New Saints

On Sunday, Pope Francis named seven new Saint this was the first Canonization ceremony this year and it has been a year since the last Canonization.  Those named Saints were the headliners Pope Paul VI, the Pope after John XXIII and before John Paul I and Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, who was assassinated while saying Mass. There were five others as well Francesco Spinelli was an Italian Priest who founded the Sisters Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament; Vincent Romano another Italian Priest known as “The Worker Priest” due to his work with the poor and for his commitment to the social needs of all people he is noted for his simplistic and frugal manner of living and for his great care of orphans; Nunzio Sulprizo another Italian, he was an apprentice blacksmith and had poor health throughout his life Pope Leo XIII proposed him as a model for all workers. The other two are women Maria Katharina Kasper, a German nun and founder of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ; and Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, a Spanish nun and founder of the Missionary Crusades of the Church, she was born in Spain moved to Mexico, served in Bolivia and Argentina.

Pope Francis noted in his homily that “Jesus is radical. He gives all and he asks all: he gives a love that is total and asks for an undivided heart.” and that “All these saints, in different contexts, put today’s word into practice in their lives, without lukewarmness, without calculation, with the passion to risk everything and to leave it all behind.” Let us try to keep this in our minds are we go about our lives as we in society today tend to be divided on some of these things.

Feast of Mary Mother of the Church

This is the newest feast of the church year as Pope Francis announced way back in March that the feast would be celebrated the Monday after Pentecost. Francis thought that this feast would “encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety.”

It is fitting that Mary is being honored the day after the we celebrate the “birthday of the church”. Now the title Mother of the Church is an ancient one for Mary as it dates back to St. Ambrose in the 4th century which was rediscovered by Hugo Rahner in 1944. The term has been used notably by Popes Benedict XIV and Leo III. The title didn’t really catch on until Vatican II when Pope Paul VI officially pronounced the title in the Credo of the People of God “The Mother of the Church, carries on in heaven her maternal role with regard to the members of Christ, cooperating in the birth and development of divine life in the souls of the redeemed.” John Paul II mentioned this a bunch of times and Benedict XVI has stated that “‘The Church is virgin and mother, she is immaculate and carries the burdens of history. She suffers and she is assumed into heaven. Slowly she learns, that Mary is her mirror, that she is a person in Mary. Mary on the other hand is not an isolated individual, who rests in herself. She is carrying the mystery of the Church.” This is another great way to look at Mary. This is why we turn to Mary in this Month of May, I hope that in these last ten or so day we can turn to the rosary.

Signum Magnum

Signum Magnum is an Apostolic Exhortation from Pope Paul VI in it which Paul VI renewed the consecration of the World to Mary which was made in 1942. Next year will be the 75th anniversary of  of Pius XII’s consecration, and it seems likely that Francis will be doing something with Mary next year with the huge anniversary at Fatima. The Exhortation focuses on Mary, to put it simply Mary is the Mother of the Church, we should pray more and renew our personal consecration to the Immaculate Heart.

Paul VI begins with highlighting the past doctrine on Mary and sums it up as “without wishing to restate here . . . the traditional doctrine of the Church regarding the function of the Mother of God on the plane of salvation and her relations with the Church, we believe that, if we dwell on the consideration of two truths which are very important for the renewal of Christian life, we would be doing something of great utility for the souls of the faithful.” He them moves to the idea that Mary is the Mother of the Church and goes into great detail on this. This is followed by eight points of focus. The point are pretty obvious if you’ve read any Marian literature. Like how we should imitate Mary in our lives and how prays are Through Mary to Jesus. Paul VI hopes that Mary can be used as a key in our relationship with the Eastern Churches as Mary seems to have long been the key to the faith.

Let us bring Mary into our life and try to be Mary to the world around us. Hopefully, Our Heavenly Mother can help guide us in time of trouble. As she is always there for us.

Marialis Cultus

Marialis Cultus is an Apostolic Exhortation from Pope Paul VI about Marian Devotion. Now this is a letter to all the Bishops of the World in a reflection of how Vatican II goes with Mary. This letter is divided into three sections the first looking the history of Marian Devotion focusing on the relationship between the liturgy and devotion to Mary, the second looks at ways to develop as well as renew Marian devotion for the future, the third section take a look at the Angelus and Rosary as methods of devotion that we should use. This is followed by a conclusion which basically says Mary deserves the devotions because she is the mother of graces and her unique role in redemption. As well as that devotion to the Blessed Virgin is an intrinsic element of Christian worship and devotion is paramount importance in living the life of the Gospel.

