Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Et portæ inferi non prævalebunt adversus eam

Pope Benedict XVI has truly been our Pope.

We looked in from outside for years, but then his were the arms outstretched to welcome us into the embrace of our Holy Mother Church. His was the brilliant iniative that cut through the plethora of mealy-mouthed verbiage and foggy thinking that has characterized so much ecumenical activity in recent decades. His was the vision that found a way to make us see what was right and to allow us to bring so much of what has been good about Anglicanism with us. His was the reign in which we were at last united, by the Power of the Divine Will, into One Fold and under One Shepherd.

How better to remember him than with the footage of his arrival and departure from Mass at Westminster Cathedral. That day, as recounted before on these pages, was crucial in the process of our becoming Catholics.

Amidst the splendour of Westminster Cathedral, behind a procession of cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, deacons, and seminarians, and to the accompaniment of James Macmillan’s splendid Tu es Petrus, there arrived the humble figure of a shy, smiling old man: full of love for the Almighty, and full of love for all of God’s creation, even this very Kingdom.

After the Mass, and after he had met with crowds of youngsters at the West Door, Pope Benedict processed out to Bruckner’s Ecce Sacerdos Magnus. Again, amidst the brilliance of the eight-part polyphonic singing and the sounding brass, there was that same gentle figure : who can fail to be moved by the smiles at the word Deo, as the soaring tenors sound out amidst the fortissimo chord, just as the procession reached the Shrine of St David.

Even if we feel sorrow at his departure from the Chair of St Peter, we give thanks to Almighty God for all that this Servant of the Servants of God has achieved, not only for us, among the least deserving of God’s children, but for all the Church and for all mankind.

We ask God’s blessing upon Pope Benedict, and in gratitude, faith and trust, call to mind these words of Our Lord.

Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

A letter that we have come across from an FSSP priest in France sums up well the feelings of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group, and provides sound words for this extraordinary time.

Dear faithful, it falls upon us to live the upcoming days with hope. What if we trusted the Holy Spirit? True, it will be necessary that we wait, for some weeks, to view it in all its tones: as in 2005, we will hear the assembly of "experts" explain to us one more time that the Church must change, that the faith must change, that morals must change. Some will expect the election of a "modern" pope, "living according to his time", wearing a white suit and dark glasses and proposing the marriage of priests, opening the priesthood to women, favoring the remarriage of divorcees, and blessing the sacrosanct condom. We will hear, as usual, on television sets, before excited and obliging journalists, the priest who is outside the system, the defrocked one who wants to go back into service, the parishioner who is allergic to all things that recall the Church of the past, and, why not, some trendy exegetes or theologians who explain to us that everyone has been mistaken for two thousand years.

What matters, my dear friends, is to think that, after some inevitable disturbances, the Church will have a new leader, and that he will have the graces that are needed to accomplish his mission, just as his predecessor did.

He will know, as those who were before him on the chair of Peter, that nobody cares about an adulterated truth, and that the "evolutions" desired by some will fill neither our churches, nor our seminaries.

May the Lent that will begin this week move us to offer our prayers and our sacrifices for our Church, so that her future head will impart to us the love of truth and will guide us to heaven!

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