The Vatican II Generation: Weeds Amongst the Wheat

Gertrude:

Vatucan ll will arouse controversy for a many years to come. Whilst it gets the blame for most of the wrongs we see around us, I pray that sooner rather than later there might be some absolute clarification of where Holy Church stands on the issues that have, for 50 years divided.

Originally posted on diocesanspirituality:

Liturgical abuseFor a number of years I have struggled with resentments towards what is typically termed the “Vatican II generation.” Keep in mind that this phrase does not mean to generalize an entire bracket of people from one age to another. Rather, it summarizes a group of Catholics who have embraced an ambiguous, erroneous, and distorted vision of Ecclesiology, Sacramental Theology, and Liturgy. In effect, everything the Church teaches from the Natural Law to the Divine Law.  The “Vatican II generation” is not really a generation that embraced the documents of Vatican II either.  If it did, there would be Gregorian chant and Latin regularly practiced during mass…

Here is the problem. Resentment is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit. First of all, it indicates a wound for which one has not forgiven his assailant. Forgiveness is not an acceptance of behaviour or even false-doctrine, but rather a sort of…

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The Muslim who gave up his life for Mosul’s Christians

from: http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/world-news/detail/articolo/iraq-irak-irak-35380/

May the soul of Professor Mahmoud Al ‘Asali, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Christians leave Mosul

(©Afp)

(©Afp) Christians leave Mosul

Chaldean website ankawa.com says a university professor was killed after speaking out against anti-Christian persecution. Meanwhile, the Islamic State has set the jizyah at 450 dollars

Giorgio Bernardelli

He refused to keep silent about the violence agaist Mosul’s Christians  who are forced to choose between converting to the Muslim faith, paying the jizyah (the Islamic tax for non-Muslims) or fleeing. Professor Mahmoud Al ‘Asali, a law professor who lectures on pedagogy at the University of Mosul, had the courage to make a stand against this brutal duress which he believes go against the Muslim commandments. But he paid for this gesture with his life: he was killed by ISIS militants in Mosul yesterday.

 

Chaldean website ankawa.com – one of the news sources that offers the promptest updates on the inferno Christians are experiencing in Iraq – announced the news. Amidst the ocean of tragedies currently being witnessed in the Middle Eastern country, the website did not want to let this act of great courage go unnoticed. Professor Ali ‘Asali knew what he was risking: everyone in Mosul knows that in Raqqa – the Syrian city which the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seized last year –there are many human rights activists who have paid for their opposition to ISIS’ acts of intolerance with their own lives. But Al ‘Asali was nevertheless unable to stand by in silence.

 

And so are many other Muslims, who have launched the “I am Iraqi, I am Christian” campaign in response to the letter N’s written on the walls of Christian homes in Mosul. Yesterday some of them turned up outside the Chaldean Church of St. George in Baghdad, with a banner displaying the slogan and posted a picture on Facebook.

 

But these acts of rebellion have not been successful in stopping the madness of Islamic State fundamentalists. And so today, the ethnic cleansing continued, with the jizyah – the Islamic “protection” tax which all non-Muslims are required to pay if they wish to stay or return to Mosul – being applied. The monthly figure to be paid is 450 dollars, which is an impossible sum for anyone living in Northern Iraq to pay.  Today, yet another historic Christian location fell intot he hands of the Islamic State: the building in question is the Syro-Catholic monastery of Mar Benham, close to Qaraqosh, the Christian city in the Nineveh Plain where the majority of Christians have fled to. Monks have been present in mar Benham since the 4th century approximately. “They forced the three monks and some families residing in the monastery to go away and leave the keys behind,” the Syro-catholic bishop of Mosul, Yohanna Petros Moshe  told Fides news agency. The Bagdadhope blog reported that the monastery underwent restoration work in 1986 and became a pilgrimage destination for Christians and some Muslims too.

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Cardinal Brandmüller Corrects Francis on Celibacy

Francis Speaks, Scalfari Transcribes, Brandmüller Shreds
As a Church historian, the German cardinal refutes the notion according to which clerical celibacy was an invention of the 10th century. No, he objects: its origin is with Jesus and the apostles. And he explains why.
by Sandro Magister 

jpg_1350848
ROME, July 19, 2014 – “Perhaps you do not know that celibacy was established in the 10th century, 900 years after the death of our Lord. The Eastern Catholic Church even now has the option for its priests to marry. The problem certainly exists, but it is not large in scope. It will take time, but the solutions are there and I will find them.”

This is the answer on the issue of the celibacy of the clergy that Pope Francis gave to Eugenio Scalfari in the interview granted to the founder of the newspaper “la Repubblica” and guiding light of secular Italian intellectuals, published on Sunday, July 13.

On the same day, a note from Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the press office of the Holy See, clarified:

“If it can be maintained that overall the article conveys the sense and spirit of the conversation between the Holy Father and Scalfari, what was said on the occasion of a previous ‘interview’ that appeared in ‘Repubblica’ must be reiterated forcefully, namely that the individual statements reported, in the formulation presented, cannot be attributed to the pope with certainty.”

In particular, Fr. Lombardi cast doubt on the notion that the pope had proclaimed, with regard to the celibacy of the clergy, “I will find the solutions.”

But he made no objection to the other highly reckless words put into the pope’s mouth, according to which “celibacy was established in the 10th century, 900 years after the death of our Lord.”

A Church historian no less authoritative than German cardinal Walter Brandmüller, for more than twenty years the president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, in fact felt himself duty-bound to demonstrate the lack of foundation for this idea.

He did so with an analysis published in the newspaper “Il Foglio” on July 16, reproduced in its entirety further below.

Scalfari’s previous interview with Francis, which appeared in “La Repubblica” of October 1, 2013, also raised doubts about its reliability. So much so that the following November 15 it was taken down from the official website of the Vatican, where it had been placed among the pope’s discourses and afterward inexplicably reappeared, translated into five languages, only to disappear once again a few days ago.

Scalfari himself admitted that he had accompanied the preliminary draft of that first conversation that he sent to the pope – which did not raise any objections and was published without revision – with a note in which he wrote:

“Keep in mind that some of the things you said to me are not written down here. And that some of the things I attribute to you, you did not say. But I have put them there so that the reader may understand who you are.”

Months later, a second conversation between Scalfari and Francis did not undergo any journalistic “translation,” at the prudential request of the Vatican.

But after the third conversation, which took place last July 10, this time as well without a recording, the pope again gave Scalfari the go-ahead to include his changes, with the results that can be seen.

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WE PRIESTS, CELIBATE LIKE CHRIST
by Walter Brandmüller

Dear Mr. Scalfari,

Although I have not enjoyed the privilege of meeting you in person, I would like to revisit your statements concerning celibacy contained in the account of your conversation with Pope Francis, published on July 13, 2014 and immediately disputed in their authenticity by the director of the Vatican press office. As an “old professor” who for thirty years taught Church history at the university, I would like to bring to your attention the current state of the research in this field.

In particular, it must be emphasized in the first place that celibacy by no means dates back to a law invented 900 years after the death of Christ. It is instead the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke that report the words of Jesus in this regard.

Matthew writes (19:29): “And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.”

What Mark writes (10:29) is very similar: “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold.”

Luke (18:29ff.) is even more precise: “Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Jesus does not address these words to the masses, but rather to those whom he sends out to spread his Gospel and proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God.

In order to fulfill this mission it is necessary to free oneself from any earthly and human attachment. And seeing that this separation signifies the loss of what is taken for granted, Jesus promises a “recompense” that is more than appropriate.

At this point it is often highlighted that “leaving everything” referred only to the duration of the voyage of proclaiming his Gospel, and that once they had finished their task the disciples would return to their families. But there is no trace of this. The text of the Gospels, in referring to eternal life, are speaking of something definitive.

Now, seeing that the Gospels were written between 40 and 70 A.D., their redactors would have been brought into a bad light if they had attributed to Jesus words that did not correspond to their conduct of life. Jesus, in fact, demands that those who have been made participants in his mission must also adopt his way of life.

But what does Paul mean, when in the first letter to the Corinthians (9:1, 4-6) he writes: “Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? . . . Do we not have the right to our food and drink? Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brethren of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?” Do not these questions and statements take it for granted that the apostles were accompanied by their wives?

