Lectio Divina: Palm Sunday, Year A

The Greatness of God’s Passionate Love

Paris, April 11, 2014 (Zenit.org) Monsignor Francesco Follo

1) Palm branches to commemorate not for a show

Today’s liturgy begins with the procession of palms. The people who carry these palm branches are not the extras of a folkloric show, but the followers of Jesus commemorating Him who does not stay in the sepulcher after the defeat of the Good Friday but emerges victorious from the tomb on Easter Sunday. The triumph of today is the prelude to the Easter’s one when we celebrate the triumph of mercy. The cross did not bring Christ to death, but to life.

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Hymns of Lent 6


Caspar Isenmann – circa 1465. “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)

The Children of the Hebrews spread their garments on the road, crying aloud and  saying, Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!

After the blessing of the palms at the beginning of Mass on Palm Sunday, the ministers of the altar and servers go in procession to the sanctuary, holding their palms aloft, to continue the first Mass of Holy Week, with that very long Gospel reading.

The hymn traditionally sung  during the procession is Gloria, laus et honor Tibi sit, Rex Christe, Redemptor (Glory, praise and honour to You, Christ King, Redeemer). We English-speakers know it as All Glory, laud and honour to you, Redeemer King, thanks to J.M. Neale’s translation.

The hymn is believed to have been both penned and composed by Bishop Theodulf of Orleans (born c. 750) , who was born in Spain and, like Alcuin of York, held forth on Church, learning and schooling affairs in the court of Charlemagne.

The hymn is replete with notions of Christ’s divine kingship as prophesied in Zechariah 9 and with fitting praise for Him as such.

The second reading of today, however, tells us that Christ “emptied himself” of this exalted status and took the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2)

St Andrew of Crete (born c. 650) also seemed to favour the emptying and humbling approach all those years ago when he wrote:

Let us run to accompany Him as He hastens toward His passion, and imitate those who met Him then, not by covering His path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before Him by being humble and by trying to live as He would wish. Then we shall be able to receive the Word at His coming, and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us.

I think the point is to try to see Christ’s divine royalty and His earthly humiliation as entailing each other.

The clip is from Pope Benedict’s last Holy Week as reigning pontiff. At times it’s a bit like “Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill shall come”, but that was about another king of  a quite different character and purpose.

GLORIA, laus et honor tibi sit, Rex Christe, Redemptor: Cui puerile decus prompsit Hosanna pium. R. Gloria, laus, etc. ALL glory, praise, and honour to Thee, Redeemer, King, to whom the lips of children made sweet Hosannas ring. R. All glory, etc.
Israel es tu Rex, Davidis et inclyta proles: Nomine qui in Domini, Rex benedicte, venis. R. Gloria, laus, etc. Thou art the King of Israel, Thou David’s royal Son, Who in the Lord’s Name comest. the King and blessed One. R. All glory, etc.
Coetus in excelsis te laudat caelicus omnis, Et mortalis homo, et cuncta creata simul. R. Gloria, laus, etc. The company of Angels are praislng Thee on high, and mortal men and all things created make reply. All glory, etc
Plebs Hebraea tibi cum palmis obvia venit: Cum prece, voto, hymnis, adsumus ecce tibi. R. Gloria, laus, etc. The people of the Hebrews with palms before Thee went; our pralse and prayer and anthems before Thee we present. R. All glory, etc.
Hi tibi passuro solvebant munia laudis: Nos tibi regnanti pangimus ecce melos R. Gloria, laus, etc. To Thee before Thy Passion they sang their hymns of praise; to Thee now high exalted our melody we raise. R. All glory, etc.
Hi placuere tibi, placeat devotio nostra: Rex bone, Rex clemens, cui bona cuncta placent. R. Gloria, laus, etc. Thou didst accept their praises, accept the prayers we bring, Who in all good delightest, Thou good and gracious King. R. All glory, etc.


