Bit by bit, the third edition of the Roman Missalis being introduced in parishes throughout the English-speaking world. 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 US making the transition told Catholic 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 Fr. 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, Fr. 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, Fr. 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.
New Roman Missal
Member conferences include the US, Canada, Ireland, England and Wales, Scotland, southern Africa (South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana), India, Pakistan, Philippines, New Zealand and Australia.
St. Augustine of Hippo is depicted in a stained-glass window in Crosier House in Phoenix. The fifth-century doctor of the church, perhaps known best for “Confessions,” an autobiographical account of his conversion to Christianity, now has a MySpace page, www.myspace.com/saintaugustineofhippo. (CNS photo/Crosiers)
On Aug. 28, the Catholic Church celebrated the life of St. Augustine of Hippo, the North African educator who became one of history’s greatest teachers of the faith after his dramatic conversion.
The story of Augustine’s upbringing and conversion is well-known to many through his autobiographical “Confessions.” In that work, Augustine recounts his birth in 354 to his pagan father, Patricius, and Catholic mother, Monica–later St. Monica–in the city of Tagaste. His parents’ difficult marriage included a dispute over whether to baptize their children.
Augustine was nearly baptized during a childhood illness, but his father withdrew permission when he recovered. During his adolescence, Monica’s Christian influence over her son’s life began to wane, giving way to the self-interested pursuit of a secular education and career as well as social acceptance and romantic love.
At age 16, Augustine traveled to Carthage to continue his education in rhetoric. There, the young student indulged the desires of his heart and flesh, though he later admitted that this way of life brought him pain and torment along with its pleasure and satisfaction. He was, as he later wrote, “scourged with the burning iron rods of jealousy, suspicion, fear, anger, and strife.”
In 371, Augustine’s father became a Catholic and received baptism. In his search for stability and meaning, however, Augustine became an adherent of the Manichaean religion. His entry into this sect, which regarded matter as evil and promoted “liberation” from the physical world, caused his mother intense grief. So, too, did Augustine’s fathering of an illegitimate child.
Haunted by questions about the nature of good and evil, Augustine became disillusioned with Manichaeism. He turned to the later followers of Plato, whose concept of God agreed in some areas with Catholic doctrine. Augustine also turned his ear to the preaching of St. Ambrose of Milan, whose sermons removed some of his difficulties in believing the Bible.
As a professor of the liberal arts, Augustine appreciated these intellectual arguments for God’s existence and Church teaching. Ultimately, however, his decision to be baptized would require a deeper conversion of his heart and will. This occurred in 386 when, at age 33, he tearfully agreed to abandon his personal vices and enter the Church.
Bishop of Hippo
The intellectually restless convert received baptism from St. Ambrose on Easter of 387, shortly before the death of his holy and beloved mother Monica. Having abandoned his academic career and sold his possessions, Augustine soon began his work as a Catholic apologist and theologian. Not long after, a group of local believers persuaded him to enter the priesthood, which he did in 391.
From 396 until his death, Augustine served as the Bishop of Hippo in North Africa. He led a religious order of men who lived in apostolic poverty without personal possessions. He also led the local Church through challenging times that included the breakdown of Roman imperial authority and widespread confusion about basic Catholic beliefs.
As a bishop, Augustine presented the faith in a compelling and intelligent manner, while warning his flock–both verbally and in writing–about the danger of different heresies. These errors included Arianism, the denial that Jesus is God; Donatism, the belief that corrupt clergy have no authority; and Pelagianism, which denied original sin and taught that humans could achieve their own salvation.
In the last years of his life, Augustine saw the old Roman imperial order undergo a violent and chaotic transition with an uncertain outcome. The Church, too, continued to struggle despite his and other bishops’ efforts. In the Vandal-besieged city of Hippo, St. Augustine died on Aug. 28, 430.
After his death, through the legacy of his writings, St. Augustine became the most influential theologian in the history of Western Christianity. Pope Benedict XVI, who once described the saint as his “traveling companion” in life and ministry, has devoted six general audiences to St. Augustine’s life and thought since his election.