One must proceed with caution here. The apostle’s rhetorical questions referred to the right of the one who proclaims the Gospel to live at the expense of the community, and this also applies to the one who accompanies him.

And this obviously brings up the question of who this companion may be. The Greek expression “adelphén gynaìka” requires an explanation. “Adelphe” means sister. And here sister in the faith means a Christian, while “gyne” indicates – more generically – a woman, whether virgin or wife. In short, a female person. This makes it impossible to demonstrate that the apostles were accompanied by wives. Because if this were a case one would be unable to understand why an “adelphe” is distinctly spoken of as a sister, and therefore a Christian. As for the wife, it must be understood that the apostle left her at the time when he became part of the circle of disciples.

Chapter 8 of the Gospel of Luke helps to clarify this. It states: “The twelve were with [Jesus], and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.” From this description it seems logical to deduce that the apostles followed the example of Jesus.

Attention must also be called to the stirring appeal for celibacy or conjugal abstinence made by the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 7:29ff.): ” I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none.” And again: “The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.” It is clear that Paul is addressing these words in the first place to bishops and priests. And he himself would have adhered to this ideal.

In order to prove that Paul or the Church of apostolic times did not acknowledge celibacy, the letters to Timothy and Titus, the “pastoral letters,” are sometimes brought out as evidence. And in effect, in the first letter to Timothy (3:2) a married bishop is mentioned. And the original Greek text is repeatedly translated in the following way: “Let the bishop be the husband of a woman,” which is taken to be a precept. But one needs only a rudimentary knowledge of Greek to translate this correctly: “For this the bishop must be above reproach, married only once (and he must be the husband of a woman!), sober and judicious.” And also in the letter to Titus we read: “An elder (meaning a priest or bishop) must be blameless and married only once.”

These are indications that tend to rule out the possibility that a priest or bishop should be ordained who has remarried after the death of his wife (successive bigamy). Because apart from the fact that at that time a remarried widower was not looked upon kindly, for the Church there was also the consideration that in this way a man could never give any guarantee to respect abstinence, to which a bishop or priest would have to devote himself.

THE PRACTICE OF THE POST-APOSTOLIC CHURCH

The original form of celibacy therefore allowed the priest or bishop to continue his family life, but not his conjugal life. For this reason as well the preference was to ordain men who had reached an advanced age.

The fact that all of this can be traced back to ancient and sacred apostolic traditions is testified to by the works of ecclesiastical writers like Clement of Alexandria and the north African Tertullian, who lived in the 2nd-3rd century after Christ. Another witness of the high consideration bestowed on abstinence among Christians is a series of edifying tales of the apostles, the apocryphal ‘Acts of the Apostles’ composed in the 2nd century and widely read.

In the 3rd century the literary documentation on the abstinence of the clergy multiplied and became increasingly explicit, especially in the East. For example, here is a passage from the Syrian ‘Didascalia’: “The bishop, before he is ordained, must be put to the test to establish if he is chaste and has raised his children in the fear of God.” The great theologian Origen of Alexandria (3rd century) also recognized the celibacy of abstinence as binding; a celibacy that he explains and explores theologically in various works. And obviously there are other documents that could be brought forward in support, something that obviously is not possible here.

THE FIRST LAW ON CELIBACY

It was the Council of Elvira in 305-306 that put this practice of apostolic origin into the form of a law. With canon 33, the Council prohibited bishops, priests, deacons, and all other clergy from having conjugal relations with their wives, and likewise prohibited them from having children. At the time it was therefore thought that conjugal abstinence was compatible with family life. Thus even the sainted pope Leo I, called Leo the Great, wrote around 450 that ordained men did not have to repudiate their wives. They were to remain together with them, but as if “they did not have them,” as Paul writes in the first letter to the Corinthians (7:29).

With the passing of time there was an increasing tendency to ordain only celibate men. The codification would come in the Middle Ages, an era in which it was taken for granted that the priest and bishop would be celibate. It was another matter that the canonical discipline was not always followed to the letter, but this should not come as a surprise. And, as is in the nature of things, the observance of celibacy has seen highs and lows over the course of the centuries.

There is, for example, the famous and fiery dispute in the 11th century, at the time of what is called the Gregorian reform. At that juncture one witnessed a split that was so stark – especially in the German and French churches – as to lead the German prelates who were contrary to celibacy to forcibly expel from his diocese the bishop Altmann of Passau. In France, the pope’s emissaries who were charged with insisting on the discipline of celibacy were threatened with death, and at a synod held in Paris the sainted abbot Walter of Pontoise was beaten by bishops opposed to celibacy and was thrown in prison. In spite of this the reform succeeded and a renewed religious springtime took place.

It is interesting to note that the contestation of the precept of celibacy has always coincided with signs of decadence in the Church, while in times of renewed faith and cultural blossoming one has noted a strengthened observance of celibacy.

And it is certainly not difficult to draw historical parallels with the current crisis from these observations.

THE PROBLEMS OF THE CHURCH OF THE EAST

Two questions that are frequently posed still remain open. There is the one concerning the practice of celibacy on the part of the Catholic Church of the Byzantine empire and of the Eastern rite, which does not admit marriage for bishops and monks but grants it for priests on the condition that they be married before they receive the sacrament. And taking precisely this practice as their example, there are some who ask if it could not be adopted by the Latin West as well.

In this regard must be emphasized in the first place that it was precisely in the East that the practice of abstinent celibacy was held to be binding. And it was only during the Council of 691, called “Quinisextum” or “Trullanum,” when the religious and cultural decadence of the Byzantine empire was evident, that the rupture with the apostolic patrimony was reached. This Council, influenced to a great extent by the emperor, who wanted new legislation to restore order in relations, was never recognized by the popes. It was precisely then that the Church of the East adopted its practice. When later, beginning in the 16th and 17th centuries, and afterward, various Orthodox Churches returned to the Church of the West, the problem was posed in Rome about how to deal with the married clergy of those Churches. The various popes decided, for the good and unity of the Church, not to require any modification in their way of life for priests who had returned to the mother Church.

THE EXCEPTION IN OUR TIME

There is a similar motivation behind the papal dispensation from celibacy granted – beginning with Pius XII – to the Protestant pastors who convert to the Catholic Church and want to be ordained priests. This rule was recently applied by Benedict XVI to the numerous Anglican prelates who wanted to unite, in conformity with the apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus,” with the Catholic mother Church. With this extraordinary concession, the Church recognizes the long and sometimes painful religious journey of these men of faith who have reached their destination with conversion. A destination that in the name of truth leads those directly concerned to renounce even the financial support realized until that moment. It is the unity of the Church, a good of immense value, that justifies these exceptions.

BINDING PATRIMONY?

But apart from these exceptions, the other fundamental question is raised, and that is: can the Church be authorized to renounce an evident apostolic patrimony?

This is an option that is continually taken into consideration. Some think that this decision could not be taken only by a part of the Church, but by a general Council. In this way it is thought that in spite of not involving all the ecclesiastical ranks, at least for some the obligation of celibacy could be relaxed if not abolished outright. And what appears inopportune today could be the reality tomorrow. But if there were the desire to do this one would have to bring back to the forefront the binding element of the apostolic traditions. And one could also ask if, with a decision made in the assembly of a Council, it would be possible to abolish the celebration of Sunday, which, if one wished to be meticulous, has fewer biblical foundations than celibacy.

To conclude, allow me to advance a consideration projected into the future: if it is still valid to contend that every ecclesiastical reform worthy of this definition must emerge from a profound understanding of the ecclesiastical faith, then the current dispute over celibacy would be overcome through a deepened understanding of what it means to be a priest. And if it were understood and taught that the priesthood is not a function of service exercised in the name of the community, but that the priest – by virtue of the sacrament received – teachers, guides, and sanctifies “in persona Christi,” all the more so would it be understood that it is precisely for this reason that he also takes on Christ’s way of life. And a priesthood understood and lived in this way would once again exercise a power of attraction over the finest of the young.

