Novena for the Election of the Sovereign Pontiff:
The novena will consist of the Veni Creator Spiritus, the collect of the votive Mass for the election of a Sovereign Pontiff, and three invocations. So that all may participate in this novena, the prayers are provided below.
Come, Holy Ghost, Creator
Take possession of our souls
Infuse with heavenly grace
The hearts Thou hast created
Thou Who art called the Paraclete
Best gift of the Most High God
Living fountain, fire, charity
And spiritual unction
Thou sevenfold gift
Finger of God’s right hand
Thou promise of the Father
Teaching speech and understanding
Enkindle the light of our minds
Pour love into our hearts
The infirmity of our body
Confirm with perpetual strength
Repulse the enemy even further
And give peace in his stead
May Thou so lead us
That we evade all harm
Through Thee grant us to know
Father as well as Son
And with Both Thee, Spirit, Trinity
Forever may we believe in
Let glory be to God the Father
And to the Son, Who from the dead
Has arisen, and the Paraclete
Unto ages of ages. Amen.
Collect for the Election of the Supreme Pontiff
(From the Votive Mass Pro Eligendo Summo Pontifice)
O Lord, with suppliant humility, we entreat Thee, that in Thy boundless mercy Thou wouldst grant the most Holy Roman Church a pontiff, who by his zeal for us, may be pleasing to Thee, and by his good government may be ever honored by Thy people for the glory of Thy name. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son who with Thee livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
V. Most Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
R. Pray for us who have recourse to thee!
St. Pius V, pray for us.
St. Pius X, pray for us.
Ashes represent the outward destruction of the material world, and show the endless decomposition of all bodies when detached from the source of organization and life. They are, therefore, the symbol of earthly decay and death, and remind us forcibly of the disorganization of bodily life; in other words, of death itself. But death is the wages of sin, and at the same time the symbol of sin’s penalties, and as such is calculated to warn us sternly that we should endeavor to regain true life by a return to God over the path of sincere repentance.
The Church blesses ashes and distributes them on the heads of the faithful on Ash Wednesday. Thus she is pleased, by this reminder of approaching and certain death, to incite us to penance, and to awake within us a spirit of humility and self-abasement, without which no penance can be real and pleasing to God. Hence the priest says, while giving the ashes,” Remember, man, thou art but dust, and into dust thou shalt return.”
The Church offers this prayer for each one of us as the priest traces a black cross on our foreheads with the ashes from burnt palm branches. I wonder how often we reflect, especially when we are in good health and are busy with many good works, that a day will come, perhaps very soon, when we will die and our bodies will be placed in a cold casket six feet under the lush green grass in the local Catholic cemetery. I should ask myself now, “Where will I be then?”
As Catholics we should think about death each day, since it is included in many of our prayers. The Mass itself is a memorial and a re-presentation of the death of Jesus. A crucifix reminds us of the death of Christ. In the Liturgy of the Hours we are constantly reminded of the death of the Lord, of the death of the wicked, and of our own certain death. The Church, making use of the Psalms, reminds us over and over again that our life is fragile and fleeting, and that it will disappear like the morning mist.
Man naturally fears death. He knows it is certain, but he does not like to think about it. Contemporary American culture trivializes death in the media because it does not want to confront the awesome reality of death. It is strange, is it not? Scores of murders and deaths are shown on TV each day, but rarely, if ever, is the reality of death given serious treatment.
Our modern culture tries to create illusions of immortality. We see this in film and TV stars, in sports heroes, in popular politicians. But where are they now? Picking just a few well-known names at random, we can ask: where are Abraham Lincoln, John Wayne, FDR, Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan, and all the rest who have gone before us? During their lifetimes they were thought to be important persons. Now they are gone, and most people pay little or no attention to them.
What a cruel fate awaits rich, powerful and famous men and women who appear to be something but who, whether sooner or later, are swallowed up by the jaws of death. Many of them do not seem to know that death is the fruit of sin, that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). And we Catholics—priests, religious and laity—are we any different? Do we heed the warnings of the Bible and the teaching of the Church that death is the punishment for sin—the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, and our own personal sins? Daily the Church urges us to repentance and conversion of heart, especially during Lent. Do we listen and heed her motherly warnings?
Just think about your relatives and friends who have died during the past few years. Where are they now? The Church teaches infallibly that there are only three possibilities right now before the Second Coming of Christ: purgatory, heaven and hell. Do you ever think seriously about the certain fact that you will be with those deceased friends and relatives one future day—perhaps sooner than you think? Do you pray for them and gain indulgences for them in case they are in purgatory?
The closer one comes to God in love and the more one submits himself to the will of God, the more one becomes like God in holiness, and the less fear one feels in the face of death. Actually, many of the saints have longed to die, to be dissolved that they might be united eternally with Christ. St. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain…. My desire is to depart and to be with Christ” (Phil 1:21-23). A daily awareness that we shall soon be judged by the glorified Christ for our words and deeds injects humility into our lives, and spurs us on to a more intense practice of the love of God and neighbor.
G.K. Chesterton said that “Ideals are the most practical thing in the world.” This is why we still defend the family. This is why we insist on the ideal of marriage as a permanent union between one man and one woman, which creates the only proper setting for bringing new souls into the world, and that this purely natural act should not be interfered with.
