Why homosexual acts cannot be approved or celebrated by the Church

By :

imagesIn recent years, homosexuality has frequently been in the news. An increasingly nationwide effort to make homosexual acts something to celebrate has gained great ground and sowed serious confusion even among those who describe themselves as Christian and Catholic. Hence, it is necessary once again to instruct on this matter and to reassert what Scripture plainly teaches and why the Church cannot affirm what the world demands we affirm.

An essential fact is that the Scriptures are very clear in unambiguously, uncompromisingly declaring homosexual acts as a serious sin and as disordered. “Disordered” here means that they are acts that are not ordered to their proper end or purpose. Sexual acts are, by their very nature, ordered to procreation and to the bonding of the mother and father who will raise the children conceived by their sexual intimacy. These ends or purposes have been intrinsically joined by God, and we are not to separate what what God has joined.  In the Old Testament, Scripture describes the sinful and disordered quality of homosexual acts by the use of the word “abomination,” and in the New Testament, St. Paul calls homosexual acts “paraphysin” (contrary to nature).

Attempts by some to reinterpret Scripture to mean something else are fanciful, at best, and  use theories that require twisted logic and questionable historical views in an attempt to set aside the very plain meaning of the texts.

Likewise in the wider culture, among those who do not accept Scripture, there has been an increasingly insistent refusal to acknowledge what the design of the human body plainly discloses: that the man is for the woman, and the woman is for the man. The man is not for the man, nor the woman for the woman. This is plainly set forth in the design of our bodies. The outright refusal to see what is plainly visible and literally built into our bodies is not only a sign of intellectual stubbornness and darkness (cf Rom 1:18, 21), but it also leads to significant issues with health, even to deadly diseases.

And we who believe in the definitive nature of scriptural teaching on all aspects of human sexuality are not merely considered out-of-date by many in our culture, but are being increasingly pressured to affirm what we cannot reasonably affirm. Cardinal Francis George recently expressed the current situation in this way:

In recent years, society has brought social and legislative approval to all types of sexual relationships that used to be considered “sinful.” Since the biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations, the church’s teaching on these issues is now evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes. What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval. The “ruling class,” those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone. We are told that, even in marriage itself, there is no difference between men and women, although nature and our very bodies clearly evidence that men and women are not interchangeable at will in forming a family. Nevertheless, those who do not conform to the official religion, we are warned, place their citizenship in danger [1].

Whatever pressures many may wish to place on the Church to conform, however they may wish to “shame” us into compliance by labeling us with adjectives such as bigoted, homophobic, or intolerant, we cannot comply with their demands. We must remain faithful to scriptural teaching, to our commitment to natural law, and to Sacred Tradition. We simply cannot affirm things such as fornication and homosexual acts and reject the revelation of the body as it comes from God.

What some call intolerance or “hatred” is, for us who believe, rather, a principled stance wherein we see ourselves as unable to overrule the clear and unambiguous teaching of Holy Scripture. And this teaching exists at every stage of revelation, from the opening pages right through to the final books of Sacred Writ. The Church has no power to override what God has said; we cannot cross out sentences or tear pages from the Scripture. Neither can we simply reverse Sacred Tradition or pretend that the human body, as God has designed it, does not manifest what it clearly does.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church announces this principled stance with eloquence and with an understanding of the difficulties encountered by those with same-sex attraction:

Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. 

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection (CCC 2357-2359).

We can speak no other way. We do not detest those of same sex-attraction, but we as a Church owe them the same truth we have always proclaimed as coming from God, and out of respect we must hold them to the same standards of chastity by which all must live.

There can be no sexual intercourse for any who are not in a valid heterosexual marriage. We cannot give approval for it; we do not have the power to do this, no matter how insistent, forceful, or even punitive the demands that we do so become. This will not change because it cannot change.

Homosexuals are not being singled out in this matter. As we saw in yesterday’s post, fornication (pre-marital sex) is also set forth by scripture and tradition as a very serious mortal sin (cf Eph 5:5- 7; Gal 5:16-21; Rev 21:5-8; Rev. 22:14-16; Mt. 15:19-20; 1 Cor 6:9-20; Col 3:5-6; 1 Thess 4:1-8; 1 Tim 1:8-11; Heb 13:4). It cannot be approved no matter how widespread its acceptance becomes. One standard of sexual norms applies to all people, whatever their orientation.

Sadly those of unalterable same-sex attraction have no recourse to marriage. But all of us bear burdens of one sort or another, and not everyone is able to partake in everything life offers. For the sake of holiness, heroic witness is necessary, and many of those with same-sex attraction do live celibately and give admirable witness to the power of grace.

God must have the final word in this. And so I present to you here some selections from Sacred Scripture that clearly teach against homosexual acts. The witness of Scripture in this regard is very consistent across all the ages of biblical Revelation. From the opening pages of Holy Writ to the final books, homosexual acts, along with fornication and adultery, are unambiguously forbidden and described as gravely sinful. In addition, homosexual acts, because they are contrary to nature and to the revelation of the body and the nature of the sexual act, are often described as acts of depravity or as an “abomination.” Some consider such words unpleasant or hurtful. I understand, but they are the words that Scripture uses. Here is a sample of Scriptural teaching against homosexual acts:

  1. You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination (Leviticus 18: 22).
  2. If a man lies with a male as with a female, both of them have committed an abomination (Lev 20:13).
  3. Likewise, the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah depicts, among other things, the sinfulness of homosexual activity. It is too lengthy to reproduce here in its entirety, but you can read about it in Genesis 19.
  4. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them…in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct (Romans 1:18ff).
  5. Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanders nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6-9).
  6. The law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, for those who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.(1 Timothy 1: 8-11).

And this is the testimony of Sacred Scripture. To these could be added other passages, along with a long list of quotes from the Fathers and from Sacred Tradition, with Councils and other teaching documents from the earliest days of the Church until today.

To those who like to object that Jesus himself never spoke of homosexual acts, I would give these three responses:

  1. It was not a disputed matter among the Jews to whom he preached.
  2. Jesus said to his apostles, “He who hears you hears me.” And therefore Jesus does speak through St. Paul and the other epistle writers.
  3. The same Holy Spirit that authored the Gospels also authored the Epistles. There are not different authors or levels of authority in Sacred Writ. What St. Paul says is no less authoritative or inspired than what the evangelists recorded.

The teaching of the Church regarding the sinfulness of homosexual acts, fornication, and adultery cannot change, attested to as they are in Sacred Scripture and Tradition. The Church can only offer the truth to all the faithful and to all in this world, along with her promise of God’s mercy to those who seek repentance and who now desire to live chastely. To those who refuse, she continues to give warning and to pray both for conversion and for rescue from the deceptions of the world and the evil one.

Cardinal George summarized well both the reason we cannot approve homosexual acts and the solution of celibacy for those of same-sex attraction: The biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations [2]. Clear and concise. Thank you, Cardinal George.

For more information and support for those who have same-sex attraction, see here: Courage

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


We must all gauge the acidity of our souls, and remedy any abnormalities

As a junior doctor I was most taken by a senior colleague’s description to medical students of life-support as “air going in and out, and blood round and round”. Such simplicity of exposition! I have used that expression ever since, to demystify my trade.