As for the rest, it must be taken into account that celibacy, just like virginity in the name of the Kingdom of Heaven, will always be troublesome for those who have a secularized conception of life. But as Jesus said in this regard: “He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”

Originally posted at:

http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1350847?eng=y

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Genocide of Christians in Syria and Iraq (Mosul)

The genocide being committed in Syria and Iraq against our Christian brethren by throngs of Islamic jihadists, and continuing underway at this very moment of writing, is leaving the rest of the Christian world looking on in utter horror and distress. Brief mentions in the secular press barely do justice to the real savagery and evil of what is occurring there. Please read the various posts on Rorate Caeli – one of the few voices accurately informing the Catholic blogsphere, plus giving some background knowledge of where members of the Church went wrong at the time of Vatican II in not recognising the very real threat radical Islam presents to the rest of the world, and very especially Christendom.

It’s over. Genocide has been accomplished

[Cross removed this week from dome of Syriac Orthodox Cathedral, Mosul, Iraq]

[Cross removed this week from dome of Syriac Orthodox Cathedral, Mosul, Iraq]

For two thousand years, our dearest brethren saw it all from Mosul: Romanized Greeks, Hellenized Persians, Hellenized Romans from all origins later called “Byzantines”, Armenians, Arabs from the desert with a religion of the sword, Egyptians, Crusaders, Mongols, Turks, French and British, “Independence”… Then the clumsiest Empire in history, an Empire unwanted by most voters, unwarranted by the Republic’s own Constitution, led by bellicose hawks motivated by God knows what, justifying their actions on untruths, arrived, upsetting a balance that was not the best, but was best of all possible outcomes (at that moment). Two Vicars of Christ had cried their hearts out in vain warning of the grave danger of an intervention, of the, “extremisms that could stem from it.”

Things were never the same.

For years, we have been warning that support for terrorists in neighboring Syria would surely end badly. But even we could not imagine that it would end so badly so fast and over such a vast area. And yet, the insane Empire-builders are still handing billions and billions, and hundreds of millions of dollars to “moderate” terrorists! Where’s the outrage? Have you contacted your congressman, senator, president, MP, prime-minister expressing your outrage, begging this madness to stop?

Continue reading…

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Nun: The Sign of Genocide

In solidarity with our Persecuted Brethren in Iraq and Syria

In solidarity with our Persecuted Brethren in Iraq and Syria

Nun (ن), the 14th letter of the Arabic alphabet (the equivalent of letter N in our Roman alphabet), is the first letter of the word Nasara (نصارى : Nazarenes), the way Muslims have called Christians since the beginning of their invasion of the Christian world in the 7th century — Christians under Muslim rule never called themselves thus, since the intent of Muslims was to portray Christians as a contemptible and disobedient sect.

It is the same name of the equivalent letter (נ) in the Hebrew alphabet (also a Semitic language), and it reminds us of the words of Jeremiah, also crying for an exile of his people sent to Mesopotamia:

Nun. The yoke of my iniquities hath watched: they are folded together in his hand, and put upon my neck: my strength is weakened: the Lord hath delivered me into a hand out of which I am not able to rise. (Lamentations, 1)

In their genocidal physical elimination of Christians from the Mesopotamian city of Mosul, Muslim terrorists marked each Christian-owned institution and building with this letter, for the extermination of holdouts and expropriation of their belongings:

Continue reading…

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We are back to the regular version of Islam: no need for warning labels
And, please, leave the old Catholic Encyclopedia alone

A perfectly European-looking gentleman: Abdülmecid II,  last Turkish Caliph - Paris, circa 1935

A perfectly European-looking gentleman: Abdülmecid II,
last Turkish Caliph – Paris, circa 1935

In the recent past, when we have linked to the Old (1907-1913/4) Catholic Encyclopedia, a very important work of reference for Catholics in the public domain, we have only been linking to and recommending the Catholic Answers version, available here as “The Original Catholic Encyclopedia”.

Why?

There are two main reasons: the first one is that each article includes an image of the scanned page of the original print version so that the reader may be able to verify by himself the accuracy of the transcript.

There is, however, an even more important reason. Allow us to use as an example the essential article on Islam (or rather, on Mohammed and Mohammedanism), written by the great Mesopotamian-born American scholar and Chaldean Catholic priest, Fr. Gabriel Oussani, born in Baghdad and raised in… Mosul, both capitals of the respective Turkish Vilayets of Baghdad and Mosul, which, together with the Vilayet of Basra, would become the new Kingdom of Iraq after the Great War.

This is the famous conclusion to his article:

“In matters political Islam is a system of despotism at home and of aggression abroad. The Prophet commanded absolute submission to the imam. In no case was the sword to be raised against him. The rights of non-Moslem subjects are of the vaguest and most limited kind, and a religious war is a sacred duty whenever there is a chance of success against the “Infidel”. Medieval and modern Mohammedan, especially Turkish, persecutions of both Jews and Christians are perhaps the best illustration of this fanatical religious and political spirit.

Clear, right? Incontestable, right?

Now, if you search for this article in the more famous online version of the Catholic Encyclopedia, this is what you get before you even start reading Fr. Oussani’s words, that were based on a lifetime of personal experience of Islam as a Mesopotamian Christian: “To complement this article, which was taken from the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent recommends a prayerful reading of ‘Nostra Aetate’ from the Second Vatican Council.” This is unfortunately not the only case in which such warning notes are present.

Continue reading…

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Finally, an urgent appeal for prayer from Fr. Ray Blake’s blog: 

Brothers and sisters, pray for our brothers and sisters under threat in Mosul, pray for those who have been forced to leave their ancient homeland. Pray for those who murder, abduct, rape, mutilate, destroy and threaten. We are at the beginning of a Christian Holocaust, will the world leaders act or be as silent and as hard hearted as they were 70 years ago?

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Saint or Ain’t? A Sermon for the 16th Sunday of the Year

By: Msgr. Charles Pope (on Archdiocese of Washington blog)

wheat

We live in difficult times for the Church, and from many sectors the very legitimate cry for reform goes up frequently. Beyond the sexual abuse scandal, there are also deep concerns regarding the uncertain trumpet of Catholic preaching, lukewarm and nominal Catholics, an overall lack of discipline among Catholics, and a lack of disciplining by the bishops and clergy of Catholics, clergy and lay, who cause scandal. In a way, the list is quite long and has been well discussed on this blog, which is, overall sympathetic to the need for reform, and greater zeal in the Church.

But today’s Gospel issues a caution in becoming over zealous to root out sin and sinners from the Church. It is the memorable Parable of the Wheat and Tares. The Lord’s cautionary rebuke to the zealous farmhands who wanted to tear out the weeds, was that they might harm the wheat as well. Wait, says the Lord, leave it to me. There will come a day of reckoning, but it is not now, wait till harvest.

This does not mean that we are never to take no notice of sin or never rebuke it. There is need for discipline in the Church and other texts call for it (see below). But this text is meant to balance a scouring that is too thorough, or a puritanical clean sweep that overrules God’s patience and seeks to turn the Church from a hospital for sinners to a germ-free (and hence people-free) zone.

We are going to need to depend on a lot of patience and mercy from God if any of us are going to stand a chance. Summoning the wrath of God to come on sinners, as some do, may well destroy them as well. We all have a journey to make from being an ain’t to being a saint.

So let’s allow this Gospel to give us some guidance in finding balance between the summons to reform and the summons to patience. The guidance comes in Four Steps.

Continue reading…

 

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Malaysian Airlines 17, Death and You

malaysian-airlines-crash2

From Fr. Z’s blog

The black boxes from Malaysian Airlines 17 might indicate that the pilots attempted a vain evasion. I doubt it. I suspect that exploding death was sudden. Who knows who may have survived the initial blast and remained conscious for some seconds that followed? Only God.

Adequate time for an Act of Contrition? For an Act of Charity?

Adequate time to say “Jesus!”, “Mary!” … “Forgive!” …?

We do not know when death will come.

It will come.

A sudden death can be a blessing.

If you are in the state of grace, sudden death can be a blessing.

A sudden death can be eternal disaster.

If you are not in the state of grace and sudden death strikes you down… eternal disaster.

Eternal, personal disaster.

When was the last time you examined your conscience thoroughly and went to confession?

When was the last time you heard the priest say the words, “I absolve you of your sins…”?

Catholics have for centuries prayed in the Litany:

“A subitanea et improvisa morte… From a sudden and unprovided death, spare us O Lord.”

What is an “unprovided death”? One by which you die – and you will die – without the Last Rites from the priest or a chance to repent of unconfessed sins even with a perfect act of contrition.

