Archive for the ‘Vatican News’ Category

Catherine of Bologna – Treatise on the Seven Spiritual Weapons

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

On December 29, 2010, in his general audience Pope Benedict catechized on the seven spiritual weapons which Catherine of Bologna (1413-1463). They are concise and easy to recall, and since there are seven it makes it convenient to contemplate one each day as a guide to daily sanctification.

These notes are contained in her one written work, the “Treatise on the Seven Spiritual Weapons” in which Catherine teaches that to combat evil it is necessary: ”
1. To be careful always to do good
2. To believe that we can never achieve anything truly good by ourselves
3. To trust in God and, for His love, never to fear the battle against evil, either in the world or in ourselves
4. To meditate frequently on the events and words of Jesus’ life, especially His passion and death
5. To remember that we must die
6. To keep the benefits of heaven firmly in our minds
7. To be familiar with Holy Scripture, keeping it in our hearts to guide all our thoughts and actions”.

Searchable Vatican Information Service Blog

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Last year in April the Vatican Information Service, the official daily news bulletin service of the Vatican, announced the opening of its online blog. The blog is searchable and contains post data from as far back as 1999!


VATICAN CITY, 12 APR 2010 (VIS) – As of the morning of Friday 9 April the Vatican Information Service (VIS), apart from its daily news bulletin, now has its own blog which includes news items from the last few years in Spanish, English, French and Italian. The blog also allows access to the Vatican’s Twitter account and YouTube portal. The website is:

OP/ VIS 20100412 (70)

New Task Regarding the New English Translation of the Roman Missal

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Almost a year ago the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments completed the English translation of the Roman Missal and immediately Pope Benedict XVII gathered our attention to a new task; that of “preparing for the reception of the new translation by clergy and lay faithful”. Sources inform me that preparation is currently underway and that the new translation of various elements of the liturgy should begin to be visible soon with the full compliment of new translation in full use by November 2011.
The following is a Vatican Information Service public release from April 29th 2010:

VATICAN CITY, 29 APR 2010 (VIS) – The Pope had lunch yesterday in the Vatican’s Casina Pio IV with members and consultors of “Vox Clara”, an advisory committee for questions concerning the celebration of the Roman Rite in English.

Following the luncheon the Holy Father, himself speaking English, thanked “Vox Clara” for the work it has done “over the last eight years, assisting and advising the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in fulfilling its responsibilities with regard to the English translations of liturgical texts. This has been a truly collegial enterprise. Not only are all five continents represented in the membership of the committee, but you have been assiduous in drawing together contributions from bishops’ conferences in English-speaking territories all over the world”.

“I thank the superiors and officials of the congregation for their daily, painstaking work of overseeing the preparation and translation of texts that proclaim the truth of our redemption in Christ, the Incarnate Word of God”, he said.

Benedict XVI went on: “I welcome the news that the English translation of the Roman Missal will soon be ready for publication. … Through these sacred texts and the actions that accompany them, Christ will be made present and active in the midst of His people”.

Going on then to identify a new task, that of “preparing for the reception of the new translation by clergy and lay faithful”, the Pope pointed out that “many will find it hard to adjust to unfamiliar texts after nearly forty years of continuous use of the previous translation. The change will need to be introduced with due sensitivity, and the opportunity for catechesis that it presents will need to be firmly grasped. I pray that in this way any risk of confusion or bewilderment will be averted, and the change will serve instead as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world”.

“Soon the fruits of your labours will be made available to English-speaking congregations everywhere”, the Holy Father concluded.

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Saturday, January 15th, 2011

On Jan 14th Pope Benedict XVI authorized the Congrgation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate decrees for sainthood and beatification. Among the pending beatified is – Venerable Servant of God John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla), Polish Supreme Pontiff (1920-2005). What is notable about the company John Paul II is joined by is that his life is the only one extending into the new millennium (see the second VIS post below for the full list).
The following are excerpts from the Vatican Information Service on Jan 14th:

VATICAN CITY, 14 JAN 2011 (VIS) – On 1 May, the second Sunday of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday, Benedict XVI will preside at the rite of beatification for John Paul II in the Vatican.

According to a note released by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, “today 24 January, Benedict XVI, during an audience granted to Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, authorised the dicastery to promulgate the decree of the miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Servant of God John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla). This concludes the process which precedes the rite of beatification.

“It is well known that, by pontifical dispensation, his cause began before the end of the five-year period which the current norms stipulate must pass following the death of a Servant of God. This provision was solicited by the great fame of sanctity which Pope John Paul II enjoyed during his life, in his death and after his death. In all other ways, the normal canonical dispositions concerning causes of beatification and canonisation were observed in full.