When the body is seriously ill, the internal milieu becomes acidic. This may be due to an excess of CO2 due to over-production +/- inadequate excretion via the lungs,  or acidic compounds produced by sick, oxygen-deprived cells, or liver/kidney insufficiency. In the worst case scenario, (cardiac arrest) all these causes of acidosis prevail.

The body’s response to acidosis is to breathe faster and deeper, and this can hold the advance in acidity in check, until one literally runs out of breath.

Left unchecked, acidosis causes a vicious spiral of further physiological derangement down unto death. Acidotic people are those I mostly meet, which is a sad indication of my social life!

I was looking at the seven deadly sins, and call me dysaesthetic, but they all seem a tad acidic to me:

  1. luxuria (lechery/lust)[10][11][12]
  2. gula (gluttony)
  3. avaritia (avarice/greed)
  4. acedia (sloth/discouragement)
  5. ira (wrath)
  6. invidia (envy)
  7. superbia (pride)

These sins all seem selfish, turned in on themselves, leading nowhere but downwards. They remind me of acidosis.

In the life of the soul, sin causes a self-amplifying worsening of the soul’s internal milieu, unless treated.

In the spiritual life, if one wishes to be well, one needs to take in Grace, and expel sin. In consequence, the Divine Life of the Holy Trinity goes round and round through you in an ever increasing virtuous spiral as you grow in holiness and virtue.

Taking in Grace requires the Sacraments. Expelling sin requires repentance and Reconciliation. These effective therapies are freely available only from the Catholic Church.

Holiness is the opposite of death. I know which I prefer to chase after.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Bishop Anthony Fisher OP new Archbishop of Sydney

Archbishop-Elect Anthony Fisher OP

Bishop Anthony Fisher of the diocese of Parramatta (western Sydney) has been appointed as the new Archbishop of Sydney, succeeding Cardinal George Pell who has lately moved to the Vatican.

Bishop Fisher, a friar of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), has worked closely with Cardinal Pell in both Melbourne and Sydney, where he was also an auxiliary bishop to Cardinal Archbishop Pell in the “Mother See of Australia”(however, not all that sure about Perth and Adelaide, who seem to consider themselves quite “separate”, “historically”). Bishop Fisher is only 54, is Sydney-born and has an Oxford D.Phil in bioethics. He is also professor in moral theology and bioethics at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family, Melbourne (established by Cardinal Pell when earlier Archbishop of Melbourne) and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Read more here.

The very articulate Dr Fisher has been interviewed by Father Thomas Rosica in recent years for the Canadian Salt and Light TV. Fr Rosica focused on Dr Fisher’s standing as a bishop, as a Dominican friar and as a moral theologian and bioethicst in the interviews. Highly recommended viewing:



Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Vatican Diary / Exile to Malta for Cardinal Burke

[T]he impeccable prefect of the supreme tribunal of the apostolic signatura, is on the verge of being demoted to the purely honorary role of “patron” of an order of knighthood...”, says Sandro Magister on (Chiesa)


[This is a slightly shortened version of the original.]

VATICAN CITY, September 17, 2014 – The next victim [in the "revolution" of Pope Francis in ecclesiastical governance] would in fact be the United States cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, who from being prefect of the supreme tribunal of the apostolic signatura would not be promoted – as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere – to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous – but ecclesiastically very modest – title of “cardinal patron” of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.

If confirmed, Burke’s exile would be even more drastic than the one inflicted on Cardinal Piacenza, who, transferred from the important congregation for the clergy to the marginal apostolic penitentiary, nevertheless remained in the leadership of a curial dicastery.

With the shakeup on the way, Burke would instead be completely removed from the curia and employed in a purely honorary position without any influence on the governance of the universal Church.

This would be a move that seems to have no precedent.

In the past, in fact, the title of “cardinalis patronus” of the knights of Malta, in existence since 1961, like the previous one of Grand Prior of Rome, has always been assigned to the highest ranking cardinals as an extra position in addition to the main one….

Burke is 66 years old, and therefore still in his ecclesiastical prime. Ordained a priest by Paul VI in 1975, he worked at the apostolic signatura as an ordinary priest with John Paul II, who made him bishop of his native diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin in 1993. It was again pope Karol Wojtyla who in 2003 promoted him as archbishop of the prestigious see, once cardinalate, of St. Louis, Missouri. Benedict XVI called him back to Rome in 2008, and made him a cardinal in 2010.

With a very devout personality, he is also recognized as having the rare virtue of never having struck any deals to obtain ecclesiastical promotions or benefices.

In the liturgical and theological camp, he is very close to the sensibilities of Joseph Ratzinger. He has celebrated a number of times according to the ancient rite, even donning the “cappa magna,” as do cardinals George Pell and Antonio Cañizares Llovera, without being punished for this by Pope Francis.

A great expert in canon law, and appointed to the apostolic signatura for this reason, he is not afraid to follow it to the most uncomfortable consequences. Like when, to the tune of articles of the Code – number 915 to be precise – he upheld the impossibility of giving communion to those politicians who stubbornly and publicly uphold the right to abortion, bringing the rebukes of two colleagues in the United States valued by Pope Francis, Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston and Donald Wuerl of Washington.

Free in his judgments, he has been among the very few to make critical remarks on “Evangelii Gaudium,” pointing out that in his view it is orientational but not truly magisterial. And in view of the upcoming synod of bishops, he has repeatedly taken a stand against the ideas of Cardinal Walter Kasper – well known to be in the good graces of Pope Francis – in favor of communion for the divorced and remarried.

The dicastery headed by Burke, eminently technical, recently accepted an appeal from the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate against a provision issued for them by the congregation for religious. A courageous move on the part of Burke, situated within the context of the punitive action undertaken by the Vatican congregation against one of the most substantial realities of Catholic traditionalism, an action that Pope Francis endorsed by approving in specific form the congregation’s decision to prevent the Friars of the Immaculate from celebrating the Mass according to the “Tridentine” rite. It is only with this kind of pontifical approval, in fact, that a decree of the curia can overturn standing law, in this case the motu proprio of Benedict XVI “Summorum Pontificum.”

It is difficult to identify among these episodes the ones that may have have had the greatest influence on the fate of Cardinal Burke.

But it is easy to predict that his definitive downgrading will provoke both a tumultuous reaction within the traditionalist world, where Burke is seen as a hero, and a corresponding wave of jubilation in the opposite camp, where he is instead considered a bogeyman.

On the latter side it can be recalled that the “liberal” Catholic commentator Michael Sean Winters, in the “National Catholic Reporter” of November 26, 2013, had called for the head of Cardinal Burke as a member of the congregation for bishops, because of the nefarious influence, according to him, that he was exercising over episcopal appointments in the United States.

On December 16, in effect, Pope Francis humiliated Burke by crossing him off from among the members of the congregation. To the hosannas of “liberal” Catholicism, not only in the United States.

The pope certainly did not do so out of obedience to the wishes of the “National Catholic Reporter.”

But now he seems right at the point of giving the go-ahead for the second and more grave demotion of one of the most untarnished personalities the Vatican curia knows.

English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.


