Msgr. Smith to offer Sunday TLM at Silver Spring

A Low Mass will be offered this Sunday, January 1, at the Traditional Latin Mass Congregation of Silver Spring, Maryland. Reverend Monsignor K. Bartholomew Smith, pastor of St. Bernadette parish in Four Corners, will be the celebrant of the Mass of the Octave of the Nativity. This Mass has been added to our seven-day schedule.

Holy Mass will begin at 8:00 am. Confessions will be heard from 7:30 to 7:55 am.

Silver Spring TLM Congregation meets at the Historic Church of St. John the Evangelist, 9700 Rosensteel Avenue, Forest Glen. Ample free parking is available.

Ecumenical dialogue must present the timeless Faith frankly and constructively

From Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Pænitentia (1984):

In the light of the [Second Vatican] council and of the magisterium of my predecessors, whose precious inheritance I have received and am making every effort to preserve and put into effect, I can affirm that the Catholic Church at every level is committed to frank ecumenical dialogue, without facile optimism but also without distrust and without hesitation or delays. The fundamental laws which she seeks to follow in this dialogue are, on the one hand, the conviction that only a spiritual ecumenism—namely an ecumenism founded on common prayer and in a common docility to the one Lord—enables us to make a sincere and serious response to the other exigencies of ecumenical action.126 The other law is the conviction that a certain facile irenicism in doctrinal and especially dogmatic matters could perhaps lead to a form of superficial and short-lived coexistence, but it could not lead to that profound and stable communion which we all long for. This communion will be reached at the hour willed by divine providence. But in order to reach it, the Catholic Church, for her part, knows that she must be open and sensitive to all “the truly Christian endowments from our common heritage which are to be found among our separated brethren”;127 but she also knows that she must likewise base a frank and constructive dialogue upon a clarity regarding her own positions and upon fidelity and consistency with the faith transmitted and defined in accordance with the perennial tradition of her magisterium. Notwithstanding the threat of a certain defeatism and despite the inevitable slowness which rashness could never correct, the Catholic Church continues with all other Christian brethren to seek the paths to unity, and with the followers of the other religions she continues to seek to have sincere dialogue. May this inter-religious dialogue lead to the overcoming of all attitudes of hostility, distrust, mutual condemnation and even mutual invective, which is the precondition for encounter at least in faith in one God and in the certainty of eternal life for the immortal soul. May the Lord especially grant that ecumenical dialogue will also lead to a sincere reconciliation concerning everything that we already have in common with the other Christian churches—faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, our savior and Lord; a listening to the word; the study of revelation and the sacrament of baptism.

To the extent to which the church is capable of generating active harmony—unity in variety—within herself and of offering herself as a witness to and humble servant of reconciliation with the other churches and ecclesial communities and the other religions, she becomes, in the expressive definition of St. Augustine, a “reconciled world.”128 Then she will be able to be a sign of reconciliation in the world and for the world.

126 Cf Unitatis Redintegratio, 7-8.
127 Ibid., 4.
128 St. Augustine, Sermo 96, 7: Patrologiae Cursus completus, Series Latina 38, 588.

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Authentic ecumenical dialogue is grounded in the Church’s Magisterium

From Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Pænitentia (1984):

Pastoral dialogue aimed at reconciliation continues to be today a fundamental task of the church in different spheres and at different levels.

The church in the first place promotes an ecumenical dialogue, that is, with churches and ecclesial communities which profess faith in Christ, the Son of God and only savior. She also promotes dialogue with the other communities of people who are seeking God and wish to have a relationship of communion with him.

At the basis of this dialogue with the other churches and Christian communities and with the other religions, and as a condition of her credibility and effectiveness, there must be a sincere effort of permanent and renewed dialogue within the Catholic Church herself. She is aware that, by her nature, she is the sacrament of the universal communion of charity;124 but she is equally aware of the tensions within her, tensions which risk becoming factors of division.

