Sunday, September 30, 2007

Benedict's Angels

As previously noted, on Saturday the Pope performed the first episcopal ordinations of his pontificate, conferring the mitre and crozier on six of his high-profile appointees, including his new Culture Czar Gianfranco Rivasi and the longtime papal co-secretary Mietek Mokryczki, now archbishops both.

Given the day's confluence with the feast of the three Archangels, the principal consecrator's homily took the calendar's implication to heart:
[Benedict] recalled that in the early Church – and in Revelations – bishops are referred to as “angels”. Just as angels, explained the pope, bishops must lead humanity to God; they must knock on the door to their hearts to announce Christ; they must heal the wounds of relations between man and woman and save them from sin with reconciliation and forgiveness.

Throughout his entire discourse the pontiff referred to this similitude, starting with the names of the three Archangels, which contains the suffix “El”, which in Hebrew is the name of God. “God – said the pope – is written in their names, in their very nature…. they are His messengers. They bring God to mankind, they reveal the heavens and thus, they reveal earth….. the Angels speak to man about what constitutes his true being, what is often is often covered or buried in his life. They call man to himself, touching him on God’s behalf”. And he added: “In this way even we humans must become angels for one another – angels who lead us from the wrong path and guide us once again towards God…..A bishop must be a man of prayer, who intercedes on behalf of mankind with God”....

Michael (“Who is as God?”) “defends the cause of the one God against the dragon’s presumption, the “ancient serpent” as his called by John. It is the serpent’s continuous attempts to make men believe that God must disappear, in order for making to obtain greatness; that God stands in the way of our freedom and so we must be rid of Him”.

In reality, explains the pontiff, “he who puts God aside, does not make mankind great, rather he denies mankind his dignity. And thus, man becomes an unsuccessful product of evolution”.

This is why, adds the pope; “it is the Bishop’s duty, as a man of God, to make space in the world for God against those who would negate Him and in doing so defend the greatness of man”. And again: “Faith in God defends man from all of his weaknesses and inadequacies: God’s radiance shines on every individual”....

“The book of Tobias – added the pope – speaks of the healing of blind eyes. We all know that today we are threatened with blindness to God…… healing this blinded through the message of the faith and witness of love, is Raphael’s service which is entrusted each and every day to priests and in a particular way to bishops. Thus we are spontaneously led to think of the sacrament of reconciliation and penitence, which in the deepest meaning of the word, is a healing sacrament. The true wound of the soul, in fact is sin. And only is a forgiveness in virtue of the power of God, in virtue of the power of Christ’s love exists, can we be healed, can we be redeemed”.

In other "musical curialists" (i.e. chair-shifting) news, Il Giornale's Andrea Tornielli reported at the weekend that the much-foreseen transfer of the longtime Master of Papal Liturgical Ceremonies Archbishop Piero Marini will come this week, likely as soon as tomorrow.

Prior reports have tipped Genovese Msgr Guido Marini -- a former private secretary to the "Vice-Pope" Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone -- as the new supremo of the Cappella Papale, the public liturgies of the "Papal Chapel."

Previously an official of the Prefecture of the Papal Household, a Maltese priest, Msgr Alfred Xuereb, recently took up his duties as B16's deputy private secretary in succession to the newly-anointed Archbishop Mietek.

PHOTO 1: AP/Pier Paolo Cito
PHOTO 2: Reuters/Dario Pignatelli