A commenter on ‘Facebook’ opines: “It would be the greatest humiliation of a Curial Cardinal in living memory, truly unprecedented in modern times: considering the reasonably young age of the Cardinal, such a move would be, in terms of the modern Church, nothing short than a complete degradation and a clear punishment.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Premarital Sex is a Mortal Sin

By :

Couple holding handsWe live in times in which many call good or “no big deal” what God calls sinful. This is especially true in the area of sexuality, where whole sectors of our society not only tolerate but even celebrate sexual practices that the Scriptures call gravely sinful, and which will lead to Hell if not repented of. Acts of fornication (pre-marital sex) and homosexual acts cannot be considered acceptable by any Catholic or by any person who sincerely accepts the Scripture as the Word of God. And even for those who do not share our faith, acts of fornication and homosexual acts can be plainly seen to cause great harm in the manner in which they spread serious disease, harm marriage and family, lead to abortion, and for the children who do survive abortion, subject them to having single mothers, absent fathers, and a lack of the best environment which they are due.

I want to focus today on the terrible and mortal sin of fornication and present the clear biblical teaching against it. Tomorrow I will do the same regarding homosexual acts. Sadly, many Catholics say their pulpits and classrooms are silent about these issues. The hope in this post today is to present a resounding, biblical trumpet call to purity which leaves no ambiguity as to the sinfulness of sex before marriage. Scripture is clear: fornicators will not inherit the Kingdom of God. That is to say, fornication is a mortal sin and those who do not repent of it will go to Hell.

The usual conditions for mortal sin apply (grave matter (which fornication is), sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will). However, we ought not lightly conclude that these conditions are seldom met. I have met with many couples preparing for marriage who are sexually active and I have never found them to be surprised that I rebuke them for this. They know it is wrong. The voice of God stills echoes in their consciences. And as for consent of the will, it can be admitted that some fall occasionally in a weak moment. But consistent fornicating, with no measures taken to prevent it, is not “weakness”; it is sinful neglect of prudence and common sense.

We are in a sinfully confused cultural setting in which many either celebrate or make little effort to avoid what God calls a very serious sin. The Church cannot lack clarity and pulpits and classrooms have often been silent. Such silence has led to parents themselves being silent. And silence has been taken for approval.

But fornication cannot be approved of. It is sinful and may well exclude many unrepentant sinners from Heaven. Our charity for souls must compel our clarity about the grave sinfulness of premarital sex and cohabitation.

Let us turn our attention to the biblical text.

The following quotes from the New Testament are passages that clearly condemn fornication and other unclean or impure actions. Again, fornication is the most common biblical word for premarital sex. The gravity and clarity of such condemnations are helpful in the sense that they help us to take such matters seriously and steer clear of them. However, the condemnations should not be seen in isolation from God’s mercy, as He never fails to forgive those who come to Him with a humble and contrite heart. God hates sin but He loves sinners and is full of mercy and compassion for them. But this mercy must be accessed through repentance.

With this in mind, read the following passages from the New Testament, which condemn fornication and other forms of sexual impurity:

THAT THERE IS A PRESCRIPTION TO GENERAL SEXUAL PURITY - Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or crude joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No fornicator, no impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with worthless arguments. These are sins that bring God’s wrath down upon the disobedient; therefore, have nothing to do with them (Ephesians 5:3-7).

THAT UNREPENTANT FORNICATORS ARE EXCLUDED FROM THE KINGDOM – 1. The one who sat on the throne said to me, “See I make all things new!” Then he said, “Write these matters down for the words are trustworthy and true!” He went on to say: “These words are already fulfilled! I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. To anyone who thirsts I will give to drink without cost from the spring of life giving water. He who wins the victory shall inherit these gifts and he shall be my son. As for the cowards and traitors to the faith, the depraved and murderers, the fornicators and sorcerers, the idol-worshipers and deceivers of every sort – their lot is the fiery pool of burning sulphur, the second death!” (Revelation 21:5-8)

2. Happy are they who wash their robes so as to have free access to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates! Outside are the dogs and sorcerers, the fornicators and murderers, the idol-worshipers and all who love falsehood. It is I Jesus who have sent my angel to give you this testimony about the Churches (Rev. 22:14-16).

3. No fornicator, no impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph 5:5).

4. I warn you, as I have warned you before: those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God!  (Gal 5:21)

THAT SINS OF THE FLESH CRUSH THE SPIRIT WITHIN US - My point is that you should live in accord with the Spirit and you will not yield to the cravings of the flesh. The Flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh; the two are directly opposed. This is why you do not do what your will intends. If you are guided by the spirit you are not under the law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, bickering jealousy, outbursts of rage, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you, as I have warned you before: those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God! (Galatians 5:16-21)

THAT EVEN OUR THOUGHT LIFE IS SUMMONED TO PURITY – 1. You have heard the commandment “You shall not commit adultery.” What I say you to is, Anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his thoughts. If your right eye is your trouble, gouge it out and throw it away! Better to lose part of your body than to have it all cast into Gehenna. Again, if your right hand is your trouble, cut it off and throw it away! Better to lose part of your body than to have it all cast into Gehenna (Matthew 5:27-30).

2.From the mind stem evil designs – murder, adulterous conduct, fornication, stealing, false witness, blasphemy. These are the things that make a man impure (Matt. 15:19-20).

3. Wicked designs come from the deep recesses of the heart: acts of fornication, theft, murder, adulterous conduct, greed, maliciousness, deceit, sensuality, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, an obtuse spirit. All these evils come from within and render a man impure (Mark 7:21).

THAT SEXUAL IMPURITY IS A FORM OF WORLDLINESS AND IDOLATRY - Put to death whatever in your nature is rooted in earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desires and that lust which is idolatry. These are sins which provoke God’s wrath (Colossians 3:5-6).

THAT MY BODY IS NOT MY OWN TO DO WITH MERELY AS I PLEASE – Can you not realize that the unholy will not fall heir to the Kingdom of God? Do not deceive yourselves: no fornicators, idolaters, or adulterers, no sodomites, thieves, misers, or drunkards, no slanderers or robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you have been washed, consecrated, justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. Do you not see that your bodies are members of Christ? Would you have me take Christ’s members and make them members of a prostitute? God forbid! Can you not see that the man who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? Scripture says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun lewd conduct. Every other sin a man commits is outside of his body, but the fornicator sins against his own body. You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within – the Spirit you have received from God. You are not your own. You have been purchased at a price. So glorify God in your body (I Cor. 6:9-11, 15-20).

THAT THE CALL TO CHRISTIAN PURITY IS NOT MERELY A HUMAN OPINION; IT IS GOD’S DECLARED TRUTH. FURTHER, SEXUAL SIN IS A FORM OF INJUSTICE - Now my brothers, we beg and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, even as you learned from us how to conduct yourselves in a way pleasing to God – which you are indeed doing – so you must learn to make still greater progress. You know the instructions we gave you in the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you grow in holiness: that you abstain from sexual immorality, each of you guarding his member in sanctity and honor, not in passionate desire as do the Gentiles who know not God; and that each must refrain from overreaching or cheating his brother in the matter at hand; for the Lord is the avenger of all such things, as we once indicated to you by our testimony. God has not called us to sexual immorality but to holiness; hence whoever rejects these instructions rejects, not man, but God who sends the Holy Spirit upon you (I Thess. 4:1-8).