In August 2010, the pope spoke of “an important aspect of [Augustine’s] human and Christian experience, which is also timely in our day.”
“All too often,” Pope Benedict said, “people prefer to live only the fleeting moment, deceiving themselves that it will bring lasting happiness; they prefer to live superficially, without thinking, because it seems easier; they are afraid to seek the truth or perhaps afraid that the truth will find us, will take hold of us, and change our life, as happened to St Augustine.”
St. Augustine’s life, the pope observed, teaches all people–even those weak or challenged in their faith–“not to be afraid of the truth, never to interrupt the journey toward it and never to stop searching for the profound truth about yourselves and other things with the inner eye of the heart. God will not fail to provide light to see by, and warmth to make the heart feel that he loves us and wants to be loved.”
Pope Benedict XVI told over a million young pilgrims to World Youth Day that the best way to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is through the Catholic Church.
“Following Jesus in faith means walking at his side in the communion of the Church. We cannot follow Jesus on our own,” he said in his homily at the event’s closing Mass at Cuarto Vientos airbase on the outskirts of Madrid.
“Anyone who would be tempted to do so ‘on his own,’ or to approach the life of faith with the kind of individualism so prevalent today, will risk never truly encountering Jesus, or will end up following a counterfeit Jesus.”
The pope delivered his sermon in the searing heat of the morning, a contrast to the thunderstorm he’d endured during a prayer vigil at the same venue the night before.
“I hope you were able to sleep a bit,” said the Pope to the young people just before Mass. He encouraged them to leave Madrid “firm in the faith,” in keeping with the event’s theme of becoming strongly rooted in Christ.
Remarkably, the young pilgrims seemed unfazed by both extremes of weather, greeting the Pope’s arrival with a sea of world flags and cheers of “El Papa! Viva!”
The pope drew his message from the day’s Gospel reading, in which St. Peter responds to Jesus’s question “Who do you say that I am?” with the answer, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Christ, in turn, proclaims: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.”
“The Church, then, is not simply a human institution, like any other. Rather, she is closely joined to God,” said the Pope.
“Christ himself speaks of her as ‘his’ Church. Christ cannot be separated from the Church any more than the head can be separated from the body. The Church does not draw her life from herself, but from the Lord.”
In the presence of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia of Spain, the pope said the Catholic Church is the answer to a question that often arises today.
“There are many people today who feel attracted by the figure of Christ and want to know him better,” realizing that “he is the answer to so many of our deepest concerns. But who is he really? How can someone who lived on this earth so long ago have anything in common with me today?”
The answer, said the pope, was Christ’s presence continuing through history in the Catholic Church.
The universality of that Church showed throughout the Mass, with readings and prayers delivered in an array of languages including Spanish, Italian, Polish, Arabic, Chinese, and the Church’s traditional Latin. In fact, like many World Youth Day events, the Papal liturgy combined traditional and more modern Catholic elements.
The pope told young people that they, like Peter, “have been given the extraordinary task of being disciples and missionaries of Christ”–in their case, missionaries to their peers who “are looking for something greater and, because their heart tells them that more authentic values do exist, they do not let themselves be seduced by the empty promises of a lifestyle which has no room for God.”
“The world needs the witness of your faith, it surely needs God,” said the pope, “I think that the presence here of so many young people, coming from all over the world, is a wonderful proof of the fruitfulness of Christ’s command to the Church: ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation.’”
The only disappointment for many pilgrims was that most were unable to receive Communion during Mass. This was due to the fact that many of the 17 Eucharistic chapels around the venue had blown down in last night’s storm while others had to be dismantled due to safety fears.
Pope Benedict ended by telling the young people that he prayed for them “with heartfelt affection,” that they would “grow in holiness of life” and “be effective witnesses to the truth that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God, the savior of all mankind and the living source of our hope. Amen.”