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Welcome to The Reign of “Gay” | Catholic World Report

For those who may have missed very recently Catholic World Report or New Advent website, this should not be missed.

Spot on! Or are there any with a different “perspective”?


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Our Lady of Sorrows: fifth sorrow – the Crucifixtion

Crucifixion by Anthony van Dyck, 1630 (Louvre, Paris)

On this Friday before Good Friday the Church celebrates “Our Lady of Sorrows”. We contemplate Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, standing at the foot of the Cross, with her Immaculate Heart pierced by a sword, as she looks upon her Crucified Son. In her own agony, she bears in a mystical way, each of the wounds of Christ in her own flesh. From the very moment she uttered the words: “Be it done unto me according to Thy word”, Mary understood that her life as Mother of God was to be united in a very special way to the suffering of her Divine Son.

Blessed John Paul II drew so beautifully on this mystery of Mary’s Motherhood in his Redemptoris Mater (1987), “On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the Pilgrim Church”.


In a homily given at Fatima he spoke about Our Lady at the foot of the Cross:

“On the Cross Christ said: “Woman, behold, your son!” With these words he opened in a new way his Mother’s heart. A little later, the Roman soldier’s spear pierced the side of the Crucified One. That pierced heart became a sign of the redemption achieved through the death of the Lamb of God.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary, opened with the words “Woman, behold, your son!”, is spiritually united with the heart of her Son opened by the soldier’s spear. Mary’s Heart was opened by the same love for man and for the world with which Christ loved man and the world, offering himself for them on the Cross, until the soldier’s spear struck that blow.

Consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means drawing near, through the Mother’s intercession, to the very Fountain of life that sprang from Golgotha. This Fountain pours forth unceasingly redemption and grace. In it reparation is made continually for the sins of the world. It is a ceaseless source of new life and holiness.

Consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother means returning beneath the Cross of the Son. It means consecrating this world to the pierced Heart of the Saviour, bringing it beck ‘to the very source of its Redemption. Redemption is always greater than man’s sin and the “sin of the world.” The power of the Redemption is infinitely superior to the whole range of evil in man and the world.

The Heart of the Mother is aware of this, more than any other heart in the whole universe, visible and invisible.

And so she calls us.

She not only calls us to be converted: she calls us to accept her motherly help to return to the source of Redemption.

Consecrating ourselves to Mary means accepting her help to offer ourselves and the whole of mankind to Him who is Holy, infinitely Holy; it means accepting her help by having recourse to her motherly Heart, which beneath the Cross was opened to love for every human being, for the whole world in order to offer the: world, the individual human being, mankind as a whole, and all the nations to Him who is infinitely Holy. God’s holiness showed itself in the redemption of man, of the world, of the whole of mankind, and of the nations: a redemption brought about through the Sacrifice of the Cross. “For their sake I consecrate myself”, Jesus had said (Jn 17:19).

By the power of the redemption the world and man have been consecrated. They have been consecrated to Him who is infinitely Holy. They have been offered and entrusted to Love itself, merciful Love.

The Mother of Christ calls us, invites us to join with the Church of the living God in the consecration of the world, in this act of confiding by which the world, mankind as a whole, the nations, and each individual person are presented to the Eternal Father with the power of the Redemption won by Christ. They are offered in the Heart of the Redeemer which was pierced on the Cross.”

The piercing open of the Heart of Jesus by a spear, as Bl. John Paul II says, opens Our Lady’s Heart to us. If we accept Our Lady as our mother, she will lead us to the foot of the Cross and use us in helping to redeem the world by our co-operation in her sufferings, through her sufferings in co-operation with Jesus. What better way to show our love for Christ than to say we want to offer ourselves in His Mother to Him in making reparation for our sins, and the sins of the whole world!

