22 December 2014

Isaias 41: 11-16

[11] Behold all that fight against thee shall be confounded and ashamed, they shall be as nothing, and the men shall perish that strive against thee. [12] Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find the men that resist thee: they shall be as nothing: and as a thing consumed the men that war against thee. [13] For I am the Lord thy God, who take thee by the hand, and say to thee: Fear not, I have helped thee. [14] Fear not, thou worm of Jacob, you that are dead of Israel: I have helped thee, saith the Lord: and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel. [15] I have made thee as a new thrashing wain, with teeth like a saw: thou shall thrash the mountains, and break them in pieces: and shalt make the hills as chaff.

[16] Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, in the Holy One of Israel thou shalt be joyful. [17] The needy and the poor seek for waters, and there are none: their tongue hath been dry with thirst. I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. [18] I will open rivers in the high bills, and fountains in the midst of the plains: I will turn the desert into pools of waters, and the impassable land into streams of waters. [19] I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, and the thorn, and the myrtle, and the olive tree: I will set in the desert the fir tree, the elm, and the box tree together: [20] That they may see and know, and consider, and understand together that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.




19 December 2014

On Christmas, Sort of, and the Need to Celebrate It


Isaias 40: 1-10


[1] Be comforted, be comforted, my people, saith your God. [2] Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and call to her: for her evil is come to an end, her iniquity is forgiven: she hath received of the hand of the Lord double for all her sins. [3] The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God. [4] Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough ways plain. [5] And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see, that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken.

[6] The voice of one, saying: Cry. And I said: What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the glory thereof as the flower of the held. [7] The grass is withered, and the dower is fallen, because the spirit of the Lord hath blown upon it. Indeed the people is grass: [8] The grass is withered, and the flower is fallen: but the word of our Lord endureth for ever. [9] Get thee up upon a high mountain, thou that bringest good tidings to Sion: lift up thy voice with strength, thou that bringest good tidings to Jerusalem: lift it up, fear not. Say to the cities of Juda: Behold your God: [10] Behold the Lord God shall come with strength, and his arm shall rule: Behold his reward is with him and his work is before him.

All flesh is grass. The grass is withered.  The flower has fallen.

True words, and they resonate with me in this time of great tribulation for Catholics.  It seems that the time of Arius is combined with the time of Luther; all that remains is to mix in the time of Diocletian. 

So, falling prey to a slight spiritual malaise is pretty much a daily possibility-- and yet, I don't really feel down.  The situation in the hierarchy is sometimes so comically bad that it is impossible to do anything but laugh.  It is so bad that I realize that I cannot place my trust in frail and transitory flesh.

I ask you: do any of you have a relative or friend for whom you have been praying, or sacrificing, or just encouraging to embrace the Catholic faith?  Has the pope made that task easier or harder?

When the boss doesn't think we should advertise because he doesn't believe in the company's product line anymore, and tells potential customers to avoid the company's salesmen, discourages job applicants because the whole thing sounds too good to be true, and gives public support for his competitors, is it any wonder that sales plummet, employees quit and the organization is adrift?

Pardon the comparison of the Church, the Spotless Body of Christ, to a business concern.  But I also speak to Catholics who cling to the Republican party for some reason.  I kid because I love!

What is to be done, ask those who have not despaired of the product, the organization, and most importantly, its Founder?  

You make do.  Carry on. Ignore the inanity at the top.  Counteract the sabotage at all levels.  Form the best team you can to keep the company going.  Mind your own task-- man your trench, if you will-- and do that as well as you can.  Petition the Founder for help and be confident.

What ends up happening?  Maybe little.  But maybe you then identify just who really believes in the product, and who can be counted on when things are bleakest.  You form ties, little webs of organized beneficial activity.  You regroup, and ultimately are prepared to break through, take over, and renew the operation.

So, perhaps, the Franciscan "renewal" will bring about just that, though through the irony of unintended consequences. 

People, there is no glamour in being a practicing, faithful, morally sensitive Catholic.  Not one that stands for the moral law for which the hierarchy seems to have no use.  God's law embarrasses some.  You know who they are.  So what?  Stand up for it anyway.

There is no glamour in maintaining and standing for Tradition. Certainly no glamour in supporting the traditional Mass and the traditional formulations of the faith.  Some people call you "rigid", "judgemental", "spiritually dead", "neopelagian" (ha!).  PhariseesYou know who they are.  So what?  Stand up for it anyway.

