Saturday, April 19, 2008

Preaching to the Priests: B-16 in NYC

First off, B-16's utterly wonderful response to the "Thank You" from Cdl. Bertone (recall that English is not his first language...) (transcript is unofficial)

In this moment I can only thank … grace (?) ... for your love of the Church, for Our Lord and that you give also your love to the poor Successor of St. Peter. I will do all the possible to be a real successor of the great St. Peter who also was a man with his faults and sins, but he remains finally the rock for the Church … and so also I, with all my poorness … spiritual … can be, with the grace of the Lord, in this time the Successor of Peter … and your prayers and love will give me the certainty that the Lord will help me in this, my ministry. So I am so deeply thankful for your love, for your prayer, and my answer in this moment to all what you have given to me in this moment and this visit is my blessing at the end of the Holy Mass.

Having seen him deliver these words, I can assure you that there was no 'false humility' present when he spoke them. This guy is the real thing.

On to excerpts from the sermon.

...In this morning’s second reading, Saint Paul reminds us that spiritual unity – the unity which reconciles and enriches diversity – has its origin and supreme model in the life of the triune God. (!!) ...As a communion of pure love and infinite freedom, the Blessed Trinity constantly brings forth new life in the work of creation and redemption. The Church, as "a people made one by the unity of the Father, the Son and the Spirit" (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4), is called to proclaim the gift of life, to serve life, and to promote a culture of life.

This next section is very interesting. B-16 shows an understanding of architecture and art for worship corresponding to his understanding of music for worship.

I would like to draw your attention to a few aspects of this beautiful structure which I think can serve as a starting point for a reflection on our particular vocations within the unity of the Mystical Body. ...The first has to do with the stained glass windows, which flood the interior with mystic light. From the outside, those windows are dark, heavy, even dreary. But once one enters the church, they suddenly come alive; reflecting the light passing through them, they reveal all their splendor. Many writers – here in America we can think of Nathaniel Hawthorne – have used the image of stained glass to illustrate the mystery of the Church herself. It is only from the inside, from the experience of faith and ecclesial life, that we see the Church as she truly is: flooded with grace, resplendent in beauty, adorned by the manifold gifts of the Spirit. It follows that we, who live the life of grace within the Church’s communion, are called to draw all people into this mystery of light.

(Musically, we recall Respighi's "Church Windows"--which includes a section built on the Gloria of Gregorian Chant Mass VIII)

...Even for those of us within, the light of faith can be dimmed by routine, and the splendor of the Church obscured by the sins and weaknesses of her members. It can be dimmed too, by the obstacles encountered in a society which sometimes seems to have forgotten God and to resent even the most elementary demands of Christian morality.

...Like all Gothic cathedrals, it is a highly complex structure, whose exact and harmonious proportions symbolize the unity of God’s creation. ...Medieval artists often portrayed Christ, the creative Word of God, as a heavenly "geometer", compass in hand, who orders the cosmos with infinite wisdom and purpose. Does this not bring to mind our need to see all things with the eyes of faith, and thus to grasp them in their truest perspective, in the unity of God’s eternal plan?

(If I were Ben Stein, I'd use that 'graf a lot while promoting my movie...)

So the Pope ties together the mind and heart, Faith and Reason, windows and geometry...from the building's

...Dear friends, these considerations lead me to a final observation about this great cathedral in which we find ourselves. The unity of a Gothic cathedral, we know, is not the static unity of a classical temple, but a unity born of the dynamic tension of diverse forces which impel the architecture upward, pointing it to heaven.

(Thus the disappointment of Milwaukee Catholics when Rembert Weakland turned this "upward" on its ear by wreck-orienting his Cathedral sideways...a very telling legacy, Rembert.)

So let us lift our gaze upward! And with great humility and confidence, let us ask the Spirit to enable us each day to grow in the holiness that will make us living stones in the temple


HT: Fr. Z.

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