Sunday, January 29, 2012

How wonderful to hear our Holy Father laugh! Angelus 29/01/2012.

This is the third year running that I have seen the doves reluctance to leave the presence of the Pope. However this year he commented in benign amusement, 'They want to stay in the house of il Papa!'
Metaphorically, don't we all!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Neocatechumenal Way welcomes Vatican approval for prayers :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Neocatechumenal Way welcomes Vatican approval for prayers :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Just posting this so I have it on record.

Saint Francis de Sales (updated eveningTues. Jan 24th

In the summer of 2002 I began to make a moist pot-pourri with the long term plan that it would come to maturity in time for the feast of St. Francis de Sales the following January. Its plant ingredients were: Roses (hybrid tea 'Crimson Glory') pinks, summer jasmine, mock orange, rosemary, thyme, and dried orange peel. Later I wrote in 'Gardening with God' about the several reasons for my going to such trouble in his honour....................

"As the mentor of my patron, Jane Frances de Chantal, he has had considerable influence on me. His idea for a daily place of spiritual retreat is probably the best way I know of staying in god's presence, whatever the distractions of life and work, and I cannot recommend it too highly. Through his writings he has led countless laywomen along the narrow path, with kindness, understanding and love but above all with sanity. He wrote for specific individuals, and this is probably why the reader feels he is addressing her personally. He is patron of writers and journalists, and, I believe, has watched over all I have done for many years. During those years I have been drawn ever more deeply into the mystery of the Visitation, after which Saint Francis named the Order that he founded with Saint Jane. All the saints command admiration, gratitude and respect, but there are a few whom one can dare to love as well. For me, St Francis is such a one.

St Francis is also dear to me because of his frequent use of plant imagery to underline points about the spiritual life. He once said that meditation is like sniffing separately all the flowers and herbs in my planned pot-pourri (ideed the fact that he listed them was my reason for their choice); contemplation is being able to appreciate them all at the same time. This may seem whimsical, but it is supported by the mechanics of making a successful moist pot-pourri and by its eventual attributes. If it is stoppered while you are not there to appreciate it, it will keep its perfume for years. It takes longer to prepare than a dry pot-pourri and is not visually so attractive, but the perfume is deeper and more mellow. Similarly we retain the insights and privileges given us during patient, concentrated prayer and meditation. Their beauty and value cannot be seen or touched but remain hidden in the soul for future reflection and enrichment. The analogy continues with the packing-down of layers of petals and spices; with the subsequent fermentation; with the fact that at this stage the scent is not striking; and with the eventual breaking up of the 'wodge' that has formed. Later, for beginners, an essential oil of only one of the ingredient flowers must be added. Blending is for the more experienced and unless you have a particularly keen sense of smell the result will be a blur of fragrance. Lastly a 'fixing' agent is added to hold the perfume. When St Francis' pot-pourri is finished it will be stored in sealed jars and not opened until his feast day."
Copyright 2005 'Gardening with God: Light in Darkness' jane Mossendew Burns & Oates/Continuum Imprint 

To be completed later this evening

Update evening Tues Jan 24th:

The Contribution of St Francis to the Counter Reformation
Francis de Sales was ordained in 1593, and before being mad Bishop of Geneva in 1602 he brought back to the Faith over 70,000 Haute-Savoie Catholics who had gone over to Calvinism. He survived this dangerous enterprise and achieved his goal through preaching characterised by patience, gentleness, discretion and love. These were to mark all his writings, but let noone be deceived: the glove may have been velvet, but the hand within it was one of firm orthodoxy and discipline. St Francis was canonised only 43 years after his death and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1877.

The Church honours St Francis as one of her greatest spiritual directors and concentrates on him as a champion of the devout life for lay people. T'he second Office reading today is from Part I, Chapter 3 of his
'Introduction to the Devout Life'. Here he explains that true devotion can be practised in any state of life. Using the analogy of a bee sucking nectar leaving the flower undamaged, he explains that if our devotion is true it will not conflict with the duties of our state. Rather, it will improve our performance of them and enhance our lives and those of people around us. I have found this an invaluable yardstick against which to measure every aspect of my own life, and I apply it at least annually on St Francis' day. It is a salutary fail-safe and I don't mind admitting that it sometimes brings me up with a round turn! The office extract concludes with his firm conviction that although a purely contemplative life cannot be achieved in the world, there are other ways in which lay people can pursue perfection. Depending on one's spiritual state and need at any given time, it is easy to select passages from St Francis for meditation because he presents his material under clear headings within his chapters.

Place of Spiritual Retreat for today (as indicated in 'Gardening with God', quoted above).
"Resting with Christ in His words from Matthew 5:14-16 'You are the light of the world'
and Matthew 11:29 'Take my yoke and learn from me. I am humble and gentle of heart.'

