Tag Archives: opinion

Stoke the fire in your soul

WE are all creatures of habit. From the moment we get out of bed in the morning until we return there in the evening, our daily routines are much the same. We drive the same way to work, during which we listen to the same radio station; we stop at the same coffee shop where we buy the same coffee. At night, we make the same meals and mindlessly watch the same television shows. Then we pray the same prayers. And the cycle begins again the next morning.

We do this every day, all the while longing for more.

We crave the peace that we know will only come from knowing Christ better, understanding his Church more, learning about those who devoted their lives to doing his will. And yet we leave no time to tend that fire that is burning within us.

But in order to change our lives, we first must change our habits. St Paul of the Cross gives us a few suggestions: “Prayer, the frequentation of the sacraments, good reading … these are, believe me, the means of sanctifying yourself.”

While a stronger prayer life and more frequent reception of the sacraments are obvious ways to grow in faith, many ignore the third recommendation: good reading. Because in order to grow spiritually, we must grow in intellect and understanding – of God and of ourselves. More importantly, we must make time to sit in silence and be inspired.

St Jerome said, “When we pray, we speak to God; but when we read, God speaks to us.”

What God is offering us in that silence is an invitation to know him better. Are we too busy to accept?

Take the time this year to stir that fire within, because if you are tired of being stagnant in your faith, perhaps it is time to turn the page.

     Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) suggests a list of books: Fr Solanus Casey by Catherine Odell; A Mind at Peace: Reclaiming an Ordered Soul in the Age of Distraction by Christopher O. Blum and Joshua P. Hochschild; Adopted: the Sacrament of Belonging in a Fractured World by Kelley Nikondeha; From Atheism to Catholicism: Nine Converts Explain their Journey Home by Brandon McGinley; and others. – OSV

Ignoring reality of abuse, resisting responsibility must end

ANYONE who still believes the abuse crisis is an “American” or “Western” problem must become properly informed, face reality and realize problems may be hidden and explode in the future, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi.

And those who think too much talk and attention about abuse only blows the situation out of proportion or that it is time to change the topic are following “a mistaken path,” he said in the Jesuit journal, La Civilta Cattolica.

“If the issue is not fully confronted in all of its various dimensions, the church will continue to find itself facing one crisis after another, the credibility of (the church) and all of her priests will remain seriously wounded and, above all, the essence of her mission will suffer – that of proclaiming the Gospel and its educational work for children and young people, which for centuries has been one of the most beautiful and precious aspects of her service for humanity,” he wrote.

A major focus of the summit convoked by Pope Francis at the Vatican Feb 21-24 for the presidents of bishops’ conferences, representatives of religious orders and heads of Vatican dicasteries, he wrote, will be on helping participants understand they are being encouraged to join together – not as representatives of their own people – but as leaders of the people of God on a journey that requires the input and collaboration of lay experts so that there may be “a united response on the universal level.”

Pope Francis, he added, has also widened the scope of abuse to include not just sexual abuse but the abuse of power and of conscience and the corruption of authority, which is no longer lived as service but as the wielding of power.

The February summit will give people a chance to share experiences and best practices, he said, and to strongly encourage everyone to make “new urgent steps forward.”

While many lessons already have been learned, “there are also many open questions” left to address, he said.

One is recognizing that even though a number of countries have done much in the area of prevention and formation, “it must be recognized that in many other countries, little, if anything, has been done.”

People do not need a theoretical understanding, but actual concrete awareness of the damage caused, and that will push people to overcome “laziness, fears and very dangerous resistance” and to leap into action.

“Often one continues to delude oneself that it is mainly a ‘Western’ or else an ‘American’ or ‘Anglophone’ problem and with incredible naivete, thinks that (the problem) may be marginal in one’s own country,” he wrote. – CNS

Two signs of Christmas that never cease to appeal

THE tree and the nativity display are two signs that never cease to appeal to us; they tell us about Christmas and help us to contemplate the mystery of God made man to be close to each one of us.

The Christmas tree with its lights reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world, the light of the soul that drives away the darkness of enmities and makes room for forgiveness. The spruce coming from the Cansiglio forest, suggests further reflection. With its height of over twenty meters, it symbolizes God, who with the birth of His Son Jesus, lowered himself down to man, to raise man to himself and lift him from the fogs of selfishness and sin. The Son of God assumes the human condition to draw it to himself and to make it participate in his divine and incorruptible nature.

