Enter into the 'We' of the church

The first dimension is that the celebratio is prayer and a conversation with God: God with us and us with God. Thus, the first requirement for a good celebration is that the priest truly enter this conversation. In proclaiming the Word, he feels himself in conversation with God. He is a listener to the Word and a preacher of the Word, in the sense that he makes himself an instrument of the Lord and seeks to understand this Word of God which he must then transmit to the people. He is in a conversation with God because the texts of Holy Mass are not theatrical scripts or anything like them, but prayers, thanks to which, together with the assembly, I speak to God.

It is important, therefore, to enter into this conversation. St Benedict in his “Rule” tells the monks, speaking of the recitation of the Psalms, “Mens concordet voci”. The vox, words, precede our mind. This is not usually the case: one has to think first, then one’s thought becomes words. But here, the words come first. The sacred Liturgy gives us the words; we must enter into these words, find a harmony with this reality that precedes us.

In addition, we must also learn to understand the structure of the Liturgy and why it is laid out as it is. The Liturgy developed in the course of two millenniums and even after the Reformation was not something worked out by simply a few liturgists. It has always remained a continuation of this on-going growth of worship and proclamation.

Thus, to be well in tune, it is very important to understand this structure that developed over time and to enter with our minds into the vox of the Church. To the extent that we have interiorized this structure, comprehended this structure, assimilated the words of the Liturgy, we can enter into this inner consonance and thus not only speak to God as individuals, but enter into the “we” of the Church, which is praying. And we thus transform our “I” in this way, by entering into the “we” of the Church, enriching and enlarging this “I”, praying with the Church, with the words of the Church, truly being in conversation with God.

This is the first condition: we ourselves must interiorize the structure, the words of the Liturgy, the Word of God. Thus, our celebration truly becomes a celebration “with” the Church: our hearts are enlarged and we are not doing just anything but are “with” the Church, in conversation with God. It seems to me that people truly feel that we converse with God, with them, and that in this common prayer we attract others, in communion with the children of God we attract others…

Benedict XVI To the priests of Albano diocese

Immersing ourselves in the prayer of all times

This is proper to the Pastor, that he should be a man of prayer, that he should come before the Lord praying for others, even replacing others who perhaps do not know how to pray, do not want to pray or do not make the time to pray. Thus, it is obvious that this dialogue with God is pastoral work!

I would say further that the Church gives us, imposes upon us – but always like a good Mother – the obligation to make free time for God with the two practices that constitute a part of our duties: the celebration of Holy Mass and the recitation of the Breviary. However, rather than reciting it, this means putting it into practice by listening to the word which the Lord offers us in the Liturgy of the Hours.

It is essential to interiorize this word, to be attentive to what the Lord is saying to me with this word, to listen, then, to the comments of the Fathers of the Church or also of the Council in the Second Reading of the Office of Readings, and to pray with this great invocation, the Psalms, by which we are inserted into the prayer of all the ages. The people of the Old Covenant pray with us, and we pray with them. We pray with the Lord, who is the true subject of the Psalms. We pray with the Church of all times. I would say that this time dedicated to the Liturgy of the Hours is precious time. The Church offers to us this freedom, this free space of life with God, which is also life for others.

Thus, it seems important to me to see that these two realities – Holy Mass truly celebrated in conversation with God and the Liturgy of the Hours – are areas of freedom, of inner life, an enrichment which the Church bestows upon us. In them, as I said, we do not only find the Church of all the ages but also the Lord himself, who speaks to us and awaits our answer. We thus learn to pray by immersing ourselves in the prayer of all times, and we also encounter the people. Let us think of the Psalms, of the words of the Prophets, of the words of the Lord and of the Apostles, and of the teaching of the Fathers.

Benedict XVI To the priests of Albano diocese

The enlightenment lives from its Christian roots 2

We asked ourselves two questions: if rationalist (positivist) philosophy is strictly rational and, consequently, if it is universally valid, and if it is complete. Is it self-sufficient? Can it, or more directly must it, relegate its historical roots to the realm of the pure past and, therefore, to the realm of what can only be valid subjectively?

We must respond to both questions with a definitive “no.” This philosophy does not express man’s complete reason, but only a part of it, and because of this mutilation of reason it cannot be considered entirely rational. For this reason it is incomplete, and can only be fulfilled by re-establishing contact with its roots. A tree without roots dries up.
In this connection, the Enlightenment is of Christian origin and it is no accident that it was born precisely and exclusively in the realm of the Christian faith…..

