You are the light of the world: Lux Mundi

The word “light” often appears in the Bible, and in the Gospel of Matthew, our Lord tells his disciples that they (we) are the “light of the world.” Mother T. added a small note on the “light” part, namely:

“14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” 

— Matthew 5: 14-16.

Verse 14. Mother T. points out that it is in the indicative mood; it does not say, “Be the light of the world.” It says that we, the disciples, already ARE the light of the world. “You are the light of the world” means that Christians become light through baptism.

Verse 15. According to Haydock, the light of the world, the city on the mountain, and the lamp, refer to the Catholic Church, which cannot be hidden, because it is built on Christ, the mountain.

Verse 16. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Mother T.’s note on verse 16 emphasizes the point that we already are the light, we have the light; our job is simply to let it shine.

Indeed, it is impossible to hide if one is light. Christians are the light of the world. I realized that I had often forgotten this fact. “When we successfully complete our God-given role as ‘light,’ the place to which our souls return is to the God of Light, far above. It is not easy.”Thanks to Mother T.’s note for reminding me.

Glory to God!

Image: Ancient Middle Eastern Oil Lamp Made in Clay on Wood Table Stock Photo – Image of empty, desert: 43794038 (dreamstime.com)

The Funeral of Benedict XVI: The Guard that Protected Benedict XVI

“Gambetti, Cardinal archpriest of the Basilica, immediately after processing back to the sacristy, re-emerged and ordered all of the lights turned off and the Basilica emptied and closed until the next morning. He literally wanted Pope Benedict’s body to lie exposed on the bier, alone, in the dark, unattended, during the overnight hours for the three days of Pope Benedict lying in state in the Basilica.” (From Barnhardt)

The Swiss Guards refused to leave, even when told that they were now off duty, and would have to report for duty again in the morning. They volunteered to stay with the body of Benedict XVI all night.

They are soldiers. It is a well-known fact that soldiers are trained to carry out orders from their superiors. But the desecration of Benedict XVI’s body was an order too terrible for them to follow.

Their actions remind us of St. Paul’s wish for the congregation regarding those united to the Lord, the clergy.

“We beseech you, brethren, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12)

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The Funeral of Benedict XVI: No bells, no flags at half-staff

Even before the news of Benedict XVI’s death became known, Santa Marta (Vatican administrative headquarters) had declared that it would be business as usual, as if nothing had happened. No bells were rung and no flags were flown at half-staff in Vatican City. (For this and other details, see Rorate Caeli: https://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2023/01/the-funeral-rites-of-benedict-xvi-and.html)

It is an act that shows no respect for the former Pope.

Benedict XVI’s funeral was held on January 5. In regard to that, an order was issued that all official delegations, except those of Italy and Germany, were not to attend the funeral.

However, delegations from many countries attended anyway, saying,

“We will attend the funeral in a personal capacity, not as officials.”

To the best of my knowledge, such an order has never been issued before. A funeral, and the death of a man who was also the Pope, is supposed to attract a large number of people. It is strange to think that there was some fear of the Coronavirus. Is there some other satisfactory justification?

Benedict XVI’s funeral itself was also very plain and simple.

According to the Vatican, it was his wish. I guess only God knows if they are telling the truth.

I was also surprised at the shortness of the Mass.

The priest is free to choose from four different patterns for the modern Mass; the longest of the four is the most formal, closer to the traditional style of the medieval Mass. For the funeral Mass of Benedict XVI, the second longest of the four was chosen. I was expecting that, unquestionably, since he was a former Pope, Benedict XVI would be honored with the most formal Mass. I was disappointed; it was the second-longest one. (The shortest Mass is often used for the weekly Sunday Mass, so that was indeed not possible.)

Why was I so concerned about the length of the Mass?

Because the Mass is a prayer and offering to God. The Mass is also the center and most important part of the religious life of Catholics. Such an important Mass was short. What that short Mass conveys is the nuance that we should end the prayer for Benedict XVI as soon as possible, and end it with as little ceremony as possible.

The Funeral of Benedict XVI: Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven

In watching the video of Benedict XVI’s funeral, I noticed the terrible treatment of the former Pope.

Traslación del cuerpo de Benedicto XVI a la Basílica de San Pedro 2-1-2023
En ti confío

First, there is the way in which his body was moved to St. Peter’s Basilica. His body was placed in a gray business van. The van was followed by a funeral procession of only a few people.