THAT FORNICATION AND OTHER SEXUAL SINS ARE NUMBERED AMONG THE MORE SERIOUS SINS -We know that the Law is good, provided one uses it in the way law is supposed to be used — that is, with the understanding that it is aimed, not at good men but at the lawless and unruly, the irreligious and the sinful, the wicked and the godless, men who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, fornicators, sexual perverts, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and those who in other ways flout the sound teaching that pertains to the glorious gospel of God — blessed be he — with which I have been entrusted (I Timothy 1:8-11).

THAT FORNICATION AND ADULTERY DISHONOR MARRIAGE Let Marriage be honored in every way and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers (Heb 13:4).

Therefore do not be deceived; fornication is a serious sin. It is a mortal sin. It is a sin that excludes one who does not repent of it from Heaven. It offends God, harms children and the family, spreads disease, encourages abortion, is an injustice against children and society, dishonors marriage, and merits strong punishment, as God’s Word declares.

Do not despair of God’s mercy, but do repent. Mercy is accessed only by repentance.  Little more needs to be said. It is wrong—seriously wrong—to fornicate. Repent at once and without delay.

Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Comments

What Does Opposition to the Traditional Mass Really Signify?

On the 14th September, 2007 we commemorated the seventh anniversary of the implementation of Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum. Whilst it was welcomed with great joy by a large portion of the Catholic Church, there have been obstacles placed in some other areas over its implementation. New Liturgical Movement explains the significance of opposing the Traditional Latin Mass, and why this should not be so.


At the ordination of priests dedicated to the usus antiquior: Bp. Marc Aillet, June 28, 2014

At the ordination of priests dedicated to the usus antiquior: Bp. Marc Aillet, June 28, 2014

In the post-Summorum world, the ancient Roman Rite can no longer be considered forbidden, dubious, marginal, or obsolete. It enjoys equal rights of citizenship with the Novus Ordo: two forms of the Roman Rite—one called Ordinary because most recently promulgated and more widely used, the other called Extraordinary, the usus antiquior, deserving respect for its venerable use—with each able to be freely celebrated by any priest of the Roman Rite, no special permission needed. One would think that, as a gesture of reconciliation at the heart of the Church, the two forms would be flourishing side by side, with Catholics everywhere privileged to experience both of them offered reverently and beautifully.

But this is still far from the reality, and, sadly, there are still far too many bishops and priests who oppose the traditional Mass, tether it with burdensome conditions, or resort to power politics to ensure that its supporters are duly warned and penalized for their rash embrace of our Catholic heritage.

As we commemorate today the seventh anniversary of the implementation of Summorum Pontificum, whose provisions went into effect on September 14, 2007, it will be both edifying and sobering to consider the meaning Joseph Ratzinger himself attached to opposition to the traditional Mass. What does it mean when someone opposes this Mass, or those who celebrate it, or those who cherish it as a form of prayer dear to them?

In the book-length interview Salt of the Earth, published in 1997, Ratzinger said:

“I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It’s impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden, and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent. Can it be trusted any more about anything else? Won’t it proscribe tomorrow what it prescribes today?” (176-77)

Ten years prior to Summorum, he was placing his finger on the crux of the matter. If the liturgy that was the Church’s holiest and highest possession for centuries, the object of total reverence and honor, the means of sanctification for countless Catholics, is suddenly forbidden, and if the desire to worship as our forefathers did is treated as wrong, what does that say about the Church herself, about her past, her tradition, her very saints? Truly, her credibility vanishes entirely, her proclamations become arbitrary diktats. Was there something fatally flawed, all this time, with our central act of worship? Were all the popes of the past who lovingly cultivated this liturgy mistaken, were all the missionaries who brought it around the globe misguided? Could they say, in the words of Gatherer, son of Vomiter, “I have not learned wisdom, and have not known the science of saints”? (Prov 30:1, 3, Douay).

In God and the World (2002), another of those splendidly insightful and doctrinally robust interviews which now, in retrospect, make for such wistful reading, Ratzinger returned to the point:

“For fostering a true consciousness in liturgical matters, it is also important that the proscription against the form of liturgy in valid use up to 1970 should be lifted. Anyone who nowadays advocates the continuing existence of this liturgy or takes part in it is treated like a leper; all tolerance ends here. There has never been anything like this in history; in doing this we are despising and proscribing the Church’s whole past. How can one trust her present if things are that way? I must say, quite openly, that I don’t understand why so many of my episcopal brethren have to a great extent submitted to this rule of intolerance, which for no apparent reason is opposed to making the necessary inner reconciliations within the Church.” (416)

Here we have language strikingly akin to what we will find five years later in Pope Benedict’s Letter to the Bishops that accompanied Summorum Pontificum. Once again, we find the telltale insistence on possessing the right attitude towards the undying and life-giving heritage of the Church. The liturgical rites that arise from apostolic seeds in the Church’s sojourn through history are the fruits of Him who is the Lord and Giver of Life, and they cannot, in themselves, either die or bring death—nor can they be legitimately prohibited.

This would explain why Pope Benedict XVI, in Summorum Pontificum, says that the traditional Latin Mass “must be given due honor for its venerable and ancient usage” and, in the Letter to the Bishops, adds:

“What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.”

The giving of due honor, which translates into the actual celebration of the rite, is not an optional matter, and this is why we should politely refuse to allow ourselves or our fellow Catholics to be categorized as people with certain “preferences”: “Oh, you prefer the old and I prefer the new.” No, it goes beyond preferences to the very structure of the Catholic Faith: those things that are venerable and ancient must be given due honor; what earlier generations held as sacred must be sacred—and great!—for us, too; it is incumbent on us to preserve these riches and to make sure that they occupy their proper place in the life of the Church today.

Again, a sign that we are reading Pope Benedict correctly is that the clarifying instruction Universae Ecclesiae goes out of its way to emphasize these points. In fact, section 8 of this document is striking in its uncompromising simplicity, its total lack of hedging qualifications or loopholes:

“The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum constitutes an important expression of the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff and of his munus of regulating and ordering the Church’s Sacred Liturgy. The Motu Proprio manifests his solicitude as Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church, and has the aim of: (a) offering to all the faithful the Roman Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, considered as a precious treasure to be preserved; (b) effectively guaranteeing and ensuring the use of the forma extraordinaria for, given that the use of the 1962 Roman Liturgy is a faculty generously granted for the good of the faithful and therefore is to be interpreted in a sense favorable to the faithful who are its principal addressees; (c) promoting reconciliation at the heart of the Church.”

At the ordination of priests dedicated to the usus antiquior: Bishop James Conley, June 14, 2014

At the ordination of priests dedicated to the usus antiquior:
Bishop James Conley, June 14, 2014

With these points established, we can readily see why any move to obstruct or diminish the presence of the usus antiquior in the Church today would only cause great harm and long-term damage.

