WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 28, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The culture of our modern secular age is defined by suffering, according to the bishop of Tulsa, Oklahoma, in a Mass celebrating the fifth anniversary of Benedict XVI’s inauguration.
Bishop Edward Slattery addressed an overflowing crowd in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on Saturday in a solemn high Pontifical Mass.
The prelate had only recently been asked to preside over the traditional Latin Mass, which was celebrated in the extraordinary form. He was replacing Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, retired president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, who had originally been asked to celebrate the Mass.
Cardinal Hoyos came under fire this month when the French news agency Golias publicized a 2001 letter in which he expressed support for a bishop who failed to report a priest who had sexually abused children.
The Paulus Institute, which organized Saturday’s event, expressed concern that this scandal would take center stage and detract from the “solemnity, reverence and beauty of the Mass.”
The institute’s president, Paul King, noted that the presence of Cardinal Hoyos could also give rise to significant security concerns, which they were unprepared to handle.
Bishop Slattery, who has experience celebrating the traditional Latin Mass, was asked to step in as the celebrant for the anniversary event.
Bishop Slattery acknowledged in his homily that “we gather together in the glare of the world’s scrutiny to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the ascension of Joseph Ratzinger to the throne of Peter.”
He spoke about the “enormous suffering,” which “is all around us and which does so much to determine the culture of our modern age.”
“From the enormous suffering of His Holiness these past months to the suffering of the Church’s most recent martyrs in India and Africa, welling up from the suffering of the poor and the dispossessed and the undocumented, and gathering tears from the victims of abuse and neglect, from women who have been deceived into believing that abortion was a simple medical procedure and thus have lost part of their soul to the greed of the abortionist, and now flowing with the heartache of those who suffer from cancer, diabetes, AIDS, or the emotional diseases of our age, it is the sufferings of our people that defines the culture of our modern secular age,” the bishop said.
He continued, “Our pain and anguish could dehumanize us, for it has the power to close us in upon ourselves such that we would live always in chaos and confusion — if we do not remember that Christ — our hope — has been raised for our sakes.”
The prelate affirmed that Our Lord “reveals himself to those who suffer in Christ, to those who humbly accept their pain as a personal sharing in his passion and who are thus obedient to Christ’s command that we take up our cross and follow him.”
He explained that suffering, “yours, mine, the Pontiff’s, is at the heart of personal holiness, because it is our sharing in the obedience of Jesus which reveals his glory.”
“It is the means by which we are made witnesses of his suffering and sharers in the glory to come,” Bishop Slattery added.
“Do not be dismayed that many in the Church have not yet grasped this point,” he noted, “and fewer still in the world will even dare to consider it, but you know this to be true.”
“And it is enough,” the prelate affirmed, “for ten men who whisper the truth speak louder than a hundred million who lie.”
Speaking about the present situation in the Church, he concluded that “we must — all of us — become saints through what we suffer.”
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