Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Into the Maelstrom - Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Tomorrow the Holy Father begins a Pastoral Visit to Catholics in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland and Wales) that is also a State Visit.

Certain secularist elements and others opposed to the Church's teaching on controverted moral and doctrinal matters have objected strongly to the visit.

In the four day trip, Benedict XVI will have some striking challenges ahead of him.

All are invited to keep the Pope's safety and the pastoral good of all concerned--which in this age of the internet and instant communications means countless millions around the world--in their thoughts and prayers.

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The theme for Pope Benedict XVI's 2010 visit to the UK is Cor ad cor loquitur - Heart Speaks unto Heart. Cardinal John Henry Newman chose the words as the motto to go on his coat of arms.

Heart Speaks unto Heart is a fitting choice for this papal visit as, on the final day of his Apostolic Journey, the Holy Father will beatify Cardinal Newman - the much-loved Victorian theologian.

Origins of the motto

When Newman became a Cardinal in 1879, he had to choose a motto to go on his coat of arms. He chose the Latin words Cor ad Cor loquitur – heart speaks unto heart. Where did these words come from?

At the time, Newman thought they came from the Imitation of Christ (written in the 1400s), but in fact he was mistaken – they're from St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) a French Bishop and great spiritual writer whom Newman revered. In fact, Newman chose to put a painting of St Francis above the altar in his own Chapel at the Birmingham Oratory.

"Heart speaks to Heart" – who is speaking to whom? The phrase has different levels, which together tell us a lot about Newman, his understanding of what it is to be human, and his vision of a humanity redeemed by Christ.

Newman thought that true communication between us speaks from our heart to the heart of others around us – much more than just clever talking. He wrote in an Anglican sermon: 'Eloquence and wit, shrewdness and dexterity, these plead a cause well and propagate it quickly, but it dies with them. It has no root in the hearts of men, and lives not out a generation.'

Truth speaks from the centre of the person, from their heart: 'By a heart awake from the dead, and by affections set on heaven, we can... truly and without figure witness that Christ liveth.' In the age of the Internet, Newman tells us that however we communicate, what we say should come from the heart, the fruits of a moral life lived in communion with Christ.

In fact, Christ speaks to us from his own Heart. 'Thou art the living Flame, and ever burnest with love of man' – he is 'the Word, the Light, the Life, the Truth, Wisdom, the Divine Glory.'

So, in the end, it's the Heart of God himself which speaks to us – in prayer, in the Mass, through the Scriptures. But also through other faithful Christians, and in the teachings of the Church. As Newman says, 'when the Church speaks Thou dost speak.' The Church has no other heart than the Heart of Christ himself (

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Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, Adriaen Isenbrant (1518-35), Panel, O.L. Vrouwekerk, Bruges

A long tradition attributes seven sorrows to the Blessed Virgin from the childhood of Jesus up to his burial: at the prophecy of Simeon; at the flight into Egypt; having lost the Holy Child at Jerusalem; meeting Jesus on his way to Calvary; standing at the foot of the Cross; Jesus being taken from the Cross; at the burial of Christ.

O God, who willed that when your Son was lifted high on the Cross his Mother should stand close by and share his suffering, grant that your Church, participating with the Virgin Mary in the Passion of Christ, may merit a share in his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you.


  1. Hey Archbishop Terry!

    I happened upon your post on my book Sex Au Naturel, and enjoyed reading the com box commentators. Too bad it's closed for more. I wanted to respond to a couple of the interlocutors who miss the point by a country mile. Oh well.

    Would be great to visit some time. I'll be giving a two-night seminar on apologetics and evangelization at the new St. Benedict's church in Halifax on Jan 2,3 2011. "The harvest is (koff koff) plenty!"


  2. The Archbishop love to close topics when faithful Catholics presents opposing views and opinions ... me who though that our Church was open to debate, discussions and divergent opinions. I will pray that things will change in the future.

    I will follow your proposal Archbishop to keep our Holy father in my prayers for a safe trip to England.

    It's not like it's starting well : "A senior Papal adviser has pulled out of the Pope's UK visit after saying arriving at Heathrow airport was like landing in a "Third World" country."

  3. Well, anon, I'm not 100% certain I should take your word for it since the only comments I saw in reply to the Archbishop's post on my book were from dissenters, by and large. And dissent is not faithfulness.

    In this case, either the norms of Humanae Vitae are true and binding, or they are not.

    The Catholic Church answers, and has answered since biblical times, in the affirmative. "Opposing views?" When does that exercise end? Can one have an opposing view of the Resurrection? The Real Presence? Papal infallibility? If so, there is a place where Catholic dissenters are warmly welcomed. It's called Anglicanism.

    Meaning no disrespect, just trying to inject clarity.

    The BBC is the business of undermining this papal visit, especially of blunting its evangelical power. I suspect you are unaware, btw, that many Britons have come to share Cardinal Kasper's assessment about their own beloved country.

  4. Maybe you are right ... I should switch to Anglicanism ! ...

    I love our Catholic religion ... believe what I say or get the hell out ! ... How can someone honestly say they are following Christ path by saying such thing ?

    Thanks for stabbing my heart ! Truly enjoy talking with other Catholics... I feel so welcome in the Church that is claiming to be tolerant and based on Christ message.