The nativity scene, located in the centre of the Square, is made with sand from Jesola, originally from the Dolomites. The sand, a poor material, recalls the simplicity, the smallness, and also the fragility with which God showed himself with the birth of Jesus in precariousness in Bethlehem.

It may seem that this smallness contradicts divinity, so much so that some, from the very beginning, considered it only as appearance, a façade. But no, because smallness is freedom. Those who are small – in the evangelical sense – are not only light, but also free from any desire to appear and from any claim to success; like children who express themselves and move spontaneously. We are all called to be free before God, to have the freedom of a child before his father. The Child Jesus, Son of God and our Saviour, whom we place in the manger, is Holy in poverty, smallness, simplicity and humility.

The Nativity and the tree, enchanting symbols of Christmas, can bring to families and meeting places a reflection of the light and tenderness of God, to help everyone to live the feast of the birth of Jesus. Contemplating the Child God who emanates light in the humility of the nativity scene, we can also become witnesses of humility, tenderness and goodness. – (Pope Francis’ address to the donors of Christmas tree and Sand Nativity Dec 7)

Listen for the poor

IT is noble to mark the World Day of the Poor with gifts of charity, but Pope Francis has challenged Catholics to go much further than that. He asks us to observe it by making a serious examination of conscience “to see if we are truly capable of hearing the cry of the poor.”

The first World Day was observed a year ago, and for the second one, just marked on Nov 18, the Pope has proposed that Catholics do more than reach for their wallets.

Cash gifts are “meritorious and necessary” and should be encouraged, he said, but alone they will not change the world. To achieve that outcome requires a global commitment to genuinely empathize with the suffering of the poor.

“We are so trapped in a culture that induces us to look in the mirror and pamper ourselves,” wrote Pope Francis. “We think that an altruistic gesture (towards the poor) is enough, without the need to get directly involved.”

He is right, of course. Too often our gifts are meant more to satisfy the giver than those who receive. All too frequently, individuals and governments make grand gestures to aid the poor but are unwilling to actually stand with them, to stop, listen and reach out to them, to genuinely try to feel their pain. The poor, the Pope says, need “the personal involvement of all who hear their cry.”

A generous person drops a dollar or a coin into the paper cup of a beggar they pass on the street, but the Pope challenges us to be something more – the type of person who readily drops a dollar but also extends a hand in an authentic manner that gives hope, purpose and dignity to a destitute person.

Pope Francis has no illusions. This is not easy. We live in a world that can momentarily rise in compassion but is generally indifferent to suffering it cannot see. Or refuses to look at.

He acknowledges that the World Day of the Poor “may well be like a drop of water in the desert of poverty.” But even the mightiest flood begins with a single drop.

“For the poor to overcome their oppressive situation, they need to sense the presence of brothers and sisters who are concerned for them and . . . make them feel like friends and family.”

Instead, he wrote, often the opposite is true. The poor are shunned, told to be quiet, left to accept their lot in life, rejected and kept afar.

How different the world might be if, instead of selfishly chasing wealth and possessions while occasionally helping needy causes, people the world over would commit to a sincere effort to draw so near to the poor that their cries for help might someday become mere whispers. – NCR Editorial

Music at liturgy: full expression of faith

Credit: Pexels

In a recent US Catholic survey, eighty percent of those questioned said that music at Mass was very important to them. However, only thirteen percent were totally satisfied with the music that they have and actually sing. The music at Mass is important, very important! It is not simply a performance by a soloist or choir, a background to accompany our prayer, a means to create a mood, or an incentive to shout and clap our hands. Music is integral to our liturgical worship.

Pope Francis has clearly defined the purpose of music at Mass. He said that it is “first of all a matter of participating intensely in the mystery of God, in the ‘theophany’ that takes place in every Eucharistic celebration, in which the Lord makes himself present among his people, who are called truly to participate in the salvation realized by the crucified and risen Christ” (Homily at Santa Marta, December 12, 2013). The Second Vatican Council called for full, active and conscious participation of the laity at Mass. Like the introduction of the vernacular in liturgy, music is meant to foster this participation.

However, Pope Francis has noted that the very “introduction of vernacular languages into the liturgy has raised many issues: of language, form and musical genre. At times, a certain mediocrity, superficiality and banality have prevailed to the detriment of the beauty and intensity of the liturgical celebrations” (Pope Francis, Address to Participants in the International Conference on Sacred Music, March 4, 2017). Good liturgical music should be both aesthetically pleasing and theologically correct. For example, any song that refers to the Eucharist as bread and wine has no place in Catholic worship. The Eucharist is the body and blood of Jesus and the songs we sing should express this reality.

