Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder

By Pete Baklinski at LifeSiteNews:

Historian Arnold Toynbee once famously said that “civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.”

Using this as a springboard, commentator Mark Steyn shows in a new video how Western Europe is already in the death throes of “demographic suicide” because couples are no longer having enough children. He then shows how a thriving Muslim population in Western Europe is well on its way to filling all the empty space.

Steyn explained how given the divergent birth rate between Muslims and post-Christian secularists, it will take only two generations for the current Muslim population (sitting at about 10-percent) to have as many grandchildren as post-Christian secularists (who currently make up the other 90 percent). This is due, he said, to Muslims having on average 3.5 children per couple compared to post-Christian secularists who have only 1.3 children per couple.

“People think this is a slow process…It happens very fast. The catching up is well under way,” he said.

Steyn said that the takeover of Western Europe by Muslims is “not a prediction.” He noted that some elementary schools, such as in Antwerp, Belgium, already have a majority of Muslim students.

“Nobody is predicting anything. We’re talking about who are the kids in the grade school right now, which means they are going to be the guys entering the workforce in fifteen years time,” he said.

“That’s not a prediction. We’re not looking at trends. We’re looking at the actual warm bodies sitting in the elementary classes now,” he added.

Steyn quoted statistics from the Vienna Institute of Demography which he said predict that by mid-century a majority of Austrians under the age of 15 will be Muslim.

“This was a country that not so long ago was 90 percent Catholic,” he said.

Steyn said that some of his American followers might remember Austria as the setting for the film Sound of Music about a large family that fled the country in 1938 in the face of a Nazi takeover. Steyn said that by 2038, Austrians will no longer be singing “how do you solve a problem like Maria,” but “how do you solve a problem like Sharia.”

“This is the biggest story of our time, and yet hardly anyone ever writes about it,” he said.

“This is the biggest demographic movement/transformation in history, and it’s about to accelerate,” he added.

Steyn said that the demographic suicide of the West highlights the importance of U.S. President Trump’s July message in Warsaw, Poland about faith and family.

In his July 6 rousing speech, Trump issued a clear call for the defense of Christianity that underpins all of Western Civilization, along with all the culture and traditions that arise from that source. He urged Europeans to put “faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives.”

But for Steyn, it is likely already too late for most Western European countries to turn the boat around.

“A post-Christian Europe doesn’t really have any faith and it doesn’t have any families either. They are fading into the past. They have essentially broken the compact of human societies,” he said.

“The people who built the modern world are going out of business, voluntarily,” he added.

Steyn is not the only one warning of the pending demographic crisis.

Last month Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted that “The world’s population is accelerating towards collapse, but few seem to notice or care.”

Earlier in March Musk told CNNMoney that the world “should be concerned about demographic implosion.”

“So if you look at countries like Japan, most of Europe, China,” Musk said, “and you look at the birth rates, in a lot of those places it is only at about half of the sustaining rate.”

Musk described an up-side-down demographic pyramid, where the elderly are now the new flat top that is supposed to be held up by a shrinking younger base.

“So it will sort of fall over,” he said. “It will not stand.”

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Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

I preached this homily several years ago. Allow me to share it with you again. Last year at this time, three of our number had just completed a pilgrimage to the Mother of God of Czestochowa, praying for vocations. This year, at the same date, we count six novices. The icon is wonderfully suitable for Marymass or Lady-Day-in-Harvest?

The Pascha of Summer
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Pascha of summer, signals the beginning of the final phase of the liturgical year. The Church enters into the splendours of her harvest time. With the feasts of late summer and autumn, the Church turns the shimmering pages of the book of the Apocalypse and draws us into their mystery. “Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, writes the Apostle, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein; for the time is near” (Ap 1:3).

The Transfiguration and the Cross
On August 6th, precisely forty days before the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we celebrated the Transfiguration of the Lord, a mystery of heavenly glory, a foretaste of the apocalyptic brightness of the Kingdom. “I saw one like a son of man, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength (Ap 1:16). Having contemplated the glory of the Father shining on the face of the transfigured Christ (2 Cor 4:6), in another month we will celebrate His Glorious Cross, the Tree of Life with leaves “for the healing of the nations” (Ap 22:2).

All Saints
On November 1st, the immense mosaic of all the saints will be unveiled before our wondering eyes in a liturgy scintillating with images from the book of the Apocalypse and echoing with “the voice of a great multitude like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying, ‘Alleluia’” (Ap 19:6).

Saint John Lateran
On November 9th, the liturgy of the feast of the Dedication of Saint John Lateran will point to “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride, adorned for her husband” (Ap 21:2). As Mother Church approaches holy Advent, the end of her yearly cycle, the sacred liturgy seems to increase its momentum. Soon the last cry of the book of the Apocalypse will be ceaselessly in our hearts and on our lips, “‘Surely. I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Ap 22:20).

Those Who Belong to Christ
Today, on this solemnity of the Assumption of the All-Holy Mother of God and Blessed Virgin Mary, we enter into the phase described by Saint Paul in the second reading, “As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Cor 15:22).

Into the Holy Place
Today, she who “belongs to Christ” by a unique, abiding, and unrepeatable privilege, the most holy Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, follows where he has gone, “through the greater and more perfect tent not made by human hands, that is, not of this creation . . . into the Holy Place” (Heb 9:11).

The Fragrance of Her Holiness
An antiphon of today’s Office makes us sing: “Draw us in your footsteps, O Mary, hidden with Christ in God! Your paths are sown with delights; exquisite the fragrance of your perfumes.” True devotion to the Mother of God consists in allowing oneself to be drawn after her. He who walks in the footprints of Mary inhales the mysterious fragrance of her holiness, a fragrance known to all the saints.

The Blessing of Herbs and Flowers
An old custom would have us bless fragrant herbs and flowers on the festival of the Assumption; according to legend the tomb of the Mother of God was found to be full of fragrant herbs and flowers after her body had been taken up into glory. Assumed body and soul into heaven, Mary leaves behind a lingering fragrance. It is subtle, not overpowering, but unmistakable. It is the fragrance of purity, of humility, and of adoration. Inhale it, and you will be drawn in her footsteps, even to the feet of the risen and ascended Christ, hidden in glory.

The Best Part
The ancient gospel for the Assumption, Luke 10:38-42 is that of another Mary — Mary of Bethany — seated in sweet repose at the feet of Jesus, listening to his word (Lk 10:39). “Mary has chosen the best part, which shall not be taken from her” (Lk 10:42). With eyes illumined by the Holy Spirit, the Church discerned in the familiar figure of Mary of Bethany an icon of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, assumed into heaven. There, in the presence of her Son, she enjoys the rest promised by God, the Sabbath that will have no end (cf. Heb 4:1-10).

The Chambers of the King
“Draw me after you, let us make haste” (Ct 1:4), was the longing and desire of her heart. Now, to us, she says, “The king has brought me into his chambers” (Ct 1:4). The Assumption of the Mother of God is a signal to the entire cosmos that the divine economy is indeed entering into its final and glorious phase. “Then, says Saint Paul, comes the end, when He (Christ) delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For He must reign until he has put all his enemies beneath his feet” (1 Cor 15:24-25).

A Woman Clothed with the Sun
In the lesson from the Apocalypse, “God’s temple in heaven was opened” (Ap 11:19). The Church, like Saint Stephen her proto-martyr, “full of the Holy Spirit, gazes into heaven and sees the glory of God” (Ac 7:55). The whole array of theophanic signs seen once on Sinai’s heights is deployed again: “flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder” (Ap 11:19). And then, in the heavens appears the great portent: “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Ap 12:1).

The Woman is the bride of the Lamb adorned for her spouse (Ap 21:2); the Woman is the Church presented “in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing . . . holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:27); the Woman is the Virgin Mother of Nazareth, Bethlehem, Cana, Calvary, and the Mount of Olives. “Mary is assumed into heaven; the angels rejoice, and praising, bless the Lord” (Antiphon of Vespers). Behold the Woman of the psalm, the queen whose beauty the king desires, standing at his right, arrayed in gold (Ps 45: 9b-15).

The liturgy is not content with exalting the great apocalyptic icon before our eyes; the liturgy would have us hear the woman’s song for her heart overflows with a goodly theme (Ps 45:1). This, of course, is the reason for today’s jubilant gospel. “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Lk 1:46). This is the song of the Bride of the Lamb; this is the song of the Church in every age; this is the song of the Holy Mother of God in the midst of the angels.

