Pray Brethren

Pray Brethren

Monday, April 9, 2012

Two Chrism Masses, Two Homilies

Papal Chrism Mass - Holy Thursday, 2012
At every Chrism Mass, the priests of a diocese gather with their bishop as he consecrates the oils which will be used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick, and holy orders. Traditionally celebrated on Holy Thursday, the Chrism Mass offers each bishop an opportunity to speak to his priests as Christ spoke to his Apostles at the Last Supper. Just as the Sacrament of Confirmation deepens the laity’s bond to the mission of the Church and connects them concretely to their bishop, the Chrism Mass orders the priests to the mission of their bishop.

While the bishop usually speaks to his own priests, Pope Benedict seemed to direct his Chrism Mass homily in the direction of Vienna.

It’s been six years since 250 priests of the Archdiocese of Vienna created the “Call to Disobedience” – a group dissenting from Church teaching on priestly celibacy, homosexuality, feminism, and liturgy. Led by Vienna’s former vicar general, it has since grown and no steps have been taken to discipline the dissenters. Indeed, the recent decision of Austria’s archbishop, Cardinal Schönborn, to interfere with the legitimate authority of a Vienna priest thus allowing a homosexual in a domestic partnership sit on a parish council only reinforces the views of the dissenting priests and deacons.

With hundreds of priests gathered – 20% of whom are in open rebellion against Church teaching and natural law – Cardinal Schönborn said this in his homily:

The good shepherd holds fast to both [of] these things: [1] to the conviction that God’s master plan is right, that it is good for human beings and makes them happy, and [2] to the loving, patient path along which Jesus draws us into his friendship. Here it is often the little signs of lived love, of patient, mutual support, even in "irregular" situations, which are the signs of a growing friendship with Jesus. We shepherds should take note of these signs, promote them, encourage them. All this is not "the solution" for all of life’s problems, but it is the path of a growing friendship with Jesus.
If living in grave sin is redefined as only an “‘irregular’ situation” in which there are “signs of a growing friendship with Jesus” and we must “promote them, encourage them,” then why couldn’t the heretical teachings of the dissenting clergy just as well be redefined as “‘irregular’ teachings” which could also be signs of a growing friendship with Jesus, also to be promoted and encouraged. In this homily and in his decision “not to intervene in the already completed [parish council] election,” Cardinal Schönborn shows his inability to act with authority regarding these successors of Korah and his priests.

Pope Benedict, however, does not mince words.

While it has been six years since the “Call to Disobedience” began, the recent parish council scandal undoubtedly provided Pope Benedict the impetus to address the crisis in Austria in his own Chrism Mass homily:

“Recently a group of priests from a European country issued a summons to disobedience, and at the same time gave concrete examples of the forms this disobedience might take, even to the point of disregarding definitive decisions of the Church’s Magisterium… Is disobedience a path of renewal for the Church?”
Pope Benedict teaches us the meaning of obedience, authority, and the Father’s will:

"Nor must we forget: [Jesus] was the Son, possessed of singular authority and responsibility to reveal the authentic will of God, so as to open up the path for God’s word to the world of the nations. And finally: he lived out his task with obedience and humility all the way to the Cross, and so gave credibility to his mission. Not my will, but thine be done: these words reveal to us the Son, in his humility and his divinity, and they show us the true path.”
And at the Chrism Mass with his priests gathered, Pope Benedict reminds us of the “great throng of holy priests”:

“…it is clear that configuration to Christ is the precondition and the basis for all renewal… Saint Paul did not hesitate to say to his communities: Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ… We priests can call to mind a great throng of holy priests who have gone before us and shown us the way: from Polycarp of Smyrna and Ignatius of Antioch, from the great pastors Ambrose, Augustine and Gregory the Great, through to Ignatius of Loyola, Charles Borromeo, John Mary Vianney and the priest-martyrs of the 20th century, and finally Pope John Paul II, who gave us an example, through his activity and his suffering, of configuration to Christ as ‘gift and mystery’”.
As we recall the foot-washing of Holy Thursday, Pope Benedict reminds us that the Church must not compromise its mission, placing “pastoral needs” above the will of God. “…God is not concerned so much with great numbers,” Benedict says, “…but [he] achieves his victories under the humble sign of the mustard seed.”

And with that, let the foot-washing begin.

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