Deacon Nick Donnelly on “The Synod on the Family: a battle between the desert of sin and the garden of grace”.

by Deacon Nick Donnelly.


popesynodThe day after the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, the faithful woke up and groaned to find the Catholic Church in disarray. Familiar certainties about Rome, popes, and cardinals had been swept away. Among faithful Catholics there is a sense of numb disbelief over the attempted casual and brutal changes to the doctrine of the Faith in the name of pastoral care. There is also grief and anger at the destruction of so much good that was achieved over the last 35 years by Pope St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
In particular, just to name two good things that have been damaged are the personal authority of the pope, which was strengthened by St John Paul the Great, and has now been diminished by the appearance of scheming in the conduct of the Synod; and the clarity and beauty of apostolic teaching, attained by Pope Benedict, which has been replaced by an intentional ambiguity that can knock faith off balance.
Over the two weeks that I followed the Synod I was struck by the truth of Pope Benedict’s words about the Church always being in a fight between the desert of sin and the garden of grace:


‘The Church is always in a fight between the desert and the garden, between the sin that dries the earth and the grace that irrigates it so that it might produce abundant fruits of saintliness.’
The Extraordinary Synod was the occasion of an intense outbreak of this perennial conflict, but this time at the very heart of the Church, with the desert of sin producing bitter fruits of confusion and the garden of grace producing abundant fruits of saintliness. So there is good still to be found amidst all the harm being done to the Church.
The Bitter Fruit of Confusion
The abiding impression left behind by the Extraordinary Synod, despite all the spin, is one of chaos and confusion concerning the Church’s moral teaching about the most sensitive areas of life for Catholics. The muddle and ambiguity about marriage and sexuality that has been the hallmark of most Catholics’ lives for the past fifty years descended into pandemonium during the Synod.
The Synod was yet another missed opportunity to unambiguously re-iterate the Church’s clear teaching about sexuality definitively expressed in Blessed Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae. But instead both the scandalous Relatio post disceptationem and the final Relatio Synodi misleadingly reduce Humanae Vitae to this ambiguous sentence:
‘In this regard, we should return to the message of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI, which highlights the need to respect the dignity of the person in the moral evaluation of the methods of regulating births.’ (Paragraphs 54/58).
The confusing ambiguity of this sentence results in the Synod’s most explicit reference to Humanae Vitae bearing two contradictory meanings due to misunderstanding over the real “message of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae”. It can be read as meaning that when couples evaluate methods of birth control they must respect their own inherent personal, spiritual and relational dignity and reject artificial contraception. Or it can be read as meaning the dignity of couples should be respected when they evaluate methods of birth regulation. This misunderstanding stems from the past forty years or so where many clergy and moral theologians have misrepresented Humanae Vitae as advocating that couples are free to use contraception by claiming the autonomous exercise of conscience. The question has to be asked, why didn’t the Extraordinary Synod clear up this confusion by simply recapitulating the clarity of Humanae Vitae concerning the moral evaluation of methods of birth control?
Blessed Paul VI wrote:
‘It concerns the objective moral order which was established by God, and of which a right conscience is the true interpreter… From this it follows that they are not free to act as they choose in the service of transmitting life, as if it were wholly up to them to decide what is the right course to follow. On the contrary, they are bound to ensure that what they do corresponds to the will of God the Creator. The very nature of marriage and its use makes His will clear, while the constant teaching of the Church spells it out.’ (Paragraph, 10 emphasis added).
This ambiguous misrepresentation of Humanae Vitae is just one example of what Rev Prof Emeritus Vincent Twomey calls the ‘grave irresponsibility’ of the Synod that will cause ‘further confusion in a pastoral situation that, in the absence of little authentic instruction on the part of bishops and priests over the past forty years, is causing havoc in people’s lives’. Fr Twomey places responsibility for this destructive havoc in Catholics’ lives at the feet of bishops, priests, most moral theologians and several Bishops’ Conferences who have rejected the Church’s teaching on sexuality in the wake of Humanae Vitae.
The havoc caused by confusion over Humanae Vitae has as a consequence of the Synod spread beyond the area of birth control to include other areas of moral doctrine that were once beyond doubt, such as homosexuality and sexual relationships outside of marriage, including post-divorce adultery. Even though the paragraphs covering these issues failed to attain a two-thirds majority among the Synod Fathers, Pope Francis ruled that these ambiguous and confusing paragraphs should be included in the Relatio Synodi alongside paragraphs that had been approved by the bishops.
Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia is right to highlight the harm caused by the Synod’s confusing ‘public image’ communicated by the media. He said, ‘I was very disturbed by what happened. I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was of confusion. Now, I don’t think that was the real thing there.’
I think Archbishop Chaput’s discernment about the confusing public image of the Synod is correct, but I also think that it’s unfair to lay the blame for that confusion totally on the secular media. The Relatio post disceptationem and the final Relatio Synodi are inherently confusing documents because of their failure to clearly uphold absolute moral truths, allowing the desert of sin to creep into the heart of the Church’s teaching office.
The Abundant Fruits of Saintliness
Cardinal Burke SynodThankfully during the Synod the voices of a number of faithful cardinals and bishops rose above the cacophony to challenge the confusion, scheming and flagrant attempts to betray the Faith. One name deserves special mention, and that is Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. In his wise words and courageous actions, alongside Cardinal Pell, Cardinal Müller and others, we saw the garden of grace suddenly appear like an oasis in the depths of the desert, promising – in the words of Pope Benedict – abundant fruits of saintliness.
Cardinal Burke challenged the dangerous approach of so called ‘Lifestyle Ecumenism’ that gained ground at the Synod. This wrong-headed approach to morality proposes that pastoral practice should focus on so called ‘elements of sanctification’ and ‘sacrifice’ in adulterous, unmarried, or homosexual relationships. This focus is insufficient if it does not also challenge these couples to repentance from habitual sin. ‘Lifestyle Ecumenism’ is founded on the illusory hope that if positively affirmed these couples will gradual convert. Cardinal Burke exposed the error of this approach as follows:
‘One of the confusions is that it confuses the person with the sinful acts. In other words, it tries to say that if the church teaches that these acts are sinful that somehow they are turning on the people and driving them away from the church. Well, if the individuals involved are sincere and want to live the truth of moral law, the church is always ready to help. Even if someone sins repeatedly, the church always stands ready to help them begin again. But the truth of the moral law remains and it is compelling. It’s for now, it’s for me, it’s not something out there, some ideal out there that would be nice to realize but it doesn’t compel me.’
Cardinal Burke displayed great courage in confronting the confusion running riot at the Synod even going so far as saying the lack of clarity about Pope Francis’ position regarding Kasper’s proposal for divorced re-married and Holy Communion was harmful, ‘I can’t speak for the pope and I can’t say what his position is on this, but the lack of clarity about the matter has certainly done a lot of harm.’
Many faithful Catholics are aware of the high price Cardinal Burke is paying for his outspoken defence of the Faith. Not only has he confirmed that Pope Francis plans to demote him from his senior position as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, but he is being publicly vilified by self-appointed ‘defenders’ of Pope Francis. Cardinal Burke, and his allies among the cardinals, have been branded ‘rigorists’ and ‘fanatics’ who worship the idol of clarity and unity of doctrine. What has been seen as a virtue in Catholic bishops for two thousand years is now being ridiculed as a vice.
This demonization of faithful cardinals and bishops following the Extraordinary Synod reminds me of St Athanasius’ description of the fate of Orthodox Catholic bishops, including himself, at the hands of Arian heretics when they seized power in the Church:
‘And they who are zealous for the truth, however holy and pure they show themselves, are yet, as I said before, made culprits; whenever these heretics choose, and on whatever pretences it may seem good to them to invent.’
In fact, instead of blackening the names and reputations of cardinals such as Raymond Burke, these venomous attacks reveal to faithful Catholics those cardinals who we can trust to be ‘zealous for the truth’ in this battle between the desert of sin and the garden of grace.

