HROUGH SELECTIVE REPORTING and a heavy interpretive slant, it has been possible for the popular and religious media to co-opt Pope Francis almost entirely. One of the most common canards now broadcast is that Pope Francis cares but little for the sacred liturgy, so eager is he to reach out to the poor and marginalized; and so, things like the Eucharistic doctrine of Trent, Eucharistic adoration, even the very concept of tradition, mean relatively little to him.
Even if Pope Francis is not a theologian of the liturgy as was his beloved predecessor, however, it is stretching the truth quite a bit to suggest that he does not appreciate―and include in his preaching and writing―many of the fundamental points Pope Benedict XVI strove to emphasize in his teaching. I would like to present a few of these quotations here.
Letter to Walter Cardinal Brandmüller, November 19, 2013:
As the 450th anniversary of the day on which the fortunate Council of Trent was closed approaches, it behooves the Church to recall with more prompt and attentive eagerness the most fruitful doctrine which came out of that Council convened in the Tyrolese region. Certainly not without cause, the Church has for a long time already accorded so much care to the Decrees and Canons of that Council that are to be recalled and observed, since, when the most grave affairs and questions appeared at that time, the Council Fathers summoned all diligence that the Catholic Faith appear more clearly and be better understood. No doubt, with the Holy Ghost inspiring and suggesting, it especially concerned the Fathers not only to guard the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine, but also to more clearly enlighten mankind, so that the saving work of the Lord may be poured out onto the whole world and the Gospel be spread through the entire world.
Graciously hearing the very same Holy Spirit, the Holy Church of our age, even now, continues to restore and meditate upon the most abundant doctrine of Trent. As a matter of fact, the “hermeneutic of renewal” (interpretatio renovationis) which Our Predecessor Benedict XVI explained in 2005 before the Roman Curia, refers not only to the Tridentine Council but also to the [Second] Vatican Council. The mode of interpretation, certainly, places one honourable characteristic of the Church in a brighter light that is given by the same lord Benedict XVI: “She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God” (Christmas Address to the Roman Curia, December 22, 2005).
ND, AS IF TO ANSWER THE QUESTION “Why should we intently study and internalize the doctrine of the Council of Trent?”, here is what the Holy Father reminded us in his homily for Pentecost Sunday, June 8, 2014:
The Holy Spirit reminds us, He reminds us of all that Jesus said. He is the living memory of the Church. And while he reminds us, He makes us understand the Lord’s words. This recollection in the Spirit and thanks to the Spirit is not reduced to a mnemonic reality, it is an essential aspect of the presence of Christ in us and in His Church. … A Christian with no memory is not a true Christian: he is a Christian in the middle of the road, a man or a woman prisoner of the moment, who does not know how to treasure his history, how to read it and live it as history of salvation.… May the Holy Spirit enliven Christian memory in all of us! And on that day, with the Apostles, there was the Lady of Memory, the one who initially pondered all those things in her heart. There was Mary, our Mother. May She help us in this road of memory.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, precisely because she is a social body whose glue is tradition, worships publicly in the temple, with the songs and rites handed down―and not for the sake of herself, but always focused on the Lord who is her All. Hence the primacy of adoration, as Pope Francis indicates in his homily for the Feast of St. Cecilia, November 22, 2013:
The temple is the place where the community goes to pray, to praise the Lord, to give thanks, but above all to adore: the Lord is adored in the temple. And this is the most important point. This is also true for liturgical ceremonies: in this liturgical ceremony, what is most important? The songs, the rites, they are all beautiful… However, adoration is what is most important: the whole community together look at the altar where the sacrifice is celebrated and adore.
Are our temples places of adoration? Do they foster adoration? Do our liturgical celebrations foster adoration?” … The temple was a sacred place. we should enter there, in the sacredness that leads us to prayer.”
We too need to be continually purified with prayer, penance, and with the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.
In these two temples―the physical temple which is a place of adoration, and the spiritual temple within me where the Holy Spirit dwells―our disposition should be one of true piety that adores and listens, that prays and asks pardon, that praises the Lord.
So, the next time you hear someone assert that Pope Francis is breaking away from everything that came before him, you might want to pull out texts like these as a way of signaling that, at the very least, we are dealing here with a man of many facets, who at times gives vivid expression to core principles of Catholic traditionalists.
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