Thursday 29 September 2011

Where to be on Saturday

To celebrate the first anniversary of the Beatification of Blessed John Henry Newman, and the 2010 visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain a Blessed Sacrament Procession will take place on Saturday 1 October.

The procession will leave Westminster Cathedral at 1.30pm via Ambrosden Avenue and continue along Francis Street, Vincent Street, Horseferry Road and Lambeth Bridge to St George's Cathedral Southwark.

At 2.30pm there will be Benediction at St George's Cathedral, Southwark.

All are welcome. Come and honour the Blessed Sacrament and witness to the reality of the presence of Christ in London.
The above is taken from the Westminster Diocese website. Westminster Cathedral's website suggests a slightly earlier start time of 1.15 pm.

I am hoping to be able to take part in this Procession on Saturday afternoon (the "moving in" to my newly installed kitchen permitting).

Monday 26 September 2011

Pope Benedict, Martin Luther and non-ecclesial Christianity

During his visit to Germany, Pope Benedict met with the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany. The place of this meeting was the former Augustinian monastery in Erfurt, a location associated with the life and work of Martin Luther. The full text of Pope Benedict's address can be found here.

There are two particular points within this address that I found of note. The first reminded me of Pope Benedict's encounter with leaders of other Christian denominations during his visit to Cologne in 2005. I posted on that earlier address here.

The "strap line" that I used from that address in Cologne:
“The real question is the presence of the Word in the world."
has a resonance with the phrase that Pope Benedict chose at Erfurt to characterise the work of Martin Luther:
“How do I receive the grace of God?” The fact that this question was the driving force of [Martin Luther's] whole life never ceases to make a deep impression on me. For who is actually concerned about this today – even among Christians?
This later address represents in some way an exemplification of the style of ecumenical dialogue that Pope Benedict in Cologne described as a "small comment", apologising for his expression of a "personal opinion". I find Pope Benedict's willingness to take a prompt from Martin Luther most significant, and, if what Pope Benedict says in his address reflects his general thinking, it is not a prompt just put together for this address but one that influences him more widely.

The second point of note is the reference that Pope Benedict makes to the challenge represented to both Lutheran and Catholic Churches by what one might term non-ecclesial Christianity:
Faced with a new form of Christianity, which is spreading with overpowering missionary dynamism, sometimes in frightening ways, the mainstream Christian denominations often seem at a loss. This is a form of Christianity with little institutional depth, little rationality and even less dogmatic content, and with little stability.
The four weaknesses that Pope Benedict sees in this type of Christianity, and that I have highlighted by adding italics, are interesting. That this form of Christianity is problematical can be seen in my own professional field. It is this form of Christianity that seeks to promote "creation science" or "intelligent design" - both ideas that have little rationality and lack genuine dogmatic content. The problem is that the teaching of a more traditional doctrine of creation gets caught up in the same attacks that secularists then direct at "creation science"/"intelligent design", and an attempt is then made to ban any doctrine of creation from the field of science education.

Pope Benedict's critique of non-ecclesial Christianity is very strong, and so it will be interesting to see how those communities react to his words.

Saturday 24 September 2011

In the midst of these differences, the Pope has stood out....

How do you put the Pope's return to his homeland into perspective?

This is the first sentence of a report from Berlin posted on the BBC News website this morning.
It is true that there were about 9,000 protesters in Potsdamer Platz, but there were many more participants - more than 60,000 - in the Mass at the vast Olympic Stadium in Berlin.
Compare to about 10 000 protesters in London on the Saturday of Pope Benedict's visit, and 80 000 at the vigil in Hyde Park the same evening. Somewhat the same.
And it is true that some members of parliament did boycott his speech to the Bundestag - but many more stayed, listened and then stood and applauded at the end.
This reminds me very much of the warm applause at the end of the Holy Father's address in Westminster Hall.

After describing the arrival ceremony, the BBC report continues (my emphasis added, because I think this phrase quite perceptively indicates what one might call a Papal uniqueness which is very apparent in visits like this one):
From there, everyone he met seemed like a reminder of the diversity and perhaps the difficulty for a spiritual leader in a secular state: President Christian Wulff is a divorced and remarried Catholic who is, accordingly, not allowed to participate in some parts of Catholic services; Chancellor Angela Merkel is the daughter of a Lutheran priest; Mayor Klaus Wowereit of Berlin is openly homosexual.
In the midst of these differences, the Pope has stood out....

.... the Bundestag is in one of the most historically charged buildings, the Reichstag which was set ablaze in 1933 and then lay in ruins throughout the years of Communism until it was rebuilt as the parliament of a democratic, united Germany.

Pope Benedict stood at the centre of the newly built forum, under the modern dome, and delivered a cerebral discourse on politics and the duty of politicians.
[See here for my own comment on the Bundestag address.]

Friday 23 September 2011

Benedict XVI: A Pope for Europe

The invitation extended to Pope Benedict XVI to address members of the Houses of Parliament and other representatives of public life in Westminster Hall during his visit to Britain last year has a very close parallel in the invitation extended to the Holy Father by the President of the Bundestag during his current visit to Germany. And the content of the addresses delivered by Pope Benedict on the two occasions can be very appropriately placed alongside each other, each discussing in a different cultural context and from a different perspective the encounter between Christian faith and contemporary political and social culture in Europe. The full text of the Bundestag speech can be found here, and the full text of the Westminster Hall speech can be found here.

