Monday, November 8, 2010

Sagrada Familia - from this altar...

Yesterday, November 7, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, Spain. The work on this great church was begun over 100 years ago in 1882. The famous architect Antoni Gaudí (from Catalán, a region of Spain) took over the design of the Cathedral in 1883. Gaudí is famous for his "organic" architecture which imitates the forms found in nature. He was also a very devout Catholic.

Below are excerpts from the Pope's homily. As in his previous homily at Santiago de Compostela, the Pope stressed the need to re-evangelize Europe which has become increasingly secularized. Sagrada Familia is Spanish for Holy Family, and the Pope used this to form a theme about the importance of the family to society.

In his homily the Pope used the family as a symbol of human life from conception to the moment of natural death. He stressed the importance of respecting the dignity of human life and not interfering in God's plan.

Once again there was an exorcism-like quality to the Pope's prayers as he declared that the altar of this newly consecrated temple of Christ would produce a "flood of grace and charity" upon the whole world. I'm reminded of the words of Christ when he referred to himself as "the living water". As a society we need to remember to strengthen ourselves spiritually as well as physically. Without a strong spiritual foundation, society reverts to barbarism. It may be a high-tech form of barbarism as the world has experienced in two World Wars, but it is barbarism nonetheless.

I'm also reminded of the image of the Sacred Heart of Christ. The blood and the water that poured forth from Jesus on the Cross, are like the "flood of grace and charity" which the Pope spoke of.

Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father,
Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Formed by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mother,
Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Substantially united to the Word of God,
Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Of Infinite Majesty,
Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Holy Temple of God,
Have mercy on us...

[See also my previous post "Along the way to Santiago de Compostela" for excerpts from the Pope's homily on Saturday, November 6.]


Excerpts from the dedication of the church of the Sagrada Familia and the altar in Barcelona: Homily of the Holy Father

This is the great task before us: to show everyone that God is a God of peace not of violence, of freedom not of coercion, of harmony not of discord. In this sense, I consider that the dedication of this church of the Sagrada Familia is an event of great importance, at a time in which man claims to be able to build his life without God, as if God had nothing to say to him. In this masterpiece, Gaudí shows us that God is the true measure of man; that the secret of authentic originality consists, as he himself said, in returning to one’s origin which is God.


The home formed by Jesus, Mary and Joseph has always been regarded as a school of love, prayer and work. The promoters of this church wanted to set before the world love, work and service lived in the presence of God, as the Holy Family lived them. Life has changed greatly and with it enormous progress has been made in the technical, social and cultural spheres. We cannot simply remain content with these advances. Alongside them, there also need to be moral advances, such as in care, protection and assistance to families, inasmuch as the generous and indissoluble love of a man and a woman is the effective context and foundation of human life in its gestation, birth, growth and natural end. Only where love and faithfulness are present can true freedom come to birth and endure. For this reason the Church advocates adequate economic and social means so that women may find in the home and at work their full development, that men and women who contract marriage and form a family receive decisive support from the state, that life of children may be defended as sacred and inviolable from the moment of their conception, that the reality of birth be given due respect and receive juridical, social and legislative support. For this reason the Church resists every form of denial of human life and gives its support to everything that would promote the natural order in the sphere of the institution of the family.


Dear brothers and sisters, as I dedicate this splendid church, I implore the Lord of our lives that, from this altar, which will now be anointed with holy oil and upon which the sacrifice of the love of Christ will be consumed, there may be a flood of grace and charity upon the city of Barcelona and its people, and upon the whole world. May these fruitful waters fill with faith and apostolic vitality this archdiocesan Church, its pastors and its faithful.


Finally, I wish to commend to the loving protection of the Mother of God, Mary Most Holy, April Rose, Mother of Mercy, all who enter here and all who in word or deed, in silence and prayer, have made this possible this marvel of architecture. May Our Lady present to her divine Son the joys and tribulations of all who come in the future to this sacred place so that here, as the Church prays when dedicating religious buildings, the poor may find mercy, the oppressed true freedom and all men may take on the dignity of the children of God. Amen.


  1. It is always good to read the articles of this blog, like fresh air between many things that happens on the news, keep it going! :)


  2. Hi Ride. Yes, in the news the only report about the Pope's visit to Spain was to suggest that Spanish people have suddenly abandoned the Catholic faith and has joined the "modern" world. I think these attempts at trying to characterize society as abandoning religion are getting a bit desperate. The secular media isn't capable of dealing with the reality of the Pope's visit, so they have to create a fantasy world which fits their empty, sterile world view.

    I'm thinking that we need to develop a whole new alternative culture. We need music and movies that are inspired by the Holy Spirit, and transmit to young people the values and beliefs that we have been taught by Christ and his church.

    In the 60s there was the so-called counter culture, but it wasn't actually "counter" at all. It was very much in step with the contraceptive and sexualized society that was being promoted by the large foundations through Planned Parenthood and various other eugenic population control efforts. The true "counter" culture movement was being led by the Catholic Church with revolutionary statements defending life from the moment of conception.

    In the 60s around 50,000 young American men and women died in Viet Nam in service to their country while fighting communism; around 1 million unborn boys and girls died in the womb just last year in America due to abortion. Where are the mass marches led by the liberal political organizations protesting this slaughter of innocents? Why aren't there anti-abortion protest songs playing on the popular radio stations and MTV?

