Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Former UST Professor, becomes Auxiliary Bishop of Boston: Arthur Kennedy

Bishop-elect Arthur L. Kennedy (Photo credit: Archdiocese of  Boston)

Bishop-elect Arthur L. Kennedy

Father Arthur Kennedy, who taught theology at St. Thomas for 33 years, today was named an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Boston.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, announced the Vatican’s appointments of Kennedy, 68, and Father Peter Uglietto, 58, at a news conference this morning. They will become the 34th and 35th auxiliary bishops in the archdiocese’s history. Both are tentatively scheduled to be ordained there Sept. 14 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Kennedy, currently rector of St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass, taught in the Theology and Catholic Studies departments at St. Thomas. He was executive director of the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs in Washington, D.C., from 2002 until 2006.

Kennedy was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Boston in 1966. He received a Licentiate in Sacred Theology in 1967 from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and a Ph.D. from Boston University in 1983. He came to St. Thomas in 1974 after eight years of service at parishes in Methuen and East Boston, Mass. He was named an associate professor in 1983, the university’s Distinguished Educator of the Year in 1994 and a full professor in 2001.

Kennedy also served on the faculty at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in 1990, 1995-2000 and 2006. He directed the Master of Theology program from 1993 to 1998.

In 2000 he was a visiting professor at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also called “The Angelicum,” in Rome, and during the 2000-2001 academic year he also was a visiting professor at St. John’s Seminary, where he had studied.

Called an “experienced ecumenist” when he took the position with the U.S. bishops, Kennedy had been chair of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Commission on Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs; co-chair of the Lutheran-Catholic Covenant Commission; co-chair and convener of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic bishops’ annual retreat; co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Covenant Commission; co-chair of the Evangelical-Catholic Pastors’ Conversations; an official observer to the Minnesota Council of Churches and a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Diocesan Ecumenical Officers.

In Minnesota, Kennedy also was a longtime member of the board of directors of the Jay Phillips Center for Jewish-Christian Learning, now called the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning, a joint effort of St. Thomas and St. John’s University in Collegeville.

See the Archdiocese of Boston website for its official announcement of Kennedy’s appointment and his biography.

University of St. Thomas News Service

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cardinal Newman Society: Catholic Colleges


Founded in 1993, the mission of The Cardinal Newman Society is to help renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education.

The Society seeks to fulfill its mission by assisting and supporting education that is faithful to the teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church; producing and disseminating research and publications on developments and best practices in Catholic higher education; advising students, alumni, trustees, campus officials, faculty and others engaged in renewing and strengthening the Catholic identity of Catholic colleges and universities and Church-affiliated ministries at non-Catholic colleges and universities; and studying and promoting the work of our patron, John Henry Cardinal Newman, especially as it relates to Catholic higher education and the unity of faith and reason.

Aquinas College Nashville, Tennessee

Ave Maria University Ave Maria, Florida

Belmont Abbey College Belmont, North Carolina

Benedictine College Atchison, Kansas

The Catholic University of America Washington, D.C.

Christendom College
Front Royal, Virginia

The College of Saint Thomas More Fort Worth, Texas

DeSales University Center Valley, Pennsylvania

Franciscan University of Steubenville Steubenville, Ohio

Holy Apostles College & Seminary Cromwell, Connecticut

John Paul the Great Catholic University San Diego, California

Magdalen College
Warner, New Hampshire

Mount St. Mary's University Emmitsburg, Maryland

Providence College Providence, Rhode Island

Southern Catholic College Dawsonville, Georgia

St. Gregory's University Shawnee, Oklahoma

Thomas Aquinas College Santa Paula, California

The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts Merrimack, New Hampshire

University of Dallas
Irving, Texas

University of St. Thomas Houston, Texas

Wyoming Catholic College Lander, Wyoming

International, Online & Unique Colleges

Angelicum Great Books Program

Campion College Old Toongabbie, Australia

Catholic Distance University

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy
Barry's Bay, Ontario, Canada

Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas Rome, Italy

Redeemer Pacific College Langley, British Columbia, Canada

St. Bede's Hall Oxford, England

Three archbishops and the American Catholic future


In the abstract, one might not think of Archbishops Thomas Wenski of Miami, Dennis Schnurr of [Sioux City and Duluth and] Cincinnati, and Jerome Listecki of [La Crosse and] Milwaukee as a natural threesome. Yet fate thrust these prelates together today, as the three Americans among 38 newly appointed archbishops from around the Catholic world who are in Rome to receive the pallium.

The pallium is a narrow band of woolen cloth which serves as a symbol of the archbishop’s office, and is bestowed by the pope each year on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. I’m in Rome this week, so I attended the pallium ceremony this morning and then headed up to the North American College for the traditional reception honoring the new archbishops.

Given that these three prelates were in the spotlight today, it’s worth pondering what implications for the American Catholic future are posed by the ascent of a Harley-riding champion of the downtrodden (Wenski), a consummate church insider (Schnurr), and a straight shooting, by-the-book pastor (Listecki).

At one level, there are striking similarities among the three men. All are virtually the same age (Schnurr is 62, Listecki 61, and Wenski 59). Two of the three, Schnurr and Listecki, have roots in the Midwest, and all three are the offspring of Catholic immigrants from central Europe. (Wenski and Listecki are Polish, Schnurr German.)

All three archbishops are solidly pro-life, and all three say they support the “zero tolerance” approach of the American church on sexual abuse. Each man, however, has faced criticism for his handling of the crisis from victims’ groups. Listecki in particular has faced questions since a review by the national bishops’ conference found that his former diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, backed accused priests in 64 percent of cases, as opposed to a national average of ten percent.

Yet there are also important contrasts among the three men, which collectively suggest that Benedict XVI is not seeking a rigid uniformity at the senior leadership level of the American church.

Wenski, who previously served as the bishop of Orlando, would likely make most top ten lists among American bishops for “most hip.” He listens to hot Cuban and Haitian music, and likes to hit the road on his motorcycle. (Asked if he had any regrets about leaving Orlando, Wenski said he’d miss the back-roads which allow him to open up the throttle. Traffic around Miami, he said, is more congested.)