The common hinge on which both addresses turn is that of how we can today find out what is true and right. This in Westminster Hall:
The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles.
And this before the Bundestag:
To serve right and to fight against the dominion of wrong is and remains the fundamental task of the politician. At a moment in history when man has acquired previously inconceivable power, this task takes on a particular urgency. Man can destroy the world. He can manipulate himself. He can, so to speak, make human beings and he can deny them their humanity. How do we recognize what is right? How can we discern between good and evil, between what is truly right and what may appear right?
In both addresses, Pope Benedict refers to the limit of the "majority" as a determination of what is right and what is wrong. In Westminster Hall:
If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident - herein lies the real challenge for democracy.
And before the Bundestag:
For most of the matters that need to be regulated by law, the support of the majority can serve as a sufficient criterion. Yet it is evident that for the fundamental issues of law, in which the dignity of man and of humanity is at stake, the majority principle is not enough...
The way in which both addresses consider the relationship between religious faith and political and legislative life is also very interesting. On the one hand there is an argument for a rightful autonomy of the political and legislative life of a nation from the demands of religious belief, and on the other hand there is a call for an appropriate participation of religion in the public realm. In Westminster Hall this was expressed in terms of the role of religion in the purification of reason to help inform the discovery of objective moral principles in political life. Before the Bundestag it was expressed in a historical account of how Christianity, rather than proposing a religiously revealed law for adoption by the state, instead pointed in the direction of nature and reason as the basis for the formulation of law. The significance of this insight today cannot be underestimated, facing as it does at one and the same time towards the secularising intent of Europe (which would deny nature) and towards the international growth of the influence of Islam (which, with Sharia law, would deny reason). It also has an important implication for the integrist tendencies of traditionalist movements in the Catholic Church.

Towards the end of his address before the Bundestag, Pope Benedict made an interesting reference to the emergence of the ecological movement in Germany during the 1970's.
Young people had come to realize that something is wrong in our relationship with nature, that matter is not just raw material for us to shape at will, but that the earth has a dignity of its own and that we must follow its directives. In saying this, I am clearly not promoting any particular political party – nothing could be further from my mind. If something is wrong in our relationship with reality, then we must all reflect seriously on the whole situation and we are all prompted to question the very foundations of our culture. Allow me to dwell a little longer on this point. The importance of ecology is no longer disputed. We must listen to the language of nature and we must answer accordingly. Yet I would like to underline a point that seems to me to be neglected, today as in the past: there is also an ecology of man. Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he respects his nature, listens to it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled.
At the time of the Conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, there was talk of an "African Pope" or of a "South American" Pope. Instead, we were given a "Pope for Europe", and these two addresses show just how much Pope Benedict lives up to that title.

POSTSCRIPT: There is a wonderful courtesy contained in both of these addresses, a courtesy that could also be seen as an "omission" from both of them.This courtesy can also be seen as Pope Benedict actually practising what he preaches. It would be a ready extension of his remarks about an "ecology of man" to go on to condemn legalised abortion, but Pope Benedict limits himself to suggesting the direction that reason might take. It is then for those in public office, not for Benedict himself, to take this "purification of reason" and see it through to its consequences in legislation.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Does new Paris "by-law" ban religious processions?

This report at "defend us in battle" indicates two implications of recent legislation which came into effect in Paris, whose intended aim was in respect of Muslim believers and Friday prayer. The BBC report here describes the background to this recent legal provision, and gives an account of co-operation between Muslim and civil authorities in making available more facilities that can be used by believers for their time of prayer. It should be noted, though, that the introduction of the legislation was prompted by far-right protests. But, if this BBC report is accurate, there does seem to be some prudent co-operation aimed at resolving the situation prompted by those protests.

The first unexpected implication is whether or not this Paris "by-law" legitimises hostility - and the word "hostility" is a diplomatic descriptor of what is described in this report, and in the links from it - on the part of secularist movements towards any public manifestation of religious belief in Paris.

The second implication is whether or not an unintended effect of the legislation will be to ban all public religious events in Paris, such as Marian and Eucharistic processions. These Catholic manifestations of faith were not at issue in the framing of the Paris legislation, but will they now become problematic?

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Will any be called Matthew?

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, announced the recruitment of an extra 2000 tax inspectors at the Liberal Democrat Conference.
More than 2,000 tax inspectors will be recruited to crack down on tax evasion among the wealthiest people in the UK, a Liberal Democrat minister has said.  
Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, told the Lib Dem conference that this would ensure 350,000 top earners paid their "fair share" of tax....

The renewed drive against tax evasion is designed to prevent the richest people in Britain from hiding the true extent of their liabilities and ensure they contribute to efforts to reduce the UK's huge deficit.
I wonder if any of these tax collectors will be called Matthew?
God of mercy,
you chose a tax collector, Saint Matthew,
to share the dignity of the apostles.
By his example and prayers
help us to follow Christ
and remain faithful in your service.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

IEC 2012: an update

A meeting was held at Brentwood Cathedral Conference Centre this evening to promote interest in the forthcoming International Eucharistic Congress. Sadly, it was not very well attended.

As part of the evening, we looked at images of four icons which are accompanying the journey of the Congress Bell through Ireland in preparation for the Congress. I was particularly struck by the first of these icons, that of Our Lady of Refuge and St John the Evangelist. I borrow from the Congress website the image and the explanation.

The Icon of Our Lady of Refuge and St. John the Evangelist will be based on a 14th Century icon from the Poganovo Monastery. It shows John the Evangelist and Mary as they might have been beneath the cross, evoking the text of John 19:26-27.

This icon will be used to represent stage 1 of the Congress pastoral preparation programme: “Christ gathers us as a Eucharistic community.”

Our choice of this icon is motivated by the idea that it represents the formation of the Church at the foot of the Cross. As St. John Chrysostom reminds us the water and blood flowing from the side of Christ were symbols respectively of baptism and Eucharist. Mary is confirmed as mother of the Church. In the person of St. John, the whole Church is gathered at the foot of the cross. The beloved disciple looks out from the icon, inviting us into this new communion with Christ through Mary. The Icon thus highlights both the Marian and Johannine aspects of the ecclesial community – we are called to be fruitful bearers of the Word and Beloved disciples. "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it." (Luke 8:21)

From the presentation at this evening's meeting, I think there is a discussion to be had about the way in which the work in preparation for the Congress, and the proposed programme, develop its theme. I will hopefully post on this in the next few days. Meanwhile, this page at the Congress website briefly outlines the theme, and indicates possible developments of it.

The Congress website now contains a wide range of material relating to the Congress, and is worth exploring.

Sunday 18 September 2011

The Unity of the Church: " ... the fundamental basis for achieving full reconciliation with the Apostolic See..."