Lifting our hearts to God in liturgy always goes beyond the boundaries of human speech. Thus, liturgy, by its very nature, calls upon the help of music and song to praise to God. Music varies from culture to culture. And so do the musical instruments. In liturgy, it is possible to enculturate the many types of songs and instruments in as much as they enhance the celebration and lead us to focus on God.

When it comes to the musical instruments that are played at liturgy, the pipe organ holds a primacy of place in the Latin Church among all other musical instruments. Like no other musical instrument, it can express the full range of human sentiments, from joy to sadness, from praise to sorrow. Invented in the 3rd century BC, by the Greek engineer Ctesibius of Alexandria, the pipe organ was introduced into our churches in the 10thcentury. It has become the desired instrument for sacred music. With its variety of sounds and tones, it reminds us of the immensity of God. The pipe organ has the ability to surround us with the beauty of music that leads us to experience the presence of God who holds us in the embrace of his love, bringing harmony and joy into our lives.

Music plays such an important role in our worship of God because we are both body and soul. Prayer rises from the depths of our heart. Words alone do not suffice to express all that we wish to say. But, music has the power to communicate the messages and emotions that words cannot capture. Music is a bridge between the world of matter and the realm of the spirit. It transforms our life path into a conscious spiritual path. Music takes us out of ourselves and opens us up to God. Sound liturgical music, therefore, never centers on the community. Liturgy is not about what we want. Liturgy is, first and foremost, praise and worship of God and our entering into what the Lord himself wants for us.

Many great composers, such as Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and Brahms recognized that their musical talent was not enough to produce good music. They needed divine inspiration. God himself loves music! After all, the Book of Psalms is a song book. Music comes from God, and when we participate in it – whether by writing, performing, or even just listening – we are receiving a gift from God.

At Mass, there are times when we may choose to simply listen to the music and let our hearts rise in praise of God. But, moments of silently listening to music and song at Mass should be rare. Not joining in the songs of the congregation limits and diminishes our participation in the liturgy. The walls of our churches should reverberate with the sound of our singing at liturgy. In the words of the Letter to the Ephesians, we should “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart…” (Ephesians 5:18-19). – Bishop Arthur Serratelli, CNA, 2 May 2018 

Not just Rohingya: Pope Francis’ message to Myanmar and Bangladesh

Pope Francis meets Rohingya refugees from Myanmar during an interreligious and ecumenical meeting for peace in the garden of the archbishop’s residence in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1 Dec 2017. (CNS/Paul Haring)

ROME  – At the end of his trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh [27 Nov – 2 Dec 2017], Pope Francis said the fateful word: Rohingya. In saying it, he did not “slam the door shut ” or tear his clothes, rather he asked forgiveness for the world’s indifference and caressed the faces of men, women and children whose family members were killed, or who had to flee from the military onslaught. The Pope met 16 in Dhaka, and all of them prayed and cried with him. “God,” said Francis, ” is also Rohingya.”

The global media were waiting for this word in order to condemn the violence of the Burmese army, denounce the inanity of the leader Aung San Suu Kyi, to plunge Myanmar under the weight of sanctions. In some respects, it gave the impression that this journey’s significance hinged on that one word. But in this way, the media failed to show all the richness of the pontiff’s message and the impulse that he has given to this region of the world which is both so rich and so poor.

It is true that in Myanmar Francis did not use the word “Rohingya,” rather he spoke of all minorities (Kachin, Chin, Karen, Naga, Kaya, …) who suffer the same things as Rohingya without ever making headlines. And the pope said that citizenship is necessary for all, the distribution of wealth, the collaboration to build peace in Burmese society. The decades of military dictatorship have created almost incurable wounds, violence and wars, but the pope has asked everyone, especially the Christians, to forgive and work for reconciliation to ward off the spectre of a war in which everyone loses.

This is why Pope Francis did not court media praise or condemnation. Instead, he outlined constructive paths of hope. This is why in both countries, in Myanmar and Bangladesh, he spoke to young people to support their enthusiasm and propose a path of hope for the future. Young people who emigrate, who accept slave-like working conditions, or who take up arms, who risk living like the desperate. Francis asked young Christians to be catalysts of hope.

This means not burying oneself within the folds of one’s own ethnic or religious group, nurturing suspicion towards others, remaining inert and sceptical, but opening oneself to encounter, sustained by the common dignity of every person.

