28 February 2013

Pro Eligendo Summo Pontifice

Thanks to the Transalpine Redemptorists for the image. Click to enlarge.

The Task

So the seat is vacant now
Every Catholic to his knees
Cry to heaven for reprieve
Until a time when smoke he sees

Next in long unbroken line--
Deemed feeble and in full retreat--
Emerges Peter with hidden strength
Mary's glory and the foe's defeat

     Can we wonder anymore?
     Or doubt Christ's holy providence?
     Recall His Promise and His keys!

To the rough hewn Cross he goes
Unto the end which is his part
Until Your Mother's triumph, Lord--
Man of Rome, After Your Heart!

In Speech to Cardinals, Pope Benedict Promises Obedience to His Successor

From STLToday:

VATICAN CITY   •  Pope Benedict XVI promised his "unconditional reverence and obedience" to his successor in his final words to cardinals Thursday, a poignant and powerful farewell delivered hours before he becomes the first pope in 600 years to resign.

In an unexpected speech inside the Vatican's frescoed Clementine Hall, the pontiff appeared to be trying to defuse concerns about possible conflicts arising from the peculiar situation of having both a reigning pope and a retired one.
He also gave a final set of instructions to the "princes" of the church who will elect his successor, urging them to be united as they huddle to choose the 266th leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

"May the College of Cardinals work like an orchestra, where diversity — an expression of the universal church — always works toward a higher and harmonious agreement," he said.

It was seen as a clear reference to the deep internal divisions that have come to the fore in recent months following the leaks of sensitive Vatican documents that exposed power struggles and allegations of corruption inside the Vatican.

The moment was as unique as Benedict's decision to quit, with the 85-year-old pope, wearing his crimson velvet cape and using a cane, bidding farewell to his closest advisers and the cardinals themselves bowing to kiss his fisherman's ring for the last time.

Some seemed to choke up at that moment, but the scene seemed otherwise almost normal, with cardinals chatting on the sidelines waiting their turn to say goodbye.

Benedict said he would pray for the cardinals in coming days as they discuss the issues facing the church, the qualities needed in a new pope and prepare to enter into the secret conclave to elect him.

"Among you is also the future pope, whom I today promise my unconditional reverence and obedience," Benedict said in his final audience.

Shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday, Benedict will leave the palace for the last time as pontiff, head to the helipad at the top of the hill in the Vatican gardens and fly to the papal retreat at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome.

There, at 8 p.m. sharp, Benedict will become the first pontiff in 600 years to resign. The doors of the palazzo will shut and the Swiss Guards will go off duty, their service protecting the head of the Catholic Church over — for now.

And on Monday, the cardinals are expected to begin meeting to set the date for the conclave.


27 February 2013

What Were You Doing When the Pope Abdicated?

When they ask you that question in the time to come, what a grace to be able to answer, "I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament at St. Francis de Sales Oratory."

The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed beginning at 1 pm CST, Thursday, Feb. 28 (the moment See becomes vacant) until Benediction at 6:30 pm.

'Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?' 

'A man may do both,' said Aragorn. 'For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time. The green earth, say you? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day!' 

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

"Since when is it the government’s job to provide my kid with friends?"

That pithy and true response to the socialization accusation, from this article over at the Lew Rockwell, might interest you.

26 February 2013

Pope Benedict's Words in 2010

This is a decade after we were told that the Third Secret was fully revealed and that the Fatima prophecy was fulfilled in the assassination attempt on John Paul II and the reported fall of Communism.  Emphases mine:

We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete. Here there takes on new life the plan of God which asks humanity from the beginning: “Where is your brother Abel […] Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!” (Gen 4:9). Mankind has succeeded in unleashing a cycle of death and terror, but failed in bringing it to an end… In sacred Scripture we often find that God seeks righteous men and women in order to save the city of man and he does the same here, in Fatima, when Our Lady asks: “Do you want to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings which he will send you, in an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?” (Memoirs of Sister Lúcia, I, 162).
At a time when the human family was ready to sacrifice all that was most sacred on the altar of the petty and selfish interests of nations, races, ideologies, groups and individuals, our Blessed Mother came from heaven, offering to implant in the hearts of all those who trust in her the Love of God burning in her own heart. At that time it was only to three children, yet the example of their lives spread and multiplied, especially as a result of the travels of the Pilgrim Virgin, in countless groups throughout the world dedicated to the cause of fraternal solidarity. May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfilment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.

Pope Benedict has read the Third Secret.  He himself says it is not yet fulfilled.  

Popery Potpourri

I throw a nod to a friend from the Oratory, who had used the title of this post as the title of a blog he used to write.  I use it now because I feel I must write something of a stream of consciousness post concerning the end of the reign of Pope Benedict XVI and the issues we face as Catholics.

What I will write I cannot claim to be terribly original, nor that it will be better written than what others have written elsewhere.  It will merely be my own.

Anecdotal evidence and gut feelings may motivate or persuade the individual, but do little to carry an argument.  I am not arguing here, so forgive my liberal use of both anecdote and gut.

1.   I have to express my gratitude to the Pontiff for Summorum Pontificum.  As John Rao said in his recent piece, in this motu proprio he "told the world openly what we Traditionalists desperately needed to hear from the voice of the Supreme Pontiff: that the Mass of the Ages could not be wiped from the face of the Earth....Would that I had that one honor to lead me before the judgment seat of the eternal throne of God!"  No matter what else was left undone, or untried, or fell short of the best, this Pope deserves our thanks.  By itself, it is the foundation of all attempts at the future restoration-- if, by God's grace, we ever see it.

