member of God’s Family on earth – Each called to reconciliation and the ‘fullness’ of the Eucharistic calling?
Will Archbishop of Newark, John Meyer’s recent pastoral letter on Marriage reveal God? When ‘flushed out’ will paragraphs 51 to 53, from Synod 14, “Relatio Synodi – Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization” reveal God’s mercy, in very specific cases, as relates to remarried Catholics and the Eucharist?
Listening to supporters of opposing Cardinals Burke and Kasper on remarried Catholics and the Eucharist can be likened to watching a spider spin its web – weaving back and forth in attempts to maintain connected to the ‘source’. One only need be reminded of events leading up to Pope Pius IX calling for the First Vatican Council.
“Though papal infallibility was only set in stone in 1870, the idea had been part of church history and debate as far back as 519 when the notion of the Bishop of Rome as the preserver of apostolic truth was set out in the Formula of Hormisdas.
(Shortly after the Great Schism between East and West in 1054) In 1075 Pope Gregory VII in his Dictatus Papae (The Pope’s Memorandum) put it more bluntly. He set out 27 propositions about the powers of the office of Bishop of Rome. These included the statement that the papacy “never will err to all eternity according to the testimony of Holy Scripture”.
The word infallibility, however, was not used. It was believed that only God was infallible and it was acknowledged that various popes down the ages had brought disgrace on the office by their behaviour and judgements.
Moreover, papal teaching authority was not seen as being wholly independent of councils of the church. No major controversy in the first thousand years of Christianity was ever settled simply by papal decree.
It was not until the nineteenth century that moves began to make a formal acknowledgement that the pope was infallible. It was seen as a useful tool in the Church’s rejection of the liberal, secular agenda that was sweeping Europe.
Having been dethroned as ruler of the Papal States by the movement for Italian Reunification that finally triumphed in 1870, Pope Pius IX called the First Vatican Council where he was determined to buttress his own spiritual authority. Though many cardinals believed it dangerous to try to define quite how and when the Pope might speak infallibly, a compromise agreement was finally reached.
It stated that Pope “when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when exercising the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians” is “possessed of infallibility” when “he defines… a doctrine concerning faith and morals to be held by the whole Church, through the divine assistance promised to him by St Peter”.
Once the Pope has spoken, the First Vatican Council agreed, his definitions “are irreformable of themselves”.
Voting on this form of words took place during a thunderstorm. A majority gave their assent but God, some said, was angry.” (BBC, Peter Stanford 2009-08-10)
“However, the proposal to define papal infallibility itself as dogma met with resistance, not because of doubts about the substance of the proposed definition, but because some considered it inopportune to take that step at that time.
The majority of the bishops were not so much interested in a formal definition of papal infallibility as they were in strengthening papal authority and, because of this, were willing to accept the agenda of the infallibilists. A minority of the bishops opposed the proposed definition of papal infallibility on both ecclesiastical and pragmatic grounds, because, in their opinion, it departed from the ecclesiastical structure of the early Christian church.
From a pragmatic perspective, they feared that defining papal infallibility would alienate some Catholics, create new difficulties for union with non-Catholics, and provoke interference by governments in Church affairs. Those who held this view included most of the German and Austro-Hungarian bishops, nearly half of the Americans, one third of the French, most of the Chaldaeans and Melkites, and a few Armenians.” (Richard McBrien)
How distressing that establishing a doctrine of Papal infallibility (1870) was seen as a ‘useful tool’ to buttress the Pope’s spiritual authority – especially considering history of the Papacy from a much broader perspective than often mentioned. . .
For nearly a thousand years, shortly after Charlemagne was crowned the first Holy Roman Emperor (800–814) and since Pope Stephen VI (896), the Papacy has been stained by sins of worldly transgressions, sexual impropriety, nepotism, [Pope Benedict IX (1032–1048) has 6 Popes on his family tree], simony, securing and maintaining secular power over land, wealth, and Bishoprics, while banning and burning books, initiating inquisitions, and . . . the list goes on. . . while shepherding the spiritual flock was often seen as inconvenient.
