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Thursday, 14 February 2013

For those who do not know Archbishop Ganswein

Archbishop Georg Ganswein will continue as private secretary to the Pope after his retirement, as the media is stating.

He has a fascinating history and here is a link. I guess if we were all paying attention, we could have noticed his consecration as an Archbishop as a sign of Pope Benedict's resignation. Paul Collins, an ex-priest, in Australia noticed this. And, Vanity Fair did a cover on him without his or the Vatican's permission. Such is Italy....

Anyway, have a good read.

Cool-Pope Benedict's Next Home

More on Pope's schedule

Article on Pope's comments this morning...
"Even if I am withdrawing into prayer, I will always be close to all of you... even if I remain hidden to the world," he told a meeting of Roman priests.
His schedule
  • 17-23 February - Lenten retreat, most normal Vatican functions suspended
  • 24 February - Pope recites Angelus for the last time
  • 27 February - Last weekly audience, in St Peter's Square
  • Evening of 28 February - Pope leaves office
  • From 15 March - Conclave to elect new Pope

Next week the Pope will carry out no public engagements after which he will hold one more public audience on 27 February, in St Peter's Square.
On 28 February he will fly off to the papal retreat at Castel Gandolfo, where he will stay while Church leaders go through the complicated ritual of choosing a successor.

For Priests

Catholic Herald this morning, as Pope Benedict XVI tells priests that although he will be hidden, he is with them.

Winner of Competition for Love Comment

I think we people read this excellent comment, and the creative juices ran dry....This is superb and thanks so much to the person who sent this in. God bless you on this special day of Love.

What is “Love”? In modern times it has come to mean that emotional feeling or attachment that exists between people. As we all know, often through hard experience, this emotion can fade in time and will often not survive strong turbulence or unbalance. This love does not seem to be what we may call “True Love” nor is it really what has been understood as “True Love” from the 1st century until the Protestant Schism, and even then it did not take real root until the 19th and 20th century’s. So how do we discover what “True Love” is? We must look at our greatest model, Our Lord and Our Lady, in this case in the context of the Holy Family.

Our Lady was deeply in Love, a Love beyond any mere mortal love, hers was a divine Love, perfect as it was completely for God, because of God and was fully reciprocated by God. This Love did not give into fear, when the Angel Gabriel came in the annunciation what was it that made Our Lady agree despite the risks that an unwed mother would face? It was not the fact that she would be able to live comfortably, not some yearning for sexual fulfilment she hoped these divine espousals would bring. Not even the desire for power or prestige or for Her own good, no it was because she was willing to sacrifice anything for the Beloved and she knew he would sacrifice everything for Her. She saw in that moment the enormity of what God was proposing an incarnation in the flesh the most perfect union, indeed God himself becoming Man, enclosing himself deep within her in a way never before conceived.

Joseph too was a party to this Love for he shared in this Love of God. He too was willing to trust completely in God and he understood that Love of God can be expressed in Love for The Woman so in Chaste Continent Love he took the Blessed Virgin to himself and his Love for Her and for God were one. He was not afraid to work himself to the bone for Her, as he knew that everything he gave to her would be perfectly reciprocated not just by her but by God Himself.

So I will answer what is Love? Love is the total self giving of yourself to another either to god or Man, knowing that this total self giving is the will of God and thus the Love between Men is the Love of God. Thus we can say that Total self-Giving with humble trust in God is True-Love.

On Cyril and Methodius

These two saints are very dear to my heart for two reasons. First of all, they are the Patrons of Europe, along with Benedict. Their contribution to the making of a Christian Europe is the stuff of legend.

That they were brothers makes them special as well.