The heartfelt and determined invitation which was already extended by my predecessor in preparation for the 1975 Holy Year125 is also valid at the present moment. In order to overcome conflicts and to ensure that normal tensions do not prove harmful to the unity of the church, we must all apply to ourselves the word of God; we must relinquish our own subjective views and seek the truth where it is to be found, namely in the divine word itself and in the authentic interpretation of that word provided by the magisterium of the church. In this light, listening to one another, respect, refraining from all hasty judgments, patience, the ability to avoid subordinating the faith which unites to the opinions, fashions and ideological choices which divide—these are all qualities of a dialogue within the church which must be persevering, open and sincere. Obviously dialogue would not have these qualities and would not become a factor of reconciliation if the magisterium were not heeded and accepted.

Thus actively engaged in seeking her own internal communion, the Catholic Church can address an appeal for reconciliation to the other churches with which there does not exist full communion, as well as to the other religions and even to all those who are seeking God with a sincere heart. This she has been doing for some time.

124 Lumen Gentium, I, 9,13.
125 Pope Paul VI, apostolic exhortation Paterna Cum Benevolentia: Acta Apostolicæ Sedis 67 (1975), 5-23.

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Through dialogue, the Church carries forward Her mission to today’s world

From Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Pænitentia (1984):

In order to promote penance and reconciliation, the church has at her disposal two principal means which were entrusted to her by her founder himself: catechesis and the sacraments. Their use has always been considered by the church as fully in harmony with the requirements of her salvific mission and at the same time as corresponding to the requirements and spiritual needs of people in all ages. This use can be in forms and ways both old and new, among which it will be a good idea to remember in particular what we can call, in the expression of my predecessor Paul VI, the method of dialogue.

For the church, dialogue is in a certain sense a means and especially a way of carrying out her activity in the modern world.

The Second Vatican Council proclaims that “the church, by virtue of her mission to shed on the whole world the radiance of the gospel message, and to unify under one Spirit all people . . . stands forth as a sign of that fraternal solidarity which allows honest dialogue and invigorates it.” The council adds that the church should be capable of “establishing an ever more fruitful dialogue among all those who compose the one people of God” and also of “establishing a dialogue with human society.”122

My predecessor Paul VI devoted to dialogue a considerable part of his first encyclical, Ecclesism Suam, in which he describes it and significantly characterizes it as the dialogue of salvation.123

The church in fact uses the method of dialogue in order the better to lead people—both those who through baptism and the profession of faith acknowledge their membership of the Christian community and also those who are outside—to conversion and repentance, along the path of a profound renewal of their own consciences and lives in the light of the mystery of the redemption and salvation accomplished by Christ and entrusted to the ministry of his church. Authentic dialogue, therefore, is aimed above all at the rebirth of individuals through interior conversion and repentance, but always with profound respect for consciences and with patience and at the step-by-step pace indispensable for modern conditions.

122 Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church Christus Dominus, 13; cf Declaration on Christian Education Gravissimum Educationis, 8; Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity Ad Gentes, 11-12.
123 Cf Pope Paul VI, Ecclesiam Suam, III: Acta Apostolicæ Sedis 56 (1964), 639-659.

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The Church’s pastors exercise an active mission of penance and reconciliation

From Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Pænitentia (1984):

To evoke conversion and penance in man’s heart and to offer him the gift of reconciliation is the specific mission of the church as she continues the redemptive work of her divine founder. It is not a mission which consists merely of a few theoretical statements and the putting forward of an ethical ideal unaccompanied by the energy with which to carry it out. Rather it seeks to express itself in precise ministerial functions directed toward a concrete practice of penance and reconciliation.

We can call this ministry, which is founded on and illumined by the principles of faith which we have explained and which is directed toward precise objectives and sustained by adequate means, the pastoral activity of penance and reconciliation. Its point of departure is the church’s conviction that man, to whom every form of pastoral activity is directed but principally that of penance and reconciliation, is the man marked by sin whose striking image is to be found in King David. Rebuked by the prophet Nathan, David faces squarely his own iniquity and confesses: “I have sinned against the Lord,”115 and proclaims: “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.”116 But he also prays: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow,”117 and he receives the response of the divine mercy: “The Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die.”118

The church thus finds herself face to face with man—with the whole human world—wounded by sin and affected by sin in the innermost depths of his being. But at the same time he is moved by an unrestrainable desire to be freed from sin and, especially if he is a Christian, he is aware that the mystery of pietas, Christ the Lord, is already acting in him and in the world by the power of the redemption.