Into this rambling post I wanted to mention two items I saw on the net this week that I wanted to second and amplify. They fit with this theme.  Tradition will survive-- it is attached to the Vine like nothing else in the Latin Church today. Read this piece by Michael Matt at The Remnant and this post be Hilary White with a nice perspective on it, and our times.  I love the analogy to Narnia she uses.

Christ is victorious.  He will vindicate.  He asks our faithfulness and love.  He is coming.

I love Christmas.  It's like saying I like chocolate ice cream, I know.  But I will celebrate Christmas this year like it could be the last.  Because it could be-- it always could be, you know.  Christ came in gentleness, love and peace, to save me from my wretchedness.  I want to love Him now, so I might not be the victim of just fear when He comes again in Justice and Glory.

I love His Church, and I pray for the grace to stand with and for her, despite anything and everything.

16 December 2014

Cardinal Burke: "Do not give way to discouragement."

Again, God bless Cardinal Burke! From LifesiteNews:

On Thursday, LifeSiteNews presented Cardinal Raymond Burke with a handsomely bound book signed by over 29,000 people who had expressed their thanks for the cardinal’s Vatican service, and pledged to pray for him and to follow his example.

The cardinal expressed his “deepest gratitude” for the show of “support and most of all for your prayers.”

An online petition of support for the Cardinal Burke, one of the most unequivocal pro-life and pro-family voices in the Catholic Church, was launched in November by LifeSiteNews after the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had removed him from his position as the prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura. Burke was demoted to the position of patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a largely ceremonial role.

“We must all now, going forward, remain united in our Lord Jesus, defending the truth of our faith, especially with regard to marriage and the family,” said Burke after being presented the pledges by LifeSiteNews editor-in-chief John-Henry Westen. The exchange took place at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin on Thursday.

“We can be confident, even though things can seem rather dark to us, that if we cooperate with God’s grace, and are true defenders of the faith and promoters of the truth about marriage and the family, that Our Lord will not be lacking in his grace for us.”

“Of course, the victory is always his in the end. Let’s remain steadfast and not give way to discouragement,” the cardinal said.

[...]

“We must look to Our Lord himself who had to suffer and die for the sake of the truth and so too we have to be ready to accept whatever suffering comes our way in defending the truth of our faith, especially the very sacred truth with regard to God’s plan for man and woman in marriage from the very beginning,” he said.







Christmas Novena to the Infant King




I am happy to spread the word about the Christmas Novena to the Infant King at the institute's Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago. The novena begins tomorrow and concludes on Christmas Day. For intentions, offerings, and more information, just follow the link.

15 December 2014

Gaudete Gala 2014

I was fortunate last night to have attended the Fourth Annual Gaudete Benefit Gala for the sacred music program at St. Francis de Sales Oratory.  This year marked a different approach to the event, and I was curious to see if it was as enjoyable as years past. The evening exceeded my expectations, and I can only encourage any reader who missed out on the event to take steps to attend next year.

This year's Gala was held at the Sheldon Concert Hall, in the midtown theatre district (near the Fox and Powell Symphony Hall), showcasing the music of these wonderful vocalists and musicians, under the direction of Mr. Nick Botkins.  Previous Gaudete Galas were arranged around dinner, with music taking place in stages during dinner and dessert.  This made for a lovely evening, but the acoustics for this type of program were not optimal.

This year, the orchestra and choir made use of the fantastic acoustics of the Sheldon to let the beauty of the music shine.  I was reminded again of just how blessed we are at St. Francis de Sales Oratory to benefit from such wonderful sacred music.  Though there was of course Christmas music, the program included much more:  chant and polyphony, ancient and new--music requiring skill and subtlety. 

There was a pre-concert reception for an increased donation, but the concert itself was followed by a lovely champagne and dessert reception that was included in the cost of the standard ticket.  Both receptions were quite nice, and provided opportunity for fun and conversation on either side of the performance.  At the risk of oversimplifying things, previous Galas seemed to be a nice dinner, with beautiful music in the background, whereas this year it was a highly enjoyable concert, with time to eat, drink and be merry.  The star was the music itself-- the musicians and vocalists themselves were the center.  

And I think that is very fitting.  The proceeds of the event go to ensure that the sacred music program continues, and continues to grow in quality.  

A worthy cause. A beautiful evening.  

Can't wait until next year.