First, it would be an act and a symptom of disobedience, which is never blessed by God and always punished by Him. More specifically, it would constitute disobedience to Pope Benedict XVI’s legal provisions in Summorum Pontificum (and their clarifications in Universae Ecclesiae), as well as to St. John Paul II’s well-known statement that “respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition, by a wide and generous application of the directives already issued some time ago by the Apostolic See for the use of the Roman Missal according to the typical edition of 1962.” As has been demonstrated above, it is not enough to refrain from bad mouthing the traditional sacramental rites; they must be known and loved, re-introduced and promoted, studied in seminaries, offered generously to the faithful as a precious treasure.

Second, and more profoundly, divine worship goes to the heart of a person’s spiritual life, that which is most intimate and cherished. Any refusal to share the treasures of the Church, any heavy-handed restrictions on what is already available (or should be available), can only provoke anger, disappointment, and mistrust, hurting the Church’s unity, which is a fragile good of enormous value. Certain bishops, priests, and laymen may have no great love for the Extraordinary Form themselves, but they ought to recognize and respect the sizeable minority of Catholics who do, and appreciate that depriving them of it, or begrudging it to them, is pretty nearly the most offensive thing that could be done—rather like slapping a man’s wife, mother, or grandmother. To be blunt, those who sincerely want peace and mutual understanding had better act generously or they may end up with another ecclesiastical Cold War on their hands. Who wants that?

It does not require a degree in nuclear physics to see that a significant and growing number of Catholics are flocking to parishes and chapels where the traditional Mass is being celebrated, and with their (on average) very large families and strong commitment to homeschooling, the future belongs to them. In 1988 there were about 20 weekly Sunday TLMs; today there are over 500. There is no reason to fight this movement, and every reason to support it.

In spite of the anxieties of some who find it difficult to give peace and mutual coexistence a chance, the Extraordinary Form is not a problem for the Church, and, as Ratzinger/Benedict helps us to see, never could be a problem in and of itself. Instead, one may encounter unfortunate traditionalist attitudes that alienate or provoke—and, to be quite fair, this cuts both ways, since the promoters of the Novus Ordo frequently exhibit offensive attitudes of their own, such as a peculiar fusion of theoretical liberalism and practical totalitarianism. The thing to do is not jealously to limit and control the usus antiquior as if it were a dangerous addictive substance, an approach that only fuels those unfortunate attitudes, but to teach and model a right attitude, receiving with open arms, with humility and childlike simplicity, all that the Church herself gives, so that it becomes something normal and natural, not something forbidden (and thus, perhaps, more alluring?), controversial, or divisive.

Let us give the final word to Pope Benedict, from his Letter to the Bishops of July 7, 2007:

“I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: “Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return … widen your hearts also!” (2 Cor 6:11-13). Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject. Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.”


Posted in Uncategorized | 26 Comments

Our Lady of Sorrows – 15th September

Pieta by Michelangelo

Pieta by Michelangelo

And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:35)

Our Lady of Sorrows – the feast that follows the Exaltation of the Holy Cross – demonstrates that even the Mother of God was not spared the ‘sword’ that pierced her Immaculate Heart.

No one drank more deeply of the ‘chalice of suffering’ than the Blessed Virgin Mary. Through the singling out of this perfect of all creatures, God deigned that the joys, sorrows and glories of His Blessed Mother would be far above and beyond those of the rest of Mankind. The beloved Mother of God and our Mother too, the Lady of Sorrows, and the Virgin of Perpetual Succour, will come to our aid if we call on her to alleviate our own personal sorrows and suffering in this ‘vale of tears’.

To see our suffering as ‘cleansing’ and ‘purifying’, or to even go so far as to ‘welcoming’ it as a means to grow in faith, hope, love and humility is not something that comes naturally to most of us. “Drink of the chalice of thy Lord lovingly, if thou desirest to be His friend, and to have part with Him”, says the Imitation of Christ.

During her excruciatingly painful final agony, little St. Thérèse of Lisieux cried out: “Oh my God, Oh sweet Virgin Mary, come to my help! My chalice is overflowing: I could not have thought it possible to suffer so much… I can only explain it by my great longing to save souls. Oh my God, Thy will be done, only have pity on me!”

St. Thérèse’s prayer was answered, and Our Lady of Sorrows came to console her in her final hour on Earth, as the witnesses at her bedside testify.

This should be our prayer too in times of suffering and distress – in all circumstances – these words of Our Lady to the Angel Gabriel: “Be it done to me according to Thy word” (Luke 1:38), echoed in the prayer taught to us by Our Lord in the Our Father: “Thy will be done” and in Jesus’ own words to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane before His Passion (Luke 22:42).

Let us learn from these wise words of the saints to always call on Our Lady of Sorrows when affliction assails us:

“Love Mary! She is loveable, faithful, constant. She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme. If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you. If you are troubled, she will console you. If you are sick, she will bring you relief. If you are in need, she will help you. She does not look to see what kind of person you have been. She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her.” (St. Gabriel Possenti of Our Lady of Sorrows)

“Always keep close to Our Heavenly Mother, because She is the sea that must be crossed, in order to reach the shores of eternal splendour, in the Kingdom of Dawn.” (St. Padre Pio)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Carrier Signal

As a teenager, I inherited a Russian made multi-band  AM/FM radio from my elder brother, after he had left university. In those pre-internet days, a teen’s highway to the wide world was by radio. With this machine, I could tune into radio stations from all around the world, especially on short-wave. I set up an antenna from my bedroom window to a pear tree at the bottom of the garden, to improve reception, and used my bedroom radiator as an earthing point. Such fun!

Something I noticed while endlessly tuning through the wavebands, were the occasional patches of silence and stillness amongst the majority of static and other radio noise across all bands. I learned that these were stations broadcasting nothing at all except their carrier signal, usually just before or after being on-air. In the run-up to the hour, some stations would broadcast a little repetitive tune announcing their forthcoming presence to help visitors to tune in.. Radio Albania had the strongest signal by far. How I loved to listen with bewilderment to their announcements of successful five year plans for tractor production, and similar!

OK, here is the first reason for my posting this: Whenever, dear reader, you see a lot of posts here by me, Brother Burrito, this is just me providing a “carrier signal” to alert you to the fact that this blog is still on the air.  My grown-up colleagues have lives, needs and responsibilities too, but we as a group have this compulsion to post something every day. When they can’t, I try to provide the weak, substitute “carrier signal”. My apologies for the quality.

Here is the second reason: God continuously broadcasts Himself, and Heaven  does too, but we the poor fallen seem to be unable to tune in to them. Might I suggest that we turn our tuning efforts towards those patches of “stillness” that we all encounter in our lives from time to time. Reception can be 5/5 at such locations.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Saint John Chrysostom on the ‘Folly’ of the Cross

Brother Burrito:

An excellent post from one of our regular commenters.

Originally posted on Journey Towards Easter:

Today is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which celebrates the discovery of the True Cross by Saint Helena (mother of Constantine the Great) in 326 – a discovery which, nine years later, led to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre being built on the site where the Cross was found, and part of it being placed within. The feast in fact began as a two-day festival celebrating the dedication of the church on September 13th and the veneration of the Cross on the following day, but now the feast takes place solely on the 14th and is focused on the Cross and its exaltation. However, there was also a feast day of great note yesterday – that of Saint John Chrysostom – so I thought I would bring the two together with a homily of Saint John’s on the Cross.

