Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The state of the church and the world

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Repeatedly during the season of Advent the Church’s liturgy prays in these or similar words. They are invocations that were probably formulated as the Roman Empire was in decline. The disintegration of the key principles of law and of the fundamental moral attitudes underpinning them burst open the dams which until that time had protected peaceful coexistence among peoples. The sun was setting over an entire world. Frequent natural disasters further increased this sense of insecurity. There was no power in sight that could put a stop to this decline. All the more insistent, then, was the invocation of the power of God: the plea that he might come and protect his people from all these threats.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Today too, we have many reasons to associate ourselves with this Advent prayer of the Church. For all its new hopes and possibilities, our world is at the same time troubled by the sense that moral consensus is collapsing, consensus without which juridical and political structures cannot function. Consequently the forces mobilized for the defence of such structures seem doomed to failure.

Excita – the prayer recalls the cry addressed to the Lord who was sleeping in the disciples’ storm-tossed boat as it was close to sinking. When his powerful word had calmed the storm, he rebuked the disciples for their little faith (cf. Mt 8:26 et par.). He wanted to say: it was your faith that was sleeping. He will say the same thing to us. Our faith too is often asleep. Let us ask him, then, to wake us from the sleep of a faith grown tired, and to restore to that faith the power to move mountains – that is, to order justly the affairs of the world.

From the Holy Father's address on the occasion of Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia.
Read the rest here.

Viva il Papa.


  1. It is good that the problems of modern times are being recognized and addressed, treated with the seriousness they deserve. With all due respect to the Holy Spirit of course, I hope Benedict XVI 'packs the college' like no pope before him ever has. It takes so long to effect a recovery and such a short time to bring everything to ruin.

  2. Considering that there's currently a glut of cardinals over the age of 75, it's not unfeasible to think that within a few years, more than half of the college will be Ratzinger appointees. Not nearly as pervasive as John Paul's appointments, but not too shabby considering it will have been done in less than half the time.

    This may be fine and good as far as Rome is concerned, but does not reduce the troubling fact that, here in the provinces, we still have too few priests and often uncooperative bishops, and too small a pool from which to draw a new episcopate that can staff all the dioceses of the West. For all the good things in Rome, the situation on both sides of the pond in this regard looks somewhat bleak.

  3. Well, I cannot (or at least should not) speak too much on that subject so as to avoid speaking unkindly of the princes of the Church. Suffice it to say I often (quite often) wonder how a good number of bishops keep their jobs. They have the truth, they have the authority, so why does simply doing as they are told seem to be such a problem for so many?

    The only ones that really give me some glimmer of hope are groups like the ICK and FSSP, loyal to tradition *and* loyal to the Holy See and from what I have heard the more vibrant and growing. God speed them -we need more of them. A few more old fashioned Dominicans wouldn't hurt these days either. (!)

  4. That really ought to be my New Year's resolution, MM, to speak more charitably about the bishops. That will no doubt take quite a bit of spiritual discipline.

    I'm truly in accord with you about the Institute and the Fraternity. Though I ask, have they yet produced any bishops? Were they to, you can bet a good deal of both clergy and laity would raise unholy heck about that. As for old-fashioned Dominicans (rare personal note), I'm likely to go finish a degree with them next year, with a mind toward a Dominican vocation. St. Joseph's Province here in the Northeast isn't that bad (surely one of the best things we have going here).