As with the provisions of Summorum Pontificum, I believe that the the text of the "Doctrinal Preamble" provided by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith/Ecclesia Dei Commision to Bishop Fellay of the Society of St Pius X on 14th September is something in which every Catholic has a stake. What it says to the SSPX about the Second Vatican Council, and the attitude that it expects of them towards that Council, will at the same time make a statement about that Council to every Catholic who has in good faith attempted to implement and live the teaching of the Council. If it is conceded to the SSPX that they can in some measure "leave aside" teachings of the Council, then other faithful Catholics are going to be rightfully annoyed, and the purpose of unity that the Doctrinal Preamble seeks to serve will be undermined.

The communique issued following the meeting between Vatican officials and Bishop Fellay is posted here by ZENIT. Before the meeting, there was some talk of Bishop Fellay having been "summoned" to the meeting, but, as the communique describes, the meeting that took place was in reality the outcome of a series of meetings between representatives of the two sides.
While bearing in mind the concerns and demands presented by the Society of St. Pius X about protecting the integrity of the Catholic faith against Vatican Council II's 'hermeneutic of rupture' with Tradition (a theme addressed by Pope Benedict XVI in his address to the Roman Curia on 22 December 2005), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith maintains that the fundamental basis for achieving full reconciliation with the Apostolic See is the acceptance of the text of the Doctrinal Preamble, which was handed over during a meeting on 14 September 2011.
The Preamble defines certain doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation of Catholic doctrine, which are necessary to ensure faithfulness to the Church Magisterium and 'sentire cum Ecclesia'. At the same time, it leaves open to legitimate discussion the examination and theological explanation of individual expressions and formulations contained in the documents of Vatican Council II and later Magisterium.
One blogger titles her essentially sympathetic post about the Doctrinal Preamble Will they submit?, and I think there is something in this choice of title. Another entitles his post SSPX breakthrough in sight. The reality is probably made up of a bit of both sentiments. I think it is important to recognise that, though the Doctrinal Preamble is addressed from the Holy See firstly towards the SSPX itself, it nevertheless has a "reflection back" towards the Church as a whole. I sincerely hope that the Commission Ecclesia Dei has been more aware of this "reflected glance" now than it appeared to have been in preparing the instruction Universae Ecclesiae, which in my view looked only towards those attached to the Extraordinary Form.

An interview given by Bishop Fellay after the 14th September meeting appears to rule out from the Preamble a general distinguishing between the "doctrinal" to which the SSPX will give assent and the "pastoral" which can still be considered still open for discussion. The wording of the communique is very carefully nuanced in this regard.

So I have three thoughts to end with.

1. Since we all have a stake in the content of the Doctrinal Preamble, should it not at some point become the subject of public discussion in the Church rather than just of private discussion between a dicastery of the Holy See and the SSPX?

2. If the rule of faith considered appropriate for those joining the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and so "achieving full reconciliation with the Apostolic See", is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, why should this same catechism not provide the rule of faith to which the SSPX are expected to adhere?

3. The speculation is that, should the SSPX accept the Doctrinal Preamble, their canonical status in the Church might become that of a Personal Prelature. This might be diplomatically convenient, but I am not sure that it represents the status best reflecting the nature of a priestly society.

The Unity of the Church: ".. ecumenism of martyrs..."

ZENIT report, under the title "Ecumenism of Martyrs" presented as path to unity, a presentation by Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. This presentation. Cardinal Koch was speaking as part of a round table during an interreligious gathering organized by the Catholic lay Sant'Egidio Community. The meeting was held in Munich.
"Given that today all Christian Churches and ecclesial communities have their martyrs, we must speak of a real ecumenism of martyrs, which contains within itself a beautiful promise: Despite the tragedy of the divisions between the Churches, these solid testimonies of faith have shown that God himself maintains, at a more profound level, the communion of faith among the baptized, attested by the supreme sacrifice of their life," Cardinal Koch reflected.....

"The ecumenism of the martyrs does not only constitute the nucleus of ecumenical spirituality, which is necessary today," the cardinal said, "but it is also the best example that the promotion of Christian unity and preferential love for the poor are absolutely inseparable."
The Cardinal's remarks are made in reference to a teaching of Pope John Paul II, contained in the encyclical Ut Unum Sint n.84 (my emphasis added):
In a theocentric vision, we Christians already have a common Martyrology. This also includes the martyrs of our own century, more numerous than one might think, and it shows how, at a profound level, God preserves communion among the baptized in the supreme demand of faith, manifested in the sacrifice of life itself. The fact that one can die for the faith shows that other demands of the faith can also be met. I have already remarked, and with deep joy, how an imperfect but real communion is preserved and is growing at many levels of ecclesial life. I now add that this communion is already perfect in what we all consider the highest point of the life of grace, martyria unto death, the truest communion possible with Christ who shed his Blood, and by that sacrifice brings near those who once were far off (cf. Eph 2:13).
One of the interesting implications of this teaching is the possibility, at least in principle, that the Catholic Church might canonise, as a martyr, a person who was not a Roman Catholic.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Compare and contrast

On 17th September 2010 - though it was the Friday and not a Saturday as it is this year - Pope Benedict XVI spoke to a gathering of representatives of public life in Westminster Hall, a gathering that included politicians and representatives of the diplomatic world, the world of commerce, the media, and other areas of public life. This is the occasion during the Papal visit to which I have returned more often than any other. It is certainly the address (text here) to which I have more often referred on this blog than any other of the Papal visit (though I now suspect that the re-organisation of the Papal Visit web site to mark the first anniversary has broken all the links!).

It was significant because it took place amidst a certain hostility towards Pope Benedict's visit. I remember thinking as I watched the event on the live webcast that this was what represented the real welcome being given to Pope Benedict, and not the protests. It was a uniquely generous parliamentary occasion.

I was particularly moved by the way in which Pope Benedict's audience applauded, and kept applauding, at the end of his address to them. There was a real warmth to the idea of this audience applauding Pope Benedict as he moved down the whole length of Westminster Hall.

Compare and contrast.

St Robert Bellarmine on faith and science

I have a soft spot for St Robert Bellarmine, in part because of his consideration of the relationship between science and Christian faith outlined below, and in part because of the affinity of his stature in the Catholic Church of his time to that of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The account below dates from some work I did in 1997. The principle source for the thinking of Robert Bellarmine is a two volume biography by written by William Brodrick and published in 1928.