The social trends have steadily moved in the opposite direction from this ideal in the last century. It is no longer a matter of a few loud critics getting a little testy at our quaint ideas of morality; we have gone past being attacked to being brazenly ignored. But if the society at large does not understand the moral arguments for the family, perhaps it will gain some appreciation for the practical arguments. And the recent bad news has been good news in this regard. Our arguments have been given a huge boost with the collapse of the world financial markets and the continuing economic fallout.
An economy built on massive lending and spending cannot be sustained. But the reason it cannot be sustained is not merely economic, it is moral. It regards material wealth as the ultimate goal, and people as merely a commodity to achieve that goal. It is selfish and therefore self-destructive.
An economy based on the family is self-sustaining. Its focus is on the nurturing and training of children and not on the mere acquisition of goods. The family ideal as defended by Chesterton is something quite different than the industrialized consumer family, where the family members leave the house each morning by the clock and on a strict schedule to pursue work and recreation and the majority of life outside the home. Chesterton’s ideal was the productive home with its creative kitchen, its busy workshop, its fruitful garden, and its central role in entertainment, education, and livelihood. Unlike the industrial home, life in a productive household is not amenable to scheduling and anything but predictable.
The only thing surprising about this ideal is that it was once shared by almost everyone. Children used to be considered an asset; at some point they began to be seen as a liability.
Chesterton saw the beginning of this problem when he noticed people preferring to buy amusements for themselves rather than to have children. He pointed out prophetically that children are a far better form of entertainment than electrical gadgets. The irony today is that the retailers that sell the electronic amusements are going out of business because there are not enough people to buy this merchandise.
But there is another worse problem why children are now considered a liability. They don’t merely make other material desires cost-prohibitive, they are cost-prohibitive themselves. They must be educated. The cost of educating them is obscene. A college education is the most overpriced product on the planet, and over-rated as well. Parents have the privilege of sacrificing nearly everything to send their children to college, only to have them get their heads filled with doubts and destructive ideas, undermining everything their parents have taught them.
But there are fewer parents because there are fewer children.
When social security was instituted, each retiree was supported by 15 workers. Now each retiree is supported by only three workers. Those of us who are still working spend 15% of our income to support those who aren’t working.
Our lack of domestic life is reflected in the fact that we don’t have a domestic economy. We don’t produce anything. We are suddenly watching massive layoffs, but the people being laying off (no offense to them) were not producing anything. They were either selling things, or sitting at desks and computer terminals, being paid with borrowed money, so that they could also go into debt. Now the financial center of the country has moved from New York to Washington, DC, as Gudge has passed the baton to Hudge,* who has promised that all the problems that were caused by too much borrowing will all be solved by even more borrowing.
But the younger generation cannot pay the older generation because we have committed demographic suicide. We are paying a high price not only for slaughtering our unborn children but for contracepting them. In fact, we have demonstrated that we cannot afford the high price.
We have seen the natural consequences of unnatural acts. We have witnessed a monumental economic disaster that is not the result of inflation or recession but of the devaluation of children.
Chesterton says that every high civilization decays by forgetting obvious things. The obvious things are the ordinary things, and we have forgotten them. The modern world that we have created has brought with it great strain and stress so that even the things that normal men have normally desired are no longer desirable: “marriage and fair ownership and worship and the mysterious worth of man.” Those are the normal and ordinary things. Those are the things we have lost, and we need to recover them.
“The disintegration of rational society,” says Chesterton, “started in the drift from the hearth and the family; the solution must be a drift back.”
The youth world, he said, has changed “radically,” but the church “is still offering what it has been offering for the past 500 years.”
The Vatican’s culture ministry warned Thursday that the Catholic church risks losing future generations if it doesn’t learn how to understand young people, their language and their culture.
The Pontifical Council for Culture invited sociologists, Web experts and theologians to a three-day, closed-door event Feb. 6-9 aimed at studying “emerging youth cultures.”
According to a working paper released ahead of the meeting, the church risks “offering answers to questions that are not there” if it doesn’t learn “the cultural reality of young people.”
A study released in October by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life showed that young people are increasingly disconnected from religion, with one in three Americans aged 18-29 describing themselves as religiously unaffiliated.
Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca, undersecretary of the Vatican’s culture department, said in an interview that the church’s youth problem is not just “quantitative” — evidenced by a decline in key indicators, such as baptisms and church attendance — but also “qualitative.”
The youth world, he said, has changed “radically,” but the church “is still offering what it has been offering for the past 500 years.”
“We keep on giving the same answers but the way questions are posed is now totally different.”
Even if youth culture is often marked by individualism, superficiality and hedonism, the council’s president, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, said during a Thursday press conference that its “diversity” is “not only negative” but “contains surprising seeds of fruitfulness and authenticity.”
In his effort to understand young people’s language and feelings, Ravasi confessed to listening to a CD by the late British pop singer Amy Winehouse, noting that “a quest for meaning emerges even from her distraught music and lyrics.”
In a first for a Vatican meeting, the event will be opened by a rock concert by Italian Christian rock band The Sun.
Participants, mostly bishops and Catholic lay leaders, will also hear from young Catholic activists from countries such as Indonesia and Madagascar, while American blogger Pia de Solenni will speak on the “emotional alphabet” of young generations.