Recently convened for their annual meeting in Castel Gandolfo (Aug. 25-28), the group of 40 former theology and philosophy students of then Professor Joseph Ratzinger were given the task of discussing this sometimes ‘nebulous’ term. Added to their ranks were academics who have chosen to study the thought and writings of Joseph Ratzinger – a suggestion first put forward by Fr. Twomey himself - creating a veritable ‘think-tank’, with some surprising results.
In the first part of this two part interview, Fr. Twomey speaks of how the concept of New Evangelisation is a thread that runs throughout the teaching and writing of Pope Benedict XVI, then Professor Ratzinger. He brings us back to their first meeting over 40 years ago, when as a young Irish missionary priest, he sought out the ‘promising and brilliant theologian’ in his ‘simple’ Bavarian home to ask to study under him. Fr. Twomey takes us on a journey from the Münster and Tübingen years, through the establishment of Ratzinger’s first ‘Doctoral colloquium’, to the Regensburg years and finally, Rome. He speaks about why the New Evangelisation calls for ‘God’s humility’ and why – contrary to popular belief – secularisation is not wholly negative.http://www.radiovaticana.org/en1/Articolo.asp?c=516626
He said “On several occasions during this period, I have recalled the need for every Christian to find time for God, for prayer, amid the many occupations of our daily lives. The Lord Himself gives us many opportunities to remember Him. Today I will touch briefly on one of these channels that can bring us to God and also be of help in encountering Him: it is the path of artistic expression, part of that "path of Beauty ", of which I have spoken several times and which man today should recover in its deepest meaning”.
Pope Benedict continued "perhaps sometimes, before a sculpture, a painting, a few verses of a poem or a song, you have experienced deep within an intimate emotion, a sense of joy, that is, you have clearly perceived that in front of you there was not only mere matter, a piece of marble or bronze, a painted canvas, a series of letters or a combination of sounds, but something bigger, something that speaks, capable of touching the heart, of communicating a message; of elevating the soul. "
"Works of art are the fruit of human creativity, which question the visible reality, trying to discover its deep meaning and to communicate it through the language of shapes, colours, sounds." The work of art, in short, "is an open door on the infinite," which "opens the eyes of the mind, of the heart."
However, he added, “there are artistic expressions that are true paths to God, the supreme Beauty, indeed they help nurture our relationship with Him in prayer. These are works that are born of faith and express faith. One example of this is when we visit a Gothic cathedral; we are enraptured by the vertical lines that shoot up towards the sky and draw our eyes and our spirits upwards, while at the same time, we feel small, and yet eager for fullness ... Or when we enter a Romanesque church: we are spontaneously invited to recollection and prayer. We feel as if the faith of generations were enclosed in these splendid buildings. Or, when we hear a piece of sacred music that vibrates the strings of our heart, our soul expands and helped to turn to God. A concert of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, in Munich, directed by Leonard Bernstein, again comes to my mind. After the last piece of music, one of theCantate, I felt, not by reasoning, but in my heart, that what I heard had conveyed to me truth, something of the truth of the great composer’s faith and this pressed me to praise and thank the Lord and beside me was the Lutheran Bishop of Munich and spontaneously, feeling this, I said to him, you know, its true, a faith and beauty so strong irresistibly expresses the presence and truth of God".
Pope Benedict then spoke of how certain artists have touched our lives : "How many times have paintings or frescoes, the fruit of the faith of the artist, in their forms, their colours, their light, encouraged us to direct our thoughts to God and nourished in us the desire to draw from the source of all beauty. What the great artist, Marc Chagall, once wrote remains true, that for centuries painters have dipped their paintbrush in that coloured alphabet that is the Bible. How many times, then can artistic expressions be occasions to remind us of God, to help our prayer or for the conversion of the heart! Paul Claudel, a poet, playwright, and French diplomat, in the Basilica of Notre Dame in Paris, in 1886, while he was listening to the singing of the Magnificat at Christmas Mass, felt God's presence. He had not entered the church for reasons of faith, but to in search of arguments against Christians, and instead the grace of God worked in his heart".
