29 March 2014

Laetare, Ierusalem!




The Church to me is all important things everywhere. It is authority and guidance. It is love and inspiration. It is hope and assurance. It is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It is our Lady and St. Joseph. It is St. Peter and Pius XII. It is the bishop and the pastor. It is the catechism and it is our mother leaning over the crib teaching us our evening prayers. It is the cathedral at Chartres and the cross-tipped hut on Ulithi. It is the martyrs in the Colosseum and the martyrs in Uganda, the martyrs at Tyburn and the martyrs at Nagasaki. It is the wrinkled old nun and the eager-eyed postulant. It is the radiant face of the young priest saying his first Mass, and the sleepy boy acolyte with his soiled white sneakers showing under his black cassock.

It is the spire glimpsed from a train window and the cruciform miniature of a church seen far below on the earth from an airplane. It is six o'clock Mass with its handful of unknown saints at the communion rail in the gray dark and it is pontifical High Mass with its crowds and glowing grandeur in St. Peter's. It is the candle-starred procession after evening Benediction in St. Patrick's and the rosary, the night before the burial, at a stuccoed funeral parlor in Los Angeles. It is El Greco's soaring Assumption in Toledo and it is the primitive pink and blue angels on a mission altar in Peru. It is the Sistine Choir and it is the May procession of Chinese children singing the Regina Coeli in Peking.

It is the Carthusian at prime on Monte Allegro and the Jesuit teaching epistemology in Tokyo. It is the Scheutveld Father fighting sleeping sickness in the Congo and the Redemptorist fighting prejudice in Vermont. It is the Benedictine, the Augustinian, the Passionist, the Dominican, the Franciscan. It is all religious and especially the great unnamed Order of the Parish Priest.

It is the Carmelite Sister lighting the tapers for vespers in the drear cold of Iceland and the Sister of Notre Dame de Namur making veils for First Communion in Kwango. It is the Vincentian Sister nursing a Negro Baptist dying of cancer in Alabama and the Maryknoll Sister facing a Communist commissar in Manchuria. It is the White Sister teaching the Arabs carpetmaking in the Sahara and the Good Shepherd Sister in St. Louis giving sanctuary to a derelict child, a home to a lamb who was lost. It is the Little Sister of the Poor salving the sores of a forgotten old man in Marseilles, the Grey Sister serving the destitute in Haiti, the Blessed Sacrament Sister helping a young Negro write poetry in New Orleans. It is the Sister of Charity... It is all the Sisters everywhere.

It is the crippled woman who keeps fresh flowers before our Lady's altar and the young woman catechist who teaches the barefooted neophytes in the distant hills. It is the girl who gives up her bridge to drive the Sisters to the prisons and the homes of the poor, and it is the woman who goes from door to door begging for help for the orphanage. It is the proud mother of the priest and the heartbroken mother of the criminal. It is all mothers and sisters everywhere who weep and suffer and pray that sons and brothers may keep the Faith.

It is the youth climbing the September hill to the seminary, his heart sure of Him calling, and it is the lost priest stumbling, groping, seeking vainly afar the God he can hold in his hands, a stranger among men always and everywhere. It is the bad sermon and the good, the false vocation and the true. It is the tall young man who says the Stations of the Cross every evening and it is the father of ten who wheels the sick to Mass every Sunday morning at the County Hospital.

It is St. Martin and Martin de Porres, St. Augustine and St. Phocas, Gregory the Great and Gregory Thaumaturgus, St. Ambrose and Charles de Foucauld, St. Ignatius and Ignatius the Martyr, St. Thomas More and St. Barnabas. It is St. Teresa and St. Philomena, Joan of Arc and St. Winefride, St. Agnes and St. Mary Euphrasia. It is all the saints, ancient and new, named and unnamed, and all the sinners.

It is the stained-glass window with the ragged hole from a boy's baseball, and the small red sanctuary lamp sputtering in a dark and empty church. It is the bursting out of the Gloria on Holy Saturday and the dim crib at dawn Mass on Christmas. It is the rose vestments on Laetare Sunday and the blue overalls of the priest working with the laborers in a mine in the Ruhr.

It is the shiny, new shoes and shiny, reverent faces of the June bride and groom kneeling before the white-flowered altar at nuptial Mass, and it is the pale, troubled young mother at the baptismal font, her joy mingled with distress as she watches her first-born wail its protest against the sacramental water. It is the long, shadowy, uneven line of penitents waiting outside the confessional in the dusk of a wintry afternoon, each separate and solemnly alone with his sins, and it is the stooped figure of a priest, silhouetted against the headlights of a police car in the darkness of the highway as he says the last prayers over a broken body lying on the pavement beside a shattered automobile.

It is the Magnificat and it is grace before meals. It is the worn missal and the chipped statue of St. Anthony, the poor box and the cracked church bell. It is peace and truth and salvation. It is the Door through which I entered into the Faith and the Door through which I shall leave, please God, for eternity.

------------- from Dan England and the Noonday Devil, by Myles Connolly, 1951.

One of the most beautiful and poetic descriptions of the Church I have read. This picture of the Church, dating from the 1950s, isn't just nostalgia, but a call to restoration and renewal. The essentials remain. Barely.

Dan took a sip of his wine, smiled at Doris. "Catholics take their Church for granted," he explained. "We even take our Lord in the tabernacle for granted. But you mustn't be too hard on us. All children take their home and their father for granted. We are spoiled children."

Maria, Mater Ecclesiae, ora pro nobis!


Meatless Friday Laetare Sunday: Straight from the Fire Swamp!


What to make of this story I found at Hilary White's FB page?

And whatever became of it? The mind reels.

25 March 2014

The Annunciation (UPDATED)




Today marks the celebration of the Annunciation-- the great turning point in human history, when God became man.

High Mass at St. Francis de Sales Oratory at 6:30 pm. UPDATE: the Mass setting tonight is Mozart's Missa Brevis in D Minor, KV 65, and will feature the full choir and orchestra.  Should be a beautiful way to honor Our Lady.

This great feast of the Virgin celebrates her profound humility and her exalted status as the Mother of God.

From Divine Intimacy, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen:

[T]he Angel communicates to her his great message: God wishes her to become the Mother of the Redeemer. Mary had always lived under the continual direction of the Holy Spirit and under His inspiration had made a vow a virginity; therefore, she was convinced that she should remain a virgin and that this was God's will. But now God lets her know that He has chosen her to be the Mother of His Son, and she, humble handmaid that she is, is ready to adhere to the divine plan. However, she does not yet understand how she can be at the same time a mother and a virgin, and she questions the Angel on this point: "How shall this be done?" The Angel explains: "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee." Her maternity will be the direct work of the Holy Spirit and will respect her virginity.


[...]


The Angel's explanation does not prevent many future events and circumstances from remaining hidden and obscure to Mary. She finds herself face to face with a mystery, a mystery which she knows intuitively to be rich in suffering; for she has learned from the Sacred Scriptures that the Redeemer will be a man of sorrows, sacrificed for the salvation of mankind. Therefore, the ineffable joy of the divine maternity is presented to her wrapped in a mystery of sorrow: to be willing to be the Mother of the Son of God means consenting to be the Mother of one condemned to death. Yet Mary accepts everything in her fiat: in the joy, as well as in the sorrow of the mystery, she has but one simple answer: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord." By this acceptance, the Blessed Virgin becomes intimately associated with the life of suffering of her Son Jesus, and, therefore, with His work of Redemption, thus becoming the spiritual Mother of the human race. This is the divine plan for her, and Mary accepts it wholly, without reserve, precisely because her will is wholly united to the will of God.