But, the second reason is that my ancestors on my mother's side are all from Bohemia and Moravia. We have personal connections with these areas of Europe where the brothers worked and prayed. Here is a significant section from OrthoWiki:

In 860, Emperor Michael III and PhotiusPatriarch of Constantinople, sent the brothers to the Khagan of the Khazars on a missionary expedition in an attempt to forestall the Khagan from embracing Judaism. The mission was unsuccessful as the Khagan chose Judaism for his people, but many people embraced Christianity. Upon their return, Constantine was appointed professor of philosophy in the university.
Then in 862 the two brothers were invited by Prince Rastislav of Great Moravia to preach Christianity in his domains. This request was a fallout of the efforts of the Slavic princes in central Europe attempting to maintain their independence from their Germanic neighbors. Rastislav was looking for Christian missionaries to replace those from the Germans. In the end this mission would continue for the rest of the brothers' lives, as the brothers were dedicated to the idea that Christianity should be presented to the people in their native languages as was the practice in the East. To accomplish their work they developed the Glagolitic alphabet, the precursor of the Cyrillic alphabet, and began the translation of the Scriptures and Christian literature into the Slavic language.
The German clergy had used their liturgical language, Latin, as a measure to maintain their influence in Moravia and therefore were unhappy with the work of Constantine and Methodius, and they used this difference to attack the brothers. After laboring for about four years, the brothers were called by Nicholas I to appear in Rome to defend their work. The area in which they worked was within the jurisdiction of Rome. However, before their arrival, in 869 Nicholas died and was succeeded by Adrian II. After Adrian was convinced of the orthodoxy of the brothers, he approved their use of Slavonic in their church services and commended their work. He then consecrated Methodius bishop. Constantine took monastic vows in a Greek monastery in Rome. He was given the name Cyril, the name by which he is now commonly known. Cyril was not to return to Moravia as he died shortly thereafter. The date of Cyril's death is uncertain, but appears to have been shortly after his consecration, both perhaps in February 869, with his death most probably on February 14.
Adrian II reestablished the old diocese of Panonia, as the first Slavonic diocese of Moravia and Pannonia, independent of the Germans, at the request of the Slavic princes Rastislav, Svatopluk, and Kocel. Here Methodius was appointed to the new diocese as archbishop. However, on returning to Moravia in 870, King Louis and the German bishops summoned Methodius to a synod at Radisbon, where they deposed him and sent him to prison. After the Germans suffered military defeats in Moravia, John VIII freed him three years later and restored Methodius as Archbishop of Moravia. Soon his orthodoxy was again under question by the Germans, particularly over the use of Slavonic. Once again John VIII sanctioned the use of Slavonic in the liturgy but with the stipulation that the Gospel must first be read in Latin before the reading in Slavonic. Also, Methodius' accuser, Wiching, was named a vicar bishop to Methodius, and from this position he continued to oppose him. With his health damaged during his long struggle with his opponents, Methodius died on April 6, 885, after having recommended as his successor his disciple, the Moravian Slav, Gorazd. The brothers are remembered on May 11. St. Cyril's repose is also commemorated on February 14, and St. Methodius' repose is also commemorated on April 6.
St. Cyril is buried in San Clemente's, one of the most amazing churches in Rome. It is a basilica.

Pope John Paul II at the tomb of St. Cyril in Rome
I was in that church before the altar was there, or at least, it was not "up" when I visited and I could go up and touch the icon mosaic of St. Cyril. I thanked him, indeed. 

From the Orthodox Divine Liturgy:

Troparion (Tone 4)
O Cyril and Methodius, inspired by God,
You became equal to the Apostles by your life.
Since you were teachers of the Slavs,
Intercede with the Master of all
That He may strengthen all Orthodox peoples in the True Faith,
And that He may grant peace to the world
And great mercy to our souls.
Kontakion - Tone 3
Let us praise the two priests of God who enlightened us,
And poured upon us the fount of the knowledge of God by translating the Holy Scripture.
O Cyril and Methodius, as abundant learning has been drawn from this work,
We exalt you who now stand before the Most High,
Interceding with fervor for the salvation of our souls.

And, happy St. Valentine's Day....contest winner will be posted later today.

Part Twenty on the Doctors of the Church-Albert

Albert the Great highlights the need for purity of heart. One moves beyond meditation to contemplation after much time of practice and guidance. Do not think that this cannot be a path for a lay person, as we are all called to this.

Chapter 3

What the perfection of man consist of in this life

Now the more the mind is concerned about thinking and dealing with what is merely lower and human, the more it is separated from the experience in the intimacy of devotion of what is higher and heavenly, while the more fervently the memory, desire and intellect is withdrawn from what is below to what is above, the more perfect will be our prayer, and the purer our contemplation, since the two directions of our interest cannot both be perfect at the same time, being as different as light and darkness. 