The collaboration between religions is the other pillar of this journey: with the Islamic majority in Bangladesh and with the Buddhist one in Myanmar it is important to work so that the economic development underway in these two countries is founded on the mystery of human dignity, and not only on profit, the exploitation of labour and child slaves. Francis has shown that by valuing the religious dimension, one can have the common good more easily at heart.

He wanted to meet with the leaders of the religions both in Myanmar and in Bangladesh and with them he condemned the violence and terrorism that manipulate the name of God, but above all he pushed them to work together for a society of which man is at the centre, whatever his ethnicity, because he is made in the image of God.

A final word on the Churches of these two countries, small minorities often in the cyclone of persecution. The pope praised the Christians who, despite being a “mustard seed,”  give sustenance to the population and the poor in Bangladesh and Myanmar. The esteem that Christians enjoy is primarily due to their service: schools, hospitals, agricultural and labour cooperatives. But in this service, people discover with wonder the reasons for the love of Christ. It is not by chance that in both Bangladesh and in Myanmar the Church grows every year, there are abundant vocations and these small communities already send missionaries to other lands.

It was perhaps one of the first times that all the Christian ethnic groups of Myanmar and the dozens of Bangladeshi ethnic groups gathered together, arousing the admiration of Buddhists and Muslims. A good promise for the future. – Bernardo Cervellera, asianews.it

The media navigate between lies and truth

Stephane Madaule, a writer in the La Croix International, gives his take on the media navigating between lies and truth in an article posted on 23 Nov 2017.

What do the media and social networks prefer: lies or the truth?

This is a question that can certainly be asked with regard to many media spaces. Indeed, sensationalist news is often more eye-catching than the truth. And it only serves to increase our appetites as consumers of information.

This stuff fills up blank spaces in the media agenda. At times, it obscures news that media outlets want to conceal. Fake news takes the place of real news.

According to news networks, information that is broadcast is more or less well controlled. Editorial teams are useful in separating the wheat from the chaff, even though it’s not always easy to come to unanimous decisions about the broadcasting of doubtful or erroneous news items.

The ethics of journalism and the credibility of news agencies are often effective in stopping the broadcasting of fake news. Nonetheless, the positions taken by news agencies in all media (written, televised or on the internet) do not necessarily prevent lapses from occurring.

On social networks, there is no control. All opinions, advice and certainties on any topic are available to anyone. It’s a source of information that has no rules or principles.

Only an adequate amount of awareness and education, and the application of a critical mindset, can help us to avoid being taken in by fake news that has no supporting evidence or that is deliberately misleading.

On social media, everyone is a broadcaster and his or her own editor. When these people are celebrities or represent a respectable institution or possess a certain credibility thanks to their position or status, things become all the more cloudy and complicated when they post fake news or misleading information – for example, on media such as Twitter.

In this kind of scenario, traditional media unfortunately have a propensity to pass on whatever happens to be all over social media that everyone is talking about. So the information or opinion becomes a given that is very difficult to refute. In fact, it immediately gains legitimacy – merely because so many people are reading it and relating to it.

To counter this, certain serious media outlets have devoted space and time to the decoding and critical analysis of fake news in order to refute it more effectively.

However, in economic terms, sensationalist, misleading and fallacious news often makes the front page – grabbing attention and the income that comes with it. Then, this fake news leads to the publication of a follow-up of analysis and debunking, which is, again, attention-grabbing and profitable.

What we can hope for is a media space free of scurrilous rubbish, a space where fake news doesn’t obscure the real news resulting in a cycle of endless publishing and debunking.

Clearly, lies are attention-grabbing. However, the truth must win in the long term, especially when it aims to disseminate real information to people – even if they are often gullible to conspiracy theories or lies intended to capture media space.

The most effective barrier against fake news and lies is made up of education, morality, ethics and editorial committees: credibility in the long term.

The rosary is a weapon – but maybe not the way Rupa Huq thinks

‘St Dominic Receives the Rosary,’  by Plautilla Nelli

Father Matthew Pittam is a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and currently serves as Parish Priest in a rural parish in the English Midlands. He is also a school chaplain and is passionate about ministry with young people. Fr Matthew is the author of Building the Kingdom in the Classroom, which details his experiences of ministry in schools. 