You want to have your temporal affairs in order. How much more should we have our spiritual affairs in order? You don’t know the place or the hour.

Continue reading for A PRAYER FOR DELIVERANCE FROM AN UNPROVIDED DEATH.

Please pray for all the victims and their families of this terrible tragedy.

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A concert pianist explains why he rejects the Assisted Dying Bill

Parliament is discussing the Assisted Dying Bill today (PA)

Parliament is discussing the Assisted Dying Bill today (PA)

From the Catholic Herald online by Matthew Schellhorn:

When my mum was diagnosed with late-stage cancer she turned to me and said: “We will get through it.” At the time, I did not know what that could possibly mean.

Looking after my mum disrupted my normal life. Being her carer took away my time. It made me lose interest in music and endangered professional opportunities. It also dragged my pregnant wife and young son into a world of commodes, hoists, medication and round-the-clock worry.

But amidst the difficulties we all built our motivation on one solid belief, that life was something precious, something to be celebrated, cherished and affirmed. As mum’s health declined and the opportunities for “normal life” decreased, the possibilities expanded. We lived the paradox that when there are limits to life the freedom is greater. Mum knew that positive experiences would sustain the bereaved left behind: that further altruism gave her life some meaning.

I am so glad I did not have to discuss the Assisted Dying Bill with my terminally ill mother. I think that if my mum had lived to know about this Bill it might well have destroyed all our happy experiences. I think she would have been terrified to know that the same doctors so keen to see her enjoying life, even in a limited way, might be perfectly willing to help her to end her life, should she have so chosen. It would have destroyed the relationship of trust to know that there were no boundaries between healthcare professionals and patients. And it would have demoralised her carers, who together worked towards making life comfortable, to think that their efforts might be considered futile.

It would also have increased my mother’s vulnerability. As she lay in bed for 23 hours a day in our living room I knew she was already self-conscious about the enormous strain put on us. Numerous times she took decisions about routine and food that she presumed would alleviate any difficulties in our family life. The sanctioning of that inclination, the condoning of any despair, might well tip the balance in favour of a fatal outcome ahead of further positive experiences. As I tried enormously hard to remove all suggestion that her presence was an unwelcome burden, there could have been an altogether more powerful tacit force undermining me.

Although it has made for uncomfortable reading, I have considered the arguments in favour of this Bill. Lord Carey and Desmond Tutu have given their reasons why it is ‘compassionate’ to provide an exit door to the terminally ill ahead of their natural demise. The Care Minister, Norman Lamb, thinks people should be able ‘to make their own decision about their life’.

These ways of thinking contradict established medical ethics and fly in the face of all logic. The life of a physically sick person is worth as much as a physically healthy person. Importantly, the person in question gains happiness from experiencing that truth. Now that the dust has settled, I see we “got through” terminal illness, each in our own way. That is why I oppose this Bill.

Matthew Schellhorn is a British pianist. His website is Matthewschellhorn.com and his Twitter address is @schellhornmusic

 

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Demons – a terrifying proof of the divine order

Father Fortea answers the following question at Catholic Spiritual Direction:

Father Fortea, why does God not just annihilate the demons?

God, in His great love, has pledged not to destroy any intelligent being He has created. Demons, by their very existence, are a manifestation of God’s justice, a proclamation that the law of God is not violated without consequence. He who violates this law deforms himself and, if he chooses not to repent of this transgression, his deformation becomes eternal. Such is the case with the demons. They are a terrifying proof of the divine order.

GargoyleIn a certain sense, even the demons enrich the perfect order of God’s creation. Beauty cannot be destroyed by ugliness; rather, ugliness (i.e., evil) makes us see beauty all the more by contrast. A cathedral would not be more beautiful if we took away the monstrous gargoyles adorning it. As has been said, the demons show us the justice of God, His holiness and wisdom in creating such an order. While it would have been better had sin and evil never entered creation, their presence can point the way to what is good, true, beautiful, and holy. Even a majestic cathedral, with its high towers and sculptured beauty, has its gloomy crypts.

For the demons, the centuries pass with no hope. Undoubtedly, being desperate and full of sadness, if they could commit suicide, they would do so in order to end their suffering. But, as a pure spirit, the life of a demon is indestructible. A spirit has no organs, it cannot be poisoned, and it cannot be starved. It cannot even die of sadness. No matter what is done, it will continue to exist forever. (Of course, the same holds true for human beings as well. We will exist forever – either in heaven or hell, by our free choice to obey God or reject him.)

Anyway, as has been said, even though the demons suffer for all eternity, they do not suffer at each and every moment. Even though they do not recognize it, their existence is a gift from God. And even though they fall over and over again into acts of hate, reproach, and remorse, the rest of the time they know and experience a natural existence, which is proper to their nature.

Saint Michael Prayer 

Saint Michael the Archangel,

defend us in the day of battle.

Be our safeguard against the

wickedness and the snares of the devil.

May God rebuke him we humbly pray

and do thou O Prince of the Heavenly Host,

cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits

who prowl throughout the world

seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen

 

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The right to die bill is really a right to kill. It must not pass

Tomorrow the House of Lords will debate the Assisted Dying Bill.

 The Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis defines this Bill thus:

While I appreciate the honest and empathetic intentions that have led Lord Falconer to propose, and others to support, the Assisted Dying Bill, which is to receive its second reading in the House of Lords tomorrow, I am profoundly disturbed to see that it applies the neutral term “assisted dying” to killing, and that it contemplates permitting doctors to administer “medicines” which are, in essence, poisons.  and goes on to say

There is no greater value in Judaism than the sanctity of life. Life is the most precious of gifts. It is a gift from God and it is not ours to cut short. Life has an absolute value and its preservation takes precedence over other commandments. This is my guiding principle in approaching this life-and-death question.

On Facebook Lawrence Bryce has created a page specifically for one purpose: The page asks simply that you say a rosary, attend a Holy Hour if your parish is having one, if not – just sit before Our Blessed Lord and pray that this Bill fails.

As one whose health is not infrequently compromised, my prayer is please…. do not help us to die…. help us to live.

The right to die bill will be debated in the Lords tomorrow. Will it pass? Possibly. Whatever happens in the Lords is down to turnout and enough peers may feel strongly enough to turn up and vote it through. That could mean that it would be handed onto the Commons, where it would surely fail. The main party leaders are against it and it probably wouldn’t even be granted time for debate (especially this close to an election). But no matter: it would have been established as something that Parliament is interested in and that is on the political agenda.

We have witnessed an extraordinary, highly emotional campaign in favour of the so-called right to die. It ranges from sympathetic treatment on TV (Hayley in Coronation Street) to a number of celebrities making personal testimonies in support: cue Stephen Hawking lending intellectual and moral weight to the case for assisted suicide. The whole matter is a lesson in how to get a liberal reform made law, even if there is no sizeable constituency for it.

1. Create the sense that that opinion formers are coalescing around the initiative. Note that conservatives rarely do this: can you name a single celebrity who has called for tighter time limits on abortion? By contrast, liberals are very good at building a sense of “intelligent consensus”.

2. Keep campaigning for something until it eventually happens. This might seem obvious, but conservatives have a habit of trying to do something, being defeated and then accepting that the public simply doesn’t agree with them anymore – and moving on. By contrast, liberals will push and push and push until they get their way. The right to die campaign has been going for years: the last Lords vote was in 2006. If they lose this vote, they will hold another. And another. And another. Until it wins by sheer strength of will alone.

3. Ask the right question. Frame the debate in terms of individual rights and use language that makes consideration of the philosophical problems or human realities almost impossible. Convince people that it would be evil to oppose your proposition.

That is what the assisted dying campaigners have done in this debate. They have called what they want the “right to die” – and who can oppose that? Majorities of the public poll in favour of the proposition because when asked “would you want the right to die if you were terminally ill and in pain?”, the incredibly loaded question demands the answer, “yes”. But what if the question was, “do you believe doctors should be granted the right to kill or to help a patient to die?” Then, they might conclude something different.