2.  When I am tempted to feel dismay at this abdication, or at other seemingly frustrating actions by or towards this Pope, I remind myself of one important fact.  Pope Benedict has read the entire Third Secret of Fatima.  He has read the words of the Mother of God.  He has read her words that unlock the mysterious vision of the Bishop in White.  I don't see how this can be recalled often enough.  He knows what led us to this desperate point.  He knows the sad consequence of several Popes who ignored Mary's admonitions.  He knows the consequences of his own actions-- the motivations and difficulties of which we will never know.

I'm not saying we can't make reasonable observations, but only that we keep in mind that we don't know half of what is going on, and if we did we would probably not handle it very well.

3.  Is Pope Benedict XVI-- or should I say His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pontiff Emeritus-- the famous Bishop in White?  It would explain an apparent awkwardness in the words of the visionary Sr. Lucia, who describes a Bishop dressed in white, who the children had the impression was the Holy Father.  When I first read these words long ago, I thought them a needless nicety-- an unnecessary qualification.  Now, of course, they take on an intriguing aspect, since we are informed that the Pontiff Emeritus will continue to wear white.

Why, if he will be retired from the view of the world, was it thought necessary to make an announcement of his attire? 

Of course, it may be coincidental.  And I do not prophesy.  Yet I could consider a plausible future situation where another country, or the International Criminal Court, or the UN, seeks to prosecute Pope Benedict for some charge, real or imagined.  Perhaps the new Pope, asserting the sovereignty of the Vatican City State, refuses to yield him up to the Church's enemies.  Perhaps the "international community" reacts by attacking the Vatican, and you just might see:

...a Bishop dressed in White 'we had the impression it was the Holy Father'.  Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.

4.  What follows is a prophecy, I guess, but it is not mine.  I pass it along in light of Fatima and the speculation of number 3, above. The Fatima Crusader interviewed some time back Fr. Paul Kramer, who has published his own take on Fatima on a number of occasions.  I do not write this to endorse any view of Fr. Kramer-- anyone can do their own vetting of him and how he or Fr. Gruner are viewed by officials in the hierarchy.  I include an excerpt of this interview only for what he claims a 20th Century stigmatist predicted about the consecration of Russia:

FC: So, whoever this hunted Pope is, Benedict or some other Pope, it will not be he who consecrates Russia, in your view?

Father Kramer: On this point I would refer to the testimony of the Roman stigmatist, Antonio Ruffini. Pope Pius XII authorized the blessing of a chapel on the spot where Ruffini received the stigmata on the Via Appia, and Father Tomaselli, the miracle worker, wrote a booklet about him ---- 
a short account of the life of Ruffini. I myself knew Ruffini for many years. In the early 1990s Ruffini was asked point blank in his home: "Is John Paul II the Pope who is going to do the Consecration of Russia?" He answered: "No, it's not John Paul. It will not be his immediate successor either, but the one after that. He is the one who will consecrate Russia." That is, Benedict's successor, during this time of world war and persecution of the Church, will be the one to do the Consecration at long last and then the restoration and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart will begin.

This is the kind of stuff that could keep you up at night, if you let it.  So, if it bothers you, don't read too much into it and don't spend time unwinding the thread you could pull.  We do know what Mary asked of us lay Catholics:  pray the Rosary, make the reparation of the Five First Saturdays

Oh, and as a postscript to this take, read this.

5.  Of course I pray for a new Pope to be chosen like Cardinal Burke.  I mean, really, really like him.  Like, HIM, for instance.  But anybody better will also do.  ;-)

Pray for Cardinal Burke in any event.  If he is not elected, he will be at the forefront of the charge to restore, or will be persecuted by the Church's victorious modernists.

6.  One of the other thoughts that return to me in prayer is to pray for clarity.  By clarity, I mean that we Catholics worldwide actually know just who is elected Pope.  Pray that the conclave is not interrupted, or the election challenged.  The last thing we need is a pseudo-Catholic Al Gore.

7. One more thought before ending this post-- though I may or may not return to the topic.  Speaking of clarity, it would be a blessing (if we are to suffer a general persecution) to actually know who the Catholics are. If there is a schism in the works, I pray it is defused.  But if not, at least we might have the benefit of seeing our enemies unmasked.

There it is.  I won't deny this post is a bit melodramatic, but, to quote Audrey Rouget in Metropolitan:  "Life is melodramatic if you consider the whole sweep of it."  And nothing is more important to this sad world than what happens in that conclave.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!


Excellent, Excellent Article by John Rao

At Rorate Caeli, giving some timely historical context to the upcoming conclave, and analogizing the situation to what faced the Church at Trent.  A must read.
“The right tactic for us is to be visibly and always what we are, nothing more, nothing less. We defend a citadel which cannot be taken except when the garrison itself brings in the enemy. Combating with our own arms, we only receive minor wounds. All borrowed armor troubles us and often chokes us.” (L.Veuillot, Mélanges, Oeuvres completes, iii series, 1933, v, 276).

25 February 2013

Motu Proprio Issued on Conclave Rules

The following summary is from Vatican Radio.  I will have an all-things-Pope roundup this afternoon for commentary.

Pope: new rules for sede vacante and conclave

(Vatican Radio/VIS) – In an unofficial translation of the Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio by Holy Father Benedict XVI and dated 22 February, following are a few amendments concerning the election of the Roman Pontiff.

“With the Apostolic Letter 'De aliquibus mutationibus in normis de electione Romani Ponteficis' given as a Motu Proprio in Rome on 11 June 2007 in the third year of my pontificate, I established some norms that, rescinding those prescribed in no. 75 of the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici Gregis' promulgated by my predecessor Blessed John Paul II, have re-established the regulation, sanctioned by tradition, according to which a two thirds majority of the votes of the Cardinal electors present is always required for the valid election of the Roman Pontiff.”

