Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

From Vatican Radio: Pope’s Homily 1-18-16

January 20th, 2016, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Full text of homily (translation) is here:

Comments of possible interest:

“(Vatican Radio) Christians who say “it’s always been done that way,” and stop there have hearts closed to the surprises of the Holy Spirit. They are idolaters and rebels will never arrive at the fullness of the truth.”

“Christians who obstinately maintain ‘it’s always been done this way,’ this is the path, this is the street—they sin: the sin of divination. It’s as if they went about by guessing: ‘What has been said and what doesn’t change is what’s important; what I hear—from myself and my closed heart—more than the Word of the Lord.’ Obstinacy is also the sin of idolatry: the Christian who is obstinate sins! The sin of idolatry. ‘And what is the way, Father?’ Open the heart to the Holy Spirit, discern what is the will of God.”

“This is the message the Church gives us today. This is what Jesus says so forcefully: ‘New wine in new wineskins.’ Habits must be renewed in the newness of the Spirit, in the surprises of God. May the Lord grant us the grace of an open heart, of a heart open to the voice of the Spirit, which knows how to discern what should not change, because it is fundamental, from what should change in order to be able to receive the newness of the Spirit.








13 Responses to “From Vatican Radio: Pope’s Homily 1-18-16”

  1. annonymouse says:

    “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”

    “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.”

  2. JLo says:

    More confusion for me. More ambiguous statements. JUST WHAT IS HE SAYING?!!! Terrifying. Our leader does not teach or encourage; rather, he confuses. Does anyone else feel like the Church, our country, the world are all coming off the rails, and all at once, heading us into a “perfect storm”? And yes, mouse… praise God that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, else it would not be possible to have holy hope.

  3. Ben Anderson says:

    If I were to hear this from a pulpit, I would assume it were code for endorsing all things progressive. However, we know the Holy Father supports orthodox positions on sexuality, the existence of the devil/hell, etc. For whatever reason this is his style… and he obviously is more toward the progressive side when it comes to things that aren’t exactly fixed. The pope doesn’t do and say exactly what I would do if I were pope… oh well. I will do my best to interpret him charitably. That said… Fr. Hunkwicke:

    Diane, in a previous comment you lamented spending time reading Dante in lieu of spiritual classics. I’d say if the line is drawn with Dante, then it should be drawn with worrying about the Pope’s homilies as well.

  4. Bernie says:

    Father Hunkwicke most appropriately cites Vatican II “The Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter so that, by his revelation, they might reveal new teaching, but,so that, by his assistance they might devoutly guard and faithfully set forth the revelation handed down through the Apostles, or in other words, the Deposit of the Faith.”

    I believe much confusion concerning the Holy Spirit entered into the public mind following Vatican II. We heard of the “spirit of Vatican II” which, in effect, came to mean “creativity”, mindless emotional laden changes, spontaneous actions, and anti-traditional thinking and practices. I think of Spiritus Christi folks before their schism, always invoking the movement of the Holy Spirit to justify abuses and illicit practices (“Can’t hold back the spring!”)

    In my research into early Christian art I discovered that the Holy Spirit to the early Christians was the guarantor of orthodoxy, never creativity or deviation from right believe or practice. Folks back then were advised that they could see the work of the Holy Spirit in a church by its orthodoxy.

    I can understand and appreciate what the Holy Father is teaching –although I think he turns people off by accusatory and demeaning language– that blind reaction/rejection to each new thought or proposal is not helpful.

    Each new idea, proposal, theory needs to be measured against orthodoxy. As long as it does not contradict orthodox teaching and as long as it ADVANCES orthodox teaching then it may qualify as a legitimate change. I think that second part is a necessary qualifier.

    I have written essentially the same thing when it comes to judging new liturgical art: is it orthodox? It can utilize a new approach but it must be orthodox.

    What is disconcerting is that the Holy Father SEEMS to have stepped outside a pope’s role of explaining, defending and clarfying orthodox teaching to one of advocating for certain new understandings or practices. I can see him facilitating debate and reminding us of orthodox doctrine but I often get the feeling that he is advocating for change. He should be the brakes and not the throttle.