Praise and Adoration
If the apocalyptic phase of the liturgical year teaches us anything, it is that, in the end, the praise of God, and adoration, will have the final word. The glorious Assumption of the Mother of God points to the immense and ceaseless liturgy of heaven, to the fullness of that doxological and eucharistic life that begins for us here and now. Those who go in search of the Lamb will find Him in the company of Mary His Mother. “We have seen his star in the east, and are come to adore him” (Mt 2:2).

Mary Is That Star
For us, Mary is that star. “Look to the star,” says Saint Bernard, “and call upon Mary.” Already, the “voice of the great multitude, like the sound of many waters” (Ap 19:6) begins to swell. It is the voice of those who look to the star, and follow her to the marriage supper of the Lamb. A new song rises in the heart of a Church that is alive and young: “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come’” (Ap 22:17). Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.


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The Path to Sanctity: Faithfulness to Daily Duty

Father Willie Doyle, SJ

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” – (Matthew 5:48).

Pat Kenny, author of the inspiring blog dedicated to the memory of the holy Irish priest, Fr Willie Doyle, describes the extraordinary simplicity of Fr Doyle’s message on how to seek perfection:  “For most lay people, penance does not mean hairshirts and disciplines and extraordinary things, but rather willingly accepting the burdens of each day. The penance of getting up out of bed on time, or of not complaining if we have a headache, or as Fr Doyle describes it “the constant never-ending mortification to do each action perfectly” presents a simple, but extremely challenging road for all of us.”

Father Willie Doyle wrote in his diary:

“While praying for light to know what God wants from me in the matter of mortifying my appetite, a voice seemed to say: “There are other things besides food in which you can be generous with Me, other hard things which I want you to do.” I thought of all the secret self-denial contained in constant hard work, not giving up when a bit tired, not yielding to desire for sleep, not running off to bed if a bit unwell, bearing little sufferings without relief, cold and heat without complaint, and, above all, the constant never-ending mortification to do each action perfectly. This light has given me a good deal of consolation, for I see I can do much for Jesus that is hard without being singular or departing from common life.”

And on another occasion he added:

“While making the Holy Hour to-day, the Feast of the Sacred Heart, I felt inspired to make this resolution: Sweet Jesus, as a first step towards my becoming a saint, which You desire so much, I will try to do each duty, each little action, as perfectly and fervently as I possibly can.”

Blessed John Henry Newman

Blessed Cardinal J. H. Newman, in his extensive writings, frequently returned to the subject of looking for ordinary ways to do the extraordinary. He reflected on the hard lives of most people in 19th century Victorian England, where days of long hours of labour and drudgery, and often of material deprivation, were in themselves penance enough. He preached on how a patient acceptance of these “stones” of daily sufferings and disciplined fulfillment of duty, together with an intense prayer-life open to the Will of God, could be turned into “pearls of great price” towards one’s sanctification.

“It is the saying of holy men that, if we wish to be perfect, we have nothing more to do than to perform the ordinary duties of the day well. A short road to perfection—short, not because easy, but because pertinent and intelligible. There are no short ways to perfection, but there are sure ones.

I think this is an instruction which may be of great practical use to persons like ourselves. It is easy to have vague ideas what perfection is, which serve well enough to talk about, when we do not intend to aim at it; but as soon as a person really desires and sets about seeking it himself, he is dissatisfied with anything but what is tangible and clear, and constitutes some sort of direction towards the practice of it.

We must bear in mind what is meant by perfection. It does not mean any extraordinary service, anything out of the way, or especially heroic—not all have the opportunity of heroic acts, of sufferings—but it means what the word perfection ordinarily means. By perfect we mean that which has no flaw in it, that which is complete, that which is consistent, that which is sound—we mean the opposite to imperfect. As we know well what imperfection in religious service means, we know by the contrast what is meant by perfection.

He, then, is perfect who does the work of the day perfectly, and we need not go beyond this to seek for perfection. You need not go out of the round of the day.

I insist on this because I think it will simplify our views, and fix our exertions on a definite aim. If you ask me what you are to do in order to be perfect, I say, first—Do not lie in bed beyond the due time of rising; give your first thoughts to God; make a good visit to the Blessed Sacrament; say the Angelus devoutly; eat and drink to God’s glory; say the Rosary well; be recollected; keep out bad thoughts; make your evening meditation well; examine yourself daily; go to bed in good time, and you are already perfect.”

St Thérèse of Lisieux

It would be impossible to speak about a simple, faithful fulfillment of one’s daily duty as a path to sanctification and not include a mention of the beloved saint of The Little Way, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Countless souls have adopted her advice as a means of drawing closer to God in their own lives, a daily search for perfection in the humble offering up of their work, little trials, mortifications and sufferings, described in the writings of St Thérèse. Thérèse shows how even the smallest detail or trial we encounter in our lives every day can be transformed into beautiful gifts for God. It all depends on our good intentions, our patience and humility, and an attitude of joyful giving back to God a tiny portion of the immense love He has first shown us.

As an enclosed Carmelite nun, Thérèse, whose heart burned with a passionate desire to do great things for God, realised that this desire was not going to be fulfilled in any outstanding achievements that would stun the world, or by heroic martyrdom in shedding her blood for the Faith – ways she would have chosen to prove her love for the Beloved – but instead in a far more seemingly insignificant way. She saw God was calling her to a hidden, unseen offering of every moment of her life of routine, work, prayer and silence. To transform the ordinary into the extraordinary; things of no apparent value into pure gold.

Easy? No, not at all, because it requires a constant “dying to self”, and this, as Pat Kenny says above in his introduction, is extremely challenging to our self-indulgent selves! “Perfection from imperfection” – (Card. J.H. Newman).

But possible? Yes – it is indeed possible for everyone, of any age or condition to tread this path. In fact it is something we must do to fulfill Our Blessed Lord’s commandment to strive for perfection. Then we must humbly accept the constant backsliding of our efforts as a sign of our weakness when we rely on ourselves, and to lean more heavily than ever on God’s strength and merciful, everlasting love.

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Reflection for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time


FIRST READING  1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a

At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter.  Then the Lord said to him, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by.”  A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord-but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake-but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake there was fire-but the Lord was not in the fire.  After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.  When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

SECOND READING        Romans 9:1-5

Brothers and sisters:  I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh.  They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

GOSPEL       Matthew 14:22-33

After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.  After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.  When it was evening he was there alone.  Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.  During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea.  When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.  “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.  At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”  Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  He said, “Come.”  Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.  But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  After they got into the boat, the wind died down.  Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Many of us think of God and strong and powerful—and God is that.  But God also shows Himself to be weak and poor and powerless.  Today’s readings show us this God who is so powerful that He can be weak and poor for our sake.

The first reading is from the First Book of Kings and is about the Prophet Elijah—one of the greatest of prophets.  There are so many accounts of the strength of this Prophet and yet he relies completely on God.  Today this Prophet has fled to the holy mountain, Horeb, which is probably the same as Mount Sinai.  This mountain is where the 10 commandments were given to Moses.  It is a place of encounter between God and His people.

When we think of the 10 commandments being given, we think of thunder and lightning and enormous displays of strength and might.  Today, in the same place, God manifests Himself in a tiny, whispering sound.  This is the God who can be all powerful and also be insignificant and weak—all because He loves us just as He loved the Prophet Elijah.

The second reading is from the Letter to the Romans.  Here Saint Paul is telling us how he would willingly give up everything for the sake of the salvation of his own people.  We are given powerful words:  “They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”

We are challenged to give our lives for our own people and for all peoples.  How much do we love?  How much do we care?  Has salvation become simply a private possession for me to have—and to ignore all others.  No, this cannot be.  We must be like Saint Paul and long for the salvation of all other peoples.