Christianity must always remember that it is the religion of the “Logos.” It is faith in the “Creator Spiritus,” in the Creator Spirit, from which proceeds everything that exists. Today, this should be precisely its philosophical strength, in so far as the problem is whether the world comes from the irrational, and reason is not, therefore, other than a “sub-product,” on occasion even harmful of its development or whether the world comes from reason, and is, as a consequence, its criterion and goal.

The Christian faith inclines toward this second thesis, thus having, from the purely philosophical point of view, really good cards to play, despite the fact that many today consider only the first thesis as the only modern and rational one par excellence. However, a reason that springs from the irrational, and that is, in the final analysis, itself irrational, does not constitute a solution for our problems. Only creative reason, which in the crucified God is manifested as love, can really show us the way.

In the so necessary dialogue between secularists and Catholics, we Christians must be very careful to remain faithful to this fundamental line: to live a faith that comes from the “Logos,” from creative reason, and that, because of this, is also open to all that is truly rational.

Cardinal Josef Ratzinger Europe’s crisis of culture

The enlightenment lives from its Christian roots 1

The Muslims, who in this respect are often and willingly brought in, do not feel threatened by our Christian moral foundations, but by the cynicism of a secularized culture that denies its own foundations. … The same is true for the reference to God: It is not the mention of God that offends those who belong to other religions, but rather the attempt to build the human community absolutely without God.

The banishment of Christian roots does not reveal itself as the expression of a higher tolerance, which respects all cultures in the same way, not wishing to privilege any, but rather as the absolutizing of a pattern of thought and of life that are radically opposed, among other things, to the other historical cultures of humanity.

The radical detachment of the Enlightenment philosophy from its roots becomes, in the last analysis, contempt for man. Man, deep down, has no freedom, we are told by the spokesmen of the natural sciences, in total contradiction with the starting point of the whole question. Man must not think that he is something more than all other living beings and, therefore, should also be treated like them, we are told by even the most advanced spokesmen of a philosophy clearly separated from the roots of humanity’s historical memory.

Cardinal Josef Ratzinger Europe’s crisis of culture

Benedict – talking to Muslims

Richard Neuhaus at First Things (On the Square 18th September) offers a variety of views on what Pope Benedict said last week at Regensburg. Neuhaus himself says this:

â??Pope Benedict â?¦ is a man of great gentleness and deliberation and extremely careful to say what he means. What he said at Regensburg he has said many times before. Contrary to many reports, he has not apologized or retracted his argument. He has indicated sincere regret that many Muslims have reacted to his statement as they have. The response of those who are properly called jihadists is, â??If you donâ??t stop saying weâ??re violent, weâ??re going to bomb more churches, kill more nuns and priests, and get the pope too.â?? In short, the reaction has powerfully confirmed the problem to which Benedict called our attention.â??

The very reverse of inflammatory or careless, Benedict appeals with very great courtesy and encouragement to beleaguered moderate Muslim, anxious to help them win the argument against extremists. There is no great difference between Benedict and John Paul II here.

And here is part of a longer excerpt from Benedict himself speaking to Muslims:

It is in this spirit that I turn to you, dear and esteemed Muslim friends, to share my hopes with you and to let you know of my concerns at these particularly difficult times in our history.
I know that many of you have firmly rejected, also publicly, in particular any connection between your faith and terrorism and have condemned it. I am grateful to you for this, for it contributes to the climate of trust that we need.
Terrorist activity is continually recurring in various parts of the world, plunging people into grief and despair. Those who instigate and plan these attacks evidently wish to poison our relations and destroy trust, making use of all means, including religion, to oppose every attempt to build a peaceful and serene life together.

Dear friends, I am profoundly convinced that we must not yield to the negative pressures in our midst, but must affirm the values of mutual respect, solidarity and peace. The life of every human being is sacred, both for Christians and for Muslims.
There is plenty of scope for us to act together in the service of fundamental moral values.

You, my esteemed friends, represent some Muslim communities from this Country where I was born, where I studied and where I lived for a good part of my life. That is why I wanted to meet you. You guide Muslim believers and train them in the Islamic faith.

Teaching is the vehicle through which ideas and convictions are transmitted. Words are highly influential in the education of the mind. You, therefore, have a great responsibility for the formation of the younger generation. I learn with gratitude of the spirit in which you assume responsibility.

Christians and Muslims, we must face together the many challenges of our time. There is no room for apathy and disengagement, and even less for partiality and sectarianism. We must not yield to fear or pessimism. Rather, we must cultivate optimism and hope.

I donâ??t see how you can get more gracious or encouraging than that. “I learn with gratitude of the spirit in which you assume responsibility.” That is certainly how I feel about Benedict, and only wish he could say it to me and my lot.

For more good sense on this issue, see Amy Welborn and Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post.