11 September 2013

Triumphalism of the Cross?

This Saturday is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which also commemorates the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  

I mention this because of an observation made to me by a wise Catholic friend whom I hold in high regard.  I had asked this person for a quick take on some words spoken by Pope Francis in a homily the other day, criticizing "triumphalist Christians" who "do not believe deep down in the Risen One", with "their triumphalist attitudes, in their lives, in their speeches, in their pastoral theology, liturgy, so many things..."  While the Holy Father did not specifically identify who these persons were, you may have noticed that Catholics who love the traditional Mass are a little jumpy these days.  I do not comment about whether there is reason to be jumpy, but jumpy many are.

This person noted what I noted-- that the group is not identified, that spontaneous homilies are not ex cathedra pronouncements, etc.  So far I had figured out.

But then my friend made an observation that struck me forcibly as being incredibly profound.

This person wondered if the liturgy at St. Francis de Sales was so triumphalist, where people freeze in the Winter and faint from heat in the Summer.  In response I thought of the monetary, physical and spiritual hardships of so many triumphalist families that homeschool, or bear large numbers of children, or who drive so far to go to the Oratory, or who live in neighborhoods of doubtful security in order to be near the Mass.  And of those who are the off-scouring of polite society for trying to live their faith as best they can.

Then, my friend had this to say:

"I don't know anybody who celebrates the old rite today who can experience a triumph, except that of the cross."



Another Take said...


Fr. Andrew said...

When I read the quote I thought of Joel Olsteen and other "prosperity" gospel preachers. I'm sure that they are ripe all over South America and Africa as well, stealing from the Fold with their seductive corruptions of the Faith.

Check out the youtube of "Martyrs read Joel Olsteen tweets." By Lutherans, but hilarious.

Jane Chantal said...

The article that Another Take has linked to makes some excellent points, most particularly: How on earth can one be a Christian and not be triumphalist?! I do have difficulty, though, with the idea that God would choose to punish His people with a bad pope.

Wrt our current Holy Father, may God bless and guide him but hey -- at this point I have absolutely no idea what is going on, and the media haven't exactly been helpful in that regard.

It would be nice to think that, eventually, things will start to make sense. In the meantime, I cling to the puzzling, but presumably significant, fact that Joseph Ratzinger and Jorge Bergoglio were the two top vote-getters at the 2005 conclave.

excalibur said...

I'm really not sure what Francis I is aiming for or at. Now saying you can get to heaven without believing in God. Article on Drudge.

Anonymous said...

Timman, I think what you extrapolated from your dear friends observation is worth noting again. It is precisely the man in the pew living out his Faith amidst suffering and spiritual hardships burdened upon him by his very Church, and often times in holy silence and under uncomfortable conditions whom we are to emulate. The man in the pew recognizes that it is essential to hold fast to the Faith ... his sacrifices are no less important than any heroic Catholic of history who has taken it on the chin, the gut and the knee. Saint Paul and Saint Joseph come to mind.

And though this Holy Father reaches out to agnostics and atheists, it is the hope of many that he will also afford the same love and openness to those who follow the sacred traditions of the Church; to those who refuse to be a part of the novelty and destruction in play and to which he seems amiable.

Through it all though, I say thank God for the Institute, the Society and all who endeavor to preserve the Faith in It's purity. Who knows ... he may yet be the one who consecrates Russia to the Immaculate Heart as our Lady has requested, and has been waiting for now for nearly a hundred years.


Anonymous said...

Hmmmmmmm. . .

I have to admit that I am of several minds on the subjects raised here. Random thoughts:

- Part of me thinks that someone or maybe several someones at L'Osservatore Romano and Radio Vaticano charged with interpreting the Holy Father's off the cuff remarks into English enjoys poking Traddies with dog whistles like, evidently, "triumphalism" and the like. I'm not saying that the Holy Father's words are being misrepresented, necessarily, but translations can certainly be "shaded" to have very different connotations. And when you have a Pope who speaks off the cuff so frequently (and sometimes generically and breezily), and in languages other than English, this possibility can't be discounted.

- The papacy is a very, very political office, not in the sense of being the head of state involved in external politics (although certainly it is that, too), but more in the sense of having to govern a very unwieldy organization that includes many that are hostile to your goals. This is unfortunate, of course, but to operate, it is almost certain that Pope Francis has to build coalitions within the curia, and at certain times those coalitions must include some pretty unsavory characters. Practically speaking, there is no "imperial" papacy - whatever a Pope's powers may be, they are circumscribed by having to operate in a hyper-critical world where poor press can lose souls, no matter how correct. Most of Pope Francis' ex cathedra pronouncements, such as this one, are Rorschach blots - everyone can see in them what they want. Maybe that's by design?

- Excalibur, you CAN go to heaven without believing in God (well, more specifically, without believing in Christ, under a very strict set of limited circumstances). That's straight out of the catechism. I haven't read the open letter referenced in the Independent's article linked on Drudge, but none of the statements referenced there are wrong, per se. (I assume that Pope Francis didn't write the article's title - "Pope Francis assures atheists: You don't have to believe in God to go to heaven:" - unless that's a direct quote from the open letter, which of course would be a problem, that's yellow journalism at it's worst.) Again, Rorschach. And Holy Mother Church came along later to clean up the mess made by the Independent with respect to another off-the-cuff remark-induced kerfuffle over the same subject matter with an official statement.

I'm not saying that this is all good, of course. I would be concerned if I were Pope Francis about my remarks losing souls, too, of course. We should all continue to pray for the Holy Father.

In charity, and probable naivete,

SLPS Parent

Aged parent said...


Very interesting points. I do think that much of this possible mistranslating would not occur if only the Holy Father were to speak more clearly, more precisely and more to the point.