In April 1615, St. Robert Bellarmine wrote a letter to the author of a book which had defended the Copernican view of the universe, clearly addressing the letter to Galileo as well.  St. Robert Bellarmine fulfilled a role in the Church of his time similar to that of Cardinal Ratzinger in our own time (ie in 1997).  He was a man of great intellect and profound devotion.  He was well informed about the state of contemporary scientific endeavour and seems to have had quite cordial communications with Galileo.  His letter is strikingly modern, and very concisely presents an answer to the debate as it had come to be presented.

“..It seems to me that your Reverence and Signor Galileo act prudently when you content yourselves with speaking hypothetically and not absolutely, as I have always understood Copernicus spoke..”

This is a reference to the fact that the Copernican view was an interpretation of astronomical observations.  At least one other successful interpretation was possible at the time, and it is in this sense that the Copernican view represented a “hypothetical” rather than an “absolute” claim.  To accept it as a “hypothesis” in this sense was quite a different thing than accepting it as being the way things really were.

“..If there were a real proof that the Sun is in the centre of the universe ... and that the Sun does not go round the Earth but the Earth round the Sun, then we should have to proceed with great circumspection in explaining the passages of Scripture which appear to teach the contrary, and we should rather have to say that we did not understand them than declare an opinion to be false which is proved to be true..”

This is the critical passage in the letter.  Underlying it is the conviction that the results of scientific study and the content of Christian faith are in harmony with each other.  When science can offer convincing proof, then it is necessary to look again at the way in which Scripture is understood. 

“But I do not think there is any such proof since none has been shown to me..I believe that the first demonstration (i.e. that the Copernican view is a workable hypothesis) may exist, but I have grave doubts about the second (i.e. the existence of proof that the Copernican view is the way things really are); and in the case of doubt one may not abandon the Holy Scriptures as expounded by the holy Fathers..”

This is an important balancing of the previously expressed willingness to look again at the way in which Scripture is understood.  In the seventeenth century there really was not any absolute evidence of the earth’s movement through space.  In the twentieth century there is, and, if he were alive today, St. Robert Bellarmine would accept that proof and be willing to understand Scripture differently as a consequence.

The decree of 1616, in St. Robert Bellarmine’s account of how it was notified by him to Galileo, was that the Copernican view “is contrary to Holy Scriptures and therefore cannot be defended or held”.  In the sense of St. Robert Bellarmine’s letter, this decree still allowed discussion of Copernicus view as a working hypothesis, and this seems to have been the way in which both Bellarmine and Galileo understood it.

Seen in this context, the decree of 1616 is not unreasonable.  However, history has come to see it as a defining moment in the development of a gulf between science and Christian faith, with particular ill-feeling being directed at the Catholic Church.  This might be accounted for by the stricter interpretation given to the decree by some churchmen and by the controversialist stance taken by Galileo, both of which combined to lead to Galileo’s trial in 1633. But the inappropriate opposition of science and Scripture around which the whole affair developed did not find support amongst the best Catholic thinkers of the time.

Friday ...

At Mass this evening, "And with your spirit" definitely seemed to be gaining ascendancy over "And also with you". It isn't a parish where anyone is being difficult and resisting the new translation, but more the fact that some attendees are more attentive to the change than others. But still no use of any Eucharistic Prayer other than number 2!

And then:

Tea and cream cakes.Well, it isn't meat ..... I could claim that this was our "Papal Visit Party", but, in reality it was just self-indulgence. I'm not sure we have quite got the idea of this Friday penance ...

Thursday 15 September 2011

A plain Jane and Eyre time

Zero and I went to see the new film of Jane Eyre earlier this week. It was worth five stars according to the review in The Times, but we weren't convinced of that (we do occasionally agree on things). We found it a somewhat plain Jane, in which you didn't really see more than slight glimpses of Jane's personality, and in which some scenes that are full of meaning in the original book fell rather flat. It is OK, but not five stars worth.

What struck me most about the film was a feature of its lighting. In many scenes, Jane and Rochester are lit from just one side, so that half the face is lit and the other half hidden in shadow. This has a touch of realism about it - if you are holding a candle in your right hand it will illuminate the right side of your face and leave the left side in shadow - but it was interesting to compare it to the 1996 film by Zeffirelli where no such effect is used. In this earlier film there is a much greater sense of a portrayal of Jane's character, and it seems to be indicated in the greater willingness to film a full face. There were one or two clever flash backs - so that Jane is shown greeting Rochester when it is in fact St John Rivers who has called to tell her about her fortune. This example, I felt, didn't fairly portray Jane's character, suggesting a kind of obsession rather than a romantic love. The music for the sound track is well chosen, but again seems to have the effect of hiding Jane's character and the character of her relationship with Rochester, rather than revealing it.

As the credits began, Zero gave a big stretch and a yawn, and assured me that she had not fallen asleep.

A letter in today's Times draws attention to how different films set the story at different times. The two dating bench marks in the films are the dates shown on Helen Burn's tomb and the dating of the marriage of Rochester to Bertha Mason. Apparently, the new film places the action at a later date than previous representations; and they all place it much later than the timing that the author of this letter suggests is indicated by the internal evidence of the novel itself, which would place it in the first decade of the 19th century.

Sir, Why do successive film directors wilfully misdate the action of Jane Eyre?

A place of reverence or a place of adoration?

A more philosophical/theological question has occurred to me since posting on genuflections and bows.

We often talk about "reverence in Church", perhaps to decry its lack. In practice, this not infrequently (Oh, don't you love a double negative!) is (and an inversion of word order - I am getting the hang of the new translation!) associated with the question of whether or not people should talk in Church or keep silence. OK, here's the sentence again without comments: In practice, this not infrequently is associated with the question of whether or not people should talk in Church or keep silence.

But is the Church primarily a place of "reverence" or is it primarily a place of "adoration"?

Leaving aside the presence in a typical Catholic Church of the Body of the Lord present in the tabernacle and worthy of adoration, is a Church building in itself a place of "adoration" rather than "reverence"? During the celebration of the Liturgy, yes, the Church is clearly a place of "adoration". But, if a Church building is seen as a sign of the presence of God Incarnate in the world, is that not also the case at times outside of Liturgical or devotional celebrations?