God bless all here.
St Francis de Sales and St Jane Frances de Chantal, pray for us.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Immediate future of the 'Oasis'

Within two or three days I will sign a contract with a publisher that will commit me to have a text ready for them within the next 6 weeks. This means that from now until mid-Lent blogging must definitely take a back seat. The projected text must take priority. That said, I do not know at this stage whether the writing will be difficult, or easy, or somewhere in between. But  I do know from past experience that when I'm writing, I find it difficult to concentrate on anything else. Be assured though that I'll keep you posted on my  progress. I have no intention of closing 'The Oasis'  but at this stage must say that I can't promise more than one post a week between now and early March.. I will of course let you know details of the publication and where you can buy it later on. It should be available in May. (Next post here will probably be  in about a week.)

God bless you , and please pray for me, as  I do for all of you.

In Christo pro Papa


Friday, January 13, 2012

ZENIT - Putting Words in the Pope's Mouth

ZENIT - Putting Words in the Pope's Mouth

Reuters at it again? This Zenit piece is a thorough comment on something I had noticed with irritation, as I'm sure my readers had as well.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Comment on John Allen's 5 Considerations: Pt 2

John Allen is a highly responsible master of  his journalistic craft and a 'vaticanista' of long experience and deservedly high repute. I may not always agree with the angles he takes but I have great respect for him  and thought I'd bettter say so before going on with this post.  Allen's book 'The Rise of Benedict XVI' was published very soon after the conclave that elected our present Holy Father. I was impressed by it on first reading and decided to revisit it today, particularly its last four chapters in which the author answers the self-imposed challenge of predicting   the nature and possible events of the new pontificate.  Unfortunately for my blogging schedule I became re-engrossed in this second reading, and so apologise that the present post comes later in the day than intended.

In relation to my  yesterday's statement regarding Mr Allen's puzzlement that ++ Fisichella had been omitted from the list of new Cardinals, I was interested to find THIS in the section of Allen's book that offers predictions as to how Benedict might go about the matter of curial reform: (from Ch 7)
"..he (Pope Benedict) will expect those (curial) aides to be prudent in choosing the time and place for those expressions (of private views), and to avoid provocative comments that will create confusion about what the Holy See is trying to express, especially on matters of faith and morals. The expectation, in other words, is that there will be greater discipline within the Roman Curia, with fewer impressions of disarray or working at cross-purposes."

Well John, I think your own prediction might answer your perplexity about ++Fisichella.

The snub to Africa?
I contest, not.
Yet again, Pope Benedict knows as well as John Allen about the inexorable demographic shift of Catholicism from the northern to southern hemisphere. But for NOW, and that is what matters, the Pope must prioritise, given that this holy man has to judge every consistory as maybe his last. It is possible that within two years we will have another Pope who could elevate as many African Cardinals as he likes. It is even possible that if our dear Holy Father survives to another Consistory, that he too will elevate at least one African prelate. Africa surely knows how much Benedict loves it and concerns himself about it., but that the Pope is fighting for the Catholic soul of Europe. He will not give up that fight as long as he has breath in his body. (I don't think John Allen, as an American, understands in his heart and blood what is at work here.) In any case of the two African bishops mentioned by Allen as having been passed over, one is of Lusaka in Zambia. - a place of a dreadfully unsettled history from the catholic episcopal point of view, what with Milingo having been in charge there for so long., it has not been exactly stable. Pope Benedict may well have judged that it was better to leave that diocese with a fairly secure pastor and not to upset the apple cart by any suggestion that Archbishop Mpundu might be moved to Rome.

Dolan and Nichols
I don't think one would win any prizes for itemising the vast difference between these two men. Let me just say that while it is easy to agree with Allen about the rise of the former and the obvious favour he has deservedly found in the eyes of the Pope, I suggest that the biggest weakness in John Allen's article is that he seems satisfied to fall back on acceptance of the fact that the only reason for the non-elevation of the latter this time, is the custom of not giving the red hat to Archbishops of Sees where an emeritus Cardinal survives.. I find it difficult to believe that a man, normally as well informed as Allen, is ignorant of other and glaringly obvious reasons.

I am bound to think of other points after I sign off, but sufficient unto the day and all that.................

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Complexion and Size of any new conclave: Comment on John Allen's 5 'considerations' : 1

One of the problems with Mr Allen's analysis is that it is based on today's situation, that is one which is fluid and will start changing before this month is out. During 2012, 12 cardinals will turn 80 and the number of eligible electors will reduce to 114. So given uncertainty as to how long our present Holy Father will live, he can hardly be accused of extravagance in appointing 18 new electors, as opposed to the 15 suggested by Rome Reports. China will lose a Cardinal during this very month so Pope Benedict has made sure that she will have a Cardinal elector should he himself die any time soon. Cardinal Egan reaches 80  in April and that may explain/support the elevation of Archbishop Dolan. During 2013 a further 9 will become non-eligible to vote in conclave and the number will become less than that which elected Pope Benedict. That being the case, the longer he survives the more likely we are to see another consistory in a couple of years. I can't help feeling that this aspect was in his mind when drawing up the list he announced on Friday. Even a fully 'Benedictine' Pope, of a much younger age would probably have presented a different list.