Saint John Chrysostom (347…

View original 1,155 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments


From Catholic Spiritual Direction:

Presence of God – Give me, O Lord, an open, sincere heart, loving the truth, seeking and desiring it at any cost.


“Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle, or who shall rest in Thy holy hill?” asks the Psalmist. And he gives the answer: “He that walketh without blemish, and worketh justice” (Ps 15:1,2).

God is truth, and no one can be admitted to His intimacy who does not strive as much as he can, to live in truth and to be sincere in all his actions. First of all, we must seek to possess truth in the depths of our heart, that we may know ourselves as we really are in the eyes of God, stripped of all disguise and artificiality. To do this we must accept, not only the truths which please us, but also those which are painful and wound our pride to the quick, revealing our faults and evil tendencies. A person who is sincere never closes his eyes to these truths, but values them, even if they are ZurbaranStJohnoftheCrosshumiliating, knowing that humiliation which reveals the truth is worth more than illusion which flatters pride and keeps us in error. 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. Under the onset of contradiction, we experience movements, hitherto unknown, surging up within us: movements of anger, rebellion, 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. St. John of the Cross speaks of certain pious souls who, in confession, “palliate [their sins] and make them appear less evil, and thus … excuse themselves rather than accuse themselves” (cf. Dark Night of the Soul,  I, 2, 4). A soul that loves the truth is very far from acting in this way; even if it has only venial sins and imperfections of which to accuse itself in confession, it exposes them all very sincerely, without magnifying or minimizing them, never blaming circumstances, but only itself for all that is faulty. Sincerity in confessing our faults is the first step toward freeing ourselves from them.


“O Lord, if I wish to reach You, who are the Way, the Truth, and the Life, I must travel the road of truth, without any pretense or dissimulation, renouncing reason that has been darkened by self-love and human respect. I must act with simplicity, wholly dying to myself and to creatures. Teach me, O eternal Truth, how to act sincerely and frankly. Let my soul, simple as a dove, fly to You to build its nest in Your heart, and nourish itself with the knowledge of You and of itself; thus despising its own malice, it will find nothing in itself to satisfy it, and therefore, it will be unable to stay far away from You, not finding where to repose outside of You. Teach me to walk in the straight path of truth without stopping, but always advancing, hurrying and running swiftly, in order to follow You, eternal Truth, my guide and my way” (St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi).

“O Lord, let Thy truth teach me, let Thy truth guard me, and keep me till I come to a happy end. Let the same deliver me from all evil affections. I confess my sins to Thee with great compunction and sorrow; never permit me to esteem myself for my good works. I am indeed a sinner, subject to, and entangled with many passions. I always tend to nothing, I fall quickly, I am quickly overcome, easily disturbed and discouraged. I have nothing in which I can glory, but many things for which I ought to humble myself, for I am much weaker than I am able to comprehend.

“Teach me, O Lord, to admire Thy eternal truth, and to despise my own exceeding vileness” (The Imitation of Christ, III, 4,2-4).

Read more: http://spiritualdirection.com/blog/2014/09/11/sincerity#ixzz3CzvsnyhC

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pope ‘deeply saddened’ by brutal killing of missionary nuns

By Ann Schneible on EWTN News/CNA

Undated photo released by Saverian missionaries of the three Italian missionary nuns, from left, Bernardetta Boggian, Olga Raschietti and Lucia Pulici, found slain in their convent in Burundi.

Undated photo released by Saverian missionaries of the three Italian missionary nuns, from left, Bernardetta Boggian, Olga Raschietti and Lucia Pulici, found slain in their convent in Burundi.

Pope Francis has expressed his condolences following the brutal murder of three Italian nuns in Burundi over the weekend, assuring the community of his closeness.

“The Holy Father begs the Lord to welcome into his kingdom of peace and light these three faithful and devout nuns,” reads Sept. 8 a telegram addressed to Archbishop Evariste Ngoyagoye of Bujumbura, Burundi, where the sisters were serving in the parish of Saint Guido Maria Conforti.

Signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State to the Holy See, the telegram continues: “In these tragic circumstances, (Pope Francis) expresses his closeness to their religious community, to the families of the victims, and the entire diocesan community.”

Sr. Lucia Pulici, 75, and Sr. Olga Raschietti, 82, were found raped and brutally murdered in their dormitory on Sunday. The remains of 79-year-old Sr. Bernadetta Boggian, who had discovered the bodies of her fellow sisters, was found the following day. All three were members of the Xaverian Missionaries.

Father Mario Pulcini, superior of the Xaverian Missionaries in Burundi, told the missionary news service MINSA that he had gone to the residence on Sept. 7 after he and Sr. Bernadetta were unable to reach Sr. Lucia and Sr. Olga.

“I was in front of the main door with the idea of forcing it open when it opened and I saw Bernadetta there very upset. She had found a side service entrance open and, once she entered, found the lifeless bodies of Sisters Olga and Lucia.”

The sisters chose to stay the following night in the residence, but were disturbed once more by an intruder. Soon after, Sr. Bernadetta was found dead.

The Pope also sent a telegram to Sister Ines Frizza, Superior General of the Xaverian Missionary Sisters of Mary, the order to which the sisters belonged, in which he assured them of “his heartfelt participation in the profound suffering of the Congregation for the loss of such dedicated sisters.”

He expressed his hope “that the blood they have shed may become the seed of hope to build true fraternity between peoples,” and prayed “for the eternal repose of their souls and for their generous witness of the Gospel.”

In both telegrams, the Holy Father imparted his apostolic blessing to all those affected by the tragedy.

Burundi police have arrested a man in connection with the murders. A police spokesmen said that Christian Butoyi, 33, confessed to the crime, alleging that the parish had been built on property owned by his parents.

A Mass was held for the sisters on Wednesday in Bunjubura. Their remains were then interred in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they had served for many years before coming to Burundi.

During the Mass, Xaverian priest Fr. Rubén Macias explained that there are “mixed feelings why they were assassinated with violence, with unimaginable cruelty…they were sisters full of love!”

“In this ceremony,” he said, “we wanted to proclaim just this: love that conquers despite all. The arrest of that man who was stopped yesterday gave a little comfort to our hearts, but that violence cannot conquer the love of these sisters who have given their life, more than 40 years, for Africa.”

The president of the Bishops Conference for the African country, Banshimiyubusa Gervais, has called for an independent commission to be established that will further investigate the reasons behind the attack.

Speaking of the reason given by Butoyi as why he killed the sisters, Fr. Macias explained that “This is a lie! The sisters didn’t have property. They lived on the property of the parish which belongs to the diocese. It’s a lie as big as planet Earth!”

The true motivations behind their murder have yet to be found, he said, “Because it’s an incomprehensible thing; he knew the movements of the sisters, he surely knew the house…nothing can explain such violence. It’s not human!”

Other members of the Xaverian Missionaries spoke during the Mass on what it means to give their life for their mission, saying that “every missionary who comes in the land of missions knows that they can find this risk.”

“We are missionaries, we are not politicians or other people who need total security. Our security is Christ and the Gospel that we proclaim: the rest is nothing.”

Going on, the missionaries affirmed that “the Cross of Christ is not a cross that we should fear. We should carry it because we know that there is the resurrection.”