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The Daily Cross


By Dan Burke on ‘Catholic Spiritual Direction’

“He that taketh not up his cross, and followeth Me, is not worthy of Me” (Mt 10:38). By these words, the divine Master expressly declares that one of the indispensable conditions for being His disciple is to carry the cross. The word cross, however, should not make us think only of special sufferings, which, while not excluded, are not generally our portion. First of all, we must think of those common daily disagreeable things which are part of everyone’s life and which we must try to accept as so many means to progress and spiritual fruitfulness.

It is often easier to accept, in a burst of generosity, the great sacrifices and sufferings of singular occurrence, than the little, insignificant sufferings, closely connected with our state of life and the fulfillment of our duty: sufferings which occur daily under the same form, with the same intensity and insistence, among endless and unchanging circumstances. These may include physical ailments caused by poor health, economic restrictions, the fatigue attendant upon overwork or anxiety; they may be moral sufferings resulting from differences of opinion, clash of temperaments, or misunderstandings. Herein lies the genuine cross that Jesus offers us daily, inviting us to carry it after Him—an unpretentious cross, which does not require great heroism, but which does demand that we repeat our Fiat every day, meekly bowing our shoulders to carry its weight with generosity and love. The value, the fruitfulness of our daily sacrifices comes from this unreserved acceptance, which makes us receive them just as God offers them to us, without trying to avoid them or to lessen their weight. “Yea, Father, for so hath it seemed good in Thy sight” (Mt 11:26).

“I see You, O Jesus, my Guide, raising the standard of the Cross and saying lovingly to me: ‘Take the cross I hold out to you, and no matter how heavy it seems to you, follow Me and do not doubt.’ In response to Your invitation, I promise You, O my heavenly Spouse, to resist Your love no longer. I see You as You once made Your way to Calvary, and I long to follow You promptly.

“As a spouse will not be pleasing to her bridegroom if she does not apply herself very diligently to the work of becoming like him, so, O Jesus, my Bridegroom, I resolve, now and forever, to take every care to imitate You and to crucify myself wholly with You…. I shall consider the cloister, my Calvary; the regular observance, my cross; and the three vows, my nails. I do not wish for any consolation except what comes from You, not now, but in heaven; what does it matter whether I live a happy life, so long as I live a religious life. I willingly surrender my heart to affliction, sadness, and labor. I am happy in not being happy, because fasting in this life precedes the eternal banquet which awaits me.

“All this is very little, O my God, to gain You, who contain every good. No trial should seem hard nor should I turn back because of the difficulties I might find; I wish to accept bitterness and all kinds of crosses with readiness” (cf. St. Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus, Spirituality of St. Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus).

“O Lord, is there, among all Your works, one which would not be directed toward the greatest good of the soul whom You consider as Yours, since she put herself at Your service, to follow You everywhere, even to the death of the Cross, resolved to help You bear Your burden and never to leave You alone?… I shall trust in Your goodness…. Lead me wherever You wish; I no longer belong to myself, but to You. Do with me, O Lord, what You wish; I ask only the grace never to offend You. I want to suffer, O Lord, because You, too, have suffered” (cf. St. Teresa of Jesus, Life, 11).

Dan Burke takes this meditation and quotes from ‘Divine Intimacy’ by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.


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Pope Francis Unexpectedly Meets Franciscans of the Immaculate

Last year we reported the problem the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate had experienced with the placing of Fr. Volpi from the Vatican to oversee the Order. Now, Deo Gratias, there is some hope that an end of the trouble is in sight. This is an adapted and slightly abbreviated report from ‘Eponymous Flower’

adsd(Rome) A surprising encounter witnessed Pope Francis last Sunday, 6th April, attend the Roman city parish of San Gregorio Magno in the Magliana suburbs, and come across the Franciscans of the Immaculate, whose (until recently) blossoming order’s suppression has been overshadowed by the current papacy.

The Salus Populi Romani icon is particularly dear to Pope Francis. On the morning after his election, he left the Vatican unannounced to head down to the Patriarchal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and to venerate the Mother of God before the holy image.