For that is what this bill is really all about: granting the medical profession the right to assist in the ending of life. I’m not being hyperbolic. The ethical foundation of Western medicine is the idea that the doctor should seek to preserve and enhance life, and cause no harm. This bill perverts that role. And the scope for its application will increase over time. At present, it is limited to the terminally ill and mentally competent, with just six months left to live (the faith this bill places in doctors’ prognoses is charming at best). But the reformers will push and push and push – as they always do – to expand the criteria until Britain becomes like Belgium – a place where even children can be euthanised. Do we really want our legal and medical institutions to be entirely re-orientated away from the preservation of life and towards the normalisation of suicide – assisted by state bureaucrats? Have we become what science fiction writers once only had nightmares about? A civilisation where convenience trumps compassion?

All of the above is why the right to die bill must be defeated in the Lords. Its supporters may be kindly motivated and may have wrenching personal experiences that have brought them to this point. But if society must draw the line anywhere at liberal reform, let it be here.

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Flos Carmeli (Flower of Carmel)

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (taken with my smart phone)

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (taken with my smart phone)

Every year on 16th July, Carmelites throughout the world celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Patroness of sailors and fishermen.

I have just returned from the celebration of this lovely feast in a small coastal town in the south of Spain, where there is strong devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. At sunset, on an altar erected beside the beach, a beautiful open air Mass was celebrated. Beside it had been placed the statue of Our Lady holding the Holy Infant Jesus with the Brown Scapular draped over her arm on a colourful, flower-decked throne. After the sung Holy Mass, attended by hundreds of people, the statue was taken in procession down to the sea edge and placed in a well lit garlanded boat awaiting her. Other devotees in little boats bobbing in the water all around, then accompanied the image of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel as she took off around the bay. Meanwhile a brilliant firework display, reflected over the sea, was set off in her honour.

We live in a secular age here in the West nowadays, but these simple pious traditions in Spain (folkloric perhaps, but with strong Christian roots) continue to draw large crowds of faithful Catholics, as much now as they ever did.

________

Oral tradition tells of St. Simon Stock (ca. 1165 – 1265)  praying with a passionate intensity to Our Lady of Mount Carmel during a time of great distress and hardship for the Order. With fervour and faith, he prayed for the first time the Flos Carmeli prayer which he had written, and Our Lady answered that prayer. Thus, for seven centuries the Flos Carmeli continues to be prayed to the Blessed Mother with the firm faith that she will answer its request with her powerful help.

Flos Carmeli Prayer

Flos Carmeli, vitis florigera,
Splendor cæli, virgo puerpera, singularis.
Mater mitis sed viri nescia
Carmelitis esto propitia, stella maris.
Radix Iesse germinans flosculum
Hic adesse me tibi servulum patiaris.
Inter spinas quæ crescis lilium
Serva puras mentes fragilium tutelaris.
Armatura fortis pugnantium
Furunt bella tende præsidium scapularis.
Per incerta prudens consilium
Per adversa iuge solatium largiaris.
Mater dulcis Carmeli domina,
plebem tuam reple lætitia qua bearis.
Paradisi clavis et ianua,
Fac nos duci quo, Mater, gloria coronaris.

“O most beautiful flower of Mt. Carmel, fruitful vine, splendour of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me you are my Mother. O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succour me in this necessity (make request). There are none that can withstand your power. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Sweet Mother I place this cause in your hands. Amen.”

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Assisted Dying Bill: Statement by Cardinal Nichols and leaders of other Faiths.

16/07/2014

The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth and the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain are amongst the 24 faith leaders who have today voiced their shared concerns about Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill.

In a joint statement to Members of the House of Lords they say:”While we may have come to the position of opposing this bill from different religious perspectives, we are agreed that the Assisted Dying Bill invites the prospect of an erosion of carefully tuned values and practices that are essential for the future development of a society that respects and cares for all.”

The leaders and senior representatives are drawn from a broad coalition of Christian churches and denominations, and from the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain and Zoroastrian faiths.Lord Falconer’s Bill will be debated in the House of Lords on 18 July 2014.

Statement in full

To Members of the House of Lords:

As leaders of faith communities, we wish to state our joint response to Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill. We do so out of deep human concern that if enacted, this bill would have a serious detrimental effect on the wellbeing of individuals and on the nature and shape of our society.

‪Every human life is of intrinsic value and ought to be affirmed and cherished. This is central to our laws and our social relationships; to undermine this in any way would be a grave error. The Assisted Dying Bill would allow individuals to participate actively in ending others’ lives, in effect colluding in the judgment that they are of no further value. This is not the way forward for a compassionate and caring society.

‪Vulnerable individuals must be cared for and protected even if this calls for sacrifice on the part of others. Each year many thousands of elderly and vulnerable people suffer abuse; sadly, often at the hands of their families or carers. Being perceived as a burden or as a financial drain is a terrible affliction to bear, leading in many cases to passivity, depression and self-loathing. The desire to end one’s life may, at any stage of life, be prompted by depression or external pressure; any suggestion of a presumption that such a decision is ‘rational’ does not do justice to the facts. The Assisted Dying Bill can only add to the pressures that many vulnerable, terminally ill people will feel, placing them at increased risk of distress and coercion at a time when they most require love and support.

‪A key consideration is whether the Assisted Dying Bill will place more vulnerable people at risk than it seeks to help. We have seen, in recent years that even rigorous regulation and careful monitoring have not prevented the most serious lapses of trust and care in some parts of the NHS and within a number of Care Homes. It is naïve to believe that, if assisted suicide were to be legalised, proposed safeguards would not similarly be breached with the most disastrous of consequences, by their nature irrevocable.

‪The bill raises the issue of what sort of society we wish to become: one in which life is to be understood primarily in terms of its usefulness and individuals evaluated in terms of their utility or one in which every person is supported, protected and cherished even if, at times, they fail to cherish themselves. While we may have come to the position of opposing this bill from different religious perspectives, we are agreed that the Assisted Dying Bill invites the prospect of an erosion of carefully tuned values and practices that are essential for the future development of a society that respects and cares for all. Better access to high-quality palliative care, greater support for carers and enhanced end of life services will be among the hallmarks of a truly compassionate society and it is to those ends that our energies ought to be harnessed.

Signatories:

Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia
Chairman, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha

Mr Yousif Al-Khoei
Director Al-Khoei Foundation

‪Rev Dr Martyn Atkins
General Secretary of the Methodist Church and Secretary of the Conference

Bishop Eric Brown
Administrative Bishop, New Testament Church of God

Mr Malcolm M Deboo
President, Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe

Rev Jonathan Edwards
Deputy Moderator Free Churches Group

Pastor John Glass
General Superintendent, Elim Pentecostal Churches

Revd David Grosch-Miller and Mr John Ellis
Moderators of the United Reformed Church General Assembly

Colonel David Hinton
Chief Secretary, The Salvation Army United Kingdom

Rev Stephen Keyworth
Faith and Society Team Leader, Baptist Union of Great Britain

Ayatollah Fazel Milani
Dean of the International Colleges of Islamic Studies

‪Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth

Most Rev Dr Barry Morgan
Archbishop of Wales

His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster

Rev John Partington
National Leader, Assemblies of God

Mr Ramesh Pattni
Secretary General, Hindu Forum of Britain

Bishop Wilton Powell
National Overseer, Church of God of Prophecy

Maulana Shahid Raza OBE
Leicester Central Mosque, Leicester

Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala
Chief Sangha Nayake of Great Britain, London Buddhist Vihara

Dr Shuja Shafi
Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain

‪Dr Natubhai Shah
Chairman/CEO Jain Network

Lord Indarjit Singh
Director Network of Sikh Organisations (UK)

‪Most Rev and Rt Hon Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury

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Virginity and the Little Flower of the Mohawks

By Fr. Dwight Longnecker on Patheos

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

In learning more about St Kateri Tekakwitha [whose feast day we celebrated yesterday, 14th July] I was struck by the connecting points between her and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Both were orphaned. Both suffered from a terrible disease. Both died at the age of just 24. Thérèse was called “the Little Flower”. Kateri was called “the Lily of the Mohawks”…

What is the point of virgins in the church? OK. We can understand that they illustrate the virtue of chastity and remind all by their extreme example, to follow the way of purity.

But that kind of hints that sexual relations are somehow dirty or bad in themselves, and that is not why the church values virginity. Furthermore, why does the church value virginity in women, but doesn’t much mention it in the lives of men saints?