The Gospel from Matthew today is the wonderful account of Jesus walking on the water and then inviting Saint Peter—who said that he wanted this gift—so walk with him.  Saint Peter panics and lets fear get hold of him.  And he sinks.  “Do not be afraid.”  Pope Saint John Paul II often used those words to encourage others.  We also must learn not to be afraid.  Our faith will let us do amazing things.  The most amazing is simply believing.  From that faith, that belief, we are given strength for so many other things.  The most important is to love and to serve others with all our strength.  We must hear the words of Christ echo within us as we love and serve:  Do not be afraid.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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Vatican hostility against faithful Catholics deepens our internal schism

In former decades who could ever have imagined that such a title as the above would see the light of day on the Catholic blogosphere? But such is the general attitude in Rome at these times, that “faithful Catholics” – by which term we refer to those Catholics who defend the fullness of traditional Catholic teaching – are becoming increasingly marginalised. And frustrated too, at the lack of correction from higher authorities in the  Church towards these falsehoods aimed against them.

Pope Francis meets with Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ.

By Rick Fitzgibbons, MD, on LifeSiteNews

As a psychiatrist, the recent false accusations from Rome against faithful Catholics reminds me of couples preparing to divorce.

False accusations of hostility, divisiveness and hatred occur not infrequently in marriages with high levels of conflict and with impending separation or divorce. When of an extremely severe nature, such anger can lead to demonizing a spouse in an effort to undermine the trust of the children in that spouse and to obtain their loyalty instead. This pathological behavior is referred to as parental alienation and is clearly psychologically damaging to Catholic youth, spouses and families.

Spouses who make false accusations against a husband or wife frequently have serious lifelong psychological conflicts often with excessive anger, a compulsive need to control and intense selfishness with an inflated sense of self. The goal of the accusations is primarily to control the spouse and children, as well as to gain custody of the children through divorce litigation. The origins of these actions are often from unconsciously modeling their presence in a parent or from giving into the pull of selfishness in the culture.

I have specialized in treating excessive anger for over 40 years, and have co-authored two books on the topic for APA Books (see here). A challenging aspect of my professional life has been offering expert testimony in regard to allegations of excessive anger against a spouse in divorce litigation and in annulment procedures.

Given this experience, I was deeply concerned by two recent articles in publications approved by the Vatican that levelled accusations of hostility, hatred and divisiveness against faithful Catholics.

The first, by Fr. Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figuero in the Jesuit-edited journal La Civilità Cattolic, focused on Americans. And the second, by Fr. Giulio Cirignano in the weekend edition of L’Osservatore Romano, focused on bishops and priests.

Spadaro and Figuero level numerous accusations against Americans including:

• “An ‘ecumenism of hate’ exists between American Catholics and Evangelicals for their defense of the unborn from the horrors of abortion and their defense of marriage”;

• Opposition to the legalization of abortion and gay marriage represents “the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state”

• Reference to efforts at Muslim immigration restriction in both

America and Europe as a “narrative of fear.”
A week after the publication of the essay by Spadaro and Figuero, in the weekend edition of L’Osservatore Romano, Fr. Cirigano claimed in an essay, “Habit is Not Faithfulness: The Conversion asked for by Pope Francis,” that the Holy Father’s agenda for the Church is being put at risk because:

“The main obstacle that stands in the way of the conversion that Pope Francis wants to bring to the Church is constituted, in some measure, by the attitude of a good part of the clergy, at levels high and low … an attitude, at times, of closure if not hostility,” and “The clergy is holding the people back, who should instead be accompanied in this extraordinary moment.

“When the priest is too marked by a religious mentality, and too little by a limpid faith, then everything becomes more complicated,” Cirignano wrote. “He risks remaining the victim of many things invented by man about God and his will. “God”, according to Cirignano, “doesn’t tolerate being enclosed in rigid schemes typical of the human mind.” Immediately after describing unenlightened priests, he wrote, “Deep down, the Sanhedrin was always faithful to itself, rich in devout obedience to the past, mistaken for faithfulness to tradition and poor in prophecy.”

As with such accusations in marriage, it is important to attempt to evaluate these extraordinarily unusual claims, which most Bishops, priests and laity have never seen before from the Vatican. Regarding their credibility, it essential to examine responses to the accusations. I will cite only several of the numerous reactions that allege the accusations are odd, false, unprecedented and even irrational.

Archbishop Charles Chaput responded:

“So it’s an especially odd kind of surprise when believers are attacked by their co-religionists merely for fighting for what their Churches have always held to be true.”

Robert Royal wrote:

Taking this as the heart of the Evangelical-Catholic alliance is so delusional that a Catholic must feel embarrassed that a journal supposedly reviewed and authorized by the Vatican would run such slanderous nonsense.

Austin Ruse wrote in Crisis, “The True Ecumenism Spadaro and Figueroa Missed“:

Their essay can only be described as an attack against my friends and me and in my own pro-life and pro-family work at the UN, I work extremely closely with Evangelicals and other faiths, too, because we see a greater danger to ourselves than we see coming from each other. We see a war against God’s creation and all God’s children and must work together to protect his creation.

In Catholic World Report, Sam Gregg responded,

Nevertheless, the development of such views should be informed by careful reflection, a command of detail, and an accurate understanding of the history and development of a country. Regrettably, these are lacking in the Spadaro-Figueroa article — and it shows. The greatest damage, however, is to the Holy See’s credibility as a serious contributor to international affairs. And that benefits no one, least of all Pope Francis.”

Ross Douthat in The New York Times on August 3, wrote:

in his (Pope Francis) advisers’ essay, in their evident paranoia about what the Americans are up to, you see a different spirit: a fear of novelty and disruption, and a desire for a church that’s primarily a steward of social peace, a mild and ecumenical presence, a moderate pillar of the establishment in a stable and permanently liberal age.

Fr. Mark Pilon’s response at The Catholic Thing to Cirigano’s accusations against Bishops and priests in L’Osservatora Romano was:

In my lifetime, I’ve never witnessed this kind of hostility coming from the papal office toward those who are meant to be co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord. This has become a frequent refrain in the pope’s own comments, i.e., that many clergy are rigid, closed, and hostile when it comes to his innovative teaching and practice. Only the manipulations of the Synod on the Family and its results made it possible for these innovations such as reception of communion by those divorced without annulments to make their way into the pope’s exhortation.”

The weight of the evidence indicates that the major accusations in these two recent articles against Americans and Bishops and priests are false.

In my professional opinion, the authors demonstrate no small degree of difficulty with excessive anger and a need to control and thereby in thinking that distorts their perception of reality and just judgment of other people whom they imagine as being inspired by ignorance or dark motives. Such accusations, as in Catholic marriage and family life, are profoundly harmful both psychologically and spiritually. Let us hope and pray that excessive anger from the Vatican diminishes, that respectful dialogue increases and that such accusations cease, for the good of the Church.


Rick Fitzgibbons, M.D. is a psychiatrist in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, who has written on accusations against priests, Accusations against Priests and conflicts in priestly relationships The Resolution of Conflicts in Priestly Life and Relationships. He has served as a consultant to the Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican.


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Saint Jeanne de Chantal

Everything She Had: “The Widow’s Mite of Saint Jeanne de Chantal”

In October 1601, Christophe, Baron de Rabutin-Chantal, went out from his château near Dijon, France, for a short hunting trip. As he rode with his cousin, neighbor, and friend, Charles d’Anlezy, the latter’s shotgun fired accidentally, giving Christophe a mortal wound under which he suffered for nine days. Christophe’s wife—born Jeanne Françoise Frémyot in 1572 and known to English-speakers as St. Jane Frances de Chantal—had recently given birth to their sixth child. Repeatedly during his dying days, Christophe pardoned Anlezy and urged his guilt-ridden friend not to hate himself for what was wholly accidental. To his devout wife, the baron counseled forgiveness, to little effect. Her future spiritual director, bishop François de Sales, would later help her release this grudge from her heart. Yet in those final days, while Christophe saw his impending death as “having come from heaven,” Jeanne was unable to imagine God’s purpose in allowing it. She only wanted her dear husband to be spared.

Jeanne had been born of an eminent family whose fortunes fluctuated during the Wars of Religion. Her father Bénigne Frémyot, president of the Parlement of Burgundy at Dijon, belonged to that class of magistrates and bureaucrats known as the nobility of the robe. During the 1580s and 1590s, open conflict between members of the Catholic League (who opposed royal tolerance of Protestantism and the impending succession of then-Protestant Henry of Navarre) and Catholics loyal to the throne (derogatorily called politiques) like Frémyot led to the latter’s exile from Dijon. Frémyot would not return to his home and position until 1595, when the Leaguers in Burgundy accepted Henry of Navarre as King Henry IV, now converted to the Catholic Faith. For Jeanne, all this turmoil meant prolonged time away from her native city and unease over her family’s situation.

