December 2013 – January 2014
Vol. XIX, No. 9
News and Views
Evangelii Gaudium — The Joy of the Gospel — Liturgy and Scripture | John Paul II Eucharistic Center Dedicated | Pope to Create Special Commission on Sexual Abuse | Musica Sacra St. Louis 2014 Features Chant
Pope Francis’s first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, “The Joy of the Gospel,” is dated November 24, the final day of the Year of Faith, the solemnity of Christ the King. It was released November 26.
Focused on the New Evangelization, it was written in response to the most recent meeting of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in October 2012, at the beginning of the Year of Faith. The synod’s theme was the New Evangelization.
The five chapters of the exhortation concern the Church’s mission of evangelization and current challenges to the transmission of the message of the Gospel.
The exhortation immediately elicited widespread attention in the media — both secular and religious. Though there has been much comment about the pope’s observations on economics and poverty, Evangelii Gaudium does not neglect the fundamental importance of the Eucharist to her mission. For example, the pope writes:
Jesus leaves us the Eucharist as the Church’s daily remembrance of, and deeper sharing in, the event of his Passover (cf. Lk 22:19). The joy of evangelizing always arises from grateful remembrance: it is a grace which we constantly need to implore. (EG §13)
Evangelization with joy becomes beauty in the liturgy, as part of our daily concern to spread goodness. The Church evangelizes and is herself evangelized through the beauty of the liturgy, which is both a celebration of the task of evangelization and the source of her renewed self-giving. (EG §24)
He devotes an entire chapter to preaching, and he emphasizes the role of Scripture as the “center” of evangelization. Following are selected quotes on these topics.
174. Not only the homily has to be nourished by the word of God. All evangelization is based on that word, listened to, meditated upon, lived, celebrated and witnessed to. The sacred Scriptures are the very source of evangelization. Consequently, we need to be constantly trained in hearing the word. The Church does not evangelize unless she constantly lets herself be evangelized. It is indispensable that the word of God “be ever more fully at the heart of every ecclesial activity”. God’s word, listened to and celebrated, above all in the Eucharist, nourishes and inwardly strengthens Christians, enabling them to offer an authentic witness to the Gospel in daily life. We have long since moved beyond that old contraposition between word and sacrament. The preaching of the word, living and effective, prepares for the reception of the sacrament, and in the sacrament that word attains its maximum efficacy.
175. The study of the sacred Scriptures must be a door opened to every believer. It is essential that the revealed word radically enrich our catechesis and all our efforts to pass on the faith. Evangelization demands familiarity with God’s word, which calls for dioceses, parishes and Catholic associations to provide for a serious, ongoing study of the Bible, while encouraging its prayerful individual and communal reading. We do not blindly seek God, or wait for him to speak to us first, for “God has already spoken, and there is nothing further that we need to know, which has not been revealed to us”. Let us receive the sublime treasure of the revealed word.
262. The Church urgently needs the deep breath of prayer, and to my great joy groups devoted to prayer and intercession, the prayerful reading of God’s word and the perpetual adoration of the Eucharist are growing at every level of ecclesial life.
The complete text of Evangelii Gaudium is accessible online
The new John Paul II Eucharistic Center at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, Hanceville, Alabama, was dedicated on December 8. The dedication ceremonies began with a noon Mass in the shrine’s main chapel, celebrated by Cardinal Raymond Burke, followed by a procession to the Center.
“The purpose of the Eucharistic Center is to educate pilgrims who visit the shrine, where the central focus is the Blessed Sacrament, on the meaning and history of the real presence of Our Lord,” explained Sister Mary Jacinta of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, founded in 1854 and brought to Hanceville by Mother Angelica, the foundress of EWTN.
Cardinal Burke said that “for Catholics, the Eucharistic Center provides the occasion to return, once again, to the heart of the Catholic faith in the Eucharistic mystery.” He pointed out that for the many non-Catholics who visit the shrine, the Eucharistic Center will open up for them the heart of the Catholic faith, giving them the occasion to understand more fully what Catholics believe and how every aspect of the Catholic faith is directed ultimately to life in Jesus Christ through communion in His body, blood, soul and divinity,” he said.
The center includes a museum, with copies of famous paintings, statues of saints with strong connection to the Eucharist (e.g., Thomas Aquinas), as well as an interactive computer stations and a special section for children.
The dedication ceremonies were televised by EWTN.
Pope Francis will create a special commission for the protection of children from sexual abuse, acting on the suggestion of the Council of Cardinals, whose eight members met December 2-5 at the Vatican.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley reported the plans for the new commission at a news conference on December 5. He said that the commission continues “decisively along the lines undertaken by Pope Benedict XVI,” and will have the aim of “advising Pope Francis on the Holy See’s commitment to the protection of children and in pastoral care for victims of abuse.”
The new commission will consist of about 12 members who will study current initiatives and develop guidelines and protocols for the protection of children, preventing abuse, and educational programs for children, parents, catechists, seminarians, and priests.
The international body will include experts with special responsibilities for the safety of children, who may be priests, religious, or laity, Cardinal O’Malley said.
“The Holy See will try to be helpful and help to identify best practices,” Cardinal O’Malley explained, and stressed that while the Vatican’s focus has largely been on legal procedures until now, the new commission would be dedicated to offering a more pastoral approach to the problem.
During their meeting, the Council of Cardinals had also examined various congregations of the Roman Curia as part of Pope Francis’s plan to reorganize the curia. The council’s next meeting will be February 19-21, 2014, followed by a consistory of the College of Cardinals on February 22.
The 2014 Musica Sacra St. Louis Conference will take place at St. Louis University’s Manresa Center February 13-15, 2014. This year’s faculty includes Dr. Horst Buchholz, Director of Sacred Music for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and Mr. Scott Turkington, highly regarded as one of the American masters of chant.
The focus this year is on chant, including Gregorian chant, but also English chant for the proper texts of the Mass. Dr. Buchholz says, “I am thrilled that my good friend and colleague Scott Turkington will be joining me on the faculty. We always had a fair number of guests from out of town, and therefore we chose the Manresa Center, which offers very decent and reasonable accommodations. Of course, a visit to the Cathedral Basilica is on the schedule as well.”
This is the fourth year for the Musica Sacra St. Louis conference, which started as a regional activity of the Church Music Association of America. Mr. Adam Wright has been the coordinator from the beginning, and for the last two conferences the Archdiocesan Office of Sacred Music has co-hosted the gathering.
The conference is open to all music directors, choir directors, singers, liturgists, priests, deacons, religious, seminarians, etc. with an interest in the history and application of chant for the Liturgy.
For more information call 314-373-8227 or visit: archstl.org/music.