Summary of today’s show: This year, Lent takes on a new significance for Catholics. Scot Landry and Fr. Chris O’Connor sit down with Msgr. James Moroney, rector of St. John’s Seminary, to reflect on Pope Benedict’s resignation and Cardinal Seán’s remarks to the media in reaction. They also discuss Lent and Msgr. Moroney’s pastoral letter to the seminarians on observing the season of Lent. Also, Scot and Fr. Chris welcome Jim Wright, president of the Station of the Cross network, to discuss the success of WQOM and their newest radio station in Pennsylvania.
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Watch the show via live video streaming or a recording later: BostonCatholicLive.com
Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Chris O’Connor
Today’s guest(s): Msgr. James Moroney, Jim Wright, and Chris Kelley
Links from today’s show:
Today’s topics: Papal resignation, Lent, and Catholic radio
1st segment: Scot said today we heard Cardinal Seán’s reactions to the resignation of Pope Benedict and to the upcoming conclave during a midday press conference. Fr. Chris O’Connor said he prefers not to say the pope renounced the papacy, but more simply he resigned. He quoted George Weigel who said John Paul taught us how to die and Benedict taught us to age gracefully.
They discussed where they were when they first heard the news. Scot got a text from George Martell at about 6:20am and checked with others in leadership of the Archdiocese who hadn’t yet heard either. Fr. Chris said he was on the way back from celebrating Mass with the Missionaries of Charity and his jaw dropped.
He recalled Benedict’s election and remembers the uproar throughout the seminary in excitement when he was announced.
Scot welcomed Msgr. James Moroney, rector of St. John’s Seminary, to the show and asked his reaction. He woke up at 6:10 to a phone call from NBC News asking him if he wanted to do the color commentary in Rome for the papal conclave. He’d done that work in 2005 when John Paul died. Msgr. Moroney said he was amazed at the humility of Benedict. He recalled those who compare this to political life, but he noted that this isn’t about power. You see in the Holy Father’s actions the maxim of the first shall be last and the last shall be first. He lets go of the office for the good of the Church.
On why only two weeks, Msgr. Moroney said the Holy Father doesn’t want the goodbyes to drag out for months. He’s very humble. And he has profound respect for every person he meets. He said he’s known the Holy Father since he was Cardinal Ratzinger at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and when he saw him recently, he noticed he looked rather tired. Msgr. Moroney said the Holy Father asked him how St. John’s Seminary is doing and he said it was full. The Holy Father grabbed his hand, and said, “Filled! Tell them all that I am praying for them.” Msgr. Moroney is sure the Holy Father prayed for each of those seminarians individually because that’s the kind of pastor he is.
Fr. Chris recalled World Youth Day in Rome in 2000 and how his youth group was stopped by Cardinal Ratzinger who wanted to know how they were doing and how they were enjoying the World Youth Day. He wanted to know about their faith and their experience and how World Youth Day was shaping them.
Msgr. Moroney said he was a real man of the people. He said people came to see John Paul II and people came to listen to Benedict. He was like a grandfather teaching with deep humility and a grand work ethic.
Scot asked what they thought will occur between now and February 28, especially since so many big projects that he’s expressed passion for aren’t completed. Msgr. Moroney said he has a humility to know he doesn’t have to finish everything. It’s not the work of Joseph Ratzinger. It’s the work of Jesus Christ. The Vatican announced this morning that the new encyclical won’t be finished in time.
Scot asked how this conclave might be different from the previous ones. Msgr. Moroney said the cardinals will have more time to think and talk before the conclave begins. Normally when the pope dies there is a time of mourning for nine days first. This time there is at least three weeks for them to pray and consult so they can make an even more considered decision.
The Vatican said the last major speech the Holy Father will give will be to the Roman clergy, his own priests. His last major liturgical event will be Ash Wednesday.
Scot said Cardinal Sean responded to a question about his feelings going into the conclave by saying he’s bought a round-trip ticket. And he’s going to walk in there —and assumes the others will too—praying that the Holy Spirit is going to choose somebody else because of the awesome responsibility.
Scot asked Msgr. Moroney if there any rules of thumb for what the cardinals will look for. He said they will look for a man of prayer, a man of organizational skills, theological and intellectual acumen, ability to communicate faith with joy, ability with languages. The spiritual is the most important.
