"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mental Sufferings of Our Lord in His Passion

Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman

{323} EVERY passage in the history of our Lord and Saviour is of unfathomable depth, and affords inexhaustible matter of contemplation. All that concerns Him is infinite, and what we first discern is but the surface of that which begins and ends in eternity. It would be presumptuous for any one short of saints and doctors to attempt to comment on His words and deeds, except in the way of meditation; but meditation and mental prayer are so much a duty in all who wish to cherish true faith and love towards Him, that it may be allowed us, my brethren, under the guidance of holy men who have gone before us, to dwell and enlarge upon what otherwise would more fitly be adored than scrutinised. And certain times of the year, this especially [Note], call upon us to consider, as closely and minutely as we can, even the more sacred portions of the Gospel history. I would rather be thought feeble or officious in my treatment of them, than wanting to the Season; and so I now proceed because the religious usage of the Church requires it, {324} and though any individual preacher may well shrink from it, to direct your thoughts to a subject, especially suitable now, and about which many of us perhaps think very little, the sufferings which our Lord endured in His innocent and sinless soul.

You know, my brethren, that our Lord and Saviour, though He was God, was also perfect man; and hence He had not only a body, but a soul likewise, such as ours, though pure from all stain of evil. He did not take a body without a soul, God forbid! for that would not have been to become man. How would He have sanctified our nature by taking a nature which was not ours? Man without a soul is on a level with the beasts of the field; but our Lord came to save a race capable of praising and obeying Him, possessed of immortality, though that immortality had lost its promised blessedness. Man was created in the image of God, and that image is in his soul; when then his Maker, by an unspeakable condescension, came in his nature, He took on Himself a soul in order to take on Him a body; He took on Him a soul as the means of His union with a body; He took on Him in the first place the soul, then the body of man, both at once, but in this order, the soul and the body; He Himself created the soul which He took on Himself, while He took His body from the flesh of the Blessed Virgin, His Mother. Thus He became perfect man with body and soul; and as He took on Him a body of flesh and nerves, which admitted of wounds and death, and was capable of suffering, so did He take a soul, too, which was susceptible of that suffering, and {325} moreover was susceptible of the pain and sorrow which are proper to a human soul; and, as His atoning passion was undergone in the body, so it was undergone in the soul also.

As the solemn days proceed, we shall be especially called on, my brethren, to consider His sufferings in the body, His seizure, His forced journeyings to and fro, His blows and wounds, His scourging, the crown of thorns, the nails, the Cross. They are all summed up in the Crucifix itself, as it meets our eyes; they are represented all at once on His sacred flesh, as it hangs up before us—and meditation is made easy by the spectacle. It is otherwise with the sufferings of His soul; they cannot be painted for us, nor can they even be duly investigated: they are beyond both sense and thought; and yet they anticipated His bodily sufferings. The agony, a pain of the soul, not of the body, was the first act of His tremendous sacrifice; "My soul is sorrowful even unto death," He said; nay; if He suffered in the body, it really was in the soul, for the body did but convey the infliction on to that which was the true recipient and seat of the suffering.

This it is very much to the purpose to insist upon; I say, it was not the body that suffered, but the soul in the body; it was the soul and not the body which was the seat of the suffering of the Eternal Word. Consider, then, there is no real pain, though there may be apparent suffering, when there is no kind of inward sensibility or spirit to be the seat of it. A tree, for instance, has life, organs, growth, and decay; it {326} may be wounded and injured; it droops, and is killed; but it does not suffer, because it has no mind or sensible principle within it. But wherever this gift of an immaterial principle is found, there pain is possible, and greater pain according to the quality of the gift. Had we no spirit of any kind, we should feel as little as a tree feels; had we no soul, we should not feel pain more acutely than a brute feels it; but, being men, we feel pain in a way in which none but those who have souls can feel it.

Living beings, I say, feel more or less according to the spirit which is in them; brutes feel far less than man, because they cannot reflect on what they feel; they have no advertence or direct consciousness of their sufferings. This it is that makes pain so trying, viz., that we cannot help thinking of it, while we suffer it. It is before us, it possesses the mind, it keeps our thoughts fixed upon it. Whatever draws the mind off the thought of it lessens it; hence friends try to amuse us when we are in pain, for amusement is a diversion. If the pain is slight, they sometimes succeed with us; and then we are, so to say, without pain, even while we suffer. And hence it continually happens that in violent exercise or labour, men meet with blows or cuts, so considerable and so durable in their effect, as to bear witness to the suffering which must have attended their infliction, of which nevertheless they recollect nothing. And in quarrels and in battles wounds are received which, from the excitement of the moment, are brought home to the consciousness of the combatant, not by the pain at the {327} time of receiving them, but by the loss of blood that follows.

I will show you presently, my brethren, how I mean to apply what I have said to the consideration of our Lord's sufferings; first I will make another remark. Consider, then, that hardly any one stroke of pain is intolerable; it is intolerable when it continues. You cry out perhaps that you cannot bear more; patients feel as if they could stop the surgeon's hand, simply because he continues to pain them. Their feeling is that they have borne as muchas they can bear; as if the continuance and not the intenseness was what made it too much for them. What does this mean, but that the memory of the foregoing moments of pain acts upon and (as it were) edges the pain that succeeds? If the third or fourth or twentieth moment of pain could be taken by itself, if the succession of the moments that preceded it could be forgotten, it would be no more than the first moment, as bearable as the first (taking away the shock which accompanies the first); but what makes it unbearable is, that it is the twentieth; that the first, the second, the third, on to the nineteenth moment of pain, are all concentrated in the twentieth; so that every additional moment of pain has all the force, the ever-increasing force, of all that has preceded it. Hence, I repeat, it is that brute animals would seem to feel so little pain, because, that is, they have not the power of reflection or of consciousness. They do not know they exist; they do not contemplate themselves; they do not look backwards or forwards; every moment as {328} it succeeds is their all; they wander over the face of the earth, and see this thing and that, and feel pleasure and pain, but still they take everything as it comes, and then let it go again, as men do in dreams. They have memory, but not the memory of an intellectual being; they put together nothing, they make nothing properly one and individual to themselves out of the particular sensations which they receive; nothing is to them a reality, or has a substance, beyond those sensations; they are but sensible of a number of successive impressions. And hence, as their other feelings, so their feeling of pain is but faint and dull, in spite of their outward manifestations of it. It is the intellectual comprehension of pain, as a whole diffused through successive moments, which gives it its special power and keenness, and it is the soul only, which a brute has not, which is capable of that comprehension.