The Holy Father concluded: “I invite you to rediscover the importance of this path for prayer, for our living relationship with God. The cities and towns all over the world preserve works of art that express the faith and remind us of our relationship with God. Visiting places of art, it is not only an occasion for cultural enrichment, but above all it can be a moment of grace, an encouragement to strengthen our relationship and our dialogue with the Lord, to stop and contemplate, in the transition from simple external reality to a deeper reality, the ray of beauty that strikes us, that almost wounds us in our inner selves and invites us to rise towards God. "
And then he greeted all English speaking pilgrims present: I am pleased to greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today, especially those from Scotland and Malta. Today we reflect on the need to draw near to God through the experience and appreciation of artistic beauty. Art is capable of making visible our need to go beyond what we see and it reveals our thirst for infinite beauty, for God. Dear friends, I invite you to be open to beauty and to allow it to move you to prayer and praise of the Lord. May Almighty God bless all of you!
The new English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal is seen in Rome last year. (CNS/Paul Haring)
From Canada to southern Africa to New Zealand, Catholics have seen parts of the new missal introduced at various times -- most since January, but some earlier -- so that by the first Sunday of Advent Nov. 27, the transition to a new set of prayers and liturgical music will be as seamless as possible for the faithful.
As the implementation moves forward, the liturgists charged with overseeing the missal's introduction in seven of the 10 English-speaking countries and regions outside of the U.S. making the transition toldCatholic News Service that their efforts have eased concerns that the translation was a step back from the Second Vatican Council's vision for liturgy.
"The bishops here took the view that there should be an incremental approach to implementation," explained Father Peter Wiliams, executive secretary of the Bishops Commission for Liturgy in Australia.
The process began with the introduction of new musical settings in January, followed by the spoken parts of the Mass at Pentecost in June, Father Williams said. The eucharistic prayers and other parts of the missal will be introduced Nov. 1 so that by Advent the transition will be completed.
The pace of each phase was left to local pastors, with some parishes moving more quickly and others more slowly depending on how well congregations welcomed them, Father Williams said.
The introduction of the English translation of the missal -- under development since 2002 -- is occurring in countries represented by the 11 bishops' conference members of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. Member conferences include the United States, Canada, Ireland, England and Wales, Scotland, southern Africa (South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana), India, Pakistan, Philippines, New Zealand and Australia.
The most recent translation of the Roman Missal is the third since Vatican II's call for the "full, conscious and active participation" of all Catholics in the liturgy. In introducing the third Latin translation in 2002, Pope John Paul II said it more closely matched the vivid language used throughout church history.
The English translation took nearly seven years as representatives to ICEL debated the proper words that reflected the sacred language found in the latest Latin edition of the missal. The Vatican approved the English translation in 2009.
Disagreements emerged among U.S. bishops as the final translation was reviewed before it was sent to Rome for approval. Some bishops deemed it as elitist or remote from everyday speech. Despite the concerns, the American bishops overwhelmingly approved the translation.
In Ireland, the Association of Catholic Priests, which represents about 10 percent of the country's clergy, continued to object to the translation into 2011. In a March 28 statement, the association charged that the translation was "too complex and too cumbersome" and included sexist language. It also questioned its "theological veracity" and described the translation process as flawed.
Such challenges have not delayed implementation, however.
In New Zealand, where the introduction of the missal began last Advent and was to take one year, the attitude among the country's 560,000 Catholics largely has been to "just go on with the business," said Father Trevor Murray, director of the National Liturgy Office for the country's bishops.
"There are some people who are really happy about it and others not so happy," Father Murray said. "That's true of the priests as well as the people. But the majority of people are pragmatic about it."
Around the world the implementation has been boosted through workshops and meetings with key church leaders aimed at explaining what the changes entail and their significance. Each bishops' conference has developed its own resources, including laminated cards in pews for worshippers, seminars and websites.
Perhaps the most widely used resource has been "Become One Body, One Spirit in Christ," an interactive DVD developed by ICEL. It explores the richness of the liturgy, explains the changes and examines why the changes are being made.
In Canada, Father William Burke, director of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' National Liturgy Office, has found people accepting of the changes -- once the reasoning behind them is explained.
Father Burke has visited 27 Canadian dioceses to explain the changes and said he has found some anxiety and animosity over the new text at each stop. As he reviews the translation and offers the reasoning behind them, he said he has seen the uncertainty wither.
