About the new design

As I recommenced blogging at deaconchris, it seemed appropriate to freshen the design and look of this site.

WordPress makes it very easy to blog, and has dozens of ready-to-go designs that are very easy to use.  As such I selected a new one that features a larger header.  I also loaded a new header photo that is discussed on the tab above entitled “About the Header Photo.”

How blest we are to behold the beauty of God’s Temple.

Categories: Papal | 1 Comment

Checking in with the new Boss

It’s been about 15 months now that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope. I had previously prognosticated about how his reign might be here. It might be fun to compare those predictions against how things have unfolded thus far.

  • Papa Ratzzy will not be a globe trotter – I would say this is largely true, although the pope has made some trips within Europe, and is planning one to South America, possibly with a stop in the USA. He spends the majority of his time at the Vatican, and thus far, has only vacationed in Italy as well.
  • Benedict XVI is tired of being the watch dog – This is markedly true. Now some would say that recent curial appointments show that the pope is placing solid cardinals in key positions. But I would suggest that the sweeping changes in the curia that so many predicted have not come to fruition. Rather, the recent appointments are about reducing bureaucracy in the Vatican, not punctuating a particular ideology or serving as some sort of orthodoxy-litmus-test. Our new pope is delighted to be a pastor and no longer the Grand Inquisitor.
  • Benedict is very good one-on-one – This is also clearly the case. He is a personal, yet reserved leader. Benedict XVI is not fond of the limelight, and is much more comfortable in a small setting. An ideal teacher, in the Socratic method particularly. If the schismatic SSPXers are reconciled with the Holy See it will be due to personal interaction between the pope and their leadership. Ditto for further ecumenical successes with the Orthodox.

To the surprise of many, some conservative groups in the Church have been disappointed that the new pope hasn’t “cracked the whip.” And, in similar fashion, some liberal groups in the Church have been pleasantly surprised of that as well.

Please join me in praying for our pope, his is a difficult and demand life, and needs our assistance through prayer.

Categories: Commentary, Papal | 1 Comment

Pope’s Church

Today is the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome.

The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the Cathedral Church of the Bishop of Rome – who also goes by the title “Pope.”

(this is the facade of San Giovanni in Laterano)

Most people [incorrectly] assume that St. Peter’s Basilica is the Cathedral of Rome, but it isn’t, and never has been, by the way.

The Cathedral of the Pope is St. John Lateran, which is located in south-central Rome. Vatican City (which is an entirely different country altogether) is located northwest of Rome. The pope lives in Vatican City, but there are several properties throughout the city of Rome that belong to the Vatican, including the Lateran Palace – which is where the popes used to live a long time ago.

(this is a photo of the doors that you enter the basilica through – yes they really are THAT big!)

The church of a bishop is the church where the cathedra (chair) is located. In fact, when we speak about papal infallibility, we sometimes use the term “from the chair,” meaning that when the Pope speaks infallibly he does it from the “chair of Peter,” that is, as the universal pastor of the entire Church.

In every diocese in the world the cathedral is simply the church that contains the bishop’s chair – a sign of his authority and of his apostolic succession represented by the chair. Just as the Bishop of Rome is the successor of Peter, every bishop is the successor of the Apostles.

And the Chair of the Pope is located here at St. John’s shown here. (sorry about the fuzziness of this photo)

All of these photographs are from a pilgrimage I made to Italy in March of this year. A group of seven of us from Omaha joined about twenty others on a tour that included Venice, Florence and Rome. Our smaller group took several side trips to Assisi, Siena, and San Gimignano. We were in Rome ten days before JPII passed away (in fact, we did not get to attend an audience with him, because he was still in the hospital).

So the universal Church celebrates the dedication of the universal cathedral on this day. If you ever get a chance to see this beautiful church, be sure and include a tour of the baptistery (a separate building) where the pope would baptize new Catholics on the Easter Vigil.