The College of 27 Cardinals who elevated Pope Alexander VI to Peter’s chair were composed of 10 Cardinal nephews, 8 Crown nominees and 4 Cardinals appointed from noble families. . .
Pope John XII (955–964) was elevated to the Papacy when his father, a great diplomat and statesman, ‘called due’ the oath he had previously administered, in St. Peter’s Basilica, to Roman nobles who swore the next pope should be his son.
History makes a case that Popes Leo X (Pope 1513–1521, who was elevated to Cardinal at age 13) and Clement VII (1523–1534) were too preoccupied with their secular interests to resolve the concerns in the Church that led to the Protestant Reformation (initially in Germany, soon followed by Denmark, Scandinavia, and . . .) including the schism which brought about the Church of England.
While today, discussions swirl and opinions are fervent when addressing the plight of remarried Catholics (and often the plight of their children affected) who have been abandoned, sexually and physically abused, etc. by their spouses as to why they should continue to be denied the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. I pray God, in all His Mercy, will be found in those discussions of family?
Speaking of family and the Eucharist, consideration and discussion need continue to offer all Christians who celebrate the Eucharist regularly at Mass, or during Sacred Liturgy or Eucharistic Celebration to be welcomed at all ‘Eucharistic Tables.’
Why does the Roman Church continue to hold so tightly to a belief in an ‘unbroken succession’ of ordinations conferred by the Holy Spirit from St. Peter to present (while history speaks of a ‘broken succession’) and asserting that the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic tradition is the only true Eucharistic Celebration?
Can a case not also be made that Christians (Catholics) in Germany, Scandinavia, and in England leading up to and bringing about the Reformation were also abandoned – abandoned by their ‘spouses’ – their ‘Spiritual Fathers’ who were too preoccupied with their own personal wealth, security, lavish and often immoral pursuits?
Are all not (our) brothers and sisters in Christ?
When Christ encountered the Samaritan woman at the well, knowingly at a time His apostles were not present, He declared the ‘Cup’ was not singular – that He was not ‘ceremoniously unclean under the Law’ by accepting a drink from ‘her’ cup. . .
As Jesus Himself is both victim and presider during the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Eucharist is much more a ‘present moment’ than a memorial – It is a re-creation of the moment, the evening, when He declared, – For this is My Body which ‘will be’ given up (broken) for you, and this is the chalice of My Blood . . . which ‘will be’ shed (poured out) for you . . . ‘Do this’ in remembrance of Me.
Are we not so called? As I your Lord willing ‘do this’ daily for you; each day, pour out completely your most sacred gifts given at birth by your Heavenly Father (Unconditional Love and the presence of the Holy Spirit).
The unbroken Covenant is the one God the Father has made with all His children – not the often ‘broken covenant’ of ordained succession many still cling to ‘as a useful tool to continually buttress spiritual authority.’
Pope Francis is correct in urging his shepherds to step outside of ‘the walls’ of contentment (the church) and encounter the Father’s sheep where they live – serving more than summoning to warn and admonish.
Until shutters to hearts are unlatched and pushed out, curtains drawn back, doors flung open and welcome mats set out – for hearts to be open to all – the Grace of His Light’s Blessings will never shine upon each of His children, upon each of our brothers and sisters. Walls (beliefs and doctrine) to protect, separate and divide, under the best of intentions, will continue to often create shadows – shadows the ‘Evil One’ requires to take root within.
Until stepping into the ‘Light’ and placing all trust in our Creator during the trials and tribulations called life, lives will encounter the darkness that snares and continues to separate one from the other
Jesus accepted a drink of water from the Samaritan woman and offered her ‘Living Water’ in return – As concerns the Eucharist, what compels another to not respond in kind to His request, “Do THIS in remembrance of Me.”