“Considering the importance of ensuring the best implementation of what is concerned, albeit with a different significance, regarding the election of the Roman Pontiff, in particular a more certain interpretation and execution of some provisions, I establish and prescribe that some norms of the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici Gregis', as well as what I myself set forth in the above-mentioned Apostolic Letter, be replaced with the following norms:

35. “No Cardinal elector can be excluded from active or passive voice in the election of the Supreme Pontiff, for any reason or pretext, with due regard for the provisions of No. 40 and No. 75 of this Constitution.”

37. “I furthermore decree that, from the moment when the Apostolic See is lawfully vacant, the Cardinal electors who are present must wait fifteen full days for those who are absent before beginning the Conclave; however, the College of Cardinals is also granted the faculty to anticipated the beginning of the Conclave if all the Cardinal electors are present as well as the faculty to defer, for serious reasons, the beginning of the election for a few days more. But when a maximum of twenty days have elapsed from the beginning of the vacancy of the See, all the Cardinal electors present are obliged to proceed to the election.”

43. “From the beginning of the electoral process until the public announcement that the election of the Supreme Pontiff has taken place, or in any case until the new Pope so disposes, the rooms of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, and in particular the Sistine Chapel and the areas reserved for liturgical celebrations are to be closed to unauthorized persons, by the authority of the Cardinal Camerlengo and with the outside assistance of the Vice Camerlengo and the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, in accordance with the provisions set forth in the following Numbers.”

“During this period, the entire territory of Vatican City and the ordinary activity of the offices located therein shall be regulated, for the period mentioned, in a way that ensures the confidentiality and the free development of all the undertakings connected with the election of the Supreme Pontiff. In particular, provision shall be made, with the help of the Cleric Prelates of the Chamber to ensure that no one approaches the Cardinal electors while they are being transported from the Domus Sanctae Marthae to the Apostolic Vatican Palace.”

46, 1. “In order to meet the personal and official needs connected with the election process, the following individuals must be available and therefore properly lodged in suitable areas within the confines mentioned in No. 43 of this Constitution: the Secretary of the College of Cardinals, who acts as Secretary of the electoral assembly; the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations with eight Masters of Ceremonies and two Religious attached to the Papal Sacristy; and an ecclesiastic chosen by the Cardinal Dean or by the Cardinal taking his place, in order to assist him in his duties.”

47. “All the persons listed in No. 46 and No. 55, 2 of this Constitution who in any way or at any time should come to learn anything from any source, directly or indirectly, regarding the election process, and in particular regarding the voting which took place in the election itself, are obliged to maintain strict secrecy with all persons extraneous to the College of Cardinal electors: accordingly, before the election begins, they shall take an oath in the form and using the formula indicated in No. 48.”

48. “The persons listed in No. 46 and No. 55, 2 of this Constitution, having been duly warned about the meaning and extent of the oath that they are to take, before the start of the election process, shall, in the presence of the Cardinal Camerlengo or another Cardinal delegated by him, and in the presence of two numerary participant Apostolic Protonotaries, in due course swear and sign the oath according to the following formula:”

“I, N.N., promise and swear that, unless I should receive a special faculty given expressly by the newly-elected Pontiff or by his successors, I will observe absolute and perpetual secrecy with all who are not part of the College of Cardinal electors concerning all matters directly or indirectly related to the ballots cast and their scrutiny for the election of the Supreme Pontiff.”

“I likewise promise and swear to refrain from using any audio or video equipment capable of recording anything which takes place during the period of the election within Vatican City, and in particular anything which in any way, directly or indirectly, is related to the process of the election itself.”

“I declare that I take this oath fully aware that an infraction thereof will make me subject to the penalty of excommunication 'latae sententiae', which is reserved to the Apostolic See."

“So help me God and these Holy Gospels, which I touch with my hand.”

49. “When the funeral rites for the deceased Pope have been celebrated according to the prescribed ritual, and everything necessary for the regular functioning of the election has been prepared, on the appointed day of the beginning of the Conclave established in conformity with the provisions of No. 37 of the present Constitution, the Cardinal electors shall meet in the Basilica of Saint Peter's in the Vatican, or elsewhere, should circumstances warrant it, in order to take part in a solemn Eucharistic celebration with the Votive Mass 'Pro Eligendo Papa'. This celebration should preferably take place at a suitable hour in the morning, so that in the afternoon the prescriptions of the following Numbers of this Constitution can be carried out.”
50. From the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, where they will assemble at a suitable hour in the afternoon, the Cardinal electors, in choir dress and invoking the assistance of the Holy Spirit with the chant of the 'Veni Creator', will solemnly process to the Sistine Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, where the election will be held. The Vice Camerlengo, the General Auditor of the Apostolic Camera, and two members of each of the colleges of numerary participant Apostolic Protonotaries, Prelate Auditors of the Roman Rota, and Cleric Prelates of the Chamber will participate in the procession.

51, 2. “It will therefore be the responsibility of the College of Cardinals, operating under the authority and responsibility of the Camerlengo, assisted by the Particular Congregation mentioned in No. 7 of the present Constitution, and with the outside assistance of the Vice Camerlengo and the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, to make all prior arrangements for the interior of the Sistine Chapel and adjacent areas to be prepared, so that an orderly election and its privacy will be ensured.”

55, 3. “Should any infraction whatsoever of this norm occur, those responsible should know that they will be subject to the penalty of excommunication 'latae sententiae', which is reserved to the Apostolic See."

62. “Since the forms of election known as 'per acclamationem seu inspirationem' and 'per compromissum' are abolished, the form of electing the Roman Pontiff shall henceforth be 'per scrutinium' alone.”

“I therefore decree that, for the valid election of the Roman Pontiff, at least two thirds of the votes are required, calculated on the basis of the total number of electors present and voting.”