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The Holy Rosary – Mary’s Battering Ram


Today is the last day of October, the month of the Holy Rosary, and marked out especially in this year 2014 for being the 800th anniversary of the heavenly gift of the Holy Rosary to St. Dominic, and through him to the whole Church.

By Fr. Daniel Couture

Why does the Blessed Mother insist so much on the daily recitation of this prayer? There is admirable divine wisdom in it. It is truly a hidden treasure. Let us first recall the exact words of Our Lady in answering St. Dominic’s prayer (words found in the 2nd Rose of St. Louis de Montfort’s Secret of the Rosary), and then make some applications.

The year was 1214; St. Dominic had already founded the Order of Preachers, later called the Dominicans, and he was immediately faced with the Albigensian heresy which was spreading especially through the south of France where St. Dominic was. Our Lady appeared to him after he had been praying seriously and doing severe penance for many days in order to know how to fight the heretics. She said to him:

Dear Dominic, do you know what weapon the Most Holy Trinity wants to use to reform the world?

St. Dominic replied:

O my Lady, you know it much better than I do, because, next to your Son, Jesus Christ, you have always been the instrument of our salvation.

Our Lady continued:

I want you to know that in this kind of warfare the ‘battering ram’ has always been the Angelic Psalter which is the corner stone of the New Testament. So, if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them to God, preach my Psalter!ImageProxy.mvc

Our Lady gave a means “to reform the world”. Indeed, the heretics at the time of St. Dominic were not only denying the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but were attacking the family and the civil institutions of the state, thus undermining the spiritual and temporal orders of Christendom—this was in 1214 A.D. in France. This expression, “reform the world,” is not different from that of St. Paul “to restore all things in Christ”.

It is not, therefore, surprising to find that popes and kings have requested crusades of rosaries against all kinds of plagues threatening both Church and State—threatening ultimately the salvation of innumerable souls.

St. Dominic did indeed listen to his Queen, and thousands of heretics were converted.

The first Dominican Pope, St. Pius V, used the Rosary in the crusade against the Muslim Turks who were dangerously threatening to invade Europe. And the Rosary won again. It was October 7, 1571. Less than one hundred years later, Louis XIII of France, also heeded Our Lady in a war against the Protestants, and, in thanksgiving for the victory, he built the famous church of Our Lady of Victories, in Paris. The feast of Our Lady of Victories is on October 7th! And the list of the victories of the Rosary is long and continues until our own days. There have been a number of national victories against the ills of communism in the last 100 years (Hungary, Brazil, Austria, Philippines and others) thanks to the Holy Rosary. However, communism as a whole has not yet been defeated.

Whether it is against the Albigensians, the Protestants, the Muslims or the Communists, “in this kind of warfare, our ‘battering ram’”, the Rosary, must always be used.

1486580_304206429735077_1022110645514847582_nThe Holy Rosary is an eminently Catholic prayer. In it we find our Creed, and all the great mysteries from the Incarnation until “life everlasting.” We proclaim by it the unique prerogatives of the Immaculate Virgin, always “strong as an army in battle array”: her divine Motherhood, her Immaculate Conception, her Co-Redemption, her role as Mediatrix of all graces, her glory in Heaven.

