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Monday, March 18, 2013

My Initial Views of the New Pope

This is simply my own opinion and certainly not indicative of what to expect from the pontificate of Pope Francis.  That is a good place to start.

Jorge Maria Card. Bergoglio took the name Francis.  Not Francis I.  This is a new name entered into the lexicon of Papal regnal names.  To be honest, I like it.  Not because it is new, but because I have long though that St. Francis was a worthy reason to take the name Francis.  In Italian the name is Francesco.  In Latin the name is Francisci.

Papa Francesco, as I am wont to call him, it sounds better than Francis, is a very holy individual and I think that we need that right now.  In the first days of his pontificate, we can clearly see that he's a man of deep prayer and very humble.  But I think that he needs to guard against Pauperism.  When one is very humble and pious, the temptation is to forgo those things which embody noble simplicity for mere simplicity.  That isn't being authentic, but rather it is misunderstanding the mandate from Vatican Council II.  And we certainly don't want that.

This leads directly into the next part, the Mass.  While I think that Papa Francesco will be a more simple liturgical example than Pope Benedict, I do not think that it will serve him well to return to a "Piero" style of liturgy.  That ship sailed with the passing of Pope Bl. John Paul II.  We are clearly in a time of reform with regard to the Mass.  To simply ignore that is to miss the point of an entire pontificate.  Pope Benedict's legacy is one which will be far reaching and it's influence can be seen in men such as Fr. Christopher Smith, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, (Arch) Bishop Alex Sample, and Bishop Edward Slattery.  We must press the flesh when it comes to continuing the work of the hermeneutic of continuity.  Papa Francesco should not ignore that.  If he does, however, we go into a sort of holding pattern, where we (who are liturgically minded) wait. My friend Shawn Tribe made a very salient point the other day at his blog, The New Liturgical Movement, when he said;

In this regard I can only offer my encouragement that you forge on with the movement that was seeded and fathered by Pope Benedict XVI but which was always destined to have to outlive his own particular papacy, not to mention many others. Take courage in that reality and realize that we could never expect this to be simply handed to us from on high (a source of frustration for some even under the last pontificate). Tools were given as we still have those tools; now we need to utilize them and from them draw out further gains and progress. All of the tools and gains we have seen, from the new English translation of the modern Roman missal, to Summorum Pontificum and the Ordinariate, to all of the grassroots resources that have sprung up to help people learn to sing the propers again and so on, none of these things have ceased to exist; nor have they become redundant. Far from it. Our task is clear: like a gardener we must now tend to the garden, watering and fertilizing those those seeds and tending to the green shoots. Let's focus on the tasks at hand, for the success and future of the new liturgical movement is not opened for us solely by the keys of Peter (which have already opened much for us as I have already said), but also by the keys of every parish priest within his parish, every religious within their monastery or religious house, and every layman within their own domestic church.
I think that Shawn's words are very poignant, especially with the allusion to being gardeners.  This is going to be my view to take as well.  Shawn says a little earlier in that same post;
Benedict, while the "father of the new liturgical movement" (in my estimation at any rate), is not the new liturgical movement; as such the new liturgical movement does not die with the end of his papacy. No, the new liturgical movement is not based on a person or personality; the new liturgical movement set in motion by him is just that: it is a movement and one based on liturgical first principles.
 We must continue the work unceasingly.  With men like Mr. Tribe, Frs. Smith and Zuhlsdorf, as well as bishops like H.E. Sample and Slattery, we will find our way.  And it will be a liturgical first principle.

Somehow, I don't see this pontificate focusing on the liturgy.  I see it focusing on a call to holiness in a different sphere of focus.  The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith and the liturgical action is the vehicle to that, as my mentor Mons. Richard Schuler used to say.  My prayer is that as Papa Francesco's pontificate evolves, he will embrace the New Liturgical Movement fully and that he won't forgo anything.

Noble simplicity lies in the Mass, but simplicity for the sake of simplicity does not.  Viva il Papa!

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