64. “The voting process is carried out in three phases. The first phase, which can be called the pre-scrutiny, comprises: 1) the preparation and distribution of the ballot papers by the Masters of Ceremonies—called meanwhile into the Hall together with the Secretary of the College of Cardinals and with the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations—who give at least two or three to each Cardinal elector; 2) the drawing by lot, from among all the Cardinal electors, of three Scrutineers, of three persons charged with collecting the votes of the sick, called for the sake of brevity 'Infirmarii', and of three Revisers; this drawing is carried out in public by the junior Cardinal Deacon, who draws out nine names, one after another, of those who shall carry out these tasks; 3) if, in the drawing of lots for the Scrutineers, 'Infirmarii' and Revisers, there should come out the names of Cardinal electors who because of infirmity or other reasons are unable to carry out these tasks, the names of others who are not impeded are to be drawn in their place. The first three drawn will act as Scrutineers, the second three as 'Infirmarii', and the last three as Revisers.”

70, 2. “The Scrutineers add up all the votes that each individual has received, and if no one has obtained at least two thirds of the votes on that ballot, the Pope has not been elected; if however it turns out that someone has obtained at least two thirds of the votes, the canonically valid election of the Roman Pontiff has taken place.”

75. “If the votes referred to in Nos. 72, 73, and 74 of the above-mentioned Constitution do not result in an election, a day will be dedicated to prayer, reflection, and discussion. In subsequent votes, in accordance with the procedure established in No. 74 of this same Constitution, only the two whose names have received the greatest number of votes in the immediately preceding ballot will have the passive electoral right. There can be no waiving of the requirement that a valid election takes place only by a qualified majority of at least two thirds of the votes of the cardinals who are present and voting. Moreover, in these ballots, the two persons who enjoy the passive electoral right lose their active electoral right.”

“When the election has canonically taken place, the junior Cardinal Deacon summons into the Hall of election the Secretary of the College of Cardinals, the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, and two Masters of Ceremonies. The Cardinal Dean, or the Cardinal who is first in order and seniority, in the name of the whole College of electors, then asks the consent of the one elected in the following words: 'Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?' And, as soon as he has received the consent, he asks him: 'By what name do you wish to be called?' Then the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, acting as notary and having as witnesses the two Masters of Ceremonies, draws up a document certifying acceptance by the new Pope and the name taken by him.”

“This document will enter into force immediately upon its publication in the Osservatore Romano.”
“This I do decree and establish, notwithstanding any instruction to the contrary.”

“Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 22 February in the year 2013, the eighth of my Pontificate.”

22 February 2013

Spiritual Bouquet for the Holy Father

The former blogger at Kansas City Catholic sent me this item, so fitting on today's feast:

Please see message below. I was enlisted to set up this blog to create a spiritual bouquet for the departing Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Please consider emailing others about it or linking to it if you have a blog. It was the idea of Father Richard McDonald of the Archdiocese of Kansas City and a few of his lay friends.


Blessed Greetings on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter!

Today with some fellow Catholics, we are launching on this great feast a web blog in response to Pope Benedict’s request at his last public homily on Ash Wednesday for a “special remembrance in prayer.” It is the chance for all who have appreciated his selfless life of service to Christ and to His Church to give back by way of a promise of prayer to him in whatever form the person desires. We hope to have the spiritual bouquet personally presented to him on Feb. 28 before he leaves the Chair of St. Peter vacant.

The website is http://prayersforbenedictxvi.blogspot.com/

We wish you to be a part of this worthy project to give back to His Holiness a bit of what he has so humbly asked of us.

God bless you!

Feast of St. Peter's Chair in Antioch

Today is the traditional Feast of the first See of the Prince of the Apostles. With the abdication of Pope Benedict on everyone's mind, an especially good day to pray for him, the Church and the next conclave.

From Butler's Lives of the Saints:

THAT Saint Peter, before he went to Rome, founded the see of Antioch is attested by Eusebius, Origen, St. Jerom, St. Innocent, Pope Gelasius, in his Roman Council, St. Chrysostom and others. It was just that the prince of the apostles should take this city under his particular care and inspection, which was then the capital of the East, and in which the faith took so early and so deep root as to give birth in it to the name of Christians. St. Chrysostom says, that St. Peter made there a long stay: St. Gregory the Great, that he was seven years bishop of Antioch; not that he resided there all that time, but only that he had a particular care over that church. If he sat twenty-five years at Rome, the date of his establishing his chair at Antioch must be within three years after our Saviour’s ascension; for in that supposition he must have gone to Rome in the second year of Claudius. 

The festival of St. Peter’s chair in general, Natale Petri de Cathedrâ, is marked on this day in the most ancient calendar extant, made in the time of Pope Liberius, about the year 354. It also occurs in Gregory’s sacramentary, and in all the martyrologies. It was kept in France in the sixth century, as appears from the council of Tours, and from Le Conte. 

In the first ages it was customary, especially in the East, for every Christian to keep the anniversary of his baptism, on which he renewed his baptismal vows, and gave thanks to God for his heavenly adoption: this they called their spiritual birth-day. The bishops in like manner kept the anniversary of their own consecration, as appears from four sermons of St. Leo on the anniversary of his accession or assumption to the pontifical dignity; and this was frequently continued by the people after their decease, out of respect to their memory. St. Leo says, we ought to celebrate the chair of St. Peter with no less joy than the day of his martyrdom; for as in this he was exalted to a throne of glory in heaven, so by the former he was installed head of the church on earth. 