The church’s reconciling role must therefore be carried out in accordance with that intimate link which closely connects the forgiveness and remission of the sin of each person with the fundamental and full reconciliation of humanity which took place with the redemption. This link helps us to understand that, since sin is the active principle of division—division between man and the nature created by God—only conversion from sin is capable of bringing about a profound and lasting reconciliation wherever division has penetrated.

I do not need to repeat what I have already said about the importance of this “ministry of reconciliation,”119 and of the pastoral activity whereby it is carried out in the church’s consciousness and life. This pastoral activity would be lacking an essential aspect of its being and failing in an indispensable function if the “message of reconciliation”120 were not proclaimed with clarity and tenacity in season and out of season, and if the gift of reconciliation were not offered to the world. But it is worth repeating that the importance of the ecclesial service of reconciliation extends beyond the confines of the church to the whole world.

To speak of the pastoral activity of penance and reconciliation, then, is to refer to all the tasks incumbent on the church, at all levels, for their promotion. More concretely, to speak of this pastoral activity is to evoke all the activities whereby the church, through each and every one of her members—pastors and faithful, at all levels and in all spheres, and with all the means at her disposal, words and actions, teaching and prayer—leads people individually or as groups to true penance and thus sets them on the path to full reconciliation.

115 2 Sm 12:13.
116 Ps 51(50):3.
117 Ps 51(50):7.
118 2 Sm 12:13.
119 Cf 2 Cor 5:18.
120 Cf 2 Cor 5:19.

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Though sin plagues our lives, it cannot quench God’s infinite mercy

From Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Pænitentia (1984):

Thus the word of Scripture, as it reveals to us the mystery of pietas, opens the intellect to conversion and reconciliation, understood not as lofty abstractions but as concrete Christian values to be achieved in our daily lives.

Deceived by the loss of the sense of sin and at times tempted by an illusion of sinlessness which is not at all Christian, the people of today too need to listen again to St. John’s admonition, as addressed to each one of them personally: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,”110 and indeed, “the whole world is in the power of the evil one.”111 Every individual therefore is invited by the voice of divine truth to examine realistically his or her conscience and to confess that he or she has been brought forth in iniquity, as we say in the Miserere psalm.112

Nevertheless, though threatened by fear and despair, the people of today can feel uplifted by the divine promise which opens to them the hope of full reconciliation.

The mystery of pietas, on God’s part, is that mercy in which our Lord and Father—I repeat it again—is infinitely rich.113 As I said in my encyclical on the subject of divine mercy,114 it is a love more powerful than sin, stronger than death. When we realize that God’s love for us does not cease in the face of our sin or recoil before our offenses, but becomes even mere attentive and generous; when we realize that this love went so far as to cause the passion and death of the Word made flesh who consented to redeem us at the price of his own blood, then we exclaim in gratitude: “Yes, the Lord is rich in mercy,” and even: “The Lord is mercy.”

The mystery of pietas is the path opened by divine mercy to a reconciled life.

110 1 Jn 1:8.
111 1 Jn 5:19.
112 Cf Ps. 51(50):5.
113 Cf Eph. 2:4.
114 Cf Pope John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia, 8; 15: Acta Apostolicæ Sedis 72 (1980), 1203-1207; 1231.

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Born of God, we are called to renounce sin

From Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Pænitentia (1984):

But there is another aspect to the mysterium pietatis: The loving kindness of God toward the Christian must be matched by the piety of the Christian toward God. In this second meaning of the word, piety (eusebeia) means precisely the conduct of the Christian who responds to God’s fatherly loving kindness with his own filial Piety.

