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

From Universalis

St. Ambrose Edward Barlow

St. Ambrose Edward Barlow

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

Lancaster Castle

Lancaster Castle

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


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

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Beyond the Misconceptions About Depression

New York, September 09, 2014 ( Kathleen Naab

Depression is a much misunderstood illness, and one Catholic psychiatrist warns that people of religious faith might have their own particular misunderstandings about it.

Dr. Aaron Kheriaty is the author, with Fr. John Cihak, of “The Catholic Guide to Depression: How the Saints, the Sacraments, and Psychiatry Can Help You Break Its Grip and Find Happiness Again”(Sophia Press).

In light of the media attention on depression over the last several weeks, ZENIT asked Dr. Kheriaty to explain in what ways the disease is misunderstood and some falsehoods that Catholics in particular should guard against.

ZENIT: Depression has had a lot of media attention in the last several weeks, in light of Robin Williams’ suicide. What would you say are the main misconceptions or misunderstandings about depression in our culture today?

Kheriaty: Depression is often misunderstood.  Many people mistakenly believe it’s nothing more than intense or prolonged sadness, when in fact it’s a complex illness that can profoundly impair a person’s mental and physical functioning.  Depression is indeed a terrible affliction, which affects not just one’s moods or emotional states, but also impairs one’s ability to think clearly, to concentrate and focus.  Depressed individuals are drained of energy and vitality, often to the point where it’s difficult to get out of bed and simple tasks like brushing one’s teeth can seem like and impossible chore.  Depression impairs the sleep/wake cycle, and can cause severe appetite changes with consequent weight loss and medical complications.  Suicidal thinking and behavior are tragically common in depression, even among individuals who would never ordinarily consider suicide and are morally opposed to it.

Those who are afflicted with this disorder often suffer in silence, unrecognized by others.  If someone is diagnosed with cancer, this person is typically flooded with sympathy from family and friends, with an outpouring of support from their local church community.  If someone suffers from depression, this person probably receives, at best, a few well meaning but ineffective attempts at sympathy from family or close friends, but often without real understanding.  There’s rarely public mention of the problem due to the stigma of mental illness.

I recall one patient, a married Catholic woman with several children and grandchildren, who had suffered both life-threatening breast cancer and severe depression.  She once told me that, if given the choice, she would take the cancer over the depression, since the depression caused her far more intense suffering.  She tragically committed suicide a few years after she stopped seeing me for treatment.  Likewise, a radio host who was recently interviewing me about depression mentioned during the show that the episode of depression he suffered after the loss of his leg was far worse than the physical ordeal of losing the leg itself.

Those who are afflicted with depression should not bear this cross alone.  As Christians, we need to support them.

Read more….

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St Peter Claver SJ

“To do the will of God, man must despise his own; the more he dies to himself, the more he will live to God.”

- St. Peter Claver SJ

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Misogyny Is Stupid

Ora pro nobis

“The hatred of women or girls (by men, usually) has to be the most idiotic attitude of all time”.

The simplest (Catholic) explanation for this bald statement of mine is to present, as evidence to confound the contrary, the most perfectly beautiful creature that has ever existed,  Mary the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven.

By the way, Happy Birthday Ma’am.

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Creating freedom without anarchy, order without tyranny

This is an extract from an article by Rabbi Sacks. He writes beautifully and clearly.

… At the beginning of time God created the universe in a burst of energy that eventually gave birth to stars, then to planets, then to life. Among the millions of forms of life that eventually emerged was one different from all the others: Homo sapiens, the only life-form known to us capable of asking the question, “Why?”

On this one being, God bestowed the highest token of His love, setting His image and likeness on every human individual regardless of colour, culture, creed or class. He invited humanity to become His “partners in the work of creation,” calling us to create what He himself had created: freedom and order, the order of nature and the freedom that allows humans, alone in the universe, to choose between good and evil, healing and harm.

What the Torah tells us early on is how humanity failed. They did so in two ways. They created freedom without order. Or they created order without freedom. That is still the human tragedy.

Freedom without order was the world before the Flood, a state of anarchy and chaos that Thomas Hobbes famously described as “the war of every man against every man,” in which life is “nasty brutish and short.” That is the world today in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, Mali, the Central African Republic and other conflict zones elsewhere, a world of failed and failing states and societies wracked and wrecked by lawlessness. That is freedom without order, what the Torah calls a “world filled with violence” (Gen. 6: 13) that made God “regret that he had made man on earth, and it grieved Him to his very heart” (6: 6).

But the alternative was a world of order without freedom, epitomised in the Torah by the Tower of Babel and Egypt of the Pharaohs, civilizations that achieved greatness at the cost of turning the mass of humanity into slaves. That too is an affront to human dignity, because each of us, not just some of us, are in the image of God.

Having seen these two kinds of failure, God called on one man, Abraham, and one woman, Sarah, and said in effect: I want you to be different. I want you and those who follow you to create, out of a tiny people in a tiny land, a nation that will show the world what it is to sustain both order and freedom; what it is to build a society on the threefold imperative of love, love of God “with all your heart, with all your soul and all your strength,” love of our neighbour “as yourself,” and love of the stranger, a command reiterated in the Torah, according to the sages, 36 times.

