23 November 2009
St. Clement I, Papal Authority, The Consecrated Life and the Value of Prayer, Dom Gueranger, "Modernist" Trinitarian Formulae, and Other Related Items
Today is the Feast of St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr--the third successor of St. Peter. St. Clement is best remembered, perhaps, for leaving the clearest and earliest historical record of exercising the universal Petrine authority over matters outside of the Diocese of Rome. Dom Gueranger writes about this incident, involving the church of Corinth seeking to settle a particularly contentious issue within its boundaries:
The Corinthians at last felt the necessity of putting an end to a disorder that might be prejudicial to the extension of the Christian faith; and for this purpose it was requisite to seek assistance from outside. The apostles had all departed this life, except St. John, who was still the light of the Church. It was no great distance from Corinth to Ephesus where the apostle resided: yet it was not to Ephesus but to Rome that the church of Corinth turned.
St. Clement claimed authority, used his authority, and his authority was accepted. All this in the first century A.D. Papal authority certainly existed-- and almost certainly was exercised over churches outside Rome-- from the very beginning of the office. But this record contained in St. Clement's letter to the Corinthians while even yet an apostle of Jesus Christ still lived, stands as evidence of a most important kind.
St. Clement also wrote about the laudable life of the consecrated virgin. In the entry for the Presentation of Mary a few days ago, Dom Prosper Gueranger wisely remarked that "the world, unknown to itself, is ruled by the secret prayers of the just." Pope Clement certainly understood this to be true of the consecrated religious. Anticipating the great doctors of Christian virginity--SS. Athanasius, Jerome, Ambrose and others, he wrote as follows:
"He or she who aspires to this higher life, must lead like the angels an existence all divine and heavenly. The virgin cuts herself off from the allurements of the senses; not only does she renounce the right to their even lawful use, but she aspires to that hope which God, who can never deceive, encourages by His promise, and which far surpasses the natural hope of posterity. In return for her generous sacrifice, her portion in heaven is the very happiness of the angels."
These words brought to mind that I would continue to ask for prayers for all consecrated religious, but especially the Sisters Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus Christ Sovereign Priest and their new foundation in St. Louis. These gentle and holy sisters bring the blessing of God, invoke His favor and mercy, and forestall His righteous anger, in a way that we cannot perceive. They give us their "secret prayers of the just".
Back to St. Clement I. Like so many faithful Catholics, especially the early Popes, he paid the price of the faith with his life-- the emperor Trajan had him exiled, and later cast into the sea tied to an anchor. Miraculously, his body was delivered up by the ocean when the sea receded three miles, revealing his body in a marble tomb on the floor of the sea. Hence the anchor graphic, above.
Finally, I wanted to thank Delena, who came to see us in St. Louis this past weekend. Sharon and I had a great time visiting with her and her cool husband and sons. In the middle of a nice dinner with plenty of alcohol (but not enough to trigger a trip to the confessional) she unloads this bombshell: she says Holy Spirit instead of Holy Ghost.
My brother was quick to point out that she is, of course, a modernist.
Now, I realize that saying Holy Spirit doesn't really make you a modernist, so no hate mail, please. Well, not by itself, anyway. Just kidding! It really is a weird phenomenon, isn't it? I know there was no magic diktat from the Second Vatican Council to switch from Ghost to Spirit, but it seems to be the time period when the switch occurred. Spirit is derived from the Latin Spiritus while Ghost comes from the old English Gast, and similar to the German Geist.
The real reason I brought it up is to provide the fodder for my next poll. Do you say Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost? My guess is that people who identify themselves as traditional Catholics tend to say Ghost, yet not uniformly so. My other guess is that Catholics not described above say Spirit almost exclusively. Let's see if I am right.
The last poll, while not immensely popular, did prove that by a 2-to-1 margin you do not like my vest. Too bad, I'm wearing it anyway.