Does it point to the Virgin Mary’s perpetual virginity? It echoes the Blessed Virgin’s perpetual virginity, but there is much more to it.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

The church honours virgin saints because they picture the nuptial imagery which runs throughout the Scriptures. Pope Benedict XVI said, “The Scriptures can only be interpreted through the lives of the saints.”

There is a profound mystery here. The Scriptures are somehow fulfilled and brought to life through the whole panoply of saints’ lives.

In the Old Testament stories of men finding their brides there is the hint of the bride-bridegroom symbolism. Then the OT prophets declare that God himself will be the bridegroom of his people Israel. Then Jesus speak repeatedly in parables about the bride and the bridegroom and speaks about the virgin bride being ready for the arrival of the bridegroom and he refers to himself repeatedly as the bridegroom. The liturgy for the day of resurrection refers back to the psalms and pictures the Lord rising from the tomb being like the sun which is like a “bridegroom emerging from his chamber.”

Then St Paul refers to the church as “the bride of Christ” and says the church “is presented one day to the Lord as a glorious church without spot or wrinkle, as a bride adorned for her husband”. Then in the Book of Revelation the life of heaven is likened to the “marriage supper of the Lamb”. In heaven the bride, the Church, is at last one with the bridegroom in the consummation of the feast.

Brant Pitre’s book Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told explores this beautiful idea in depth.

This is therefore why the church honours female virgins as she does: because they picture the whole church as the bride of Christ. They indicate a present and future reality and the reality that applies to each one of us as individuals and to the whole church: that we are called to be finally made pure and spotless and ready for the bridegroom.

How can this be when so many of us are so wrapped up in sin, lust, anger, violence and weakness?

This is the mysterious miracle: that through the working of grace and our co operation with grace we are actually called to achieve this perfection. The destiny of each one of us is to be finally purified and made just as pure and clean and sparkling again as the virgin saints were in their mortal lives.

By being who they are they show us what we shall be. Each one of us will have our virginity restored and re-made. This leads to a contemplation of just what this virginity is.

It is not simply that a person never had sexual relations with anyone. It is not simply a biographical or biological fact. It is a state of mind, a state of soul and a state of the heart. The virginity of Kateri Tekakwitha and Thérèse and the other virgin saints is a sign of a fullness of goodness in their lives – being full of grace. Their lives were swamped with grace and they were made as complete in this life as it is our destiny to be one day in the life to come (if we do not complete the work of purification here).

Finally, it is no mistake that the virgin saints are inevitably virgin martyrs, and if not martyrs in fact, then martyrs to some great suffering. Their virginity is not some sort of Pollyanna piety. Their virginity, like the Virgin Mary’s is a sharing in the sufferings of Christ. They die for love if you like, and they show us that purity comes at a price.

Their tenderness is tough. If they are little flowers they are not drooping violets but steel magnolias, and as such they are examples of the little way that is the only way–a way that is strewn with flowers, but a way that also points to a crown of thorns.

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Nanteos Cup stolen – Was it The Holy Grail?

Few of our readers may have heard of the Nanteos Cup. In the last two days, this cup has been stolen, it is feared for some nefarious purpose, and we have been asked to bring this to the notice of a wider audience by a friend of the present owner of the cup. The owners house, in rural Herefordshire, was broken into and the chalice stolen – it is thought that this was the only item taken. Since it is quite unique, someone, somewhere might have some information which can be passed on quite anonymously to Crimestoppers; 0800 555111′

A brief history of this interesting cup, and its association with the Pre-Reformation monks of Glastonbury is detailed below:

One of the most interesting facets of Grail lore is the number of cups that exist that lay claim to being the Holy Grail. Lore of these different objects is as varied as theories of the Grail itself. The Antioch Chalice even was exhibited at the 1933 World’s Fair as the true Grail. Of these Grail contenders, the Nanteos Cup has generated as fair a claim to the cup used at the Last Supper as any other. As the cup exists today, it is a chipped olive wood bowl that measures five inches in diameter and two and a half inches tall. The following is a history of the cup and its lore. The legend of the Nanteos Cup begins during the reign of King Henry VIII. In the late 1520’s, Henry began making steps to separate England from the spiritual authority of the Catholic Church. The disagreement between the Church and King centered round Henry’s desire to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragorn. The Pope opposed Henry’s request for both dogmatic and political reasons.

In 1533, Henry took matters into his own hands and secretly married the pregnant Boleyn. Parliament then passed an act that dissolved Papal authority in England. The Parliament’s actions annulled Henry’s marriage and made Henry as the spiritual leader of the newly formed Church of England. The doctrine of the Church of England was the nearly identical to Catholic doctrine with the exception of the Pope’s absolute authority in matter of faith. By 1536, all public and ecclesiastical officials had to publicly denounce the authority of Rome in accordance with the Reformation Parliaments acts.

To Henry, the Catholic Abbeys and Monasteries represented pockets of resistance to his reign. Pragmatically, they also represented a stream of income to the crown. Most Abbeys had large tracks of farmable land and other material assets that could be put to the King’s use. At the King’s request, Thomas Cromwell organized groups of commissioners to ferret out those still loyal to the Catholic Church. These commissioners were task with also seizing assets of any Catholics they found.

It is during this back drop that the Nanteos Cup legend surfaces. In 1539, the King’s commissioners were sent to check on the Abbey of Glastonbury. The Abbot of Glastonbury had evidently never denounced Papal authority. Some loyal Catholic had tipped the Abbot off that the commissioners were in the area. Upon hearing this, the Abbot made plans to hide the Abbey’s most prized possession. Along with what ever gold and silver wares the Abbey possessed, an olive wood cup measuring about five by three inches was hidden. The legend states that the Abbot accompanied the monks and barely escaped the commissioner’s ravages of Glastonbury.

The monks then fled to the Abbey Strata Florida in Cardiganshire At the Abbey, the monks found momentary refuge. While there, the monks hid their treasure under a loose floor board in the Abbey’s main chapel. It wasn’t long before the commissioners picked up the monk’s trail. For a second time, the former Glastonbury Monks were informed that their position was in jeopardy. The group of seven could not go to ground forever. They had to find a patron to shield them from the King’s agents or leave the country.

The monks then made contact with the Powell family. It was also rumored that the Powell family was partners with the neighboring Stedman family in a rather extensive smuggling operation. There was said to be a tunnel running nearly a mile from the coast to the Powell’s manor. The local tavern talk was that the Powell’s loyalties to the King were bought with bribes to the local magistrates. Possibly it was the smuggler nature to turn a profit or secret Catholic ties that connected Lord Powell with the monks. For whatever reason Powell’s decisions, the seven monks were directed to flee to the Powell estate of Nanteos.

When the monks reached Nanteos, the terms of their safe haven was struck with Lord Powell. In exchange for sanctuary, the Abbot would become personal chaplain to the family and the remaining monks would become servants around the estate. Lord Powell agreed and let the monks remain at the estate for as long as they liked. This arraignment went along for years. The monks lived their days with little difference than they had at Glastonbury. The only exception being, hiding in the costal tunnel when prying eyes came to the estate. The monks kept their part of the bargain for a number of years. All the while, keeping the secret of the cup they had spirited away from Glastonbury.

The ravages of age or disease began taking their toll on the monks, until only one remained. On his death bed, the lone Glastonbury monk called for Lord Powell. It was there he entrusted Powell with the olive wood cup and it’s secret. Lord Powell was told that this was the cup used at the Last Supper. It had been brought to Brittan by Joseph of Arimathea after the crucifixion. It must have been with some trepidation he took the cup from the dying monk. Viewing what he had been told was the Holy Grail. The monk charged the Powell Family to guard the cup, until the “Church shall claim her own.”
Lord Powell must have taken his charge seriously, because it stayed in the family for nearly 400 years.

In 1739, the Nanteos House was rebuilt by Thomas Powell. The cup was housed in a glass container of an upstairs room. Visitors to Nanteos were even told the generations old tale of how this cup came into the family’s possession. The cup stayed there for another 200 years, attracting pilgrims hoping to receive miraculous healing from the cup. Water that had rested in the cup was sent to serious ill friends and family members all over the world. Richard Wagner made a trip to Nanteos in 1855 to see the cup while writing Parsifal, at the invitation of George Powell. George recounted tales of the cup’s healing powers to Wagner.
The pilgrims that traveled to Nanteos House to drink from the cup have taken a physical toll on the artifact. Those desperate enough to receive the blessings of the cup took to taking bites out of it. Hoping that by ingesting some of the cup, they would be made well again. At some point a silver ring was placed around the rim to hold the cup’s cracked pieces together. Some say that it was then the miraculous benefits of the cup ceased.