“Between June 2005 and April 2007 the principal diocesan investigation was held in Rome, accompanied by secondary investigations in various other dioceses, on his life, virtues, fame of sanctity and miracles. The juridical validity of these canonical processes was recognised by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints with a decree of 4 May 2007. In June 2009, having examined the relative ‘Positio’, nine of the dicastery’s theological consultors expressed their positive judgement concerning the heroic nature of the virtues of the Servant of God. The following November, in keeping with the usual procedure, the ‘Positio’ was submitted for the judgement of the cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who gave their approval.

“On 19 December 2009, Benedict XVI authorised the promulgation of the decree on John Paul II’s heroic virtues.

“With a view to the beatification of the Venerable Servant of God, the postulator of the cause invited the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to examine the recovery from Parkinson’s disease of Sr. Marie Simon Pierre Normand, a religious of the ‘Institut des Petites Soeurs des Maternites Catholiques’.

“As is customary, the voluminous acts of the regularly-instituted canonical investigation, along with detailed reports from medical and legal experts, were submitted for scientific examination by the medical consultors of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 21 October 2010. The experts of the congregation, having studied the depositions and the entire documentation with their customary scrupulousness, expressed their agreement concerning the scientifically inexplicable nature of the healing. On 14 December the theological consultors, having examined the conclusions reached by the medical experts, undertook a theological evaluation of the case and unanimously recognised the unicity, antecedence and choral nature of the invocation made to Servant of God John Paul II, whose intercession was effective in this prodigious healing.

“Finally, on 11 January 2011 the ordinary session of the cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints took place. They expressed their unanimous approval, believing the recovery of Sr. Marie Simon Pierre to be miraculous, having been achieved by God in a scientifically inexplicable manner following the intercession of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, trustingly invoked both by Sr. Simon herself and by many other faithful”.

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VATICAN CITY, 14 JAN 2011 (VIS) – Today, during a private audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Pope authorised the congregation to promulgate the following decrees:

– Venerable Servant of God John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla), Polish Supreme Pontiff (1920-2005).
– Venerable Servant of God Antonia Maria Verna, Italian foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception (1773-1838).
– Venerable Servant of God Giuseppe Toniolo, Italian layman and father (1845-1918).

– Servants of God Marija Jula (nee Kata Ivanisevic), Marija Bernadeta (nee Terezija Banja,) Marija Krizina (nee Jozefa Bojanc), Marija Antonija (nee Jozefa Fabjan) and Maria Berchmana (nee Karoline Anna Leidenix), professed religions of the Institute of Daughters of Divine Charity, killed in hatred of the faith in Bosnia-Herzegovina between 15 and 23 December 1941.

– Servant of God Antonio Franco, Italian bishop of Santa Lucia del Mela (1585-1626).
– Servant of God Franziskus Maria vom Kreuze (ne Johann Baptist Jordan) German priest and founder of the Society of the Divine Saviour and of the Congregation of Sisters of the Divine Saviour (1848-1918).
– Servant of God Nelson Baker, American diocesan priest (1842-1936).
– Servant of God Faustino Perez-Manglano Magro, Spanish student and postulant of the Marianist Fathers (1946-1963).
– Servant of God Francisca de Paula de Jesus, (also called Nha Chica), Brazilian laywoman (1810-1895).

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Beauty in Art

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Putting the smile back on the Mona Lisa

La Gioconda AKA Mona Lisa, da Vinci 1503-1506, Cropped to bust, bevel indicates portion shown on The da Vinci Code book cover

La Gioconda AKA Mona Lisa, da Vinci 1503-1506, Cropped to bust, bevel indicates portion shown on The da Vinci Code book cover

The world needs authentic beauty and artists have the responsibility of bringing it to people through their art.” ~ Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican City, Nov. 22, 2009.

In some ways art influences the way we think and in other ways the way we think influences art. In the Renaissance age most art was Christian because the Church was such a great patron to the arts. In the twentieth century art reflected modernism and industrialism. Today art is diverse and eclectic with influences from every corner of the globe largely because of commerce and the Internet. This frenzied exchange of data is accelerating the ebb and tide between cultural expression and pop culture. Which begs the question, are TV, Movies and the Internet an accurate reflection of who we are or are the images helping to shape who we are becoming? It seems that whoever patrons the arts and the media in particular have the steering wheel of the age and of cultural identity.

One recent shift in the tide or turn of the culture wheel seems to be when our attention shifted from the Mona Lisa’s smile to her eyes. The beauty of the Mona Lisa was chiefly in her smile as many a poet has mused. Her smile leads us to wonder what she was thinking. In contrast, has anyone ever written a poem about Mona Lisa’s eyes? Nevertheless today’s graphic art has little to no concern for her smile. Instead, today’s popular art is concerned with the eyes and with appearances. In other words it’s all about superficiality. There was one image in particular that epitomized this shift. Remember the image that popularized that insipid book The da Vinci Code? It was the image of the Mona Lisa with her mouth torn away. She was robbed of the central thing that made that work famous. She was unable to speak and this is precisely what the book attempted to do in words. It presented only the details that Dan Brown wanted us to see and which he pronounced as the whole truth. The image was a dead giveaway that the masterpieces which he hijacked for his plot wouldn’t get a chance to tell the whole story. I am surprised that feminists didn’t object to the image of the Mona Lisa as a woman whose mouth had been torn, hidden or stolen away; a woman whose voice had been squelched. But then again that woman is really not the feminine mystique that feminists protect but rather the Catholic Church (reasoned by the books content not the image of the Mona Lisa).