Wenski is probably best known in Catholic circles for his social justice efforts, particularly his advocacy on behalf of immigrants and immigration reform. The first native of south Florida ever to serve as the Archbishop of Miami, Wenski was a young priest when he helped found a parish for Haitian immigrants in Miami. He learned Creole in the assignment, and over the years added Spanish and two African tribal languages (Ibo and Kirundi) to his repertoire.

Wenski has a master’s degree in sociology from Fordham, and prior to being named an auxiliary bishop of Miami in 1997 he served as the archdiocesan director of Catholic Charities. In a typical Wenski flourish, he spent the weekend before his appointment to Miami was announced joining a protest march organized by a coalition of farm workers pressing growers and supermarket chains for higher wages for tomato pickers.

During an early round of interviews with Miami media, Wenski said that immigration will continue to be a key concern in his new post.

“The present system, the lack of action, is resulting in the creation of a new underclass of people that are exploitable because they have no legal status, that are afraid of a knock on the door in the middle of the night,” he said. “If they're the victims of crimes, they're reluctant to call the police because they might pay for it with deportation.”

Wenski referred to Miami as “our nation’s new Ellis Island,” a leading port of entry for immigrants and refugees.

“These immigrants are not the problem,” Wenski said. “The problem is the antiquated and inadequate law that needs to be changed."

Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr speaks at La Salle High  School in Cincinnati Feb. 4. (CNS)Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr speaks at La Salle High School in Cincinnati Feb. 4. (CNS) Schnurr took a different path to the pallium, growing up in rural Iowa as one of only four Catholic boys in his hometown (two of the rest were his brothers, and the fourth was a cousin), entering the priesthood after briefly flirting with a career as a grocer, and moving swiftly into a series of prominent ecclesiastical jobs.

Known as pragmatic, hard-working, and skilled at nuts-and-bolts administration, Schnurr worked in the Vatican embassy in Washington in the mid-1980s, and was then tapped as Associate General Secretary of the U.S. bishops’ conference in 1989. When John Paul II came to Denver for World Youth Day in 1993, Schnurr was put in charge of organizing the event. The bishops obviously approved of his performance, because he was made General Secretary of the conference in 1994.

Schnurr was named bishop of Duluth, Minnesota, in 2001, and became the coadjutor archbishop of Cincinnati under Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk in October 2008. He took over last December, when Pilarcyzk’s resignation was accepted by Benedict XVI.

In contrast to Pilarczyk’s reputation as a leader of the church’s more progressive wing, most observers see Schnurr as essentially non-ideological. Among other things, he’s expressed reservations about clergy and religious getting involved in politics. (In 2006, he withdrew an invitation for Sr. Helen Prejean to speak at an education dinner in Duluth because the famed “Dead Man Walking” activist had signed an advertisement calling for the impeachment of then-President George Bush. Schnurr said he admired Prejean’s work, but was concerned about the church seeming “partisan.”)

As bishop, Schnurr’s priorities have been characteristically practical: promoting vocations to the priesthood, strengthening marriage, and improving religious education. In Duluth he had some success with vocations, naming himself the vocations director and increasing the number of seminarians from eight to 24. In Cincinnati he’s strongly backed an ambitious fundraising effort for the local seminary which, among other things, will expand the number of apartments for seminarians from 46 to 72.

Schnurr has also pledged transparency with regard to finances in Cincinnati, saying “the more information we give people on how the money is being managed, the more confidence they have.”

For his part, Listecki grew up on the south side of Chicago, the son of a laborer at U.S. Steel, and describes his vocation to the Catholic priesthood as “womb to tomb,” meaning that he never wanted to be anything else.

Remarkably, Listecki is actually the first Polish-American archbishop of Milwaukee, despite the strong Polish element in Milwaukee’s population.

On the basis of his résumé, one could safely say that Listecki is very much at home in rules-bound, hierarchical structures: Aside from being a Catholic bishop, he’s also a civil lawyer as well as a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, where he served for almost two decades as a chaplain.

So far in his episcopal career, Listecki has succeeded two men whose larger-than-life profiles, according to most observers, he didn’t quite fill: Raymond Burke, a cultural warrior and staunch conservative, who preceded Listecki in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Timothy Dolan, a back-slapping, charismatic media darling in Milwaukee.

By consensus, Listecki is neither an ideologue in the tradition of Burke, nor a rock star like Dolan.

Certainly Listecki yields pride of place to no one in terms of defending Catholic orthodoxy. He publicly chastised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for suggesting that Catholic teaching on the beginning of life was up for grabs, and he expressed concern when Marquette University was on the brink of hiring an openly lesbian dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who has openly challenged official Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality.

Listecki opposed the recent health care reform bill on the grounds that it opened the door to public funding of abortion, and advised parents not to take their children to the film “The Golden Compass” on the grounds that it “expresses hatred of Christianity and that portrays God, the church and religion as evil and oppressive, and urges children to join fallen angels in a rebellion against God.”

At the same time, Listecki has described denying communion to pro-choice Catholic politicians as a “last resort,” and acknowledged that his criticism of the decision by Notre Dame to award an honorary doctorate to President Barack Obama was mostly a gesture of support for the then-Bishop of South Bend, John D’Arcy.

Repeatedly, people with personal experience of Listecki describe him as “down to earth,” “personable” and “approachable.”

“He doesn’t seem like a terribly polarizing guy, which is a good thing,” said Emily Naczek, a Catholic school teacher in Milwaukee.

To be sure, if Listecki isn’t Burke, he also isn’t Wenski in terms of his personal investment in social justice issues.

“He’s very strong in terms of Catholic identity, basic issues of pro life, gay marriage, stem cell research,” said Ray Stroik, a retired professor and college administrator who worked on the La Crosse diocese's justice and peace commission.

“Yet he’s not doing much on social justice, or global peace,” Stroik said.

On the other hand, Listecki insists that he supports a “consistent ethic of life,” and has vigorously opposed the death penalty. Growing up in Chicago, Listecki said, taught him to appreciate the value of diversity.

In the main, Listecki said, there’s not much point in speculation about what his ultimate objectives may be.

“What you see is what you get,” Listecki said in a recent interview. “I don’t have hidden agenda. I am pretty straightforward and honest.”

* * *
In his homily this morning, Benedict XVI told the archbishops that their connection with the papacy is a “pledge of liberty,” insulating them from the pressure of “local powers, national or international,” and assuring their “full adherence to the truth and to the authentic tradition” of the church.

