April 27, 2012
Have you ever wondered why the Pope wears white while other clerics wear black or purple? It’s nothing to do with his ‘purity’ or anything like that. Rather it’s a tradition that stretches back over 400 years to the saint we celebrate on Monday. Pius V was a Dominican friar when he was elected and kept his white Dominican habit when he became Pope.
Michael Ghisleri was from an ordinary background born in northern Italy in 1504. He joined the Dominicans at an early age and quickly became famous as a teacher and preacher. He became a bishop and a Cardinal, and was elected Pope in 1566. He was a great friend of St. Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan, and like Charles was very keen to put into action the reforms of the Council of Trent – the Church’s answer to the challenge and heresies of the Protestant reformers.
Perhaps his excommunication of Elizabeth I in 1570 was a bad move politically. It certainly made life much more difficult for Catholics in these islands. But he was equally forthright in dealing with Catholic monarchs, and was very keen to uphold the power of the Papacy.
Reformers are not always easy to live with and Pius V was no exception. He did however command tremendous respect and, as fitting a member of the Order of Preachers, he certainly ‘practised what he preached’. In that he is a good example for us as we live in an age which believes that actions speak louder than words.
April 16, 2012
The ‘Slow Food’ movement is gathering momentum, if you’ll pardon the oxymoron, because more and more people are realising the need to spend time if meals are to be enjoyed rather than endured. The same is true of good art, literature, and all sorts of other pursuits. This runs contrary to so much of the practice of our modern society which is constantly looking for the next new thrill. Some things just need to be down slowly so that they can be fully appreciated.
The Church has always known this. While the shops sell their discounted Easter eggs and are desperate to get us to plan our summer holidays, the Church’s celebration has only just begun – and will last for seven whole weeks. The resurrection is of such central importance that for nearly two months the Church contemplates Jesus’ rising in all her celebrations of Mass, the office, and the sacraments.
Over the next few weeks the readings and prayers at Mass aim to bring out the import and implications of Easter. Because this event is not just something in the past, though it is rooted in history, but very much the present power behind the Church’s mission to proclaim and practice the good news. And the season ends not in a whimper but in the Big Bang of Pentecost when we celebrate the giving of the Spirit. So, let’s take part in the Church’s ‘slow movement’ this Eastertide and spend our time constructively and fruitfully.