Two encouraging stories involving Bishops!

Bold text and comments in square brackets are by Fr Z:

First, there is story at CNA about the 4th Bishop of Fort Worth, Most Rev. Michael Olson.

At the Chrism Mass during Holy Week, the bishop spoke about LITURGY!   I’ve been whining for a while now that bishops rarely speak about matters liturgical in any meaningful way.   Here is some of the story:

.- At the Chrism Mass celebrated during Holy Week, a Texas bishop offered reflections on the Church’s liturgical life, telling priests the straying from liturgical texts can be detrimental to the unity of Catholicism[YAY!]

“The importance of Christ-centered and shared repetition in our collaborative mission as the Church requires that we avoid the addition of words or gestures that are alien to the rites and liturgical texts provided us by the Church,” said Bishop Michael Olson of Ft. Worth, Texas.

“Even though such liturgical abuses might at first glance appear to begin as good willed efforts to avoid redundancy and tedium for a people with attention spans made numb by contemporary modes of communication, such efforts remain destructivebecause they take us away from the repetition that bears fruit in Catholic unity,” he continued.

The bishop’s words came during the Chrism Mass celebrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Ft. Worth, TX on March 27.

Olson described the difference between redundancy and repetition, saying “redundancy can enslave us; repetition can liberate us.”

Redundancy, Olson said, is the practice of doing the same thing over and over again with the expectation of a different outcome. On the other hand, he said that repetition fosters the formation of character and “develops our incorporation into the mystery of God.

“Redundancy has to do with vicious circularity (doing the same thing again and again without making progress or accomplishing anything except narcissistic absorption);” he explained. “Repetition has to do with the spiral: there is always forward growth and momentum in a spiral even as it circles again and again over similar words, patterns, ideas, and themes.”  [I like this image: spiral, or maybe better a helix.  I reminds me of what I suppose to be the dynamic of the Beatific Vision.  A spiral is a curve that gets ever farther on the same plane from the point of emanation.  A helix does the same, but through different planes.  I imagine one force directing the spiral as being our longing for God in the eternally fascinating and alluring Beatific Vision.  At the same time, contemplation of the Beatific Vision will cause us also to contemplate ourselves as images of God and consider the beauty of the rest of the cosmos.  Thus these different forces working us on will result in a glorious spiral of movement toward God who, being God, will never be exhaustible, all the while revolving around ourselves as images constantly offering ourselves to God and receiving the transforming glory that comes from the relationship of the Trinity.   This must be captured in our sacred liturgical worship, by the way.  But I digress.]

“The bitter fruits of redundancy are isolation, complacency, and entitlement; the sweet fruits of repetition are gratitude, humility, and joy,” Olson continued. [Sounds “heavenly”.]

The practice of faithful repetition in the liturgy is crucial to the integrity of all Masses since it unifies the universal church, Olson said.  [Do I hear an “Amen!”?  I will add that this repetition is “faithful” also insofar as it is in continuity with tradition.  We must unify the Church today with our forebears as well.]

The Texas bishop also noted that straying from liturgical norms will produce “a greater sense of isolation and entitlement to our own individual preferences and opinions,” and will lead to the dangers of redundancy, causing “a sense of confusion of Catholic identity.”  [And what are we seeing nearly everywhere in the Church today?  CONFUSION OF CATHOLIC IDENTITY!]

“This can destructively differentiate our parish from other parishes to the point of exclusion by maintaining unique and aberrant liturgical practices,” Olson continued. [When I visit some churches and see what is done in them, I sadly but honestly think that they belong to a different religion.]

While fidelity to the liturgy may not always be received with “a favorable response” and may lead to rejection, Olson said that fidelity to the Church’s liturgical texts “grounds us effectively in Christ.”  [There it is!]

Olson additionally encouraged growth in pastoral leadership, which he said involves the “protection of the sheep both from the cunning of the wolf and the complacency of the hired hand who complains about the perceived redundancy of his ministry.”

“Redundancy in the spiritual life of a priest leads him to functional minimalism; [Reeeeally dangerous for worship and identity: “As long as it’s ‘valid’, we can change a whole bunch of stuff around.”] repetition in the spiritual life of a priest leads him into deeper waters of conversion and configuration with the life of Jesus Christ, Head and Shepherd of the Church,” Olson explained.  [Kenosis paradoxically produces fullness, theosis.]