The rosary is immensely powerful, but it is God’s strength at work, not ours

Two weeks before Ealing Council voted to ban pro-life vigils, the local MP Rupa Huq accused the Good Counsel Network of “weaponising the rosary” as they prayed silently outside the local abortion clinic. It is interesting that this non-Catholic MP should have perceived that the rosary was being used in this way. For Catholics the rosary has indeed always been a spiritual weapon – and we should not be afraid to say so.

Many religious orders wear the rosary as part of their religious habit. For a number, such as the Dominicans since around 1475, the rosary is worn on the left hip because that was traditionally where soldiers wore their swords. The rosary is, for those religious who wear it, a protection and weapon against evil. As well as an aid to devotion, wearing a rosary in place of a sword is a powerful witness to the need for an awareness of spiritual warfare.

On October 3 the Church remembered Blessed Bartolo Longo, known as “the apostle of the rosary.”  He was born in Italy in 1841 but when he went to college he drifted away from the Catholicism of his childhood and came under the influence of the occult, later being “ordained” as a Satanist priest. He also developed a deep hatred of Catholicism and sought to draw Catholics into the life of the occult. Eventually he reached a point of despair and complete mental anguish, which led him to seek the help of a Catholic priest. The priest advised him to “promulgate the rosary” in order to seek salvation.

From being suicidal, Blessed Bartolo was transformed and became a great advocate of the holy rosary as a weapon in the fight against spiritual darkness. He would have commended actions like those taken by the Good Counsel Network.

When we pray the rosary we join a great spiritual chain with Our Lady and all those millions of others who pray each day. At the Annunciation Mary joined her will perfectly to the will of God. So when we say the rosary we join our will to hers, which is to seek the will of God in all things. It is in this very submission, in our weakness, where we find the strength of the weapon of the rosary.

It is in this personal vulnerability that the rosary differs so greatly from the weapons that we are so used to in our damaged world. Using a gun or swords (or even methods of abortion) means wielding our power over those who are more vulnerable than us. In wielding the rosary we make ourselves vulnerable, for the benefit of others, by submitting to the will of God through the Blessed Virgin Mary. Obviously, we do not consider it a weapon to do harm or to hurt another but by using the rosary in protest, we do as Jesus tells his disciples, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

My favourite idea about the rosary is that it is ‘Scripture on a string’. It is here that the weapon finds its power. When Jesus was tempted by the Devil in Matthew’s Gospel, it was his use of Scripture which allowed him to fight and win the spiritual battle. St Paul goes on to instruct the Church in Ephesus to put on “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”  The rosary provides a good introduction to many of the events of the Gospels and is a good starting place to load our spiritual arsenal. For me,  it was certainly a springboard into greater immersion in the Word of God.

So in accusing the Good Counsel Network of weaponising the rosary, Rupa Huq unwittingly revealed its true purpose. If only more Catholics would return to this devotion and take up arms with Our Lady. – catholic herald, 20 Oct 2017

Francis’ decentralisation of authority: a realignment with the council’s intent

THE most recent papal pronouncement giving more control to national bishops’ conferences over the translation of liturgical texts had the quality of another of the jolts we’ve become accustomed to during the Francis papacy.

As his tenure advances, however, those moments increasingly feel less like jolts and more like a series of coherent adjustments, long overdue, for a community that had become top-heavy and overly dependent on rigid legalism in an attempt to maintain order.Correcting that imbalance won’t occur without

Correcting that imbalance won’t occur without struggle. The varied interests in the church who have already spent inordinate time and influence debating everything from the manner of translation to the material composition of eucharistic vessels are no doubt gearing up once again to join the fight. That may seem like a most malignant way to refer to liturgy, but the reality is that discussion of our public worship and changes to it can evoke deep emotions and the zero-sum passions of a political contest.

It is perhaps not persuasive to those who deeply oppose the direction of the Francis papacy, but intended or not, the sermon the pope gave in Medellín, Colombia, was a fitting companion piece to the liturgy announcement. Christianity, said Pope Francis, is not an exercise in how perfectly one follows laws and dogma. More important is the life of faith.

“Jesus teaches that being in relationship with God cannot be a cold attachment to norms and laws nor the observance of some outward actions that do not lead to a real change of life,” he said.

The tensions, of course, are as old as the community. They are as evident today as they were when the original community’s leaders argued over who could join and what they could eat. And aren’t we fortunate that the visions they saw and the hearts they were developing answered: everyone and everything. All are blessed and good in God’s sight.