24 March 2014

God Bless Cardinal Burke (Again)

Like I said, God bless Cardinal Burke (again).  The truth is refreshing; the truth expressed in charity, even more so.

Excerpts below from the Lifesite News translation of an interview for a Polish magazine, questions in italics, with the answers of His Eminence following:

2. Why is innocence downplayed nowadays? I refer to the life of unborn babies, to children who are psychologically raped during compulsory sex education classes, and to innocence understood as purity of thoughts and (premarital) purity of flesh?

The totally secular agenda, if it is to succeed, must win children and youth to its way of thinking. Education is the ultimate key to its victory in society. The only way to capture children and youth is by usurping the solemn duty of parents and teachers to educate in accord with what is true, good and beautiful. Parents and teachers, who work with parents in the correct education of their children, must necessarily respect totally the period of innocence of children and young people. Respecting that natural innocence which is a reflection of God’s gift of conscience to every child, parents and teachers will prepare children and young people to respond clearly and courageously to those forces which would rob them of their innocence, both from within themselves – due to the effects of original sin – and from outside, for example, from bad companions and from bad communications like pornography on the internet. Parents and teachers should be vigilant that nothing is introduced into the curriculum which violates a child’s innocence and even attempts to instill in the child gravely wrong ways of thinking, for example, a curriculum endorsed by a certain major government which teaches 4 and 5 year olds that marriage can take other forms than the lifelong, faithful and procreative union of one man and one woman.

[...]

5. The world today is often contemptuous of numerous families (especially of the “reckless” parents), on the other hand many families try to give their children the best possible upbringing and education and in order to be able to do so (in the time of economic crisis), they decide not to have “too many” children. Undoubtedly, the knowledge of contraceptive methods (whether approved by the Church or not) has influenced the modern family model. How can we promote openness to new life when so many families, also in developed or developing countries, are preoccupied with financial uncertainty? Aren’t also we, Catholics (i.e. Catholic marriages) tainted with a certain fear of having more children? Aren’t we seeking for excuses to justify our closing off to new life?  

Two fundamental ethical and religious principles must be kept in mind. First of all, the conjugal bond is by its very nature procreative. A husband and wife will, therefore, welcome the procreation and education of children as “the crowning glory” of their marital love, to use the words of the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (no. 48). Secondly, the procreation and education of children is a most serious responsibility of parents which they exercise with full respect for the nature of human procreation, not employing either devices or chemicals to alter artificially that nature. Pope Paul VI provided for us the perennial teaching of the Church on responsible parenthood in his Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae (July 25, 1968). Blessed Pope John Paul II devoted his Wednesday audience addresses during the first years of his pontificate to the discussion of marital love and its particular expression in the procreation of offspring. It is instructive to note that Pope Benedict XVI, in his Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, makes special reference to Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae, underscoring that the teaching in Humanae Vitae is not simply a matter of “individual morality” and that a right understanding of human sexuality is essential to true human development (no. 15). In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, it is necessary “once more to hold up to future generations the beauty of marriage and the family, and the fact that these institutions correspond to the deepest needs and dignity of the person” (no. 44).

In the end, what is essential is to understand that marital love is a sacramental participation in divine love which is pure and selfless, that is, totally generous. Parents, then, while they will take care to provide for what is essential for the correct upbringing of their children, will be generous in accepting every gift of new human life from God, recognizing in the act of procreation a cooperation in the mystery of God’s love which is particularly theirs. In that way, they will teach their children to love in the same way, to accept the sacrifice of material goods for the sake of loving God and neighbor. The contraceptive mentality, which radically distorts the beauty of marriage and family, teaches us to seek material goods above all else and, therefore, to become selfish. It is no wonder that the contraceptive mentality leads individuals to justify in their minds procured abortion, an intrinsically evil act.

6. In the last 50 years the ecclesiastical annulment has become a relatively easy way out of a difficult or inconvenient marriage. Valid reasons for declaring a marriage null and void are often confused with mere excuses to start life anew. There have been cases in which one or both spouses fictitiously change their address to obtain a favourable decision from another, fast acting or more “open-minded” diocese tribunal. It also happens that, while one spouse pushes for the annulment, the other is negative about it and – if the annulment is granted - eventually suffers greatly or even loses faith. Additionally, there seems to be a new market niche for lawyers specialising in these annulment cases. Could Your Eminence offer us some insights into how the highest judicial authorities of the Church prevent the abuse of the institution of the annulment? How can lay people resist the temptation of using the annulment as an “emergency exit” from unbreakable marriage?

The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura has the responsibility to oversee the right administration of justice in the Church. This includes the justice administered by the matrimonial tribunals in the case of the accusation of the nullity of a marriage on the part of one or both parties to the marriage. By means of the process employed at the matrimonial tribunals, a process set forth in the universal law of the Church, the judge or judges arrive at a decision regarding the truth of the claim that a marriage was null from the beginning, even though it appeared to be a valid marriage. The universal law of the Church also establishes the grounds upon which one or both of the parties can make such a claim. The process is directed solely to the discovery of the truth regarding the claim, for only the truth can serve the good of the parties involved. The decision of the tribunal is correctly called a “declaration of nullity,” not an “annulment,” so as not to give the impression that the Church is annulling a valid marriage. The declaration signifies that the judge or judges, by means of a process in which all of the arguments in favor of the validity of the marriage and all of the arguments in favor of the nullity of the marriage have been carefully weighed, have concluded with moral certitude that the marriage was null from the beginning. Moral certitude means that the judge or judges, having weighed all of the arguments – having God only before their eyes – , have no reasonable doubt regarding the nullity. The process also includes the means for parties to seek effective remedies if they believe that the truth is not being served by the process. 

The breakdown of a marriage can be owed to a cause other than the nullity of the marriage consent from the beginning of the marriage. For instance, it can be owed to the sinfulness of one or both of the parties. A party should only make the claim of marriage nullity when he is convinced that his marriage, which he previously thought was valid, was in fact invalid.
Apart from receiving complaints about possible injustices committed at local tribunals, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura also receives an annual report on the status and activity of each matrimonial tribunal. After studying the report, it sends observations to the matrimonial tribunal to assist it to carry out its work more correctly. The Apostolic Signatura also sometimes requests a copy of the definitive decision in a marriage nullity case, in order to verify that justice and, therefore, truth was served in the process leading to the decision. On the other hand, the Apostolic Signatura has the competence to grant certain favors to tribunals for the more efficacious administration of justice.

[...]

10. The policy of the President of the US towards the Christian civilisation becomes more and more aggressive. Does Your Eminence notice any symptoms of Catholic reactions against this policy? If yes, what are they, if not why?

It is true that the policies of the President of the United States of America have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization. He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies. Now he wants to restrict the exercise of the freedom of religion to freedom of worship, that is, he holds that one is free to act according to his conscience within the confines of his place of worship but that, once the person leaves the place of worship, the government can constrain him to act against his rightly-formed conscience, even in the most serious of moral questions. Such policies would have been unimaginable in the United States even 40 years ago. It is true that many faithful Catholics, with strong and clear leadership from their Bishops and priests, are reacting against the ever-growing religious persecution in the U.S. Sadly, one has the impression that a large part of the population is not fully aware of what is taking place. In a democracy, such a lack of awareness is deadly. It leads to the loss of the freedom which a democratic government exists to protect. It is my hope that more and more of my fellow citizens, as they realize what is happening, will insist on electing leaders who respect the truth of the moral law as it is respected in the founding principles of our nation.