Benedict also returned to a theme made familiar by the sexual abuse crisis: The greatest threat to the church, the pope said, comes not from exterior challenges but from whatever “pollutes the faith and Christian life … damaging the integrity of the mystical body, weakening its capacity for prophecy and witness, and tarnishing the beauty of its face.”

The pope said that some Catholic communities around the world are threatened by persecution or political interference, but in other places, he said, the challenges are more subtle, taking the form of “misleading doctrine” or “ideological tendencies and practices contrary to the gospel.”

The pope also said that divisions within the Christian family as “symptoms of the power of sin,” and said that Christian unity is “always to be sought and renewed, from generation to generation.” In that context, he welcomed the presence of an ecumenical delegation from the Patriarch of Constantinople, traditionally considered “first among equals” in the galaxy of Orthodox prelates. John Allen, National Catholic Reporter

Friday, June 25, 2010

Adult Stem Cells Reverse Blindness Caused by Burns


AP – This image from an Italian study published online
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 by the New England Journal …

Slideshow:Stem Cell Research

Dozens of people who were blinded or otherwise suffered severe eye damage when they were splashed with caustic chemicals had their sight restored with transplants of their own stem cells — a stunning success for the burgeoning cell-therapy field, Italian researchers reported Wednesday.

The treatment worked completely in 82 of 107 eyes and partially in 14 others, with benefits lasting up to a decade so far. One man whose eyes were severely damaged more than 60 years ago now has near-normal vision.

"This is a roaring success," said ophthalmologist Dr. Ivan Schwab of the University of California, Davis, who had no role in the study — the longest and largest of its kind.

Stem cell transplants offer hope to the thousands of people worldwide every year who suffer chemical burns on their corneas from heavy-duty cleansers or other substances at work or at home.

The approach would not help people with damage to the optic nerve or macular degeneration, which involves the retina. Nor would it work in people who are completely blind in both eyes, because doctors need at least some healthy tissue that they can transplant.

In the study, published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers took a small number of stem cells from a patient's healthy eye, multiplied them in the lab and placed them into the burned eye, where they were able to grow new corneal tissue to replace what had been damaged. Since the stem cells are from their own bodies, the patients do not need to take anti-rejection drugs.

Adult stem cells have been used for decades to cure blood cancers such as leukemia and diseases like sickle cell anemia. But fixing a problem like damaged eyes is a relatively new use. Researchers have been studying cell therapy for a host of other diseases, including diabetes and heart failure, with limited success.

Adult stem cells, which are found around the body, are different from embryonic stem cells, which come from human embryos and have stirred ethical concerns because removing the cells requires destroying the embryos.

Currently, people with eye burns can get an artificial cornea, a procedure that carries such complications as infection and glaucoma, or they can receive a transplant using stem cells from a cadaver, but that requires taking drugs to prevent rejection.

The Italian study involved 106 patients treated between 1998 and 2007. Most had extensive damage in one eye, and some had such limited vision that they could only sense light, count fingers or perceive hand motions. Many had been blind for years and had had unsuccessful operations to restore their vision.

The cells were taken from the limbus, the rim around the cornea, the clear window that covers the colored part of the eye. In a normal eye, stem cells in the limbus are like factories, churning out new cells to replace dead corneal cells. When an injury kills off the stem cells, scar tissue forms over the cornea, clouding vision and causing blindness.

In the Italian study, the doctors removed scar tissue over the cornea and glued the laboratory-grown stem cells over the injured eye. In cases where both eyes were damaged by burns, cells were taken from an unaffected part of the limbus.

Researchers followed the patients for an average of three years and some as long as a decade. More than three-quarters regained sight after the transplant. An additional 13 percent were considered a partial success. Though their vision improved, they still had some cloudiness in the cornea.

Patients with superficial damage were able to see within one to two months. Those with more extensive injuries took several months longer.

"They were incredibly happy. Some said it was a miracle," said one of the study leaders, Graziella Pellegrini of the University of Modena's Center for Regenerative Medicine in Italy. "It was not a miracle. It was simply a technique."

The study was partly funded by the Italian government.

Researchers in the United States have been testing a different way to use self-supplied stem cells, but that work is preliminary.

One of the successful transplants in the Italian study involved a man who had severe damage in both eyes as a result of a chemical burn in 1948. Doctors grafted stem cells from a small section of his left eye to both eyes. His vision is now close to normal.

In 2008, there were 2,850 work-related chemical burns to the eyes in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Schwab of UC Davis said stem cell transplants would not help those blinded by burns in both eyes because doctors need stem cells to do the procedure.

"I don't want to give the false hope that this will answer their prayers," he said.

Dr. Sophie Deng, a cornea expert at the UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute, said the biggest advantage was that the Italian doctors were able to expand the number of stem cells in the lab. This technique is less invasive than taking a large tissue sample from the eye and lowers the chance of an eye injury.

"The key is whether you can find a good stem cell population and expand it," she said. Yahoo News

Ave Maria University Receives Accreditation

Ave Maria's Institute of Pastoral Studies has been offering a three year program of classes (one weekend a month) resulting in a Masters of Theology degrees in the Twin Cities and a half dozen other cities around the country. This is good news for any Masters graduate who wants to continue their studies at the PhD level.

Unfortunately, the IPS will not be offering a class this coming fall due to a lack of enrollments. This accreditation should certainly help them in the Fall of 2011.

The Commission Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools announced today that Ave Maria University (AMU) has officially been awarded “accredited membership” status and is now an accredited member of the COC.

“We have been looking forward to this day for many years,” said Tom Monaghan, Founder and Chancellor. “As an institution of higher education, we set out to receive regional accreditation for the good of everyone associated with the university, and it is very gratifying to receive this recognition. We are excited about what this means for our alumni and the entire university community, especially our students.”

AMU currently offers 10 undergraduate majors: Biology; Classics; Economics; History; Literature; Mathematics; Music; Philosophy; Politics; and Theology. At its campus in Nicaragua, AMU also offers three degree programs in business administration, politics, and psychology. Additionally, AMU offers two masters degrees and a Ph.D. program in Theology.