“The essential difference in the life of the baptized Catholic between redundancy and repetition is the centrality of Jesus Christ, true God and true man,” he added.

Liturgical repetition, he said, is an antidote to the danger of redundancy.

“If we are to remain faithful to the mission of Christ, the mission of redemption entrusted to us through our anointings, we must repeat together the prayers of the liturgy in solidarity with every Catholic liturgical assembly in the Diocese and throughout the world in order to be saved from the slavery of redundancy.”

Fr. Z kudos.   This is good stuff.

Remember, dear readers, that no initiative we undertake in the Church will succeed and bear real fruit unless it is rooted in and returned to our sacred liturgical worship of God.  This is why a revitalization of our worship is absolutely necessary.  This is why Summorum Pontificum was so very important for the future of the Church: it is a major tool of that revitalization.  

Next, again at the UK’s best Catholic weekly, the Catholic Herald we read of the great 11th Bishop of Shrewsbury, Most Rev. Mark Davies, who has written a pastoral letter to be released soon.  He wrote about receiving the Eucharist.

This is really important for people like the Jesuit-led homosexualists out there.  This is really important for people who think that the divorced and civilly remarried who having adulterous sexual relations can be admitted to Communion.

Bishop Davies: Don’t receive Communion if your lifestyle contradicts the Gospel

Bishop Davies said that mortal sin, or ‘a lifestyle in contradiction with our Christian calling‘, must be confessed and repented before receiving the Eucharist

Receiving Holy Communion is “the most radical call to holiness” that any person can encounter, the Bishop of Shrewsbury will say in a pastoral letter this coming weekend[During his Chrism Mass he made a connection of Communion and the Sacrament of Penance.]

Bishop Mark Davies will warn them against viewing the Blessed Sacrament in terms of “secular inclusiveness” as this diminishes its true significance to little more than a “token of our hospitality”.  [RIGHT!  Haven’t I written many times that, for many today, receiving Communion has become a token of acceptance and affirmation?  That for many, Communion is the moment when they put the white thing in your hand and then they sing of the song together?]

Catholics must realise instead that through the Real Presence, the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood is the means to become the saint each of us is called to be.

Holy Communion restores strength to the faithful, breaks disordered attachments, separates Catholics from sin and helps them root their whole lives in Christ, the bishop will say.

Catholics must also repent of any mortal sin or lifestyle which contradicts their calling as Christians before they can receive Communion, Bishop Davies will remind his diocese.

“We see why we can never approach Holy Communion casually, still less if we have not confessed and repented of any mortal sin or of a lifestyle in contradiction with our Christian calling,” the bishop will say. [Confessed and repented … that is, confessed with a firm purpose of amendment.   And don’t forget absolution.  You can sincerely confess to a bartender, but you can’t absolution from him.]

“The Apostle Paul urged the first Christians to examine themselves carefully before receiving Holy Communion because anyone who did so in an unworthy state would, he said, be ‘guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord’.

“The Church calls us to frequent Holy Communion, prepared by the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation so that we might become holy, might become saints. The Second Vatican Council urged us to ‘frequent’ both these two Sacraments eagerly and devoutly as the path to holiness.”

“Let us ask ourselves how we seek to receive Him with the deepest reverence and love, and how we spend the precious moments after receiving Holy Communion,” he will add.  [Would, perhaps, involve silence and prayer?]

Yes, and yes again.  Fr. Z kudos to Bp. Davies.

There you have it, folks.  There is some sanity in the Church today!

We need a lot more of this.  A lot more.

Please share!
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1 Response to Two encouraging stories involving Bishops!

  1. Mary Salmond says:

    Those are Alleluia moments. Something is afoot with a few bishops!
    I was at a Confirmation just recently and the bishop told the confirmandi to remember 2 things: confession and Sunday Mass. I jumped for joy and wrote him a thank you. He had them repeat in unison several times those 2 things, besides a few other key points! Hallelujah.
    I would hope anyone who has some encouraging words would share them with us.
    Our local priest who graduated in early ’70s is somwhat dismayed that the young seminarians are more conservative. I jumped for joy again – the seminarians could get us back on a more traditional path. AND we have a traditional order of nuns in our diocese who are attracting many people to TLM. They have produced several beautiful albums. AND they are young.
    Let”s look for the hope in our lives, not the despair.


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