[...]

14. Unless we truly love God, we will not be able to love our neighbours. How can our worship of God help us stand up in defence of human life?

According to the ancient wisdom of the Church, the law of worship is essentially connected to the law of belief and the law of practice. Christ comes into our midst through the Sacred Liturgy, especially the Sacraments of the Most Holy Eucharist and of Penance, to cleanse our hearts of sin and to inflame our hearts with His own love through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Only when we have a strong sense of the reality of the encounter with Christ in the Sacred Liturgy will we understand the truths of the faith and the moral life, and what they mean for our daily living. This sense is fostered by a manner of celebrating the Sacred Liturgy with our eyes fixed on Christ and not on ourselves. It should not surprise us that the period of post-Conciliar experimentation with the Sacred Liturgy, a period which was marked by so many liturgical abuses, was accompanied by a loss of faith and by moral decline. If the Sacred Liturgy is seen as a purely human activity, an invention of man, it will no longer be true communion with God and, therefore, will no longer nourish the faith and its practice in everyday living.

Why Have We Not Been Destroyed?

This is the worst headline I've ever read, from the UK Telegraph:

Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals

The remains of more than 15,000 babies were incinerated as 'clinical waste' by hospitals in Britain with some used in 'waste to energy' plants

There are so many things I could say, I hesitate to choose two for fear of unnecessarily denigrating all other just reactions, but here goes:

1. If the story involved burning a particular race of people already born in order to heat hospitals, the justifiable outrage would not end with comparisons to Hitler, but would not end until there were trials, jail terms and wholesale reforms following a political theater-type public inquiry. Not so here.

2. Why does the West ever claim moral superiority over any of the heathen and infidel nations we like to invade so much? Hate us for our freedoms? Maybe the freedom to slaughter our own children.

The mind reels at such unspeakable evil, that the soul is afraid to ask for mercy. But ask for mercy we must, and so I do: Lord, have mercy on us! Tuesday being the feast of the Incarnation of Him Who saved us by the merciful outpouring of His Precious Blood, may our Lord and Lady have mercy on us, and protect us from the wrath to come.

Feast of St. Gabriel the Archangel




Translation of the commemoration from this morning's Lauds:

Commemoratio S. Gabrielis Archangeli

Ant. The Angel Gabriel * came down unto Zacharias, and said unto him : Thy wife shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John, and many shall rejoice at his birth; for he shall go before the face of the Lord, to prepare His ways.

V. An Angel stood at the Altar of the Temple.
R. Having a golden censer in his hand.

Let us pray.

O God, Who didst choose the Archangel Gabriel from among all Thine other Angels, and send him to herald the mystery of Thine Incarnation, mercifully grant that we who keep his feast upon earth may feel his protection in heaven.
Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
R. Amen



23 March 2014

Third Sunday of Lent

From The Liturgical Year:

The holy Church gave us, as the subject of our meditation for the first Sunday of Lent, the Temptation which our Lord Jesus Christ deigned to suffer in the Desert. Her object was to enlighten us with regard to our own temptations, and teach us how to conquer them. To-day, she wishes to complete her instruction on the power and stratagems of our invisible enemies; and for this she reads to us a passage from the Gospel of St. Luke. During Lent, the Christian ought to repair the past, and provide for the future; but he can neither understand how it was he fell, nor defend himself against a relapse, unless he have correct ideas as to the nature of the dangers which have hitherto proved fatal, and are again threatening him. Hence, the ancient Liturgists would have us consider it as a proof of the maternal watchfulness of the Church, that she should have again proposed such a subject to us. As we shall find, it is the basis of all to-day’s instructions.

Assuredly, we should be the blindest and most unhappy of men, if, - surrounded as we are by enemies, who unceasingly seek to destroy us, and are so superior to us both in power and knowledge, - we were seldom or never to think of the existence of these wicked spirits. And yet, such is really the case with innumerable Christians now-a-days; for, truths are diminished from among the children of men [Ps. xi. 2].

So common, indeed, is this heedlessness and forgetfulness of truth, which the Holy Scriptures put before us in almost every page, that it is no rare thing to meet with persons who ridicule the idea of Devils being permitted to be on this earth of ours! They call it a prejudice, a popular superstition, of the Middle-Ages! Of course they deny that it is a dogma of Faith. When we read the History of the Church or the Lives of the Saints, they have their own way of explaining whatever is there related on this subject. To hear them talk, one would suppose that they look upon Satan as a mere abstract idea, to be taken as the personification of evil.

When they would account for the origin of their own or others’ sins, they explain all by the evil inclination of man’s heart, and by the bad use we make of our free-will. They never think of what we are taught by Christian doctrine; namely, that we are also instigated to sin by a wicked being, whose power is as great as is the hatred he bears us. And yet, they know, they believe, with a firm faith, that Satan conversed with our First Parents, and persuaded them to commit sin, and showed himself to them under the form of a serpent. They believe, that this same Satan dared to tempt the Incarnate Son of God, and that he carried him through the air, and set him first upon a pinnacle of the Temple, and then upon a very high mountain. Again; they read in the Gospel, and they believe, that one of the Possessed, who were delivered by our Saviour, was tormented by a whole legion of devils, who, upon being driven out of the man, went, by Jesus’ permission, into a herd of swine, and the whole herd ran violently into the sea of Genesareth, and perished in the waters. These, and many other such like facts, are believed, by the persons of whom we speak, with all the earnestness of faith; yet, notwithstanding, they treat as a figure of speech, or a fiction, all they hear or read about the existence, the actions, or the craft of these wicked spirits. Are such people Christians, or have they lost their senses? One would scarcely have expected that this species of incredulity could have found its way into an age like this, when sacrilegious consultations of the devil have been, we might almost say, - fashionable. Means, which were used in the days of paganism, have been resorted to for such consultations; and they who employed them seemed to forget, or ignore, that they were committing what God in the Old Law, punished with death, and which, for many centuries, was considered by all Christian nations as a capital crime.

But if there be one Season of the Year more than another in which the Faithful ought to reflect upon what is taught us both by faith and experience, as to the existence and workings of the wicked spirits, - it is undoubtedly this of Lent, when it is our duty to consider what have been the causes of our last sins, what are the spiritual dangers we have to fear for the future, and what means we should have recourse to for preventing a relapse. Let us, then, hearken to the Holy Gospel. Firstly, we are told, that the devil had possessed a man, and that the effect produced by this possession was dumbness. Our Saviour casts out the devil, and, immediately, the dumb man spoke. So that, the being possessed by the devil is not only a fact which testifies to God’s impenetrable justice; it is one which may produce physical effects upon them that are thus tried or punished. The casting out the devil restores the use of speech to him that had been possessed. We say nothing about the obstinate malice of Jesus’ enemies, who would have it, that his power over the devils, came from his being in league with the prince of devils:- all we would now do is, to show that the wicked spirits are sometimes permitted to have power over the body, and to refute, by this passage from the Gospel, the rationalism of certain Christians. Let these learn, then, that the power of our spiritual enemies is an awful reality; and let them take heed not to lay themselves open to their worst attacks, by persisting in the disdainful haughtiness of their Reason.

