4 October 2018

A unique grace of the Holy Spirit?

So there I was, the other day, strolling down St Giles without a care in the world. I had just stocked up at the World's premier Deli, Manos in Walton Street. As I had passed the Tower of the Winds (American readers may be more familiar with a copy of this building in Athens), I had looked over the new statue of Dr Radcliffe ... no; it's not worthy of such a great man; nor a fitting monument to the great age of Oxonian Jacobitism. But then, what do you expect? Redeat magnus ille genius Britanniae ...

Then I stopped as I recognised a brother priest. After Rome, Oxford must be one of the most priested cities in the World. Urbs felicissima. We Exchanged Fellowship. "When you get home", he advised me, "have gin. A very, very stiff gin. Then another. Then read the Communique of the CBCEW just issued at the end of their ad limina  visit to the Holy See. Then have some more gin".

I always do my best to take the advice of brother clergy. I have profound confidence in their sacerdotal wisdom.

I soon saw what he meant about the gin.

The Communique includes a passage which seemed to me familiar: "[PF] is indeed gifted with a unique grace of the the Holy Spirit of God. Even in this time of turmoil, the Holy Father is so clearly rooted in God and blessed by God. His peace is secure. His life is serene. We know, because he showed us his heart. It is the heart of a loving father. In our turn, we affirmed our deep communion with him and promised him our love, support, and prayers. We expressed confidently these sentiments on behalf of all the faithful Catholics of England and Wales."

It seemed familiar because it is manifestly from the same drafting hand which composed a letter to PF on the fourth anniversary of his election to the Throne of S Peter. "On behalf of the Catholic Community of England and Wales ... we thank God that the Holy Spirit guided the Church in the process of your election and that the same Holy Spirit guides and supports you day by day".

I would have to concede that such statements are probably not formally heretical. After all, each of the Baptised is gifted with a grace of the Holy Spirit which must be unique; crafted specifically for each differently created and variously loved individual. Praised be to God for this.

But  if these encomia are meant to have any meaning beyond that of sycophantic woffle, then give me instead  ... any day of the year ... the robust common sense and deft Bavarian humour with which Pope Benedict XVI responded when some fool of a journalist asked him whether the Holy Spirit guided Papal Conclaves.

Call me an unfaithful Catholic if you like, but I have no desire to be associated with these papolatrous statements implying that the Holy Spirit is the private personal bailiwick of PF. They seem to me to come close to blasphemy.

Nor am I very clear what is meant by "deep communion". I think I understand "communion" as a theological and canonical concept. I think I know the difference between being in full, and being in unfull, communion with the Church. But what on earth are these gradations of deepness in the matter of Communio?

"Are you in Communion with the See of Rome!" "Up to a point, Lord Copper".


Fr. David Evans said...

I want to die like my father, serenely in his sleep, not screaming and terrified, like his passengers. ( with thanks to Bob Monkhouse)

Sue Sims said...

Yiddish is useful for pithy comments. My father would have said: "A groyse oylem, und nito eyn mensch." A great crowd (of people), and not a single honest man.

william arthurs said...

An analogy: communion for Protestant spouses of Catholics. Pastorally, if you think of a checklist approach, the question is whether the spouse agrees with enough items to be admissible. (If they agreed with everything, why then they should be seeking to be received into the Catholic Church and this situation would not arise. So the answer could never be 100 per cent.) The more items you agree with, the deeper your communion could be said to be. The only remaining question is, what is the checklist? A printed copy of the Catechism is like a first-year undergraduate law textbook -- by the time you get to practise, it will already be out-of-date thanks to new cases and new rulings. I can't keep up to date these days -- that's why there are professionals whose job it is to keep on top of all the new stuff and tell me what I need to know. Thank goodness.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

We know he is serene
We can see it in his face
Its attested to by Max Beans
Francis is a volcano of holy grace

Ben of the Bayou said...

