It has occurred to me that I do not have anything written here on Papal Succession. What is it? Why do we have a Pope?
Certainly, having a Pope is one thing that sets Catholicism apart from other parts of the Christian world.
Papal Succession is the connection between the current Pope and St. Peter, the Apostle to whom Jesus gave the "Keys to the Kingdom".
Although the term "Pope" is not in Scripture (neither is the word "Trinity") the idea of an earthly leader for a Heavenly institution is.
Matthew 16:18 shows Jesus recognizing Simon/Peter's faith and telling him that that is the rock (petra/petros in Greek, kephas or cephas in Aramiac) on which the Church would be built. Jesus then gives Peter the keys to the kingdom.
The giving of the keys is an allusion to the Hebrew Scripture Isaiah 22:22 where we see the king giving the keys of his kingdom to a minister, who is in charge of running the affairs of the kingdom. One who holds the keys is in charge.
Peter was in charge of Jesus' earthly kingdom, the Church.
Since apostolic time, every bishop has been ordained by someone who was ordained by a bishop who ultimately was ordained by an apostle. Popes are chosen from those who are ordained (or who can immediately be ordained) bishops. Therefore Popes are descended from the Apostles.
This is part of what makes us Apostolic, as stated in the Nicene Creed ("I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church").
There is a question in some circles as to whether the present Pope is valid. Some say there hasn't been a valid Pope since the 1960s or thereabouts.
A major problem with this is that the few living bishops who are considered by these folks as validly ordained are very elderly. They will not live much longer. IF they are in fact the only validly ordained bishops, and a Pope is not soon chosen from among them (which is unlikely, as the past several popes have actually been cardinals and younger than these few pre-Vatican II bishops) before they die, apostolic succession will have ended.
Unless the world ends first, this cannot happen. We are told that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church. If the Church should run out of eligible candidates for the Papacy, I think it can be safely said that the gates of Hell have prevailed. One of the four marks of the Church will have been erased.
It's been a while since I've been here, that's for sure. I have been busy. I am still trying to figure out why I'm sick, to try to get myself back into 'fighting trim' as a member of the Church Militant.
Or is it the Church Somnolent?
My faithful followers, and my other friends, will know that I have a 'thing' for liturgy...at one time I described it as a passion. The past few years have pretty much eliminated the possiblity of my name and 'passion' occurring in the same sentence. It is hard to get excited about things. But I'm trying.
I think it's getting better. Every so often I get flickers of my old self. Well, my old liturgical zealot self. Something gets me moving.
Something like listening to people complain about the choir. Warning...do NOT complain about the choir in my presence! It is not healthy.
Our esteemed choir leader decided that we should learn to chant the Our Father, according to the Mass setting we've been using for Ordinary Time for several years now. It's a nice setting, and very easy to learn, as these things go. She had the support of both Father and the choir in doing this.
But people will talk. They will grouse and moan. And they will try to pass opinion off as valid criticism. Cries of "Liturgically Incorrect" were summarily dealt with. Education had the effect of silencing most
Life has been made difficult for at least a couple of people in this process. And that couple of people really have far better things to be doing with their time than trying to entertain those who will not be entertained except by being catered to.
Why DO people do this? Why does one suppose his taste in anything should be imposed on many, when the many are not doing anything wrong?
The Church needs people to be involved and dedicated and devout. The Church does NOT need people trying to run the 'show' when they are governed more by their personal thoughts and desires than by the Church's teachings.
The Church does not need people who are there to be entertained. Hmm. Perhaps it is this type of Churchgoer who inspired the idea that "religion is the opiate of the masses" (Karl Marx). Does this mean the Mass is an opiate? Hah. There's that "Church Somnolent" thing again.
No. As was said by Pius XII and many after him, we are called to full active and conscious participation in liturgy. Nothing sleepy about that. Nothing sleep-inducing about that, except perhaps the peace that one may come to because of that participation.
So, anyway...this has pulled me out of hibernation.