I want you to become the people who keep the laws of tzedek and mishpat (justice and law), chessed and rachamim (grace and mercy), not because of the coercive power of the State but because you have taught your children to hear the voice of God within the human heart. I want you to show the world how to create freedom without anarchy and order without tyranny. That has been the Jewish mission for the better part of 4,000 years….

Read the whole article here

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Will your grandchildren wake to the chime of church bells or the wail of the muezzin ?


“Soon here we’ll have [the Islamists] shouting from our Catholic church steeples. That’s after they have raped all the feminists, beheaded all the sodomites and silenced all the chat show hosts. Then all will get on their knees and worship the devil. And the goons think they have a hard time under the “iron heel” of the Catholic Church? The Femen who write in the papers will all be wearing burkas and it will be a golden age for wife beaters! ( and paedophiles, beastiality, and any other perversion you care to mention).” – Brendan Ahearne

pro-jihadists in front of the basilica "La Virgin del Pilar" in Zaragoza (Spain)

pro-jihadists in front of the basilica “La Virgin del Pilar” in Zaragoza (Spain)

Militant Islam continues apace on its barbaric course in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria et al, of torture, rape, beheadings and destruction whilst the rest of the Muslim world barely mutters a word of public reproach at their co-religionists’ diabolical actions. (It couldn’t be, surely, that these activities are not so much to their distaste, could it?) Meanwhile westerners continue to pander to these Muslim immigrants, wallowing in their self pity as “victims”, as undercover they sharpen their “swords” in the mosques we allow them to build on our soil in ever-growing numbers.


(This clip was pulled off AUSTRALIA’s Today Tonight programme on Channel 7 a while ago and never aired!
Due to political correctness it was decided not to broadcast it.
However it has been leaked out.)

Our western civilisation is under threat. We are fighting two formidable foes – fanatical Islam (that infiltrates our countries with its hidden aim to establish a worldwide caliphate, leaving no room for the Christian heritage on which our nations were built) and at the same time what we call “political correctness”, that is in reality, Western society’s steady fall into moral decay.


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The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“Who is this arising like the dawn, fair as the moon, resplendent as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?” (Song of Songs 6:10)

Mary Queen of Heaven

Mary Queen of Heaven

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was celebrated at least by the sixth century, when an Eastern Christian by the name of St. Romanos composed a hymn for the feast. The feast spread to Rome in the seventh century and then gradually its celebration spread throughout the West.

The traditional 8th September date of the feast, falls exactly nine months after the feast of Mary’s Immaculate Conception on 8th December. The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is an important date in our salvation history, preparing for us the way for the Birth of Christ.

The Christians of the second century A.D. recorded the details of Mary’s birth in such documents as the Protoevangelium of James and the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary. While neither document bears the authority of Scripture, they provide us with everything that we know about the life of Mary before the Annunciation, including the names of Saint Mary’s parents, Saint Joachim and Saint Anne. It’s a good example of Tradition, which complements (while never contradicting) Scripture.

'Birth of the Virgin', 1342. From the collection of the Opera del Duomo, Siena.

‘Birth of the Virgin’, 1342. From the collection of the Opera del Duomo, Siena.

From day to day, from moment to moment, she increased so much this twofold plenitude that she attained an immense and inconceivable degree of grace. So much so, that the Almighty made her the sole custodian of his treasures and the sole dispenser of his graces. She can now ennoble, exalt and enrich all she chooses. She can lead them along the narrow path to heaven and guide them through the narrow gate to life. She can give a royal throne, sceptre and crown to whom she wishes. Jesus is always and everywhere the fruit and Son of Mary and Mary is everywhere the genuine tree that bears that Fruit of life, the true Mother who bears that Son.” – Saint Louis Marie de Montfort

Prayer for Our Lady’s Nativity:

“Heavenly Child, lovable Mary, the Eternal Father delights in thy birth, for He beholds in thy coming into this world one of His creatures who is so perfect that she will become the worthy Mother of His Divine Son. May thy birth give joy to my soul also, by obtaining for me from the heavenly Father, the pardon of my sins, and an abiding sorrow for them.”

Finally, here is a beautiful rendering of Schubert’s “Ave Maria”:


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Lectio Divina: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

St Nicholas modelling fraternal correction with Arius Fresco from Panagia Sumela monastery

The Church, a Place of Forgiveness

Paris, September 05, 2014 ( Monsignor Francesco Follo

1) Forgiveness as correction to claim back a brother.

This Sunday’s Gospel comes immediately after the parable of the lost sheep of which it is a concrete application. If a brother or a sister has committed a fault in the first place a personal correction must be considered. If he or she does not listen, a witness must be called in. If he or she continues not to listen to the call to conversion, we must turn to the community. If he or she does not even listen to this, we have to, only then, consider him or her as a pagan or a publican, as one who has taken himself out of the community.

Jesus unites to this teaching on fraternal correction also the one on forgiveness (seventy times seven means always) and on the omnipotence of prayer if it is done in the community even if it consists of only two or three people. Obviously these people must be at peace with each other.

Although the Gospel’s passage talks a lot about forgiveness without limit, it is clear that evil must be denounced and those who do it must be corrected. The words of today’s Gospel clearly show how brothers and the sisters can destroy the barriers that the devil builds between them. The Church knows that “sin” has the power to destroy communion and to make salt lose its flavor. A community divided because some “brother or sister has committed a fault” and was not brought back to forgiveness, cannot fulfill its mission in the world. Men will trample the Church in the same way that salt is trampled when it serves no longer any good.

Jesus teaches us not to remain indifferent “if any man sins,” because it can affect the life of communion with God and with one another and because there is Heaven to be open to men through the Church.

This is not a simple matter of legal reasons to safeguard the order of the society or of the family. Jesus does not offer his own version of the different levels of judgments in a trial for the good of a Country. He shows how the mercy of the Father in Heaven is realized in the Church that is on earth. We must have at heart the fate of our brother and our sister as it was well understood by St. Francis of Assisi: “And in this I will know whether you love the Lord and love me, His servant and yours, if you behave in this manner, and namely: that there is no brother in the world who has sinned as it is possible to sin, who, after having seen your eyes, does not let him return without your forgiveness, if he so requests, and if he does not ask for forgiveness, you should ask him if he wants to be forgiven. And if, as a result, he sinned a thousand times before your eyes, love him more than me for this. You can attract him to the Lord; and always be merciful to these brothers. “(St. Francis of Assisi, Letter to a Minister)

Even in the first reading of today’s Mass, the text of the prophet Ezekiel highlights this same teaching: the prophet is like a sentinel, and he has the inescapable duty to proclaim the demands of God and to denounce the lies wherever they are. The goal is always to help his brother or sister to become aware of his state of sin so that he or she can repent. The aim is to create a discomfort in sinners, because it is in an uncomfortable situation that often God comes in and pushes the coming back in the communion.

In light of these brief reflections, we understand the second sentence of Jesus in this passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew: “forgive not seven times, but seventy times seven.” We must therefore always forgive, giving a forgiveness without measure, because God has made us the subject of a pardon without measure. Forgiving the neighbor is the direct result of God’s forgiveness toward us. If it is a duty of charity to denounce evil and to correct who does it, it is because you’ve already forgiven and loved the sinner. For this reason you have the right to correct him. In the Christian community sin continues to be present, but at the same time the forgiveness of sins continues even more “stubborn”.

2) Prayer as correction and intercession

If sometimes even great severity is needed, it must be born from a merciful heart like the one of the Good Shepherd, who after lifting out the lamb from the thorns of the brambles, put it on his shoulders. He corrects it by supporting it. As suggested by the etymology of the word, to “correct” means “to hold together” and not to punish.

To correct in truth:

– We must love the other to the point of wanting to carry together with him or her the weight of his or her sins, as Christ did in taking upon himself the sins of the world;

– We must love in Christ, who calls us to take His yoke sweet and light: the Cross that purifies and forgives;

– We need to pray together with Christ. Jesus is not just another among us, but is the one who unites us all in one body, all of us together in the same Spirit. He unites us all in the same forgiving love that corrects, because He sees us sinners not as people to be condemned, but as people that can be forgiven.

Jesus implored forgiveness, and we join with Him in prayer, above all in the Eucharistic prayer asking to the “Abba, Father” that his will be done so that no one be lost. Praying in communion of charity we exercise-in a sense – the ministry to “dissolve” from the bonds of sin and to “bind” back into communion with the Father and with the “brothers”.

This prayer of “correction” and intercession is exercised in a particular way by the Consecrated Virgins in the world.

These women, daughters of the Church, know that the Lord does not want the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live (cf. Ez 18,23, 33,11). God’s desire is always to forgive, to save, to give life and to transform evil into good. It is this divine desire that, in the prayer, becomes a desire of the human person and it is expressed through the words of intercession.

With the prayer of intercession one lends his voice and even his own heart to the divine will: the desire of God is mercy, love and desire for salvation. This desire of God finds in these women (and also in each of the Christians) and in their prayer the possibility to manifest itself in a concrete way in the history of mankind to be present where there is need of grace.

Let the teaching of the Church, a place of forgiveness, and the example of the consecrated Virgins teach us to open our hearts to the increasingly boundless mercy of God, so that in our daily prayer we have the desire of the salvation of humanity and we ask for it with perseverance and faith, the Lord who is great in boundless and surprising love.

Giving to them the Book of Liturgy of the Hours, the bishop addresses the consecrated Virgins with these words: “May the prayer of the Church sound without interruption in your heart and on your lips as a constant praise to the Father and live intercession for the salvation of the world” (Rite of the consecration of Virgins,), because the first and indispensable commitment of the consecrated Virgins is that of prayer, as it is specifically requested during the rite of consecration (see. Rite of the consecration of the Virgins). For this reason, every member of the Ordo Virginum must keep in mind that prayer is not only a personal and generous response to the voice of the bridegroom and a humble request for help to remain faithful to their holy purpose and to the gift received, but also a profound participation to the life of the Mystical Body of Christ, tireless intercession for the Church and for the world.

Patristic Reading: 
From a homily by Saint John Chrysostom (Hom. De diabolo tentatore 2, 6: PG 49, 263-264)

Five paths of repentance

Would you like me to list also the paths of repentance? They are numerous and quite varied, and all lead to heaven.

A first path of repentance is the condemnation of your own sins: Be the first to admit your sins and you will be justified. For this reason, too, the prophet wrote: I said: I will accuse myself of my sins to the Lord, and you forgave the wickedness of my heart. Therefore, you too should condemn your own sins; that will be enough reason for the Lord to forgive you, for a man who condemns his own sins is slower to commit them again. Rouse your conscience to accuse you within your own house, lest it become your accuser before the judgment seat of the Lord.

That, then, is one very good path of repentance. Another and no less valuable one is to put out of our minds the harm done us by our enemies, in order to master our anger, and to forgive our fellow servants’ sins against us. Then our own sins against the Lord will be forgiven us. Thus you have another way to atone for sin: For if you forgive your debtors, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 

Do you want to know of a third path? It consists of prayer that is fervent, careful and comes from the heart.

If you want to hear of a fourth, I will mention almsgiving, whose power is great and far-reaching. If, moreover, a man lives a modest, humble life, that, no less than the other things I have mentioned, takes sin away. Proof of this is the tax-collector who had no good deeds to mention, but offered his humility instead and was relieved of a heavy burden of sins.

Thus I have shown you five paths of repentance: condemnation of your sins, forgiveness of our neighbor’s sins against us, prayer, almsgiving and humility.

Do not be idle, then, but walk daily in all these paths; they are easy, and you cannot plead your poverty. For, though you live out your life amid great need, you can always set aside your wrath, be humble, pray diligently and condemn your own sins; poverty is no hindrance. Poverty is not an obstacle to our carrying out the Lord’s bidding, even when it comes to that path of repentance which involves giving money (almsgiving, I mean). The widow proved that when she put her two mites into the box!

Now that we have learned how to heal these wounds of ours, let us apply the cures. Then, when we have regained genuine health, we can approach the holy table with confidence, go gloriously to meet Christ, the king of glory, and attain the eternal blessings through the grace, mercy and kindness of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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Obedience versus Disobedience

“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16)

"The Fall of Man" - Michelangelo

“The Fall of Man” – Michelangelo

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

No. 144 – To obey (from the Latin ob-audire, to “hear or listen to”) in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself.

No. 397 – Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.


Our primary motive for obedience should always be the love of God and the desire to please the One we love. The greatest joy that can come to a faithful Christian at the end of his life will be to hear Our Blessed Lord say: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21)

Our Lord Jesus Christ was perfect in his obedience to the Father. If we desire to imitate Jesus, then we need to obey God. The Most Holy Trinity of God – Father, Son, together with the Holy Spirit – have shown us the way to perfect obedience, contained in Holy Scripture and in all the teachings of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. If we want to imitate Our Lord, if we want to become more ‘Christlike’, if we want to live the new life that God has promised us, we must be obedient to all that God has told us to do.

Mary's "Fiat"

Mary’s “Fiat”

Our Lady is the perfect model of obedience in all things to God. From her very conception, till her momentous “Fiat” when “the Word was made Flesh” in her sacred womb, through her joys and sufferings during the earthly life of her Divine Son, until her final Holy Assumption into Heaven, Mary was the humble maidservant of the Lord. Raised by God to the greatest heights, crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth, she is our motherly advocate on our own journey to God. She will assist us in our endeavours to imitate her perfect example of loving obedience.


“If you live according to the sinful nature you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:13). Paul gives us exactly the same choice as God did through Moses: “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Obedience leads to life; disobedience to death and separation from God for all Eternity.

Man’s propensity to sin will lead us to disobey God countless times throughout our lives. God sees our many weaknesses but looks into the depths of our soul to scrutinise our hearts’ intentions. If our real desire to obey the Divine Will is honest and sincere, and our innermost yearnings are for His love and saving grace, He will lead us to seek forgiveness for having transgressed the Divine law. Through His Divine Mercy, poured out most especially in the Holy Sacrament of Confession, we can be led back time and again into communion with God. While we have breath in our bodies, there is always time to repent, turn back, and point our lives towards holiness and God once more. Perfect obedience is not easy, willful, headstrong creatures that we are, but with prayer and humility we shall grow in our love for holy obedience – and the path that leads to Life Everlasting in God’s Presence.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen O.C.D., author of “Divine Intimacy“, states:

“One of the greatest obstacles to full conformity of our will to God’s is our attachment to our own desires and inclinations. Obedience, because it asks us to be governed by the will of another, is the best way of accustoming ourselves to renounce our own will, of detaching us from it, and of making us cling to the divine will as revealed in the orders of our superiors.

The stricter the form of obedience to which we submit — that is, the more it tends to govern not only some particular detail but our whole life — the more intense will its practice be, and the more surely will it make us conform to the will of God. This is the great value of obedience: to unite man’s life with the will of God: to give man in every circumstance, the opportunity to govern himself, not according to his weak, fragile will, which is so subject to error, blindness and human limitations, but according to the will of God. This divine will has such goodness, perfection and holiness that it can never be mistaken nor will what is evil; it aims only at the good — not the transitory good, which today is and tomorrow is not — but the eternal, imperishable good.

Obedience makes us this happy exchange: renunciation of our own will for God’s will. For this reason the saints loved obedience.

If it is costly to nature to give up one’s own will, to renounce a plan, a project, or a much cherished work, the interior soul will not stop at this act of renunciation, but will realise that by suffering and struggling to overcome itself, it will be carried much further. The soul is fixed in the will of God which comes hidden in the voice of obedience and it tends toward this will with all its strength, for to embrace the will of God is to embrace God Himself.”

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Mgr. Pope and St. Patrick. The Post the Archdiocese of New York didn’t want you to read.


Time to End the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Al Smith Dinner?
By: Msgr. Charles Pope
The time for happy-clappy, lighthearted engagement of our culture may be nearing an end. Sometimes it takes a while to understand that what used to work no longer works. Let me get more specific.Decades ago the “Al Smith Dinner” was a time for Republicans and Democrats to bury the hatchet (even if only temporarily) and come together to raise money for the poor and to emphasize what unites us rather than what divides us. But in the old days the death of 50 million infants was not what divided us. We were divided about lesser things such as how much of the budget should go to defense and how much to social spending. Reasonable men might differ over that.

But now we are being asked to raise toasts and to enjoy a night of frivolity with those who think it is acceptable to abort children by the millions each year, with those who think anal sex is to be celebrated as an expression of love and that LGBTQIA… (I=intersexual, A= Asexual) is actually a form of sanity to which we should tip our hat, and with those who stand four-square against us over religious liberty.

Now the St. Patrick’s Parade is becoming of parade of disorder, chaos, and fake unity. Let’s be honest: St. Patrick’s Day nationally has become a disgraceful display of drunkenness and foolishness in the middle of Lent that more often embarrasses the memory of Patrick than honors it.

In New York City in particular, the “parade” is devolving into a farcical and hateful ridicule of the faith that St. Patrick preached.

It’s time to cancel the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Al Smith Dinner and all the other “Catholic” traditions that have been hijacked by the world. Better for Catholics to enter their churches and get down on their knees on St. Patrick’s Day to pray in reparation for the foolishness, and to pray for this confused world to return to its senses. Let’s do adoration and pray the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet unceasingly for this poor old world.

But don’t go to the parade; stay away from the Al Smith Dinner and all that “old school” stuff that hangs on in a darkened world. And as for St Patrick’s Day, it’s time to stop wearin’ the green and instead take up the purple of Lent and mean it. Enough of the celebration of stupidity, frivolity, and drunkenness that St Paddy’s day has become. We need penance now, not foolishness. We don’t need parades and dinner with people who scoff at our teachings, insist we compromise, use us for publicity, and make money off of us. We’re being played for (and are?) fools.

End the St Patrick’s parade. End the Al Smith Dinner and all other such compromised events. Enough now, back to Church! Wear the purple of Lent and if there is going to be a procession, let it be Eucharistic and penitential for the sins of this age.

For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!

How say you?

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Bread And Better

A runner-up for the experiences of all time. Apologies to any vegetarian readers.

Following a hard day at work, my wife presented me with a delicious supper ( a Reuben sandwich on rye with pastrami, ‘kraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing), and without thinking I said to her,

O (my beloved), you are much better than I deserve!

After the sumptuous enjoyment of my repast, and the automatic Catholic guilt over such a worldly pleasure, my words came back to haunt me.

Exclamations like that have more worth as prayers, I thought.

Thus, I have resolved now to say these words on receiving Holy Communion, addressing them to the Father above me, the Host within me, and the Spirit driving me.

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Taking Sides

The Tree of Life

God is kindly hearted and doesn’t take sides. He loves all of us individually, but especially the weak and poor and afflicted.

The devil doesn’t take sides either, but he wants there to be as many sides as there are people. Division is his game. He wants disunity in variety, not unity. Chaos, conflict, anger, wickedness and selfishness are his stock in trade

There is only one guaranteed place where all human beings can meet in peace and love, and that is at the foot of the tree that hangs low with the fruit of suffering. That is a tree that grows near all of us.

Come, let us all gather there, everyone.


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Mass Confusion: Why All Valid Masses Are Not Equal

Written by Robert J. Siscoe on “The Remnant Newspaper


Have you ever wondered how to respond to those who equate the efficacy of the Traditional Mass and the Novus Ordo by directing the argument to the level of validity? They rightly point out that any valid Mass is a renewal of Our Lord’s Sacrifice on Calvary, which was of infinite value, and then conclude that as long as a Mass is valid, it, too, is of infinite worth, and therefore equally efficacious for those who attend. They might concede that a scandalously celebrated Mass will have a negative effect on the subjective disposition of those present, which could perhaps lessen the amount of grace they receive, but they will insist (or at least imply) that neither liturgical abuses, nor an unworthy priest, nor watered down prayers or profane music, per se, will lessen the efficacy of the Mass or the fruit to be derived there from.

The answer to the above question (how is the Traditional Mass more efficacious than the Novus Ordo) is found in the distinction between the intrinsic and extrinsic value of the Mass. Before delving into this matter, let us recall the four ends of the Mass. The Catechism of Pope St. Pius X explains them as follows:

“The Sacrifice of the Mass is offered to God for four ends: (1) To honour Him properly, and hence it is called Latreutical; (2) To thank Him for His favours, and hence it is called Eucharistical; (3) To appease Him, make Him due satisfaction for our sins, and to help the souls in Purgatory, and hence it is called Propitiatory; (4) To obtain all the graces necessary for us, and hence it is called Impetratory.”

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Value

When considering the efficacy of the Mass, we must distinguish between the intrinsic value and the extrinsic value. The intrinsic value refers to the efficacious power of the Sacrifice itself. Since the Mass is essentially identical to the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, which was of infinite worth, the intrinsic value of any Mass is itself infinite. In Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, we read:

“The intrinsic value of the Mass, that is, its peculiar dignity and efficacious power of itself (in actu primo), is infinite, on account of the infinite dignity of the Sacrificial Gift, and of the Primary Sacrificial Priest”. (1)

With respect to the Mass’s extrinsic value, we must make a distinction between the extrinsic value in relation to God to whom it is offered, and the extrinsic value in relation to man for whom it is offered. Since God is an infinite being, and therefore capable of receiving an infinite act, the adoration (latreutical) and thanksgiving (eucharistical) offered to God by virtue of the Sacrifice is itself infinite. (2) But since man is a finite creature who is incapable of receiving infinite effects, the effects of the Mass in relation to man – which are referred to as “the fruits of the Mass” – are limited.

In his magnificent book, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Fr. Nicholas Gihr wrote: “if we consider the Eucharistic Sacrifice in itself… as well as the inscrutable treasures therein enclosed… we perceive how the Holy Mass possesses a value absolutely infinite” and then a little further on added:

But the case is different when the Eucharistic Sacrifice is considered in its relation to man. From this point of view it aims at procuring our salvation and sanctification, and is, consequently, a means of grace, or rather a source of grace, bringing us the riches of heavenly blessings. (…) The fruits which the Sacrifice of the Mass obtains for us from God are only finite, that is, restricted to a certain number and determining measure… The Sacrifice of the Mass, therefore, with respect to man can have only a restricted efficacy, and in its fruits is capable of only limited application.” (3)

The same author goes on to explain that the limited efficacy “does not lie in the essence or value of the Sacrifice, since it possesses infinite power for producing every effect”. Rather, “the final and decisive reason for the more or less plentiful application of the sacrificial graces is the will of Christ, in other words, is to be sought in the positive ordinance of God”. (4) He explains that, while the Mass itself is an infinite source of grace, when it comes to “the distribution of His gifts, God requires our cooperation”. (5)

The Fruits of the Mass

The fruit that an individual derives from a particular Mass is not based solely on their personal piety and devotion, which is only one factor that determines the amount of grace they receive. There are other factors as well that have a bearing on the efficacy of a particular Mass, such as the holiness of the priest, the external glory given to God by the ritual, and even the general holiness of the Church in its members at a given time. These external factors affect the amount of grace a person receives, in such a way, that a person can derive more fruit from the devout hearing of one Mass, than from an equally devout hearing of a different Mass.

The Holiness of the Church

One factor determining the efficacy of the Mass is the general holiness of the Church in its members at a given time, including the bishops and reigning pope. Regarding this point, the old Catholic Encyclopedia says “the greatness and extent of this ecclesiastical service is dependent on the greater or less holiness of the reigning pope, the bishops, and the clergy throughout the world, and for this reason in times of ecclesiastical decay and laxity of morals (especially at the papal court and among the episcopate) the fruits of the Mass, resulting from the sacrificial activity of the Church, might under certain circumstances easily be very small”. (6)

Regarding this same point, Fr. Gihr wrote: “But since the holiness of the Church consists in the sanctity of her members, it is not always and invariably the same, but greater at one period than another; therefore, the Sacrifice of the Church is also at one time in a greater, at another in a less degree pleasing to God and beneficial to man”. (7)

Since this factor is based on the moral condition of the Church as a whole, it will have an equal effect on all Masses offered at a given time in history. The next several factors, however, are based on specific circumstances which have a direct effect on the efficacy of individual Masses.

The Priest

St. Thomas explained that the fruits to be derived from a particular Mass are based, in part, on the holiness of the priest celebrant who intercedes for the faithful, “and in this respect there is no doubt but that the Mass of the better priest is the more fruitful”. (8)

A Mass celebrated irreverently by an unworthy priest, or worse still, by one who violates the rubrics, will be less efficacious, and therefore produce fewer fruits than one celebrated by a holy priest who says Mass with devotion and follows the rubrics with precision. Hence, as Fr. Gihr observed, “the faithful are thus guided by sound instinct when they prefer to have Mass celebrated for their intentions by an upright and holy priest, rather than by an unworthy one…” (9) St. Bonaventure said “it is more profitable to hear the Mass of a good priest than of an indifferent one”.

Cardinal Bona (d. 1674) explained it this way:

The more holy and pleasing to God a priest is, the more acceptable are his prayers and oblations; and the greater his devotion, the greater the benefit to be derived from his Mass. For just as other good works performed by a pious man gain merit in proportion to the zeal and devotion with which they are performed, so Holy Mass is more or less profitable both to the priest who says it and to the persons for whom it is said, according as it is celebrated with more or less fervor”.

The Ritual

Another factor determining the efficacy of a Mass is the degree of external glory given to God. In this respect, not all Rites are equal; neither does a low Mass have the same efficacy as a High Mass. On this point, Fr. Gihr wrote:

“The Church not only offers the Sacrifice, but she moreover unites with its offering various prayers and ceremonies. The sacrificial rites are carried out in the name of the Church and, therefore, powerfully move God to impart His favors and extend His bounty to the living and the dead. By reason of the variety of the formulas of the Mass, the impetratory efficacy of the Sacrifice can be increased… also the nature of the prayers of the Mass and even of its whole rite exerts accordingly an influence upon the measure and nature of the fruits of the Sacrifice. From what has been said there follow several interesting consequences. Among others, that, on the part of the Church, a High Mass solemnly celebrated has greater value and efficacy than merely a low Mass. (…) At a Solemn High Mass the external display is richer and more brilliant than at a low Mass; for at a solemn celebration the Church, in order to elevate the dignity of the Sacrifice, manifests greater pomp, and God is more glorified thereby. (…) This grander and more solemn celebration of the Sacrifice is more acceptable to God and, therefore, more calculated to prevail upon Him to grant us, in His mercy, the favors we implore – that is, to impart greater efficacy to the petitions and supplications of the Church.” (10)

Even the decora has an effect on the fruits of the Mass, insofar as it contributes or detracts from the glory of God. As Fr. Ripperger, FSSP explained in his article on this topic: “If we use objects that do not fit the majesty and the exalted nature of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we can actually detract from the extrinsic merit. Ugly things please God less, and thus merit less”. (11)

The Novus Ordo Missae

If, as Fr. Gihr noted above, “the nature of the prayers of the Mass and even its whole rite” have an effect on the fruits of the Mass, it does not bode well for the Novus Ordo, which, to use the words of Cardinal Ottaviani, “represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent” and “has every possibility of satisfying the most modernist of Protestants”. (12)

When we consider the liturgical shipwreck that is the Novus Ordo Missae, and the scandalous manner in which the Mass is often celebrated, is there any wonder why the Church is in the condition it is today? Let us recall the strange and even ominous words used by Paul VI when he introduced the New Mass to the world in November of 1969. In words that no doubt caused anxiety for many, the Pope said:

“We ask you to turn your minds once more to the liturgical innovation of the new Rite of the Mass. This new Rite will be introduced into our celebration of the holy Sacrifice starting from Sunday next which is the first of Advent… a change in a venerable tradition that has gone on for centuries. This is something that affects our hereditary religious patrimony, which seemed to enjoy the privilege of being untouchable and settled. … This change will affect the ceremonies of the Mass. We shall become aware, perhaps with some feeling of annoyance, that the ceremonies at the altar are no longer being carried out with the same words and gestures to which we were accustomed… We must prepare for this many-sided inconvenience. It is the kind of upset caused by every novelty that breaks in on our habits. We shall notice that pious persons are disturbed most, because they have their own respectable way of hearing Mass, and they will feel shaken out of their usual thoughts and obliged to follow those of others. Even priests may feel some annoyance in this respect. … we must prepare ourselves. This novelty is no small thing. We should not let ourselves be surprised by the nature, or even the nuisance, of its exterior forms. … We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, the Gregorian chant. We have reason indeed for regret, reason almost for bewilderment”. (13)

Is it any surprise that a Mass described by the Pope who published it as “a many-sided inconvenience” and “nuisance”, which would cause “the feeling of annoyance”, “regret” and “bewilderment”, would have a greatly diminished extrinsic value, and therefore end in disaster for the Church? Almost 30 years later, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote: “I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy.” (14)

Many clear thinking people foresaw, from the outset, the disaster that would result from the Novus Ordo. In the Critical Study of the New Mass (later known as the Ottaviani Intervention), which was written by twelve Roman theologians and signed by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci, who presented the work to Paul VI, we read:

“To abandon a liturgical tradition which for four centuries was both the sign and pledge of unity of worship, and to replace it with another which cannot but be a sign of division by virtue of the countless liberties implicitly authorized, and which teems with insinuations or manifest errors against the integrity of the Catholic religion is, we feel in conscience bound to proclaim, an incalculable error”.