Contrary to Leaguer rhetoric, loyalty to Kings Henry III and IV did not imply laxity in faith. Bénigne Frémyot personally catechized Jeanne and his other children, and he gave a Christian example of virtue, especially of generosity with the poor. Some historians have seen the fervency of the League as the chief source of seventeenth-century French spirituality, but the Frémyot family is just one of many examples that show true devotion running across the spectrum of Catholic allegiances.

By the time of her father’s exile, Jeanne had already been sent to live with her sister’s new family in Poitou. Lower nobility sometimes found opportunities to raise their status through marriages with the older nobility of military pedigree, and so it was with Marguerite, Bénigne Frémyot’s eldest daughter. Five years living at a high noble court gave Jeanne a sense of what she did not want. Her suitors there abounded, but none of them pleased her, most of them being disingenuous courtiers, rather than upright, stable Catholics.

In 1592, through her father’s facilitation, Jeanne married Christophe, of an illustrious family that, like the Frémyots, had supported both Henry III and Henry IV. The new baronness Jeanne de Chantal fulfilled her duties in exemplary fashion. Christophe’s obligations included riding in Henry IV’s retinue for months at a time, and Jeanne was quickly plunged into the tasks of running their estate at Bourbilly, learning skills that would later serve her well as the head of a religious order. Social life there was lively, and Jeanne was no sour-faced saint but rather was known as simultaneously attractive, witty, gentle, and devout. Besides being a good marriage alliance for the families, the match proved a blessing for the couple themselves. They quickly won each other’s hearts. Jeanne helped smooth out Christophe’s rough edges, especially through her example of faith. Eventually, despite the probability of a brilliant career in the king’s service, Christophe retired from court to be with his beloved wife year-round. Their marriage saw both joy and sorrow—the latter especially in the deaths of their first two children shortly after birth. Yet because this couple lived the married vocation well, Christophe became a man who could quickly forgive the friend who had caused his death, and Jeanne was prepared for a new vocation through which God would greatly bless the Church.

Because Jeanne had nourished her interior life in prayer, she was able to weather the storms that came with her husband’s death. And storms there were. The grieving Madame de Chantal carried on, raising her four young children and keeping up a noble household, all the while facing intense interior battles. Ever more distinctly, she heard God calling her to remain unmarried, despite strong pressure from her family to remarry. Seeking to belong to God more completely, she put herself under strict obedience to a spiritual director recommended to her by some friends. This priest’s strange, arbitrary, and ultimately harmful methods would have sent St. Teresa of Avila into a fury. François de Sales wrote in his Introduction to the Devout Life that the right spiritual director was one in ten thousand, and he himself was the one for Jeanne.

In 1604, Jeanne’s brother, the Archbishop of Bourges, introduced her to Bishop François, who had been preaching at Dijon that Lent. Gentle, prudent, and a true lover of God, the holy Bishop of Geneva was exactly the director Jeanne needed. The Order of the Visitation, which they would later found together, was not their immediate work. Rather, Jeanne grew in sanctity by living her state of life well. In contrast to her former spiritual director, who had demanded many harsh exterior penances and an abundance of devotional exercises, François offered holy simplicity and nourished “two pillars,” her desire for holiness and the consecration to God of her permanent widowhood. François’s patient ways helped her face the anxieties and temptations that plagued her in the years after her husband’s death.

For three years, François counseled Jeanne to think of no further vocation than widowhood. Her desire for religious profession increased all the while, but he waited prudently before revealing his desire to found a women’s congregation. When, in 1607, they began envisioning together the structure of the new institution, François drew upon his exposure to dynamic women’s religious orders in Italy and his experience with the devout group in Paris around Madame Acarie (Bl. Marie de l’Incarnation). Yet, above all, Jeanne’s own needs as a widow with younger children helped determine what the Order of the Visitation would become.

Some scholars have interpreted the early evolution of the Visitandines as the triumph of patriarchy, the squelching of women’s efforts to establish an uncloistered mode of religious life, dedicated to charitable service. It is true that the first sisters, located at Annecy in the Duchy of Savoy were uncloistered and undertook works of charity outside of the convent. Yet when the Visitandines founded their first convent within French terrritory, in 1616 at Lyons, the archbishop there insisted that they be a formal religious order with cloister. François and Jeanne, eager to establish the Visitation all over France, accepted the archbishop’s demands, and the outside charitable works ended—even among the original Annecy sisters.

Recent scholarship has determined that these early changes were fully in keeping with Jeanne and François’s original goals. External charitable works had been a practice, not a purpose. Fundamentally, the Visitation was to be a congregation especially for widows like Jeanne and for others not suited to the more austere orders. Many devout widows and devout young women of weaker constitutions had religious vocations, and the two founders offered a well-regulated place for them to answer the call. The Visitandines’ modified form of cloister included special consideration for widows, who could live in the convent in secular clothing without profession, even for several years, so that they could attend to worldly business (and especially to their children) before their full entry. Even after profession, widows could leave the convent once or twice yearly to attend to their affairs in the world. At Jeanne’s formal entry at Annecy, her three living children ranged in age from eleven to fifteen—cutting ties was neither optional nor desirable. She made appropriate arrangements for all of them and never gave up a mother’s care (and worry!).

Furthermore, the Order of the Visitation was imbued with the gentleness and divine charity of its two founders. Candidates with physical frailties were accommodated, so long as they were fit for the essential aspects of religious life. Not all the nuns would be frail, but the presence of the weaker would help the stronger to grow in charity. In contrast to the rigorism and Jansenism that would plague the Church in France later in the seventeenth century, Jeanne and François established a contemplative order marked by their douceur (“sweetness”). Jeanne brought something else to her order that few monastic superiors could, years of experience as a Christian mother to the children of her marriage. She frequently advised other Visitation superiors to be “gentle,” “solicitous,” “loving,” “kind,” “patient,” and “without harshness.” When she addressed a sister as “my dearest daughter,” she meant it from the heart.

Whereas François died in 1622, Jeanne lived until 1641, carrying on her spiritual director and co-founder’s most important works. The Visitandines flourished under her leadership, and the souls touched by their salvific influence are countless. François de Sales left the Church no male congregation, and the Visitation remained the only institutional incarnation of Salesian spirituality for two centuries. Jeanne herself worked tirelessly collecting and redacting François’s writings. But for her efforts, we would lack many of his letters and sermons, his talks to the sisters known as the Spiritual Conferences, and a little jewel called the Spiritual Directory, which distills Salesian spirituality into a few principles and daily practices. The long-term success of the Visitandines indeed made possible the “Salesian Pentecost” of the nineteenth century, seen vividly in the establishment of dynamic religious congregations, including the Salesians of Don Bosco, the Oblates and Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales, and the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales.

A noble maiden. A wife. A mother. A widow. A nun and the foundress of an order. St. Jeanne Françoise Frémyot de Chantal was all these things. God sanctified her with his grace in all her states of life. She would not have been the same saint without her life as a wife and mother, and she would not have been the same saint without Christophe’s tragic death. God called her according to his purpose and worked everything—even an early, unforeseen widowhood—for incalculable good.

(Source: Crisis Magazine)

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Return of the Vocations Crisis

CP&S – We thank our old collaborator, Geoff Kiernan, for bringing this interesting article to our notice. We regret the information is so disheartening, but a realistic awareness of the worrying situation should spur us on to double our efforts to overcome it. Above all, we must PRAY as never before, and make sacrifices, that Heaven will hear our supplications for help, and send many holy vocations to His Church to revitalize Her anew.


by Marco Tosatti on FIRST THINGS

The recovery in priestly vocations seems to be over. Between 1978 and 2012, after the great crisis of the 1970s following Vatican II, seminaries around the world enjoyed a season of growth. The growth was not constant, nor was it uniform across countries and continents. But the trend was clear. Numbers revealed recently by the Central Office of Statistics of the Holy See show that in the past five years, the vocations crisis has returned.

The greatest gains came under John Paul II. In 1978, the year Karol Wojtyla was elected pope, vocations worldwide totaled 63,882. In 2005, the year he died, they totaled 114,439. The numbers continued to rise during the reign of Benedict XVI: Vocations reached their modern peak in 2011, with 120,616—an increase of 6,177 since the papal transition year. After 2011, they drifted downward: to 120,051 in 2012, and 118,251 in 2013, the year of Benedict’s resignation. Thus, vocations in 2013 were down 2,365 from their height under Benedict, and up 3,812 from their height under John Paul.