Now apply this to the sufferings of our Lord;—do you recollect their offering Him wine mingled with myrrh, when He was on the point of being crucified? He would not drink of it; why? because such a portion would have stupefied His mind, and He was bent on bearing the pain in all its bitterness. You see from this, my brethren, the character of His sufferings; He would have fain escaped them, had that been His Father's will; "If it be possible," He said, "let this chalice pass from Me;" but since it was not possible, He says calmly and decidedly to the Apostle, who would have rescued Him from suffering, "The chalice which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?" If He was to suffer, He gave Himself {329} to suffering; He did not come to suffer as little as He could; He did not turn away His face from the suffering; He confronted it, or, as I may say, He breasted it, that every particular portion of it might make its due impression on Him. And as men are superior to brute animals, and are affected by pain more than they, by reason of the mind within them, which gives a substance to pain, such as it cannot have in the instance of brutes; so, in like manner, our Lord felt pain of the body, with an advertence and a consciousness, and therefore with a keenness and intensity, and with a unity of perception, which none of us can possibly fathom or compass, because His soul was so absolutely in His power, so simply free from the influence of distractions, so fully directed upon the pain, so utterly surrendered, so simply subjected to the suffering. And thus He may truly be said to have suffered the whole of His passion in every moment of it.

Recollect that our Blessed Lord was in this respect different from us, that, though He was perfect man, yet there was a power in Him greater than His soul, which ruled His soul, for He was God. The soul of other men is subjected to its own wishes, feelings, impulses, passions, perturbations; His soul was subjected simply to His Eternal and Divine Personality. Nothing happened to His soul by chance, or on a sudden; He never was taken by surprise; nothing affected Him without His willing beforehand that it should affect Him. Never did He sorrow, or fear, or desire, or rejoice in spirit, but He first willed to be {330} sorrowful, or afraid, or desirous, or joyful. When we suffer, it is because outward agents and the uncontrollable emotions of our minds bring suffering upon us. We are brought under the discipline of pain involuntarily, we suffer from it more or less acutely according to accidental circumstances, we find our patience more or less tried by it according to our state of mind, and we do our best to provide alleviations or remedies of it. We cannot anticipate beforehand how much of it will come upon us, or how far we shall be able to sustain it; nor can we say afterwards why we have felt just what we have felt, or why we did not bear the suffering better. It was otherwise with our Lord. His Divine Person was not subject, could not be exposed, to the influence of His own human affections and feelings, except so far as He chose. I repeat, when He chose to fear, He feared; when He chose to be angry, He was angry; when He chose to grieve, He was grieved. He was not open to emotion, but He opened upon Himself voluntarily the impulse by which He was moved. Consequently, when He determined to suffer the pain of His vicarious passion, whatever He did, He did, as the Wise Man says, instanter, "earnestly," with His might; He did not do it by halves; He did not turn away His mind from the suffering as we do—(how should He, who came to suffer, who could not have suffered but of His own act?) no, He did not say and unsay, do and undo; He said and He did; He said, "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God; sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou fitted to Me". He took a {331} body in order that He might suffer; He became man, that He might suffer as man; and when His hour was come, that hour of Satan and of darkness, the hour when sin was to pour its full malignity upon Him, it followed that He offered Himself wholly, a holocaust, a whole burnt-offering;—as the whole of His body, stretched out upon the Cross, so the whole of His soul, His whole advertence, His whole consciousness, a mind awake, a sense acute, a living cooperation, a present, absolute intention, not a virtual permission, not a heartless submission, this did He present to His tormentors. His passion was an action; He lived most energetically, while He lay languishing, fainting, and dying. Nor did He die, except by an act of the will; for He bowed His head, in command as well as in resignation, and said, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit;" He gave the word, He surrendered His soul, He did not lose it.

Thus you see, my brethren, had our Lord only suffered in the body, and in it not so much as other men, still as regards the pain, He would have really suffered indefinitely more, because pain is to be measured by the power of realising it. God was the sufferer; God suffered in His human nature; the sufferings belonged to God, and were drunk up, were drained out to the bottom of the chalice, because God drank them; not tasted or sipped, not flavoured, disguised by human medicaments, as man disposes of the cup of anguish. And what I have been saying will further serve to answer an objection, which I shall proceed to notice, and which perhaps exists latently {332} in the minds of many, and leads them to overlook the part which our Lord's soul had in His gracious satisfaction for sin.

Our Lord said, when His agony was commencing, "My soul is sorrowful unto death"; now you may ask, my brethren, whether He had not certain consolations peculiar to Himself, impossible in any other, which diminished or impeded the distress of His soul, and caused Him to feel, not more, but less than an ordinary man. For instance, He had a sense of innocence which no other sufferer could have; even His persecutors, even the false apostle who betrayed Him, the judge who sentenced Him, and the soldiers who conducted the execution, testified His innocence. "I have condemned the innocent blood," said Judas; "I am clear from the blood of this just Person," said Pilate; "Truly this was a just Man," cried the centurion. And if even they, sinners, bore witness to His sinlessness, how much more did His own soul! And we know well that even in our own case, sinners as we are, on the consciousness of innocence or of guilt mainly turns our power of enduring opposition and calumny; how much more, you will say, in the case of our Lord, did the sense of inward sanctity compensate for the suffering and annihilate the shame! Again, you may say that He knew that His sufferings would be short, and that their issue would be joyful, whereas uncertainty of the future is the keenest element of human distress; but He could not have anxiety, for He was not in suspense; nor despondency or despair, for He never was deserted. {333} And in confirmation you may refer to St. Paul, who expressly tells us that, "for the joy set before Him," our Lord "despised the shame". And certainly there is a marvellous calm and self-possession in all He does: consider His warning to the Apostles, "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak"; or His words to Judas, "Friend, wherefore art thou come?" and, "Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?" or to Peter, "All that take the sword shall perish with the sword"; or to the man who struck Him, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou Me?" or to His Mother, "Woman, behold thy Son".