On this festival we are especially bound to adore and thank the divine goodness for the establishment and propagation of his church, and earnestly to pray that in his mercy he may preserve the same, and dilate its pale, that his name may be glorified by all nations, and by all hearts, to the boundaries of the earth, for his divine honour and the salvation of souls, framed to his divine image, and the price of his adorable blood. The church of Christ is his spiritual kingdom: he is not only the architect and founder; but continues to govern it, and by his spirit, to animate its members to the end of the world as its invisible head: though he has left in St. Peter and his successors a vicar, or lieutenant, as a visible head, with an established hierarchy for its exterior government. If we love him and desire his honour, if we love men on so many titles linked with us, can we cease weeping and praying, that by his sweet omnipotent grace he may subdue all the enemies of his church, converting to it all infidels and apostates? In its very bosom sinners fight against him. Though these continue his members by faith, they are dead members, because he lives not in them by his grace and charity, reigns not in their hearts, animates them not with his spirit. He will indeed always live by grace and sanctity in many members of his mystical body. Let us pray that by the destruction of the tyranny of sin all souls may subject themselves to the reign of his holy love. Good Jesus! for your mercy’s sake, hear me in this above all other petitions: never suffer me to be separated from you by forfeiting your holy love: may I remain always rooted and grounded in your charity, as is the will of your Father. Eph. iii.

21 February 2013

The True and Final End of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish

One of the few constants on this blog for six long years now has been the chronicling of the folly and crash of the formerly Catholic parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka. Sitting here in front of a roaring fire on a beautifully snowy day, I intend to close out my own interest in the affair. I won't recap the timeline of the imbroglio for the two of you who may not know the facts, but instead I write of the end, of the aftermath, and of the lessons to be learned.

Like many battles the Church Militant has fought over the millennia, this one has its heroes, its villains, its fools, its cowards, and a tragic temporal defeat.

This battle in some ways mirrors the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, the episcopal reign of Cardinal Burke, and the chronic near-miss of the SSPX negotiations. Good intentions and early victories, followed by tough decisions that exposed the Church to strong and unfair opposition, irresolution and internal opposition, and ending in what-might-have-beens.

First, a note about intent. I have my own opinions about this, obviously, but I don't want to give the impression that I doubt the good intentions of each Bishop who tried to address the problem. Cardinal Burke, Bishop Hermann, and Archbishop Carlson each pursued a different strategy. I favor Cardinal Burke's strategy, for reasons I will relate. But I believe each bishop did what he thought best to salvage that wayward parish in spite of the disobedience and heresy of the members and their ringleaders.

The way I see it, Cardinal Burke, who was accused of trying to seize the money and assets, was proven in the end to be concerned about the Catholicity of the parish. He employed interdict and excommunication of the rebellious Board members, and excommunicated and degraded from the clerical state Mr. Marek Bozek. These are harsh measures, surely, but the Church has always seen them as medicinal in nature. They are designed to make the sinner aware of the danger to his soul of hellfire. Tough, but true.

These measures were working, and I believe were nearly victorious when His Eminence was called to Rome. Three of the Board, and the Board's counsel, were reconciled to the Church. Bozek's support, which had early on been very strong, was greatly weakened. He came within his own tie-breaking vote of being canned and the parish reunited with the Catholic Church. And His Eminence showed that the finances were not being seized by the Archdiocese by offering the parish the option of placing the funds and assets in an irrevocable trust that was in all practical possibility immune from the reach of any future bishop.

At the pivotal moment, Cardinal Burke was called away, and the momentum was lost. Bozek called a community vote he was certain to win and he won. Why? Because what started as a nearly even split between parishioners before Bozek's hire, became more and more lopsided when faithful parishioners left. And more lopsided when disgruntled-with-Bozek's act rebels left. And most lopsided when all the fringe axe-grinders entered the parish.

Bishop Hermann accepted the efforts of the reconciled Board members and sought legal redress of the situation. Unfortunately, I think they chose the wrong vehicle. They sought to gain control of the Board by alleging the rogue Board had violated the by-laws. I said then, and believe now, that the better course would have been to have the ex-Board sue the current Board for an accounting. Legally, the big spenders would have had to show what money they had and how it was spent. If--HYPOTHETICALLY-- the Board had misused funds, or had used the parish as a private slush fund for the benefit of certain powerful members, or perhaps been involved in local graft and corruption-- HYPOTHETICALLY, that is-- then I guess you would have seen a settlement to return the parish to the Archdiocese, the resignation of the Board in favor of one selected by the Archbishop, the charlatan "pastor" sent packing, and all ending well, in exchange for pulling the veil of silence over past finances.

Again, this is merely my opinion, but do I wish it had been tried.

As it turns out, Archbishop Carlson continued the bylaw violation lawsuit strategy. And possibly at that point he had no other choice. But he certainly refused to employ any further canonical sanctions.

The problem with the lawsuit chosen, apart from any issue of the skill of the legal advocacy, is that it allowed a St. Louis County Judge to decide whether St. Stan's was Catholic or not. Because this was the most significant way it was alleged they violated the bylaws, and it was the angle the Archdiocese was most confident it could win. In yet another testimony to the failure of Catholic education and orthodoxy after Varican II, the Catholic Judge ruled against the Catholic Church's authority to decide if a parish was Catholic.

Archbishop Carlson was widely quoted as saying he would take it all the way to the Supreme Court. In the end, he settled for St. Stan's agreement not to call itself a Roman Catholic parish.

Bozek and the Board are now left to pick at bones of the corpse of that formerly great parish until there is nothing left. Then Bozek can drive that BMW of his to feed off of another host, or perhaps the Board will have it towed away.

The church will almost certainly go under, ironically enough because there is no Archdiocese to prop it up now it is no longer a personal parish. There is no umbrella group of Catholics to go there instead of to their territorial parishes. There is no financial backing from the Church. All that is left is the greying population of non-procreating heretics and schismatics who will have to decide whether it is still worth it to drive to that neighborhood to celebrate themselves while giving lip service to a God they believe doesn't ask all that much of them. And to do this without any media coverage in which to glory.

The whole thing makes me sad, and not because the Church lost. She didn't lose anything in reality. She can't. She is always whole-- One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. The losers are those who separate themselves from her. They cut themselves off from the True Vine. And unlike Yosemite Sam, when they saw off the branch on which they sit, their fall is inevitable. I am saddened by the spiritual peril of so many people.

