Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Synod of New Evangelization - Part II

Today the Mount Angel Seminary Journalism blog continues with the publication of diary entries from Father Jeremy Driscoll,OSB, a member of the seminary faculty who is taking part in the Synod of New Evangelization.  His first diary entry may be found here.

Father Jeremy's entry for October 12, 2012:

Yesterday's Mass celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II was something really wonderful.  I found myself very moved, more than I expected to be.  First of all, the morning was beautiful, sunny and cool.  We arrived at the piazza around 9:15.  Passages from the Council documents were being read over the microphone in various languages.  And as I listened to those texts, it dawned on me with force what a grace and gift from the Holy Spirit the Council has been for the Church.  Then we prayed the rosary, Luminous Mysteries, in Latin; and the Mass began.

There was an enormous procession of mitred bishops and cardinals, and the Pope pointed out in his homily that with this long procession there was a desire to recall the procession 50 years ago of all the bishops entering St. Peter's Basicila for the Council.  It was beautiful.

I sang the Latin Introit and the Gloria with great joy and gratitude.  The first reading was done in English, and it was very well proclaimed.  It came forth as something great from God, its message filling the world with hope and wisdom.  Even more forceful was the second reading, which was sung in Greek in a haunting oriental tone.  The Gospel was sung in Latin.  This was the first time that the newly composed Mass for New Evangelization was used.  The Mass was in Latin, but the English given in the booklet was from my translation.

The Pope's homily was really splendid.  No point in trying to summarize it here.  It is there for the record.  It represented a strong affirmation of the authority of the Council, stressing the importance of the documents themselves as opposed to some vague "spirit of the Council."  It is also the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Pope spoke strongly about that as well.

Cardinal Levada invited me to a pranzo to celebrate the CCC because he had played a major role in its formulation.  He invited also Cardinal Schonborn from Vienna, the person who perhaps had the strongest role in shaping it.  Cardinal Calic from Argentina, who also worked on it, was also there.  In addition, Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles and Bishop Brown of Orange were also there.  The conversation was very interesting because, at my urging, I got them reminiscing on different stories associated with the seven year work of composition of that great treasure for the Church.

[Editor's Note: At this point Father Jeremy explains he waited for and finally met with Fr. Frederico and Fr. Lucas of the St. John Society].  I didn't mind waiting because there was a candle-light procession arriving in the piazza, commemorating the procession made 50 years ago when the Council opened.  By the time they got there, the piazza was filled with some 20,000 people holding candles, in prayer thanking God for the Council and praying for the Synod.  Pope Benedict appeared at his window at 9 p.m., spoke a few words and gave his blessing.  What a day!

This morning's session was normal enough, but we were all invited to a big banquet hosted by Benedict XVI himself to thank the bishops and all of us for the work of the Synod.  It was a beautiful meal: not extravagant but certainly celebratory. 

I was sitting at as wonderful table with bishops from Sudan, Indonesia, Liberia, Ireland, Tanzania, Scotland, and three other experts, two from the Philippines and one from China.  We had great fun, combined with serious discussion.  The three Africans were on the young side, and I realized that after many years of teaching Africans at Sant' Anselmo, I know where their funny bone is.  I kept hitting against it.

We were to go back to work after a short siesta, but the Pope gave us the rest of the day off.  Rejoicing all around.

Tomorrow, Saturday, we have another full day.

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