SACS membership will directly benefit AMU students, especially those planning on entering post-graduate programs. Though AMU has been accredited by the American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE) since 2008, some graduate programs accept only alumni of regionally accredited schools. SACS is one of six regional accrediting associations that accredit institutions of higher education in the United States.

Membership also will impact university funding and makes AMU eligible to receive additional foundation grants and increased federal and state resources, which would allow the institution to improve and expand programs for students. Tim Drake, National Catholic Register

Diocese of Sioux Falls to Sponsor Chant Camp for Children and an Intro to the Pipe Organ for Junior High and High Schoolers


If a geezer like me can learn some chant, it should be a piece of cake for your kids who sing rock music at the top of their lungs around the house.

July 12-16, 10:00am – 3:00pm

A week-long day camp for Catholic children, ages 7-13, exploring the basics of Gregorian Chant in a fun and prayer-filled environment. The students will discover the beauty of ancient psalm-tones and Gregorian melodies and sing the Holy Mass every day while being challenged in the areas of music theory, composition, and conducting.

St. Joseph Cathedral School, 523 N. Duluth Ave. Sioux Falls, SD

Registration forms and more information available by downloading the brochure:

A pipe organ encounter for piano students and beginning organists (ages 12+) that will include an in-depth orientation to the pipe organ, its complex components and exciting abilities. Students will get several hours of private instruction and hands-on
opportunities on local instruments, a tour of pipe organs, and a thrilling virtuosic performance by a professional concert organist.

Friday, July 30th
10am-4pm field trip to National Music Museum in Vermillion (optional, add’l charge)
7:00pm Concert: Organist Chad Winterfeldt, DMA
Augustana’s Reconciliation Chapel
open to the public, suggested donation: $10/person

Saturday, July 31st
9:00am Pipe organ encounter group class at First Congregational Church
10am-12pm Local Organ “crawl”, tour of instruments in downtown Sioux Falls
12pm-1pm Pizza Lunch provided
1pm-3pm Private Instruction on area instruments
3:30pm Concert by area high school organists
4:00pm dismissal and pick up at First Congregational Church

Costs: Saturday Event: $30/student, includes lunch and handouts
additional optional Friday Vermillion Trip : $20

To Register, please print, send information and checks payable to:
attn: Lisa Knutson, 220 N. Summit Avenue, Sioux Falls, SD 57104
for questions, please email:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Silent No More Minnesota unveils new billboard


Today Silent No More Minnesota, whose mission is to reach out to those wounded by abortion, unveiled a new billboard, scheduled for launch July 1 for 3 months on I94 in Albertville, MN....

Timing and location were chosen to take advantage of heavy summer Interstate traffic at a site near MN's largest outlet shopping mall, which is in Albertville. The billboard, which reads, "Abortion Hurts, There is Hope and Healing," will be the 1st of its kind in MN.

SNM MN president Ann Marie Cosgrove stated in a press release that the billboard has multiple purposes: to bring awareness to those hurting from abortion, especially the unchurched, who may not ever hear a message of hope and healing; to educate the public that abortion causes pain, which also gives the abortion vulnerable pause to reconsider; and to soften hearts of those who think poorly of post-abortive mothers.

Ann Marie would love to keep the billboard up an additional 3 months for those who find their summer flings produced more than fond memories and for college students trekking to and from school. It only takes money. Donate online or by snail mail to Silent No More MN, P. O. Box 68125 Minneapolis, MN 55418.

Fr Peter Stravinskas replies to Fr Michael Ryan of Seattle on the new Mass translation

I have a “baker’s dozen” worth of responses to Father Ryan:

1. He argues that the vox populi should be a controlling factor in matters liturgical since they are the prime beneficiaries and since they foot the bills. When has that ever been the case in the history of the Church? Of course, what is so amusing about the suggestion is that it is being proposed by people who, thirty years ago, treated popular input to their program with total disdain.
As anyone should know, being involved with liturgical texts calls for many things: acceptance of “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3); a wide-ranging knowledge of Scripture and Tradition; an appreciation of liturgical history; linguistic ability. Needless to say, the average lay person (or priest) does not possess these competencies. Nor did most of the members of the original ICEL team, individually or collectively – which was why the end-result was so flawed.

2. Father Ryan suggests that far more people would have signed onto his petition, except for the element of fear. Fear of whom? “The bishops,” he says. Here we are faced with a contradiction because, in his America article, he said that the vast majority of bishops only grudgingly voted in favor of the final text. If that is so, why would they persecute those who thought like them?

3. He expresses his “surprise that more haven’t” signed his online petition. He can’t have it both ways. Either the vox populi is with him, or it’s not. He then proceeds to attribute the slim results to the people not “hav[ing] a clue about the new Missal.” Whose fault is that? Most folks in his camp have tried to guard this project more carefully than the Third Secret of Fatima. Last fall, I was invited to make a presentation on the new translation to a parish community, only to have the pastor told by the diocesan liturgical director that the talk was to be cancelled! The pastor did not acquiesce, and the faithful were positively impressed by the new texts.

4. I am chided as “disingenuous” for failing to mention the 1998 text proferred by ICEL to the American bishops and subsequently sent to the Holy See. I never mentioned it because Father Ryan never mentioned it in the article, to which I was responding. However, I would be happy to comment on it now: It was a defective work, largely a warmed-over version of what we got in 1973, which is why it got panned by the Holy See. If you have essentially the same players, would you not get the same results?
In turn, I feel compelled to chide Father Ryan for not engaging a single one of my critiques of his position or of my defense of the new translation.

5. Father Ryan refers to Liturgiam Authenticam as “highly controversial.” It was controversial only to those who had been used to functioning as loose cannons on deck and long overdue from the perspective of many, a point to which I shall return later. Finally, the Church had provided a clear philosophy of translation.

6. When the “recently retired archbishop” tells us “it’s not about translations,” I agree. I don’t agree that it’s about power, though. The conflict is not about translation, per se; that’s the visible part of the iceberg. The hidden part is a conflict over worldviews and theological perspectives. One group is about using liturgical texts to consolidate doctrine and morality; the other is about using them to change traditional positions to accommodate modernity. And that fundamental divide will not be bridged by having tea together.