"By and large," he said, I hear people saying, 'What's all the fuss about?' People realize this is not the devastation (of the liturgy) we heard."
Patrick Jones, director of the National Center for Liturgy in Ireland, told CNS that preparation for the new missal began in early 2011 with workshops for priests followed by the introduction of the changes to diocesan and parish liturgy committees, parish council members and music ministers.
Parts of the Mass that directly involve the Irish faithful were to be introduced Sept. 11.
"This will enable Massgoers on Sundays and weekdays to be familiar with those changed parts" prior to the full implementation in Advent, Jones explained.
Dominican Sister Jordana Maher, coordinator of liturgy for the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, said the changes will be formally implemented at Advent even though some parishes began using them without authorization in 2009 before the Vatican formally approved the texts. The parishes picked up the texts from Internet sources, thinking they were ready for use, she said.
"That created a bit of a complicated situation," she said.
The changes in South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland will move forward, however, without a new Lectionary. Problems at a printer of liturgical texts in Kenya will prevent the Lectionary from being distributed in time for the full implementation, she said.
In the United Kingdom, which includes the bishops' conferences of Scotland and England and Wales, the implementation was to begin Sept. 4.
"My ambition is that people turn up on the first Sunday of September and they'll know there's a new missal," said Martin Foster, acting secretary of the Liturgy Office for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.
For Father Andrew McKenzie, secretary of the National Liturgy Commission in Scotland, the success won't be measured for quite some time.
"The real result will be seen after a couple of years on how well it is accepted," he said.
Attempts to reach liturgy directors in India, Philippines and Pakistan were unsuccessful.
Catholics and non-Catholics come together from different dioceses across the country. Cards Malcolm Ranjith and Bernard Francis Law, archpriest at Rome’s Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica, performed the liturgy.
Tewatta (AsiaNews) – “Only Jesus is our answer. Only Jesus can heal our mental and physical ailments. As Catholics, always seek the sacraments of confession and communion! They are the privileges, God gave us,” said Card Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, in his homily to thousands disabled people, both Catholic and non-Catholic, who attended the blessing of the sick. Card Bernard Francis Law, archpriest at Rome’s Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica, Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, papal nuncio to Sri Lanka, took part on Sunday in the Eucharist at Our Lady of Lanka shrine, Tewatta National Basilica.
In a solemn procession, participants carried lamps, candles and coloured banners with quotes from the Bible in Sinhalese, Tamil and English.
Magrette Adames, who comes from the parish of Dalugama (Colombo diocese), came with her son. “I was working abroad but after a year I fell ill. It was an unknown mental illness and so he came home. He has faith in Jesus, and so we have come here every year for this exceptional celebration hoping to find a special cure.”
After participating in last year’s blessing, a Buddhist man was healed from long-standing pain to his back and left leg. This year he was back with his family to express his gratitude.
“I am happy to see such a large crowd,” said Fr Priya Jayamanne, who is in charge of the Tewatta National Basilica. People are “coming to pray so that Jesus can intercede on their behalf and heal their problems and illnesses. We prepared 600 chairs for special cases, but we had more than 600 patients,” he said.
The clergyman is also grateful to the government for providing water, electricity and health facilities needed for so many people.
Treorchy Male Choir’s spokesperson Dean Powell gives me an insight into what makes them so well loved and followed. Dean, first tenor, has been a member since he was 16. At his audition, he lied about his age as you have to be over 18 get in. Now, at 39, he’s a mainstay of this famous institution which has toured all over the world with performances from clubs to cathedrals and many famous theatres in between including, back home, Royal Command performances.
“I never thought I’d get in,” Dean recalls. “But I did. I was looking for a new hobby. I guess that means I was a bit of a geek as joining a choir isn’t perhaps the thing that’s uppermost in lads’ minds at the age of 16.”
An iconic symbol of the mining communities of the valleys of South Wales, the choir has a history that goes back to 1883. “In the late 19th Century,” says Dean, “a large proportion of the choir were miners. After being under ground all day, it was a good release to get together and sing. There was a strong camaraderie and that’s still true today.