  5. Diane Harris says:

    Ben–I don’t understand your comment: “Diane, in a previous comment you lamented spending time reading Dante in lieu of spiritual classics. I’d say if the line is drawn with Dante, then it should be drawn with worrying about the Pope’s homilies as well.”

    Could you clarify your question, please? Basically I was asking WHY? Why Dante? It is a lot of time to spend with the writing of someone not a saint, or not the Holy Word. I was not drawing a “line” but I don’t see the connection between Dante and the Pope’s homilies. I took his saying to read Dante not as just a remark in a homily but as much more. The only lines I am drawing are for myself, and what I am willing to spend time on, and I know that is a subject close to your own concerns — how do we do all the things we want to do, in the order of priority to our responsibilities and the needs of our own souls. So —-WHY DANTE?

  6. snowshoes says:

    My one insight into the importance of the Divina Comedia comes from highschool: My French teacher, who was born and raised in Italy, would quote Dante occasionally, and once he said, In Italy, all highschool students memorize the Divine Comedy. The Holy Father, being from an immigrant family, may also have memorized it at home, or maybe in school in Argentina, I don’t know how it is taught there. It is considered one of the first masterpieces of Italian literature, as well as a spiritual classic. So it is HUGE in Italy. I find it compelling as a meditation on the mercy and judgment of God, and maybe even on “the way it all works”. Happy Day of the Lord!

  7. Eliza10 says:

    Ben: Re: “If I were to hear this from a pulpit, I would assume it were code for endorsing all things progressive.”

    Me, too! Yes. The trouble is, he says a lot of this kind of thing. Like when he talked of Catholics who were “breeders”. 🙁

    And when he talked about the “‘prejudiced mentality’ of believers who fearfully cling to religious laws”.

    And when he talks about being scared of “fundamentalist Catholics” – and these, he explains, are often the rigid young priests, who he suggests probably “psychologically unstable”. 😮

    Yes, these things, too, are statements by the Catholic pope that are handy and useful for backing the views of Catholic-bashers and anti-Christians as well as progressives and liberal media.

    It seems to be a theme. And it worries me. I find myself more worried than encouraged by Francis. I didn’t get that from the previous popes in my tenure as a Catholic.

    Recently I cringed at his description of Jesus: “. For this little “escapade”, Jesus probably had to beg forgiveness of his parents. The Gospel doesn’t say this, but I believe that we can presume it.

    Its not the Jesus I know. Jesus, who is God, is, was, and always shall be PERFECT. God is always the same. God never changes. Mary and Joseph knew their child was their LORD. The Seat of Wisdom and the Just Man would have NEVER expected the Lord their God to beg them for forgiveness. NEVER!

    Jesus was not a sinning child who grew to perfection as an adult. Nope. He wasn’t like us, who were at times adorably naughty children. Who made what one could call “mistakes” in our innocence. Jesus did not make mistakes. Ever. He was the same yesterday, today and always. Always perfect. Always without sin. Always without mistake.

    Also I worry about the Climate Change hype we apparently are supposed to subscribe to (as part of the Magisterium (?!) says one Vatican spokesperson. Hopefully a misled one. Hmm. It seems I am always hoping things aren’t as they sound.) Oh, and Ecological Conversion we are supposed to make – because I never trusted all that media and science hype on that issue as it is. So I don’t follow what I don’t trust. As to this issue, I instead try to examine and improve if I am living as good steward. I feel that’s the best I can do. But, is the Pope telling us we are to listen to the media hype more on this one? I just don’t get it.

    I feel like there is just a lot of cognitive dissidence for me. Things that do not make sense.

    I entered the Catholic Church as a convert in 2000, into the mass mess of Clark’s DOR. But things helped me to understand what i witnessed, like that the smoke of Satan that had entered the Church. Okay, I could see that. Also, a book, Goodbye, Good Men, gave me a LOT of clear practical insight into why things were the way they were. But through it all I saw, here and there, often enough to keep me encouraged, heroes of the Church, beacons of light, stalwart and steadfast. They warmed my heart and gave me hope. Cardinal Burke was one. I loved that man. I loved that he existed. Yes, his existence gave me comfort. That man represented to me: hope for the future. So when Francis seemingly disgraced him, I was confused. Maybe things aren’t what they seem, I hoped. And still hope, though its really heavy slogging to keep thinking this.