(In this photo notice the Easter Candle next to the font, and the sculpture of a deer drinking from a stream “like a deer that longs for running water, so my soul longs for you, O God” – Psalm 42:1)

Categories: Catechetics, Papal, Travel | 2 Comments

Benedict XVI

(this is the Coat of Arms of his Holiness, Benedict XVI)

A friend asked me the other day what I thought of the new pope, and how things have transpired since he was elected. I thought it was an interesting thing to inquire about, so here are my thoughts thus far:

  • Pope Benedict XVI is not going to be a globe-trotting messenger as was the case with John Paul II. This is not only because of his age, but also because of the sort of man he is. He’s quiet, reflective, introverted. On a recent vacation to northern Italy he took three cases of books with him to read and a piano to play. The pope enjoys classical music.
  • He’s tired of being the watch-dog, the enforcer. For twenty plus years Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This means he was responsible for policing lots of stuff and lots of people in the Church. In past centuries the name of this position was the Grand Inquisitor. That is, the one that safeguards the truths of the faith by diligent attention to who’s teaching what where. And if they aren’t doing it right, corrections were made. In any case, I think he’s quite pleased to be doing something different now; something he enjoysbeing a grandfatherly pastor and shepherd.
  • He’s very good one-on-one – Benedict XVI recently had Hans Kung over for dinner (to Castel Gandolfo, the summer residence of the papacy). Two old Tubingen professors having a pleasant visit. Even though as the Enforcer, Ratzinger had to discipline Kung previously. Kinda like a line from The Godfather, isn’t it? “It’s not personal, it’s business.”

A lot of pundits predicted that Benedict XVI would come out cracking the whip, shaping the Church up, etc. I wouldn’t be holding my breath for that sort of thing.

A little parting Italian for this blog entry: Viva Il Papa! (Long Live the Pope!)

Categories: Commentary, Papal | Leave a comment

Pope St. Gregory the Great

Today is the feast day of St. Gregory the Great, Pope & Doctor of the Church.

During a trip to Italy this Spring, two of my deacon brothers and I joined Monsignor Tom Fucinaro at St. Peter’s for Mass. (from left Deacon Doug Marsh, Deacon Tom Valasek, myself and Msgr. Fucinaro)

His body is entombed underneath the altar, behind the gold grate.

It was a special privledge for us to do so. St. Gregory is one many popes that was a deacon when he was elected, rather than a bishop or even a priest.

You might find it interesting that from 432 – 684 thirty-seven men were elected pope. Of those the breakdown was:

  • Only three of them were priest or bishops at the time of election
  • Thirty-four were deacons when they were elected

Like Gregory, a deacon elected pope is immediately ordained a priest, and then immediately ordained a bishop. It can even be during the same liturgy that both ordinations occur.

For Gregory it took only about three hours for him to be elected pope, be ordained twice, and then assume the office of the papacy.

Today it is at least theoretically possible for a deacon to be elected pope, but it hasn’t happened for a very, very long time. In fact, even a layman can be elected pope. If he was, he would be ordained a deacon, priest & bishop, all in succession and probably during the same Mass.

It’s not terribly likely though – usually the cardinal electors choose someone that is actually in the Sistine Chapel during the balloting (though they do not have to).

Pray for us, Pope St. Gregory the Great!

Categories: Catechetics, Papal, Saints | Leave a comment

Weltjugendtad Koln 2005!

Today marks the beginning of World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany. Today pilgrims will begin to arrive for a week-long festival of activities.

If you sound out phonetically the German word Koln, you will notice that it sounds just like the English word “Cologne.” My lovely wife (of German ancestry) pointed this out to me. Indeed it’s true, sometimes I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer!

In any regard, there is TONS of great info about World Youth Day at Amy Welborn’s site, give it a look here.

Expect a bonus entry later today regarding the other important event commemorated today.

Categories: Linguistics, Papal, Travel | Leave a comment

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