 

The veracity of these claims have been put in question by Welsh historian Juliet Woods. Woods article Healing Cup of Nanteos, Dyfed – Is the Holy Grail in Wales? theorizes that the Nanteos Cup is a common Mazer bowl made of witch elm. However Wood’s evidence to this claim in the article is simply theory. She never mentions examining the cup. Wood’s also knocks the legends saying that there are no connections that can be made by the monks at Strata Florida and the Stedman/Powell family. But given the circumstances of the monks’ flight, why would there be any records?

So is the Nanteos Cup the cup used at the Last Supper? That’s for you to decide. Other cups make similar claims with equal veracity. In the end, it’s up to each of us to find out what the truth of the Grail is for him/her self.

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Our Lady’s Message At Recognised Apparition Sites Is Essentially The Same!

Yesterday, 13th July, was the 97th anniversary of Our Blessed Lady’s most important messages imparted at Fatima to the little seers. It included the terrible vision of Hell “where poor [unrepentant] sinners go”. 

Shrine of Our Lady, Akita.

Shrine of Our Lady, Akita.

In 1998 it was revealed that Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) made the astonishing remark to the Philippine ambassador to the Vatican that the messages of Fatima and Akita “are essentially the same.” It was not the first time that someone in a position to know provided such crucial hints. By examining certain aspects concerning the Fatima and Akita revelations, we will find abundant proof that the entire message of Fatima, especially the Third Secret, is of universal and apocalyptic proportions.

In 1984, just before retiring at a venerable age, the diocesan Bishop of Niigata, Bishop John Shojiro Ito, in consultation with the Holy See, wrote a pastoral letter in which he recognised as being authentically of the Mother of God, the extraordinary series of events that had taken place from 1973 to 1981 in a little lay convent within his diocese, at Akita, Japan. In June 1988, the then Cardinal Ratzinger approved the Akita events as “reliable and worthy of belief”. Hence in Akita we are dealing with a Church approved intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary as sure in this respect as LourdesFatima, or La Salette.

In 1973, in Akita, Japan, Our Lady spoke to a nun long afflicted by various illnesses and almost totally deaf, Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa: “The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God.”

The first message received by Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa on 6th June, 1973, was a call for prayer and sacrifice for the glory of the Father and salvation of souls. The second message, 3rd August, 1973, was for prayer, penance and courageous sacrifices to soften the Father’s anger.

Weeping statue of Our Lady at Akita

Weeping statue of Our Lady at Akita

The third message on 13th October, 1973, the actual anniversary of the final visions and miracle of Fatima is as follows: As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by my Son. Each day, recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and the priests. The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, and bishops against other bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their Confreres. The Church and altars will be vandalised. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord. The demon will rage especially against souls consecrated to God…”

In his pastoral letter approving the events of Akita as supernatural, the Bishop of Niigata said: “After the inquiries conducted up to the present day, one cannot deny the supernatural character of a series of unexplainable events relative to the statue of the Virgin honoured at Akita (Diocese of Niigata). Consequently I authorise that all of the diocese entrusted to me venerate the Holy Mother of Akita.”

Concerning the messages, His Excellency said: “As for the content of the messages received, it is no way contrary to Catholic doctrine or to good morals. When one thinks of the actual state of the world, the warning seems to correspond to it in many points.” His Excellency explained that he had taken eight years to give this judgment because of the importance and the responsibility in question. “The Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith has given me directives in this sense,” the Bishop said, “that only the bishop of the diocese in question has the power to recognise an event of this kind.”

The events of Akita have been confirmed by definite miracles, two of which are cited by the Bishop in his pastoral letter. While the warning given by Our Lady at Akita is terrible, the message, as the Bishop points out, is basically a repetition of the Message of Fatima. Our Lady stressed the importance of praying the Rosary, and above all of accepting from God whatever He may send in the course of each day . . . whatever suffering . . . and to offer it up in reparation for so many sins committed throughout the world at this time. Our Lady begged especially for prayers for bishops, priests, and religious, and for reparation before the Blessed Sacrament. Our Lady said: “I have prevented the coming of calamities by offering to the Father, together with all the victim souls who console Him, the sufferings endured by the Son on the Cross, by His blood and by His very loving Soul. Prayer, penance, and courageous sacrifices can appease the anger of the Father.”

To the little Japanese religious community of Akita Our Lady asked that it “live in poverty, sanctify itself and pray in reparation for the ingratitude and the outrages of so many men.”

At Fatima the Angel of Portugal had urged the three little seers to pray and adore the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, “in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He is offended.”

miracle%20sunSr. Lucia had spoken of the Blessed Virgin’s anguish and sadness at Fatima, “caused by the offenses of God and the punishments which menace sinners”, as the reason behind the great sacrifices of her cousins Francisco and Jacinta, because in all the apparitions of the Most Holy Virgin, they always saw her very sad. “This sadness, this anguish which we noted in her, penetrated our souls. This sadness is caused by the offenses against God and the punishments which menace sinners…” The other thing which sanctified these children was to see the vision of Hell.

To Father Augustin Fuentes, postulator of the causes for beatification of Francisco and Jacinta, Sr. Lucia said: “Father, that is why my mission is not to indicate to the world the material punishments which are certain to come if the world does not pray and do penance beforehand. No, my mission is to indicate to everyone the imminent danger we are in of losing our souls for all eternity if we remain obstinate in sin.”

On two different occasions, Sr. Lucia of Fatima had intimated the Third Secret’s connection to Divine Revelation when she stated it was in the Gospel and the Apocalypse (and she specified chapters 7-12) – “Read them!”

The third part of the Message of Our Lady Lucia concluded: “will be very sad for everyone, not one person will rejoice at all if beforehand the world does not pray and do penance.” She would also write many times to reliable witnesses of a ‘diabolical disorientation’ in the Church and the world of which Our Lady warned her.

Could the prophesies of Fatima and Akita concerning the turmoil in the Church be playing out in our present times?

Our Lady's Tears at La Salette

Our Lady’s Tears at La Salette

It is interesting to note how the prophecies of the weeping Madonna at La Salette in south-eastern France in 1846 to the two children, Melanie and Maximin, are not unlike those at Fatima and Akita. Although the secrets imparted to the children have never been fully revealed, we know they contained a warning of terrible consequences that would befall mankind, devastating wars and famines, if they continued to turn from God. (As Our Lady would later reveal at Fatima, “War is a punishment for sin”.) She urged the children to pray and be obedient to their Faith, summing up the great evil of our times – human pride. Her message was for all times and all places, but particularly was it meant to show how false was the idea that man no longer needs God. Melanie and Maximin never achieved the practice of “heroic virtue” like the children of Fatima did, but they remained constant in the Faith and never denied the Vision of Our Lady of La Salette. After a thorough investigation, the Bishop of the diocese was satisfied that the appearance was authentically supernatural; Pope Pius IX would approve devotion to Our Lady of La Salette and his successor, Pope Leo XIII, built a great basilica on the mountain.

Although the apparitions of Garabandal in the 1960’s have never been officially recognised by the Church as being of supernatural origin, it is interesting to also note how very similar the apparent messages Our Lady gave the four young seers are to those at Fatima and Akita. They speak of the necessity of prayer and penance too, with a grave warning of the coming crisis within the Catholic Church and the betrayal of so many of her ordained clergy! A future great chastisement and a miracle were also promised at Garabandal. These will be announced beforehand by Conchita, one of the seers, and are yet to take place.

Many will be asking, “why is Our Lady appearing at so many places to impart the same teachings and warnings?” The obvious answer must be because She is truly our Heavenly Mother, and She loves us with a patient, suffering Mother’s love. Her Immaculate Heart, so intimately united with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, weeps to see the wrong path so many of her children are taking. She wants to guide us back to her Divine Son Who shed His Precious Blood for our Salvation. “Oh children, listen to me!” (Our Lady’s words at Garabandal.)