It is a common custom in Italy for the funeral procession to follow the van carrying the body of the deceased. The Vatican refused to allow such a funeral procession. Many bishops wanted to be part of the funeral procession, but were denied and could not attend.

Some people said, “This is not done even to any man from the smallest village in Italy.”

(For this and other details, see Rorate Caeli )

The church where he arrived had nothing but a lonely funeral procession, and from the video alone, it looked like the funeral procession of a man who lived a lonely life. The fact is different. Although not shown in the video, there were many people outside St. Peter’s Basilica waiting for his body to arrive.

This was the treatment of Benedict XVI, a priest, a bishop, and a Pope. Such acts of impiety against the dead should not be tolerated. However, the fact that these actions were taken proves that Benedict XVI was definitely fighting against the wolves.

As it is written, “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11, 12.)

Death of Benedict XVI: “Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.”

“Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.”

(From Benedict XVI’s first speech as Pope)(1)

On December 31, 9:34 a.m. Rome time, Benedict XVI died at the age of 95. He was born on Holy Saturday, April 16, 1927, and baptized with new holy water prepared for Easter. (2)

To each one of us, God offers special blessings. It seems that Benedict XVI had already been selected by God’s special blessing to become Pope on the day of his birth and in the holy water that followed.

That he was a God-fearing pope was evident in his many words and deeds as he remained faithful to the Catholic Faith. I think that his greatest legacy consists of three things, namely:

1. He exposed and punished those responsible for sexual abuse committed in the Church.

2. In spite of the impression in most people’s minds that the traditional Latin Mass had been prohibited after the Second Vatican Council, he clarified that there had been no such prohibition, and that priests were free to celebrate the Latin Mass.

3. He brought about the return of traditional Anglican groups to full communion with the See of Peter.

He then ordered an investigation into the dark side of the Vatican: corruption in the Vatican Bank. Soon after, all of the ATMs in Vatican City suddenly shut down. Then he stepped down as Pope. The day after he stepped down, the ATMs began functioning again.

Even after his resignation, Benedict XVI continued to always wear the white vestments which only the Pope is allowed to wear. Also, he did not leave the Vatican, as is customary when a pope steps down. Also, he referred to himself by the unprecedented title of “Pope Emeritus.” What exactly happened to him during his retirement from the papacy is not known, as Benedict XVI remained silent.

I respect Benedict XVI for his courage and faith, because it seems that he chose not to leave the place where God had placed him, but to carry the burden of being a shepherd protecting his sheep, not running from the wolves.

  1. Source: https://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/homilies/2005/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20050424_inizio-pontificato.html (retrieved January 2, 2023).
  2. . Source: Salt of the Earth (CD). Lighthouse Media, 2011. 
  3. . For basic information, see this link: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/05/world/europe/debit-and-credit-card-purchases-shut-down-at-vatican.html

For some more details, see:

https://www.fromrome.info/2020/07/09/the-st-gallen-connection-to-those-snarky-vatican-atms/#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20intriguing%20historical%20events%20associated%20with,4%2C%202013.%20It%20is%20an%20incontrovertible%20historical%20event.

New Year with the Traditional Latin Mass; “Happy New Year” in Latin and Japanese.

Japanese: Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu!

Since we never say “Happy New Year” during Mass, I was curious about how to say it in Latin, so I asked Jerome, a language geek, how it is said in Latin. He gave me a very geeky answer, but it was pretty long, so I will only introduce two simple phrases.

Latin: Felix annus novus!/ Felices Kalendae Ianuariae

Well…thanks to a little knowledge of Spanish, which came from Latin roots, I can understand these phrases pretty easily.

Until last September, I attended Latin Mass every Sunday. However, beginning on September 8 last year, because of orders by Pope Francis, the traditional Latin Mass has no longer been available in many places. My parish church was one of those places. So, at the beginning of this year, I attended a Latin Mass at a church a little farther from home.

In the remote church where I attended the Latin Mass, I met a very dedicated lady who had once been in my parish church, but left when Latin Mass was banned there. It is truly sad that people like her are no longer in our parish. I can’t help but think that if we still had the freedom that Benedict XVI gave us, we would not be in such a state of quasi-schism. Now that we need permission to have a Latin Mass — a permission which is usually withheld — it seems that the “schism” within the Church continues to quietly progress.

