Thursday, July 04, 2013

Flowers from Thorns

I like "spiritual bouquets", I remember the one I got for my ordination in 1984 which had something like a hundred plus Rosaries, one person promised to go, or had been, to Benediction 33 times. There were a few  promises to fast too and a large number of Communions offered for me but the most pleasing thing was that there were quite a few people who promised to go to Sunday Mass for me and a dozen or so 'spiritual communions' but the vast majority were prayers that could be said at home.

The thing was that someone had gone out to gather these 'flowers', to encourage people to pray for me. The pledges of 'Sunday Masses' were from people who were normally lapsed, who were encouraged to make the effort to go to Mass for me, the 'spiritual communions' were from the divorced and remarried who were unable to offer actual communions. I was ordained in what was then one of the most liberal parishes in the diocese. Half the Parish Council seemed to write for the Tablet. The contributors to the bouquet were not from the middle class members of the parish but from the 'peripheries' the people of the two large estates of people who hardly ever set foot in their own parish church, who found its religion had moved on from them - Joe Shaw has an interesting post on the loss of the working classes. I had spent the month or so before my ordination visiting and inviting people to my ordination, not with much success, most had lapsed in the previous 15 years but some good soul had followed me around, picking flowers from thorns.

Pope Francis was a bit 'sniffey' recently when a trad group gave him a spiritual bouquet of 3,525 rosaries, he called it 'Pelagian', I suppose it could have been but I would prefer to think of it as being an act of evangelisation, a way of getting people to pray or make sacrifices and also to get people to catechise people in prayer. In Seoul at the moment there is a campaign to get people to pray for the Canonisation of "Fr. Choi Yang-oeb, Paul Yun Ji-choong and his 123 companions, killed in hatred of the faith during the persecutions of the XVIII - XIX century. The purpose is to recite 100 million mysteries for each martyr, a total of 12.5 billion prayers."

That is a lot of bead counting, is it a bad thing or is it a good way of promoting devotion to the Mother of God and these holy martyrs?


johnf said...

How the Holy Father can call a spiritual bouquet 'Pelagian' I don't know.

I do hope he was misquoted.

I thought Pelagianism was the assertion that mankind is fundamentally good and can be saved by his own means.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I think it is the counting that he regards as Pelagian, the idea that 325 is somehow better than 324 Rosaries or for that matter 1 Rosary.

I suspect he sees the same with following rubrical details.

Ma Tucker said...

Well I think 325 Rosaries are better than 1 Rosary. Did not Our Lady say that little Francesco had to say MANY Rosaries. Obviously if one would be equivalent to many I dare say She would have requested one only. Also she asked for the Rosary to be prayed every day not just once in a lifetime. Is there something I'm missing here? I doubt Pope Francis actually said what was reported from that second hand source.

James Jordan said...

He's also denounced anyone who is "joyless" or who thinks religion should be "serious" as Pelagians.

But I think Pelagians tend to have more joy because they aren't sitting around worrying hoping that some miserly god will give them that elusive grace he seems to always be with-holding. They know that God helps those who help themselves, and so they always have the assurance that they already have God's grace, as much of it as they need. Pelagians take it seriously when Paul says "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me" while Augustinians lie about begging "Oh God! Please just give me a little more grace! Just a little more please please please! Why won't you give it to me you #$%$%#$? Just give me one more scrap! Por favor!!!"

servusmariaen said...


I grew up in the early 1970s. I learned about "Spiritual Bouquets" from the nuns who taught me. We made them (the cards) in class.

I was offended, hurt and put off by the statement attributed by Papa Francesco to the heads of religious communities from Latin America.

I'm certain his intent was not malicious but nevertheless it showed that he doesn't appreciate such simple, child-like gestures offered for him. I find that tragic. However, it made me redouble my efforts to pray more rosaries for him. I encourage others to do the same.

servusmariaen said...

I must be stuck in 1940

" I'll share two concerns. One is a Pelagian stream that is in the Church at this time. There are certain groups restorationist . I know some, I had to get them in Buenos Aires. And one feels that it is like going back 60 years ago! Before the council ... You feel in 1940 ... An anecdote, just to illustrate, not to laugh, I took it with respect, but I am concerned, when I was elected, I received a letter from one of these groups, and I said, "Your Holiness, I offer this spiritual treasure; 3,525 rosaries". Why not say we pray for you, ask ... but this to keep track ... And these groups return to practices and disciplines that I lived-you do not, because none is old-disciplines, to things that lived at that time, but not now , today are no longer ... "

Rod George said...

There is nothing wrong with a spiritual bouquet, on the contrary I think they are a force for good.Two worldwide rosary bouquets presented to Pope Benedict certainly proved fruitful. The third for the consecration of Russia has yet to be fulfilled.
I would think that most priests would be pleased to receive a spiritual bouquet and I am always grateful when other people pray for me.The other point to make is that by contributing to a bouquet we are saying prayers over and above those we usually say.Its easy for ones prayers to become routine ( speaking for myself )so an extra effort is surely a good thing.Hopefully heaven will look kindly on the efforts made by all who contribute to these bouquets.

The Bones said...

'Francis, rebuild My pier, which you can see is in ruins.'

Deacon Augustine said...

With regards to numbers and counting in our spiritual lives, we should not be so ready to dismiss their significance in favour of a gnostic, ethereal, non-real spirituality.

God created a universe which is understandable mathematically - numbers are inherent in His creation. As He chose to become part of His own creation through the Incarnation, He has again blessed and approved what He has made.

Scripture is saturated with numbers, their significance and their symbolism from Genesis to the conclusion of the Apostolic revelation. Catholicism has simply maintained this tradition and it was not until the advent of Protestantism and their rejection of the "multiplication of Masses" etc. that this gnostic hyper-spiritualization and rejection of the corporeal, incarnational aspect of true religion became fashionable.

I am sure that the Pope would agree with Our Lord that to forgive only once is never good enough - rather we must forgive 70 times 7 times (even if there is no specific finite number indicated by this saying.) If the multiplication of acts of forgiveness is a good thing, how could a Christian assert that the multiplication of prayers is not?

James Jordan said...

Deacon Augustine, more to the point than the 70x7 forgiveness or the 70 weeks of Daniel prophecy would be the fact that Daniel insisted on praying 3 times a day. (Daniel 6:10) Why was he counting his prayers??? He must have been a Pelagian heretic according to this pope.

gemoftheocean said...

I think it's a very good thing. It's almost a lost art, unfortunately. After confession I am always humbled if a priest asks me to pray for him.

gemoftheocean said...

Lucky thing Roman Rite priests aren't normally married unless by exception like coming over from the Anglicans. I have a feeling if Pope Francis were married he'd only tell his wife once that he loved her, figuring that was enough.

parepidemos said...

I find the increasing practice of finding almost anything with which to take a swipe at what Francis allegedly says or does to be rather worrying. It is quite un-Christ-like and I certainly do not believe that Benedict XVI would approve.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I think you are too sensitive on the Pope's behalf.

Possibly in Buenos Aires spiritual bouquets might be something one has to tell religious sister not to laugh at but as Pope we MUST try to put what he says into context - the context here is some people find such bouquets them helpful, maybe not in BA but he is Pope for every one now.

Fr Ray Blake said...

No! James