    What I saw around me when I entered the Catholic Church in the DoR in 2000 were a lot of sad not very Christian priests, aging hippie types you could call them, at charitable best. Better stay Protestant than be around this! But I did not convert because of them, I converted in spite of them. However, I saw hope (and still do, as long as I am not looking at Pope Francis these days, who only confuses me) blossom around me particularly in the new young priests who are coming in who are not like these priests-of-the-recent-past, at all. These are priests that any devout Evangelical Protestant Christian would recognize as “real Christians”, confusing them in any anti-Catholic stance they might hold. And I recognized them as “real Catholics.” The young priests of today represent hope. They are here in spite of, not because of, the priests of today’s recent past. (Those priests don’t have successors. No one wants to be like them.)

    But, shockingly, one could use Francis’ statement to say our new devout priests are “too rigid” and even, as Francis accuses, “psychologically unstable”.

    Perhaps, hopefully, ELSEWHERE, Francis has said he esteems and supports and celebrates the new young priests who are devout, and that he esteems then for holding fast to Catholic truth in the face of change. But I haven’t seen that. Yet. Still hoping.

    Francis’ “breeder” insult stung me. I do not have a large Catholic family, myself, due to my circumstances in life. But if I had married the right man and had been Catholic at that time, I would have been free to be open to the gift of a large family. (And many young people who are not Catholic are not free to desire this, because today’s culture would scoff at them as BREEDERS, as well as immorally contributing to the crisis of over-population, putting our ecology and climate at risk). Yes, so Catholics are free to be open to the gift of life. I so admire families who are! And you know what? I think the Lord does, too. Yes. But society scoffs and mocks them as breeders, and now, look: the scoffers can quote the Pope when they do. How disgraceful. Must be the language barrier, right? Not the actual comment. Francis is just a lovable guy, who says goofy things sometimes. Right? I keep hoping.

    However you excuse it, I know this pope was not infused with the Holy Spirit at that moment he came up with the breeder comment. No way, no how. Also his statement on hell and the souls not going to Heaven being annihilated and “at the end of their journey” while the rest live on in eternal joy. That statement was certainly no inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so lets HOPE it was just a bad translation. MUST have been, right?

    So, I am confused about whether Pope Francis supports orthodox positions, as you suggest. I cannot confirm it, that’s for sure. To me, it’s just not settled. I’m glad it seems to be for you. Because its not comfortable to be unsettled on it, as I am.

    I don’t like his scripture exegesis, above, either. Which I find alarming. 🙁 How could I, a simple Catholic and no theologian, feel the pope’s exegesis is seriously lacking in pious reflection? But I do. I am confused. I feel a sense of shock.

    So, I guess I have to say of myself, I do worry about the Pope’s homilies. 🙁 I wish I did not.

  8. annonymouse says:

    Eliza, thank you for sharing the frustrations and fears that many of us are feeling with the Holy Father. Part of the problem is, I think, that we’ve become a little spoiled by (Saint) John Paul the Great and then Benedict, two men who humbly, fearlessly and charitably proclaimed and safeguarded the faith. Francis, I dare say, will likely never be known as “the Great,” and it seems to me that he is greatly relishing his newfound popularity, a very dangerous trait in a pontiff. For all the talk of his great humility, because he’s eschewed the papal apartments in favor of the St. Martha residence, I don’t see it. It takes great humility to safeguard and fearlessly proclaim the faith. It takes the opposite to entertain wholesale changes to it.

    Here’s the thing – all popes are human, all are sinful men. Some turn out to be “the Great,” and some prove to have been scoundrels. The jury is out on Francis, in my opinion. So let us pray for him fervently, that he may smell that smoke of Satan (and a pleasing odor I imagine it is), recognize it as such, and banish it from the Vatican and Church. And let us fully trust in Him who promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church.

  9. Eliza10 says:

    Really good thoughts, annonymouse. Thank you.