Ever since the promulgation of the Gospel, the power of Satan over the human body has been restricted by the virtue of the Cross, at least in Christian countries; but this power resumes its sway as often as faith and the practice of Christian piety lose their influence. And here we have the origin of all those diabolical practices, which, under certain scientific names, are attempted first in secret, and then are countenanced by being assisted at by well-meaning Christians. Were it not that God and his Church intervene, such practices as these would subvert society. Christians! remember your baptismal vow! You have renounced Satan: take care, then, that by a culpable ignorance you are not dragged into apostacy. It is not a phantom that you renounced at the Font; he is a real and formidable being, who, as our Lord tells us, was a murderer from the beginning [St. John, viii. 44].

But, if we ought to dread the power he may be permitted to have over our bodies; if we ought to shun all intercourse with him, and take no share in practices over which he presides, and which are the worship he would have men give him; - we ought, also, to fear the influence he is ever striving to exercise over our souls. See, what God’s grace has had to do in order to drive him from our soul! During this holy season, the Church is putting within your reach those grand means of victory, - Fasting, Prayer, and Almsdeeds. The sweets of peace will soon be yours, and, once more, you will become God’s temple, for both soul and body will have regained their purity. But be not deceived; your enemy is not slain. He is irritated; penance has driven him from you; but he has sworn to return. Therefore, fear a relapse into mortal sin; and in order to nourish within you this wholesome fear, meditate upon the concluding part of our Gospel.

Our Saviour tells its, that when the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through places without water. There he writhes under his humiliation; it has added to the tortures of the hell he carries everywhere with him and to which he fain would give some alleviation, by destroying souls that have been redeemed by Christ. We read in the Old Testament that, sometimes, when the devils have been conquered, they have been forced to flee into some far-off wilderness: for example. the holy Archangel Raphael took the devil, that had killed Sara’s husbands, and bound him in the desert of Upper Egypt [Tob. viii. 3]. But the enemy of mankind never despairs of regaining his prey. His hatred is as active now, as it was at the very beginning of the world, and he says: I will return into my house, whence I came out. Nor will he come alone. He is determined to conquer; and therefore he will, if he think it needed, take with him seven other spirits, even more wicked than himself. What a terrible assault is this that is being prepared for the poor soul, unless she be on the watch, and unless the peace, which God has granted her, be one that is well armed for war! Alas! with many souls the very contrary is the case and our Saviour describes the situation in which the devils finds them on his return: they are swept and garnished, and that is all! No precautions, no defence, no arms. One would suppose that they were waiting to give the enemy admission. Then Satan, to make his re-possession sure, comes with a seven-fold force. The attack is made;- but, there is no resistance, and straightways the wicked spirits entering in, dwell there; so that, the last state becometh worse than the first; for before, there was but one enemy, - and now there are many.

In order that we may understand the full force of the warning conveyed to us by the Church in this Gospel, we must keep before us the great reality, that this is the acceptable time. In every part of the world, there are conversions being wrought; millions are being reconciled with God; divine Mercy is lavish of pardon to all that seek it. But, will all persevere? They that are now being delivered from the power of Satan, - will they all be free from his yoke, when next year’s Lent comes round? A sad experience tells the Church, that she may not hope so grand a result. Many will return to their sins, and that too before many weeks are over. And if the Justice of God overtake them in that state - what an awful thing it is to say it, yet it is true, - some, perhaps many, of these sinners will be eternally lost! Let us, then, be on our guard against a relapse; and in order that we may ensure our Perseverance, without which it would have been to little purpose to have been for a few days in God’s grace, - let us watch, and pray; let us keep ourselves under arms; let us ever remember that our whole life is to be a warfare. Our soldier-like attitude will disconcert the enemy, and he will try to gain victory elsewhere.






21 March 2014

Priestly Ordinations this August at St. Francis de Sales Oratory




I am very excited to publish this great news, fresh from the website of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. Seven years after the historic ordinations at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, Cardinal Raymond Burke will once again ordain new priests for the Institute here in St. Louis. I will post a more in-depth piece tonight or Saturday night, but wanted to get the news out right away. From the website:

UPCOMING PRIESTLY ORDINATIONS IN THE US


"O Lord, send us many holy priests!" It is the custom in the worldwide apostolates of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest to add this invocation to the Divine Praises which are recited at each Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. By the grace of God obtained through the prayers of the Institute's family and friends, the numbers of seminarians have steadily increased over the last several years. Of the 80 men who are currently enrolled at St. Philip Neri International Seminary in Gricigliano, near Florence, Italy, in order to become priests for Holy Mother Church, one in every three comes from the United States and Canada. Having participated in the preparatory year of discernment and formation in the Institute's apostolates in the United States, these nearly thirty North American seminarians then proceed over the course of seven years to mount the altar step by step, receiving the various Minor and Major Orders of the Church after much prayer, study, and work in the community life of the international seminary.

With heartfelt gratitude to Divine Providence, it is our joy to announce the upcoming priestly ordinations which will take place this summer in the United States. With the gracious permission of His Grace, the Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis, several American deacons will be ordained to the holy priesthood at St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis, Missouri, on Tuesday, August 5, 2014, Feast of Our Lady of the Snows. The Sacrament of Holy Orders will be conferred by His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, during the solemn Pontifical Mass which will be offered on this feast in honor of Mary Immaculate, principal patroness of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

The Institute's Founder and Prior General, Very Reverend Monsignor Gilles Wach, along with the Seminary Rector and Co-Founder, Reverend Canon Philippe Mora, will be present for this special occasion, along with many Canons and members of the Institute family. The names of those to be ordained will be announced in the coming months after the important period of exams and scrutiny which is a necessary part of preparation before Holy Orders.

The Institute is profoundly grateful to all who have offered prayers for these future priests, especially through the St. Philip Neri Seminary Society's program of spiritual adoption by which the faithful pray daily for a particular seminarian. With deep appreciation the Institute likewise is very thankful to all of the generous benefactors of its International Seminary, especially to those charitable persons who have made donations to the special appeal of the St. Philip Neri Seminary Society for the tuition support of needy seminarians who cannot afford this cost.

The Institute welcomes all friends and faithful who would like to attend this Ordination ceremony. Details will be made available in the coming months. Everyone is likewise invited to pray for these several deacons as they prepare to become ordained sons of Christ the King Sovereign Priest at the service of Holy Mother Church and for the good of souls.

_________________

Congratulations to the Institute and thanks to Cardinal Burke and Archbishop Carlson for making this event possible. What a blessing for the Church in St. Louis and the whole United States!

Our Lady of the Snows, pray for our future priests!




God Bless Cardinal Burke




Like I said, God bless Cardinal Burke.

Feast of St. Benedict

This is a first class feast for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. The faithful who assist at Mass at an Institute apostolate may obtain a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions. 

Solemn High Mass at St. Francis de Sales Oratory tonight at 6:30pm. 

St. Benedict, ora pro nobis!

19 March 2014

Sermon for Reminiscere Sunday

Delivered by Canon Raphael Ueda, ICRSS, at St. Francis de Sales Oratory:

Second Sunday of Lent, 2014-3-16

In today’s Gospel, Jesus, to confirm the faith of the Apostles who were shaken by the announcement of His passion, permitted some rays from His Blessed soul to shine forth for a brief instant on Tabor, when Peter, James and John saw Him transfigured.

His figure did shine as the sun and His garments became white as snow. The three were captured by it and yet Jesus had revealed to them only one ray of His Glory for no human creature has endured the complete vision.

Glory is the fruit of grace. Grace confers on our souls a new life and makes us share in the life of God Himself. And it will transform us until one day Glory will bring us to the beatific vision of God in Heaven. But while grace transfigures, sin on the other hand, darkens and disfigures whoever became its victim.

