Monthly Archives: December 2008
This is Pastor Weedon’s church – looking like a cross between the parish church of my youth and that big house down the street with all the Christmas lights.
But wouldn’t it be nice to have Christmas in winter darkness for once and to be able to do up our Australian churches like this? (For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, it might interest you to know that at Christmas it is still daylight outside at 9pm here in Melbourne…)
Well, ever since his first Christmas address to the Curia in 2005 when he floated his “hermeneutic of continuity” idea in relation to Vatican II (a phrase now “up there” with “dictatorship of relativism” as an iconic phrase of this pontificate), Vatican watchers have eagerly awaited the Holy Father’s annual address to his henchmen (and one or two women).
Nothing controversial this year, it appears (unless you think that the linking of the Church’s doctrine of Creation to the Church’s doctrine of marriage is controversial – see here).
However, there was this rather droll quip (quoting “the only philosopher worth reading” as is his want) in response to the World Youth Day “nay-sayers”:
Friedrich Nietzsche ha detto una volta: “L’abilità non sta nell’organizzare una festa, ma nel trovare le persone capaci di trarne gioia”.
Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “The difficulty is not in organizing a party, but in finding people able to take joy in it.”
Good one, Your Holiness!
Who said "distinction between state and Church…is a great progress…"…and a fundamental condition for [the Church's] very liberty…"
“…and the fulfillment of her universal mission of salvation among all peoples”?
Yes, you guessed it, none other than our own Papa Benny while visiting the Italian Embassy a week ago. The Vatican website has the full speech in Italian only, but Zenit has a report, and here is the “google translator” version of the relevant passage (I really must learn Italian some day…):
This brief visit is propitious for me reiterate how the Church is well aware that “the fundamental structure of Christianity is the distinction between what is Caesar and what belongs to God (cf. Mt 22.21), namely the distinction between state and Church “(Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, 28). This distinction and this autonomy is not only the Church acknowledges and respects, but they welcomed as a great progress and a fundamental condition for his own freedom el’adempimento of its universal mission of salvation among all peoples.
At the same time, however, the Church feels like his job, following the dictates of its social doctrine, argued “from what is consistent with the nature of every human being” (ibid.), to awaken society and moral forces spiritual, helping to open the will to the genuine needs of the property. Therefore, invoking the value they have for life not only private but also and above all public some fundamental ethical principles, in fact, the Church helps to ensure and promote the dignity of the person and the common good of society, and in this sense is realized l ‘Desired real cooperation between church and state.
That appears to be more or less where we wound up our discussion on the pros and cons of the “Catholic Confessional State”.
Well, the line was huge in the Cathedral today. One line started a hour before mass and was still going half an hour afterwards.
I must say I have something of a difficulty with the “examination of conscience” thingy. It is very easy to get stuck in a rut – to always be quick to recognise those familiar sins in one’s life, but to allow others to go straight through to the keeper without noticing them.
While teaching Galatians this past year, I found Chapters 5 and 6 especially useful in guaging where I was at spiritually. So, how would it be if, rather than just use the 10 Commandments, one were to make a practice of reading those passages in the bible which clearly spell out what, in God’s eyes, are sins and what are virtues? Would that help?
I have found that it does – and here is a neat little page to get you started. Print it off and park it in your prayer book or missal.
And now get thee off to the box (time is running out!).
Here is something I haven’t done before on this blog: a recipe!
I actually enjoy cooking a lot, and the girls are starting to join in. I was delighted to find this recipe for Speculaas on the Insight Scoop blog, and they really are yummy. I would make one modification – forget about slicing them after they have been in the fridge. In fact, probably only a few hours for the dough in the fridge would suffice, and then roll the dough out real thin and use little biscuit cutters. Don’t over cook them either. If anyone knows where I can buy some proper speculaas biscuit moulds, please let me know.