All this is true and much to be insisted on; but it quite agrees with, or rather illustrates, what I have been observing. My brethren, you have only said (to use a human phrase) that He was always Himself. His mind was its own centre, and was never in the slightest degree thrown off its heavenly and most perfect balance. What He suffered, He suffered because He put Himself under suffering, and that deliberately and calmly. As He said to the leper, "I will, be thou clean"; and to the paralytic, "Thy sins be forgiven thee"; and to the centurion, "I will come and heal him"; and of Lazarus, "I go to wake him out of sleep"; so He said, "Now I will begin to suffer," and He did begin. His composure is but the proof how entirely He governed His own mind. He drew back, at the proper moment, the bolts and fastenings, and opened the gates, and the floods fell right {334} upon His soul in all their fulness. That is what St. Mark tells us of Him; and he is said to have written his Gospels from the very mouth of St. Peter, who was one of three witnesses present at the time. "They came," he says, "to the place which is called Gethsemani; and He saith to His disciples, Sit you here while I pray. And He taketh with Him Peter and James and John, and He began to be frightened and to be very heavy." You see how deliberately He acts; He comes to a certain spot; and then, giving the word of command, and withdrawing the support of the God-head from His soul, distress, terror, and dejection at once rush in upon it. Thus He walks forth into a mental agony with as definite an action as if it were some bodily torture, the fire or the wheel.

This being the case, you will see at once, my brethren, that it is nothing to the purpose to say that He would be supported under His trial by the consciousness of innocence and the anticipation of triumph; for His trial consisted in the withdrawal, as of other causes of consolation, so of that very consciousness and anticipation. The same act of the will which admitted the influence upon His soul of any distress at all, admitted all distresses at once. It was not the contest between antagonist impulses and views, coming from without, but the operation of an inward resolution. As men of self-command can turn from one thought to another at their will, so much more did He deliberately deny Himself the comfort, and satiate Himself with the woe. In that moment His soul thought not of the future, He thought only of the {335} present burden which was upon Him, and which He had come upon earth to sustain.

And now, my brethren, what was it He had to bear, when He thus opened upon His soul the torrent of this predestinated pain? Alas! He had to bear what is well known to us, what is familiar to us, but what to Him was woe unutterable. He had to bear that which is so easy a thing to us, so natural, so welcome, that we cannot conceive of it as of a great endurance, but which to Him had the scent and the poison of death—He had, my dear brethren, to bear the weight of sin; He had to bear your sins; He had to bear the sins of the whole world. Sin is an easy thing to us; we think little of it; we do not understand how the Creator can think much of it; we cannot bring our imagination to believe that it deserves retribution, and, when even in this world punishments follow upon it, we explain them away or turn our minds from them. But consider what sin is in itself; it is rebellion against God; it is a traitor's act who aims at the overthrow and death of His sovereign; it is that, if I may use a strong expression, which, could the Divine Governor of the world cease to be, would be sufficient to bring it about. Sin is the mortal enemy of the All-holy, so that He and it cannot be together; and as the All-holy drives it from His presence into the outer darkness, so, if God could be less than God, it is sin that would have power to make Him less. And here observe, my brethren, that when once Almighty Love, by taking flesh, entered this created system, and submitted Himself to its laws, then forthwith this {336} antagonist of good and truth, taking advantage of the opportunity, flew at that flesh which He had taken, and fixed on it, and was its death. The envy of the Pharisees, the treachery of Judas, and the madness of the people, were but the instrument or the expression of the enmity which sin felt towards Eternal Purity as soon as, in infinite mercy towards men, He put Himself within its reach. Sin could not touch His Divine Majesty; but it could assail Him in that way in which He allowed Himself to be assailed, that is, through the medium of His humanity. And in the issue, in the death of God incarnate, you are but taught, my brethren, what sin is in itself, and what it was which then was falling, in its hour and in its strength, upon His human nature, when He allowed that nature to be so filled with horror and dismay at the very anticipation.

There, then, in that most awful hour, knelt the Saviour of the world, putting off the defences of His divinity, dismissing His reluctant Angels, who in myriads were ready at His call, and opening His arms, baring His breast, sinless as He was, to the assault of His foe,—of a foe whose breath was a pestilence, and whose embrace was an agony. There He knelt, motionless and still, while the vile and horrible fiend clad His spirit in a robe steeped in all that is hateful and heinous in human crime, which clung close round His heart, and filled His conscience, and found its way into every sense and pore of His mind, and spread over Him a moral leprosy, till He almost felt Himself to be that which He never could {337} be, and which His foe would fain have made Him. Oh, the horror, when He looked, and did not know Himself, and felt as a foul and loathsome sinner, from His vivid perception of that mass of corruption which poured over His head and ran down even to the skirts of His garments! Oh, the distraction, when He found His eyes, and hands, and feet, and lips, and heart, as if the members of the Evil One, and not of God! Are these the hands of the Immaculate Lamb of God, once innocent, but now red with ten thousand barbarous deeds of blood? are these His lips, not uttering prayer, and praise, and holy blessings, but as if defiled with oaths, and blasphemies, and doctrines of devils? or His eyes, profaned as they are by all the evil visions and idolatrous fascinations for which men have abandoned their adorable Creator? And His ears, they ring with sounds of revelry and of strife; and His heart is frozen with avarice, and cruelty, and unbelief; and His very memory is laden with every sin which has been committed since the fall, in all regions of the earth, with the pride of the old giants, and the lusts of the five cities, and the obduracy of Egypt, and the ambition of Babel, and the unthankfulness and scorn of Israel. Oh, who does not know the misery of a haunting thought which comes again and again, in spite of rejection, to annoy, if it cannot seduce? or of some odious and sickening imagination, in no sense one's own, but forced upon the mind from without? or of evil knowledge, gained with or without a man's fault, but which he would give a great price to be rid of at once and for ever? And adversaries such as {338} these gather around Thee, Blessed Lord, in millions now; they come in troops more numerous than the locust or the palmer-worm, or the plagues of hail, and flies, and frogs, which were sent against Pharaoh. Of the living and of the dead and of the as yet unborn, of the lost and of the saved, of Thy people and of strangers, of sinners and of saints, all sins are there. Thy dearest are there, Thy saints and Thy chosen are upon Thee; Thy three Apostles, Peter, James, and John; but not as comforters, but as accusers, like the friends of Job, "sprinkling dust towards heaven," and heaping curses on Thy head. All are there but one; one only is not there, one only; for she who had no part in sin, she only could console Thee, and therefore she is not nigh. She will be near Thee on the Cross, she is separated from Thee in the garden. She has been Thy companion and Thy confidant through Thy life, she interchanged with Thee the pure thoughts and holy meditations of thirty years; but her virgin ear may not take in, nor may her immaculate heart conceive, what now is in vision before Thee. None was equal to the weight but God; sometimes before Thy saints Thou hast brought the image of a single sin, as it appears in the light of Thy countenance, or of venial sins, not mortal; and they have told us that the sight did all but kill them, nay, would have killed them, had it not been instantly withdrawn. The Mother of God, for all her sanctity, nay by reason of it, could not have borne even one brood of that innumerable progeny of Satan which now compasses Thee about. It is the long history of a world, and God {339} alone can bear the load of it. Hopes blighted, vows broken, lights quenched, warnings scorned, opportunities lost; the innocent betrayed, the young hardened, the penitent relapsing, the just overcome, the aged failing; the sophistry of misbelief, the wilfulness of passion, the obduracy of pride, the tyranny of habit, the canker of remorse, the wasting fever of care, the anguish of shame, the pining of disappointment, the sickness of despair; such cruel, such pitiable spectacles, such heartrending, revolting, detestable, maddening scenes; nay, the haggard faces, the convulsed lips, the flushed cheek, the dark brow of the willing slaves of evil, they are all before Him now; they are upon Him and in Him. They are with Him instead of that ineffable peace which has inhabited His soul since the moment of His conception. They are upon Him, they are all but His own; He cries to His Father as if He were the criminal, not the victim; His agony takes the form of guilt and compunction. He is doing penance, He is making confession, He is exercising contrition, with a reality and a virtue infinitely greater than that of all saints and penitents together; for He is the One Victim for us all, the sole Satisfaction, the real Penitent, all but the real sinner.