Sin is a word, an act, or even a desire contrary to the eternal Law. It is an offense against God in disobedience to this love. It wounds human nature and injures our relationships with God and our neighbors. One commits a mortal sin when there are three elements present, grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. This sin destroys charity in us, deprives us of sanctifying grace and, if unrepented, leads us to the eternal death of hell.

Probably we, who would like to be faithful to God and His commandments, will rarely commit a mortal sin but we should not neglect the gravity and consequence of venial sin.

Holy Scripture shows many examples of God’s displeasure for venial sin which He sometimes punishes severely even on earth. For her curiosity Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt.

For God is truth and no one can be admitted to His intimacy who does not strive as much as he can be sincere in his actions.

First of all we must seek to possess truth in the depth of our Heart. That we may know ourselves as we really are in the eyes of God, stripped of all pretense and artificiality.

To do this, we must accept, not only the truth which pleases us, but also those which are painful and wound our pride, showing our faults and evil tendencies.

If someone is sincere, he never closes his eyes to this truth, but values it even if it is humiliating, knowing that humiliation which shows the truth is worth more than illusion which flatters pride and keeps us in sin.

Sometimes God permits difficult circumstances which are especially hard and trying for the practice of virtue, that we may see the truth and know ourselves as we really are.

For when we face with unexpected situations, we experience movements of our Heart, until then unknown, surging up within us, so movement of anger, rebellion and selfishness from which perhaps we had had the illusion that we were free. In such cases instead of turning our gaze away, it is necessary to have the courage to recognize these faults and confess them humbly and frankly.

God is truth and Mercy. He knows everything of what is happening in our souls, our weakness and our sinfulness. And in His Mercy He knows also how to come to help us and cure us.

And this forgiveness of sin is done through the sacrament of Confession. We must receive the sacrament of Penance because our Lord Jesus Christ commanded it, when He said to the Apostles and to their successors in the priesthood. “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.”

Today’s Gospel brings out the close connection between the transfiguration and the passion of Jesus. Jesus wished to teach His disciples in this way that it was impossible for Him as well as for others- to reach the glory of the Transfiguration without passing through suffering.

It was the same lesson that He would give later to the two disciples at Emmaus. “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and so to enter into His Glory?” What has been disfigured by sin cannot regain its original supernatural beauty except by way of suffering which purifies and by way of the sacrament of confession.

God is Father, always in vigilant and loving expectation of seeing the desire to return home be born in His child. And when He sees that desire, even if it is slightly aroused, He is there waiting for our return. If we have a burden in our conscience, if we are ashamed of the things that we have done, stop for a moment, and do not be afraid of asking Our Father forgiveness. Let us welcome Him with joy. He can change us, He can transform our heart of stone into a fresh heart. He can free us from egoism and make our life a gift of love.

St. Irenaeus, bishop and martyr of the third century, said “The glory of God is man fully alive; moreover man’s life is the vision of God.”

Let us ask to God the grace so that God, in Christ, might be all in all for His Glory and for our happiness.

Amen.



18 March 2014

Feast of St. Joseph




Wednesday is the Feast of St. Joseph, a first class feast. If you are fasting, enjoy a break in honor of the great defender of the Church.

Masses at St. Francis de Sales Oratory, 8 am (with blessing of St. Joseph bread), and 12:15 pm. Both are low Masses.

Have a blessed feast day!

Prayer of St. Francis de Sales to St. Joseph

Glorious St. Joseph, spouse of Mary, grant us thy paternal protection, we beseech thee by the Heart of Jesus Christ.

Oh thou, whose power extends to all our necessities and can render possible for us the most impossible things, open thy fatherly eyes to the needs of thy children.

In the trouble and distress which afflicts us, we confidently have recourse to thee. Deign to take under your charitable charge this important and difficult matter, cause of our worries. Make its happy outcome be for God's glory and for the good of his devoted servants.

Litany of St. Joseph

V/ Lord, have mercy.
R/ Lord, have mercy.

V/ Christ, have mercy.
R/ Christ, have mercy.

V/ Lord, have mercy.
R/ Lord, have mercy.

V/ Jesus, hear us.
R/ Jesus, graciously hear us.

V/ God, the Father of Heaven,
R/ have mercy on us.

V/ God, the Son, Redeemer of the world,
R/ have mercy on us.

V/ God, the Holy Spirit,
R/ have mercy on us.

V/ Holy Trinity, One God,
R/ have mercy on us.

R/for ff: pray for us.

Holy Mary,
St. Joseph,
Renowned offspring of David,
Light of Patriarchs,
Spouse of the Mother of God,
Chaste guardian of the Virgin,
Foster father of the Son of God,
Diligent protector of Christ,
Head of the Holy Family,
Joseph most just,
Joseph most chaste,
Joseph most prudent,
Joseph most strong,
Joseph most obedient,
Joseph most faithful,
Mirror of patience,
Lover of poverty,
Model of artisans,
Glory of home life,
Guardian of virgins,
Pillar of families,
Solace of the wretched,
Hope of the sick,
Patron of the dying,
Terror of demons,
Protector of Holy Church,

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
R/ spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
R/ graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world.
R/ have mercy on us.

He made him the lord of his household.
R/ And prince over all his possessions.

Let us pray. O God, in your ineffable providence you were pleased to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of your most holy Mother; grant, we beg you, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our Protector: You who live and reign forever and ever. R/ Amen.




Distilling the Situation: the Last Letter of Mario Palmaro

At Rorate, the late Mario Palmaro sums it up.  If you care about the Church and the truth, you should read it.

To quote Sean Connery in The Untouchables:  "What are you prepared to do?" It may be a rhetorical question. 

16 March 2014

The Timeless Mass: from Thabor to Olivet




Allegory (n): A story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.

From The Liturgical Year, by Dom Gueranger, on Transfiguration Sunday:

The subject offered to our consideration, on this Second Sunday, is one of the utmost importance for the holy Season. The Church applies to us the lesson which our Saviour gave to three of his Apostles. Let us endeavour to be more attentive to it than they were.

Jesus was about to pass from Galilee into Judea, that he might go up to Jerusalem, and be present at the Feast of the Pasch. It was that last Pasch, which was to begin with the immolation of the figurative lamb, and end with the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. Jesus would have his disciples know him. His works had borne testimony to him, even to those who were, in a manner, strangers to him; but as for his Disciples, had they not every reason to be faithful to him, even to death? Had they not listened to his words, which had such power with them, that they forced conviction? Had they not experienced his love, which it was impossible to resist? and had they not seen how patiently he had borne with their strange and untoward ways? - Yes, they must have known him. They had heard one of their company, Peter, declare that he was the Christ, the Son of the Living God [St. Matth. xvi. 16]. Notwithstanding this, the trial to which their faith was soon to be put, was to be of such a terrible kind, that Jesus would mercifully arm them against temptation by an extraordinary grace.

The Cross was to be a scandal and stumbling block [1 Cor. i. 23] to the Synagogue, and, alas! to more than it. Jesus said to his Apostles, at the Last Supper: All of you shall be scandalized in me this night [St. Matth. xxvi. 32]. Carnal-minded as they then were, what would they think, when they should see him seized by armed men, handcuffed, hurried from one tribunal to another, and he doing nothing to defend himself! And when they found, that the High Priests and Pharisees, who had hitherto been so often foiled by the wisdom and miracles of Jesus, had now succeeded in their conspiracy against him, - what a shock to their confidence! But, there was to be something more trying still: the people, who, but a few days before, greeted him so enthusiastically with their hosannas, would demand his execution, and he would have to die, between two thieves, on the Cross, amidst the insults of his triumphant enemies.