There is a practical implication of this for the attitude of the person who enters the Church, since an attitude of adoration is one in which one will enter the Church to enter into the presence of God, and not just in to a holy place (though one is doing that as well).

And there will be a clear implication for the design of Church buildings. The universality of Christian faith means that it can be expressed in a diversity of architectural styles, and no one architectural style rules over another. But underlying the differences of style, the Church building should represent and foster an attitude of adoration. So, for example, the windows of a gothic style draw us to look upwards as does also the image of the Father above the apse of a more Romanesque style. It is possible for this to be achieved in modern Church architecture, too, though in a different way.

Some of this is reflected in Fr Tim's post A sermon on Church architecture, which reflects on the text My house is the house of prayer (Lk 19.46).
Therefore it is right that our buildings should have a human aesthetic, should recognise the distinction between ground and sky, Church and outside Church, holy place and profane place, earth and heaven.
[Though, being mischievous, and not being a great lover of baroque, I was amused by this sentence which I totally admit to taking out of its context: "Building a baroque basilica is simply an extension of the will of the Lord in celebrating the Last Supper with the greatest solemnity and splendour that was available to Him".]

The question is also one that has an implication for inter-religious dialogue. The Jewish synagogue, with its enshrining of the Torah scrolls, might readily be seen by both the Jewish community and the Christian community as a place of the presence of God and therefore a place of adoration. But what of the mosque? The Muslim community are unlikely to be happy with seeing the mosque as a place of the presence of God, so should the mosque be seen as a place of adoration or more as the place of gathering which, for Christian or Jewish architecture would be an inadequate understanding but which for Islamic architecture might well be a correct understanding?

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Of genuflections and bows

Fr Ray has a post here, along with its comments, that dicusses the relative merits of the bow and the genuflection as "signs of reverence" as the faithful approach to receive Holy Communion standing.

The first question that arises is that of whether a "sign of reverence" is appropriate as you approach to receive the Eucharist. Should we not make a sign of adoration? From a catechetical point of view, the first thing is to be clear in our own minds of the difference between a sign of reverence and a sign of adoration, and, then, to be clear about what we say in parishes about this difference. We might show reverence towards holy objects - a rosary, a crucifix, statues and perhaps particularly within the Church building the altar on which the Eucharist is celebrated. But adoration is given only to the persons of the Trinity, to God. And so we adore the Holy Eucharist, the true Body and Blood of the Lord who reveals to us the Trinity.

The second question that arises is the inconsistency of our practice, both in the strictly Liturgical and in the devotional life of our parishes. The rubrics for the celebration of Mass expect a genuflection towards the tabernacle by the ministers at the start and end of Mass only, and by the priest twice at the Consecration and again just before Communion - so what to do if we pass before the tabernacle at another time during the course of the celebration? So, approaching the altar on which are present the Body and Blood of the Lord, the extraordinary minister ... bows to the altar? bows towards the Sacred species? Which is it that is actually taking place? Is the extraordinary minister reverencing the altar or adoring the Body and Blood of the Lord? And that inconsistency of practice extends to times outside of the Liturgy itself, particularly where the Eucharist is reserved in a tabernacle that is not within the main sanctuary of the Church and where the idea of genuflection almost completely disappears.

Particularly since 2005, when Pope Benedict's catechesis on adoration at World Youth Day struck me as being a wonderful teaching about the nature of genuflection as an act of adoration, I have tried to make of genuflection the two-fold act of adoration of which Pope Benedict spoke: a going down before the God who is our creator and who is so much greater than we are, and an act of union/communion with God. This two-fold movement abolishes any artificial contrast between a so-called "dynamic" understanding of the Eucharist manifested in receiving the sacred species and a so-called "static" understanding manifested in adoration outside of the celebration of Mass. This determines that the act that it is most appropriate to make towards the Eucharistic species and towards the tabernacle is a genuflection, as an act of adoration.
I like to illustrate this new step urged upon us by the Last Supper by drawing out the different nuances of the word "adoration" in Greek and in Latin. The Greek word is proskynesis. It refers to the gesture of submission, the recognition of God as our true measure, supplying the norm that we choose to follow. It means that freedom is not simply about enjoying life in total autonomy, but rather about living by the measure of truth and goodness, so that we ourselves can become true and good. This gesture is necessary even if initially our yearning for freedom makes us inclined to resist it.
We can only fully accept it when we take the second step that the Last Supper proposes to us. The Latin word for adoration is ad-oratio - mouth to mouth contact, a kiss, an embrace, and hence, ultimately love. Submission becomes union, because he to whom we submit is Love. In this way submission acquires a meaning, because it does not impose anything on us from the outside, but liberates us deep within.

[Within the heritage of the Church there is a style of bow that can also be conceived as an act of adoration - the "profound bow" - but in the usual parish context of England and Wales this would not be the normal act of adoration (which is the genuflection). The "profound bow" is made from the waist, and brings the upper body horizontal - and I have occasionally seen this from a person who for reasons of health is unable to genuflect.]

With the exception indicated in parentheses, the bow is then a sign of reverence, and not a sign of adoration.

My first appeal would therefore be for a consistency in our use of language - we adore the Eucharistic species, and we reverence other sacred objects and, sometimes, persons. We should be asked for a sign of adoration as we approach to receive Communion, and, in the normal understanding of England and Wales, that would be a genuflection; and we should be asked to show reverence towards, for example, the altar in Church, the normal sign of which would be a bow.

And my second appeal would be for a corresponding consistency in practice, both during the celebration of the Liturgy itself and at times outside such celebration. This means always genuflecting in the presence of the Eucharistic species, and not doing anything that makes it appear that a bow towards the Eucharistic species is correct practice.

The outcome might be some considerably less confused parishioners ....

[Postscript: There are, I realise since first publishing this post, one or two situations where the custom is to genuflect, without that genuflection being an act of adoration - but they are situations where the genuflection is associated with the words at that time being said. Within the Liturgy, I think of the genuflection on Christmas Day and on the Solemnity of the Annunciation during the recitation of the creed. In devotional life, I think of the genuflection during the praying of the Angelus. To really get this, the dear person in the pew does need to be aware of the difference between an act of reverence and an act of adoration.] 