The Rosary has been used to save the family, attacked from all sides, whether by divorce, abortion, contraception, sex education, or by what is now called “the theory of gender”. This latest insanity is presently raging in the entire western world and is aggressively promoted in the schools. This crazy theory states that we are not born men or women, we become men or women by our choice or by our environment and education!

“[We must] reach these hardened souls and win them to God,” said Our Lady. The Rosary is not just a prayer like other devotions; it is concerned with bringing souls into the fold of the only true Church to “win them to God” means to convert them to the true Church, which is exactly what the Rosary has done throughout all its history.

As we leave the month dedicated to the Holy Rosary behind us, let us make a firm resolution to continue to pray our daily Rosary, and thus rain down graces and blessings upon all members of our Holy Catholic Church, and the whole burdened and suffering world. 

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Sex-selective Abortions Greatly Disfavour Baby Girls

Not wanted for being a Girl?

Not wanted for being a Girl?

The recent 34th anniversary of China’s “one-child policy” has focused renewed attention on sex-selection abortions. According to surveys  “there are an estimated 37 million more men than women in China today. This gender imbalance is a major force driving sexual slavery of women and girls in Asia.”

A preference for sons in China, India and South Korea combined with easy access to sex-selective abortions has led to a significant imbalance between the number of males and females born in these countries. The sex ratio at birth (SRB) — the number of boys born to every 100 girls – is consistent in human populations in which about 105 males are born to every 100 females. However, with the advent of ultrasounds that enable sex-selection, the sex ratio at birth in some cities in South Korea climbed to 125 males by 1992 and is over 130 in several Chinese provinces from Henan in the north to Hainan in the south.
In 2005 in China, “it was estimated that 1.1 million excess males were born across the country and that the number of males under the age of 20 years exceeded the number of females by around 32 million,” writes Professor Therese Hesketh, UCL Centre for International Health and Development, London, United Kingdom with coauthors.

In certain parts of India too similar disparities exist, with sex ratios as high as 125 male births to every 100 female ones in Punjab, Delhi and Gujarat in the north where the more wealthy inhabitants of these states have access to ultrasound (scans), allowing the sex of the baby to be detected before birth; it has resulted in decades of sex-selective abortions, creating an acute lack of women. (In the less affluent areas of the southern and eastern states of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh normal sex ratios of 105 male babies to every 100 female still exist.) These statistics are extremely indicative of the large scale destruction via abortion of baby girls in northern India taking place, once the ‘wrong’ gender of the baby becomes known to the mother and family!

According to a startling recent CNN report, in India: “Traffickers capitalize on the shortage by recruiting or kidnapping women ensnared in poverty to sell as brides…

As fertility declines, people choose not only the number of children they have, but also choose the sex of the child,” says Poonam Muttreja, a prominent campaigner for women’s rights and an adviser to the government. “And everyone wants a son.”
Patriarchy is so entrenched in our society. Girls are unwelcome visitor(s) in our own homes, and that’s how they are treated.

The skewed sex ratio is due to what Puneet Bedi, a Delhi suburb gynecologist, calls “mass murder on an unprecedented scale.” Census data shows some districts in India have fewer than 800 girls born for every 1,000 boys, leaving male-heavy villages.”

Many people are under the impression that this is a problem existing solely in Asia (and it must be acknowledged that while in the West the preference for boys is still only very slightly higher than for girls, it is far off reaching the same levels as in some countries of Asia) sex-selective abortions for other reasons, often no more than on the whim of the parents, are gradually on the increase here too.

An article in the Catholic Herald by Rob Flello on 28th October, entitled “Action must be taken to curb sex-selective abortion before it becomes a major problem in the UK“, states:

This coming Tuesday (November 4) will see a debate in the House of Commons over the Abortion (Sex Selection) Bill, put forward by Fiona Bruce MP. This Bill seeks to clarify the law, and to support in statute the view that abortion on the grounds of the baby’s sex is unlawful – which is the stated policy of the current government…

There is a great need for this Bill. The current legal situation is highly ambiguous. It has been said with some justification that in many parts of the world the most dangerous words are, “It’s a girl”. Abortion on the grounds of the child’s sex is endemic in parts of India and China. Indeed, the latter country now has a severe imbalance between the sexes, exacerbated by the vicious and barbaric one-child policy. Pre-natal gender testing has been formally banned in India for two decades, under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994.

Now it seems that sex-selective abortion may be spreading in the UK. Evidence has been accumulating steadily for the last year or so that sex-selective abortion may be happening here, although it does not (yet) appear to be happening on a large scale…”

I decided to look a little further into this disturbing news and discovered that the sex-selective abortion issue is not only growing in the UK and other English-speaking Western nations, in particular among our growing Asian immigrant populations, including those in the USA, but among Europeans in the EU too and those outside the EU that have small Asian minorities.

“Recent statistics indicate that gendercide, meaning the abortion of female fetuses because the family wishes to have a male offspring, is no longer confined only in China and India, but has become a European problem as well, especially in the Balkans.

According to a recent study by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in Albania, 112 boys are born for every 100 girls, while in Kosovo and Montenegro the figures stand at 110 and 109 boys per 100 girls respectively. 

Gendercide is mostly due to the fact boys are often considered the family’s heir, who are expected to carry on its name and traditions, while women leave the family and attach to the husband when they marry.

In countries like Albania and Macedonia EU laws [against sex selection abortion] are being ignored since female births keep on decreasing; however, women’s rights activists also see a trend towards gender selection in EU member states as well. As a result, Danish media have indicated the existence of “abortion tourism” to Sweden, where terminating a pregnancy is legal until the 18th week…”

This whole thing is not only creating a huge social problem in many countries, it is also a terrible tragedy, when you consider that it points to millions of babies who were killed or abandoned by their parents simply because they were girls! Abortion is always a terrible evil, one of the four sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance, but that it should be executed on an innocent baby for the sole reason of its sex is quite frankly staggering in its cruelty.