Is it not to be feared that these Disciples of his, when they witness his humiliations and sufferings, will lose their courage? They have lived in his company for three years; but when they see, that the things be foretold would happen to him are really fulfilled, - with the remembrance of all they have seen and heard, keep them loyal to him? or will they turn cowards and flee from him? - Jesus selects three out of the number, who are especially dear to him: Peter, whom he has made the Rock, on which his Church is to be built, and to whom he has promised the Keys of the kingdom of heaven; James, the son of Thunder, who is to be the first Martyr of the Apostolic College; and John, James’ brother, and his own Beloved Disciple. Jesus has resolved to take them aside, and show them a glimpse of that glory, which until the day fixed for its manifestation, he conceals from the eyes of mortals.

He therefore leaves the rest of his Disciples in the plain near Nazareth, and goes in company with the three privileged ones, towards a high hill, called Thabor, which is a continuation of Libanus, and which the Psalmist tells us was to rejoice in the Name of the Lord [Ps. lxxxviii. 13]. No sooner has he reached the summit of the mountain, than the three Apostles observe a sudden change come over him; his Face shines as the sun, and his humble garments become white as snow. They observe two venerable men approach, and speak with him upon what he was about to suffer in Jerusalem. One is Moses, the lawgiver; the other is Elias, the Prophet, who was taken up from earth on a fiery chariot, without having passed through the gates of death. These two great representatives of the Jewish Religion, the Law and the Prophets, humbly adore Jesus of Nazareth. The three Apostles are not only dazzled by the brightness which comes from their Divine Master; but they are filled with such a rapture of delight, that they cannot bear the thought of leaving the place. Peter proposes to remain there for ever and build three tabernacles, for Jesus, Moses, and Elias. And whilst they are admiring the glorious sight, and gazing on the beauty of their Jesus’ human Nature, a bright cloud overshadows them, and a voice is heard speaking to them: it is the voice of the Eternal Father, proclaiming the Divinity of Jesus, and saying: This my beloved Son!

This transfiguration of the Son of Man, this manifestation of his glory, lasted but a few moments; his mission was not on Thabor; it was humiliation and suffering in Jerusalem. He therefore withdrew into himself the brightness he had allowed to transpire; and when he came to the three Apostles, who, on hearing the voice from the cloud, had fallen on their faces with fear, - they could see no one save only Jesus. The bright cloud was gone; Moses and Elias had disappeared. What a favour they have had bestowed upon them! Will they remember what they have seen and heard? They have had such a revelation of the Divinity of their dear Master! - is it possible, that when the hour of trial comes, they will forget it, and doubt his being God? and, when they see him suffer and die, be ashamed of him and deny him? Alas! the Gospel has told us what happened to them.

A short time after this, our Lord celebrated his Last Supper with his Disciples. When the Supper was over, he took them to another mount, Mount Olivet, which lies to the east of Jerusalem. Leaving the rest at the entrance of the Garden, he advances with Peter, James, and John, and then says to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me [St. Matth. xxvi. 38]. He then retires some little distance from them, and prays to his Eternal Father. The Heart of our Redeemer is weighed down with anguish. When he returns to his three Disciples, he is enfeebled by the Agony he has suffered, and his garments are saturated with Blood. The Apostles are aware that he is sad even unto death, and that the hour is close at hand when he is to be attacked: are they keeping watch? are they ready to defend him? No: they seem to have forgotten him; they are fast asleep, for their eyes are heavy [Ibid. 43]. Yet a few moments, and all will have fled from him; and Peter, the bravest of them all, will be taking his oath that he never knew the Man.

After the Resurrection, our three Apostles made ample atonement for this cowardly and sinful conduct, and acknowledged the mercy wherewith Jesus had sought to fortify them against temptation, by showing them his glory on Thabor, a few days before his Passion. Let us not wait till we have betrayed him: let us at once acknowledge that he is our Lord and our God. We are soon to be keeping the anniversary of his Sacrifice; like the Apostles, we are to see him humbled by his enemies and bearing, in our stead, the chastisements of Divine Justice. We must not allow our faith to be weakened, when we behold the fulfilment of those prophecies of David and Isaias, that the Messias is to be treated as a worm of the earth [Ps. xxi. 7], and be covered with wounds, so as to become like a leper, the most abject of men, and the Man of sorrows [Is. liii. 3,4]. We must remember the grand things of Thabor, and the adorations paid him by Moses and Elias, and the bright cloud, and the voice of the Eternal Father. The more we see him humbled, the more must we proclaim his glory and divinity; we must join our acclamations with those of the Angels and the Four-and-Twenty Elders, whom St. John, (one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration,) heard crying out with a loud voice: The Lamb that was slain, is worthy to receive power and divinity, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and benediction! [Apoc. v. 12].

____________________

This passage from Gueranger struck me forcibly today. It gives me hope in a tough time for the Mass, the Faith, the Sacred Tradition-- all that our forefathers believed, lived for, died for.

It seems that the ancient Mass, the glory of the Catholic West, is beset by the cruelest and pettiest of enemies. They are seemingly triumphant. Voices that should be raised in protest are silent. Should-be allies flee. The Mass, and those of us who love it, are outcasts, fools, the very definition of unfashionable.

Yet seven years ago-- a mere seven years ago!-- we enjoyed the splendor of Mount Thabor. Not that the restoration was here, of course not. But Our Lord gave us a consoling glimpse of what will be, whether the restoration occurs here or else in the real liturgy of Heaven, of which the Traditional Mass is the closest copy on earth.

Momentum for the Mass and the Faith it guards and reveals was on our side. Time would take care of the rest.

And now, where are we? No momentum, unless negative momentum counts. Former friends abandon us. Enemies are emboldened. It seems that the faith is trammeled, and we are helpless.

Yes, it is discouraging. But let's take our lesson from the Apostles, whose alarm and disappointment was greater.

If the timeless Mass has indeed passed from Thabor to Olivet, I'm going there with it. And may God give me the grace to keep going, to Calvary.

Thank God for Pope Benedict, who made it clear that the Mass had never been abolished. It cannot be abolished. It is our right as Catholics to assist at it, and the right of priests to say it.

If events telescope as it appears, it may be that God gave us this last seven years as a consoling Thabor to strengthen us for the trial to come. And He has let us know that we can seek it without any cloud of illegitimacy.

May God keep us all faithful in the trials to come.





Good Advice from Fr. Richard on the Pope and Problematic Statements




Fr. Edward Richard, the moral theologian late of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in Saint Louis, had a good post earlier this week that is excellent reading for all of us suffering under the current papacy-by-interview regime.

The theme, with which I completely agree is this: the Pope, like any cleric, prelate or layman, may be subject to admonition if he were to propose something for belief or action that contradicts the Divine law. Yet he, as the Pope, is entitled to every benefit of the doubt, and any person who assumes for himself the task of admonishing him undertakes a very weighty thing. We must always avoid the cheap and theatrical. We must assume the best motives on his part, and be very aware-- more than usually so-- that we may be the ones who are wrong.

By saying this, I do not mean to say that we should give a benefit of the doubt that is ridiculous, but rather, simply, a legitimate one. A real one.

This is not an excuse for cowardly silence, but I mean exactly what I say. Because there is much in what he actually says and does that at first or even third glance, gives immense concern.

To deny this is to be as Pollyanna as it is possible to be. And yet, the Church, headed by Peter, cannot fail.