In March 2013, Pope Francis emerged from the conclave as the new ruler of the Church. Data suggest that his pontificate has not accelerated the decline in vocations from their height in 2011, but has not reversed or arrested it, either. In 2015 there were 116,843 seminarians—a drop of 1,408 from 2013. If this rate of decline continues, then in a year or two vocations will be roughly where they were when John Paul died. Yet we will actually be in worse shape than we were then. As Catholics grow more numerous worldwide, the Catholics-per-priest ratio worsens. For instance, there were 2,900 Catholics per priest worldwide in 2010, and 3,091 in 2015.

The vocations downturn is particularly evident in the West, especially in European countries where secularization and religious liberalism are strongest: Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland. In countries such as Poland and continents such as Africa, where Catholicism remains more traditional, the situation is different. Vocations hold steady, and sometimes flourish.

A few examples will serve to illustrate. In the diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, a liberal atmosphere prevailed until 2003—a year that had six seminarians. Robert Morlino became bishop that year, and his efforts brought the number of seminarians to 36 in 2015. Following the advice of Robert Cardinal Sarah, Bishop Morlino recently suggested that the faithful should receive the Eucharist on the tongue and while kneeling. A similar situation may be found in the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska. Bishop James D. Conley has explained to the Catholic World Report that, in his opinion, the growth of vocations in his diocese had its root in fidelity to the traditional teachings of the Church.”

In western Europe, the landscape is totally different. In Germany, vocations have become practically nonexistent. In 2016, there was just one new seminarian in Munich, the historic capital city of German Catholicism. In Belgium, the situation is perhaps still worse. In 2016, there was not a single new Francophone seminarian in the country. The heroic André-Joseph Léonard, archbishop of Brussels from 2010 to 2015, had given life to a new association, the Fraternity of the Holy Apostles. In a period of three years, the Fraternity had assembled twenty-one seminarians and six priests. The current archbishop of Brussels, Jozef De Kesel, was appointed a cardinal immediately upon his installation—an honor denied to Léonard. De Kesel quickly dissolved the Fraternity. The official reason was formal and flimsy; the real one was substantial. The Fraternity was not liberal enough; it respected tradition.

Brussels is not an isolated case. A few years ago, the bishop of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, was removed without a clear explanation. Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano belonged to Opus Dei, and he was not popular among his brother bishops in the region, who were mainly progressives. His seminary was full of young people, while neighboring dioceses lacked vocations. Livieres Plano happened to be in Rome when news of his dismissal reached him. He tried to gain an audience with the pope. He never got it. He went away, and less than two years later he died of cancer.

It seems that Rome keeps a particularly piercing eye on religious orders that revere tradition, and that happen to enjoy many priestly vocations. The eye belongs to two persons: João Cardinal Braz de Aviz, a Brazilian sympathizer of Liberation Theology; and Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, a Spanish Franciscan. The former is the prefect for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; the latter is its secretary.

There is the case of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (FFI). A relatively new order, rich in vocations both in Europe and in Africa, the FFI was inspired by St. Maximilian Kolbe and approved by John Paul II. Four years ago, it was put under the authority of a Vatican commissioner, and nobody knows when this arrangement will end. The founder of FFI, Fr. Stefano Manelli, has been segregated from his order, in order to limit his influence. The only known accusation against him and his followers is that of “Lefebvrist drift.” One of the problems seems to be FFI’s love for Church tradition, and for the old form of the Mass. Vocations of both sexes to FFI dropped after this intervention by the Vatican.

There is the similar case of the Family of the Incarnate Word. This religious order, begun in Argentina in the 1980s, has more than one thousand members in twenty-six countries on five continents, including in regions where nobody else is willing to go. The Family has roughly 800 seminarians. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, then archbishop of Buenos Aires and president of the Argentine bishops’ conference, did not care for the Family. He made reference to it, while addressing the bishops: “In Latin America we happen to find in small groups, and in some of the new religious orders, an exaggerated drift to doctrinal or disciplinary security.” At one time, he blocked the ordination of the Family’s priests for three years. The founder, again, is more or less segregated from his order.

There is also the impending apostolic visitation of the Heralds of the Gospel. (The visitation will be undertaken by a three-person commission: a bishop, a canon lawyer, and a nun.) The Heralds are an association of pontifical right, begun in Brazil in the last years of the twentieth century, from a highly traditionalist order known as Tradition, Family, and Property. The Heralds have many priests, many seminarians, and great vitality. The reasons for the apostolic visitation are far from clear.

In June, Vatican Insider, a platform closely associated with Pope Francis’s Vatican, published a report on the Heralds. The author, Andrea Tornielli, claims that the Heralds believe in an “occult doctrine supported by the devil,” involving worship of their founder and unconventional exorcism rituals. According to Tornielli, this revelation proves that the upcoming visitation is not part of a “witch hunt against those more traditional and conservative associations”—that, on the contrary, the Vatican has “more than solid reasons” for the visitation. It seems likely that the Vatican anticipated criticism of this investigation and sought to silence it.

The prefect of the Congregation for Religious is Brazilian, like the Heralds, and he has said that the new Church movements must be kept under surveillance, since the founders sometimes seem unable to handle so many vocations—and so much money. What does the pope think? One episode may shed some light. The pope received 140 superiors of religious orders in the Vatican last September. He said to them: “When they tell me that there is a congregation that enjoys so many vocations, I am worried, I admit. The Holy Spirit does not work with the success method. He has other ways. … Some of [the seminarians] are Pelagians. They want to come back to the ascesis, they make penance, they seem soldiers, ready to fight for the faith and the good morals. … Then some scandal of the founder or foundress comes to light.”

No one can doubt the need to root out aberrations in new, growing orders, which today tend to be traditional. But one wonders why similar attention is not brought to the great established orders, which are now shrinking. Compare the light treatment of the progressive nuns in the Leadership Conference of Women Religious with the heavy discipline imposed on the traditional priests in the FFI, and it is hard not to notice a double standard. Meanwhile, a weakened Church finds its vocations once again in decline.

Marco Tosatti is a Vaticanist who writes from Rome.

See also Father Z’s take and perceptive comments on this post that he entitles: Tradition = vocations – It isn’t rocket science!

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Anniversary of a Little Known Apparition Site of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph

Our Lady of Graces

Today is the 498th Anniversary of an extraordinary and little known apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Cotignac (France).

On August 10th, 1519, a woodcutter named Jean de la Baume climbed Mount Verdaille (France) to begin his work for the day. Like every day he began by getting down on his knees to pray, only this time, when he stood up, he was astonished to see a cloud before him. Suddenly, emerging from the cloud, appeared the Blessed Virgin Mary standing on a crescent moon, with the Infant Jesus in her arms. Appearing with Our Lady were Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Saint Catherine of Egypt and the archangel Saint Michael. Our Lady said to Jean:

“I am the Virgin Mary. Go and tell the clergy and the councils of Cotignac to build me a chapel in this place, dedicated to Our Lady of Graces, and that they should come in procession to receive the gifts that I wish to bestow.”

But at first Jean didn’t tell anyone what he saw, thinking that perhaps it was a hallucination from the summer heat. Next day, August 11th, he came back to continue his work. Again the Blessed Mother appeared to him. This time Jean understood that the apparition was real, and he rushed back to the village to tell the folk of Mary and her message.

The Discovery at the Building of the Church

It was decided to erect a chapel there. On September 14th, feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, while digging the foundations of the church, the workers discovered in the ground large quantities of bones, nails, ivory boxes and a crystal ball, the evidence that Christian martyrs had been buried there in the earliest centuries. A sweet perfume exuded from of the grave and several sick people who were present on that day were cured.

In reality, the people in Provence became converts not long after Mary Magdalene, Lazarus and Martha arrived on the southern coast. Tradition says they landed at a place known as Saintes Maries de la Mer, then went not far away to Marseille where they preached the Gospel and Lazarus baptised many converts. Until the fourth century, the Romans controlled the region and persecuted Christians, ceasing only in the year 311, yet spirituality remained strong.