Middle youth

"Middle youth" was a term in fashion some time ago to refer, with suitable discretion, to those reaching a certain age.

Middle youth is when

..... a health care professional is complemented by one of her clients because, for the client, she looks like her grandmother ....

..... the builder comments to her about a tradesman who had quoted something like twice as much for the work that he was doing along the lines of "Oh, when they see a little old lady .."

.................. and the October half-term holiday is abandoned in favour of Zero booking in to a health spa for a a long weekend.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Cause for abhorrence, not for pride

(UK Defence Secretary) Mr Fox will say at an arms exhibition in London he is "proud" that the UK is the world's second biggest defence exporter and that helping the firms prosper is in the national interest. [Source: BBC News]
The teaching of the Second Vatican Council's constitution Gaudium et Spes is that those who enter military service, and carry out their duties in a proper manner, "contribute to the maintenance of peace" (cf n.79). This implies a legitimacy to the reasonable production of armaments to enable them to do that task. It does not, however, legitimise a massive commercial production and export of armaments. In the context of the former confrontation between the nations of the West and the Soviet bloc, the same constitution taught (n.81):
... the arms race is one of the greatest curses on the human race and the harm it inflicts on the poor is more than can be endured. And there is every reason to fear that if it continues it will bring forth those lethal disasters which are already in preparation.
More recently, and writing in the contemporary context, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has observed that (with my emphases added in bold):
Weapons cannot be considered as any other good exchanged on the global, regional or national market. Their possession, production and trade have deep ethical and social implications and they must be regulated by paying due attention to specific principles of the moral and legal order. Among the principles there is the principle of sufficiency, which allows States to possess only the means necessary to guarantee the legitimate protection of their people. [Statement on behalf of the Holy See October 2006]

The Church's social teaching proposes the goal of “general, balanced and controlled disarmament”.[1067] The enormous increase in arms represents a grave threat to stability and peace. The principle of sufficiency, by virtue of which each State may possess only the means necessary for its legitimate defence, must be applied both by States that buy arms and by those that produce and furnish them.[1068] Any excessive stockpiling or indiscriminate trading in arms cannot be morally justified. Such phenomena must also be evaluated in light of international norms regarding the non-proliferation, production, trade and use of different types of arms. Arms can never be treated like other goods exchanged on international or domestic markets....[Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Church n.508]
And referring to some of the types of weapons systems likely to be on show at the DSEI, and likely to be sold to more sizeable overseas markets:
Appropriate measures are needed to control the production, sale, importation and exportation of small arms and light weapons, armaments that facilitate many outbreaks of violence to occur. The sale and trafficking of such weapons constitute a serious threat to peace: these arms kill and are used for the most part in internal and regional conflicts; their ready availability increases both the risk of new conflicts and the intensity of those already underway. The position of States that apply severe controls on the international transfer of heavy arms while they never, or only very rarely, restrict the sale and trafficking of small arms and light weapons is an unacceptable contradiction. It is indispensable and urgent that Governments adopt appropriate measures to control the production, stockpiling, sale and trafficking of such arms [1076] in order to stop their growing proliferation, in large part among groups of combatants that are not part of the military forces of a State.[Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Church n. 511]
When the DSEI exhibition took place two years ago, I was able to take part in the protest vigil that took place the evening before the exhibition opened (see here, and scroll down to the report dated 8th September 2009); the same page reports the protest vigil that took place on 12th September 2011, with Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood Diocese as one of the participants. The Defence Secretary's reported "pride" in the UK's status as the second biggest defence exporter (or, to use a more honest term, as the second biggest arms trader ) is, I believe, at best misplaced and at worst abhorrent.

Sunday 11 September 2011

False optimism?

If Father is really determined, even the new translation isn't going to stop him!

First, what I believe has been just a genuine mistake, and rather the priestly equivalent of the occasional "And also with you" of the lay faithful. This is the saying of the offertory prayers from memory, forgetting that they have changed, though the response of the laity has not. In the spirit of today's Gospel, I can forgive this, but do expect a firm purpose of amendment!

But the, in one case ideologically motivated insertion of "all God's people" into Eucharistic Prayer II's intercession for the clergy, and in the other the insertion of a prayer for 9/11 victims into the same Eucharistic Prayer .... If Father is really determined, a new translation isn't going to stop him! [And, in the two cases here, neither would Latin, so don't even try suggesting that the extraordinary form is the answer!] At least, for one of these priests, it slowed down the express train that was formerly the Eucharistic Prayer ....

[PS to the clergy: no need to be frightened of the other Eucharistic Prayers, as I would like the chance to pray them in their new translations too!]

Compare this with a couple of sentences from Bishop Thomas' pastoral letter, read at Masses last weekend:
The purpose of the General Instruction is to bring about in our communities the most worthy and fruitful celebration possible of the Eucharist, and since 1970 we have grown in understanding through experience how to aim for this. High standards of music and of liturgical ministry have always been essential in this regard and very much remain a priority.
I am not sure whose optimism is most misplaced - mine with regard to the hope that priests would be less inclined to "make it up" after the new translation, or Bishop Thomas' with regard to the standards of liturgical ministry in his diocese.

Hands together, eyes closed ...... It's much harder when the celebrating priest is the culprit!


The tragedy of that day is compounded by the perpetrators' claim to be acting in God's name. Once again, it must be unequivocally stated that no circumstances can ever justify acts of terrorism. Every human life is precious in God's sight and no effort should be spared in the attempt to promote throughout the world a genuine respect for the inalienable rights and dignity of individuals and peoples everywhere. [Pope Benedict XVI]

Thursday 8 September 2011

Preface of the Blessed Virgin Mary II - revised translation

At Mass this evening the celebrating priest used the second Preface of the Blessed Virgin.
It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
to praise your mighty deeds in the exaltation of all the Saints,
and especially, as we celebrate the memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
to proclaim your kindness as we echo her thankful hymn of praise.