Part One:  In the first section Paul VI looks at the Roman Calendar and the Missal noting all the dates and mentions of Mary in the liturgy. He also looks that the Lectionary and the Liturgy of the Hours and how tied to Mary these are as well. Paul VI notes that if one studies the history of Christian worship, in fact, one notes that both in the East and in the West the highest and purest expressions of devotion to the Blessed Virgin have sprung from the liturgy or have been incorporated into it.” The second section looks at Mary’s role in the liturgy as a model for us all. Saying that this modeling of Mary has been one of the longest living traditions in the Church.

Part Two:  First noting that in Vatican II the exhortation came out to look at other forms of piety. Here we get into some hard stuff as Paul takes us into the Trinitarian, Christological and Ecclesial notes of the Virgin. These Marian forms of piety need to be “To Jesus through Mary” as we use her as our conduit to Jesus. This section is a bit heady to read. The second section doesn’t make it much easier as it takes the devotion of Mary and roots it in the Biblical, Liturgical, Ecumenical and Anthropological. These is not putting Mary in a box as across the world there are devotions to Mary in all different forms the Black Madonna, Our Lady of Akita, Our Lady of Zeitoun, Our Lady of Kazan, Our Lady of Walsingham. These are all around the world and Mary looks like the people in the area.

Part Three: This one begins by looking at the Angelus and says that we should be praying it more. Then it turns into a nice reflection on the Rosary. It explains a basic Rosary as it is a prayer rooted in the Gospel and consists of the Our Father, Hail Mary and Doxology. Pope Paul then pleads that the Rosary be taken up by Families and prayed together. As it is simple and everyone should know it.

Mense Maio

This seems like good one to look at during May and it is a rather short one as well. This is Paul VI’s encyclical on prayers during May for the preservation of peace.

Mense Maio is fifteen “paragraphs” long it is broken up into 3 main sections the Introduction, Needs of the council and Peace in Jeopardy. This encyclical was given in April of 1965 while the Second Vatican Council was still in session. Paul VI starts off by noting that May is dedicated to Mary and it is the month in which a greater abundance of God’s merciful gifts comes down to us from our Mother’s throne. Pope Paul continues by pointing out that May is a powerful incentive to more frequent and fervent prayers, and because our petitions more readily find access to her compassionate heart during it, … for urging the Christian people to offer up public prayers whenever the needs of the Church demanded it or some grave crisis threatened the human race.” His Holiness notes that at this time there is an urgent need for prayer.

First and foremost Paul VI notes the council happening at the Vatican saying although a bunch of thing have been done there is still more to do to adapt the Church in a suitable way to the needs of our day. Then secondarily that Peace is in jeopardy around the globe. This next part seems like it could have been written this past year “Today we see tensions worsening gravely between nations in certain parts of the world, … Once again we see men risking recourse to arms instead of negotiating to settle disputes between opposing viewpoints. Thus the inhabitants of entire nations are subjected to unspeakable sufferings occasioned by uprisings, secret and treacherous warfare, and outright battles. These activities grow more frequent and more bitter each day, and could at any time spark a new and terrible war.” Paul VI then pleas to the leaders of the world and all the people of the world to turn to peace since it is the great gift from God. Pope Paul VI calls for prayers especially those of children and those suffering afflictions.

Let us all follow the advice of Pope Paul VI and pray for the World to become a more peaceful place where people can settle problems using words and not weapons. This can be done by praying the Rosary or some other Marian devotion or even just the Jesus prayer.  As the song goes let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me, I hope that we all can become people of peace.

Vatican II

Fifty years ago on 8 December Vatican II ended.  As Pope John XXIII began the council with his famous Moon speech, Paul VI ended it with a bunch of messages to all types of people Council Fathers, Rulers, Men of Thought and Science, Artists, Women, Poor, sick and Suffering, Workers and The Youth.

To the Council Father: Paul reminded that they have been working for all these people over the past four years. These Constitutions that they came up with are for all people these can be seen in Gaudium et spes.

To the Rulers of the World: The Council recognized their office but said that God is the source of their office. Paul also tasked them to be promoters of order and peace among all people.

To those of Science and Thought: The Council says that they are seekers of truth and that the church is a companion on the path with the scientists. May they seek the light of tomorrow with the light of today until they reach the fullness of light

To Artists: The Council addresses this to all types of artist (poets and writers, painters, sculptors, architects, musicians, those devoted to the theater and the cinema) saying that if you are friends of genuine art, you are our friends. The church asks for artists to not turn their back on the Church and not be open to the Spirit since the world needs beauty in order not to sink into despair.