“I feel great after I’ve sung in the choir. There aren’t any mines any more, but the choir is as important as ever to the community. We do a lot of charity work and it brings us together.” Indeed, singing proves to be good for the spirit and wellbeing. Dean tells me: “There’s a cancer charity that we support called Tenovus. They have formed a 78-strong community choir of people affected by cancer. It has been realised that there are significant health benefits from singing in a choir.”
Norman Cox, first bass, would agree that singing in a choir has a tremendous impact on wellbeing and ability to overcome adversity. A life changing – and also life re-affirming – moment for Norman was a motorcycle accident in 1983 at the age of 25. “I was in hospital for over two months,” he says, “and at first, they thought I’d lose my legs.”
Norman’s wife, whom he married when she was just 18 and he was 21, was his all-important support through those tough times. But the choir also played their part. “They kept my spirits up,” he says. “They’d always be visiting and as soon as I was out of hospital and in a wheelchair, they’d wheel me to rehearsals and up on to the stage to perform with them. Mind you, at the interval, they wouldn’t wheel me off the stage. I'd have to wait there for my cup of tea."
Having seen the Treorchy choir perform at St David’s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire, Norman decided at the age of 12 that he wanted to be part of it. “My brother Stephen was already a member. I can remember watching them perform on television, on the Tom Jones show,” he says.
Although the Welsh valleys have a strong Chapel tradition, Norman is a Catholic. “South Wales became quite multicultural in the 19th and 20th centuries,” he says. “My great grandmother married an Irish labourer who was Catholic and he took the family to mass every weekend.”
Norman explains what Catholicism means to him. “It’s being part of something universal,” he says.
The choir has recorded an album of Queen covers, a tribute, at Abbey Road and I ask Dean if they walked across the famous pedestrian crossing. He laughs: “Yes, we held the traffic up for a bit. There’s quite a few Beatles fans in the choir.” Norman filmed it and I reckon the footage would get a lot of hits on You Tube.
In fact, there are more than 100 people in the choir. How on earth do they make decisions about what they are going to sing, what to call their album and so on? Says Dean: “We elect a committee. The Welsh are good at forming committees.”
I ask Dean how the Treorchy women feel about their men’s commitment to the choir. “They are very patient,” he concedes. “We can be away touring or recording for a month at a time. We’ve joked that they should change the marriage vows: Do you take this man and the Treorchy Choir….”
“Music and singing is a big part of Welsh heritage,” says Dean. “Singing in school, in competitions: you could be in the pub and suddenly someone will burst into song. Wales is the land of song, you could say that there’s something in the water….or the beer!”
The Treorchy choir has a diverse backlog of recordings and has collaborated with, among others, Ella Fitzgerald, Dame Julie Andrews, Dame Shirley Bassey, and Bon Jovi. They have an equally diverse fan base including Prince Charles, Sir Michael Caine, Joanna Lumley – and now me! I’d love to go and see the choir perform on their own turf and experience the after-show concert in the pub.
I ask Norman who else he would like the choir to work with if he had a choice. “Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull,” is the immediate response. I hope they do, because, from what I’ve heard, whatever the Treorchy Male Choir do seems to work so well. They are a group of amateurs who have had no professional training and yet deliver a first class performance. I think it is because they are so passionate and engaging and take great pride in what they do.
Once you’ve experienced the Treorchy Male Choir you can’t help but want to hear more. And indeed you can, as they are about to release Timeless, their first new recording in 10 years. The album features two female favourites from the Welsh National Opera: sopranos Kate Woolveridge and Iona Jenkins. Timeless is an eclectic mix of classical and contemporary songs including show tunes and even a Zulu warrior chant.
Timeless is released on 5 September.
To find out more about The Treorchy Choir see: www.treorchymalechoir.com
To find out more about Tenovus and the ‘Sing for Life Choir’ go to: www.tenovus.com
"I think the celebrations for the end of Ramadan pushes all Libyans to live in peace and reconciliation. I hope this feeling is not superficial, because, from what I read and hear, in some parts of Libya fighting continues, and the hunt to catch Gaddafi is open" says the Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli. "But, I repeat, there seems to be among the Libyans a desire for reconciliation. A few days ago I received a call by two Libyan friends who said they were happy", said Mgr.Martinelli.