12 December 2014

There's Something to This Scripture Thing: Gueranger Knows It

Isaias XXIV: 1-16(a)

[1] Behold the Lord shall lay waste the earth, and shall strip it, and shall afflict the face thereof, and scatter abroad the inhabitants thereof. [2] And it shall be as with the people, so with the priest: and as with the servant, so with his master: as with the handmaid, so with her mistress: as with the buyer, so with the seller: as with the lender, so with the borrower: as with him that calleth for his money, so with him that oweth. [3] With desolation shall the earth be laid waste, and it shall be utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word. [4] The earth mourned, and faded away, and is weakened: the world faded away, the height of the people of the earth is weakened. [5] And the earth is infected by the inhabitants thereof: because they have transgressed the laws, they have changed the ordinance, they have broken the everlasting covenant.

[6] Therefore shall a curse devour the earth, and the inhabitants thereof shall sin: and therefore they that dwell therein shall be mad, and few men shall be left. [7] The vintage hath mourned, the vine hath languished away, all the merryhearted have sighed. [8] The mirth of timbrels hath ceased, the noise of them that rejoice is ended, the melody of the harp is silent.[9] They shall not drink wine with a song: the drink shall be bitter to them that drink it. [10] The city of vanity is broken down, every house is shut up, no man cometh in.

[11] There shall be a crying for wine in the streets: all mirth is forsaken: the joy of the earth is gone away. [12] Desolation is left in the city, and calamity shall oppress the gates. [13] For it shall be thus in the midst of the earth, in the midst of the people, as if a few olives, that remain, should be shaken out of the olive tree: or grapes, when the vintage is ended. [14]These shall lift up their voice, and shall give praise: when the Lord shall be glorified, they shall make a joyful noise from the sea. [15] Therefore glorify ye the Lord in instruction: the name of the Lord God of Israel in the islands of the sea.


[16] From the ends of the earth we have heard praises, the glory of the just one.

Thus was the earth in desolation when the Messias came to deliver and save it.  So diminished, so decayed, were truths among the children of men, that the human race was bordering on its ruin. The knowledge of the true God was becoming rarer as the world grew older; idolatry had made everything in creation an object of its adulterous worship; the practical result of a religion which was but gross materialism, was frightful immorality; man was for ever at war with man; and the only safeguards of what social order still existed in the world, were the execrable laws of slavery and extermination.  Among the countless inhabitants of the globe, a mere handful could be found who were seeking God! they were as rare as the olives that remain on the tree after a careful plucking, or as grape-bunches after the vintage is ended.  Of this happy few were, among the Jewish people, those true Israelites whom our Saviour chose for His disciples; and, among the Gentiles, the Magi that came from the east, asking for the new-born King; and later on, Cornelius the centurion, whom the angel of the Lord directed to St. Peter.  But with what faith and joy did they acknowledge the incarnate God! and what their hymns of glad gratitude, when they found that they had been privileged, above others, to see with their own eyes the promised Saviour!

Now, all this will again happen when the time draws near of the second coming of the Messias.  The earth will once more be filled with desolation, and mankind will be again a slave of its self-degradation.  The ways of men will again grow corrupt; and, this time, the malice of their evil will be the greater, because they will have received Him who is the Light of the world, the Word of life. A profound sadness will sit heavy on all nations, and every effort for their well-being will seem paralyzed; they, and the earth they live on, will be conscious of decrepitude; and yet it will never once strike them that the world is drawing to an end.  There will be great scandals; there shall fall stars from heaven, that is, many of those who had been masters in Israel shall apostatize, and their light shall be changed into darkness.  There shall be days of temptation, and faith shall grow slack: so that when the Son of Man shall appear, faith shall scarce be found on the earth.  

Let it not be, O Lord, that we live to see those days of temptation; or, if it be Thy will that they overtake us, make our hearts firm in their allegiance to Thy holy Church, which will be the only beacon left to Thy faithful children in that fierce storm.  Grant, O Lord, that we may be of the number of those chosen olives, of those elect bunches of grapes, wherewith Thou wilt complete the rich harvest which Thou wilt garner for ever into Thy house.  Preserve intact within us the deposit of faith which Thou hast entrusted to us; let our eye be fixed on that Orient of which the Church speaks to us, and where Thou art suddenly to appear in Thy majesty.  

When that day of Thine comes, and we behold Thy triumph, we will shout our glad delight, and then, like eagles which cluster round the body, we shall be taken up to meet Thee in the air, as Thy apostle speaks, and thus shall we for ever be with Thee.  Then we shall hear the praises and glory of the Just One, from the ends of this earth, which it is Thy good will to preserve until the decrees of Thy mercy and justice shall have been fully executed.  O Jesus! we are the work of Thy hands; save us, and be merciful to us on that great day.