He rises languidly from the earth, and turns around to meet the traitor and his band, now quickly nearing the deep shade. He turns, and lo there is blood upon His garment and in His footprints. Whence come these first-fruits of the passion of the Lamb? no soldier's scourge has touched His shoulders, nor {340} the hangman's nails His hands and feet. My brethren, He has bled before His time; He has shed blood; yes, and it is His agonising soul which has broken up His framework of flesh and poured it forth. His passion has begun from within. That tormented Heart, the seat of tenderness and love, began at length to labour and to beat with vehemence beyond its nature; "the foundations of the great deep were broken up;" the red streams rushed forth so copious and fierce as to overflow the veins, and bursting through the pores, they stood in a thick dew over His whole skin; then forming into drops, they rolled down full and heavy, and drenched the ground.

"My soul is sorrowful even unto death," He said. It has been said of that dreadful pestilence which now is upon us, that it begins with death; by which is meant that it has no stage or crisis, that hope is over when it comes, and that what looks like its course is but the death agony and the process of dissolution; and thus our Atoning Sacrifice, in a much higher sense, began with this passion of woe, and only did not die, because at His Omnipotent will His Heart did not break, nor Soul separate from Body, till He had suffered on the Cross.

No; He has not yet exhausted that full chalice, from which at first His natural infirmity shrank. The seizure and the arraignment, and the buffeting, and the prison, and the trial, and the mocking, and the passing to and fro, and the scourging, and the crown of thorns, and the slow march to Calvary, and the crucifixion, these are all to come. A night and a {341} day, hour after hour, is slowly to run out before the end comes, and the satisfaction is completed.

And then, when the appointed moment arrived, and He gave the word, as His passion had begun with His soul, with the soul did it end. He did not die of bodily exhaustion, or of bodily pain; at His will His tormented Heart broke, and He commended His Spirit to the Father.

* * * * * *

"O Heart of Jesus, all Love, I offer Thee these humble prayers for myself, and for all those who unite themselves with me in Spirit to adore Thee. O holiest Heart of Jesus most lovely, I intend to renew and to offer to Thee these acts of adoration and these prayers, for myself a wretched sinner, and for all those who are associated with me in Thy adoration, through all moments while I breathe, even to the end of my life. I recommend to Thee, O my Jesus, Holy Church, Thy dear spouse and our true Mother, all just souls and all poor sinners, the afflicted, the dying, and all mankind. Let not Thy Blood be shed for them in vain. Finally, deign to apply it in relief of the souls in Purgatory, of those in particular who have practised in the course of their life this holy devotion of adoring Thee."


When will the Holy Father turn Holy Mass around?

By Louie Verrecchio *

Similar to those who unknowingly endure Satan’s torments even as they deny his existence, it seems that most Catholics are largely unaware of just how much they are suffocating under the weight of a post-conciliar liturgical innovation that the Council Fathers neither envisioned nor encouraged; namely, the now common practice of priests offering Holy Mass versus populum, or “facing the people.”

In his outstanding book, "Spirit of the Liturgy," Cardinal Ratzinger wrote of the ancient and venerable practice of offering the Holy Sacrifice ad orientem, in which both priest and people face east:

“It has been the practice in the entire Church, East and West from time immemorial. Contrary to a prevailing misconception, there is no evidence for celebration of Mass versus populum in the first nineteen centuries of the Church's history, with rare exceptions.”

“Despite all the variations in practice that have taken place far into the second millennium, one thing has remained clear for the whole of Christendom: praying toward the east is a tradition that goes back to the beginning. Moreover, it is a fundamental expression of the Christian synthesis of cosmos and history, of being rooted in the once-for-all events of salvation history while going out to meet the Lord who is to come again.”

Did you get that? Ad orientem worship is a sacred sign that serves as “a fundamental expression” of the liturgy’s true essence! Though many Catholic Mass-goers might still argue that obliterating the traditional orientation in favor of the versus populum innovation is harmless, the “facts on the ground” tell a very different story.

There is scarcely one among the laity who in honesty can deny that the way in which Holy Mass in the Ordinary Form (celebrated versus populum) is experienced is heavily influenced by the personal characteristics of the man who serves as the priest-celebrant.

For example, when Mass is offered by a priest who effectively conveys true love for the Lord and His people — not simply through the homily, but throughout the entirety of the rite whether by the expressiveness of his intonations, the eloquence of his gestures or by some other means — it is not uncommon for the faithful to experience in the liturgy a sense of joy that is due in no small measure to the pious feelings that the priest himself aroused within them.