For truly even to earth's ends you have done great things
and extended you abundant mercy from age to age:
when you looked on the lowliness of your handmaid,
you gave us through her the author of our salvation,
your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Through him the host of Angels adores your majesty
and rejoices in your presence for ever.
May our voices, we pray, join with theirs
in one chorus of exultant praise, as we acclaim:
Followed by Eucharistic Prayer II - which is almost unrecognisable compared to the former translation! Frances Novillo's article for Thinking Faith on the new translation points out the significance of the reference to dew fall, completely absent from the previous translation, but a reference that can be seen in the use of the Latin verb rore:
Scripture infuses the texts. In Eucharistic Prayer II, there is a beautiful image of ‘sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall’, reminiscent of the provision of manna with the morning dew. It is an allusion to holy water and Baptism, and when the text is used in Advent there will be additional resonances with the seasonal plainchant, Rorate Caeli: ‘Come, Saviour, come like dew on the grass, break through the clouds like gentle rain.’
Oh, and I did remember the last "And with your spirit" this time.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

"Inter-textuality" and Word of Life

By the term "inter-textuality" I am referring to the heading of a section in a study of the thought and life of Christian de Cherge, the prior of the Cistercian community at Tibhirine. The book is entitled Christian de Cherge - a theology of hope and the author is Christian Salenson. The book is a study of Christian de Cherge's thought and life as an example of Muslim-Catholic dialogue.

The section headed "inter-textuality" discusses the way in which Christian read the Koran as well as reading the Bible, and the way in which he used texts from both of them. There is no sense in which Christian considered the Koran as a supernaturally inspired text; instead there is a recognition of a form of "original connection" of the Koranic text to God within a general providential disposition of other religions towards the truth about God. There is a similarity in the way of reading both texts that reflects the idea of lectio divina familiar to Christian from his monastic background. There is no sense that the Koranic text is used to provide a commentary on the Biblical text or vice-versa.  Instead passages from the Koran can be placed and read alongside passages from the Bible in such a way that they shed light on each other. The study cites a particular example in which Christian de Cherge placed the account of Jesus as the Bread of Life from St John's Gospel alongside an echoing surat from the Koran. "Inter-textuality" is the word used to refer to this kind of reading alongside each other of the two books. I posted more fully on it here: Can a Christian pray with the Koran?.

The Word of Life refers to a particular practice with regard to the Bible that is promoted by the Focolare. Each month a sentence or two from the Bible was chosen by Chiara Lubich, who wrote a short reflection on that passage. One of the inspirations of the Focolare is that of taking a "word" from the Bible and trying to live that "word" out in daily living. When a Word of Life group meets they do so to share their experiences of trying to live out that month's "word" in their daily living; the meeting is not a "Bible study" in a conventional sense. Since Chiara Lubich's death, Word of Life texts previous written by her have been used. The current month's text can be found here (if I have understood the site correctly, this page will update each month with the new text).

One of the testimonies shared during the meeting of the President and Co-President of Focolare with the communities from the UK on Saturday last brought these two ideas together. It described a small group meeting in Wales (I can't remember where in Wales) with the name "From Scripture to Life". Participants in the group are Baptist, Roman Catholic, Muslim, othodox Jew and liberal Jew. For their meetings, texts are chosen from the Koran, the New Testament and the Jewish scriptures. The texts are chosen for their proximity, in a clear parallel to Christian de Cherge's "inter-textuality" in reading both the Koran and the Bible, the example being cited of their different expressions of the "golden rule". These texts then inform the shared experiences of living of the group.

From the point of view of principles of inter-religious dialogue, the question posed by this group is how far it can move from being a sharing of life experiences (no question that this is acceptable) to being a shared prayer or a prayer in common. This raises the question of multi-religious prayer vis-a-vis inter-religious prayer, discussed in my post Assisi 3 and the question of multireligious prayer.

Peace be with you.

Others have already noted Bishop Hugh Gilbert's pastoral letter that marks the introduction to parish useage of some of the texts of the new English translation of the Missal. It's style is familiar to those who had opportunity to hear Bishop Hugh preach when Abbot of Pluscarden, or who are familiar with the two published books of his conferences/homilies.

Given his new office as a Bishop, what interests me about the following passage from the pastoral letter is the way in which it at once combines a beauty and poetry of language and a teaching at quite a simple level about the nature of the celebration of the liturgy.
‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’ In Christ, the Son of God takes on everything human, except sin, and transforms it. And in the Liturgy this mystery of the Incarnation – the Word becoming flesh – lives on among us. Everything speaks of it. When we gather to worship we come together in a building – not usually in any building, though, but in a church, a building dedicated for worship. The ministers who lead our prayer don’t wear just ordinary clothes, but vestments. We stand, sit or kneel, but each of these postures now has a special meaning. We come together to listen to readings – not any readings though, but words inspired by the Holy Spirit, words that are now the word of God. We gather round a table – but not any table, rather a holy table, an altar. We eat and drink – but not any food or drink, rather bread and wine which have become that holiest of things, the Body and Blood of the Lord, his very Self. In the Liturgy, ordinary things are taken up by Christ and the Church and become vehicles of something greater than themselves. And so it is too with the words, the language, we use in prayer. Christianity has always, to some extent, created its own language. It took the words of ancient Israel or the Greco-Roman world and filled them with a new meaning. And so, in the Liturgy, we use words that carry the resonances of a long tradition, words that express our faith, and are rich with many centuries of experience of the God who has spoken to us in Christ. The new translation of the Missal is very aware of this and tries to be loyal to it. And, once again, when these words are sung, they can lift our hearts even more.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Focolare: Visit of President and Co-President to the UK

Maria Voce (Emmaus, to use the name given to her by Chiara Lubich) is the President of Focolare. She works closely with the movements Co-president Fr Giancarlo Faletti. They are undertaking a visit to Great Britain, their first. The details of their visit can be found here.

The Focolare website has a short account of the history of the movement in the UK, to accompany this visit. I expect that reports of the events during the visit will be posted in due course.