I'll close with one memory to illustrate what I mean. I came to know many of the actors in this drama, and I'll never forget talking with one person who was an early supporter of the Bozek hire. This person later repented, and bitterly so. And they tried to repair the damage. They told me of their regret, and lamented the loss of their family's ancestral parish. I heard the emotion and anguish in their voice, and I won't forget it.

So if you ever wonder why I beat the dead horse of this conflict in this space for so long, know that it was for the Catholics of that parish and for the Church herself-- not for any fixation about Mr. Bozek. I wish I never heard the name. Pray for the dispossessed Catholics, if you will.

And, thus, my final word on the matter, barring a miraculous return.

20 February 2013

18 February 2013

First Thing Monday: Listen to the Pope

Part of blogging for me is to survey other Catholic sites on news of the day. So, you will notice that this post links again to Rorate Caeli.  True, that, but think of the sites that aren't any good, to which I don't subject you!  Anyway, it is old news in the blogosphere (drink!) that the Pope has spoken some long overdue words about Vatican II, and that further, the whole abdication plan is shrouded with a bit of ominous mystery.

That being said, Rorate has chosen to publish excerpts from his last address to the seminarians of Rome, given just prior to his announcement.  They are beautiful, true words, that ought to resonate with each of us.  There is serious business afoot, my friends, and Christians must be ready to do battle with the powers and principalities of this present darkness.

Full post here.  Just a few excerpts below.  The words are Pope's, the emphases from Rorate.


We have heard three verses from the First Letter of St Peter (cf. 1:3-5). Before going into this text it seems to me important to be aware of the fact that it is Peter who is speaking. The first two words of the Letter are Petrus apostolus(cf. v.1): he speaks and he speaks to the Churches in Asia and calls the faithful “chosen”, and “exiles of the Dispersion” (ibid.). Let us reflect a little on this. Peter is speaking and — as we hear at the end of the Letter — he is speaking from Rome, which he called “Babylon” (cf. 5:13). Peter speaks as if it were a first encyclical with which the first Apostle, Vicar of Christ, addresses the Church of all time.

Peter, an apostle: thus the one who is speaking is the one who found the Messiah in Jesus Christ, who was the first to speak on behalf of the future Church: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (cf. Mt 16:16). The one who introduced us to this faith is speaking, the one to whom the Lord said: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (cf. Mt 16:19), to whom he entrusted his flock after the Resurrection, saying to him three times: “Feed my lambs...Tend my sheep” (cf. Jn 21:15-17). And it is also the man who fell who is speaking, the man who denied Jesus three times and was granted the grace to see Jesus’ look, to feel deeply moved in his heart and to find forgiveness and a renewal of his mission. However, above all it is important that this man, full of passion, full of longing for God, full of a desire for the Kingdom of God, for the Messiah, this man who has found Jesus, the Lord and the Messiah, is also the man who sinned, who fell; and yet he remained in God’s sight and in this way he remained responsible for the Lord’s Church, he remained the one assigned by Christ, he remained the messenger of Christ’s love.

And this is very important: Peter is not speaking as an individual, he is speaking ex persona Ecclesiae, he is speaking as a man of the Church, as an individual of course, with his personal responsibility, but also as a person who speaks on behalf of the Church; not only private and original ideas, not as a 19th-century genius who wished to express only personal and original ideas that no one else could have expressed first. No. He does not speak as an individualistic genius, but speaks, precisely, in the communion of the Church. In the Apocalypse, in the initial vision of Christ, it is said that Christ’s voice is like the sound of many waters (cf. Rev 1:15). This means: Christ’s voice gathers together all the waters of the world, bears within it all the living waters that give life to the world; he is a Person, but this is the very greatness of the Lord, that he bears within him all the rivers of the Old Testament, indeed, of the wisdom of peoples. ...

I would like to say something more: St Peter writes from Rome. This is important. Here we already have the Bishop of Rome, we have the beginning of Succession, we already have the beginning of the actual Primacy located in Rome, not only granted by the Lord but placed here, in this city, in this world capital.

…in going to Rome there is no doubt that he was also going to martyrdom: martyrdom awaited him in Babylon. The primacy, therefore, has this content of universality but it has a martyrological content as well. Furthermore, Rome had been a place of martyrdom from the outset. In going to Rome, Peter once again accepts this word of the Lord: he heads for the cross and invites us too to accept the martyrological aspect of Christianity, which may have very different forms. And the cross may have very different forms, but no one can be Christian without following the Crucified One, without accepting the martyrological moment too.
Christians are certainly not only foreigners; we are also Christian nations, we are proud of having contributed to the formation of culture; there is a healthy patriotism, a healthy joy of belonging to a nation that has a great history of culture and of faith. Yet, as Christians, we are always also foreigners — the destiny of Abraham, described in the Letter to the Hebrews. As Christians we are, even today, also always foreigners. In the work place Christians are a minority, they find themselves in an extraneous situation; it is surprising that a person today can still believe and live like this. This is also part of our life: it is a form of being with the Crucified Christ; this being foreigners, not living in the way that everyone else lives, but living — or at least seeking to live — in accordance with his Word, very differently from what everyone says. And it is precisely this that is characteristic of Christians. They all say: “But everyone does this, why don’t I?” No, I don’t, because I want to live in accordance with God. St Augustine once said: “Christians are those who do not have their roots below, like trees, but have their roots above, and they do not live this gravity in the natural downwards gravitation”. Let us pray the Lord that he help us to accept this mission of living as exiles, as a minority, in a certain sense, of living as foreigners and yet being responsible for others and, in this way, reinforcing the goodness in our world.
[I]nheritance. It is a very important word in the Old Testament, where Abraham is told that his seed will inherit the earth, and this was always the promise for his descendents. You will have the earth, you will be heirs of the earth. In the New Testament, this word becomes a word for us; we are heirs, not of a specific country, but of the land of God, of the future of God. Inheritance is something of the future, and thus this word tells us above all that as Christians we have a future, the future is ours, the future is God’s. Thus, being Christians, we know that the future is ours and the tree of the Church is not a tree that is dying but a tree that constantly puts out new shoots. Therefore we have a reason not to let ourselves be upset, as Pope John said, by the prophets of doom who say: well, the Church is a tree that grew from the mustard seed, grew for two thousand years, now she has time behind her, it is now time for her to die. No. The Church is ever renewed, she is always reborn. The future belongs to us. Of course, there is a false optimism and a false pessimism. A false pessimism tells us that the epoch of Christianity is over. No: it is beginning again! The false optimism was the post-Council optimism, when convents closed, seminaries closed and they said “but... nothing, everything is fine!”.... No! Everything is not fine. There are also serious, dangerous omissions and we have to recognize with healthy realism that in this way things are not all right, it is not all right when errors are made. However, we must also be certain at the same time that if, here and there, the Church is dying because of the sins of men and women, because of their non-belief, at the same time she is reborn. The future really belongs to God: this is the great certainty of our life, the great, true optimism that we know. The Church is the tree of God that lives for ever and bears within her eternity and the true inheritance: eternal life.