The brutal martyrdom of their sisters “does not lead us to leave, but rather encourages us to stay,” they said, because “it means that we still have the need to proclaim the Gospel in this land, because the Gospel still has not reached the heart of many Burundi’s.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Holy Name of Mary – The Power of Her Name

By St Alphonsus de Liguori

name-of-maryRichard of St Laurence states “there is not such powerful help in any name, nor is there any other name given to men, after that of Jesus, from which so much salvation is poured forth upon men as from the name of Mary.” He continues, “that the devout invocation of this sweet and holy name leads to the acquisition of superabundant graces in this life, and a very high degree of glory in the next.” After the most sacred name of Jesus, the name of Mary is so rich in every good thing, that on earth and in heaven there is no other from which devout souls receive so much grace, hope, and sweetness.

Hence Richard of St Laurence encourages sinners to have recourse to this great name, “because it alone will suffice to cure them of all their evils;” and “there is no disorder, however malignant, that does not immediately yield to the power of the name of Mary.” The Blessed Raymond Jordano says, “that however hardened and diffident a heart may be, the name of this most Blessed Virgin has such efficacy, that if it is only pronounced that heart will be wonderfully softened.” Moreover, it is well known, and is daily experienced by the clients of Mary, that her powerful name gives the particular strength necessary to overcome temptations against purity.

September 12th is the Feast Day of The Most Holy Name of Mary

the-virgin-at-prayer-il-sassoferratoSt Methodius says “thy name, O Mother of God, is filled with divine graces and blessings.” So much so, that St Bonaventure declares, “that thy name, O Mary, cannot be pronounced without bringing some grace to him who does so devoutly” . . . grant, O Lady, that we may often remember to name thee with love and confidence; for this practice either shows the possession of divine grace, or else is a pledge that we shall soon recover it.

On the other hand, Thomas a Kempis affirms “that the devils fear the Queen of heaven to such a degree, that only on hearing her great name pronounced, they fly from him who does so as from a burning fire.” The Blessed Virgin herself revealed to St Bridget “that there is not on earth a sinner, however devoid he may be of the love of God, from whom the devil is not obliged immediately to fly, if he invokes her holy name with a determination to repent.” On another occasion she repeated the same thing to the saint, saying, “that all the devils venerate and fear her name to such a degree, that on hearing it they immediately loosen the claws with which they hold the soul captive.” Our Blessed Lady also told St Bridget, “that in the same way as the rebel angels fly from sinners who invoke the name of Mary, so also do the good angels approach nearer to just souls who pronounce her name with devotion.”


tumblr_lwr2tw7Lie1qgqulfo1_500Consoling indeed are the promises of help made by Jesus Christ to those who have devotion to the name of Mary; for one day in the hearing of St Bridget, He promised His Most Holy Mother that He would grant three special graces to those who invoke that holy name with confidence: first, that He would grant them perfect sorrow for their sins; secondly, that their crimes should be atoned for; and, thirdly, that He would give them strength to attain perfection, and at length the glory of paradise. And then our Divine Saviour added: “For thy words, O My Mother, are so sweet and agreeable to Me, that I cannot deny what thou askest.”

St Ephrem goes so far as to say, “that the name of Mary is the key of the gates of heaven,” in the hands of those who devoutly invoke it. And thus it is not without reason that St Bonaventure says “that Mary is the salvation of all who call upon her.” “O most sweet name! O Mary, what must thou thyself be, since thy name alone is thus amiable and gracious,” exclaims Blessed Henry Suso.

Let us, therefore, always take advantage of the beautiful advice given us by St Bernard, in these words: “In dangers, in perplexities, in doubtful cases, think of Mary, call on Mary; let her not leave thy lips; let her not depart from thy heart.”

Hour of Death

m741Thus we see that the most holy name of Mary is sweet indeed to her clients during life, on account of the very great graces that she obtains for them. But sweeter still will it be to them in death, on account of the tranquil and holy end that it will insure them.

Let us then, O devout reader, beg God to grant us, that at death the name of Mary may be the last word on our lips. This was the prayer of St Germanus: “May the last movement of my tongue be to pronounce the name of the Mother of God;” O sweet, O safe is that death which is accompanied and protected by so saying a name; for God only grants the grace of invoking it to those whom He is about to save.

Father Sertorius Caputo, of the Society of Jesus, exhorted all who assist the dying frequently to pronounce the name of Mary; for this name of life and hope, when repeated at the hour of death, suffices to put the devils to flight, and to comfort such persons in their sufferings.

The Most Holy Name of Mary said Devoutly is a Prayer

virgin_mary“Blessed is the man who loves thy name, O Mary,” exclaims St Bonaventure. “Yes, truly blessed is he who loves thy sweet name, O Mother of God! for,” he continues, “thy name is so glorious and admirable, that no one who remembers it has any fears at the hour of death.” Such is its power, that none of those who invoke it at the hour of death fear the assaults of their enemies. St Camillus de Lellis urged the members of his community to remind the dying often to utter the holy names of Jesus and Mary. Such was his custom when assisting people in their last hour.

Oh, that we may end our lives as did the Capuchin Father, Fulgentius of Ascoli, who expired singing, “O Mary, O Mary, the most beautiful of creatures! let us depart together.”

Let us conclude with the tender prayer of St Bonaventure:

“I ask thee, O Mary, for the glory of thy name, to come and meet my soul when it is departing from this world, and to take it in thine arms.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Armour And Amour

A Catholic father and son, ready to face the world.

“Social justice cannot be attained by violence. Violence kills what it intends to create.”

Pope John Paul II

Violence can either be repelled with more violence,

or absorbed and transmuted, with Love,

or a judicious bit of both*, I suppose.

As followers of Christ, we know which way is best, I hope.


*concession to Toad ;)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Niece of Nun Held Hostage by ISIS Recounts Family’s Agony

By Amal Marogy, from Aleteia


Where Is God Today In Iraq?

A few weeks ago, while desperately trying to get some news about Mosul and my aunt, Sister Utuur, I felt shell-shocked as I read the news I feared most: “Two nuns, two young orphan girls and a little boy held by ISIS.” Questions immediately flooded my mind: “Why were they risking their lives, for goodness sake?” “How can God allow this?”

But the most urgent and pressing question was, “Where is God?”

It was this question that haunted me for a few months after I visited the “House of Terror” in Budapest last February. The museum is housed in the former headquarters of the Nazi, and later the Communist, secret police. It was the scene of terror, torture and executions. Once the iron doors shut behind me, a wave of anguish and despair started to engulf me, much as it had engulfed the prisoners who walked up and down the stairs of that place of evil.

Our grim visit ended in the basement. The elevator’s descent to the basement was long enough for us to view a video of a guard dispassionately explaining the hanging “ceremony.” My young host, actually a student of mine, took me from one torture cell to another. In each one, he described in detail each method and tool of torture exhibited there. He then patiently told me the story of each victim whose pictures hung in one of the cells.

During this haunting visit, my mind and my heart were engaged in a fierce interior debate — arguments and counter-arguments shot back and forth. This debate ended when I was shown a cell where prisoners were submerged in filthy water for days on end. It was then that I could no longer suppress the cry, “Where is God?'”