Pope Given a Copy of the Icon of Mary Salus Populi Romani

At the end of Holy Mass in the Magliana, Pope Francis was unexpectedly presented with a copy of the miraculous icon. Still less did the Church leader expect to encounter in his parish visit the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate Conception, or at least the family of Father Stefano Maria Manelli, the founder of this extraordinary order, that was like a beacon of hope in the Catholic religious landscape of the West until the summer of the previous year. Since then, the Order has experienced some dark times.

Family of Founder Manelli Presented to the Pope

After the Holy Mass members of the Manelli family, most notably the couple Pio and Anna Maria Manelli, presented the Pope with the icon in memory of the parents or grandparents Settimio and Licia Manelli. Settimio (1886-1978) and Licia Manelli (1907-2004) are the parents of 21 children. A son, Father Stefano Maria Manelli,  is the founder of the religious family of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. He was the Superior General until the summer of 2013. His younger brother Pio, named after Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, who was the spiritual father of his parents, lives with his large family in the parish which Pope Francis visited. Pio and Anna Maria Manelli have nine children. Six of them belong to the Order founded by her uncle Stefano Maria. Two sons are in the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, four daughters Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate. The parents or grandparents, Settimio and Licia Manelli, were recognised by the Church as servants of God. Their beatification process is underway.

The Manelli family is firmly rooted in the Roman suburban parish, which the Pope visited. Last October 30th Father Stefano Manelli offered a Mass of Thanksgiving for his ordination 58 years ago in the parish church of San Gregorio Magno along with many brothers and sisters of his Order. It was a celebration that had to be expressly approved by the Apostolic Commissioner, Father Fidenzio Volpi. After this came the dismissal of Father Manelli as Superior General of the entire Order. Father Volpi was placed by the Congregation of Religious as a delegate of the Holy See to oversee the management of the whole Order.

Traditional Rite and Love of Tradition Was the Young Religious  Order’s Undoing

There has been a radical intervention against the flowering of this Order of two liturgical rites, with a strong inclination to Catholic tradition, as a central feature of the Order. The current prohibition against celebrating the traditional rite, promoted by Pope Benedict with the benevolence of the Church, has since disturbed its relationship with the reigning Pope.

It is still unclear why this young religious Order with many vocations was placed under provisional administration. The Congregation of Religious appears to have had clear misgivings with the Order for the sole reason that it had changed from celebrating the ‘new’ rite to the ‘old’ rite, and unlike most religious in the West, could attract many vocations.

Daughter in Law of the Servant of God Painted Icon for the Pope

It was the parish priest of San Gregorio Magno who presented the Manelli family to the Pope and drew attention to the servants of God, Settimio and Licia Manelli. When he introduced Pio and Anna Maria Manelli, he said: “Having a large family in the parish, is a special gift nowadays. In addition, this family has produced many priests and religious. A blessing that should not remain hidden.”

Appeal to the Pope to Get the Order of St. Francis of the Immaculate “Out From the Crypt”

In the ensuing personal conversation they begged Pope Francis, if the Franciscans of the Immaculate could again be “taken from the crypt”, to which the Order has been exiled by the actions of the Congregation of Religious. It was an allusion to the preaching of the Pope, who had previously spoken in his Homily on the Raising of Lazarus from the dead: the Lord commanded, “rise out of the grave”.

Anna Maria Manelli, the daughter-in-law of the Servant of God and sister-in-law of the Founder of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, had made the copy of the icon of Mary herself. Together with her husband, Pio, she handed the Pope a copy of the icon Salus Populi Romani.

“Soon, Soon”

Pope Francis smiled, visibly surprised at the unexpected confrontation with the question of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, patted the hands of the couple in thanks for the icon, and said, “Soon, soon”.

“What exactly this ‘soon’ means, one does not know,” said Sandro Magister the Vaticanist. At least it is the most optimistic hope for an early and peaceful end to the provisional administration of the Order.

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Making a Good Confession

Return of the Prodigal Son - Murillo

Return of the Prodigal Son – Murillo

Making a good Confession is an important part of our Lenten Journey towards the Easter Triduum and the celebration of Our Blessed Lord’s Resurrection. Many Catholics have already made the Sacrament of Confession part and parcel of their Lenten practices, but in discussing the topic among friends and with young people in my parish, I am concerned to discover that there are some who are still beset by fears and hang ups about confessing sins “to a priest”. They do not understand that the priest is Christ’s vessel, acting in Persona Christi, (and like everyone else, will need to go to Confession too!) There are other Catholics who really do not appear to know how to go about it – probably due, sadly, to a lack of proper catechetical instruction. Not only some youngsters have stumbling blocks about Confession; from listening into a few of EWTN Radio’s question and answer programmes, I hear there are also plenty of older Catholics who drifted away from their Faith long ago and now wish to return. Going to Confession and clearing a troubled conscience at ‘the foot of the Cross’ is the first step to coming back to the Faith… but many have forgotten the way to do it.


There are good traditional books and pamphlets available in most parishes and Catholic bookstores to help those who need to be reminded of the requirements for Confession and the way to confess, but owing to the infiltration of so much modernist propaganda these days, it can be difficult distinguishing the good ones from the mediocre – to the downright bad! Avoid publications that do not refer to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church or the advice of the saints.

Fr. Peter Carota, on the Traditional Catholic Priest blog, has written an excellent piece giving 10 clear points towards making a good and holy Confession. It includes a link to doing a sincere examination of conscience, another thing many find difficult.


First and foremost it is necessary to be repentant, to see sin for what it is, a separation from God, and to possess a strong desire to turn back to His loving embrace. More than half the battle is over once this is recognised! In today’s world it is the denial of sin that has become the greatest impediment to making this beautiful sacrament a necessary part of our life’s pilgrimage.

Sin is not the worst thing in the world; the worst thing is the denial of sin. If I am blind and deny light, I shall never see; If I am deaf and deny sound, I shall never hear. If I am a sinner and deny sin, there is no forgiveness. The denial of sin is an unforgiveable sin.”(The Denial of Sin – by Ven. Fulton Sheen.)

Go to Confession, and with the Grace and Mercy of God bestowed by Christ, through His minister, the priest, be filled with the joy of absolution from sin.

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Lenten reflections from CATHOLICISM, Week 5

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How prophetic were Fulton Sheen’s words 80 years ago

Christians must go to the cross for the truth
By FRANCIS PHILLIPS on the ‘Catholic Herald’

Fulton Sheen: his writing of 1933 predicted the world today

Fulton Sheen: his writing of 1933 predicted the world today

Having recently blogged about the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen, I note an American blogger, Little Catholic Bubble, is reading his “Seven Last Words and the Seven Virtues” as a Lenten exercise. Reading one of the excerpts pulled me up short. The book was published as long ago as 1933 but it could be describing with uncanny accuracy the situation today. Sheen wrote, “We are at the end of a tradition and a civilization which believed we could preserve Christianity without Christ, religion without a creed, meditation without sacrifice, family life without moral responsibility, sex without purity and economics without ethics. We have completed our experiment of living without God…”

How prescient he was, though I am surprised that even in 1933, when Christian traditions and values in society and in family life still seemed to be stable and intact, he could see the writing on the wall. I think even Sheen would have been staggered at the speed at which his prophesy has been realised: changes in the definition and meaning of marriage; routine and widespread abortion; increasing pressure to legalise euthanasia – these are only some of the more obvious features of modern life taken for granted in the western world.

I have been sent a copy of the Meditations for Lent of Bishop Jaques-Benigne Bossuet. Reading him puts Sheen’s grim warnings into a divine perspective. Famous in 17th century France for his preaching and writings, Bossuet is about as far removed from modern “spirituality” writing as you can get. He is solely occupied with the state of the soul and its progress in the Christian life. This makes him a classic, like Thomas a Kempis, but it probably doesn’t put him high on the lists of popular books today, even for Lent (though I see that Jeff Mirus of Catholic Culture.org, who is also reading his Meditations, endorses him).

Just to give you a flavour of him: for Friday in week 4 of Lent his chapter (they are all very short) is entitled “Up to Jerusalem”. Bossuet tells us, “…in his suffering and in our obligation to follow him and to carry our cross after him is our salvation.” He goes on: “Consider how prone we are to self-deception, how we play deaf when we are told something that would injure our passions or sensibilities, and how, no matter how plainly we are spoken to, we stop our ears, pretending not o hear…” Bossuet concludes this chapter with the warning: “Understand, Christian, how hard it is to go up to the Cross with Jesus and how great is our need for his grace.”….

Christians who put their head above the parapet and stand up for what they believe will increasingly discover to their cost what it is like to live in the kind of world that Fulton Sheen foretold so prophetically.

Read the whole article here: 



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San Francisco Archbishop: Dissenting? Don’t receive Communion

H/T to Father Ray Blake and thanks to Archbishop Cordileone for highlighting an important teaching:


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Lectio Divina: 5th Sunday of Lent, Year A

Love Conquers Death

Paris, April 04, 2014 (Zenit.org) Monsignor Francesco Follo

1) Love conquers death.

The Gospel passage that is proposed today by the Liturgy of the Mass invites us to contemplate the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus as a preview and prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection that will take place in Jerusalem on Easter Day. The risen Lazarus is also a “sign” that life, when lived in friendship with Christ, is not defeated by death. Those who love never die because they give and live in another. Moreover, those who are loved by Christ don’t die, they “sleep ” and are awakened by Christ.

The love for Lazarus “forces” again a miracle from Jesus. In the Song of Songs it is said that “love is as strong as death” (8:6). Jesus in this gesture shows that love is stronger than death; He “wakes up” the friend from the deadly sleep.

There are many aspects that can be highlighted in this episode. Continue reading

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“Marian Saturdays” and The First Five Saturdays Devotion

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Today is the First Saturday of the month of April.

I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.”

It may come as some surprise that this devotion of the first five Saturdays, requested by Heaven through Sister Lucia of Fatima in 1925 at her convent in Pontevedra, was not new; in fact it is an ancient custom in the Church! It fits precisely into the long tradition of Catholic piety that, having devoted Fridays to the remembrance of the Passion of Jesus Christ and to honouring His Sacred Heart, found it very natural to devote Saturdays to His Most Holy Mother.

It is sometimes asked why Our Lady asked for Communions of reparation on five first Saturdays, instead of some other number. On 29th May, 1930 Our Blessed Lord explained to Sr. Lucia in another apparition to her that it was because of five kinds of offenses and blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, namely: blasphemies against her Immaculate Conception, against her perpetual virginity, against the divine and spiritual maternity of Mary, blasphemies involving the rejection and dishonouring of her images, and the neglect of implanting in the hearts of children a knowledge and love of this Immaculate Mother.

Our Lady of Sorrows on Holy Saturday with the penitent St. Peter.

Our Lady of Sorrows on Holy Saturday with the penitent St. Peter.

My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning” (Psalm 130:6)

It is also an age-old tradition that Jesus appeared to Mary on the Saturday, the day after His death, whilst the world lay in hushed waiting for the Resurrection. The great theologians of the 12th and 13th centuries, Sts. Bernard, Thomas and Bonaventure, explained the dedication of Saturdays to Mary by pointing to the time of Christ’s rest in the grave. Everyone else had abandoned Christ; only Mary continued to believe, demonstrating her deep faith by never doubting for a moment her Son’s promise of Resurrection. This was her day!

St Peter Damian, one of those who most aided the spread of Mariology in the eleventh century, expresses the same thought in the following manner: “Sabbath signifies rest, for one reads that God himself rested on that day. Is it not then fitting that the same day should be dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, in whom the divine Wisdom chose its abode, and rested as on a couch of holiness?”

The liturgical books of the ninth and tenth centuries containing Masses in honour of Mary on Saturday were largely the work of Alcuin (735-804), the Benedictine monk who was “Minister of Education” at the court of Charlemagne and who contributed in a decisive manner to the Carolingian liturgical reform. Alcuin composed six formularies for Votive (i.e. devotional) Masses – one for each day of the week. And he assigned two formularies to Saturday in honour of Our Lady. The practice was quickly and joyously embraced by both clergy and laity.

There were several theological reasons for dedicating this day to Mary. A 15th century missal gives several of those reasons in a hymn: Saturday is the day when creation was completed, therefore it is also celebrated as the day of the fulfillment of the plan of salvation, which found its realisation through Mary. Sunday is the Lord’s Day, so it seemed appropriate to observe the preceding day as Mary’s day. In addition, as Genesis describes, God rested on the seventh day, Saturday. The seventh day, and the Jewish Sabbath, is Saturday; we rest on Sunday, because we celebrate the Resurrection as our Sabbath Day. In parallel, Jesus rested in the womb and then in the loving arms of Mary from birth until she held His lifeless body at the foot of the Cross; thus the God-head rested in Mary.

St. John of Damascus (d. 754) writings testify to the celebration of Saturdays dedicated to Mary in the Church of the East.

Down through the centuries the Marian Saturdays were expressed in several local devotions. This was the day the faithful selected to go on pilgrimages. Sodalities held their meetings on Saturdays and called them Fraternity Saturdays or Sodality Saturdays. The seven colours or sorrows of Mary were in some places commemorated on seven consecutive Saturdays. The 15 Saturdays before the liturgy in honour of Mary as Queen of the Rosary, 7th October, recalled the fifteen decades of the rosary; in some areas this was the day that the crops and harvests were blessed and celebrated. An Irish version of the Saturday devotions to Mary is known as the Fifteen Saturdays of the Rosary. The devotion consists in receiving Holy Communion and saying at least five decades of the Rosary sometime during the day or evening on fifteen consecutive Saturdays or to meditate in some other way on its mysteries.

The devotion in honour of the Immaculate Conception by the Franciscan Order has also contributed to furthering this pious custom of “the Marian Saturdays”.

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Lenten reflections from CATHOLICISM, Week 4 Part 2


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Hymns of Lent 5



Christ embracing St Bernard (Francesc Ribalta,1565-1628)

And from Thy cross embrace me with arms outstretched to save

(From the translation by Monsignor R.A. Knox of words attributed to St Bernard)

The Epistle of the Mass of Passion Sunday, 5th Sunday of Lent, in the 1962 rite, this coming Sunday asks us (rhetorically, anyway):

Hebrews 9:14.

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ . . . cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Speaking of Christ’s blood, of which particular hymn does this (more or less) literal translation of the first verse of a Latin medieval devotional poem remind you?

Hail, head covered in blood,
all crowned with thorns,
battered, wounded,
beaten like this with a reed,
with your face smeared with spit.
Hail, you whose sweet face,
changed and disfigured,
has lost its bloom
and turned completely pale,
the face at which the court of heaven trembles.

If you were thinking that the hymn is . . . Continue reading

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Dr John Rist: Cardinal Kasper’s new approach to the remarried has shaky historical foundations

From the CatholicHerald.co.uk:

The author of this piece, Dr John Rist, is the Fr Kurt Pritzl OP Chair of Philosophy at the Catholic University of America. He was Professor of Classics at the University of Toronto for 30 years and currently teaches at the Augustinianum, the Patristic Institute in Rome. He is widely published in the field of ancient philosophy, patristics and moral philosophy. He is married and both a father and a grandfather:

Cardinal+Walter+Kasper-300x229On February 20 last, Cardinal Walter Kasper gave an address, “The Gospel of the Family”, to the extraordinary consistory on the family called by the Holy Father, much of it concerned with outlining current difficulties – massive mobility, immigration, costs of childrearing, ageing populations, individualism, alienation of urban life, civil divorce, etc – faced by Catholics entering the married state.

A married Catholic such as myself might suppose that these prevailing circumstances suggest, rather than a relaxation of the rules debarring from Communion the divorced and “re-married” that promulgating from Rome requirements for far more serious marriage-instruction to be given to couples, by priests (or others) cognisant of these difficulties of marriage in contemporary society, would be a first obvious step towards solving, or at least diminishing the problem and easing the strain on marriage tribunals. Yet the cardinal proposes that the rule about Communion be liberalised for two groups of divorced and remarried Catholics: those who genuinely believe (or may even know) that they originally entered on a Church wedding with no firm intention, or inadequate understanding, as to the rules about validity; secondly, those who have contracted a civil second marriage because their Catholic marriage has failed “irretrievably” – with emphasis on a “probably very small group” of these last as especially worthy of relaxation of the rules.

However, it is not my intent to trespass upon the cardinal’s preserve in matter of teaching about marriage, but rather to handle that which is within my competency: the teaching of the Fathers of the Church. For while Cardinal Kasper admits that we cannot simply go back to ancient teachings, he does claim – at the same time suggesting an imprecise parallel with developing doctrines of penance for apostasy – that evidence from antiquity is sufficiently uncertain for a more relaxed approach to find patristic support. To show how weak is this claim, let me address the few texts the cardinal offers in support of his position, limiting myself to the period before the sixth century, since with Justinian an encroaching Caesaropapism engenders in the East a contorting of earlier evidence in favour of a more relaxed approach.

Though others have put forward “early” – though non-existent – evidence for his position, the cardinal wisely offers nothing from the first 150-odd years of Christianity, presumably accepting that marriage rules were then still strict and apostolically based. The first text he cites, from the mid-third century, is Origen (Commentary on Matthew 14:23-24) reporting that bishops of certain local churches “not without reason” allow Communion to those divorced and remarried. Yet Origen also says – not once but three times – that this practice is contrary to the scriptures: hardly endorsement, nor even toleration from so biblical a theologian. Councils apart (I shall come to them), Cardinal Kasper offers further evidence only from the fourth century, observing that Basil (letters 188 and 199), Gregory of Nazienzen (Oratio 37) and Augustine are aware of the same practice occurring. What he omits to notice is that there is no indication of any of them concurring in what plainly contravenes their ordinary teaching.

Moving beyond “private” theologians, Kasper claims that a more pastoral attitude is evidenced by the Council of Nicaea (325) – presumably by Canon 8 which (so he and others tell us) “confirmed” the more relaxed approach. Though this has occasionally been read into the text, yet its virtually certain intent is to permit Communion not to the divorced and remarried but to the widowed and remarried. For we need to bear in mind that a Christian’s marrying twice in any circumstances – including widowhood – was much debated, giving reason for the Council to address this uncertainty. Nor is Cardinal Kasper’s case strengthened by misapplying the Pauline notion of metanoia and going on to presume that the Fathers would consider “repentance” of the failure of a first marriage to justify entering into a second.

To conclude, upon examination the cardinal’s case depends on misinterpreting a tiny number of texts while neglecting numerous others which contradict them. How can this have happened? To my mind we have here an example of a procedure all too frequent in academia, more especially when work may be motivated by convenience or ideology: there is an overwhelming amount of evidence in one direction and one or two texts which might conceivably be read otherwise, from which is derived the desired conclusion, or at least that the matter is open.

Perhaps Cardinal Kasper has more texts to cite. Certainly he will be able to name some few scholars whose lead he has followed. But multiple exemplars of misleading academic practice ought logically to be no more convincing than one.

Dr Rist was Fr Z’s instructor at the Augustinianum in Rome. You can read his post about Dr Rist’s important article here.

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