7. Which leads to the next point: dialogue vs. diatribe. It’s interesting that when some people want to get their way, insistently and forcefully advancing their agenda, it is called dialogue; when the other side operates in a similar mode, it’s called diatribe. Dialogue is useful to discover commitments and then, where possible, to forge a common position. If the differences are as stark as I maintain above, there is no common meeting ground. For over two decades, the Holy See repeatedly instructed ICEL to change course (and was roundly ignored) and then took drastic measures by denying the recognitio to the funeral and ordination rites for years until significant changes were made.
Endless dialogue gets us nowhere, as Chesterton reminded us: “The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

8. I am not shocked at all by the prospect of certain priests refusing to implement the new Missal and/or of “mak[ing] their own changes as they see fit.” As Ecclesiastes teaches us, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Men who will operate in that fashion have, in all likelihood, been doing their own thing for decades already – and doing so with impunity, which emboldens them to continue down the same divisive path. What is sad is that Father Ryan seems to rejoice in that prospect, subtly supporting them, just as his “just wait” petition gave tacit support to the “just say no” approach.

9. What Father Ryan dubs “retrenchment,” I see as “ressourcement,” going back to the sources of the original liturgical movement and the ecclesiastical documents of the entire twentieth century, including and especially Sacrosanctum concilium. Which makes me ask, Just what were “the ground-breaking reforms of the Council”? I am aware of none. Indeed, every one of the liturgical reforms proposed by the Council has a footnote to some prior source. Continuity, not rupture, is the optic through which the Council must be viewed, as has been stressed by every Pope (and synod) of the post-conciliar era.

10. We are told that many petition-signers were “prominent theologians, liturgists, church historians, church leaders, pastors, and administrators.” That smacks of an elitism and even arrogance. Besides that, I didn’t recognize any “prominent” ones, but perhaps I haven’t been reading the right materials.

11. Father Ryan speaks of “when (and if)” the new translation is implemented. The “if” is a strange parenthetical addition, and I’m not sure what we should glean from it.

12. The figure of Blessed John XXIII is brought forward, perhaps to silence opposition. I rejoice in his memory and call to mind his wise apostolic constitution (promulgated on the eve of the Council), Veterum sapientia, in which he mandated a serious return to Latin in every sphere of ecclesial life. He was also the pope who reversed Venerable Pius XII’s approval for the Neo-Vulgate, attempted to shore up clerical discipline in the Diocese of Rome, and added Joseph’s name to the Roman Canon. It is easy to prognosticate about what a dead man would do; it is much harder to confront the reality of what he did do. I often think a nice new Catholic parlor game would be “Will the Real John XXIII Please Stand Up?” with its sequel, “Will the Real Vatican II Please Stand Up?”

13. My last reaction is to the contribution of a blogger, who insightfully calls for serious “philological analysis.” Language is the bearer of meaning. Words are not insignificant, particularly for those who worship the Word-made-Flesh. Those who know Christian history can never assert that “it doesn’t make one iota of a difference” since they know that blood flowed in the streets over “one iota” at Nicea. And if words are not significant, then what’s all the fuss about with this new translation?

Let me say a word about what I’ve learned from the whole process and how I view things at this point. The first thing that surprised me – pleasantly – from the exchange in America was how the preponderance of bloggers there actually supported the new translation. Given the fact that America and its subscribers have never been accused of right-wing extremism, this was most interesting. That says to me that thinking people know that something had to be done to make our worship more transcendental, more beautiful, more faithful to the Tradition and, as the response-blog put it, “we’ve waited long enough.”
Secondly, it seems to me that the Holy See should have been much more decisive much sooner in handling the “translation wars” and should not have been sending mixed signals for a long period of time. Of course, we cannot ignore how the divided-house phenomenon of the American bishops allowed confusion to persist as well. Thankfully, both sides of “The Pond” seem to be on the same page now.

Finally, I believe some “product-testing” of the new translation would have been worthwhile. In all likelihood, that got ruled out when it became clear that an attitude of obstructionism would delay the process of promulgation and implementation until the Second Coming of Christ.

What’s needed now is for all loyal sons and daughters of the Church to get on board, moving forward together, as we were encouraged to do in the immediate aftermath of Vatican II.
Pray Tell blog

Rev. Peter Stravinskas is the editor of The Catholic Response, publisher of Newman House Press and executive director of the Catholic Education Foundation.

Rev. Michael G. Ryan, is the author of What If We Said “Wait” in the December 14, 2009 issue of America magazine, has been pastor of St. James Cathedral in Seattle since 1988 and serves on the board of the national Cathedral Ministry Conference.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

St. Paul Seminary to host diaconal formation institute

Many of you know that I am more Irish than German. But my friends tell me that the German genes seem to dominate those of the Irish.

A case in point is my approach to the central administration of the archdiocese. Since my arrival, I have been working on a flowchart of the central offices, attempting to understand how they interrelate with one another.

This review has provided an opportunity to consider a number of organizational decisions and to build on our existing strengths. Hence, I am happy to say: Things are coming together.

Two additions

One of the great resources we have in this local archdiocese is The St. Paul Seminary. Not only does it do a fantastic job of educating and forming our seminarians, but it also provides similar opportunities for lay pastoral leaders.

Our archdiocesan Vocation Office is also most appropriately located there. Recently, the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute has been added to the mix.

I am happy at this point to an­nounce the addition of the Institute for Ongoing Clergy Formation as well as the Institute for Diaconal Formation.

These offices will be organized at the Center for Formation at The St. Paul Seminary under the supervision of Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan and the coordination of Bishop Lee Piché. You will hear more about these initiatives in the future, but I am pleased to share with you the purpose and mission of the Institute for Diaconal Formation.

As I announced here in this column over a year ago, I had established a committee under the chairmanship of Father Michael Skluza­cek to study our diaconate program in light of the recently published National Directory for the Forma­tion, Life and Ministry of Permanent Deacons in the United States.

The committee did an excellent job in studying the situation and has now made a series of recommendations, which I have accepted.

Deacon as servant

Perhaps a little bit of background may be helpful here: While the role of the deacon traces its origin to the earliest days of the church (cf Acts 6:1-7), nevertheless, the role fell out of usage for nearly a thousand years. The Second Vatican Council re­stored it to its proper rank, reestablishing it as an integral part of the church’s life.

The deacon is a servant of the Word, a servant of the altar and a servant of charity. Here in this archdiocese, we have more than 140 active deacons who serve as chaplains in hospitals, nursing homes and correctional facilities.