Julian of Norwich Part 4: the hazel nut

In the Short Text, Julian describes a vision that she recieves of a hazel-nut in the palm of her hand. For someone from a scientific background, this  passage represents an interesting meditation on the idea of creation as sustaining in being. But the passage about the hazel nut is placed close to a passage about Our Lady, and it is difficult to read the two passages apart from each other. Together, they place Our Lady at the head of creation, and give to the doctrine of creation a Marian/Christological intent. There is also a hint in the passage of a teaching on union with God that might be more familiar from the writing of St John of the Cross.
And in this vision he showed me a little thing, the size of a hazel-nut, lying in the palm of my hand, and to my mind's eye it was as round as any ball. I looked at it and thought, "What can this be?" And the answer came to me, "It is all that is made". I wondered how it could last, for it was so small I thought it might suddenly disappear. And the answer in my mind was, "It lasts and will last for ever because God loves it; and in the same way everything exists through the love of God". In this little thing I saw three attributes: the first is that God made it, the second is that he loves it, the third is that God cares for it. But what does this mean to me? Truly, the maker, the lover, the carer: for until I become one substance with him, I can never have love, rest or true bliss; that is to say, until I am bound to him that there may be no created thing between my God and me....

Then God brought our Lady into my mind. I saw her spiritually in bodily likeness, a meek and simple maid, young of age, in the same bodily form as when she conceived. God also showed me part of the wisdom and truth of her soul so that I understood with what reverence she beheld her God who is her maker, and how reverently she marvelled that he chose to be born of her, a simple creature of his own making. For what made her marvel was that he who was her Maker chose to be born of the creature he had made... With this sight I really understood that she is greater in worthiness and fullness of grace than all that God made below her; for nothing that is made is above her except the blessed Manhood of Christ. This little thing that is made that is below our Lady Saint Mary, God showed it to me as small as if it had been a hazel-nut. It was so small I thought it might have disappeared.

Saturday 3 September 2011

Last minute slip

Many years ago now I was best man at my brother's wedding. Because of the inter-cultural nature of this event (ie French speaking Belgian), I needed to do a speech in French in a context where the idea of the best man's speech was quite unfamiliar. I was caught by the mother of the bride a few moments before this desperately reading through my little cards - as I explained - trying to make sure that I didn't slip accidentally into Italian at any point.

Apparently, I made it - until the very last sentence, when I slipped into Italian.

Tonight - I couldn't wait - at the first participation in Mass in the new English translation a similar thing happened. I DID remember "The Word of the Lord" at the end of the reading I was asked to do. The very last "and with your spirit", just before the final blessing, was where I lost my concentration and let slip an "also with you".

Must try better next time!

Friday 2 September 2011

"It is the industrialisation of the word and of the image that has ruined religion"

I dipped this evening into Alina Reyes book of reflections on St Bernadette and the apparitions at Lourdes, La jeune fille et la Vierge. I commented on this book in June 2008 (scroll down the post to reach the section about the book). You might find it useful to read my comment there before continuing. My own translation from the French original; I have also added the emphasis in bold.
The word is at once erotic and transcendent; men and women know this well, when they address to each other words of love to at once enkindle their desire and to purify it. The Church, with its representations of the Virgin, of Christ often almost naked, of the apostles, of the saints who make up a humanity that sometimes is blessed and sometimes suffering, was for the faithful the place of an unconscious eros, but freed from sin, at the same time as being the sacred treasure of poetry.

How have these dimensions dwindled, not to say disappeared during the course of time? Just as the industrialisation of a country ruined the Soubirous family by undermining the work of the artisan, and pushed to one side the economic life of a lovely little village at the foot of the Pyrenees, it is the industrialisation of the word and of the image that has ruined religion. Their galloping proliferation by means of books and photography and even more by means of newspapers, then the cinema, radio, television, the internet, etc. It is calculated that the man of the Middle Ages saw fewer images in the whole of his life than modern man sees in one day. I bet that the proportion is not close to being equal to the instances of gossip suffered.

Le chant de Bernadette, was written by Franz Werfel, faithful to his promise. Bernadette possessed few words, and little mastery of her language. Also, her vision entrusted her with a message of few words, but condensed like a poem, a song.  The rest was expressed by all the other means that speak to the world, a place, a time, personalities, landscapes, a story, and then the bodies and faces, as it happens the body and the face of Bernadette, charged with receiving the imprint of the visions at the instant when they came, so that she could be read like a book of flesh. The first shrine that this field knew was a cave, a refuge for the light hidden below a dark forest, and the living flesh of a young girl wrapped in old clothes.
With the iminent introduction of the new English translation of the Roman Missal, we can perhaps reflect - and hope - that it will make the "poetry" of the Liturgy more transparent.

But we might also reflect on the "industrialisation of the word and of the image" represented by the modern means of communication, and whether or not our participation in that industrialisation makes better known the poetry of religion or, as Alina Reyes suggests, undermines it.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Dorries-Field (continued)

I am not sure what to make of the Dorries-Field amendment in itself, but it is interesting to see what has been going on in the media.

Nadine Dorries own blog is here, and contains a series of posts that give a feel of things. Perhaps particularly notice this post, and the linked piece a the MailOnline.

Caroline's experience is here.

A quite different report here, again with links to media coverage. The reports do not give enough information to make a clear judgement about the research, but the least that one can say is that there is something here that needs to be considered. As the British Journal of Psychology "highlights"  points out this raises rather a critical question since a significant majority of UK abortions are justified on the basis that they reduce the risk to mental health.

I will add more links as I see them.

Apostleship of Prayer: September General Intention

ZENIT reports that the September general intention of the Apostleship of Prayer is for teachers:
The Apostleship of Prayer announced the intentions chosen by the Pope for the upcoming month.

His general intention is for teachers: "That all teachers may know how to communicate the love of truth and instill authentic moral and spiritual values."
ZENIT'S report goes on to quote from a Vatican Radio interview with the Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education:
"If one does not know what good and evil are," he said, "if everything is relative, then the question arises, what should one educate for?"

Then, regarding "spiritual values," the cardinal reminded that "education cannot be reduced to the transmission of knowledge" because then, this knowledge "can be used both for good as well as for evil."

A person must be educated to know, Cardinal Grocholewski acknowledged, but he must also be taught to want to use that knowledge for good....

Teachers, the cardinal stressed, "must not only have an intellectual and specific formation in the subject they teach, but they must also have a certain spiritual formation, that will make them trustworthy persons to represent a certain 'authority' before the students."
It is quite legitimate for a school to be anxious about its examination results, and to consider it important to teach effectively to gain good results for the school's pupils. But how many of our schools do make that additional effort "to communicate the love of truth"?