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup shortening (I used copha – which worked okay)
1/2 cup butter [that's 113g - much easier]
1/2 cup condensed milk
4 tbsp cinnamon
1 pinch each nutmeg, cloves, salt
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup slivered almonds, crushed
Mix together the sugars, the shortening and the butter. Add the condensed milk and spices and gradually blend in the flour and baking soda. Crush the almonds with a rolling pin and mix in. The dough will be somewhat stiff. Roll into logs covered with plastic or waxed paper.
Leave in refrigerator overnight. [Or just a couple of hours]
Cut into slices [or roll out thin and use biscuit cutters] and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees F [180 degrees C] for around 10 minutes. Traditionally Speculaas are imprinted with some pattern created by a wooden mold (before baking). If you imprint the cookies with a mold, they will look better.
Makes about 80 cookies [or lots of little ones].
Okay, here are the girls singing “Jingle Bells”. Mia does the Aussie version and Maddy does her impression of Elvis…
HOWEVER, on May 30 2008 the Pope released a special declaration through the Congregation for Divine Worship to the effect that since this is the Jubilee Year of St Paul, for 2009 only the readings and propers for the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul may be used on the Sunday. There are special considerations (see below), but I just thought I would point this out now, since most Australian parishes will be in “holiday mode” still on the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary time. Now is the time to contact whoever is in charge of liturgy in your parish (your parish priest maybe???) and urge them to make Sunday 25 January a little less ordinary and more special by marking it as a Pauline Sunday.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As part of the 2008-2009 celebration of the special year devoted to St. Paul, Catholic parishes may mark the traditional Jan. 25 feast of the Conversion of St. Paul even though it falls on a Sunday in 2009.
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments issued a decree saying Pope Benedict XVI, “in an extraordinary manner,” has given permission for parishes and churches to use the prayers and readings for the feast day instead of those for the third Sunday of ordinary time.
The decree was released May 30 at the Vatican.
Generally, the Mass texts for feasts such as the Conversion of St. Paul are not used when the feast day falls on a Sunday.
“The apostle St. Paul, who proclaimed the truth of Christ to the whole world,” and who converted after having persecuted followers of Christ, “always was and still is venerated by the faithful, especially in this particular year,” which marks the 2,000th anniversary of his birth, the decree said.
For that reason, “only for the year 2009,” Pope Benedict has decided that parishes may use the prayers and readings for the feast day Jan. 25.
Because the feast day Mass does not include a second reading, the second reading from the third Sunday of ordinary time should be used and the Creed, often not recited at Mass during the week, should be recited, the decree said.
The decree was signed by Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the congregation, and by Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, congregation secretary.
So, while you don’t get Pontifical Vespers, you do get Pontifical Carols and Lessons AND Pontifical (indeed, PAPAL) Mass – which I think is a good deal. So here are the details, and don’t forget to set your video recorders!
ABC TV1 will broadcast the annual Festival of Readings and Carols (Pre-Recorded) from St Patrick’s Cathedral at 7.30pm Christmas Eve.
Archbishop Denis Hart will ["has" - past tense - would be more accurate - this is a recording after all!] preside, accompanied by the Cathedral clergy and complemented by both highly acclaimed choirs of St Patrick’s Cathedral.
On Christmas Day, with the memory of Pope Benedict’s WYD visit to Sydney still fresh in our minds, Australians will be able to join with the Pope when the ABC telecasts Midnight Mass into homes, hospitals and nursing homes across the country.
The Mass, direct from St Peter’s Basilica, will air at 11am on ABC Television 1.
The Holy Father will preside at the Mass which will, as usual, feature the participation of children from around the world.
The ABC’s telecast will feature English-language commentary.
Cheryl Lawrie is a bright young thinker in the Uniting Church. The kind of gal of which the UCA could probably do with more. Despite this, although she appears to aim at being “alternative”, she is so very…well…Uniting Church.