The sign of illumination is this movement into light....and Albert describes the state of unity as well here.

He who cleaves to God is indeed translated into the light, while he who clings to the world is in the dark. So the supreme perfection of man in this life is to be so united to God that all his soul with all its faculties and powers are so gathered into the Lord God that he becomes one spirit with him, and remembers nothing except God, is aware of and recognises nothing but God, but with all his desires unified by the joy of love, he rests contentedly in the enjoyment of his Maker alone.

This next section reminds me greatly of St. Ignatius of Loyola and his purification of reason, memory and will. 

 Now the image of God as found in the soul consists of these three faculties, namely reason, memory and will, and so long as they are not completely stamped with God, the soul is not yet deiform in accordance with the initial creation of the soul. 

For the true pattern of the soul is God, with whom it must be imprinted, like wax with a seal, and carry the mark of his impress. But this can never be complete until the intellect is perfectly illuminated, according to its capacity, with the knowledge of God, who is perfect truth, until the will is perfectly focused on the love of the perfect good, and until the memory is fully absorbed in turning to and enjoying eternal happiness, and in gladly and contentedly resting in it. And since the glory of the beatitude which is achieved in our heavenly homeland consists in the complete fulfilment of these three faculties, it follows that perfect initiation of them is perfection in this life.

I cannot stress the important of this section enough for our journey into the understanding of perfection. Albert, more than many, writes clearly of the Illuminative and Unitive States here.

There will be...

...many posts on Albert the Great and perfection over the next few days. He is called The Great for very good reasons.

Part Nineteen on the Doctors of the Church and Perfection-the Dominicans

I shall save the best one until last, the Universal Doctor of the Church, Thomas Aquinas, and as we already looked at St. Catherine of Siena, a Third Order Dominican, I can concentrate on St. Albert the Great today.

Again, I am emphasizing the spirituality of these wonderful saints with a view to the journey to perfection. It would take ten lifetimes to examine all the writings of these great minds and great souls.

St. Albert the Great was the teacher of Thomas Aquinas. We do not know exactly when he was born, but he died in 1280 and was no older than 87.

He has much to say on everything, having written at least 31 volumes. Here is a little selection on perfection. It is interesting that this section, a reading for Ash Wednesday is used. There are no accidents.

Chapter 1

On the highest and supreme perfection of man, in so far as it is possible in this life

I have had the idea of writing something for myself on and about the state of complete and full abstraction from everything and of cleaving freely, confidently, nakedly and firmly to God alone, so as to describe it fully (in so far as it is possible in this abode of exile and pilgrimage), especially since the goal of Christian perfection is the love by which we cleave to God. In fact everyone is obligated, to this loving cleaving to God as necessary for salvation, in the form of observing the commandments and conforming to the divine will, and the observation of the commandments excludes everything that is contrary to the nature and habit of love, including mortal sin. Members of religious orders have committed themselves in addition to evangelical perfection, and to the things that constitute a voluntary and counselled perfection by mean s of which one may arrive more quickly to the supreme goal which is God. The observation of these additional commitments excludes as well the things that hinder the working and fervour of love, and without which one can come to God and these include the renunciation of all things, of both body and mind, exactly as one’s vow of profession entails. Since indeed the Lord God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth, in other words, by knowledge and love, that is, understanding and desire, stripped of all images. This is what is referred to in Matthew 6.6, ‘When you pray, enter into your inner chamber,’ that is, your inner heart, ‘and having closed the door,’ that is of your senses, and there with a pure heart and a clear conscience, and with faith unfeigned, ‘pray to your Father,’ in spirit and in truth, ‘in secret.’ This can be done best when a man is disengaged and removed from everything else, and completely recollected within himself. There, in the presence of Jesus Christ, with everything, in general and individually, excluded and wiped out, the mind alone turns in security confidently to the Lord its God with its desire. In this way it pours itself forth into him in full sincerity with its whole heart and the yearning of its love, in the most inward part of all its faculties, and is plunged, enlarged, set on fire and dissolved into him.

Albert is stressing the loneliness and individuality of our walk to perfection. This movement of the Holy Spirit takes intense prayer.

Be sincere.  Be focussed. To be continued.....