Tuesday, 1 January 2008

O Admirabile Commercium!

Creator generis humani, animatum corpus sumens, de Virgine nasci dignatus est: et procedens homo sine semine, largitus est nobis suam dietatem.



















So begins the first antiphon at vespers for the feast of Our Lady, Mother of God, or as formerly known, The Circumcision of Our Lord, describing how Christ humbled himself to share our humanity so we could share his divinity. This antiphon seems such a fitting way to describe the pontificate of Benedict XVI for the year that has just passed. For what a year 2007 has been, and what a difference it has made to our holy mother the church!



















Our Holy Father has not left us wanting, and has produced a hat trick of three major works. First, his masterful book on Jesus of Nazareth, a stunning work of scholarship that answers much of the scepticism of historical biblical criticism. Towards the end of the year also, his great encyclical Spe Salvi, a powerful counterblast to the atheist ideologies that so plagued the twentieth century, as well as a brilliant restating and understanding of the last judgement and purgatory.
















But most significant of all, his great motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, released on the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year of this millennium, and coming into effect on Friday 14th September, Holy Cross day. This document does not merely free the 1962 missal, or act as a catalyst for liturgical renewal. In one bold stroke it pulls the rug from beneath the entire dissident theological project of the 1960’s: the church of the parallel magisterium, the hermeneutic of rupture with tradition and Vatican II as ground zero for a new church, divorced from its past. For what previous generations has held sacred, remains sacred for us too.

What a long way has the church, her faith and her worship come from the grim years of Babylonian exile in the 1970’s and 1980’s, which I well remember! Who in those years would have believed that this would happen? Who would have believed ten years ago that Joseph Ratzinger have come to the see of Peter? Now we are beginning to reap the fruits of the renewal of which John Paul II was the great architect, and which proves that with God nothing is impossible.

Yet storm clouds are gathering. The news has come that Bishop Patrick O’Donahue’s courageous stance on catholic education is causing a parliamentary inquiry, some of whose members are now saying orthodox catechesis is ‘fundamentalism’ and must be stopped. Not only that, some of you may have heard from Jackie Parkes of how sex education is being pushed for children as young as five! And it is now a crime in England to uphold the church’s teachings on sodomy in some circumstances. Persecution is on the way, and it will not be long before faith is put to the test.

The future of the church in these islands lies in the hands of the laity. Not only as laity we must stand up to those bishops who dissent against the church’s teaching, but we must fully support and submit to those ones who uphold and proclaim it, and to pray for all in positions of authority irrespective who they may be. Just we hope that our bishops will not fail in their task, may we not fail in our task to uphold the faith in season and out of season.



















Our Lady, Mother of God, pray for us.

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