In this sense too we can say with St. Paul that “great indeed is the mystery of our religion.” In this sense too piety, as a force for conversion and reconciliation, confronts iniquity and sin. In this case too the essential aspects of the mystery of Christ are the object of piety in the sense that the Christian accepts the mystery, contemplates it and draws from it the spiritual strength necessary for living according to the Gospel. Here too one must say that “no one born of God commits sin”; but the expression has an imperative sense: Sustained by the mystery of Christ as by an interior source of spiritual energy, the Christian, being a child of God, is warned not to sin and indeed receives the commandment not to sin but to live in a manner worthy of “the house of God, that is, the church of the living God.”109

109 1 Tm 3:15.

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The redemptive reality of Christ pierces to our core to free us from sin

From Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Pænitentia (1984):

It is profoundly significant that when Paul presents this mysterium pietatis he simply transcribes, without making a grammatical link with what he has just written,105 three lines of a Christological hymn which—in the opinion of authoritative scholars—was used in the Greek-speaking Christian communities.

In the words of that hymn, full of theological content and rich in noble beauty, those first-century believers professed their faith in the mystery of Christ, whereby:

  • He was made manifest in the reality of human flesh and was constituted by the Holy Spirit as the Just One who offers himself for the unjust.
  • He appeared to the angels, having been made greater than them, and he was preached to the nations as the bearer of salvation.
  • He was believed in, in the world, as the one sent by the Father, and by the same Father assumed into heaven as Lord.106

The mystery or sacrament of pietas, therefore, is the very mystery of Christ. It is, in a striking summary, the mystery of the incarnation and redemption, of the full passover of Jesus, the Son of God and son of Mary: the mystery of his passion and death, of his resurrection and glorification. What St. Paul in quoting the phrases of the hymn wished to emphasize was that this mystery is the hidden vital principle which makes the church the house of God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Following the Pauline teaching, we can affirm that this same mystery of God’s infinite loving kindness toward us is capable of penetrating to the hidden roots of our iniquity in order to evoke in the soul a movement of conversion, in order to redeem it and set it on course toward reconciliation.

St. John too undoubtedly referring to this mystery, but in his own characteristic language which differs from St. Paul’s, was able to write that “anyone born of God does not sin, but he who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.”107 In this Johannine affirmation there is an indication of hope, based on the divine promises: The Christian has received the guarantee and the necessary strength not to sin. It is not a question therefore of a sinlessness acquired through one’s own virtue or even inherent in man, as the Gnostics thought. It is a result of God’s action. In order not to sin the Christian has knowledge of God, as St. John reminds us in this same passage. But a little before he had written: “No one born of God commits sin; for God’s seed abides in him.”108 If by “God’s seed” we understand, as some commentators suggest, Jesus the Son of God, then we can say that in order not to sin or in order to gain freedom from sin the Christian has within himself the presence of Christ and the mystery of Christ, which is the mystery of God’s loving kindness.

105 The text presents a certain difficulty, since the relative pronoun which opens the literal translation does not agree with the neuter mysterion. Some late manuscripts have adjusted the text in order to correct the grammar. But it was Paul’s intention merely to put next to what he had written a venerable text which for him was fully explanatory.
106 The early Christian community expresses its faith in the crucified and glorified Christ, whom the angels adore and who is the Lord. But the striking element of this message remains the phrase ‘manifested in the flesh’: that the eternal Son of God became man is the ‘great mystery’.
107 1 Jn 5:18f.
108 1 Jn 3:9.

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Fr. Langevin to celebrate Christmas TLM at Silver Spring

A Low Mass in the Dominican Rite will be offered Sunday morning, December 25, at the Traditional Latin Mass Congregation of Silver Spring, Maryland. The celebrant of the Christmas Mass at Dawn will be Reverend Father Dominic Langevin op, Instructor in Systematic Theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington.

Holy Mass will begin at 8:00 am.  Confessions will be heard from 7:10 to 7:55 am.

Silver Spring TLM Congregation meets at the Historic Church of St. John the Evangelist, 9700 Rosensteel Avenue, Forest Glen. Ample free parking is available.