It was strong after the 1660s when the sanctuary to Our Lady of Graces was built, and countless miraculous answers to prayers came through the intercession of Mary. The whole of Cotignac walked in procession to the site on Mount Verdaille. It was the beginning of the great graces which have since been pouring out at Cotignac, as the Virgin Mary had promised.

What is the meaning of the Saints accompanying the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Apparition?

Everyone in Cotignac and indeed Provence would be familiar with the saints accompanying Mary and the Child Jesus. Back then St. Michael the Archangel was honoured as protector of God’s family, the Church. St. Bernard of Clairvaux had established several monasteries, one of them only 15 miles from the village.

And martyr St Catherine of Egypt’s French connection? Because her remains were brought to France by King Louis IX, himself later canonised as St. Louis. In addition, St. Catherine, along with St. Michael, were seen and identified by Joan of Arc as two of the saints who had counselled her.

“Thus, a common link among all the saints in the vision — a link to the well-being of families, national families, ecclesial families — all the communities needed for the well-being of people, communities for which God himself is concerned,” explains the Shrine of the Holy Family documentary.

Many are those who have testified of graces received there, particularly in the gift of a child. An illustrious pilgrim, King Louis XIV, came to Cotignac to thank Our Lady for his own birth.

José de Ribera (1591–1652), “Saint Joseph

Saint Joseph Appears 

But what makes this apparition site extra special was a further apparition two miles down the hillside from the shrine of Our Lady of Graces in the following century, this time from Our Lady’s Holy Spouse, Blessed Saint Joseph!

The summer of 1660 was an exceptionally hot in Cotignac and the region. On June 7th, a young shepherd named Gaspard Ricard was searching for fresh grass on Mount Besillon. About 1 pm Gaspard had to lie down because he was suffering from the roasting heat and exceptional thirst.

Next thing he knew, a tall man was standing next to him.

“I am Joseph. Lift it and you will drink,” the man told him, pointing to a large boulder.

The boulder was huge. Many men would have a difficult time moving the immense rock. But Gaspard listened to the man and made the attempt. He was surprised he was able to lift the boulder. Under it he discovered a fresh water spring. He looked up to thank the stranger, but the man had vanished.

The shepherd dashed to the village to tell all the people what happened. We can’t overestimate his eagerness and excitement. Knowing him as a humble young man, everyone believed him. They all rushed to see the newly revealed spring and the surprisingly abundant water supply in a place where no water had ever been before.

The wonderful documentary Shrine of the Holy Family: Provence, France includes this event too and tells how by July 25th “the city council mentions that the source pointed out by St. Joseph has abundant healing qualities and attracts people from all over the region who come to wash, drink and find healing remedies.”

Because of the numbers of people who quickly began arriving once the word spread about this appearance of St. Joseph and the miracle that followed, the townspeople immediately began building the first chapel at the site.

Then healings began at the sanctuary and spring. And continued. In just one example to show the continuous healing properties, in 1662 Father Allard of the Oratory that was built on the site, wrote, “The waters of St. Joseph bring miracles. Since I returned, a man whom we know from Avignon, born lame, went to the spring and came back cured, having left his crutches there. Everyone drinks and carries away the water.”

A history on the sanctuary’s website says of that time, “They go to the fountain from all the places of the province and the surrounding countries, the infirm, the sick of all kinds, most of them returning healed, or comforted by their infirmities.”

Since the beginning, the spring has never dried up.

As one of the priest there said in the documentary, Shrine of the Holy Family, “Special to Cotignac is that people come seeking God as communities…Our role in Cotignac is to confirm to the families that they are right to see themselves as domestic churches” — imitating the Holy Family. Something Joseph and Mary planned centuries ago.

Both of these approved apparitions have remained fairly obscure to the world in general, unlike Lourdes or Fatima.

[Sources: National Catholic Register, ‘Mary of Nazareth’ and ‘La Carte Mariale de Monde’]

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Veiling at the Latin Mass

from: Liturgy Guy



There are several things that grab your attention the first few times you attend the Traditional Latin Mass. Some immediately notice the positioning of the crucifix, candles and altar cards which are situated for the Mass to be offered ad orientem. If it is a Low Mass, the greater emphasis on silence can be quite striking. For most, however, the sheer sight of so many women veiling at the Mass presents a visual rarely seen these days in the “typical” Catholic parish.

So what’s the deal with all the veils?

Most are aware, to some degree at least, that women historically covered their heads in Church. Many have read St. Paul’s instruction from his first letter to the Corinthians:

“I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head—it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.”
(1 Corinthians 11:2-7).

While the traditional practice was there from the beginning, it was not canonically addressed by the Church until the issuance of the 1917 Code of Canon Law. Canon 1262 stated in part:

“Men, in a church or outside a church, while they are assisting at sacred rites, shall be bare-headed, unless the approved mores of the people or peculiar circumstances of things determine otherwise; women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord.”

This of course defines the practice of veiling (or to be more precise covering ones head) as one of obedience and not simply personal devotion.

However, the 1983 Code of Canon Law did not reissue canon 1262. In fact, canon 6 of the revised code abrogated it, in addition to any other canon of the 1917 Code that was not specifically included in the new legislation.

What then is driving the rediscovery of such a beautiful tradition among so many women, particularly younger women? More specific to this discussion: why are so many women who choose to attend the Traditional Latin Mass also deciding to veil?

The answer is simple and twofold.

First, presented with so many others veiling at Mass, women begin to feel a pull toward the practice. I have personally heard of many such examples. At times, the primary reason women have waited so long to begin veiling is simply due to the fear of others reactions to them. It is not because they do not want to veil. Entering into an environment where most women cover their heads at Mass, these women finally make the intellectual decision to respond to the spiritual calling to cover. It is as much a response of their heart to God’s calling as it is something they themselves have chosen.

Secondly, they are responding in obedience to the expectation of Holy Mother Church. The juridical explanation was given by Raymond Cardinal Burke, the prefect for the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, back in 2011 when he wrote:

“The wearing of a chapel veil for women is not required when women assist at the Holy Mass according to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. It is, however, the expectation that women who assist at the Mass according to the Extraordinary Form cover their heads, as was the practice at the time that the 1962 Missale Romanum was in force. It is not, however a sin to participate in the Holy Mass according to the Extraordinary Form without a veil.”

If for no other reason than obedience, attendance at the Traditional Latin Mass allows for women to veil -often for the first time ever- in the presence of the tabernacle and Our Eucharistic Lord. An increasingly greater availability to the Traditional Mass (the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite) in the years since Summorum Pontificum is facilitating the reemergence of this beautiful practice. While there is no sin in NOT veiling at the Traditional Mass, refusing to do so is a conscious decision to oppose the expectation of the Church…at least once one is aware of the practice at the time of the 1962 Missal, the 1917 Code of Canon Law in force then and, finally, the recent statement from Cardinal Burke.

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Confusion, division and error. Cardinal Burke speaks.

Featured Image

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky, August 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — “Confusion, division, and error” within the Catholic Church coming from “shepherds” even at the highest levels indicate that we “may be” in the end times, said U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke in an address in Kentucky.

The Cardinal, who spoke at the July 22 “Church Teaches Forum” in Louisville, said that, in his opinion, the times “realistically seem to be apocalyptic.”

“We are living in most troubled times in the world and also in the Church,” he said.

Burke, one of the Church’s leading canon law experts, outlined how evils now commonly accepted in the West’s “ravaged” culture have now managed to infiltrate the Church, passing from the shepherds to the sheep.

Cardinal Raymond Burke preaches during opening Mass of the 27th annual ‘Church Teaches Forum’ on July 20, 2017.Photo: Glenn Rutherford

“But, in a diabolical way, the confusion and error which has led human culture in the way of death and destruction has also entered into the Church, so that she draws near to the culture without seeming to know her own identity and mission, without seeming to have the clarity and the courage to announce the Gospel of Life and Divine Love to the radically secularized culture,” he said.

He cited as one example the recent remarks from the president of the German bishops’ conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who said that the legalization of same-sex “marriage” in Germany was not a major concern for the Church. Instead, Marx said that the Church should be more concerned about what he called intolerance towards persons suffering from same-sex attraction.

Silent shepherds

Burke, who is one of the four Cardinals who signed the dubia asking Pope Francis to clarify ambiguities in his teaching, said there are “many shepherds” who are no longer truly shepherding the faithful entrusted to them.