Contrast this with the Renaissance age of art when the beauty in the master painter’s works spoke the gospel truth loud and clear. Pope Benedict XVI, addressed the artists of the world last November (Nov 22 2009 Vatican City) saying, “Christianity from its earliest days has recognized the value of the arts and has made wise use of their varied language to express her unvarying message of salvation.” It wasn’t that long ago that beauty in art still invited the observer to lift his mind and heart toward heaven. Pope Benedict continues, “What is capable of restoring enthusiasm and confidence, what can encourage the human spirit to rediscover its path, to raise its eyes to the horizon, to dream of a life worthy of its vocation – if not beauty?” And what more beautiful things are there than heaven and salvation? Indeed, Pope Benedict concludes, “Art, in all its forms, at the point where it encounters the great questions of our existence, … can take on a religious quality, thereby turning into a path of profound inner reflection and spirituality.” It’s no wonder that the Church is still the custodian of some of the world’s greatest and most renowned masterpieces including the Sistine chapel ceiling, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Notre Dame, the Thinker, The Last Supper, and the list goes on and on and on.

In architecture there are some Gothic basilicas with ornate flying buttresses that render the totality of the whole construction so visually poetic they soar beyond architecture and pierce the heart on their way toward heaven. This is what truly great art should do. It should make you gasp in awe of grandeur not in shock of obscenity. It shouldn’t just peak the interest with hidden puzzles and pseudo-religious-neo-pagan-socio-psycho-political-mind-babble. Some of that stuff can seem fun or engaging but mostly it pales in relation to the beauty in the works of the masters. The reason the masters works endure is because the subject satisfied deep desires of the soul rather than shallow desires of the flesh or the world. Here let me quote Pope Benedict XVI one more time, “Beauty, whether that of the natural universe or that expressed in art, precisely because it opens up and broadens the horizons of human awareness, pointing us beyond ourselves, bringing us face to face with the abyss of Infinity, can become a path towards the transcendent, towards the ultimate Mystery, towards God.”

Achieving the transcendent in art requires freedom not just in liberties and rights recognized by the law of a good nation but by the good choices of people unfettered by the chains of materialism and unconditioned by the cardinal rule of modernism, which may be summed up as ‘think free as long as you don’t think as the Church thinks’. Anyone can see that such a rule has not the ultimate and complete freedom that it pretends. In contrast the Church says ‘wherever the truth is, recognize it, acknowledge it, and believe it.’ I can find little or no truth in tearing off the smile of the Mona Lisa (tearing it off just smacks of truth killers and silencers like socialism and communism). But I can find truth in protecting her smile and wondering of what beautiful thing she was thinking. It’s not a question of relativity like beauty belonging to the eye of the beholder but considering that the internet is a great gallery of parading images the beholder may get the last word. It may be that the new patron of the arts is the people and that their payment is their praise. Therefore pray that soon many artists will, by their free choice, concede that their responsibility is greater than themselves and more valuable than the praise of their peers. Pray that these will realize that the pinnacle and purpose of art is not to honor creation or creativity rather it is to honor the creator.

Read the whole story of the popes meeting with artists as reported by the Vatican Information Service.

VIS – Nov 23 2009
The Catholic Association

Pope Benedict XVI on Priestly Identity

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

These recent quotes from Pope Benedixt XVI deserve more attention (emphasis mine):

“…the particular identity of priests and laity must be seen in the light of the essential difference between priestly ministry and the ‘common priesthood’. Hence it is important to avoid the secularisation of clergy and the ‘clericalisation’ of the laity“.

“…the lack of priests does not justify a more active and abundant participation of the laity. The truth is that the greater the faithful’s awareness of their own responsibilities within the Church, the clearer becomes the specific identity and inimitable role of the priest as pastor of the entire community, witness to the authenticity of the faith, and dispenser of the mysteries of salvation in the name of Christ the Head”.

“The function of the clergy is essential and irreplaceable in announcing the Word and celebrating the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. … For this reason it is vital to ask the Lord to send workers for His harvest; and it is necessary that priests express joy in their faithfulness to their identity”.

The Pope made it clear that “the shortage of priests must not come to be considered as a normal or typical state of affairs for the future“.

Vatican News Service 09.17.2009 – Nineteenth Year – Num. 156