To Women: The Council speaks of the Vocation of women, saying that with the World changing so much it is important for women to have a role is it as they are able to bring the humanity out of the inhuman (technology) and stay the hands of men as we grow ever closer to the destruction of the world.

To the Poor and Sick: The Council says that they are not alone and are the preferred members of the kingdom.

To the Workers: The Council acknowledges that they have played a role in the changing of the world and the Church need workers to come back and trust as well as understand them.

Finally To the Youth: The Church looks towards them with Confidence and love as the Church knows that it is the Youth which will be the future. The Church is anxious that the youth try to build up a society which respect the dignity, the liberty and the rights of individuals.

How have the fifty year been? Well under the guidance of Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis we have gotten to where we are today. John Paul II helped begin the interpretation, Benedict XVI anchored it in the tradition of the Church and Francis has brought the message to the heart and out to all people.  Vatican II, brought the church into the modern world, It was the opening of a window to let in a breeze, this freshened up the Church a bit but over time some people have been critical of the Spirit of Vatican II by saying that it is a distinct break with the tradition as so much of what have come from have been a sort of forgotten. Some could say that it’s like a Protestantization of the Church at least that’s what I would call it as an American. However from the looks of it Pope Francis has been making some moves but it’s really to soon to say what impact Francis has had.

Nostra Aetate

Nostra Aetate is the Vatican II document which is a Declaration on the Relation of the Church with  Non-Christian Religions. Nostra Aetate was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 28 October 1965. This is the shortest of all the Vatican II documents.

It is five sections and begins with a reflection on how “In our times” as the world is growing closer together the Church should look at the relationship with non-Christian religions.  As we all came from the same place (God) and are all hoping for the same final goal (God). People turn to religions to help the answer the big questions in life What is man? the meaning of life?  sin? purposes does suffering serve? Other religions throughout the world try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing “ways,” comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. Regarding with reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones the Church holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.

The next bit goes into the other big Abrahamic religions and reflects on them. It begins with the Muslims noting the similarities that Christians share with Muslims, the same God, Abraham, Mary and Jesus (although not as God but as a prophet) are all held in esteem in the religion and they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting. Paul VI and the Bishops gathered in Rome “urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.” The focus then turns to the Jewish people as those in the new Covenant are spiritually ties to the old Covenant. It has the important section where it says that “what happened in Christ’s passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures.” It’s an earth shaking statement since for a long time the Jewish people were who people blamed for the death of Jesus but Paul VI says that they do not have the right to say that. Then It goes on to re-state what was said in the Papal Bull Sicut Judaeis, that the Church is against all types of hatred and persecutions toward the Jewish people because of our shared father but also the spiritual love expressed in the Gospel.

The whole declaration wraps up with the grand statement that we are all made by God and therefore Brothers and Sisters.  The Bishops in Rome “ardently implores the Christian faithful to “maintain good fellowship among the nations” (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men, so that they may truly be children of the Father who is in heaven.”



Christi Matri

Blessed Paul VI contributed a lot to the Mariology in the church. He started his papacy by saying that Mary is the ideal example of Christian life. Later on in the same Encyclical Ecclesiam Suam he added that devotion to Mary is of utmost importance in living the life of the Gospel.  Paul VI was also the first Pope to visit Fatima and in another Encyclical talked about the importance of Marian devotions, pointing toward the Angelus and Rosary as examples.  So Paul VI is an important figure in the development of the Mariology we know today.

In one of his later Encyclicals Christi Matri, Mother of Christ he recommended praying the Rosary in October just like Leo XIII’s Octobri Mense. Paul however says that the reason we should pray in October is in light of the war (Vietnam) and the dangers of atomic conflict. These dangers still exist in our world today, we may not be fighting in Vietnam anymore but war seems to be a continual part of the world and the threats of atomic conflict may have waned but the threat of biological attack and terrorism have taken up the mantle.  Christi Matri is a rather short encyclical consisting of only 14 paragraphs, so it takes next to no time and is worth the read. Hearing the call of Paul VI let us take up our rosaries during these last days of the month and pray to the Queen of Peace, our mother Mary that the active conflict around the world (Mexico, Ukraine, Russia, and in the middle east, Africa, and Asia) can come to an end by peaceful means.