Before continuing, a word about what it means to “experience” Holy Mass is in order.

The Council Fathers tell us that the liturgy on earth is no less than “a foretaste of the liturgy of heaven itself” (cf SC 7), but it is one thing to know that Holy Mass is heaven on earth and quite another to experience it as such.

Pope Benedict said that the sacred liturgy is where “God and man meet each other in an embrace of salvation,” and it is important to consider that in Holy Mass the Lord desires to embrace (and indeed redeem) the whole of man — body, mind, intellect, will and senses — that we might taste the intoxicating fruits of Divine union in the very depths of our being and thus be strengthened for the Christian journey amidst all of the earthly sufferings that are rightly ours.

This is the experience of Holy Mass of which I speak, and as noted the personal characteristics of the priest-celebrant often contribute to it in no small way.

The converse, however, is also true as one’s experience of Holy Mass is often negatively impacted by a priest who lacks the charisma, and dare I say the “stage presence,” of the aforementioned other. To be very clear, I do not judge this to be a reflection of the priest’s personal piety at all. Most reasonable people fully recognize that even “liturgically uninspiring” priests are often steeped in personal holiness.

The common thread in these examples is the “performance driven” atmosphere that has been thrust upon the rite thanks to the versus populum orientation of the priest, and its regrettable effects are felt not just by the laity, but by the clergy as well.

The priest-as-centerpiece arrangement, endemic to the versus populum posture, places tremendous pressure on the sacred minister to “perform” his duties at Holy Mass as engagingly as possible. Aware of the power that his liturgical persona wields over the assembly’s experience, the priest in charity cannot help but feel compelled to summon his personal resources in order to touch the hearts of the people that he serves; this, precisely at a moment when his sacerdotal identity urges him on a personal level (using the imagery given to us by St. John the Baptist) to decrease, so that the Lord Jesus Christ, the one true High Priest, might increase.

While we know that a certain “paradox of identity” is operative in the ordained whenever he acts in persona Christi, keep in mind, however, that the one of which I speak here is due neither to the essence of the liturgy nor to the nature of the priesthood; rather, it is a synthetic one that has been manufactured almost entirely by the versus populum innovation, and the harm that it does is substantial.

Those relatively few among us - both lay and ordained - who have had the rare pleasure of participating in the Ordinary Form of Holy Mass celebrated ad orientem have discovered firsthand just how remarkably powerful this venerable sacred sign can be at elevating the hearts and minds of the faithful toward God.

With regard to the experience of the priest, for example, Fr. Mark Daniel Kirby, Prior of the Diocesan Benedictine Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle in Tulsa, Oklahoma, wrote on his blog that offering the Holy Sacrifice ad orientem “affords the priest celebrant the boon of a holy modesty,” and that by approaching the altar of the Lord in this way he finds himself “more and more identified with Christ, Eternal High Priest and Hostia perpetua, in the liturgy of the heavenly sanctuary, beyond the veil, before the Face of the Father.”

Oh, that all of our priests could daily have their sacerdotal identity so profoundly confirmed!

Those fortunate few, both lay and clerical, who have experienced Holy Mass celebrated ad orientem have also marveled at how assuming this common direction of liturgical prayer greatly enhances an awareness of the unity that exists in the Body of Christ as all present stand before the Father to offer sacrifice through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This all-too-small fraction of the faithful are often shaken to the core in the ad orientem celebration as the sacrificial nature of Holy Mass, lain hidden for so long behind the manmade veil of a rite turned in on itself, becomes unmistakably tangible in their very midst. Their souls thus delight in the Divine presence in a previously unknown way as they move beyond mere knowing to experiencing Holy Mass on earth as participation in the eternal Banquet of heaven!

This, my friends, is the price we have been paying (most of us, unknowingly) over the last four-plus decades for the “privilege” of having a Mass that resembles in form countless other mere worldly events through a rite celebrated versus populum.

In recent years the Holy Father has sought to restore a Christocentricorientation to the celebration of Papal Masses by what some have dubbed the “Benedictine arrangement” in which a Crucifix is placed at the center of the altar.

In the aforementioned work, "Spirit of the Liturgy," Cardinal Ratzinger proposed this altar arrangement as a possible “solution” that allows the priest and the people to gaze upon Christ (as represented by the Crucifix) even as they still face one another.

To be very candid, I find this corrective half-step extremely disappointing and potentially harmful, not to mention surprisingly timid — coming as it does from a Pontiff who clearly recognizes the ad orientem posture as a “fundamental expression” of the liturgy’s essence.

I can only assume that the pope has a very good reason for avoiding a full return to ad orientem worship in his public Masses (although it is reported that he often celebrates the Ordinary Form ad orientem in the Sistine Chapel), but even so I fear that His Holiness is only further emboldening those who place undue importance upon good liturgical “sight lines” and the face-to-face dynamic that already has done immeasurable harm.

After the example of our father in faith, Abraham, who dared to implore the Lord to spare Sodom, given the opportunity I would like to urge the Holy Father to lead the way out of this desert of our own creation by henceforth offering Papal Masses ad orientem wherever possible, and by encouraging the priests and bishops that he serves throughout the world to do the same.

I would also like to humbly suggest to the Holy Father that his leadership alone is uniquely able to strengthen those clerics who sincerely desire to die to self to make room for the Eternal High Priest at Holy Mass by turning to face the Lord along with their people (even if only by facing a “liturgical east”) but who as yet are resigned to inaction for fear of the reprisals that doing so may invite.

In the meantime, I will continue to pray that a complete return to the ad orientem posture at Holy Mass will come soon. In truth, I think this is all but inevitable and the only questions that remain are when and how it will take place.

In any event, a restoration of ad orientem worship in the sacred liturgy will be a tremendous blessing for the Body of Christ on earth; going a long way toward helping us “grow in our awareness of the mystery being celebrated at Holy Mass, and its relationship to daily life” (Pope Benedict XVI - "Sacramentum Caritatis," 52).


*Author and speaker Louie Verrecchio has been a columnist for Catholic News Agency since April 2009. He recently launched “Preparing the Way for the Roman Missal – Where the New Translation meets the New EvangelizationTM” available at www.MissalPrep.com

Mr. Verrecchio’s work, which includes the internationally acclaimed Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II Faith Formation Series, has been endorsed by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia; Bishop Emeritus Patrick O’Donoghue of Lancaster, England, Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, IA, USA and others. For more information please visit: www.harvestingthefruit.com

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Local Priest Marches With The Saints

Former Atheist Promises Encounter With God Through Saints' Relics


DENVER, COLO., March 29 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Father Carlos Martins never expected to be a priest, or to be touring North America to promote devotion to the saints through their sacred relics. For much of his life, he did not believe in God.

'I was raised in a very nominally Catholic family. We didn't go to church,' the 37-year-old priest told CNA on March 27. 'The Catholic school that we went to was 'Catholic' in name only.'

'By the time I became an adult, aside from being a 'practical atheist,' I became an intellectual one as well. I thought it was impossible for God to exist, given the state of the world.'

During his university years, some 'very committed Catholics' made him question his atheism ' leading to a profound encounter with Christ in Eucharistic adoration.

Sixteen years and one priestly ordination later, Fr. Martins helps others encounter God, through another traditional Catholic practice: the exposition and veneration of sacred relics.

He leads the Treasures of the Church ministry, which brings thousands of relics by request to locations in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Its collection includes relics of St. Maria Goretti, St. Thö©rö¨se of Lisieux, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Faustina Kowalska.

Fr. Martins spoke with CNA during his March 25-April 1 tour of Colorado. After a 60-minute presentation explaining the veneration of relics, attendees can spend time in prayer with a selection that includes a large piece of Christ's cross, and fabric from the Virgin Mary's veil.

As his presentation makes clear, the experience is unlike anything that most attendees have experienced before.

'I do not have a 'traveling museum,'' he explained. 'What I have, is a ministry of evangelization and healing.'

Fr. Martins refers to the period of veneration, following his introduction to the practice, as the 'walk with the saints.' During this time, he promises that those with an open heart will experience God ' and the supernatural reality known as the 'communion of the saints' ' in a new and profound way.

'People aren't just going around and viewing the multitude of relics that are there,' he explained. 'They're encountering these heroes of the faith, wanting to connect with them.'

'I guarantee them that there is going to be one saint, that is present at the exhibition, that will communicate with them in a personal way ' Their job is to go find 'their saint.''

'Ever since my own conversion from atheism,' he recalled, 'my interaction with the saints was always very personal. I could intuit very specific saints extending an offer of friendship to me, with an uncanny deepness and regularity.'

'That is going to happen, when you encounter the relics,' the priest said. 'I guarantee people that's going to happen.'

While some non-Catholics may find the veneration of relics unusual or even strange, it is solidly rooted in scripture and the constant tradition of the Church. Saints and their relics are not worshiped, but honored in a manner that acknowledges God's work in their lives.

Through his work with Treasures of the Church, Fr. Martin has seen God's work continue through the relics of the saints ' sometimes in surprising ways.

'People come to a relic exposition for all kinds of different reasons,' he noted.

While some are there because of their devotion to saints, others may attend for different reasons: historical interest, an interest in 'antiques,' or curiosity about a practice with which they are unfamiliar.

'They can't believe that there is a 'medieval circus act,' running around with human bones, in this day and age,' Fr. Martin joked.

In the presentation that precedes the 'walk with the saints,' the priest makes a promise to all of these attendees.

'I make a public guarantee that they will encounter the living God in that exposition.'

'In the years I've been doing this, the hundreds of thousands of people that have come ' I have never had anybody make a 'warranty claim,'' he said.

Instead he has heard testimonies of healing, accomplished by God's grace, through the intercession of the saints.

'I've had thousands of healing stories communicated to me: cancers gone, heart conditions, osteoporosis, you name it.'

But the 'most dramatic effect' Fr. Martin sees, following the exposition of relics, is a healing within the human soul.

It is this kind of healing that the priest finds 'most exciting' in his ministry. Through their encounter with the saints, those living on earth are called to remove the obstacles to receiving eternal life.

'You can go to heaven with cancer in your limb. You can go to heaven with a bad heart (condition),' Fr. Martins noted.

'But you can't go to heaven with a heart that has shut God out. You can't go to heaven with unforgiveness in your heart. You can't go to heaven by refusing to participate in the sacraments and live your Catholic identity. You just can't. '

'If I've managed to help God penetrate the human heart, that invigorates and exhilarates me,' he said.



Pope Paul VI
Address to a General Audience, November 26, 1969

Our Dear Sons and Daughters:

1. We ask you to turn your minds once more to the liturgical innovation of the new rite of the Mass. This new rite will be introduced into our celebration of the holy Sacrifice starting from Sunday next which is the first of Advent, November 30 [in Italy].

2. A new rite of the Mass: a change in a venerable tradition that has gone on for centuries. This is something that affects our hereditary religious patrimony, which seemed to enjoy the privilege of being untouchable and settled. It seemed to bring the prayer of our forefathers and our saints to our lips and to give us the comfort of feeling faithful to our spiritual past, which we kept alive to pass it on to the generations ahead.

3. It is at such a moment as this that we get a better understanding of the value of historical tradition and the communion of the saints. This change will affect the ceremonies of the Mass. We shall become aware, perhaps with some feeling of annoyance, that the ceremonies at the altar are no longer being carried out with the same words and gestures to which we were accustomed—perhaps so much accustomed that we no longer took any notice of them. This change also touches the faithful. It is intended to interest each one of those present, to draw them out of their customary personal devotions or their usual torpor.

4. We must prepare for this many-sided inconvenience. It is the kind of upset caused by every novelty that breaks in on our habits. We shall notice that pious persons are disturbed most, because they have their own respectable way of hearing Mass, and they will feel shaken out of their usual thoughts and obliged to follow those of others. Even priests may feel some annoyance in this respect.

5. So what is to be done on this special and historical occasion? First of all, we must prepare ourselves. This novelty is no small thing. We should not let ourselves be surprised by the nature, or even the nuisance, of its exterior forms. As intelligent persons and conscientious faithful we should find out as much as we can about this innovation. It will not be hard to do so, because of the many fine efforts being made by the Church and by publishers. As We said on another occasion, we shall do well to take into account the motives for this grave change. The first is obedience to the Council. That obedience now implies obedience to the Bishops, who interpret the Council's prescription and put them into practice.