The question that I always tried to keep at the back of my mind — a question that will undoubtedly vex anyone who has been brought up to believe in the Good God — suddenly became a burning question. It was at that moment that I heard a gentle voice whispering a clear answer: “I was there! No one entered that cell without my accompanying them. I still bear the marks of the cross.”

I remember being filled then with so much peace and gratitude to my God, who is not only almighty, but who himself experienced the deepest pain and fear that can ever grip a human heart. What’s more, Jesus is not only the one who has suffered most, he also knows what it means to see the pain in the eyes of loved ones whose silent pain can sometimes be harder to bear than one’s own physical suffering. Only he could fathom the pain that was piercing his Mother’s heart while she watched her only and innocent child being crucified. Only he can fathom the pain of seeing his beloved Christian brothers and sisters tortured and executed today.

It would take more than 10 pages to describe the school of suffering my family, like so many Iraqi families, has been through. My father died two decades ago, leaving behind a beautiful widow of 28 and four little girls. My paternal grandmother saw her house destroyed twice. On both the paternal and maternal sides, my grandmothers and two young uncles died shortly after each other. Thanks to my family’s great faith, however, which I could literally touch with my own hands, I could always trace the defaced and vague marks left behind by the Good God as a sign of his presence.

It was that beautiful and simple faith that was challenged in Hungary and again in the past few weeks. But my family was right again: God sends suffering only to those whom he trusts, because he needs people to help him carry his heavy cross.

My family has always felt privileged that God has chosen us and shown us his mercy and favor. It was thanks to my “unlettered” paternal grandmother that I came to learn that God never tempts or tests anyone beyond his ability.

It was the same intelligent and courageous woman who, when she saw our home in rubble, eulogized over it and shed tears for 15 minutes, after which she stood up and said, “All the material things are mere dirt of our hands, Blessed be God forever!”

I learned about this episode from my mother, who had accompanied her and who was deeply impressed by her faith. My grandmother never mentioned a word about that house. She neither complained nor cursed anyone for its destruction.

Now I know, not only theoretically but with a conviction that fills my whole being, that what God told Satan about Job applies to each one of us: You can go thus far, but no further.

Yes, it is true that evil seems to have gained the upper hand, and yet no authority on earth, however brutal it may be, can inflict anything on us if it is not allowed by God for our greater good.

My family taught us to give God a chance before slamming the door in his face. Sister Utuur — the name means “fragrance” in Arabic — and the other nun did their annual retreat while in captivity, in spiritual union with their religious order which was holding its annual retreat at the same time.

After their release, we came to know that Sister Utuur boldly challenged the Islamic governor who had interrogated them. She refused to give up her religious habit and, more importantly, her faith. She and her companions witnessed the unmistakable presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the middle of the screams of pain and anguish that surrounded them, screams that wrenched their hearts.

God allowed something like this to happen because he urgently needs prayer and acts of reparation for so much evil and senseless pain. My aunt and her companions were taken hostage for more than two weeks to bring the fragrance and light of Christ to illuminate the abyss of darkness into which so many people have plunged. The Sisters and children were like Christ, passing by in the midst of all that terror and horror. They were the channels of his gentle but unmistakable voice: “Don’t be afraid, I am with you!”

The question ‘Where is God?’ is, at best, an unfair question and begs another question: “Where is man?”

When Jesus was fulfilling his way of the cross through a shameful and painful death, he did not ask that question. Instead, he asked a more pertinent question, one that each of us may utter at some point in our lives: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It is a sincere question that can be addressed to God and it is the one question that God will never leave unanswered. It is a question that reveals the depths of our dignity and humanity and the unfathomable mystery of God.

Our personal way of the cross is meant to teach us that in the midst of all the suffering, the glory of God the Father is shown and the splendor of the risen Son is manifested because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom, there is peace!

Thanks are due to Auntie Utuur and her brave companions, especially the little boy, for proving to us yet again that God is still in charge, because he is Good and his mercy endures forever.

Amal Marogy, Ph.D., is founder and executive director of Aradin Charitable Trust, which seeks to advance education in little used languages and the elated cultural heritage of the Middle East, in particular Aramaic. She is an Affiliated Researcher in Neo-Aramaic Studies at Cambridge University.

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION TO SAVE THE CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ. It is not too late to sign if you have not already done so.

Posted in Uncategorized | 38 Comments

St Ambrose Barlow OSB (1585-1641) – one of the Forty Martyrs

From Universalis

St. Ambrose Edward Barlow

St. Ambrose Edward Barlow

Ambrose was born at Barlow Hall, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, near Manchester in 1585. He was the fourth son of the nobleman Sir Alexander Barlow and his wife Mary. Ambrose’s grandfather died in 1584 whilst imprisoned for his beliefs and Sir Alexander Barlow had two thirds of his estate confiscated as a result of his refusing to conform to the new established religion. In 1597, Ambrose was taken into the stewardship of a relative who would care for him whilst he served out his apprenticeship as a page. However, upon completing this service, Barlow realised that his true vocation was for the Catholic priesthood, so he travelled to Douai in France to study at the English College there before attending the College of St Alban in Valladolid, Spain. In 1615, he returned to Douai where he became a member of the Order of Saint Benedict and was ordained as a priest in 1617. He then returned to Morley’s Hall, Astley. From there he looked after the local Catholics, celebrating daily Mass and reciting his Office and Rosary. He would often visit his cousins, the Downes, at their residence of Wardley Hall (now the residence of the Bishop of Salford) and celebrate Mass for the gathered congregation. He was arrested several times during his travels. His parishioners implored him to flee or at least go into hiding but he refused. Their fears were compounded by a recent stroke which had resulted in the 56-year-old priest being partially paralysed. “Let them fear that have anything to lose which they are unwilling to part with” he told them.

Lancaster Castle

Lancaster Castle

On 25 April 1641, Easter Sunday, Ambrose and his congregation of around 100 people, were surrounded at Morley’s Hall, Astley by the Vicar of Leigh and his large (and armed) congregation. Ambrose surrendered, and his parishioners were released after their names had been recorded. The priest was then taken on horseback with a man behind him to prevent his falling, and escorted by a band of some sixty people to the Justice of the Peace at Winwick, before being transported to Lancaster Castle. Ambrose appeared before the presiding judge, Sir Robert Heath, on the 7 September when he professed his adherence to the Catholic faith and defended his actions. On the following day, the feast of the Nativity of Mary, Sir Robert Heath found Ambrose guilty, and sentenced him to be executed. Two days later, he was taken from Lancaster Castle, drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution, hanged, dismembered, quartered, and boiled in oil. His head was afterwards exposed on a pike. When the news of his death and martyrdom reached his Benedictine brothers at Douai Abbey, a Mass of Thanksgiving and the Te Deum were ordered to be sung.


On 15th December 1929, Pope Pius XI proclaimed Father Ambrose as Blessed at his Beatification ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. In recognition of the large number of British Catholic martyrs who were executed during the Reformation, most during the reign of Elizabeth I, Pope Paul VI decreed that on 25th October 1970 he was canonising a number of people who were to be known as the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales of whom Ambrose was one.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments