Friday, 9 October 2009

Today's Office Readings: Particularly apt in the light of Pope Benedict's teaching and example.

Whilst Clare and I are sorting out our articles mentioned in the previous post, here are some extracts from today's Office which struck me most forcibly.

Friday Week 27 of Ordinary Time: From the first Notebook of St. Vincent of Lerins: The Development of Christian Doctrine

"Care should be taken to ensure that it really is development of the faith and not alteration. Development implies that each point of doctrine is expanded within itself, while alteration suggests that a thing has been changed from what it was into something different.

"It is desirable than that development should take place and that there should be a great and vigorous growth in the understanding, knowledge and wisdom of every individual as well as of all the people, on the part of each member as well as of the whole Church, gradually over the generations and ages. But it must be growth within the limits of its own nature, that is to say within the framework of the same dogma, and of the same meaning.

"Long ago our ancestors sowed the seeds of the faith in the field of the Church. It would be quite incongruous and wrong if their descendants were to reap the weeds of error in place of the harvest of truth.

"Rather it is right and fitting, that there should be no discrepancy between the final result and the beginning. From the seed that was planted, that is the teaching of the gospel, we should reap a harvest of wheat, that is the doctrine that has developed. So then, when something evolves from those first beginnings, as from seeds, it should now be received with joy and cultivated with care."

(There are many articles on the www about St Vincent. Here is one.)

Also today is the Optional Memoria of St. John Leonardi, on whom the Holy Father delivered his catechesis at yesterday's General Audience.

The proper Office Reading is from the letters of St. John Leonardi to Pope Paul V, entitled "I will show you what the Lord requires of you." Getting on for a thousand years separates these two saints. St. John writes during the Counter-Reformation....

"Those who would set about the reformation of mens' morals must first of all seek the Lord's glory above everything else and look for and request help in so beneficial and arduous a matter from Him who is the source of all good. Then they should place themselves in the sight of the persons needing reform as mirrors of all virtues, like lamps set on a stand to give light by their integrity of life and example of virtue to all in the house of God; thus they will draw them gently to reform rather than compel them, and there will not be required of the body................what is not found in the head, and so the standing and good order of the whole of the Lord's family will not be impaired. They will also take care, like prudent doctors, that they are fully able to diagnose the various ills afflicting the Church which need to be remedied so that the appropriate remedy can be applied to each.

"Its reformation (the Church's) must be undertaken by high and low alike, among its leaders as well as its children; first we should direct our attention to those who have charge of the rest, so that reform begins among those from whom it should be communicated to others.

"Every effort must be made to ensure that cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, bishops and parish priests, who have immediate care of souls, are such that the direction of the Lord's flock can be safely entrusted to them. But let us take into account the lowest as well as the highest, that is, the children as well as the leaders; for we should not overlook those in whom all renewal of churchmen's morals must begin. It would not be right to leave anything untried to educate boys from their tender years in a sincere Christian faith and holy life. To effect this nothing is more helpful than a sacred institute for teaching Christian doctrine, with boys' education in the hands of none but good and God-fearing men.

"These are the things, holy Father, which the Lord has suggested to me in the present grave crisis. If they seem somewhat difficult of execution at first sight, they will appear easy when set against the magnitude of the crisis; great changes are not brought about save by great means, and great deeds befit great men."

Comment on these readings is superfluous. Suffice it to say that our Holy Father Benedict knows them like the back of his hand. We, the children offer our prayers for him to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you brought this up - it's just so apt! The other text was a Pauline letter but not the one about 'passing on the traditions handed down to you' which I'd have preferred but I think St Vincent is pretty clear anyway!