-- from The Liturgical Year, entry for the Second Friday of Advent, by Dom Prosper Gueranger (emphasis added)

11 December 2014





Until Next Time




"Is there anything, apart from a really good chocolate cream pie and receiving a large unexpected check in the mail, to beat finding yourself at large in a foreign city on a fair spring evening, loafing along unfamiliar streets in the long shadows of a lazy sunset, pausing to gaze in shop windows or at some church or lovely square or tranquil stretch of quayside, hesitating at street corners to decide whether that cheerful and homey restaurant you will remember fondly for years is likely to lie down this street or that one? I just love it. I could spend my life arriving each evening in a new city."

-- Bill Bryson, Neither Here Nor There


10 December 2014

"'What doors can we allow them to open?' Answer - the door to the confessional."

The news is out that the push to abandon the teaching of Our Lord Himself regarding the indissolubility of marriage and the biblical condemnation of sacrilegious communion is still very much on in advance of the Ordinary Synod against on the Family.


Apparently, the old saying “once bitten, twice shy” doesn’t apply to a synod of bishops.

On Tuesday, the Vatican released the lineamenta, or preparatory document, for the next synod called by Pope Francis for October 2015, also focused on the family. The document contains 46 questions covering much of the same ground as last time, even if the wording is designed to make clear that the basics of Catholic doctrine aren’t in doubt.

Right.  Same playbook as last time, with a twist:

"See, we really mean it when we say we aren't changing doctrine, so don't you dare say that anymore.  Of course we are, but this is the Church's 1984 moment, and if Big Brother says 2+2=5, you had better say 5.  Use the pastoral approach that you know Big Brother wants, regardless of how craven policy makes him dissemble, or else you'll get it like Burke. Capisce?"

The blog Restore DC Catholicism sums it up pretty well:

About 2-3 weeks ago, I put up a post in which Cardinal Burke publicly asked the Holy Father not to allow long-settled matters such as the sinfulness of homosexuality and remarriage of divorced people to be fodder of pointless debates.  Debates about these matters are pointless for Our Lord has made known His mind about these quite unmistakably throughout the years.  Cardinal Burke also suggested that we all petition the Holy Father along these lines.  Sadly wise words have fallen on deaf ears.

Sandro Magister of www.chiesa.espressonline.net advised that the preliminary questionnaire for the October 2015 synod was released; for now it's only in Italian.  The questions within it give clear indication that those matters will indeed be on the table for the October synod.

In an interview given to La Nacion yesterday, the Holy Father expressed some unfortunate sentiments regarding Holy Communion for those living in adultery - sentiments that bode ill for the October synod.  I quote one below for commentary.
  "In the case of divorcees who have remarried, we posed the question, what do we do with them? What door can we allow them to open? This was a pastoral concern: will we allow them to go to Communion? Communion alone is no solution.  The solution is integration. They have not been excommunicated, true. But they cannot be godfathers to any child being baptised, mass readings are not for divorcees, they cannot give Communion, they cannot teach Sunday school, there are about seven things that they cannot do, I have the list over there. Come on! If I disclose any of this it will seem that they have been excommunicated in fact. Thus, let us open the doors a bit more.”

"What doors can we allow them to open?"  Answer - the door to the confessional, with a proper desire to quit the sinful relationship as befits authentic repentance.  Divorcees who have remarried without a declaration of nullity of their first marriages are by definition living in a state of adultery.  That is mortal sin, a direct violation of the Sixth Commandment.  For their own good they are prohibited from Holy Communion and from all prominent places of service to the Church.

What I stated in the paragraph preceding this is nothing more than Church teaching for these past hundreds of years.  Once upon a time every child who attended Catholic school was well-versed in these matters.  So why, oh why, are the perennial teachings of Holy Mother Church allowed to be debated, doubted and questioned by the very prelates who are tasked by Our Lord with their protection and promulgation?

As I said, I believe all hell will break loose at the synod.  I don't mean "hell" in terms of strenuous argument but in terms of spiritually deadly heresies being insinuated into the proceedings by those from the highest offices of the Vatican.  If that's the case, we'd better pray that more like Cardinals Burke and Pell will raise their voices and, if necessary, pound their fists on tables in defense of the truth.

