24 June 2008

S John Baptist

My Name Day. Am I the only person who observes his Name Day with more enthusiasm than his birthday? Today I say the Johannine Mysteries of the Holy Rosary (The Annunciation to Zacharias; The Visitation; The Nativity of S JB; The Lord's Baptism; The Decollation) and, Deo volente, have supper this evening with my bishop. Incidentally, without in the least wishing to denigrate the cult of S Joseph, I do rather feel that in our Counter-Reformation Latin Christian culture it has slightly overshadowed the perhaps more primitive and ecumenical cult of S John Baptist, the greatest of the Old Covenant and a reminder of our kinship with the People of the Prophets.

I think next Monday is the twentieth anniversary of the Econne Consecrations; we pray for bishops, priests and seminarians of the SSPX and their lay adherents. And for Benedict XVI who has extended such a generous hand of reconciliation to them. I suspect it is not always realised what an agony it must be for him, on the one hand, to feel he must attempt a collegial and consensual exercise of the Petrine Ministry with his Venerable Brethren, and, on the other hand, to believe (as he said after his inauguration) that he, before all others, will be asked to give an account of what he has done for Christian Unity. We know how many of his Bishops are doubtful about initiatives to Lefebvreists or to Catholic Anglicans; and we remember how Cardinal Ratzinger observed in the early 1990s 'What are the [English RC] bishops so afraid of?' May we have the grace, on our part, to be prepared to accept with love what the Spirit is doing through him.

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