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Posts Tagged ‘Pope Emeritus’

My older brother caused quite a stir on Facebook this week when he posted a meme of Pope Benedict with the quote: Dancing is not a form of expression for Christian liturgy … None of the Christian rites includes dancing – Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (future [Pope] Benedict XVI.

Immediately, the non-Catholic Christian Facebook community took my brother to task and began quoting 2 Samuel 6:14-22 and Psalm 150 from the Old Testament.

First, let me just say that this blog and my books always try to focus on the positive.

However, when people attack my Faith, I get a bit defensive and sadly may appear to sound negative when countering false statements. That is not my intent. My intention is always to try to shed light on the subject in the hopes that this correction will lead to Christian Unity if not in the form of praise and worship, at least in love and respect.

Here’s a short list of my past works in apologetics, for lack of a better word:

Let me begin by saying that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI was one of God’s most humble creations. Based on his works, I believe that he also stands with Aquinus and Augustine as one of the Creator’s most significant Christian minds.

To think that he was unaware of 2 Samuel or any of the Psalms reminds me of two of the most telling words in scripture, Ecce Homo; the words Pontius Pilate ignorantly used, according to the Gospel of John, to present the King of Kings to an unenlightened crowd.

Second, it literally perplexes me how uneducated Christians are when it comes to the rituals and practices of fellow Christians. Aren’t we brothers and sisters? Shouldn’t we be interested in how each other loves and praises our Father? Matt Pratt and Matt Whitman offer the best example of this curiosity for mutual understanding that I’ve seen. (Watch: A Catholic and a Protestant Walk Into a Bar.)

Instead, we bicker and feud like the sons of Jacob and the latter Tribes of Israel and have become more like the Judahs and Samaritinas than members of the body of Christ.

In 2 Samuel, David’s dancing was a spontaneous, expression of joy — much different than the kind of choreographed dancing for which Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was expressing his disdain. Second, when it came to how David worshipped God, let me draw your attention to 2 Samuel 6:17.

And they brought the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place in the midst of the tabernacle, which David had pitched for it: and David offered holocausts, and peace offerings before the Lord.

Notice, in 2 Samuel 6:17, that David was no longer leaping and dancing when he was in the great tent, known as the tabernacle.

I won’t bore you with all the particulars of the tent known as the Tabernacle or the Mishkan in Hebrew, except to point your attention to a part of the Mishkan known as the Holy of Holies, the inner room. The Holy of Holies was the actual dwelling place of the God of Israel, who sat invisibly enthroned above a solid slab of gold that rested on the Ark of the Covenant.

Every Catholic Church, no matter the Rite, has a re-creation of the Holy of Holies, a place where the Tabernacle rests. As in the true Holy of Holies, in our Tabernacle, Our Lord presides in the form of consecrated bread, which we call the Real Presence.  Now, I’m not asking you to believe it. I’m just asking you to respect what we believe.

Sadly, because of poor catechism over the last 40-50 years, many Catholics today don’t understand this teaching either; and because of this, a great many Catholics no longer believe in the Eucharistic teaching that is called the source and summit of our Faith. (That’s a story for another day.)

Are you still with me?  Good!  Let’s continue…

The Liturgy of the Catholic Latin Rite, which many call Roman Rite or Roman Catholicism, is broken into two parts: The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Biblical references in the Mass are too many to number, so I’ll just put a link to the references here.  Here’s a link to the percentage of the Bible in the Lectionary, our Reading.

So, to say we are not a Bible-based Church is just a lark.

When one looks at the Liturgy of the Word, one will see Catholics do what we do because the Bible tells us so.  To show this, I’ll use the Gospel of Luke 4:16-20.

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus reads from the book of Isaiah. So, just like Jesus, we read from Scripture.

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down.

Notice, no dancing.

In the Catholic Latin Rite, after the Gospel is read, the priest sits down and the Liturgy of the Eucharist begins. What does Luke tell us about how this originally took place?