Scot said some of the biggest speculation is whether the Holy Spirit will choose a non-European. Msgr. Moroney said most of the Church lives in the southern hemisphere, while most of our people have lived in the north. The most cardinals come from Europe, but the proportion of non-Europeans has grown in recent years.
Fr. Chris said an Italian maxim is that the man who enters the conclave as Pope leaves a cardinal, meaning that conventional wisdom is often wrong. He said it is tradition that the Bishop of Rome is elected by the clergy of Rome and that’s why the College of Cardinals are all made pastors of Roman parishes.
2nd segment: Scot said a few days ago, Msgr. Moroney published a Pastoral Letter on Lent for his seminarians and Scot found it a great preparation for him for Lent as well. He said the idea wasn’t his originally. He said his letter to the seminarians followed the classic methods, speaking of Lectio divina, stations of the cross, the sacrament of penance, abstinence, fasting, and almsgiving. It’s how we try to carve our lives more clearly into the image of the Cross and Christ Jesus.
Scot asked what advice he has for those considering giving up something for Lent. He said we have to go to the deeper question of why we give things up. Christ on the cross let go of everything, every pleasure, every ambition, and offered his body on the cross in a sign of perfect love. We have to let go to have perfect love. When we let go of what we might cling onto, we are practicing for those bigger things in our lives.
Fr. Chris said Scot has a perfect head for ashes on Ash Wednesday. He added that the readings at Mass tell us to pray in private, but then we get ashes on our forehead to show everyone our faith. Meanwhile in Italy they sprinkle the ashes on a forehead. Msgr. Moroney said the difference is cultural. He said in Ancient Rome, when you owned a slave you branded them on the forehead with the sign of their slavery. So Christians began making the sign of the cross on their forehead. Today we make the sign of the cross bigger, but we retain the tradition on Ash Wednesday. We tell the world this our Lent, this is our faith.
Msgr. Moroney said during Lent we fast from the Alleluia and the Gloria. We fast from the singing of music with big accompaniment of the organ. We fast from flowers on the altar and in the church. We fast so that on Easter morning when we sing the Gloria and Alleluia with glorious trumpets and all the flowers, so that we might feast on it at Easter.
He said in the new Roman Missal is the restoration of the prayers over the people at the end of the daily Mass. They speak specifically of asking God for the grace of growing closer to him and the cross.
Fr. Chris asked why we give alms. Msgr. Moroney said giving to the poor isn’t just about feeling generous, but is about the same thing as fasting, about letting go of what others may need.
Msgr. Moroney said his favorite stations are the ones where Christ falls. Real men fall. Everyone falls, but Christians are different because they turn themselves over to Christ in confession.
Msgr. Moroney said Cardinal Francis George of Chicago will be speaking on Lumen Gentium on the relation to episcopal governance. It’s in two weeks and will be timely given the conclave. Cardinal Pell is due to speak on March 11, but won’t be able to make it because of the conclave, but has promised to stop in Boston on his way back to Australia. In a few months, Cardinal Justin Rigali will also speak. All of those will be a St. Columbkille’s parish in Brighton. To keep up to date, follow the Rector’s blog at http://sjsrector.blogspot.com/.
3rd segment: Scot welcomed Jim Wright, president of the Station of the Cross network, of which WQOM is part. Jim just launched their sixth station in the network in Oil City, Pennsylvania, 88.1 FM. It’s very close to Erie and about 250,000 people receive their signal. Jim talked about how they go the license and signal for the station.
Jim told the story of how the network started. He’d been visiting EWTN in Alabama and Mother Angelica asked him and his wife to start a radio station even though he had no background in broadcasting. He talked about running a dental lab during the day and learning about radio in his free time. They filed for their first frequency back in 1996.
Scot asked Jim what it’s like to make Catholic radio available to everyone listening today. Jim said his lack of experience allowed him to stay out of it and let God get the job done. Jim said it takes time to build and audience, more than two years. He said they’re doing great, but they can always use word of mouth because that’s the number one way to get the word out.
For Lent, it would be great to start listening to Catholic radio if you’re not as a spiritual practice. Fr. Chris said the men at Norfolk prison are particularly grateful to have Catholic radio.
They talked about the fundraising telethon coming in the next few months.