  10. militia says:

    And next, in the good news of faithfulness coming out of the Diocese of Seattle, we have a perfect example of how Pope Francis’ words are so often twisted to become whatever the sinner wants them to be:

  11. annonymouse says:

    I was thinking about this some more yesterday, and it seems to me that, while the call to seek God’s mercy is a good one, that call should go hand in hand with the universal call to holiness. Vatican II can be summed up, after all, in its universal call to holiness, that all of us, not just the priesthood and vowed religious, are called to be holy. This pontiff seems to have forgotten that, or certainly seems it’s unimportant to proclaim it. Indeed, it was said by some European bishops at the recent synod that heroic virtue is simply unattainable for ordinary Christians – simply too much to expect. And the Holy Father seems oh so willing to criticize those who so strive, who refuse to get with the times. I call horse hockey.

    You see, we are each called to be holy, to be DIFFERENT, than the stinking cesspool of a culture around us. Oh, we’re called to be in that cesspool, but we are to be not OF it. We are in the cesspool to be heralds of mercy and forgiveness, to witness to Him, the only way out, the only redemption. but without calling the cesspool what it is (how judgmental!!), there is no chance that the world will ever recognize its need for mercy, for redemption, for healing, for a Savior! It’s my fear that this pontiff, rather than to proclaim the call to holiness, is subtly or not so subtly assimilating this culture under the guise of “new wine in new wine skins.” The Holy Father, it seems to me, is a follower of the “progressive” and mistaken belief that our times are new and different than any before, and so justifies reconsidering truths held and believed and proclaimed since the day of Our Lord. This is a notion that denies/ignores that our fallen human nature is exactly the same as in every era before, just as much in need of redemption, of a Savior, and that truth is not something malleable, that can be molded and shaped to fit the whims of the day, but that truth is of God, eternal and fixed.

    I hear a lot about mercy these days but precious little about sin, from my local pulpit or from the Chair of St. Peter. Without the latter, talk of the former is hollow and, like seed on the rocky ground, yields no fruit. Ultimately, my fear about this pope is that mercy, a word that exactly describes the love of God, will be perversely twisted to mean license and permissiveness.

  12. Eliza10 says:

    Good point, militia. I am summarizing that link above, from the Seattle online newspaper, here:

    Bishop Blanchet High School in Seattle has refused to run an announcement in its alumni magazine for the same-sex marriage of an alumna who once served as student body vice president and homecoming queen. In response to the submission by the 1997 graduate, the school sent her a letter saying, in part,

    “… the archdiocese does not permit this type of information to be published in our Catholic school magazine.”

    James Nau [student body president in Blanchet’s class of 1997 and homecoming king]. In an open letter to the Archdiocese of Seattle [via facebook, wrote]:

    “…When there is an opportunity to rejoice in love that exists among the members of your community, you have chosen instead to shut them out, and on this issue Pope Francis has warned, ‘a church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission.'”

    The article then outlines the “archbishop’s chilly, hard-line stand on same-sex marriage” and goes on number the Facebook “likes” Nau got, and list all of Nau’s many involvements and connections with Diocesan Catholic activities growing up, and, quotes Nau:

    “The Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle has played a large role in my life…It is my education by the Archdiocese of Seattle that has made me into the person who writes this letter,” he concluded.

  13. militia says:

    Gradualism — that is the word that is causing pollution of the objective of holiness, and priests are beginning to use it more openly. It is a gigantic heresy, IMO. It seems to be Pope Francis’ idea about ‘walking with’ somebody in their sin, but to go where? It seems to be an accommodation for those who want to hold on to their sin and maybe put a face it of appearing to be repenting, in slow motion. Seems reminiscent of St. Augustine’s prayer (before he was “St.”) for God to strengthen him to live a more moral life — but ‘not yet.’

    I don’t think we see any examples of slo-mo repentance in the Gospels. What we see when it really is the Holy Spirit causing the movement is almost an instantaneous repentance. Or conversion. The Apostles dropped their nets. Boom. done. No looking back. I also think that what Christ said that seems to most apply was when he said that anyone who puts his hand to the plow and turns back isn’t worthy of the Kingdom of God.

    There is a huge ego in priests who think that they can make a decision counter to what the Church teaches. Run, do not walk, away from those purveyors of evil. It is disgusting. They are blind.

    Slo Mo repentance is not repentance; it is a dangerous game. And it is going to damage souls.

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