Friday, April 30, 2010

Piux XII, Jews and Catholics

Borrowing from Zenit this morning!  God Bless

Catholics and Jews Renew Dialogue on Pius XII
Affirm Solidarity With Benedict XVI
By Jesús Colina
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 29, 2010 ( Catholic and Jewish representatives have re-launched a dialogue, interrupted in 2001, on the figure of Pope Pius XII and his relationship with the people of Israel, particularly during the Holocaust.
At the end of Wednesday's general audience Benedict XVI greeted representatives who are in Rome for a meeting organized by the Pave the Way Foundation.
The founder of this organization, New York Jew Gary Krupp, explained to ZENIT that the audience with the Pope was attended by rabbis and representatives of Jewish communities from the United States, Israel, Australia and Switzerland "who wished to stand in solidarity shoulder to shoulder with the Catholic Church and the Holy Father" during "the attacks against the Church and His Holiness by an over-zealous media."
The meeting, which continued with the questions that the International Catholic-Jewish Historical intended to address in 2001, had an academic character with the participation of several rabbis, but was not an official representation.
The commission was originally appointed in 1999 by the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, and consisted of three Jewish and three Catholic scholars.
They reviewed the Vatican documents concerning Pope Pius XII and submitted a report in 2000 with 47 questions regarding the Holy See's response to the Holocaust.
However, due to disagreement and conflicting viewpoints, the group was disbanded in 2001.
Now, in a two-day debate session that began April 23, answers were given to those 47 questions posed in 2000.
Those who responded to the questions were Jesuit Father Peter Gumpel, historian and relator to the cause  of beatification of Pius XII; Matteo Napolitano, professor of the history of international relations (University of Molise, Italy); Andrea Tornielli, Vatican expert from the daily "Il Giornale;" Ronald Rychlak, law professor at Mississippi State University; and Michael Hesemann, German historian and writer.
All the answers were fully recorded by H2O News and will be given to the Yad Vashem Commission, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, and will be available on the Pave the Way Foundation Web site.
Krupp reported to ZENIT: "We also discussed the Holy See endorsing a family-based initiative of dedicating Friday night dinner with the family. Here two hours will be dedicated to the children. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Pave the Way Foundation are promoting this initiative dedicated to the family."
Moreover, the group met with Monsignor Peter Wells, assessor for the Secretariat of State's Section for General Affairs, and discussed with him the Vatican's efforts to aid victims of abuses.
Krupp acknowledged that "the media has not reported the efforts of the Church to repair these terrible past events."
"Even one is too much," he said, "but this tragedy is not as widespread as the media has led all to believe."
"Monsignor Wells stated that the Holy See considers the original breaking news of these terrible events as a blessing," Krupp reported, because "the Church was alerted then to act quickly to root out these criminals and the errors by some bishops."
"He said that there was too much reliance on outdated psychological and inept legal advisors who advised some bishops that these offenders could be cured," said Krupp.
At the Papal audience David Victor, the chairman of AIPAC, an American Israeli organization, spoke to the Holy Father and asked him to issue remarks condemning the Iranian regime's denial of the Holocaust and its efforts to develop an atomic bomb. The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared, during a 2005 speech, that Israel must be "wiped off the map."
The representatives also met with Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which oversees the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.
In that meeting, Krupp spoke about the loud and dedicated condemnation of Adolf Hitler and National Socialism by Pope Pius XII from the very beginning, noting that it should serve as an example of how the Holy See can respond to a modern day Hitler.
Krupp concluded, "This was a very important day in Rome for our group."
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Praise Be!

Good Evening;

(Just a note that this is an older post that I just finished.  The liturgical reference is out of date!)

Today at Mass, I cantored the psalm, which was part of psalm 19.

After Mass, a member of our clergy came up to me and clasped my hand and told me I'd made his day.

"How?" I asked.

He told me that the psalm was well done and what he needed to hear.

I thanked him. Later I realized that God had ministered to this man through me, and I was totally unaware.

