{    Cnytr   }

{Wednesday, February 27, 2013  }

.:{Benedictus qui venit }:.

"After the great Pope John Paul II, the Lord Cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble laborer in the vineyard of the Lord..."

On Facebook, the Ironic Catholic has asked, on this eve of the final day of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy, to post some of our favorite memories, a favorite paragraph, etc. as a sort of a tribute to our dear Pope.

I'll never forget that "Papal April" in 2005, as it was dubbed. I had just returned from my semester abroad in Rome and felt a kinship and a closeness with Rome and with my faith like never before. It was quite something for a young Catholic to be so surrounded very close and very physically with the fundamentals of the Faith ALL the time, up to and including a walk that would include strolling by St. Peter's square in the middle of a Papal audience and oh, hey, there's Pope John Paul II! Just astounding.

And so it was when Blessed JPII passed away, it was heart-wrenching. The bells tolled in the middle of a Saturday across the UD campus. I never wanted to hear that sound. It was like losing a beloved father or grandfather. I think we all went through the stages of mourning. I was rather glued to my blog at the time and blogged absolutely EVERYthing, as it was all totally new to me. I woke up in the middle of the night (or very early in the morning, depending on how you look at it) to watch the papal funeral, to listen to my friends still in Rome speak to the media, and to listen to Vatican Radio online. When the conclave started, of course the byword was that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was a shoo-in. Many had their doubts (personally I thought he was so obvious a choice that he had to be #2; Cardinal Schoenborn was who I wanted to see on the loggia, at that time) including, it seemed, Joseph Ratzinger himself. All he wanted, it was said, was to retire to Germany with his brother and live out his days in prayer, study, and in playing Mozart on his piano.

It was all too charming to be true.

I think it was a Tuesday that there was white smoke. I first heard the buzz right before class, and I asked the professor if he was going to cancel. He said no, to my shock (though I wonder how much I could have expected him to say yes). However I'm sure he wasn't surprised when I was gone by the end of class. Because I mean -- white smoke!!

I and several other students gathered around a tiny TV inside the campus security office of the main building. All over the world people were hunching together to do the same. Some were running to St. Peter's square itself. The sense of joy and anticipation was palpable, almost painful! HURRY UP ALREADY, WHO IS IT? And then came the "Annuntio vobis gaudiam mangnam -- habemus papam!" Even though we knew that was coming we EXPLODED with joy! And again when, after the tense "Eminentissimum ac reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum Josephum" -- okay ... Joseph ... WHO WAS JOSEPH WHICH ONE ARGH TELL US ALREADY .... "Sactae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem .... Ratzinger!" YAY!!!! We jumped up and down, we hugged, and there was the small figure on the balcony -- black still visible under the new Papal white (I'm sure he was vested in a hurry) -- and he said these words to us:

Cari fratelli e sorelle, dopo il grande papa Giovanni Paolo II, i signori cardinali hanno eletto me, un semplice ed umile lavoratore nella vigna del Signore.

It was so beautiful, so simple, so humble. And oh, so heartbreaking to hear Cardinal Bertone's farewell upon hearing the news of the abdication of this ailing and tired worker:

“The Eucharist is to give thanks to God. This evening we would like to thank the Lord for the path that the entire Church has taken under the guidance of Your Holiness, and we would like to tell him from the bottom of our hearts, with great affection, commotion and admiration: thank you for having given us a bright example of a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord, a worker, however, that has known at each moment to do what was most important: bring God to man and man to God.”

Indeed, humility has marked Benedict's papacy at every turn. Anyone who says otherwise has not been paying attention. It is comforting that he will be close to us in prayer in these latter days. I have found myself in so much anxiety since he announced his abdication just a few short weeks ago. But then I think of his first homily at his inaugural Mass. These words spoke very deeply to me then, as they do now, and I think they always will:

Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? And once again the Pope [John Paul II] said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.

Amen. Thank you, Holy Father.
posted by Lauren, 11:47 PM | link | 1 comments

{Monday, February 25, 2013  }

.:{Ad te levavi}:.

Right as I said I'm no longer thinking the same sort of thoughts as when I was studying, I came across a huge cache (thank you, Pinterest!) of Medieval illuminations. This one, from a 14th century manuscript from the Netharlands, was too striking not to post.

Plus, the description given on its page on the collections leaves something to be desired:

Cut-out initial A illuminated in water-based pigment on parchment with a gold-leaf background with cusped outline. This historiated initial shows tonsured priest with a white habit kneeling before an altar. His hands are raised in prayer as he performs the Elevation of the Host, and offers his soul up to God. God the Father blesses from clouds above. The left bar of the initial A is formed from a dragon, it's neck is elongated and stretches along the top, so that the dragon's head comes out at the top right corner of the initial. The right bar of the initial is a column with a red, blue and gold chequered pattern and the cross bar is red with blue outline and white decoration. The initial is set against a gold, blue and white chequered background below the cross bar and foliage with acorns above. A dog stands in the top margin and there is further decoration of grotesque heads, flowers and foliage in red, white, blue and green.

Yes to that, but of course it misses the point. This is not just the priest "offering his soul to God", this is the very moment of transubstantiation, of Christ's "do this in memory of me". This image is working hard to affirm the Truth of the faith, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, who is as Vatican II put it, the "source and summit" of the Christian life. Christ is the fruitful vine (which we see above the crossbar in the "A"), the New Adam who creates us all anew (the blessing God the Father at least recalls to my mind the creation, and thus in this context the New Creation).

Ad te levavi oculos meos, qui habitas in coelis. Ecce sicut oculi servorum in manibus dominorum suorum, sicut oculi ancillae in manibus dominae suae, ita oculi nostri ad Dominum Deum nostrum, donec misereatur nostri. Miserere nostri, Domine quia multum repleti sumus despectione.

I have lifted my eyes up unto you, who dwell in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hands of their masters; And as the eyes of a maidservant to the hands of her mistress; So do our eyes look unto the Lord our God until he have mercy on us. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.

This is the "Ad te levavi" from the first sunday of Advent that accompanies the "A":

posted by Lauren, 11:48 AM | link | 0 comments

{Saturday, February 16, 2013  }

.:{Anyone still there? *tap tap* }:.

There seems to be a flurry of activity among the comments of old posts lately. While I never consider Cnytr defunct (I'll probably always be here to respond to comments at least), I have two small children now and I'm afraid the very little amount that I sleep isn't exactly conducive to thinking the same kind of thoughts that I did when I was studying. I'd rather not turn this into a mommy-blog, as there are plenty of them and with better ideas than anything I could come up with. So maybe I'll post once in a blue moon. I've got almost no followers now (truth be told, I originally started this blog for a small group of friends; I have that same kind of audience now on Facebook which far more suits my purposes and my desire for quasi-anonymity from the world at large). This Lent, for many reasons, I am reading Marc Cardinal Ouellet book towards a Trinitarian anthropology of the family. Much digital "ink" is spilled on wordpress and blogger on the spirituality of modern motherhood and the family, but very little formally. I look forward to this as I also spend this Lent working on the changing spirituality of a married woman and mother of two (because yes, it has changed and totally upended itself from being a student and a single person. I wasn't exactly prepared for this change and am still trying to figure it out). Let us pray for one another, and let us also pray for our beloved Pope Benedict XVI as he prepares to abdicate his throne (I think he must be very ill indeed), and for our next pope.
posted by Lauren, 8:53 PM | link | 1 comments