Deacons also care for the disabled and homebound, work to restore broken marriages and family lives, lead RCIA classes, minister the sacraments of baptism and matrimony, preside at funerals, and bring the Holy Eucharist to the sick and homebound. Finally, and most appropriately, they are attending to the needs of the poor.

While I suspended the admission of new diaconal candidates during this period of study and recommendation, I am now pleased to announce that any man wishing to apply for the diaconate should sign up for the Catechetical Institute, which is now a pre-requisite for formal diaconate training in the Institute for Diaconal Formation.

Interested men — and their wives, if possible — should make application to begin the Catechetical Institute this September (go to

Ordinations coming

Throughout this period of research and suspended admission, we have still had men preparing for ordination as permanent deacons. God willing, I will ordain eight more men to this order on Sept. 25, 2010.

I ask you to pray for these men as well as those who will follow. The diaconate fulfills a special and unique role in the church’s apostolic life. As St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote, “Without bishop, priest and deacon, one cannot speak of the Church.” Catholic Spirit

A Remarkable Renewal: The Catholic Church Under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI

I just attended the twenty-fifth anniversary of a priest’s ordination, and it got me thinking about how far the Church has come in the past quarter century. Many journalists and even Catholics would say, yes, the Church has gone quite far in recent years alright – right into a global crisis of sexual abuse by priests and criminal negligence by bishops: some merely incompetent, others naive believers in psychological “experts” claiming they could manage manipulative predators. Yet this general impression, understandable in many respects, misses the main story. The abuse crisis has temporarily obscured what can only be called a remarkable renewal.

Think about it. John Paul II was shot and almost killed in the early 1980s by a Turk who probably had ties through Bulgaria to the Soviets. The Russians, as we now know, had active measures ready against him and his offices in Rome were bugged. Communists were squeezing the Church from Central and Eastern Europe to South and Central America to the Far East.

In addition to outside threats, the pope often faced open rebellion within the Church from radical feminists and dissenting clergy in America and Europe. Marxist-inspired movements like Liberation Theology were rampant in Latin America and elsewhere. A number of Catholics thought authentic Christianity simply was some sort of social revolution. Theological and liturgical chaos following the Second Vatican Council – to say nothing of the affronts to simple common sense – was still quite widespread. The Nobel Prize winning poet Czeslaw Milosz, said that, of all the world leaders at that time, only JPII had the grandeur of one of Shakespeare’s kings. But if so, it was embattled grandeur.

In 1985, no one could have predicted that the pope would help bring down the Soviet Empire and raise the international status of the Vatican. Stalin famously asked: “How many divisions does the pope have?” As it turned out, quite a few, even within the Warsaw Pact. But also in the “free” world. When he and Cardinal Ratzinger issued the two instructions on Liberation Theology in 1984 and 1986, they effectively put an end to the radical socialism that had marked certain social justice currents in the Church – without denying that social engagement is a dimension of the Good News.

In roughly similar fashion, John Paul II and Ratzinger (later, as Benedict XVI) began to restore confidence in theological orthodoxy and renewed the liturgy. Both were called reactionaries, liberals during the Second Vatican Council who later betrayed the conciliar spirit. But neither sought a mere return to the past. Wojtyla’s studies in phenomenology and Ratzinger’s Augustinianism reflect something few believed was even a possibility: a first-order engagement with the modern world that did not liberalize Christianity into near-term self-destruction, as many Protestant churches have done.

This great leadership – over thirty years of it at this point – exceeds that of any institution or nation over the same period, errors and failures notwithstanding. JPII is now sometimes accused of mismanaging the abuse crisis. But in 1992 – a decade before the crisis erupted – he wrote Pastores Dabo Vobis, which heightened the sense of the necessary human and spiritual formation of men in seminaries. Many abusers came out of seminaries that, before the Council, ignored the human dimension or, after it, basically swallowed the values of modern culture. The better formed priests being ordained today owe much to what JPII set in motion.

Catholic higher education remains troubled. But it is not impossible to get a Catholic education at Notre Dame, Georgetown, or Boston College. It just takes more effort than it ought to. And even those institutions have begun to take tentative steps towards protecting “Catholic identity,” a halfway house from which they will either emerge as Catholic or go the way of formerly Protestant universities.

Most dioceses are now run by bishops appointed by John Paul II or Benedict XVI. Again, those appointments haven’t solved every problem. Not least, world culture as a whole underwent a major shift on every continent in the 1960s and the Church continues to have to face all that. But the institution is much more secure in its own identity. One quite intelligent bishop remarked when the abuse crisis arose during the Long Lent of 2002 that not only was it a terrible tragedy in itself. It gave some of the elements in the Church that had been sidelined for the better part of two decades a new, undeserved lease on life.

In the true Christian perspective, the Church is always embattled because she’s battling the world for souls. Historically, when the Church gets too cozy with the world – as it has in past centuries and sometimes did in the 1960s and 1970s – we can be sure it’s partly failing at its main task. The media-dissenter complex now ascendant will not long prevail, if only because the older dissenter’s are dying out. As it recedes, a truth will become evident: On the whole, the Church today has stronger and surer energies than at any time in quite a while, including the sometimes idealized period before the Council. It’s a force to be reckoned with – which is why it it so often attacked.

With one caveat. The priest celebrating his anniversary this weekend told a touching story. From his earliest days, he knew he had a vocation. An Italian grandmother would often take his hands between hers at big family gatherings and ask, “When will you become a priest?” The clergy shortage in the developed world is a weak spot. The number of ordinations in America, though much lower than before the Council, has remained basically even since the 1980s. But holding steady is not enough. Catholic parents and grandparents need to put that question again now. Because we can’t say how many very good potential priests were and are missing for lack of encouragement, good men who were needed not only to help avoid the crisis, but to fight the never-ending good fight.

Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in
Washington, D.C. His most recent book is The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West.

The Catholic Thing

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jack Sweeney, R.I.P.

A dear friend, a brother too, has passed away. Jack Sweeney 1936-2010.