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

In fact, at every Mass, the priest says those same words — and we do exactly as Christ instructed, in remembrance of him. Notice again, there was no dancing at the Last Supper. Next, the priest prays at the altar, as the congregation prays along silently. Again, Luke explains what happened next.

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly….

Sadly, I’m sure there are some in the pews who have fallen asleep or even would betray Christ. But there we are, praying and still not dancing.

Finally, the Priest lifts up the Eucharist.

46 When he had said this, he breathed his last … 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

If that’s not evidence enough, one could argue that the complete trip to Emmaus was a Mass.

On the Road to Emmaus

Again, the Catholic Rites, of which there are over 20, start with the Liturgy of the Word.

 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Catholics read all the Scriptures concerning Him. In fact, if you attend Mass every Sunday for three years, you’ll hear all four Gospels. Can you say that about your worship services? Hopefully, you can. Along with the Gospel is an Old Testament reading that foreshadows the events in the Gospel — just like the Risen Lord did on the Road to Emmaus.

Again, after the readings, Catholics move on to the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Finally, the priest then gives us a blessing by invoking the Sign of the Cross (the Trinity) and finally, we come to the words, Ite Missa est.” These words are rendered most literally as, “Go forth, the Mass is ended.

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

The Latin word “Missa” is the origin of the English word “Mass,” and it carries the sense of mission. (Maybe, that’s why non-Catholic Christians called their gatherings a “service”?) It’s our mission to tell others about Jesus, the Risen King!

Here’s where we can now go forth to sing and dance, showing our joy for Christ to the world. In fact, I belonged to a Catholic Church in California that did just that! After Mass, we all went outside and continued to sing and praise the Lord.

Finally, all this is recorded clearly in early Christian texts. A first-century convert, St. Justin Martyr wrote this about traditional Christian worship.

Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands.

And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to ge’noito [so be it].

And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.

Finally, he wrote this about the Bread and Wine, what we call the Eucharist.

And this food is called among us Eucharistia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined.

For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.” – (First Apology, 66)

It’s with humility that we worship our Lord as He himself worshipped and as, we believe, He taught the Apostles to worship. We have this understanding based on the writings of those early Christians, such as our brother Justin, who received our Faith directly from the Apostles.

Who are we to deviate from that?

Maybe you are called to worship as you wish? I am not that bold. Until I am, I will humbly worship the way that was passed down to me, through the centuries, by great men and women who intimately knew the Apostles and Our Lord and was preserved through the millennia by such reverent, and holy people as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who humbly became Pope Benedict XVI.

God bless and go forth to love and serve the Lord.

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James is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the SoulThe Christmas Save, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL 

As a writer, James’s appearances include Newsweek, The Inside Success Show, Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.  

Beyond writing, James worked with At-Risk youth in Southern California for over six years.  His contributions to the classroom — featured on local television and in the LA Daily News and the Los Angeles Times’ Burbank Leader — earned him the honors of “Teacher of the Year”.    James was also twice honored by a CASDA Scholar as the teacher who had the greatest influence on that student.   As an educator, James also appeared twice on America Live with Megyn Kelly. 

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.   Besides his books, you can follow his musing on this blog Corporation You.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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Photo credit: By Kancelaria Prezydenta RP – prezydent.pl, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11813191

It’s not constant, but this week we’ve kept ETWN on in our home to watch the coverage of the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict.

Last night, before grace, we prayed for the repose of his soul with little doubt that this philosopher-king has been granted entry into the Eternal. After we prayed, I couldn’t help to notice how different things were this time.

I’ve lived through the passing of four Popes: Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, and now Pope Benedict. The difference now, however, is the absence of anticipation of who will be Peter’s successor.

I’m not saying that’s good or bad. Just different.