Surely, dear Father Hunwicke, one of your learned readers might recall the precise passage, but the particular phraseology of this communiqué sounded some bells deep in my memory. I haven't my library with me at present, and so I cannot hunt up the book, but it seems to me that this talk of "at peace in this present crisis" is strongly reminiscent, if not identical, to the words put in the mouth of a certain antagonist (a certain Julian F) in Msgr. R.H. Benson's excellent novel, "Lord of the World." And, stay, did not PF himself mention this book?

I sorely wish I had the resources to find the precise reference, but I feel in my bones that the likeness (if not identity) is there. Perhaps one of your good readers (if not yourself) knows the passage well.

armyarty said...

Gin seems an excellent choice.

Francis is like Haile Selassie. The humble one is all about his own power, and demands that he be fawned over, yet his power is slipping away. The words are meant to please, yet they have a comic opera quality to them. The palace courtiers will continue to utter their fawning phrases, but nobody will listen to them outside of the inner circle.

Francis' South American gambit did not work out, so now he is angling to use China as his path to world power. It is utterly vain. I have a better chance of being crowned King of Ireland than he has of being a world class power broker. Soon, he will die, of the usual ailments of old age, and even his toadies will repudiate his legacy.

Man proposes, God disposes. The name of Francis will become a by-word for failed popes, and the Church will go on, rejuvenated by the Paraclete, to follow Christ, and the novelties of the current pontificate will be utterly forgotten. Except by students of history, political science, organizational behavior, and abnormal psychology. His legacy will be to provide fodder for college lectures on abberant behavior.

Anita Moore said...

The encomia are indeed disturbing. They make Pope Francis sound like a cult leader.

Neil Addison said...

I first read the communique in Eccles is Saved and assumed it was a wind up. It's rather worrying to realise that grown men have actually put their names to this It reveals a great insecurity on the part of both the Pope and the Bishops that they feel the need to send out this sort of sycophantic clap trap

scotchlil said...

While in Sainsbury's earlier today we were relieved to see that the present incumbent of the See of Westminster is taking thought for his post- Francis future: we have done our little bit to help by purchasing a charming box of "Vinnie's Biscuits" - a snip at only £3.00 ("lovingly baked since 1853")

Donna Bethell said...

Oh, dear. I first saw the referenced text quoted by the inestimable Eccles (the Saved One) and I naturally took it to be the usual over-the-top parody of his own composition. Do you mean it is not?

Donna Bethell said...

Well, they are not my bishops, so I don't need so much gin as the good Father. Then I quickly considered who are my bishops and reached again for the Tanqueray. Hands across the pond, as it were.

Peter said...

I recall that Mgr Quixote's friend Sancho explained to the Guardia that the Mgr. would say several prayers at the tomb of Franco. "One would scarcely be enough."

John the Mad said...

Sadly, I find myself not in communion with the See of Rome. I'm not sure exactly when this happened in the midst of papal insults and exhortations, but I remain where I was, a lifelong practicing Catholic. It is the Holy See that has moved, in the person of this pontiff.

I've stopped receiving communion, as I cannot accede to part of the Eucharistic prayer, e.g., "Be pleased to grant her peace, to guard, unite and govern her throughout the whole world, together with your servant Francis our Pope ...." (I cannot consent to the last seven words).

It is not a happy place to be. (Where Lord, would I go? You have the words of life.) I believe with all my heart and intellect that the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ and that the Catholic Church is the Church founded by Christ, but I cannot accompany this pope on his route march to destruction. I find myself a part of the loyal opposition.

Ben of the Bayou said...

My dear Father H,

Did you find the comment I proffered to veer too far into some kooky End-times theory? It certainly was not meant in that style, but only to point up an oddly (and possible) literary parallel. I cannot think of any other reason that my comment would not appear.

Have I overlooked some other essential feature of commenting here on your blog?



Unknown said...

Excommunicating yourself because of a bad Pope doesn't seem like a good idea to me. Remember that Christ is the head of the Church , not the Pope. We should pray for him - although I agree it isn't easy. Exsurgat Deus et dissipentur inimici eius.