“For whatever reason, many shepherds are silent about the situation in which the Church finds herself or have abandoned the clarity of the Church’s teaching for the confusion and error which is wrongly thought to address more effectively the total collapse of Christian culture,” he said.

Burke said that one clear sign to him that the Church is “failing badly” in her mission is that she is no longer facing hostile attacks from secular media.

“Some time ago, a Cardinal in Rome commented on how good it is that the secular media are no longer attacking the Church, as they did so fiercely during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI,” he said. “My response was that the approval of the secular media is, on the contrary, for me a sign that the Church is failing badly in her clear and courageous witness to the world for the salvation of the world,” he added.

He specifically noted how secular media has pitted those who are being faithful to perennial Catholic teaching against Pope Francis and his “pastoral” agenda for the Church.

Cardinal Burke accused “secular voices” of promoting Pope Francis as a “reformer who is a revolutionary, that is, as one who undertakes the reform of the Church by breaking from the Tradition, the rule of the faith (regula fidei) and the corresponding rule of law (regula iuris).”

“Regarding the frequent statements of Pope Francis, there has developed a popular understanding that every statement of the Holy Father must be accepted as papal teaching or magisterium. The mass media has certainly wanted to pick and choose among the declarations of Pope Francis, in order to demonstrate that the Catholic Church is undergoing a revolution and is changing radically its teaching on certain key questions of faith and especially of morals,” he said.

‘Idolatry of the papacy ‘

The Cardinal noted how the Pope does not help the situation by regularly choosing to “speak in a colloquial manner, whether during interviews given on airplanes or to news outlets, or in spontaneous remarks to various groups.”

He said that Catholics seeking to remain true to Christ and the Church he founded must learn to discern between the “words of the man who is Pope and the words of the Pope as Vicar of Christ on earth.”

“Pope Francis has chosen to speak often in his first body, the body of the man who is Pope. In fact, even in documents which, in the past, have represented more solemn teaching, he states clearly that he is not offering magisterial teaching but his own thinking,” the Cardinal said.

“But those who are accustomed to a different manner of Papal speaking want to make his every statement somehow part of the Magisterium. To do so is contrary to reason and to what the Church has always understood. It is simply wrong and harmful to the Church to receive every declaration of the Holy Father as an expression of papal teaching or magisterium,” he added.

Burke has previously called the Pope’s controversial 2016 Amoris Laetitia “not an act of the magisterium” but a “personal reflection of the Pope.” The Apostolic Exhortation has been interpreted by various bishops and cardinals as allowing civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics living in adultery to receive Holy Communion. Such an interpretation contradicts previous Catholic teaching.

The Cardinal said that making the distinction between “words of the man who is Pope and the words of the Pope as Vicar of Christ on earth” is crucial for showing “ultimate respect” for the Petrine Office while staying true to the perennial teachings of the Catholic faith.

“Without the distinction, we would easily lose respect for the Papacy or be led to think that, if we do not agree with the personal opinions of the man who is Roman Pontiff, then we must break communion with the Church,” he said.

He warned Catholics about falling into an “idolatry of the papacy” where every word spoken by the Pope is treated as if it were doctrine, “even if it is construed to be contrary to the very word of Christ, for example, regarding the indissolubility of marriage.”

Any declaration of the Pope, said Burke, must be understood “within the context of the constant teaching and practice of the Church, lest confusion and division about the teaching and practice of the Church enter into her body to the great harm of souls and to the great harm of the evangelization of the world.”

“The faithful are not free to follow theological opinions which contradict the doctrine contained in the Holy Scriptures and Sacred Tradition, and confirmed by the ordinary Magisterium, even if these opinions are finding a wide hearing in the Church and are not being corrected by the Church’s pastors as the pastors are obliged to do,” he added.

The Cardinal warned Catholics in anguish over the current situation within the Church against even thinking about schism, that is, separating themselves from the Catholic Church headed by the Pope in the hope of creating a better Church.

“There can be no place in our thinking or acting for schism which is always and everywhere wrong,” he said.

“Schism is the fruit of a worldly way of thinking, of thinking that the Church is in our hands, instead of in the hands of Christ. The Church in our time has great need of the purification of any kind of worldly thinking,” he added.

Overcoming the crisis

Burke laid out a number of practical ways Catholics striving to be faithful can respond to the current crisis within the Church. They must:

  • Pray for an increase of faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ “Who is alive for us in the Church and Who never fails to teach sanctify and guide us in the Church” and whose “teaching does not change.”
  • “Study more attentively the teachings of the faith contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and be prepared to defend those teachings against any falsehood which would erode the faith and thus the unity of the Church.”
  • Gather together to “deepen their faith and to encourage one another.”
  • Go to the Blessed Virgin Mary…in order to seek her maternal intercession.
  • Invoke frequently throughout the day the intercession of Saint Michael the Archangel
  • Pray daily to St. Joseph, especially under the title of “Terror of Demons” for the “peace of the Church, for her protection against all forms of confusion and division which are always the work of Satan.”
  • Pray for the Pope, especially through the intercession of St. Peter.
  • Pray for the Cardinals of the Church that they be of “true assistance to the Holy Father in exercising his office.”
  • “Remain serene because of our faith in Christ who will not permit the ‘gates of hell’ to prevail against his Church.”
  • “Safeguard especially our faith in the Petrine Office and our love for the Successor of Saint Peter, Pope Francis.”

Cardinal Burke urged Catholics to not “worry whether these times are apocalyptic or not, but to remain faithful, generous and courageous in serving Christ in His Mystical Body, the Church.”

“For we know that the final chapter of the story of these times is already written. It is the story of the victory of Christ over sin and its most deadly fruit, eternal death,” he said.

“It remains for us to write, with Christ, the intervening chapters by our fidelity, courage, and generosity as His true co-workers, as true soldiers of Christ. It remains for us to be the good and faithful servants who await to open the door for the Master at His Coming,” he added.




Read Cardinal Burke’s full address here.

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St Padre Pio’s Special Devotion to Our Lady of Fatima

Saint Padre Pio was deeply devoted to Our Lady of Fatima. Due to the profound spirituality and super-human gifts from God that this holy saint possessed – his extraordinary guidance of souls, his gift of bilocation, and his camaraderie with the Angels, together with his knowledge of the Devil, etc. – he also gained greater insights into the Fatima messages and its significance for our era than most other men. 

When asked about the role of Our Lady in God’s plan for salvation, Padre Pio responded by saying that “all graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother.” It was with that understanding that he almost daily offered the Mass of the Immaculate Conception in the last decade of his life on earth. He is quoted as saying of Our Lady that She “accompanies me to the altar and remains at my side while I offer up the Holy Mass.”

Padre Pio daily expressed his special devotion to Our Lady of Fatima as he knelt and prayed at Her shrine within the monastery, before a large picture surrounded by burning candles. Indeed, he credited the Virgin of Fatima with saving his life.

Did You Know That Our Lady of Fatima Once Cured Padre Pio?

How Our Lady of Fatima made a special trip to help a favorite son who was thoroughly devoted to her Fatima messages.

By Joseph Pronechen on the National Catholic Reguster

Most everyone knows of Our Lady of Fatima. Most everyone has heard of St. Padre Pio. But how many know that Padre Pio was very seriously ill, bedridden, and Our Lady of Fatima visited him to cure him?

The miraculous event happened in 1959. That spring, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima had come from Portugal to make several stops around Italy’s provincial capitals. Traveling by helicopter, the statue of Our Lady should have been going to Foggia where Bishop Paola Carta had readied a tremendous welcome for Our Lady. But she detoured.

Later as Bishop Emeritus, in 1997 he would tell the story and aa bit about the longtime love Padre Pio had for Our Lady of Fatima in Voice of Padre Pio from the Friary of Our Lady of Grace, in San Giovanni Rotondo.

Bishop Carta recalled the requests of Our Lady at Fatima and said he could “assert that in the half century which followed, no one in the Church has given a more complete reply than Padre Pio. The maternal anxiety of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the souls going to hell had profoundly and completely invaded the heart of Padre Pio, who made of his whole life a great sacrifice to our Lord to snatch souls away from eternal damnation.”

The bishop noted that at Fatima Our Lady asked especially for the prayer of the Rosary. “And who could count the hours Padre Pio spent in prayer for the conversion and salvation of sinners?…And with how much loving insistence did he not recommend the Rosary to everyone as a means of salvation.”