May 2023 be a year full of blessings!

About Mother T., who inspired this blog

My family, like most Japanese families, was not Christian. I knew nothing about Christianity, and it was a former teacher at the school where I took Bible classes who gave me a lot of guidance.

I remember the first time I met her; I had the impression that she was a small, elegant grandmother. In a way, she was just as I thought she was…but she also said some harsh things that overturned my impression of her as a just a nice old lady. Later, I learned that she had originally been a nun, and had later become an abbess. Well, that solved the mystery.

The abbess was strict with me, educated me as if I were her apprentice.
I miss the days when we used to joke and laugh together, “Um, teacher, you seem to be acting like an abbess toward me, even though I am a layperson….”

When she passed away, I received her Bible and the notes from her Bible class as a memento. I would like to post them on my blog as “Notes from Mother T.’s Bible Class” from now on.

The Meaning of Xmas

By Jerome Wildeberg 

Hello, all.

Given the time of year that it is, you have probably seen a sign or bumper sticker or car magnet urging you to “keep Christ in Christmas.”

If you are Catholic, someone may have told you how important it is to “keep Mass in Christmas.”​

Both of those are very good ideas. 

But I would like to share with you another aspect of the holiday, by means of a bit of advice that you probably have not heard, namely: Keep X in Xmas.

Some people do not like the abbreviation “Xmas,” because when the word is written that way, it no longer contains the name of Christ. In reality, of course, the “X” in “Xmas” was not originally the Roman letter “Ex,” but the Greek letter “Chi.” It is a remnant of the ancient Chi-Rho monogram, an abbreviation of the word “Christ” formed of the first two letters of that name in Greek.

So, Christ is still there in “Xmas,” but he is hidden under the mysterious symbol “X.” 

And what could be more appropriate for this holiday celebrating our Lord’s birth?

As it is written:

“Truly, thou art a God who hidest thyself,

             O God of Israel, the Savior.” (Isaiah 45:15)

On the first Christmas Day, God was hiding himself in human flesh—and the flesh of a baby at that! A baby is weak and needs protection and care, he does not protect others, or care for others. If you were in a dangerous situation and were told to expect a rescuer (a savior), you wouldn’t expect a helpless-looking savior like that.

Of course, a baby has the potential to grow up and become strong.  And yet, the angels at Bethlehem did not wait for that, but said to the shepherds, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior.”—not a future savior or a potential savior, but a savior “this day,” here and now, even in his infant helplessness.

A paradox? Yes. But when God is astir, expect the unexpected. 

That is why the symbol “X” is so appropriate. Think about what “X” means. In arithmetic, “x” means “multiply.” In algebra, “x” stands for an unknown quantity. And in general, “X” stands for the mysterious and unknown, especially when it is immensely powerful. Think, for example, of X-rays, the X Files, the X Factor, the X-Men, even Xbox: in all of these cases, “X” is the mark of the mysterious and powerful unknown. 

God is the X Factor. He is the ultimate power, and the ultimate mystery. And he hides himself in the smallest and oddest places, becoming (for example) a baby, or a piece of bread. But from that small beginning, like the “x” in arithmetic, his influence begins to multiply, until it is an unstoppable force.

When our Lord was born, Judea was ruled by the Romans, the Herodians, and the high priests. Today, the Roman Empire is gone, the Herodians are gone, the Jewish Temple and its high priesthood are gone—but the Church started by that little baby is still here, going strong after more than two thousand years.

God is the X Factor. Once he starts moving, there is no telling what he will do. As Mr. Beaver said in Narnia, “He is not a tame lion,” and “he isn’t safe, but he’s good.” 

Just as, in algebra, a small change in the value of “x” can radically change the value of all the other variables an equation, so one little speck of God can radically change a person’s whole life. And one changed life can change the world. As it is written, “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are.” (I Corinthians 1:28.) 

Saul the persecutor, multiplied by “X” (Acts 9:5), became the ex-persecutor, Paul the Apostle.

Through Paul’s words, the “X” of the Athenians, the Unknown God (Acts 17:23), brought down to crumbling ruins the whole multitude of known gods.

That mysterious Power is still at work today.

There is no room for him in the “inns” (the secular institutions) of this world. But if you make a manger for him in your heart, are you ready for what he might do there?

God is astir! Expect the unexpected!

Merry Xmas.