Himself and Herself in the Gap of Dunloe, Co. Kerry

Jack at Work, a fag and a beer!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Papal Homily at End of Year for Priests

The Church too must use the shepherd’s rod, the rod with which he protects the faith against those who falsify it, against currents which lead the flock astray. The use of the rod can actually be a service of love. Today we can see that it has nothing to do with love when conduct unworthy of the priestly life is tolerated. Nor does it have to do with love if heresy is allowed to spread and the faith twisted and chipped away, as if it were something that we ourselves had invented. As if it were no longer God’s gift, the precious pearl which we cannot let be taken from us. Even so, the rod must always become once again the shepherd’s staff – a staff which helps men and women to tread difficult paths and to follow the Lord.


"The Priesthood ... Is not Simply Office, but Sacrament"

Zenit, June 11, 2010 - Here is the Vatican translation of the address delivered today by Benedict XVI at the papal Mass on the feast of the Sacred Heart that marked the end of the Year for Priests.

* * *
Dear Brothers in the Priestly Ministry,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Year for Priests which we have celebrated on the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the death of the holy Curè of Ars, the model of priestly ministry in our world, is now coming to an end. We have let the Curé of Ars guide us to a renewed appreciation of the grandeur and beauty of the priestly ministry. The priest is not a mere office-holder, like those which every society needs in order to carry out certain functions. Instead, he does something which no human being can do of his own power: in Christ’s name he speaks the words which absolve us of our sins and in this way he changes, starting with God, our entire life. Over the offerings of bread and wine he speaks Christ’s words of thanksgiving, which are words of transubstantiation – words which make Christ himself present, the Risen One, his Body and Blood – words which thus transform the elements of the world, which open the world to God and unite it to him.

The priesthood, then, is not simply "office" but sacrament: God makes use of us poor men in order to be, through us, present to all men and women, and to act on their behalf. This audacity of God who entrusts himself to human beings – who, conscious of our weaknesses, nonetheless considers men capable of acting and being present in his stead – this audacity of God is the true grandeur concealed in the word "priesthood". That God thinks that we are capable of this; that in this way he calls men to his service and thus from within binds himself to them: this is what we wanted to reflect upon and appreciate anew over the course of the past year. We wanted to reawaken our joy at how close God is to us, and our gratitude for the fact that he entrusts himself to our infirmities; that he guides and sustains us daily. In this way we also wanted to demonstrate once again to young people that this vocation, this fellowship of service for God and with God, does exist – and that God is indeed waiting for us to say "yes".

Together with the whole Church we wanted to make clear once again that we have to ask God for this vocation. We have to beg for workers for God’s harvest, and this petition to God is, at the same time, his own way of knocking on the hearts of young people who consider themselves able to do what God considers them able to do. It was to be expected that this new radiance of the priesthood would not be pleasing to the "enemy"; he would have rather preferred to see it disappear, so that God would ultimately be driven out of the world. And so it happened that, in this very year of joy for the sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light – particularly the abuse of the little ones, in which the priesthood, whose task is to manifest God’s concern for our good, turns into its very opposite. We too insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved, while promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again; and that in admitting men to priestly ministry and in their formation we will do everything we can to weigh the authenticity of their vocation and make every effort to accompany priests along their journey, so that the Lord will protect them and watch over them in troubled situations and amid life’s dangers.

Had the Year for Priests been a glorification of our individual human performance, it would have been ruined by these events. But for us what happened was precisely the opposite: we grew in gratitude for God’s gift, a gift concealed in "earthen vessels" which ever anew, even amid human weakness, makes his love concretely present in this world. So let us look upon all that happened as a summons to purification, as a task which we bring to the future and which makes us acknowledge and love all the more the great gift we have received from God. In this way, his gift becomes a commitment to respond to God’s courage and humility by our own courage and our own humility. The word of God, which we have sung in the Entrance Antiphon of today’s liturgy, can speak to us, at this hour, of what it means to become and to be a priest: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble of heart" (Mt 11:29).

We are celebrating the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and in the liturgy we peer, as it were, into the heart of Jesus opened in death by the spear of the Roman soldier. Jesus’ heart was indeed opened for us and before us – and thus God’s own heart was opened. The liturgy interprets for us the language of Jesus’ heart, which tells us above all that God is the shepherd of mankind, and so it reveals to us Jesus’ priesthood, which is rooted deep within his heart; so too it shows us the perennial foundation and the effective criterion of all priestly ministry, which must always be anchored in the heart of Jesus and lived out from that starting-point.

Today I would like to meditate especially on those texts with which the Church in prayer responds to the word of God presented in the readings. In those chants, word (Wort) and response (Antwort) interpenetrate. On the one hand, the chants are themselves drawn from the word of God, yet on the other, they are already our human response to that word, a response in which the word itself is communicated and enters into our lives. The most important of those texts in today’s liturgy is Psalm 23(22) – "The Lord is my shepherd" – in which Israel at prayer received God’s self-revelation as shepherd, and made this the guide of its own life. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want": this first verse expresses joy and gratitude for the fact that God is present to and concerned for humanity. The reading from the Book of Ezechiel begins with the same theme: "I myself will look after and tend my sheep" (Ez 34:11). God personally looks after me, after us, after all mankind. I am not abandoned, adrift in the universe and in a society which leaves me ever more lost and bewildered. God looks after me. He is not a distant God, for whom my life is worthless. The world’s religions, as far as we can see, have always known that in the end there is only one God. But this God was distant. Evidently he had abandoned the world to other powers and forces, to other divinities. It was with these that one had to deal. The one God was good, yet aloof. He was not dangerous, nor was he very helpful. Consequently one didn’t need to worry about him. He did not lord it over us.

Oddly, this kind of thinking re-emerged during the Enlightenment. There was still a recognition that the world presupposes a Creator. Yet this God, after making the world, had evidently withdrawn from it. The world itself had a certain set of laws by which it ran, and God did not, could not, intervene in them. God was only a remote cause. Many perhaps did not even want God to look after them. They did not want God to get in the way. But wherever God’s loving concern is perceived as getting in the way, human beings go awry.