6. This first reason is not simply canonical—relating to an external precept. It is connected with the charism of the liturgical act. In other words, it is linked with the power and efficacy of the Church's prayer, the most authoritative utterance of which comes from the Bishop. This is also true of priests, who help the Bishop in his ministry, and like him act in persona Christi (cf. St. Ign., ad Eph. I, V). It is Christ's will, it is the breath of the Holy Spirit which calls the Church to make this change. A prophetic moment is occurring in the mystical body of Christ, which is the Church. This moment is shaking the Church, arousing it, obliging it to renew the mysterious art of its prayer.

7. The other reason for the reform is this renewal of prayer. It is aimed at associating the assembly of the faithful more closely and more effectively with the official rite, that of the Word and that of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, that constitutes the Mass. For the faithful are also invested with the "royal priesthood"; that is, they are qualified to have supernatural conversation with God.

8. It is here that the greatest newness is going to be noticed, the newness of language. No longer Latin, but the spoken language will be the principal language of the Mass. The introduction of the vernacular will certainly be a great sacrifice for those who know the beauty, the power and the expressive sacrality of Latin. We are parting with the speech of the Christian centuries; we are becoming like profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance. We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, the Gregorian chant.

9. We have reason indeed for regret, reason almost for bewilderment. What can we put in the place of that language of the angels? We are giving up something of priceless worth. But why? What is more precious than these loftiest of our Church's values?

10. The answer will seem banal, prosaic. Yet it is a good answer, because it is human, because it is apostolic.

11. Understanding of prayer is worth more than the silken garments in which it is royally dressed. Participation by the people is worth more—particularly participation by modern people, so fond of plain language which is easily understood and converted into everyday speech.

12. If the divine Latin language kept us apart from the children, from youth, from the world of labor and of affairs, if it were a dark screen, not a clear window, would it be right for us fishers of souls to maintain it as the exclusive language of prayer and religious intercourse? What did St. Paul have to say about that? Read chapter 14 of the first letter to the Corinthians: "In Church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue" (I Corinthians 14:19).

13. St. Augustine seems to be commenting on this when he says, "Have no fear of teachers, so long as all are instructed" (P.L. 38, 228, Serm. 37; cf. also Serm. 229, p. 1371). But, in any case, the new rite of the Mass provides that the faithful "should be able to sing together, in Latin, at least the parts of the Ordinary of the Mass, especially the Creed and the Lord's Prayer, the Our Father" (Sacrosanctum Concilium n. 19).

14. But, let us bear this well in mind, for our counsel and our comfort: the Latin language will not thereby disappear. It will continue to be the noble language of the Holy See's official acts; it will remain as the means of teaching in ecclesiastical studies and as the key to the patrimony of our religious, historical and human culture. If possible, it will reflourish in splendor.

15. Finally, if we look at the matter properly we shall see that the fundamental outline of the Mass is still the traditional one, not only theologically but also spiritually. Indeed, if the rite is carried out as it ought to be, the spiritual aspect will be found to have greater richness. The greater simplicity of the ceremonies, the variety and abundance of scriptural texts, the joint acts of the ministers, the silences which will mark various deeper moments in the rite, will all help to bring this out.

16. But two indispensable requirements above all will make that richness clear: a profound participation by every single one present, and an outpouring of spirit in community charity. These requirements will help to make the Mass more than ever a school of spiritual depth and a peaceful but demanding school of Christian sociology. The soul's relationship with Christ and with the brethren thus attains new and vital intensity. Christ, the victim and the priest, renews and offers up his redeeming sacrifice through the ministry of the Church in the symbolic rite of his last supper. He leaves us his body and blood under the appearances of bread and wine, for our personal and spiritual nourishment, for our fusion in the unity of his redeeming love and his immortal life.

17. But there is still a practical difficulty, which the excellence of the sacred renders not a little important. How can we celebrate this new rite when we have not yet got a complete missal, and there are still so many uncertainties about what to do?

18. To conclude, it will be helpful to read to you some directions from the competent office, namely the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. Here they are: "As regards the obligation of the rite:

1) For the Latin text: Priests who celebrate in Latin, in private or also in public, in cases provided for by the legislation, may use either the Roman Missal or the new rite until November 28, 1971. If they use the Roman Missal, they may nevertheless make use of the three new anaphoras and the Roman Canon, having regard to the provisions respecting the last text (omission of some saints, conclusions, etc.). They may moreover recite the readings and the prayer of the faithful in the vernacular. If they use the new rite, they must follow the official text, with the concessions as regards the vernacular indicated above.

2) For the vernacular text. In Italy, all those who celebrate in the presence of the people from November 30 next, must use the Rito delta Messa published by the Italian Episcopal Conference or by another National Conference. On feast days readings shall be taken: either from the Lectionary published by the Italian Center for Liturgical Action, or from the Roman Missal for feast days, as in use heretofore. On ferial days the ferial Lectionary published three years ago shall continue to be used. No problem arises for those who celebrate in private, because they must celebrate in Latin. If a priest celebrates in the vernacular by special indult, as regards the texts, he shall follow what was said above for the Mass with the people; but for the rite he shall follow the Ordo published by the Italian Episcopal Conference.

19. In every case, and at all times, let us remember that "the Mass is a Mystery to be lived in a death of Love. Its divine reality surpasses all words. . . It is the Action par excellence, the very act of our Redemption, in the Memorial which makes it present" (Zundel).

With Our Apostolic Benediction.
Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
4 December 1969

L'Osservatore Romano is the newspaper of the Holy See.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Joy in Ottawa: Religious Sisters With Habits