They further observed that “it has always been the case that when a law meant for the good of subjects proves to be on the contrary harmful, those subjects have the right, nay the duty of asking with filial trust for the abrogation of that law”. Unfortunately, the “law” was never abrogated and the Church has paid the price, as Cardinal Ratzinger himself noted in 1997.


The Catechism of Pope St. Pius X explained the difference between the Sacrifice of Calvary and the Sacrifice of the Mass as follows: “On the Cross Jesus Christ offered Himself by shedding His Blood and meriting for us; whereas on our altars He sacrifices Himself without the shedding of His Blood, and applies to us the fruits of His passion and death.” But as we have seen, the fruits of the Mass (the merits applied to us at Mass) are finite in their application, and contingent on many factors: the holiness of the priest, and the manner in which he says the Mass, will have an effect on the fruits of the Mass; the ritual and even the decora will have an effect on the amount of grace one receives, since the greater the solemnity, beauty and grandeur of the celebration, the greater will be the glory given to God, and consequently greater will be the graces He pours out on those who assist.

For this reason, it is worth the extra effort to attend the Traditional Mass, which Fr. Faber called “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven”, and to avoid, at all costs, the Novus Ordo Missae, which Cardinal Ratzinger himself referred to as “a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product”. (15)

(For information on ‘footnotes’ please go to original article here.)

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Father Samir on ISIS: ‘What They Are Doing Is Diabolical’

A leading Catholic scholar of Islam analyzes why the Islamic militants have been so successful — and how they can be combatted.


Jesuit Father Samir Khalil Samir

Jesuit Father Samir Khalil Samir

What are the reasons for the murderous rampage currently being undertaken by the jihadist troops of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)? A decline in moral values in the West, coupled with a history of violent conquest within Islam, is behind the “diabolical” atrocities committed in Iraq and Syria by these Islamic militants, many of whom are uneducated and at the mercy of fundamentalist preachers.

This is according to Jesuit Father Samir Khalil Samir, a leading scholar of Islam and a former student under professor Joseph Ratzinger.

In this extensive Aug. 30 interview with the Register via telephone from Beirut, Father Samir, a native Egyptian, discusses how secular and Islamist intolerance are exacerbating a “clash of civilizations,” how education is crucial to eradicating the scourge of extremism and whether ISIS has a future.

To what extent is the hedonism of the West and a decline in moral values fueling this brand of Islamic extremism?

This is a very important point, and people are not aware of it in the West. If we go back a little bit, the West was, for a long time, associated with modernity and technical innovation. Egypt, for example, entered [its modernistic] period in the middle of the 19th century up until, more or less, the middle of the 20th century. The Egyptians were trying to adapt themselves to Western culture. They viewed it as modernity because everything they used and wanted to have came from the West, which was seen as Christian.

But in recent times, the West has given a very bad image of itself, mainly regarding the questions on sexual liberation. Homosexuality, for example, is considered normal today in the West. It’s considered as a variant of heterosexuality, and sexual relations between men and women are no longer sacred.

When I used to go back to Egypt, I was asked: “Is it true that men and women are having sex in public?” I said: “No, this is not true.” But this was the image they had.

Then came the Gulf and Iraq wars, which were seen as anti-Islamic.

Continue reading


At the same time Fr. Z is asking today for prayers for the Sotloff family: “The incarnation of evil called ISIS (ISIL… whatever), according to the tenets of the Religion of Peace, bravely beheaded another helpless journalist.”

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“Men have forgotten God”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn giving "the Templeton Address"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn giving “the Templeton Address”

Orthodox Christian author, and Russian dissident, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970. On 10th May 1983, at the ceremony for winning the Templeton Prize, he gave an acceptance speech under the title “Godlessness: the First Step to the Gulag” (that became known as “The Templeton Address”) and was a stirring description of prophetic warnings to the West of the dire consequences that would follow the abandonment of its Christian traditions and heritage. Those like Solzheinitsyn, who had witnessed first-hand the atrocities and terror of communism, understood fully why such evil takes root, how it grows and deceives, and the kind of hell it will ultimately unleash on the innocent and the faithful. Godlessness is always the first step towards tyranny and oppression!

Did the Blessed Virgin Mary not also warn us through the little seers at Fatima in 1917 of the consequences to Mankind if we were to continue to turn away from God?

Regarding atheism, Solzhenitsyn declared:

“More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: MEN HAVE FORGOTTEN GOD.

The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century.”

The parallels Solzheinitsyn spoke of in 1983, with the current crisis and moral decay in western society today, are striking and frightening. Read the full “Templeton Address” here.

Update: Blessed Cardinal John Newman (1801-1890):  “How can we answer to ourselves for the souls who have in our times lived and died in sin; the souls that have been lost and are now waiting for the judgment, seeing that for what we know, we were ordained to influence or reverse their present destiny and have not done it?”

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