    I think this is coming, but it will be a constant uphill battle against the mega-foundations and government funded agencies. Society is evolving - to use a favorite word of the Darwinists - and young people will eventually follow their natural path towards the Truth and rebel against the forced sexual slavery of contraception and abortion.

    But evolution is a funny thing. It sits simmering away just below the surface, until it finally pops out and causes sweeping changes. I think our ideas as a culture towards sexuality have been slowly evolving - almost hidden from view. And it will just take a few decisive acts inspired by the Holy Spirit for those underlying tensions to break through the surface and challenge the "culture of death" which is the status quo.

    Then the earthly powers will be shocked and disgusted to find that suddenly it will become "cool" for young people to lead lives of chastity instead of promiscuity; to pray instead of play video games; to go to the Church and kneel before the Eucharist rather than go to the Mall and shop 'til you drop.

    This is the norm throughout history. We were created by God to worship him. What we have seen in the last century has been a severe aberration. And it is time for us to realize that this secular humanist experiment has failed miserably in bringing peace and prosperity to the world. Yes we need a New World Order. But one that is in service to God, not Man.

  3. I couldn't say it any better, the Culture of Life that the Catholic church is proposing is what our society needs.

    I sometimes watch a program called Creencias in Infinito. In the show: "Six representatives of major religions in Latin America discusses every week topics of our social reality. Moreover, an audience of university students may question the various religious positions regarding events such as cloning, the death penalty, adoption, miracle cures, among others.

    I see very often in the show that the major religions, as the Catholic church, Islam, Judaism have similar opinions even thought they are different. What they preach is more close to the culture of life than the opinions of the atheist that is part of the show also.

    I noticed that you changed you nickname, thank you for the article Michael!

  4. Hi Ride. I couldn't figure out what channel that show your talking about is on. Is there an "Infinito" channel?

    One thing I found out recently is that while the Catholic Church has taken a firm stance against IVF (in vitro fertilization), the Muslims and Jews have not come out in opposition to this procedure. This very much concerns me because this is a precursor to true "test tube babies", which is a goal of the eugenics movement. Their theologians have said that human life doesn't begin until it is implanted in the womb. I think this is a grave mistake because it opens the door to other more dangerous biotechnology experiments with human life.

    In addition Jewish scholars have come out in favor of embryonic stem cell technology. In fact Israel is a leader in this technology and has produced a number of the current stem cell lines that have been approved for use by researchers in the US.

    So while we can expect some pro-Life support from other religions, many times they do not have a consistent view because they do not fully recognize and understand that life begins at conception. They fudge around and say the soul enters the unborn baby at some later date. A similar argument was used initially to justify the legalization of abortion. Then that rational keeps expanding until it is OK to kill the baby right up to the moment of birth. Why stop there? Why not allow infanticide?

    And most Protestant churches allow various forms of contraception, which has weakened their pro-Life positions. So in the US at least, the Catholic Church is the leader of the pro-Life movement. This is despite opposition from a substantial "liberal" wing of the US Catholic Church. It's only the leadership of the Popes and the Vatican which has kept the US Church from completely swerving off the pro-Life path.

    There is an election coming up next week for a new President of the US Catholic Bishops. There is some controversy surrounding the leading candidate, Bishop Kicanas, who is considered to be lukewarm on the pro-Life issues. He allowed a priest named Daniel McCormack to continue his seminary training despite allegations of sexually abusing two men and one minor during that time. He later was arrested in 2006 and is believed to have molested at least 12 boys as a priest. Here are some links that talk about this:

  5. Even if the level of my English is not as good to unterstand copmetely this article; i have to say i appricate it; next year ill try to visit Spain and hopefully visit this church; however i have a question for You : what do U think of Benedict XVI; as i loved John Paul II as a Pope; im not sure about Benedict XVI; he is said to be part of SS during the Second World War ; its hard to believe but actually there are some evidence so it really makes me wonder whether he was a good choice for the Pope with such "background"; i know that God is forgiving but still...


  6. I love Pope Benedict XVI. His encyclicals are beautiful and brilliant. He is the perfect Pope to address the secularization of modern society. He saw it happening first hand in Nazi Germany when he was growing up, so he knows exactly what the dangers are and how far things can go if they are left unchecked. He was never part of the SS. He was forced to join the Hitler Youth along with all other young people in Germany at the time. It was not optional.

    The Catholic Church did all it could to fight Hitler. You have to understand that Germany is divided between Protestants and Catholics, and the Catholics are in the minority. There has been a long history of anti-Catholicism in Germany - especially the Kulturkampf under Bismarck in the 19th century. Don't forget that Germany also attacked predominantly Catholic Poland in WWII.

    You should read about Bishop von Galen - the Lion of Muenster.

    His sermons inspired the German people to resist the Nazis. For example, there was a group of young people that formed an organization called "The White Rose" whose member's were both Catholic and Protestant. They were executed for merely distributing information that was against the Nazi regime.

    And no one even talks about the fate of Catholic Belgians during World War I at the hands of the Germans. I'm talking about WW ONE! Long before the Nazis.

    "Every day the military authorities deport from Belgium into Germany thousands of inoffensive citizens to oblige them there to perform forced labour.
    At the time of our protest the orders of the occupying power threatened only the unemployed; today every able-bodied man is carried off, pell-mell, assembled in freight cars, and carried off to unknown parts, like a herd of slaves."

    This is from a letter by Cardinal Mercier in 1916!!!