I remember crying after hearing that Pope John Paul II died. His papacy had such an impact on my life. Maybe that’s why I cried? But I also felt a paternal loss. I cried at the passing of my hometown parish priest, Monsignor James McDonald, and I cried again, recently, when our present parish priest, Fr. Tom Morrette, announced that he was being transferred.

Each time, I felt like my dad had died all over again. However, I didn’t cry when I heard the news about Pope Benedict’s death. As much as I was connected with Pope John Paul II and the other two priests, I identified more with Pope Benedict.

An avid reader of all things Catholic, I felt a much greater connection to the works of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger than the writings of Saint John Paul the Great, which greatly inspired me. And while the election of Pope John Paul II surprised and captivated me (along with the rest of the world), I felt so connected to Cardinal Ratzinger that I predicted his election as Pope and subsequently, defended him throughout his papacy — though he truly needed no defending.

Yet, even though I feel like we have suffered a great loss with his passing, I didn’t cry. I didn’t cry and haven’t cried because I am still torn over the fact that he resigned.

I understand that he was wanting to retire before his election as Holy Father and that, he felt that was getting too old to continue as Pope. Maybe, if I am blessed with old age, and make it to 85, I’ll have a stronger understanding. But right now, I don’t.

Let me make it clear. I’m not judging Pope Benedict XVI. I’m just torn.

Should the successor of Peter be allowed to quit? Priests and bishops are required to retire. Why not Popes?

According to news reports, Pope Francis has a letter of resignation prepared. This is not a Benedictine trend continued by Pope Francis. Pope Paul also had one as did Pope Pius VII and Pius XXII, both were concerned about being kidnapped; and Pope John Paul II wrote two. [1]

The Apostle John, who according to St. Epiphanius lived to 94, appeared to pass the reigns to his successors in his old age.

St. Jerome handed down the story that when Saint John “was no longer able to preach or make long discourses to the people, he used always to be carried to the assembly of the faithful by his disciples with great difficulty; and every time said to his flock only these words, ‘My dear children, love one another‘.”

Though not the Pope at the time, the office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head. (CCC 1444). So, passing on the keys has to fall under Apostolic Tradition?

So then, what present-day lesson are we supposed to take from this “new” tradition in the reign of Peter? Always the teacher, with Joseph Ratzinger, there always is a lesson somewhere. What is it?

Has he prepared us for a world where the position of the Holy Father is fraught with danger? Where the concern of kidnapping that Popes Pius VII, XXII, and maybe even John Paul II felt become real and possibly constant? Or maybe it’s something simpler? Something paternal and not so apocalyptic?

Fathers, in many of our child-like eyes, appear somewhat invincible like kings who reign mightily until the end.

However, a father’s job is actually a short-lived task. It is to raise strong, faithful Christians and prepare them for adulthood. Most dads, though available when needed, inwardly hope for an early retirement. One enjoyed in comfort with their beloved spouse. He is not a King. For that matter, either is the Pope. He’s a Prime Minister at best.

There is only one True Father and one Reigning King, Jesus Christ Our Lord.

That being the case, then our dearly departed brother Joseph and spiritual father and teacher, Benedict, has carried out his role as Holy Father faithfully and was greeted at the Gate of St. Peter with the heavenly proclamation we all long to hear, “Well done, Faithful Servant.”

So then, why am I still torn? Maybe, just maybe, I’m not ready to cry again.

______________<>________________

James is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the SoulThe Christmas Save, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL 

As a writer, James’s appearances include Newsweek, The Inside Success Show, Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, Megyn Kelly, and more.  

Beyond writing, James worked with At-Risk youth in Southern California for over six years.  His contributions to the classroom — featured on local television and in the LA Daily News and the Los Angeles Times’ Burbank Leader — earned him the honors of “Teacher of the Year”.    James was also twice honored by a CASDA Scholar as the teacher who had the greatest influence on that student.   As an educator, James also appeared twice on America Live with Megyn Kelly. 

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.   Besides his books, you can follow his musing on this blog Corporation You.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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