The difficulties, however, are not lacking in Tripoli, such as the lack of running tap water. "The water of the urban network has been poisoned. I do not know who committed such an act, perhaps a reaction against the rebels, as if to say 'these come and find poisoned water'. The solution to the problem has been solved, because the inhabitants of Tripoli do not get water from the taps, but from other sources, or have found a way to filter the water", says Mgr. Martinelli. "I am ending my medical treatment and I hope to return to Tripoli soon, among my people" says the Apostolic Vicar. (L.M.)
CATH NEWS REPORT: The Church said it can assist the government in the matter of asylum seekers, and welcomed the High Court's permanent injunction against the deportation of two asylum seekers to Malaysia, the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office said in a statement.
"The Catholic Church's views about the treatment of asylum seekers are well known," Bishop Gerard Hanna, the Bishops' Representative for Migrants and Refugees, said today upon hearing the High Court's decision.
"Our views were outlined in the Church's recent submission to the Joint Select Committee's Inquiry into Australia's Immigration Detention Network.
"The Government knows our views and it also knows of the work that the Church does to assist asylum seekers both in detention and after their release.
"But now is not a time for celebration or recrimination. Rather, now is the time for all people of good will to work together to find a better way of dealing with asylum seekers. The Catholic Church stands ready to work with the Minister, the Department and all other people of good will to find a better way.
The Church is encouraging Australia to continue to receive the additional 4000 refugees - as hammered out in the original deal - over the next four years.
In a separate statement, the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon said: "Right across Australia, the grassroots members of the St Vincent de Paul Society will be warmly welcoming the High Court decision.
"We continue to say to the Australian Government: No to offshore processing; No to mandatory detention. This decision offers the nation a wonderful opportunity to re-think our stance on asylum seekers and re-visit our international obligations.
"This is a victory for human rights. We now need to turn this into a new direction for the Government; a direction based on dignity and respect for asylum seekers rather than demonisation and repression."
Feast: August 31
Information: Feast Day: August 31
Born: 1204, La Portella, Comarca of Segrià, Catalonia, Kingdom of Aragon
Died: August 31, 1240, Cardona, Province of Barcelona, Catalonia, Kingdom of Aragon
Canonized: 1657, Rome by Pope Alexander VII
Patron of: Childbirth; children; expectant mothers; falsely accused people; fever; infants; midwives; newborn babies; obstetricians; pregnant women
Born 1200 or 1204 at Portello in the Diocese of Urgel in Catalonia; died at Cardona, 31 August, 1240. His feast is celebrated on 31 August. He is pictured in the habit of his order surrounded by ransomed slaves, with a padlock on his lips. He was taken from the womb of his mother after her death, hence his name. Of noble but poor family, he showed early traits of piety and great talent. His father ordered him to tend a farm, but later gave him permission to take the habit with the Mercedarians at Barcelona, at the hands of the founder, St. Peter Nolasco. Raymond made such progress in the religious life that he was soon considered worthy to succeed his master in the office of ransomer. He was sent to Algiers and liberated many captives. When money failed he gave himself as a hostage. He was zealous in teaching the Christian religion and made many converts, which embittered the Mohammedan authorities. Raymond was subjected to all kinds of indignities and cruelty, was made to run the gauntlet, and was at last sentenced to impalement. The hope of a greater sum of money as ransom caused the governor to commute the sentence into imprisonment. To prevent him from preaching for Christ, his lips were pierced with a red-hot iron and closed with a padlock. After his arrival in Spain, in 1239, he was made a cardinal by Gregory IX. In the next year he was called to Rome by the pope, but came only as far as Cardona, about six miles from Barcelona, where he died. His body was brought to the chapel of St. Nicholas near his old farm. In 1657 his name was placed in the Roman martyrology by Alexander VII. He is invoked by women in labour and by persons falsely accused. The appendix to the Roman ritual gives a formula for the blessing of water, in his honour, to be used by the sick, and another of candles.
38And he arose and left the synagogue, and entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they besought him for her.39And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her; and immediately she rose and served them.40Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them.41And demons also came out of many, crying, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them, and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.42And when it was day he departed and went into a lonely place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them;43but he said to them, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose."44And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.