The Bible abounds with passages that declare the personhood and the dignity of all unborn children, boys and girls. Consider, for example, the witness of the Prophet Jeremiah (1:4-5), “The word of the Lord came to me thus: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.” In Psalm 138 (vs. 13-14), the psalmist says to God, “Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works.”

Even more significant for us Christians is the witness to unborn life found in the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. Here, two mothers with their children still in the womb, Jesus and John, rejoice at the communication of joy that takes place between their unborn sons. Elizabeth cries out with exultation (Lk 1:42f), “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb… For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.”

On the solid foundation of this biblical witness, the Catholic Church, from the beginning, has consistently and clearly taught that abortion is intrinsically evil.

No.2258 of the Catechism states: “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.

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Julian of Norwich: The ‘Sharpness’ of Sin and the Goodness of Contrition

Brother Burrito:

This is a must-read!

Originally posted on Journey Towards Easter:

In the thirty-ninth chapter of the Revelations of Divine Love, Julian of Norwich writes about the effect that sin has upon the conscientious soul. It is a great pain to one who desires to escape vice and to grow in virtue, and in a certain sense is its own punishment. However, the sense of unworthiness that comes with an experience of the ‘scourge’ of sin does have its positive benefits – it humbles us, reminds us how far we are from any illusions of spiritual accomplishment or moral progression we may have entertained. That the recurrence of our falling into sin is thus a great antidote to spiritual pride (the worst form of the deadliest sin) led Julian of Norwich to see sin as something ‘behovable’, which has been translated as either ‘necessary’ or ‘inevitable’.

Julian plays with the idea of Adam’s felix culpa –…

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What is Sanctifying Grace?

A really great sermon by Video Sancto

What is this grace? Do we need it? If we die without it we cannot live in heaven, but if we die with it we can. What are you doing to secure this grace within you?

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Coming out of Sodom

By Eric Hess on Celebrate Life

The Prodigal Son (detail) - Murillo

The Prodigal Son (detail) – Murillo

As best as I can determine, my same-sex attraction began in reaction to my father, who was a violent alcoholic. He often drank, came home to throw things around the house and abuse my mother in addition to threatening me and my brother. I thought he hated us. Consequently, I didn’t want to be anything like him.

In my sorrow, I started looking for the love of my father in the arms of other men. At age 17, a predator took advantage of me under the teacher/pupil dynamic and I became completely mixed up about human sexuality. Over the years, one thing led to another until I moved in with a man more than 20 years my senior.

Before we go any further, it is important to realize a major cause of same-sex attraction disorder. As a former insider of the community, I can tell you that the so-called gay rights/abortion rights coalition is a proximate result of the contraceptive mentality which was predicted 40 years ago by Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae. People abusing one another as sexual objects brought about a mainstream culture of death that tolerates and advocates all kinds of adultery and child abuse, including abortion. This selfish mentality also led to human embryonic stem cell research and euthanasia.

Return to my Father

From 1990 to 1994, I went to Mass off and on. In 1995, I told my “partner” that I couldn’t go anymore because I was very angry with the Church. I boxed up all my crucifixes and Bibles and dropped them off at the office of the bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin with a letter renouncing the Catholic faith.

To my surprise, Bishop Raymond Burke replied with a kind letter expressing his sadness. He wrote that he would respect my decision and notify the parish where I had been baptized. Ever so gently, Bishop Burke said that he would pray for me and look forward to the time when I would reconcile with the Church.

As one of Wisconsin’s most outspoken “gay” activists, I thought, “What arrogance!” Then I replied to Bishop Burke with a letter accusing him of harassment. I told him that his letters were unwelcome and I asked how he could dare to write to me.

My efforts failed to put him off. Bishop Burke sent one more letter assuring me that he wouldn’t write again—but if I should want to reconcile with the Church, he would welcome me back with open arms.

Indeed, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit never gave up on me. Within a few years, I spoke to a good priest, who intensely added to Bishop Burke’s prayers every day in August 1998.

On August 14, the feast of Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe and the vigil of our Blessed Mother’s Assumption, divine mercy penetrated my soul at a Chinese restaurant—of all places. Little did I know as I entered that restaurant with my “companion” of over eight years that the Lord would seize me that very afternoon and bring me to another place outside of Sodom, to the very judgment seat of His healing mercy, the holy Sacrament of Penance.

The priest I had consulted was there. As I gazed across the room at him, an inner voice spoke to my heart. It was gentle, radiant and clear inside my soul. The voice told me, “This priest is an image of what you can still become, if you will only return to Me.”

On the way home, I solemnly told my companion, “I need to return to the Catholic Church.” Although he was tearful, he lovingly responded, “Eric, I’ve known that for a long time. Do what you need to do in order to be happy. I knew all along that this day would come.”

Next, I called Bishop Burke’s office. His secretary knew me well by then, so I told her that I wanted Bishop Burke to be the first to know that I was returning to the Church—that I was preparing for the Sacrament of Penance. She asked me to hold. When she returned, she announced that Bishop Burke wanted to schedule a meeting.

Afterwards, I confessed my sins to a local, humble, devout Catholic pastor of souls and received absolution. As an essential part of my recovery, a good Catholic family gave me shelter until I could find my own home.

A month after my reconciliation to God and the Church, I went to Bishop Burke’s office, where he embraced me. He asked if I remembered the belongings I had turned over to him with my letter of renunciation. Of course I remembered and Bishop Burke had saved them in the diocesan archives because he believed that I would return.

For two years, I wondered if the mystical message meant that I was supposed to become a priest. Finally, I realized that I was not called to the priesthood. After all, the Vatican rules that men who have a well-established inclination to homosexuality may not be admitted to Holy Orders or monastic communities. Rather, the priest I saw at the restaurant was an image of what I could become faithful and holy through the sacraments. Like all persons—single, married and religious—I am called to chastity. It is enough for me to try and get to heaven. Therefore, I strive to faithfully live the single vocation.

Ever since my mystical experience, I rejoice because of Raymond Burke, now the prelate of Saint Louis, Missouri. While some malign Archbishop Burke for his fidelity to God, Church and all souls, I say that he is a true shepherd of the faithful and a presentday Athanasius. I tell you that he remains a mentor and an inspiration to me. Although my own biological father rejected me, Archbishop Burke became my spiritual father by lovingly representing our Father in heaven. Like the Divine Persons of the Holy Trinity, Archbishop Burke was and is absolutely faithful to me.

The key to happiness

Despite the blessing of Archbishop Burke and priests like him, I want to stress that there are others who lead souls away from eternal life and happiness.

For example, when I recently went to confession, a priest told me something that is both a contradistinction from and a contradiction of the truth that Archbishop Burke taught me.

The apostate priest told me: You’re gay and the Church calls us to accept our sexuality. I am an ethicist—a scholar. And the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is very close to this position—and this is the position—am I going too fast for you? If you are attracted to members of the same sex, that is natural for you. And for you to deny that and resist that is to go against natural law. I believe, as an ethicist, that you can have a male roommate and be intimate—of course without genital expression. But if you do slip in that regard, it would not be a mortal sin.

This is the type of advice that convinced me to leave the Church. I heard it all too often from Protestants and various Catholic priests during the 1980s. I heard every heresy about sexuality and our Lord. Today, since I am separated from the “gay community,” I only hear such heresies from older priests in their fifties and sixties, but not priests in their forties or younger. Bad bishops and bad priests have led so many people astray about same-sex attraction alone. Yet there is no new gospel or scholarship and this spiritual malpractice must end.

As someone who suffered in the state of mortal sin for many years, I assure you that there is no happiness outside of the moral order. The only authentic response to the challenge of same-sex attraction and sin is the truth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In addition to God’s teachings and grace, there is visible help on earth. For those who suffer from same-sex attraction, Father John Harvey established the Courage Apostolate and Encourage, which ministers to their families and friends. It is endorsed by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family. Through Courage, strugglers find the support and healthy friendships necessary to holiness and happiness, a way fully consonant with the culture of life.

Eric Hess lives in Wisconsin

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with His angels in His Father’s glory, and then He will repay everyone according to his conduct.” (Matthew 16:24-27)

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When light passes through a polarizer, only photons vibrating in one particular plane are allowed through. Thus the emerging light is dimmer, some of the original light has been lost. This is how Polaroid sunglasses work, especially to filter out glaring light reflecting off water for instance.

There is no way to de-polarize light after it has been polarized, except by going back in time to when it was unpolarized!

The same applies to the polarization of human ideas, which sadly happens all too often. Of its limited nature, the human mind cannot naturally admit the full light of Truth without rejecting some of it. The mind acts like a polarizer, and each one of us has our polarizer set at a different angle to  everyone else’s. If we are at right angles to our neighbour, then no light can pass between us at all. This is cross-polarization.

No light gets past the second polarizer

We see such cross-polarization in human thinking as left/right-wing, liberal/conservative, Catholic/Protestant/Jew/Gentile/Moslem/Hindu/Buddhist/agnostic/atheist etc. Polarization of human thinking leads to tribes. Each tribe sees only a fraction of the whole light. The best tribe for seeing and transmitting the full light of Truth is the one least polarized in its thinking.

Of course, another thing that reduces light transmission is opacity or darkness. Sinfulness darkens our minds. Mortal sin darkens them completely. Only a perfectly sinless person, like Our Lady, can honestly say

My soul magnifies the Lord…

The job of the Church is to remove opacity and train its members to be less polarizing and more transmissive of the whole light of Truth. She will be at this work of making Saints of us until Judgement Day.


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What is the Wrath of God?

By Msgr. Charles Pope

In Yesterday’s (Sunday of the 30th Week) Mass there was a reference to the wrath of God and how only Jesus can save us from it. St Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, commends them who have turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath (1 Thess 1:9-10). Well thank you, Jesus!

But what is God’s wrath? It is spoken of often in the scriptures and it is a concept with which we have to be careful. On the one hand we cannot simply dismiss the concept as contradictory to the fact that God is love. But neither can we deny God’s wrath as unfit in terms of His love.

It seems worthwhile to consider some aspects of the very complicated reality of the wrath of God. There is not enough space to cover the whole topic in this post, but the comments stay open, as always, for your additions and subtractions. What are some ways that we can explain and understand the wrath of God? Let me propose a few.

The wrath of God is not merely an Old Testament concept. In fact, it is mentioned quite frequently in the New Testament as well. For example, consider the following:

  1. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36).
  2. The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness (Rom 1:18).
  3. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord (Rom 12:19).
  4. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things [i.e. sexual immorality] God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient (Eph 5:6).
  5. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess 5:9).
  6. The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath (Rev 14:19).

Read the original article here

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Pope Francis doesn’t have to “break the Church”

Posted on 26 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Last summer during Acton University I had the chance to get to talk at length with Russ Douthat of Hell’s Bible (aka The New York Times… echo chamber of record for the liberal snob elite). Douthat is a voice of sanity in a dry place.

He has a piece about the recent Synod, which you ought to read. He got it right.

The Pope and the Precipice


SUCH a reversal would put the church on the brink of a precipice. Of course it would be welcomed by some progressive Catholics and hailed by the secular press. But it would leave many of the church’s bishops and theologians in an untenable position, and it would sow confusion among the church’s orthodox adherents — encouraging doubt and defections, apocalypticism and paranoia (remember there is another pope still living!) and eventually even a real schism.

Those adherents are, yes, a minority — sometimes a small minority — among self-identified Catholics in the West. But they are the people who have done the most to keep the church vital in an age of institutional decline: who have given their energy and time and money in an era when the church is stained by scandal, who have struggled to raise families and live up to demanding teachings, who have joined the priesthood and religious life in an age when those vocations are not honored as they once were. They have kept the faith amid moral betrayals by their leaders; they do not deserve a theological betrayal.

Which is why this pope has incentives to step back from the brink — as his closing remarks to the synod, which aimed for a middle way between the church’s factions, were perhaps designed to do.

Francis is charismatic, popular, widely beloved. He has, until this point, faced strong criticism only from the church’s traditionalist fringe, and managed to unite most Catholics in admiration for his ministry. There are ways that he can shape the church without calling doctrine into question, and avenues he can explore (annulment reform, in particular) that would bring more people back to the sacraments without a crisis. He can be, as he clearly wishes to be, a progressive pope, a pope of social justice — and he does not have to break the church to do it.


What a refreshing point of view… and prose style. After all the smarmy rubbish I’ve read about the Synod from the catholic Left and the spittle-flecked zany stuff from the extreme right, this is a great cleansing of the palate.

There’s more. Read and engage. I don’t go with everything he wrote, by the way. I am simply refreshed by a clear-eyed, well-written view.

And, in the balance, he got it right.

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Religion Without Dogma…

Great article from Patheos     (H/T to @BruvverEccles )

…is like playing tennis without a net.

It results in a certain formlessness, the reduction of an intellectually vigorous and astringent faith to something sentimental and shallow–nothing but a religion of ‘spirituality’ and good works.

Pope Francis criticized this type of religion in his recent speech concluding the Synod on the Family. He spoke of various temptations that distort the fullness of the faith, mentioning a religion of niceness “that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.” The Pope went on to criticize “the temptation to neglect the deposit of faith, not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing!”

Read more

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Scholars are hoping the Vatican will soon open its archive on Pius XII (Rome Reports)

Pius XII lead the Catholic Church for 19 years: from 1939 until his death in 1958. Now the Vatican could possibly make 16 million documents from his pontificate available in 2015. This archive could help shed some light on some sensitive moments during his time.

Guglielmo Marconi University (Rome)
“Anticipation is high on the publishing of these documents on Pius XII, especially on understanding how the Vatican bureaucracy functioned in making decisions. One of those in particular is regarding helping the Jewish people.”

Many documents already show that parishes, convents and Churches protected the Jewish people when SS guards began arresting them in Rome and other cities in Italy.

Although it is known that the order of protection came from the Vatican, there is no written proof that shows it.

Guglielmo Marconi University (Rome)
“We have documents that the Jewish people were sheltered in Castelgandolfo, the summer residence of the Pope. I don’t believe the Pope wouldn’t have known that there were Jewish refugees in his own home.”

Thousands of experts met in Rome to analyze the role of Pius XII and the Catholic Church during World War II.

They hope that with the publication of these documents on his pontificate, the dark legend surrounding this Pope will clear up forever.

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Lectio Divina: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Dirc van Delf
Moses Receives the Ten Commandments

Love Dictates Us to Love

Paris, October 24, 2014 ( Monsignor Francesco Follo

1) The total Love.

Jesus lived among men, and He, the Emmanuel, stays just because He loves us. To realize this love and live it we must first of all be humble. The humble person, like a child, feels “instinctively” the ones who love him, trusts them, and is happy when they come. Even his face is transformed by the joy and shows sadness when they leave. The humble people, listen to Christ because they understand that He came for them to bring the joyful good news of God’s Love. Nobody had talked to them like He did. Nobody had shown so much love for them.

When Jesus had finished speaking, the elderly, the Pharisees, the men who could read and earn, shook their heads as ill omen, got up grimacing and winking to each other annoyed and outraged, muttering a cautious disapproval.

Continue reading

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First Major Text of Benedict XVI Ratzinger following resignation – On Catholic Faith, Missions, and other Religions Message of Pope Emeritus Benedict X


Message of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
for the naming of the reformed Aula Magna
of the Pontifical Urbaniana University
October 21, 2014 

I would like to in the first place express my heartfelt thanks to the Rector and to the academic authorities of the Pontifical Urbaniana University, to the staff and to the student representatives, for their proposal to name the rebuilt Aula Magna [Main Hall] in my honor. I would like to thank in a special way the Chancellor of the University, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, for having organized this initiative. It is a cause of great joy for me to be able in this way to be always present amidst the work of the Pontifical Urbaniana University.
In the course of a number of visits that I was able to make as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I was always struck by the atmosphere of universality in the very air that one breathes in this University, where young men and women coming from practically all the countries of the world are preparing for service to the Gospel in the whole world of today. I also see today facing me in this lecture hall, a community formed by so many young people, a community that makes us see in a living way the stupendous reality of the Catholic Church.
This definition of the Church as “Catholic”, which has been part of the Creed since ancient times, possesses something of Pentecost. Let us remember that the Church of Jesus Christ has never related to only one people or only one culture, but that from the beginning she was ordained to the whole of mankind. The last words of Jesus to his disciples were: “Make all people my disciples”. (Mt. 28:19). And at the moment of Pentecost the Apostles spoke in many languages, in this way being able to manifest, through the power of the Holy Spirit, all the fullness of their faith.
From that time the Church has grown in a real way on every Continent. Your presence, dear students, reflects the universal face of the Church. The prophet Zechariah had announced a messianic reign that would extend from sea to sea and that would be a kingdom of peace. (Zc. 9:9) And in fact, wherever the Eucharist is celebrated, as from the Lord, and men, become among themselves one body, there is present something of that peace that Jesus Christ had promised to give to his disciples. That you, dear friends, be collaborators with this peace is becoming more and more urgent within a violent and lacerated world in which Christ’s peace needs to be built up and safe-guarded. For this reason the work of your University is so important, in which you desire to learn how to draw closer to Christ in order to be able to become His witnesses.
The Risen Lord gave this task to his Apostles, and through them disciples of every time, to carry his Word to the ends of the earth and to make all men his disciples. The Second Vatican Council, reprising in the Decree “Ad Gentes” a constant tradition, has illuminated the profound rationale for this missionary effort and has called upon the Church of today to take on this task with renewed strength.
But is this still possible? Many ask this question, both inside and outside the Church. Is this mission really possible in the world as it is today? Would it not be more appropriate that all religions get together and work together for the cause of peace in the world? The counter-question is: Can dialogue substitute for mission? Today many have the idea, in effect, that religions should respect each other, and, in dialogue with each other, become a common force for peace. In this way of thinking, most times there is a presupposition that the various religions are variants of one and the same reality; that “religion” is a category common to all, which assumes different forms according to different cultures, but expresses, however, one and the same reality. The question of truth, which at the beginning of Christianity moved Christians more than anything else, in this mode of thinking is placed within parentheses. It presupposes that the authentic truth about God, in the last analysis, is unobtainable, and that at best one can make present what is ineffable only with a variety of symbols. This renunciation of truth seems convincing and useful for peace among the religions of the world.
This is, however, lethal to faith. In fact, faith loses its binding character and seriousness, if everything is reduced to symbols that are at the end interchangeable, capable of referring only from afar to the inaccessible mystery of the divine.
Dear friends, understand that the question of mission places us not only in confrontation with the fundamental questions of faith but also with the question of who man is. In the context of a brief address meant to greet you all, obviously I am not able to try to analyze in an exhaustive way this set of problems that today we all face. I would like, however, at least to touch on the direction upon which we should embark with respect to our task at hand.
1. The common opinion is that religions are, so to speak, side by side as the Continents and the individual Countries on a map. This, however, is not exactly true. Religions are in a state of movement on the level of history, just as are peoples and cultures. There are religions that are “on hold”. The tribal religions are of this type. They have their moment in history and nevertheless are waiting for a greater encounter that brings them to fullness.
As Christians, we are convinced that, in silence, they are waiting for the encounter with Jesus Christ, the light that comes from him, that alone is able to lead them in a complete way to their truth. And Christ is waiting for them. The encounter with him is not a barging in of a stranger that destroys their
own culture and their own history. It is instead the entrance to something greater, towards which they are journeying. Consequently this encounter is always at the same time a purification and a maturation. Furthermore, the encounter is always reciprocal. Christ waits on their history, their wisdom, the way they see things.
Today we see ever more clearly another aspect as well: while in countries with a great Christian past, Christianity in many ways has become tired, and some of the branches of the great tree that grew from the grain of mustard seed of the Gospel have withered and fall to the ground, but from the encounter with Christ in the religions that are looking forward in expectation new life is springing forth. Where at first there was only tiredness, new dimensions of faith are arising and bringing joy.
2. Religion in itself is not a unitary phenomenon. It always involves a number of distinct dimensions. On the one side there is the prominence of reaching out beyond this world towards the eternal God. On the other side we find elements that have arisen from the history of men and from their practice of religion. Among these elements certainly there are beautiful things but also things that are base and destructive, wherever the egoism of man has taken over religion and, instead of an opening, has transformed religion into a closure within its own space.
Therefore, religion is never simply a phenomenon that is only positive or only negative. Both aspects are en-mixed within it. From its beginnings the Christian mission has discerned in a very marked way especially those negative elements in pagan religions that it encountered. For this reason, the Christian proclamation at its very beginning was extremely critical of religion. Only by overcoming those traditions that the Christian faith understood as demonic could the faith develop its power of renewal. On the basis of these types of elements, the Evangelical theologian, Karl Barth placed religion and faith in opposition, and adjudicated religion in an absolutely negative way as an arrogant behavior of man that tries, on his own initiative, to lay hold of God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer took up this formulation in his advocating a Christianity “without religion”. Without doubt we are dealing with a unilateral way of seeing things that cannot be accepted. And nevertheless it is correct to affirm that every religion, to remain on the side of what is right, at the same time must also be always critical of religion. This is clearly valid, from its origins and according to its nature, for the Christian faith, which, on the one hand, looks with great respect upon the great expectations and deep richness of religions, but, on the other hand, the Christian faith looks at what is negative with a critical eye. It stands to reason that the Christian faith again and again must develop such a critical power even with respect to its own religious history.
For us Christians Jesus Christ is the Logos of God, the light that helps us to distinguish between the nature of religion and its distortion.
2. In our time the voice of those who want to convince us that religion as such is obsolete is becoming louder and louder. They say that only critical reason should be the basis for man’s actions. Behind similar conceptions stands the conviction that with the positivist way of thinking reason in all its purity has achieved supremacy in a definitive way. In reality, even this way of thinking and living is historically conditioned and bound to a specific historical culture. To consider it as the only valid way of thinking about things diminishes man in some way, taking away from him dimensions that are essential for his existence. Man becomes smaller, not greater when there is no longer any room for an ethos, that, by its authentic nature, goes beyond pragmatism, when there is no longer any room for the gaze turned towards God. The proper place for positivistic reason is in the great spheres of technology and economics, but this does not exhaust all that is human., And so it is up to us who believe to open wide the doors again and again that, beyond mere technology and pure pragmatism, lead to the wonderful greatness of our existence in the encounter with the living God
1. These reflections, perhaps a bit difficult, should show that even today, in a world that is profoundly changed, the task of communicating the Gospel to others remains a reasonable one. And, moreover, there is a second way, more simple, to justify this undertaking today. Love demands to be communicated. Truth demands to be communicated. Whoever has experienced great joy cannot keep it simply for himself. He must pass it on to others. The same thing is true for the gift of love, through the gift of recognizing the truth that manifests itself.
When Andrew met Christ, he could not do anything but say to his brother: “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41). And Philip, who was also given the gift of this encounter, could not do anything but to say to Nathaniel that he had found him of whom Moses and the Prophets had written (John 1:45). We proclaim Jesus Christ not to get as many members as possible for our community, and least of all for the sake of power. We speak of Him because we feel that we have to share that joy with others that has been given to us.
We will be credible proclaimers of Jesus Christ when we have encountered him in the depths of our existence, when, within the encounter with Him, we are given the great experience of truth, of love, and of joy.
2. The deep tension between the mystical offering to God, in which one gives oneself totally to him, and the responsibility to one’s neighbor and for the world created by God, is a natural part of religion. Martha and Mary are always inseparable, even if, time to time, the accent can fall on one or the other. The point of encounter between the two poles is the love in which we touch God and his creatures at the same time. “We have come to know and believe in the love that God has for us”. (I John 4:16) This phrase expresses the authentic nature of Christianity. That love, which is realized and reflected in multiform ways in the saints of all times, is the authentic proof of the truth of Christianity.
[Translation by Fr. Richard G. Cipolla, DPhil]
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Hymn Of The Welsh Reformation Martyrs