So, going forward, and as an apology for anything untoward of the past, I ask you to remember that I want to defend the faith, and the Church, the Bride of Christ, whom I love. That's the goal, anyway. And I want to speak when I should, and stay silent when I should.

What a crazy and evil time in which we live, when this is the problem for a Catholic.

Anyway, Fr. Richard says it better:

A Year In: Reading Pope Francis on Moral Matters

I want to say that I have been reluctant to post blog entries in recent times because I have not been sufficiently certain about how I should approach it. I think I have made the mistake of making too much of some of the reported statements of Pope Francis on moral matters. Well, he is my Holy Father and I love and respect him. I have had considerable difficulty making sense of some of these things he says, though, and I have needed a bit of time to reflect upon how to speak about moral matters, any moral matter, while giving my sincere deference to the words of our Holy Father. What does he expect of a moral theologian of the Church? Of me? What does he expect of faithful Catholics who love the Church and the Lord, much as he does? I think I can provide some direction.

No matter how much we would recoil at the idea, it is hard to deny that a few of the Holy Father's comments have been interpreted to approve of gravely sinful actions and, to a degree, immoral behavior, in general. If he does not know this, he should be made aware of it. I bet every parish priest knows it. Pope Francis has a duty to know this. He is the most authoritative moral teacher with a worldwide audience.

Fortunately, the Holy Father has given us some guiding principles of his own way of speaking and acting as Pope that are helpful. I humbly and cautiously proceed to set forth a few of those, in the most tentative fashion, subject always to the authority of Holy Mother Church.

The first principle is that Pope Francis is a loyal son of the Church--of course, I think that goes without saying--but he said it, so I will take it and run with it. There is no need to question this. Indeed, the Pope wants everyone to love the Lord Jesus and the Church. That means that he wants them to fall in love with the Truth as it is taught by the Church. In turn, this means that the Truth must be known. He is concerned about the obstacles to the discovery of the splendor of the Church's real treasure. I want to help it be known in all its splendor.

The second principle is that he is not going to change doctrine. He said that. Obviously, he has no intent to do so. I can add to that, though. He cannot change doctrine, not a point of moral doctrine that is definitive, certainly, and not any principle of the Natural Moral Law or any principle of moral action generally taught in the authentic magisterium. In that respect he is the chief steward. If a Pope should err in a statement, which is possible if it is not made invoking the fullness of his authority as Pope speaking ex cathedra,--I am not suggesting that Pope Francis has--then anyone with sufficient knowledge of the matter can point out the error. Of course, questioning the veracity of a statement of any teacher of the faith, especially the Pope, must be done cautiously, respectfully and with charity. One must first carefully examine himself and take counsel if this is to be a prudent act and not an act of daring. The presumption is always in the Pope's favor and can only be refuted with sufficient authority. There are other considerations as to the manner of doing this. The point, here, is that there are times when a Pope should be corrected in an appropriate manner.

The third principle, an offshoot of the previous two, is that what Pope Francis says must always be understood in light of the authentic teaching of the Church. He expects this. He often speaks in terms of pastoral application, not expounding upon moral truth. Be aware that his pastoral pattern functions only upon the foundation of authentic doctrine that he upholds, even when the media and individuals ignore this and distort his intent. I can add to this point, though. Pastoral charity and truth cannot be opposed to one another. If the Holy Father's statements are being used to contradict doctrine and against the authentic magisterium, they must be explained and the opposition between pastoral charity and moral truth must be disavowed. The Church must respond decisively to this. These interpretations of those who unjustly appeal to the Pope's words for their own nefarious ends are absurd. It is not as though the grave sinfulness of abortion, same-sex unions, and adultery are in dispute. However, there is the problem of passive scandal and a pastoral response to it. As the Church's universal shepherd, he has a duty to respond to the proliferation of false and harmful interpretations of his words or intent. The fact of these distortions is not a matter of speculation. The erroneous opinions are verifiable in the media. Prudentially and pastorally, it would be helpful if the Holy Father took into account the ill will there is in the world against truth, against the faith, against good morals, against the Petrine office and his predecessors, and even against his own person. Those malefactors who abuse the Pope's words are leading the little ones of Christ to sin. This is on their heads, of course.

Correlatively, those Catholics with concerns about the Pope's statements must listen to him reverently and interpret his words properly in light of the authentic universal magisterium of the Church. This is something that many in the Church are not quick to do. Pope Francis allows the Vatican Press Office to clarify his words on a routine basis. We can expect more of this in the future and we must allow for this pattern. To that, I would add that I believe that I can contribute something to that process and intended outcome for those who read what I write. I can provide the moral doctrinal context of the statements of our leaders in the faith. They are competent to apply their own pastoral prudence within the limits of their canonical authority. The doctrine, however, remains the same. I can help them and the readers of this blog.

These principles are enough for me to act on. These principles can be applied to the statements of all prelates, as well.





10 March 2014

The Fence is Pointy, and Hard to Sit on for Long

Hilary White of Lifesite News writes an excellent piece on why the "conservative" position is becoming ever more noticeably untenable in this Pontificate.  Of course, in the fight-- the "long defeat"-- for the preservation of the faith in the wake of the liturgical and catechetical destruction of the last half century, it really always was untenable.  But now it becomes more obvious by the day.

I love her blog. Chick can write.

09 March 2014

For All of Us, This Lent




From The Liturgical Year:

“Now, therefore, that we are about to enter upon these days, which are so full of mystery, and were instituted for the holy purpose of purifying both our soul and body, let us, dearly beloved, be careful to do as the Apostle bids us, and cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and the spirit: that thus the combat between the two substances being made less fierce, the soul, which, when she herself is subject to God, ought to be the ruler of the body, will recover her own dignity and position. Let us also avoid giving offence to any man, so that there be none to blame or speak evil things of us. For we deserve the harsh remarks of infidels, and we provoke the tongues of the wicked to blaspheme religion, when we, who fast, lead unholy lives. For our Fast does not consist in the mere abstaining from food; nor is it of much use to deny food to our body, unless we restrain the soul from sin.”

Have a great week.


Fr. Harrison on the Brewing Storm over Catholic Teaching on Marriage

Earlier this week, I read at Fisheaters a letter from Fr. Brian W. Harrison, O.S., that he wrote to the Inside the Vatican magazine.

As noted in the forum, it is a very welcome defense of the Gospel teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, by a person not, strictly speaking, a "traditionalist" (however you might define this term). This, friends, is Catholic teaching, it is Divinely revealed truth. And it is under attack, directly and indirectly, by those who seek to allow Holy Communion to divorced Catholics who have attempted "remarriage". You are aware of the efforts at undermining this teaching in the German bishops' conference and, alas, elsewhere.

Bravo to Fr. Harrison:

------------------------------------------

Dear Dr. Moynihan,

In your latest Letter from Rome, commenting on the new appointments to the College of Cardinals, you report rather nonchalantly that "[Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig] Müller is also known for having said that the Church's position on admitting to divorced and remarried Catholics to the sacrament of Communion is not something that can or will be changed. But other German Church leaders, including Cardinal Walter Kasper, have recently gone on record saying the teaching may and will be changed."

Your brief, matter-of-fact report on this controversy reminds me of the tip of an iceberg. It alludes to, but does not reveal the immensity of, a massive, looming threat that bids fair to pierce, penetrate and rend in twain Peter's barque – already tossing perilously amid stormy and icy seas. The shocking magnitude of the doctrinal and pastoral crisis lurking beneath this politely-worded dispute between scholarly German prelates can scarcely be overstated. For what is at stake here is fidelity to a teaching of Jesus Christ that directly and profoundly affects the lives of hundreds of millions of Catholics: the indissolubility of marriage.