My lack of awareness would prevent my interference, no doubt.

Wow. What a gift this was! Something rather mundane (I have cantored a lot over the past 10 years) had been turned into something very special for at least one person.

I wonder how often we effortlessly and unwittingly extend God's touch?
Is it not wonderful that God can use people this way?

Now I must remember that God can work whenever and however and through whichever means He desires.

The story of Balaam's Ass is humbling.  I like the way singer Don Francisco put it in his song Balaam:
 " When the Lord starts usin' you, don't you pay it any mind.  He could have used the dog next door if He'd been so inclined."

I'm still thankful that I was there...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Importance of the Easter Vigil

The Easter Vigil can quite safely be called THE Mass of the Christian Liturgical year.  It is the Vigil which is the main Mass of  Easter.  Easter Sunday Mass seems to be the one that most attend, particularly in places where the congregation has not been catechized as to the importance of the Vigil.

If people know anything about the Vigil, it is usually that it is a long Mass.  If all the readings are proclaimed, there are seven Old Testament readings, seven psalms and seven corresponding prayers.  Then, we have an Epistle reading and the Gospel reading.  These readings trace out our salvation history, culminating in Jesus' resurrection.  The liturgy of the Mass is not layed out willy-nilly.  Each of those readings is there for a reason.  Often though, the Vigil is shortened by eliminating some of the Old Testament readings.

At the Vigil Mass the water that will be used throughout the rest of the year is blessed to become Holy Water.  Those who have been going through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults are received into the Church at this time.  There may also be other baptisms and confirmations.

The Vigil can be three hours long.

What is three hours in the course of eternity?  People will spend three hours shopping, at a hockey game, or even viewing a movie.  A priest I know would tell people at the beginning of Mass to take off their watches.  He would remind them that they were moving from chronos time to kairos time.  They were taking a peek at eternity.

He had no problem with the long Mass.

Some will complain about the length.  I think they need to be reminded of perspective.  When I say this, I am assuming a healthy priest and a healthy congregation.  Of course allowances must be made for infirmity.  But if a person can sit at a hockey game for three hours?  I think that blaming the length of the Mass for a small congregation is wrong-headed.  We share the Mass with myriads of myriads each and every time we attend.

In a sense, the Vigil is a family reunion.  At any Mass, we gather together with the Body of Christ, with Christ at the head.  We join with Christians around the world, and throughout eternity.  Those who have gone before us are there.

Removing readings (and the corresponding psalms and prayers) from the Vigil is like telling someone that we don't want to hear their family story.  Sorry Uncle Isaiah, or Auntie Miriam, we don't want to hear from you this year.

And really, just how much time is saved by taking readings out?

Through this Mass, we are not spectators.  There are Psalms and hymns to sing and prayers and a litany (assuming there is someone being baptized) to join in with, along with the responses common to any Mass.  The Mass may actually start outdoors, so there is a procession into the church.

Hearing a Bishop complain about the length of the Vigil reminded me of two very enthusiastic members of the congregation one year; two small children aged 6 and about 4.  They sang, they danced, they took turns 'directing' the choir, and had a lovely time.  Their enthusiasm was quite an example.  Over the years, I've seen many children at the Vigil.  Rarely have they been disruptive or complaining.

All that said, I fully believe that people should be encouraged to be comfortable at what really is a long Mass. Dress nicely and modestly, but don't wear clothing that scratches or shoes that pinch.  Bring a cushion or back support and a lap blanket if you think you'll need it (I know personally what a chill can do to arthritic knees and backs).  Bring books or quiet toys for them, but expect children to fall asleep.

And a point of etiquette.  When a parish has been assisting in an Easter Vigil Mass that uses all the readings provided, and has been doing so for several years, I would be very very cautious about suggesting change.  While no one, not even the Bishop or the Pope 'owns' the Mass, people can become accustomed to practices.  When these practices are in line with what the liturgy spells out, I believe that reducing the Mass is a poor choice.

God Bless