Of course, absent a special invitation, Cardinal Burke, in the wake of his Patheos-described-glue-sniffing-quality-delusional "promotion" to Cardinal Patron of the Knights of Malta, won't be there to speak truthiness to power.

Fellow Catholics, the modernists at all levels are determined to ram this through-- the wedge that will bust open the Church.  If you think last year's Synod was a disaster,  just wait.  We must remain alert and vocal, yes, but above all we must storm Heaven with prayer.  It is our only weapon against the enemy.  We need it ten times more now.


Mater ecclesiae, ora pro nobis!

09 December 2014

Reality Check




This is neither here nor there, as the deed is done and the message is sent, leaving the truth exposed to those with eyes to see it. But, as Louie Verrechio rightly points out, there are many who yearn to wear their rose colored glasses and stick cotton in their ears. Verrechio deconstructs the latest attempt to whitewash the Burke affair. Noble, though tedious work, that. I still see and hear people who should know better try to spin the Burke reassignment as a glorious honor from the Pope.

_________

After a brief hiatus following the Extraordinary Synod debacle, the Cotton Candy Catholic Chorus has emerged from Lala Land to wax delirious over the pope’s recent comments concerning the reassignment of Cardinal Burke.

“See,” they say, “Pope Francis didn’t retaliate against Cardinal Burke; that’s just a spin job put forth by those negative traditionalists!”

I, however, take a more sober view of the Holy Father’s latest interview relative to Cardinal Burke.

...most of us realize that plainspoken statements offered for public consumption as it concerns the relationship between a pope and a curial prelate isn’t exactly the Roman way.

It wasn’t that way when Pope Pius XII exercised the age-old option to “promoveatur ut removeatur” (that is, promote to remove) Giovanni Battista Montini, sending him packing for Milan in 1954, for example.

By contrast, our current Holy Father’s decision to move the sixty-six year old Cardinal Burke from the eminently powerful position of Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, at a time when canonical questions of great importance are being debated in the Church, to the figurehead post of Patron of the Order of Malta is refreshingly transparent by Roman standards!

As for why Cardinal Burke has been so reassigned, I’m reminded of a statement made by Pope Francis in his closing address to the Extraordinary Synod wherein he criticized those who might succumb to:

… a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law…

When I first read this comment, I understood that the pope was poking yet another finger in the eye of tradition loving Catholics everywhere, of course, but I also considered that his very specific reference to “the law” was aimed directly at the Curia’s then chief canon lawyer, Raymond Leo Burke.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the Holy Father’s interview to see if he offered anything that might reasonably temper that suspicion.

Here is what Pope Francis had to say about Cardinal Burke’s reassignment:

Pope Francis: One day Cardinal Burke asked me what he would be doing as he had still not been confirmed in his position, in the juridical sector, but rather had been confirmed “donec alitur provideatur” (“until otherwise provided for”). And I answered “Give me a little time because we are thinking of a juridical restructuring in the G9.” I told him nothing had been done about it yet and that it was being considered.

After that the issue of the Order of Malta cropped up and we needed a smart American who would know how to get around and I thought of him for that position. I suggested this to him long before the synod. I said to him “This will take place after the synod because I want you to participate in the synod as a Dicastery Head.” As the chaplain of Malta he wouldn’t have been able to be present.

He thanked me in very good terms and accepted my offer, I even think he liked it. Because he is a man that gets around a lot, he does a lot of traveling and would surely be busy there. It is therefore not true that I removed him because of how he had behaved in the synod.


First, pay close attention to the first paragraph.

Notice that the starting point of the conversation is the fact that Cardinal Burke was left unconfirmed in his post for more than a year, as if we’re all supposed to accept that it’s simply a given that he would have to go.

Really?

Any interviewer worth a wooden nickel would have asked (just as any reasonable Catholic will certainly wonder) why the pope found it necessary to remove Cardinal Burke in the first place.

There is absolutely no indication whatsoever, from either the pope or the cardinal, that Burke himself desired a transfer; in fact, far from it.

Furthermore, just to be clear, if recent history is any indication, it’s certainly not standard procedure for a new pope to replace a sitting Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura with a man more to his liking:

- Cardinal Francesco Roberti was made Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura by Pope John XXIII in November of 1959. Paul VI confirmed him in that post where he remained until his retirement some ten years later.

- Cardinal Pericle Felici was appointed Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura by Pope Paul VI in August of 1977. Following his elevation to the papacy more than a year later, Pope John Paul II confirmed him in the position; one he continued to hold until his death in 1982.