It is fine and consoling to know that there is someone who loves me and looks after me. But it is far more important that there is a God who knows me, loves me and is concerned about me. "I know my own and my own know me" (Jn 10:14), the Church says before the Gospel with the Lord’s words. God knows me, he is concerned about me. This thought should make us truly joyful. Let us allow it to penetrate the depths of our being. Then let us also realize what it means: God wants us, as priests, in one tiny moment of history, to share his concern about people. As priests, we want to be persons who share his concern for men and women, who take care of them and provide them with a concrete experience of God’s concern. Whatever the field of activity entrusted to him, the priest, with the Lord, ought to be able to say: "I know my sheep and mine know me". "To know", in the idiom of sacred Scripture, never refers to merely exterior knowledge, like the knowledge of someone’s telephone number. "Knowing" means being inwardly close to another person. It means loving him or her. We should strive to "know" men and women as God does and for God’s sake; we should strive to walk with them along the path of friendship with God.

Let us return to our Psalm. There we read: "He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me" (23[22]:3ff.). The shepherd points out the right path to those entrusted to him. He goes before them and leads them. Let us put it differently: the Lord shows us the right way to be human. He teaches us the art of being a person. What must I do in order not to fall, not to squander my life in meaninglessness? This is precisely the question which every man and woman must ask and one which remains valid at every moment of one’s life. How much darkness surrounds this question in our own day! We are constantly reminded of the words of Jesus, who felt compassion for the crowds because they were like a flock without a shepherd. Lord, have mercy on us too! Show us the way! From the Gospel we know this much: he is himself the way.

Living with Christ, following him – this means finding the right way, so that our lives can be meaningful and so that one day we might say: "Yes, it was good to have lived". The people of Israel continue to be grateful to God because in the Commandments he pointed out the way of life. The great Psalm 119(118) is a unique expression of joy for this fact: we are not fumbling in the dark. God has shown us the way and how to walk aright. The message of the Commandments was synthesized in the life of Jesus and became a living model. Thus we understand that these rules from God are not chains, but the way which he is pointing out to us. We can be glad for them and rejoice that in Christ they stand before us as a lived reality. He himself has made us glad. By walking with Christ, we experience the joy of Revelation, and as priests we need to communicate to others our own joy at the fact that we have been shown the right way.

Then there is the phrase about the "darkest valley" through which the Lord leads us. Our path as individuals will one day lead us into the valley of the shadow of death, where no one can accompany us. Yet he will be there. Christ himself descended into the dark night of death. Even there he will not abandon us. Even there he will lead us. "If I sink to the nether world, you are present there", says Psalm 139(138). Truly you are there, even in the throes of death, and hence our Responsorial Psalm can say: even there, in the darkest valley, I fear no evil. When speaking of the darkest valley, we can also think of the dark valleys of temptation, discouragement and trial through which everyone has to pass. Even in these dark valleys of life he is there. Lord, in the darkness of temptation, at the hour of dusk when all light seems to have died away, show me that you are there. Help us priests, so that we can remain beside the persons entrusted to us in these dark nights. So that we can show them your own light.

"Your rod and your staff – they comfort me": the shepherd needs the rod as protection against savage beasts ready to pounce on the flock; against robbers looking for prey. Along with the rod there is the staff which gives support and helps to make difficult crossings. Both of these are likewise part of the Church’s ministry, of the priest’s ministry. The Church too must use the shepherd’s rod, the rod with which he protects the faith against those who falsify it, against currents which lead the flock astray. The use of the rod can actually be a service of love. Today we can see that it has nothing to do with love when conduct unworthy of the priestly life is tolerated. Nor does it have to do with love if heresy is allowed to spread and the faith twisted and chipped away, as if it were something that we ourselves had invented. As if it were no longer God’s gift, the precious pearl which we cannot let be taken from us. Even so, the rod must always become once again the shepherd’s staff – a staff which helps men and women to tread difficult paths and to follow the Lord.

At the end of the Psalm we read of the table which is set, the oil which anoints the head, the cup which overflows, and dwelling in the house of the Lord. In the Psalm this is an expression first and foremost of the prospect of the festal joy of being in God’s presence in the temple, of being his guest, whom he himself serves, of dwelling with him. For us, who pray this Psalm with Christ and his Body which is the Church, this prospect of hope takes on even greater breadth and depth. We see in these words a kind of prophetic foreshadowing of the mystery of the Eucharist, in which God himself makes us his guests and offers himself to us as food –as that bread and fine wine which alone can definitively sate man’s hunger and thirst. How can we not rejoice that one day we will be guests at the very table of God and live in his dwelling-place? How can we not rejoice at the fact that he has commanded us: "Do this in memory of me"? How can we not rejoice that he has enabled us to set God’s table for men and women, to give them his Body and his Blood, to offer them the precious gift of his very presence. Truly we can pray together, with all our heart, the words of the Psalm: "Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life" (Ps 23[22]:6).

Finally, let us take a brief look at the two communion antiphons which the Church offers us in her liturgy today. First there are the words with which Saint John concludes the account of Jesus’ crucifixion: "One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out" (Jn 19:34). The heart of Jesus is pierced by the spear. Once opened, it becomes a fountain: the water and the blood which stream forth recall the two fundamental sacraments by which the Church lives: Baptism and the Eucharist. From the Lord’s pierced side, from his open heart, there springs the living fountain which continues to well up over the centuries and which makes the Church. The open heart is the source of a new stream of life; here John was certainly also thinking of the prophecy of Ezechiel who saw flowing forth from the new temple a torrent bestowing fruitfulness and life (Ez 47): Jesus himself is the new temple, and his open heart is the source of a stream of new life which is communicated to us in Baptism and the Eucharist.

The liturgy of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus also permits another phrase, similar to this, to be used as the communion antiphon. It is taken from the Gospel of John: Whoever is thirsty, let him come to me. And let the one who believes in me drink. As the Scripture has said: "Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water" (cf. Jn 7:37ff.) In faith we drink, so to speak, of the living water of God’s Word. In this way the believer himself becomes a wellspring which gives living water to the parched earth of history. We see this in the saints. We see this in Mary, that great woman of faith and love who has become in every generation a wellspring of faith, love and life. Every Christian and every priest should become, starting from Christ, a wellspring which gives life to others. We ought to be offering life-giving water to a parched and thirst world. Lord, we thank you because for our sake you opened your heart; because in your death and in your resurrection you became the source of life. Give us life, make us live from you as our source, and grant that we too may be sources, wellsprings capable of bestowing the water of life in our time. We thank you for the grace of the priestly ministry. Lord bless us, and bless all those who in our time are thirsty and continue to seek. Amen.