St. Patrick's Weekly Bulletin
Volume LI, No. 26


Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: Live On in My Love.
Sacred Architecture on the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The Spirit of the Liturgy: Ad Orientem.

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
Saint Teresa Benedicta († 1942) was a German philosopher and a convert from Judaism who became a Carmelite nun and was put to death at Auschwitz.

“Pure love” for our holy Father John of the Cross means loving God for his own sake, with a heart that is free from all attachment to anything created: to itself and to other creatures, but also to all consolations and the like which God can grant to the soul, to all particular forms of devotion, etc.; with a heart that wants nothing more than that God’s will be done, that allows itself to be led by God without any resistance…

Should we strive for perfect love, you ask? Absolutely. For this we were created. Perfect love will be out eternal life, and here we have to seek to come as close to it as possible. Jesus became incarnate in order to be our way. What can we do? Try with all our might to be empty: the senses mortified; the memory as free as possible from all images of this world and, through hope, directed toward heaven; the understanding stripped of natural seeking and ruminating, directed to God in the straightforward gaze of faith; the will (as I have already said) surrendered to God I love.

This can be said very simply, but the work of an entire life would not attain the goal were God not to do the most essential. In the meantime we may be confident that he will not fail to give grace if we faithfully do the little we can do. The little—taken absolutely—is for us a great deal. And while we are about it, we have to be careful not to wish to judge for ourselves how far we have come. Only God knows that...What we recognize of ourselves, and of our faults and behavior, is only the illuminated surface. The depth they come out of is to a large extent hidden from ourselves. God knows the depth and can purify it.


According to engineer Jose Aste Tonsmann of the Mexican Center of Guadalupan Studies, results of research into the famed image have stunned science. Through the dimensions are microscopic, the iris and the pupils of the image’s eyes have imprinted on them a highly detailed picture of at least 13 people, according to Tonsmann. He believes the reflection transmitted by the eyes of the Virgin of Guadalupe is the scene on Dec. 9, 1531, during which Juan Diego showed his tilma, with the image, to Bishop Juan de Zumarraga and others present in the room. Tonsmann pointed out that Richard Kuhn, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, has found that the image did not have natural, animal or mineral colorings. Given that there were no synthetic colorings in 1531, the image is inexplicable.

The Spirit of the Liturgy, by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger Reviewed by Dino Marcantonio

Dino Marcantonio is assistant professor of architecture at the University of Notre Dame.

The Spirit of the Liturgy is Cardinal Ratzinger’s latest and perhaps most ambitious effort to reform the reform, and it comes as a welcome breath of fresh air to architects gasping in the noxious atmosphere of the archi-liturgical establishment.

Two issues stand out right away for the architect, the altar and the tabernacle. In the case of the altar, Ratzinger relies heavily on the scholarship of Louis Bouyer, making a very powerful case for the ad orienten posture for the Mass. This, he says, contrary to popular wisdom, was the early Christian posture for prayer, and it was a development from the Jewish synagogal practice of facing Jerusalem. To Christians, of course, the Messiah had already come, and the Jerusalem for which they waited and hoped was not an earthly Jerusalem, but a heavenly one. Hence, the Christian posture for prayer took on an eschatological significance: geographical east was the orientation for prayer in expectation of the Second Coming, the rising sun that would never set.

Cardinal Ratzinger laments that the now practically universal versus populum posture is based on a dual misunderstanding: first on the nature of a communal meal in antiquity, particularly the Last Supper; and second on the adequacy of the meal image to describe the Eucharist. He points out that the ancient meal would never have involved the presider facing the other participants. They would have been seated on the convex side of a crescent-shaped table, the other side being left open for service. In either case, the meal image is insufficient to describe the nature of the Eucharist. For Christ used the Jewish Passover meal as a framework for the establishment of the new reality of Christian worship, the Eucharistic reference to the Cross, “and thus to the transformation of Temple sacrifice into worship of God that is in harmony with logos” (p.78).

The Cardinal dismisses the notion that the Council’s admonition for “full, conscious and active participation” implies, or much less requires, Missa versus populum. He makes the case that the phrase refers primarily to an interior union with the central action of the Mass, the Eucharistic Prayer, rather than to general activity. When it comes to the sacramental celebration proper, external actions are secondary, for there space must be made for the actio Christi, and ours is to become “one body and one spirit” with Him. He states, “Anyone who grasps this will easily see that it is not now a matter of looking at or toward the priest, but of looking together toward the Lord and going out to meet him” (sic).

Cardinal Ratzinger insists on the ad orientem posture only for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and not for the Liturgy of the Word. The latter, he states, suggests a “face-to-face: exchange,” a particularly baffling assertion considering Ratzinger’s heavy use of the work of Bouyer, who points out that in the synagogue God’s word was read facing Jerusalem, it was more than mere teaching, but rather a “true encounter with God.” Should we not say the same for the Liturgy of the Word in the Mass? And architects hoping for encouragement to reverse the now thirty-year-old migration of the altar westward will also be disappointed. Eminently practical, if not pastoral, the Cardinal suggest that, in recently renovated churches, the crucifix placed on the altar could function as the oriens of the priest and praying community.


Our Father in Heaven,
through the powerful intercession of
Our Lady of Prompt Succor,
spare us from all harm during this hurricane season
and protect us
and our homes from all disasters of nature.
Our Lady of Prompt Succor,
hasten to help us.