She has an opinion piece in today’s Sunday Age which caught my eye because it was illustrated with this picture:
We have written here before on the tendancy of some to bestow Messiah status upon Mr Obama (somewhat akin to the crowds in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”). I was highly amused by Ms Lawrie’s report on a social networking site which
collated its users’ predictions about Obama’s presidency, inviting them to finish the sentence, “When Obama wins … .” The responses flooded in: “the permanent war will end and there’ll be liberty and justice for all”, said one. My favourite was “Charlie Brown will finally kick that football”.
Ms Lawrie goes on to reflect on what it is to have hope and what it means to have a Messiah – a real one. There is something very true about her very “un-Dresser-like” (see the latest report in Cooees) description of the real Messiah:
When we look at Jesus — God with flesh and bones — our understanding of a Messiah is redefined. It’s based only and always in love and justice; a power that’s collaborative, not coercive; one that doesn’t demand authority but instead speaks truth to it. The story of Jesus’ birth is not about being rescued from the world, but being taken right into its most fragile and godforsaken places.
Fr Dresser too wants to emphasis the point that Jesus is a Messiah of this world, but he, in contrast to Ms Lawrie, thinks that this can be done by de-emphasing the radicalness of the Incarnation.
Ms Lawrie appears to be right on the money when she says:
At the heart of the story lies this truth: the birth of divine hope happens in the darkest parts of our world, and it needs humans as its midwives simply to keep it alive.
I found myself thinking how she might enjoy reading the Holy Father’s second encyclical “Spe Salvi”.
But then–having demonstrated so beautifully how necessary God’s “inbreaking” into our world is if we are to have REAL hope, she then goes and ruins it all with this closing paragraph:
We like to think of God as being able to fix the world, like magic. But perhaps the greatest faith isn’t always to believe that God can do anything; it may take just as much faith to believe that God might rely on humankind to do that work; to bring love and peace, to work to restore justice. It’s no wonder that people look to political leaders in the hope they will be Messiahs, but it’s also a cop-out for us to wait for our leaders to fail, unsurprised at the inevitable disillusionment. If we don’t believe in Messiahs, or if we know that no Messiah will rescue us from the world in which we live, then the responsibility falls back on to us: we are the ones who must be midwives to the birth of hope in a broken world.
In the end, the alternative she poses to placing our hope of salvation in human political leaders is to place the hope of salvation in the whole mass of humanity. This then makes sense of her earlier, somewhat disdainful, note that
many Christians base their faith on a belief that Jesus will come again, in power and glory next time, taking all before him.
Perhaps she could actually benefit from reading Papa Benny’s own words in his encyclical:
Yet our daily efforts in pursuing our own lives and in working for the world’s future either tire us or turn into fanaticism, unless we are enlightened by the radiance of the great hope that cannot be destroyed even by small-scale failures or by a breakdown in matters of historic importance. If we cannot hope for more than is effectively attainable at any given time, or more than is promised by political or economic authorities, our lives will soon be without hope. It is important to know that I can always continue to hope, even if in my own life, or the historical period in which I am living, there seems to be nothing left to hope for. Only the great certitude of hope that my own life and history in general, despite all failures, are held firm by the indestructible power of Love, and that this gives them their meaning and importance, only this kind of hope can then give the courage to act and to persevere. Certainly we cannot “build” the Kingdom of God by our own efforts—what we build will always be the kingdom of man with all the limitations proper to our human nature. The Kingdom of God is a gift, and precisely because of this, it is great and beautiful, and constitutes the response to our hope.
While it might sound trite to say simply that our hope is based on “a belief that Jesus will come again” and bring with him true justice and true mercy, yet that, and in the end only that, can give true hope to our lives.
If the hope we celebrate this Christmas was, in the first place, an act of God’s profound giving of himself to the point of being counted as one of us, then we cannot simply turn around and say that our future hope is only to be found in the hearts of men. Today, as much as two thousand years ago, we look for the coming of the Lord and the gift of his kingdom – which we “cannot build…by our own efforts.”