Hints and signs of a presence

“Advent, this powerful liturgical season that we are beginning, invites us to pause in silence to understand a presence. It is an invitation to understand that the individual events of the day are hints that God is giving us, signs of the attention he has for each one of us.”

Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI

Maxim of the day
28 November 2009

Pope News: St. Michael the archangel, protect us in battle

Photo credit: The New Liturgical Movement

Today (Friday) saw a lot of pope news that will be featured on this blog in the coming days.

I’m going to start with the news of the new St. Michael statue in Rome.

It was the beautiful and unusual sighting of both Pope Francis and Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI together.

Benedict had commissioned during his papacy the construction of a statute of St Michael the Archangel, intending to consecrate the Vatican the archangel’s protection.

Pope Francis, knowing the work the archangel has to do there, thought it an excellent idea and invited the emeritus pope to join for the blessing of the statue and the ceremony consecrating the Vatican to his intercession.

More beautiful pictures here.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell satan and all the evil spirits, who prowl around the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen

Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives

Some quotes from the first two chapters of Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives. More will follow later.

  • Forward: “Good exegesis” requires two stages: (1) the historical component: what did the authors intend to convey in their own day?  (2) How does this concern me? xi
  • “Jesus’ provenance is both known and unknown.” 4
  • “Jesus is, so to speak, the tent of meeting.” 11
  • “But their faith gives them a new birth: they enter into the origin of JC, which now becomes their own origin.” 12
  • “So John the Baptist is a priest. In him the priesthood of the Old Covenant moves toward Jesus.” 18
  • When we come to consider the figure of St Joseph we will look more closely at the term righteous or just, in which the whole piety of the Old Covenant is summed up. 19
  • So John belongs to a long line of offspring born to infertile parents through a miraculous intervention of God. 22
  • John, who will be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb, lives permenantly, as it were, in the tent of meeting: he is a priest not only at certain moments but with his whole existence, and in this way he proclaims the new priesthood that will appear with Jesus. 22-3
  • Joy appears in these text [about the annunciation to Mary] as the particular gift of the Holy Spirit, the true gift of the Redeemer. So a chord is sounded with the angel’s salutation which then resounds throughout the life of the Church. 27
  • Joy and grace belong together. 28
  • Mary’s response: (1) troubled but pensive; (2) “How shall this be?” Asks how not whether (3) Straightforward YES 35-6
  • Irenaeus: How shall man pass into God unless God has first passed into man? 37
  • The great hour of Mary’s encounter with God’s messenger–in which her whole life is changed–comes to an end, and she remains there alone, with the task that truly surpasses all human capacity. 37
  • Man is a relational being. And if his first, fundamental relationship is disturbed–his relationship with God–then nothing else can be truly in order. 44

A life dedicated to prayer

When the world heard Pope Benedict XVI announce that the remainder of his life would be “dedicated to prayer,” a good many folks–like those at the New Yorker–picture an old man lying on a hammock:

Maybe folks just don’t believe him. Maybe they just can’t fathom that anyone could or would even want to embrace a life of dedicated prayer.

More likely, though, perhaps it’s because the world sees prayer as a useless activity that is the same as lounging in a hammock.

Perhaps sometimes even we are tempted to see prayer that way.

The thing that must change

There’s a lot of talk lately about the Church perhaps “changing” with the new pope.

The Pew Research Center suggests that most Catholics–though not by much–would much prefer the Church to maintain her “traditional teachings.”  Though I’m glad that isn’t up for a vote, it’s good that a majority appreciates tradition.

There will and must be change, though.  Here’s Pope-Emeritus Benedict:

For some decades now we have been experiencing a decline in religious practice and we have been seeing substantial numbers of the baptized drifting away from church life. This prompts the question: should the Church not change? Must she not adapt her offices and structures to the present day, in order to reach the searching and doubting people of today?

Blessed Mother Teresa was once asked what in her opinion was the first thing that would have to change in the Church. Her answer was: you and I.