The last Welsh Martyr

Can be sung to: Hyfrydol (Alleluia, Sing to Jesus) or Blaenwern (Love Divine)

Came a time upon our nation
when the faith of Rome was banned.
Christians found their hearts were broken
torn apart throughout our land.
Thus a traitor to the nation
anyone who loved the Pope!
Christians stood in condemnation;
who could bring them any hope?

Men who trained as priests for Cymru
came from Europe’s shores ere long.
Traversed far and wide our nation,
come to keep the Old Faith strong!
Saying Mass and heard confession,
priests of God: their only crime
Was that laws of England’s kingdom
made such treason, at that time.

David Lewis, priest of Monmouth
gladly in Usk met his end.
As at Cardiff, Philip Evans,
with John Lloyd, his holy friend.
From the north did Saint John Roberts
die for Christ, a martyr true;
and Franciscan, Saint John Jones
from the noose to heaven flew.

With these priests, to Rome so loyal
one more saint of Wales did die;
Richard Gwyn, the edict royal
did at first its ways comply.
But this man, of Wales a teacher,
taught us now the better way:
He renounced the royal churches,
chose with Rome alone to pray.

Time hath passed upon our nation:
the Old Faith no longer banned.
Other Christians, once oppressive,
now as friends beside us stand.
This is not a day for gloating,
or for raising ancient wrong;
But a day for celebrating
loyal saints whose faith proved strong.

Source © 2010, Gareth Leyshon (b. 1973)


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Another Saintly Son of Our Lady

A favourite quote from this Saintly son of Mary:

Saint Anthony Mary Claret (1807-1870)

Saint Anthony Mary Claret (1807-1870)

“What has our Lord not done for the glory of His Father and for the salvation of souls? Ah, I see Him agonising on the cross, despised, and loaded with suffer­ings. Then am I, for the same reason, and aided by His grace, firmly resolved to suffer, to toil, to be despised, to be laughed at, calumniated and persecuted, and even to suffer death itself. Thanks be to God I am having my share of these crosses in my life.

I live, but my life is that of Christ’s, and in possessing me, my poor Lord possesses a nothing, and I, in possessing Him, posses everything. I pray to Him like this: O Lord, you are my love. You are my honour, my hope, and my refuge, my glory, and my last end. O my love, my happiness, my conserver, my joy, my reformer and my master! You are my father, the spouse of my life and of my soul!

I do not seek or desire to know anything but your holy will, in order to do it. I love only you, my God, and all other things only for you, in you, and for your sake. You are more than sufficient for me, and I love you, my strength, my refuge, and my consolation. You are my Father, my brother, my spouse, my friend, and my all. Help me to love you as you love me, and as you will that I should love you.

For myself, I say this to you: The man who burns with the fire of divine love is a son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and wherever he goes, he enkindles that flame; he deserves and works with all this strength to inflame all men with the fire of God’s love. Nothing deters him: he rejoices in poverty; he labours strenuously; he welcomes hardships; he laughs off false accusations; he rejoices in anguish. He thinks only of how he might follow Jesus Christ and imitate Him by his prayers, his labours, his sufferings, and by caring always and only for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.”

From the writings of Saint Anthony Mary Claret: feast day 24th October.

This article is a good summary of the biography of St. Anthony Mary Claret.

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