- Cardinal Burke’s predecessor, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Agostino Vallini was appointed by Pope John Paul II in May of 2004, and was promptly reconfirmed in that position by Pope Benedict XVI less than month after ascending to the Chair of St. Peter in April of 2005. He remained in the post until Burke was made Prefect in 2008.

As for the comment, “we are thinking of a juridical restructuring in the G9,” don’t be distracted from the real question at hand; namely, why does Pope Francis find it necessary to remove Cardinal Burke from a post that he has filled faithfully and with great passion for many years, and clearly desires to maintain?

While the restructuring of the Curia may have played a hand in Burke’s extended “until otherwise provided for” status, it most certainly had nothing to do with the decision to reassign him.

In other words, it’s not as if the pope isn’t quite sure whether or not the Tribunal will retain its independent status and thus remain in need of a Prefect of its own. This much is obvious given the fact that a new Prefect, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, has just been appointed to replace Cardinal Burke.

To the delight of the papal excuse makers, Pope Francis went on to call Burke a “smart American,” and said that he deliberately waited to send the cardinal off on his extended vacation in Ceremonyland so he could be present at the Extraordinary Synod!

According to seasoned Vaticanista Robert Moynihan of Inside the Vatican, who is either suffering a nasty sugar overdose of his own or is perhaps just playing the “three-cheers-for-Francis” game as a matter of self-preservation (not that there’s all that much difference):

This is evidence that the decision to change Burke’s post had nothing to do with the conflict which emerged during the Synod itself.

Can you even stand the journalistic insight!

Let me guess… Next we’re going to be informed that the decision to yank Cardinal Burke from the Congregation for Bishops; replacing him with Cardinal Wuerl – a man who imagines a dichotomy between “doctrinal givens,” like the gravity of adultery, and “pastoral applications,” like offering Holy Communion to unrepentant adulterers – also had nothing to do with the Synod.

No fooling.

Anyone who has been paying even a modicum of attention knows very well that Cardinal Burke has been in Francis’ crosshairs for quite some time. (He was, after all, left unconfirmed all these many months for a reason.)

As for making sure that Cardinal Burke was present at the Synod; big deal.

Many bishops of a similar mind were there present to witness firsthand the pope’s machinations. The Holy Father clearly wasn’t concerned that the presence of one “smart American” was going to derail his plans for “making a mess.”

As it is, history will forever recall that Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke was there when Extraordinary Synod 2014 published its infamous interim report, the document of which Bishop Athanasius Schneider said:

This is the first time in Church history that such a heterodox text was actually published as a document of an official meeting of Catholic bishops under the guidance of a pope… It’s an indication to the extent that the spirit of the anti-Christian world has already penetrated such important levels of the life of the Church.

Incidentally, this abominable text remains available in multiple languages on the website of the Holy See for all to see.

As for the revelation that Cardinal Burke actually thanked the pope, accepted his “offer” and “even seemed to like it,” who would have expected anything less than a gracious response from this seasoned Curial prelate?

Moving on to the heart of the matter…

Those with eyes to see are being given a glimpse at just how crafty His Humbleness really is when he states, “He accepted my offer…”

You have to give credit where credit is due; Pope Francis is a master of subtlety!

Be not fooled, however, in no sense was Cardinal Burke’s then pending reassignment an “offer.”

Only the insipid (of which there are many, obviously) can imagine for even a moment that the Bishop of Rome and the lame duck Prefect were involved in some sort of consultative process concerning the latter’s future. This, however, is precisely the message deliberately implied.

At this, let us return to where we began; the Roman game, a veritable fencing match wherein seemingly innocuous commentary offered for publication is readily recognized by the initiated for the verbal public undressing it is intended to be.

“A smart American who would know how to get around… he is a man that gets around a lot, he does a lot of traveling…”

Please allow me to translate the pope’s words as read through the lens of Romanspeak; bearing in mind that they were not so much about Cardinal Burke as they were directed to Cardinal Burke in order to skewer him in the plain sight of his confreres; understanding that there is also a warning shot being fired therein for the benefit of every other prelate who just so happens to be cut from a similar cloth:

“So, Eminence, it would seem that you have a penchant for international travel, especially given your many journeys back to the United States where you so graciously offer the old Mass for those restorationists who, for whatever reason, are attached to that fashion… Perhaps you’d be better suited for a more ceremonial position that allows you the freedom to move about?”

In conclusion, Pope Francis didn’t downplay the tension that exists between himself and Cardinal Burke; on the contrary, he confirmed it.