The German bishops have devised a pastoral plan to admit divorced and remarried Catholics to Communion, whether or not a Church tribunal has granted a decree of nullity of their first marriage. Cardinal-elect Müller, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has not only published a strong article in L'Osservatore Romano reaffirming the perennial Catholic doctrine confirmed by John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio; he has also written officially to the German Bishops' Conference telling them to rectify their heterodox pastoral plan. But the bishops, led by their conference president and by Cardinal Kasper, are openly defying the head of the CDF, and predicting that the existing doctrine and discipline will soon be changed!

Think of the appalling ramifications of this. If German Catholics don't need decrees of nullity, neither will any Catholics anywhere. Won't the world's Catholic marriage tribunals then become basically irrelevant? (Will they eventually just close down?) And won't this reversal of bimillennial Catholic doctrine mean that the Protestants and Orthodox, who have allowed divorce and remarriage for century after century, have been more docile to the Holy Spirit on this issue than the true Church of Christ? Indeed, how credible, now, will be her claim to be the true Church? On what other controverted issues, perhaps, has the Catholic Church been wrong, and the separated brethren right?

And what of Jesus' teaching that those who remarry after divorce commit adultery? Admitting them to Communion without a commitment to continence will lead logically to one of three faith-breaking conclusions: (a) our Lord was mistaken in calling this relationship adulterous - in which case he can scarcely have been the Son of God; (b) adultery is not intrinsically and gravely sinful - in which case the Church's universal and ordinary magisterium has always been wrong; or (c) Communion can be given to some who are living in objectively grave sin - in which case not only has the magisterium also erred monumentally by always teaching the opposite, but the way will also be opened to Communion for fornicators, practicing homosexuals, pederasts, and who knows who else? (And, please, spare us the sophistry that Jesus' teaching was correct "in his own historical and cultural context", but that since about Martin Luther's time that has all changed.)

Let us make no mistake: Satan is right now shaking the Church to her very foundations over this divorce issue. If anything, the confusion is becoming even graver than that over contraception between 1965 and 1968, when Paul VI's seeming vacillation allowed Catholics round the world to anticipate a reversal of perennial Church teaching. If the present Successor of Peter now keeps silent about divorce and remarriage, thereby tacitly telling the Church and the world that the teaching of Jesus Christ will be up for open debate at a forthcoming Synod of Bishops, one fears a terrible price will soon have to be paid.

Fr. Brian W. Harrison, O.S.
St. Louis, Missouri





06 March 2014

Archbishop Carlson to Visit the Oratory-- in May and October

from the Oratory Newsletter:

In the coming months the Oratory will be honored with a number of Episcopal visits: His Grace, Archbishop Robert Carlson will visit the Oratory on Sunday, May 25, when he will be present at the 10:00 AM High Mass, and will preach the sermon.

Again on Sunday, October 19, Archbishop Carlson will come to the Oratory to take part in our celebration of the 800th birth anniversary of King St. Louis (Louis IX of France) and the 250th anniversary of the founding of the city of St. Louis that bears the holy saint’s name.

Throughout the year 2014, many civic as well as Catholic events will take place in St. Louis to highlight the history, development, and accomplishments of our great city. St. Francis de Sales will be part of these celebrations on October 19, 2014, honoring King Saint Louis and giving glory to God in a solemn procession with his holy relic, followed by solemn Vespers, Benediction and a sermon pronounced by the guest of honor on that day, His Grace, Archbishop Robert Carlson.

The program of Sunday, October 19, 2014, 5:00 PM:

Procession with Relic
Solemn Vespers
Homily pronounced by His Grace, Archbishop Carlson
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
Benediction
Reception in the Oratory Hall

Also in October: Confirmations have been scheduled for Saturday, October 11, 2014. The Oratory will welcome Bishop Robert Herman, who will administer the Sacrament of Confirmation at 10:30 AM.

More information will be forthcoming in the next few months on these Episcopal visits.

Please mark your calendars!





Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas: Plenary Indulgence Opportunity




Friday, March 7 is the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas. Masses at the Oratory are as follows: Low Mass at 8 am, Solemn High Mass at 6:30 pm. Stations of the Cross precede Evening Mass at 5:30 pm.

St. Thomas is one of the principal patrons of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. Therefore, the faithful who assist at Mass at an Institute apostolate may gain a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions.

St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, pray for us!

Lenten Blogging




First of all, a final thank you to everyone who has been so kind through the last week. Every single act of kindness has helped so much. My whole family is grateful. My father was laid to rest yesterday-- a kind friend sent me the above photo showing part of the procession to the grave.

If you can spare just a little more kindness for my mother, she could use the prayers. At the luncheon following the burial, she learned her brother was also near death, and in fact died this morning. Tough times for all. May he rest in peace.

After prayerful consideration of a suitable Lenten plan this year, I've decided as a part of mine to limit-- not stop-- blogging through Lent. I will still post on Sundays and Feast days (including vigils, as you see) but will restrain myself otherwise.

As annoying as blogging can be (nearly as annoying as reading it), I still really like to do it. It really will be a sacrifice, and I will offer this part of my Lent for my Dad.

So, to borrow a shtick from Methodist Jim, if you see something happening on a given day, just think, I bet Tim's blowing a gasket right now and try to guess the content of my absent post. Who knows, maybe that could be a regular feature later: Write the Headline.

God bless you and yours this Lent and always. And pray for the conversion of Russia and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart.






02 March 2014

Requiescat in Pace

Thank you to all who have offered prayers for my father.

He passed away this morning in the presence of family, after receiving extreme unction, clothed in the Brown Scapular.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.

May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.


I will be taking a break from blogging for several days. Have a blessed Lent.

01 March 2014

Evangel-ice-ation




See what I did there?

An ice story out of Chicago (See what I did there?) about the Canons of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest at the Shrine of Christ the King. Perhaps no two priests are in as good a position to fear the Blues now that they stole Ryan Miller from Buffalo and will own the Blackhawks in the playoffs.

From DNAInfo Chicago:

Priests on Ice: Woodlawn Parish Takes Outreach to the Rink

By Jackie Kostek


HYDE PARK — Canon Michael Stein now finds it easier to skate in his priest garb than full hockey pads.

"Just as you walk and run in this without thinking about it, I skate without thinking about it," said Stein, 29, who has served as a priest at Shrine of Christ the King in Woodlawn since 2012.

Originally from Long Island, N.Y., Stein said he grew up "walking and ice skating at the same time" and played pond hockey with his siblings. After stints at parishes in Italy and Africa, Stein said he's happy to be living in a city that enjoys hockey and serving in a parish that embraces recreation.

"Healthy recreation, athletic recreation helps us keep our balance and sanity," Stein said. "The image that's often given is the bow that's perpetually taut, snaps."

Although Stein has been skating his entire life, he said his superior in the parish, Canon Matthew Talarico, brought skating to the parish six years ago when he began frequenting the Midway Plaisance outdoor rink.

"Skating is now a parish outing a couple times a winter," said Stein, who added that the rink is just a few blocks north of the church. "We take all the faithful out and neighbors and friends."

"It's pretty awesome," said Lamicha Hargon, who works at the rink's warming and rental skate center. "Usually priests are just sitting there and they're giving sermons and stuff like that. He's actually interacting. Children get to come up and ask questions about their faith."

"I think they were calling him 'Father of the Hood,'" said Hargon, with a laugh.

For more on the priests who skate, watch the video [at the above link].