All but the most intransigent opponents of Pope Benedict must surely acknowledge the deep thought and prayer he devotes to this type of decision and it is based on long personal experience and knowledge of many of the key personnel with whom he must deal. He has done the best he can. Quite clearly he is just as aware as Mr Allen, as to how the list of new cardinals would affect the complexion of a new conclave, should one have to be held soon.. Basically there is a 3% increase in Italian Cardinals and a 4% increase in curial ones. In his first point about the 'Italianising' of the College, Mr Allen suggests that this reflects the Pope's 'comfort level', as if it were simply self-indulgence' on his part, (croneyism in other words) rather than that seven of the 18 new cardinals happen to be Italian and have proved their worth. In his second point he refers to 10 out of 18 new cardinals  as making it 'top-heavy' with men of curial background. It seems to me that one will only be disturbed by these percentage increases if one tends to a paranoid fear of Vatican centralisation, or even of a restoration of Papal authority, (in my view the latter having been badly damaged over past decades, and in definite need of tlc)!. Such a fear could of course explain why this present piece may appeal to the NCR readership.

Mr Allen also remarks on the exclusion of ++Fisichella as being odd because he leads the relatively new dicastery for New Evangelisation which is famously dear to the Pope's heart and it is customary to have a Cardinal in charge of matters of particular papal concern.  Well, Fisichella is both Italian and Curial, but he didn't make the list. Mr Allen is I fear being slightly disingenuous in not giving any clue as the possible reason for his exclusion. After this prelate had spoken out against the excommunication of someone involved in abortion, I think many were surprised when he was given the task of organising the New Evengelisation. It was a difficult case and I must admit to having thought that he would have been better off keeping his mouth shut. I regarded the move as a sideways one, which had the intention of keeping him quiet and giving him a great deal more to do and to think about. He seems to have performed quite well since then, but imho his lack of prudence (at least) about when to speak out on this or that issue,  was noted and did not inspire confidence.

Snub to Africa? Dolan and Nichols in Part 2 tomorrow.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Calm returns to the Oasis after excitement over yesterday's Consistory announcement.

So much so that in the evening I was able to go in search of comment on the Internet. Sure enough John Allen had been quick off the mark with his piece for the NCR. See here  I have been kept busy today in trying to answer the questions raised by Allen's observations. Hope to post results of reflection tomorrow afternoon, that is after the Holy Father's morning Mass in the Sistine Chapel..

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Consistory announcement predicted for tomorrow

Rorate Caeli, quoting  Andrea Tornielli, gives more details and makes no secret of its feeling that the elevation of Archbishop Fisichella is not something that should be welcomed. I have my own opinions about the way he was moved to 'New Evangelisation', but suffice it to say here and now, that if it is indeed to be a February Consistory my major feeling is one of relief. Anyone who has been following me on this matter will not need the mind of a Hercule Poirot to understand why I am glad we will not have to wait until after August!

Spiritual Mothers of Priests CR News 6: Priests resolve to love the laity

h/t to Catholicism Pure and Simple for drawing attention to this important article in Crisis Magazine.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Why I think it is still a possibility that the Holy Father will visit Ireland next June and why I am praying that it will happen

There is no doubt that last year, with his hot-headed and ill-considered s(cr)peech in response to the Cloyne Report, that Enda Kenny did himself and his country no favours. Even after it was shown that the letter he quoted as being written by Pope Benedict was not in fact applicable to the case he was raging about, he has not had the grace to apologise. Whilst the fat was still in the fire the Irish Government closed its embassy to the Holy See in Rome for reasons that were difficult to take seriously. Next, Gilmore announced that an invitation to Pope Benedict to visit Ireland for the the forthcoming Eucharistic Congress in June was definitely not under consideration. Even the mainstream media, and that is saying something made little attempt to justify the Irish governmentt's behaviour.

But then, over the past week or so the tune has been changing. Last week Gilmore did a u-turn and reversed his statement saying that the Pope would be welcome, without of course any reference to the original announcement. Today the Mayo news reports that Kenny has welcomed the Holy Father's message for the 45th World day of Peace, with its main theme of the importance of training the young in Justice and Peace. I'm sorry, but this looks very much like a desperate attempt at damage limitation. Someone must have drawn their attention to all those Euros that accrued to the Madrid coffers in the wake of last year's WYD. There is the feeling that they are kicking themselves at having almost missed a golden opportunity. Hence they are secretly desperate to get the Pope to the Dublin Congress, whatever happens. It would serve them right of course if Pope Benedict refused to have any truck with the idea. But is that how our dear and truly holy Pope will see things? I think not.

Eucharistic Adoration is key to his pontificate. The Vigils in Hyde Park and at WYD were the high points of his visits to both UK and Spain and he mentioned both during recent seasonal homilies. I think his deep desire to encourage the Irish faithful will weigh most favourably in his decision whether to come or not. His shepherd's heart will put the welfare of his beleaguered sheep before any offence that was given him by their politicians. It is not a long journey and he knows that Ireland is in desperate need of a considerable financial injection. If he is at all able I think he will do it. I shall be praying for it in any case.

Our Lady of Knock, pray for Ireland and for Pope Benedict.