15 February 2013

Petrus Romanus: the Last Pope?

There-- I knew that would get your attention.  I just wanted to pass along a link to a very thoughtful post at Tea at Trianon, with lots of interesting links within it.

The matter for discussion is Pope Benedict's abdication, the Prophecy of St. Malachy, and the best lens for viewing these events.  From the full post:


It has taken me a few days to absorb the news of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. As I continue to process it, I have noticed that the traffic on my blog had risen dramatically from people searching for information on St. Malachy, Fr. René Thibaut, S.J. and the Prophecy of the Popes. My posts on these topics are HERE. This surge in curiosity is due to the last phrase of St. Malachy's Prophecy which says: "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people.” Fr. Thibaut, the Belgian Jesuit believed the Prophecy to be authentic and wrote a work of scholarship about it called La Mystérieuse prophétie des papes. Fr. Thibaut surmised that the prophecy about "Peter the Roman" does not signify a future pope calling himself “Pope Peter II” but rather Petrus Romanus symbolizes all the Roman pontiffs since St. Peter, for the Church has continually undergone persecution of some kind.
For Fr. Thibaut and other scholars, the final pope mentioned on the list is given the mysterious title Gloriae olivae, “The Glory of the Olive.” Fr. Thibaut says that the olive represents the people of God whom His judgment will glorify. It is then, as Fr. Thibaut interprets, that the kingdom of God will be manifested in an extraordinary manner. Benedict XVI is De gloria olivae, the last pope on the list. Fr. Thibaut makes it clear that this does not indicate the end of the world but the end of an era. He also believes there will be other popes to follow. He claims that many factors point to 2012 as being the pivotal year for the start of the unfolding of a new era for the Church. It is cause for hope rather than trepidation, hope which inspires reverence, prayer and vigilance.

 Read more

For Those Soldiers Fighting the Long Defeat

I cross the Green Mountain
I sit by the stream
Heaven blazing in my head I
I dreamt a monstrous dream
Something came up
Out of the sea
Swept through the land of
The rich and the free

I look into the eyes
of my merciful friend
And then I ask myself
Is this the end?
Memories linger
Sad yet sweet
And I think of the souls in heaven who will be

Altars are burning
The flames far and wide
the fool has crossed over
from the other side
They tip their caps
from the top of the hill
You can feel them come
All brave blood do spill

Along the dim
Atlantic line
The rapper's land
lasts for miles behind
the lights coming forward
and the streets are broad
all must yield
To the avenging God

The world is old
The world is great
Lessons of life
Can't be learned in a day
I watch and I wait
And I listen while I stand
To the music that comes
from a far better land

Close the eyes
of our Captain
Peace may he know
His long night is done
The great leader is laid low
He was ready to fall
He was quick to defend
Killed outright he was
by his own men

It's the last day's last hour
of the last happy year
I feel that the unknown
The world is so dear
Pride will vanish
And glory will rot
But virtue lives
and cannot be forgot

The bells
of evening have rung
there's blasphemy
on the end of the tongue
Let them say that I walked
in fair nature's light
And that I was loyal
to truth and to right

Serve God and meet your full
Look upward beyond
Beyond the darkness that masks
the surprises of dawn
In the deep green grasses
and the blood stained woods
They never dreamed of surrendering
They fell where they stood

Stars fell over Alabama
And I saw each star
You're walking in dreams
Whoever you are
Chilled as the skies
Keen as the frost
And the ground's froze hard
And the morning is lost

A letter to mother
came today
Gunshot wound to the breast
is what it did say
But he'll be better soon
He's in a hospital bed
But he'll never be better
He's already dead

I'm ten miles outside the city
And I'm lifted away
In an ancient light
That is not of day
They were calm they were gloomed
We knew them all too well
We loved each other more than
we ever dared to tell 

-- Cross the Green Mountain, by Bob Dylan

Prayer Request

A dear reader asks of your charity to please pray for Mark, who is facing a serious medical situation.  Thank you.

14 February 2013

Sermon for Quinquagesima Sunday: The Sunday Precept

This installment of the Sermon Series on the precepts of the Church was delivered by Canon William Avis of the ICRSP:
Quinquagesima 2013: Sunday Precept

“And immediately he saw, and followed Him, glorifying God.” (Luke 18:43)

In the Gospel reading for Quinquagesima Sunday, our Blessed Lord encountered a blind man seeking a cure of his blindness. By a word, the Lord heals the blind man. Justice demands that we give to each one what he deserves, and so rightly did the once blind man of Jericho glorify God from whom he received his sight. The Psalmist, King David, puts it in a way that is applicable to all of us: “Sing joyfully to God, all the earth,” he says, “Serve the Lord with gladness. Come in before His presence with exceeding great joy. Know that the Lord He is God: He made us, and not we ourselves. We are His people & the sheep of His pasture. (Psalm 99:2-3)” God is our Creator & we depend entirely on Him for our existence. We, as individuals as well as a society, owe Him the debt of adoration & thus from the beginning of time man understood his obligation to worship God, as we see with Adam’s son, Abel the Just, whose sacrifice was pleasing in the Lord’s sight.