Francis seems to be conveying two basic ideas in the document issued on his own initiative (motu proprio). Titled Magnum Principium, it diminishes the authority of the Vatican from “authorising” all translations to a simple “review” of such documents. First, that mature leadership of national bishops’ conferences can be trusted to maintain fidelity to the essence of liturgical worship while tailoring language to particular circumstances, and, second, that universality and unity are not synonymous with sameness.By extension, one might add that it also acknowledges that a rigid adherence to some narrow conception of translation from Latin is not a measure of fidelity.

By extension, one might add that it also acknowledges that a rigid adherence to some narrow conception of translation from Latin is not a measure of fidelity.

It is a Pauline gesture of sorts that acknowledges that not all cultures are the same, that not all believers need to take on the effects of an ancient, mostly European, expression of the faith. The Latin Mass, still a glorious and inspiring liturgy for some, need not be the norm for everyone, nor the benchmark against which all other worship forms are measured.

So Francis’ rollback of that authority is actually a realignment with the council’s intent. It is, in political terms, a return to centre, to moderation and to a trust of the community’s local leaders. Francis has restored their adulthood and given them again a latitude to discern, which mature spiritual leaders should possess.

As was the case for Jesus and “for the first community,” Francis said in Medellín, “it is of greatest importance that we who call ourselves disciples not cling to a certain style or to particular practices that cause us to be more like some Pharisees than like Jesus,” whose “freedom contrasts with the lack of freedom seen in the doctors of the law of that time, who were paralysed by a rigorous interpretation and practice of that law.”

On several fronts, then, Francis has asked us to walk away from that paralysis and to take new steps in freedom. – Full text @ ncronline

How the Liturgy is healing medicine for strident times

One of the most concise and cogent descriptions of these often strident times came from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in 1986. It is contained in, of all places, his treatise on the theology of sacred music in a book called The Feast of Faith (Ignatius Press, 1986). His comments have been republished in a larger compendium of his works, Collected Works: Theology of the Liturgy (Ignatius Press, 2014, Vol 11).

It is hard to describe our times as anything but contentious. Loud, strident protests often predominate over reasoned discourse and thoughtful argumentation.

To be sure, every era has had, and has needed, protest and public opposition to injustice. There is a time and a place for loud protest and the use of memorable sound bites.

However, it is the predominance of loud protest and civil disobedience that stands out today. Sound bites, slogans, and simplistic “war cries” have to a large extent replaced thoughtful, reasoned discourse. Volume, power, and visually flashy techniques are prized; they are being used more and more. Such approaches too frequently produce more heat than light.

Consider, then, this remarkable analysis by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, written back before the Internet and social media had turned up the volume even more. Ratzinger paraphrased an insight of Gandhi’s, applied it to his analysis of our current times, and then proposed a healing remedy to restore balance:

Gandhi refers to the three habitats of the cosmos and how each of these provides its own mode of being. The fish live in the sea, and they are silent. The animals of the earth scream and shout; but the birds, whose habitat is the heavens, sing. Silence is proper to the sea, shouting to the earth and singing to the heavens. Man has a share in all three of them. He carries the depths of the sea, the burden of the earth, and the heights of the heavens in himself. And for this reason, all three properties also belong to him: silence, shouting, and singing.

Today – I would like to add – we see only the shouting is left for the man without transcendence, since he only wants to be of the earth.…

The right liturgy, the liturgy of the Communion of the Saints, restores totality to him. It teaches him silence and singing again by opening him to the depths of the sea and teaching him to fly, the angels’ mode of being. It brings the song buried in him to sound once more by lifting up his heart. . ..

Right liturgy … liberates us from ordinary, everyday activity and returns to us once more the depths and the heights, silence and song … Right liturgy … sings with the angels … is silent with the expectant depths of the universe, and that is how it redeems the earth (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Collected Works, Vol 11, Theology of the Liturgy, Ignatius Press, p 460).

For indeed, only in the worship of God do we find our true selves. Only in the liturgy is our true personality formed. The human person in his glory unites the material and spiritual orders. We are capable of pregnant, expectant silence; of the joyful shout of praise and the Gospel going forth; and of the song of Heaven.

As Ratzinger pointed out, though, we too often are preoccupied with and value only one aspect: the shouting of the earthbound creatures of this world. But the liturgy – good and proper liturgy – trains us in all three and accomplishes the balance that is so often lost today. The liturgy is a training ground, not only for our heavenly destination, but also in what it means to be truly human. Msgr Charles Pope

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