Today, my family and I had the great honour to attend the ceremony establishing theQueenship of Mary as a“private” association in the Catholic Church where four brave women professed their temporary vows, and received their habit and new religious names.  My own personal connection with this religious community involves being a long time friend of one of the Sisters, Madeleine Thomson.  The particular charism of this association is evangelization and service.  (Read their January Newsletter: part 12.)
The event was truly momentous because it shows that the Catholic Church’s religious vocations are really starting to grow and spread. With the institution of this private association (which in time will become a “public association” with all of the canonical rights and responsibilities), it also shows that the Holy Spirit is moving amongst us and giving us hope in the spiritual war in which we are embroiled.
The thing about Religious Sisters is that their formation strikes against the “professionalism” that has crept into the Church over the past 40 years.  This “professionalism” sought to make priests more like social workers, shrinks, and media celebrities instead of spiritual fathers of our Catholic family.  Now with the nascent growth of communities of religious sisters with habits, it begins to undermine and ultimately destroy the model of the Church and the Priest that our Enemy was trying to establish. 
Professionals, after all, don’t sacrifice.  They do a job and they get paid with money or recognition. 
These Sisters and growing communities like theirs (i.e. theSisters of Life who were showing their support at the Mass today, joining in the celebration) stand as a rebuke to that thinking because they call the Church and Her priests back to poverty, chastity, and obedience through their humble service.
You see, folks, when the Nuns threw off their habits and cried out for liberation, “respect”, and power in the 60s and 70s, they became little more than social workers with a cross.  They were played by the Devil and the Devil flipped them a bone for their troubles.  Little did they know that, instead of gaining power, they were throwing it all away when they threw away those habits and what those habits represented.  Real power, true power, only comes through the Cross of Jesus Christ and Faith in Him and His Church. 
If you want to know who has the true power in the Catholic Church, don’t necessarily look at the bishop with the mitre or the priest with the collar.  Look at the Sister with the habit because through her humble submission, she’s a woman who’s moving heaven and earth. 
Salvation, after all, did come through a woman.
The Sisters have found their first temporary home at St. Catherine of Sienna Parish in Metcalfe while they search for some land to build their permanent home.  Rich Catholic benefactors should take the opportunity to reflect on Purgatory and how sacrifices and penances on this side of heaven may lessen their time there, provided, of course, they make a proper sacramental confession and have true contrition.
Presentation of the Habits:
Presentation of the Sisters to the Catholic community assembled:
Wide view in the beautiful little Chapel of the Cathedral:
Upstairs awaiting Mass, enjoying the splendor of our rich Catholic architectural heritage:
Profession of temporary vows:
Downstairs at the Reception.  Archbishop Prendergast can been in his slick burgundy.  He was taking pictures.  He’ll probably have something up on his blog about this great event tomorrow.  Had a chance to say hello to him as he met my family.   “Uh, so what’s your name again?” “John Pacheco, your Grace.”  “Oh, yeah, we’ve me before, haven’t we?” :mrgreen:
My girls presenting Sister Madeleine with roses for her new vocation in Christ.

Monday, March 26, 2012

At last – an English bishop with the courage to reintroduce the traditional Latin Mass

Bishop Mark Davies in a proper mitre (Photo: Pchildell/Flickr)
Here's a photograph to gladden the heart of any traditional Catholic and to give The Tablet's Bobbie Mickens a fit of the vapours. The prelate wearing that magnificent mitre is a bishop of England and Wales, believe it or not, presiding at a solemn Latin Mass to mark the re-opening of a parish where the worship will be in the Extraordinary Form. More than a thousand people attended.
Yes, you read that right. Summorum Pontificum has finally been fully implemented by a diocesan bishop – the Rt Rev Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury, who has entrusted the Shrine Church of Ss Peter and Paul and St Philomena in New Brighton, Wirral, to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. This much-loved building, once known as "the dome of home" to returning sailors, had previously been closed. Bishop Davies saw no reason why this dynamic apostolic institute should not revive it.
"Perhaps in this image we can recognise the new mission given to this church in a new and vibrant parish and amid the new needs of those who travel through the century before us,” said the bishop in his address. "Today we do not simply wish to open the doors of a closed building but to be open in our hearts to what Blessed John Paul II called ‘Eucharistic amazement’. I was asked in a radio interview whether I saw myself as part of an old, traditional church or a dynamic, evangelising community. My interviewer saw these as distinct alternatives but to the Catholic mind the answer must always be both."
Can you imagine any other bishop of England and Wales having the conviction and courage to implement the Motu Proprio so enthusiastically? No, me neither. Bishop Davies is a pastor of remarkable calibre; the question now is whether Rome will send us another bishop in his mould – or will simply allow the Magic Circle to shunt its candidates into soon-to-be-vacant diocesan sees.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cardinal Collins at Church of Our Lady for Vespers

Catholic community honours Cardinal Thomas Collins with special prayer service

Tony Saxon/Guelph...
GUELPH — The tone was celebratory, the prayers uplifting and the hundreds of people who attended the evening prayer service at the Church of Our Lady Thursday night were humbled to be in the presence of Cardinal Thomas Collins.
Collins was born in Guelph and has worked his way through the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. In 1997 he was pointed as Bishop of Saint Paul in Alberta and two years later was named the Archbishop of Edmonton.
In 2007 he was appointed as the Archbishop of Toronto, and in February this year was elevated to the position of Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI at a ceremony in Rome.
“I think it was really neat because someone so high up came here,” said Katherine Nixon, 11, who attended the service with her mother Dee and 7-year-old sister Jessica.
“This may be the closest you get to Rome,” Dee joked with her daughters. “But seriously, he is absolutely lovely. We’re thrilled that we could be here.”
The family was among the first to shake the Cardinal’s hand at the end of the service that included prayers, hymns and speeches.
Father Dennis Noon called Collins, “our native son, whose spiritual journey began among us and with whom we feel a special bond. We welcome you as a prince of the church and a member of our faith family.”
Don Drone, director of education for the Wellington Catholic District School Board, congratulated his former classmate from 50 years ago for his achievements, the greatest of which is remaining true to his convictions.
“He is not afraid to speak up,” Drone said. “He supports the homeless, he fights for social justice and he supports Catholic education. His example and his leadership are extremely appreciated.”
Mayor Karen Farbridge said Collins’s faith, wisdom, sense of humour, and his ability to connect with people on a deep level, “will ensure your star will shine brightly.”
In his homily, Collins talked about the reverend moment when he knelt before the Pope and received the trappings of Cardinal — the bright red robe and hat that symbolize devotion to God, the ring that symbolizes fidelity and surrender to God, and the scroll, that makes him responsible for the St. Patrick Parish in Rome.
He was pleased to be back in the parish where it all began for him, he said, and honoured by the ceremony and the warm reception he has received from his hometown.
“This is a beautiful moment in my life,” he said. “Keep me in your prayers as you will always be in mine.”
“I found the service perfect,” said Catherine Hannah, who had come from Acton with fellow parishioners. “It was not pompous and all his words were true and genuine.”
“I’m at a loss for words and I’m never at a loss for words,” agreed Janis Braida of the Acton contingent. “It was very humbling.”