Necessity of Public Worship of God & 3rd Commandment

Later on in the time of Moses, God would prescribe when this obligation must be fulfilled through the Third Commandment “Remember that you keep holy the sabbath day. Six days shall you labour, and shall do all your works. But on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord your God: you shall do no work on it...For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them, and rested on the seventh day: therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it. (Exodus 20:8-11)” He could have, in all fairness, commanded us to worship Him every day or every moment, but instead He dedicated one day a week for this purpose. Now since Apostolic times this obligation to worship God has been transferred from the Sabbath (that is Saturday) to the Lord’s Day (that is Sunday) as we can see in the Acts of the Apostles, the Didache, & the writings of Saint Justin the Martyr.

Since the worship of God is a grave responsibility, the law of the Church specifies what we are to do in order to fulfill it. It says “On Sundays & other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass; they are also to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord’s Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body. (CIC, can. 1247)” This precept then has a double obligation: 1) to assist at Mass & 2) to rest from work. This obligation is binding on all the baptized who have reached the age of seven & have the use of reason.

Assisting at Mass

The holy sacrifice of the Mass is the supreme & most pleasing act of worship which we can render to God. To sacrifice means to offer something to someone in testimony of his supremacy over us. The greater the offering, the more acceptable the sacrifice, in the Mass it is Jesus Christ, the well beloved Son of God, Who is offered to His Father on our behalf. There could not possibly be another offering better than this. And so it is that the Church obliges us to assist at Mass on certain days.
Furthermore the law of the Church states some requirements:” The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day (CIC, can. 1248, par. 1)” It is therefore necessary that it be a Catholic Mass (whether Latin, Byzantine, Maronite or of another Catholic rite) and that it be on the day of the obligation or the evening before. It is understood that we assist at an entire Mass, which in the Traditional rite begins with the prayers at the foot of the altar and concludes with the Last Gospel.

Moral theologians say that for it to be truly a participation at Mass, one must be physically present, awake, and have the intention of worshipping God. If one were to go to Mass only to hear the music or socialize with others, or if one sleeps during the Mass, he would not fulfill his obligation.

Although many try to find ways to deny God His rights to worship by frivolous excuses, there are however some circumstances that would justify not assisting at Mass such as considerable hardship, or corporal or spiritual harm to oneself or others. For example, if one has a highly contagious illness, like the flu, then his presence at Mass could be a detriment to his health, since he needs rest, & to the health of those around him. In case of any doubt about a particular situation, it is good to consult a good & wise priest.

Yet if we purposely miss Mass for no just reason, we would sin grievously against the precept and commit mortal sin. If however, through our own fault, we arrived late, but before the Offertory, we would only commit a venial sin, conversely to miss from the Offertory to the Communion would be mortally sinful.

Abstaining from unnecessary work

The second part of the obligation concerns work. The reasons for this were mentioned already, namely so as not to impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord’s Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body. In a certain way the Church gives us foretaste of the peacefulness of heaven through a day of rest.

Those works that are not permitted are unnecessary manual labor, judicial acts, and commercial business. Unnecessary means that it does not need to be done that day. Therefore daily things like cooking, flipping the light switch, &c. are permitted. According to many moral theologians, to do hard labor for more than two hours or lighter work for more than three hours would constitute a mortal sin.

Nevertheless there are some circumstances that would excuse from the precept to abstain from work. The first is a dispensation to do some work; this is granted by the Bishop in his diocese or the pastor in his parish. The second is work done for the divine service, such as lighting candles, preparing Masses & the like. The third is necessity when a considerable harm or loss would result for oneself or another. Of course, if there is doubt whether something is excusable or not, it is good to consult an upright & wise priest.

Our fulfillment of this precept can be made easy and even joyful if we are imbued with the Holy Ghost’s gift of piety which renders all efforts for God’s service pleasant & amiable to us. Then we shall join the saints in the heavenly court as praise the Divine Majesty saying: “I will praise you, O Lord, with my whole heart: for you have heard the words of my mouth. I will sing praise to you in the sight of the angels: I will worship towards your holy temple, and I will give glory to your name. (Psalm 137:1-2)” Amen.

St. Francis de Sales on Humility and Fasting

If you have read this blog for more than a day, you will know that I love St. Francis de Sales.  If you read more than ten pages of his writings, you will also know this: the dude loves bees.  And by that I mean that while he uses the natural world to draw analogies quite often, bees seem to be one of his favorite flying metaphors.  I can imagine him writing by an open window near a flower bed...

Beautiful, as usual.  From his sermon for Ash Wednesday, 1622:

Accomplish your good works in secret and not for the eyes of others.  Do not act like the spider, who represents the proud; but imitate the bee, who is the symbol of the humble soul.  The spider spins its web where everyone can see it, and never in secret.  It spins in orchards, going from tree to tree, in houses, on windows, on floors-- in short, before the eyes of all.  In this it resembles the vain and hypocritical who do everything to be seen and admired by others.  Their works are in fact only spiders' webs, fit to be cast into the fires of Hell.  But the bees are wiser and more prudent, for they prepare their honey in the hive where no one can see them.  Besides that, they build little cells where they continue their work in secret.  This represents very well the humble soul, who is always withdrawn within herself, without seeking any glory or praise for her actions.  Rather, she keeps her intention hidden, being content that God sees and knows what she does.