This is very much in line with Pope John Paul II's view: that there is no need for any new program. However, Bishop Sample highlighted two central themes that are, as it were, coming over the horizon:
- the renewal of the Sacred Liturgy
- the work of the New Evangelisation.
The Sacred Liturgy
Bishop Sample suggested that the new English translation of the Mass was an opportune time for the Church, for us, to set about the work of renewal and reform of the Sacred Liturgy, and that this is central to the work of the New Evangelisation.
The bishop placed himself clearly in the camp of Pope Benedict who spoke of the need for a reform of the reform long before becoming Pope. Some might say that the bishop just wants to take us back to the way things were before? The fact that he celebrates the Extraordinary Form of the Mass at the Cathedral every month has apparently created some waves. And the positioning of the Crucifix on the altar facing the celebrant has also provoked some comment. But there could be nothing further from the truth. Pope Benedict allowed a greater flourishing of the Extraordinary Form so that it would stand side by side with the Novus Ordo, that both forms might enrich one another.
It is a good time to take a step back and to examine: what has been good, what has been lost, what can we recover. "I'm following, I'm listening to Benedict XVI. I trust that the Holy Spirit guides our shepherd" Bishop Sample said.
|Priests pray silently before Mass.|
A forthcoming Pastoral Letter
Bishop Sample referred to a letter concerning the liturgy that he - with the help of others - is working on. In this letter he will examine:
- The Essence of the Liturgy
What is the Holy Mass? We do not create Liturgy. It is what it is. It has an objective and intrinsic meaning as both
- Sacred Banquet (as per St Thomas Aquinas - Sacrum Convivium).
- The Cosmic nature of the Liturgy
Pope Benedict discussed this in his book "The Spirit of the Liturgy". The Mass has an eschatological orientation. In the Mass we celebrate and commemorate what already is but await what is to come.
- Ars celebrandi
The Mass is the Sacramentum Caritatis.There is an art - ars - to its celebration. It should be beautiful, reflecting the beauty and greatness of God. We should appreciate the purpose and meaning of the words, gestures, vessels, the Cross on the altar, the orientation of prayer. The East is connected very much with the Cross. Our gaze - especially in the Eucharistic Prayer - must be fixed on Christ glorified on the Cross as we await his coming.
- Sacred Music
The renewal of the Sacred Liturgy is intimately connected with the renewal of Sacred Music and Bishop Sample will address this in his letter.
Also to be addressed are some practical points:
- some do's and don'ts;
- some things that need correcting;
- not to invent options.
The bishop advised us all to re-read the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) and the rubrics. He quoted Fr Z's blog, What Does the Prayer Really Say, and Fr Z's motto: "do the red, say the black." Chances are that if we re-read the GIRM and the rubrics, we will probably notice something that we either had not known, had forgotten or had overlooked.
We must celebrate the liturgy well. Then it will be the Church's liturgy, celebrated with beauty, prayerfully, reverently. "If we don't have the Liturgy, what do we have?"
|Bishop sample offering the chalice|
Bishop Sample referred the priests to his Holy Thursday Letter.
The letter of Pope John Paul II Novo Millennio Ineunte reminded us that the program for the New Evangelisation is contained in the Gospels. But there were seven pastoral priorities:
- the call to holiness
- prayer in the Church
- Sunday Mass
- the primacy of grace (not just our own efforts)
- listening to the Word
- proclaiming the Word.
Concerning prayer, the bishop commended the practice of the Holy Hour. "I beg you," he said, "to be men of prayer."
- preach about it.
- be available.
Pope Benedict has established a Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation and there is an upcoming Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelisation. Whilst we await guidance from these ecclesiastical organs, for us it is time to stop talking about the New Evangelisation and rather make it happen.
Whilts it is not about a new program we do need a strategic plan, and we need to develop it together. So perhaps there might be established a task force to focus on a diocesan plan, a strategy for the New Evangelisation, focussed on the 7 headings of NMI.
Our personal holiness really matters as priests. It makes all the difference in the Body of Christ. In the year of priests we were reminded that the effectiveness of the priestly ministry relies on the holiness of priests. If the priest is holy, the people are good. If the priest is good, the people are ok. If the priest is mediocre, God help the people!
We must be serious in our life of prayer, in our sacrifice, etc. The bishop confided to the priests that he prays and offers sacrifice for each priest in the diocese. His Friday Mass, fast, prayer, abstinence are all offered for the priests of the diocese. He asks Our Lady to pour out the Precious Blood and Water that flowed from her Son's side upon all the priests and that she would hold us close to her Immaculate Heart.
Bishop Sample also encouraged us to reach out to one another, to foster priestly friendships, to reach out to one whom we notice to be isolated, reclusive, etc. He encouraged support groups, and exhorted us to do all we can to be present at ordinations, the Chrism Mass, the funerals of our brother priests and of their parents.
|Bishop Sample preaching on the feast of St Bruno|
On the previous day, Bishop Sample invited all the priests to make the following Act of Consecration after the homily:
ACT OF CONSECRATION TO MARY
Mary, Mother of Jesus and Queen of Peace
since Jesus from the Cross
gave you to me,
I take you as my own.
And since Jesus gave me to you,
take me as your own.
Make me docile like Jesus on the Cross,
obedient to the Father,
trusting in humility and love.
Mary, my Mother,
in imitation of the Father,
who gave His Son to you,
I too give myself to you;
to you I entrust all that I am,
all that I have
and all that I do.
Help me to surrender ever more fully to the Spirit.
Lead me deeper into the Mystery of the Cross and Resurrection
and the fullness of the Church.
As you formed the heart of Jesus by the Spirit,
form my heart to be the throne of Jesus
in His glorious coming.
Bishop's Page of the Marquette diocesan website. Concerning his motto, we read the following:
For his motto, Bishop Sample uses the Latin phrase, “VULTUM CHRISTI CONTEMPLARI” (“to contemplate the face of Christ”). This theme is taken from the writings of Pope John Paul II (Novo Millennio Ineunte and Ecclesia de Eucharistia), in which the Holy Father reminded us that it is the task of the Church to make the face of Christ shine before the generations of the new millennium. The Holy Father further reflected: “Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated his face.”So the New Evangelisation has been at the heart of Bishop Sample's vision: that all may be led to the contemplation of the face of Christ.