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Lectio Divina: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A – July 13, 2014

Jesus, the Sower That Sows the Seed of Life

Meditation for Sunday, July 13th

Rome, July 13, 2014 (Zenit.org) Monsignor Francesco Follo

1) The words of the Word that must be seeded.

The parable of today’s Roman Rite liturgy in the first place speaks of Jesus, our Savior, who wants to introduce his mission and the sense of his presence among us with the comparison of the sower.

In an earlier passage, the Evangelist St. Matthew writes: “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (9:35). Jesus sees himself as the one who is sent to “preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.” When Jesus begins his public ministry, he refers himself to a text from the prophet Isaiah that says: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me … He has anointed me to proclaim glad tidings to the poor … to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord” (Lk 4:17-19). Jesus says that these prophetic words come true in Him: He was sent “to announce a beautiful and happy news” to “preach the acceptable time.” This is the deeper meaning of this “autobiographical parable” (Benedict XVI). As the sower goes out to plant the seed, so Jesus exits the house of Nazareth, to sow in all the good news that God saves humanity.

When Pope Francis speaks of a Church which goes forth (Evangelii gaudium 24), he is inspired by the Sower that without succumbing to fatigue runs through the field of the world to the places of its fragility, its worthlessness, its weaknesses and its contradictions, even up to the point of blasphemy against Him. The Sower never ceases to throw the good seed. It seems to us that he throws the seed at random. However I think that we can interpret this way to sow the seed as Jesus teaching us the way to be missionaries. Mission is not about strategy or particular activity to add to our daily existence. Mission is, above all, a matter of spreading a word full of a Presence and nourished daily by an experience of fraternity that once again, every day and to every single human being asks the questions “Who am I?”, “Where do I come from?” and, especially, “Where am I going and why?”

From these questions unavoidably it emerges that the world of planning, of the exact calculation and experiment that is the knowledge of science, though important for the human life, is not enough. We need not only material bread, but also we need love, meaning and hope, a sure foundation and a solid ground that helps us to live with an authentic sense even in crisis, in darkness and in our daily difficulties and problems. We need to believe and to look at life with the eyes of faith.

Faith is not a mere intellectual assent of man to some particular truths of God. It is an act by which I entrust myself freely in a God who is our Father and loves me. It is adherence to a “You” that gives me hope, trust and love without measure.

Faith is to believe in this love of God that never fails in front of the wickedness of man, evil or death, but is capable of transforming all forms of slavery, giving the possibility of salvation.

Have faith, then, is to meet the “You,” God, who sustains us and gives us an indestructible love which not only tends to eternity, but also gives it. It is trust in God with the attitude of a child, who knows that all his difficulties and all his problems are safely in the “you” of his mother. This possibility of salvation through faith is a gift that God gives to all men.

I think that in our daily life, characterized by problems and situations at times dramatic, we should meditate more often the Word of God sown in us, to understand that to believe in a Christian way means to surrender with confidence to the deep meaning that sustains us and the world. It is a meaning that we are not able to give ourselves, but only to receive as a gift. This is the foundation on which we can live without fear. We must be able to accommodate this liberating and reassuring certainty of faith to proclaim the Word with our words and bear witness of it with our lives as Christians.

The parable of the sower, who is the Lord sowing so abundant, helps us to grow in the awareness and commitment to accept the Word of God and using it productively. There are many risks and many situations in which the Word of God bears no fruit, not because of the action of God, who could not be more abundant, but because of our distractions, superficiality and temptations. The sower Jesus plants the seed everywhere (it seems even wasting it), not discarding any soil but considering each one worthy of trust and attention. Thus the Church, through the Bishops, the Priests and all the Faithful, should give the Word to all and should do it tirelessly.

This is the vocation of every Christian. We are all sowers of the Word, from the Pope to the last baptized person. Not all of us are sowers to the same degree and with the same responsibilities, but we are all responsible to bring the Word to the world, knowing that the Word is our life even before to be our voice.

Every morning every Christian should leave his home not just to earn a material living, but also a spiritual one “going out to sow Christ, wheat that becomes Bread”, without being discouraged if some seeds were to fall on bad ground.

2) The seed and the soil.

The figure of the sower appears at the beginning of today’s parable and then disappears. The protagonists are the seed and the soil, and the situation presented by the parable is the one where it seems that all is lost, and the failure of the Kingdom and of the Word is total or excessive. With this parable Jesus tells us that it is not so. It is true that there are many failures, but it is certain that somewhere there is success. It is a lesson in trust.

In addition, it should be noted that in this parable Christ turns his attention to the “land” of the souls of men and of human conscience and shows what happens to the Word of God according to the various types of land of which is made ​​the field of humanity. Jesus speaks of a seed that was taken away and has not grown up in the heart of man because he has succumbed to the evil and did not understand the Word. Then he talks about the seed that fell on rocky ground, on the hard ground where it was not able to put down roots and therefore, could not resist the first test. We hear him talk about the seed that fell among thistles and thorns and was choked by them (these thistles and thorns are the illusions of well-being). Finally, He talks about the seed that fell on good fertile soil and bears fruit. Who is this fertile land? The one who hears the word and understands it. He listens and understands. It is not enough just to hear the Gospel of the new and eternal Covenant, which is the word of this Word made flesh. It must be accept with the mind and the heart.

Over the course of two thousand years the earth has already been thoroughly sown with this word. Christ as the Word has made fertile this ground of human history through the redemption and the blood of his cross. And in the word of the Cross his sowing continues, beginning “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21: 1). All the sowers of the Word of Christ draw the strength of their service from the unspeakable mystery that has become – once and for all – the union of God the Word to human nature and to every man (such as the teaching of the Second Vatican Council in Gaudium et Spes, 22). The words of the Gospel fall on the soil of the souls of men, but especially the Eternal Word itself, generated by the work of the Holy Spirit from the Virgin-Mother, has become a source of life for humanity.

May the Virgin Mary help us to be like her, “good land” where the seed of the Word will bear much fruit.

The consecrated Virgins in the world are among those who have taken in a particular way to model the Virgin Mary. Following the example of Mary, their word becomes prayer, gratitude, and gift of love. With this gift of love their word becomes a proclamation of the Word of truth that unites man to the loving life of God. In the virginal gift of self they recognize that Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, is King of Love, in whose merciful goodness is reasonable to have a complete trust. With their lives they prove the truth of the sentences of Saint Ambrose “Your word is kept not in the tomb of the dead, but in the book of the living” (see patristic reading below)

Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (340 – 397): From the beginning of the treatise On the Mysteries


 (Nn 1-7: SC 25 bis, 156-158) 





We gave a daily instruction on right conduct when the readings were taken from the history of the patriarchs or the maxims of Proverbs. These readings were intended to instruct and train you, so that you might grow accustomed to the ways of our forefathers, entering into their paths and walking in their footsteps, in obedience to God’s commands.

Now the season reminds us that we must speak of the mysteries, setting forth the meaning of the sacraments. If we had thought fit to teach these things to those not yet initiated through baptism, we should be considered traitors rather than teachers. Then, too, the light of the mysteries is of itself more effective where people do not know what to expect than where some instruction has been given beforehand.

Open then your ears. Enjoy the fragrance of eternal life, breathed on you by means of the sacraments. We explained this to you as we celebrated the mystery of “the opening” when we said: Effetha, that is, be opened. Everyone who was to come for the grace of baptism had to understand what he was to be asked, and must remember what he was to answer. This mystery was celebrated by Christ when he healed the man who was deaf and dumb, in the Gospel which we proclaimed to you.

After this, the holy of holies was opened up for you; you entered into the sacred place of regeneration. Recall what you were asked; remember what you answered. You renounced the devil and his works, the world and its dissipation and sensuality. Your words are recorded, not on a monument to the dead but in the book of the living.

There you saw the Levite, you saw the priest, and you saw the high priest. Do not consider their outward form but the grace given by their ministries. You spoke in the presence of angels, as it is written: The lips of a priest guard knowledge, and men seek the law from his mouth, for he is the angel of the Lord almighty. There is no room for deception, no room for denial. He is an angel whose message is the kingdom of Christ and eternal life. You must judge him, not by his appearance but by his office. Remember what he handed on to you, weigh up his value, and so acknowledge his standing.

You entered to confront your enemy, for you intended to renounce him to his face. You turned toward the east, for one who renounces the devil turns toward Christ and fixes his gaze directly on him.


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