Besides, the bishop pointed to the countless acts of mortification, penances and sufferings to save souls from hell that Padre Pio practiced in answer to what Our Lady called for.

“This heroic reply of Padre Pio’s deserved a sign of maternal pleasure from our Lady,” he noted. “And the sign was marvelous.”

Mary’s Visit to San Giovanni Rotondo

The pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima from Portugal was scheduled to stop in the large city of Foggia. The monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo was within the Foggia diocese, but Padre Pio was severely ill with pleurisy, unable to even celebrate Mass from May 5 let alone go to Foggia. Here it was the beginning of August that Mary was to arrive, and Padre Pio remained bedridden.

“But could the Mother with an Immaculate Heart so sensitive and delicate not visit her dearest son, Padre Pio?” explained Bishop Carta.

Somehow the scheduled got changed. The statue would not go to Foggia but to San Giovanni Rotondo instead. Joy filled the air as people gathered by the monastery. With the help of a loudspeaker, Padre Pio was able to prepare them for their Mother’s arrival on August 6.

That Aug. 6 morning, Padre Pio managed to get down to the church. He managed to get before the statue of our Lady — “but had to sit down because he was exhausted — and he gave her a gold rosary,” observed Bishop Carta. “The statue was lowered before his face and he was able to kiss her. It was a most affectionate gesture.”

That same afternoon. Between two and three o’clock, Our Lady of Fatima was again on the helicopter ready to travel to the next stop. Taking off from the House for the Relief of the Suffering — which was built from Padre Pio’s idea and inspiration and opened on May 5, 1956 — the helicopter circled three times around the monastery before flying away to its next stop. Afterwards, the pilot could never explain why that circling happened.

The Padre’s Surprise

Bishop Carta described how “From a window Padre Pio watched the helicopter fly away with eyes filled with tears. To our Lady in flight Padre Pio lamented with a confidence that was all his own: ‘My Lady, my Mother, you came to Italy and I got sick, now you are going away and you leave me still ill.’”

But as the helicopter was circling, he felt a shudder, a jolt, through his body. The bishop repeated what Padre Pio would say for the rest of his life: “In that very instant I felt a sort of shudder in my bones which cured me immediately.”

The bishop added the words of his Spiritual Father who confirmed the event saying, “In a moment the Padre felt a mysterious force in his body and said to his confreres: ‘I am cured.’ He was healthy and strong as never before in his life.”

In Padre Pio a Personal Portrait, originally published in 1978 and recently republished, Friar Francesco Napolitano who worked with the saintly friar said, “I was present at the scene and can testify that Padre Pio never felt as healthy as he did after the departure of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.”

When the saintly friar was told about an article in the Foggia paper asking why Our Lady of Fatima went to San Giovanni Rotondo instead of the shrine of Saint Michael at Monte Sant’Angelo in the Foggia location, Bishop Carta repeats that Padre Pio simply replied, “Our Lady came here because she wanted to cure Padre Pio.”

Three days after her visit, he was back celebrating Mass.

Cure Spotlights Perfect Example

The bishop had his own idea of why Our Lady of Fatima came to the monastery to Padre Pio. “I like to add that she also came because the example of Padre Pio’s ardent devotion and his prodigious recovery would rouse in Italy and the world a fervent increase of love and confidence towards the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Bishop Carta saw this heavenly favor as such a reminder, adding that “from this marvelous episode we must make a holy resolution to grow always in this devotion with a generous reply to the message of Fatima, reciting fervently the Rosary every day, praying and offering our sufferings for the conversion of sinners, receiving Communion on the first Saturdays of the month in the hope that the consoling words will come true for us: ‘I promise salvation to all those who practice devotion to my Immaculate Heart. These souls will be most dear to God, and like flowers I will place them before his throne.’”

For his response to her message and requests, Padre Pio is like a whole bouquet.


“Padre Pio paid and bought souls at a most high price: with heroic penance, with food, with sleep, with rest, with the martyrdom of fifty-eight years in the ministry of confession; with sufferings derived from misunderstandings and prohibitions and serious disciplinary measures taken against him at various times of his life, through no fault of his; with enormous difficulties to overcome to build the Home for the Relief of Suffering; and above all with the crucifixion which lasted exactly half a century with open wounds. A victim completely sacrificed for sinners. And that was Padre Pio’s reply to the message of Fatima.” (EWTN)

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Wherein homsexualist activist Jesuit Fr James Martin is schooled

Libs attempt to defend their dissent from doctrine – especially about morals (read: sex) – by claiming that the Church’s teachings have not be “received”.  That is, if a large number of people say they don’t agree with the Church on some point, therefore the Church can’t claim that people must accept it.  Moreover, because the teaching hasn’t been “received”, the Church ought to change it’s teaching.   That’s liberal dissent in a nutshell.  It’s pretty much an exercise in dishonesty.

I see today at First Things a piece by Gregory Brown of the Witherspoon Institute which vivisects Jesuit homosexualist activist Fr James Martin’s claim in his new (bad) book about building “bridges” between the Church (the institutional Church, of course) and homosexuals.   Martin claims – wait for it –

“Theologically speaking, you could say that these teachings have not been “received” by the L.G.B.T. community, to whom they were directed.”

Hence, the Church should change her teachings.

Martin, as the First Things article points out, makes an appeal to the sensus fidelium in his claims about the need for teachings to be “received”.  Martin:

To take a theological perspective, a teaching must be “received” by the faithful. It’s a complex topic (and I am no professional theologian) but, in general, for a teaching to be complete [?] it must be appreciated, accepted and understood by the faithful. The tradition is that the faithful possess their own inner sense of the authority of a teaching. That’s the sensus fidei or sensus fidelium. You can find out more about it in the Vatican document Sensus Fidei.

No.  That isn’t the sensus fidelium.

The sensus fidei fidelium is real and serious.  However, the problem with lib claims about the sensus fidei fidelium is that the sensus has to be that precisely of the fidelium… the FAITHFUL.  You have to be faithful to the Church and her teachings to have the “sense/grasp/perception” of the Faith.  To bring in Augustine: Nisi credideritis non intelligetis… Unless you will have first believed you will not understand.

At the end of the First Things piece, Brown writes:

As I read and reread Fr. Martin’s interviews, I am struck by a persistent ambiguity. Whether given a banal or radical sense, his remarks do not cohere very well with the Vatican document he cites. Why mention the theology of reception at all, if he just meant to make a tactical point about the scale of the Catholic-LGBT divide? Fr. Martin agrees that the rejected teachings are magisterial—so the rejection of them cannot spring from any intuition “infallible in itself with regard to its object,” the Catholic Faith.  [BINGO!]

The topic is one that requires clarification. Ever since the document’s release in 2014, progressive Catholics have treated the sensus fidei as a kind of magic bullet licensing dissent on, well, exactly those issues you would expect. The sensus fidei—the spontaneous intuition that the faithful have on account of their connaturality to God—sounds very exciting, because it is. But it is not quite as exciting as certain theologians want it to be.

Yes, indeed.  There is great need for a solid book which tackles a) the concept of sensus fidei fideliumand also the b) level or weight of magisterial teaching and documents which communicate those teachings.

The other day I posted about old categories of censures and warnings about teachings which strayed from Catholic doctrine to be avoided, or ways of speaking about teachings which were deficient enough to warrant a warning.  HERE

These old categories are useful… but they are not often used today.  Are they ever used today?  That is, by someone who isn’t an Unreconstructed Ossified Manualist like me?


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A Reflection from Fr. George W. Rutler

The Transfiguration of our Lord did not change him into another form of nature. After the event he was the same man taking the apostles down the mountain as he was when he took them up. As for us, said St. Thomas Aquinas: “Grace does not destroy nature but perfects it.” Christ was already perfect, and the light that transfigured him was a portent of the power that can glorify human creatures.

This confounds the Gnostic mistake of treating nature as an evil construct, destructive of the human spirit that struggles to be free of it. That perennial heresy is now a fashion in the form of gender politics. “Transgender” is a misnomer. Gender pertains to grammar and not biology: for instance, in French a pen is feminine and a pencil is masculine, but the pen is not a woman and the pencil is not a man. A Gnostic agenda treats the body as though it were merely an irrelevant noun that can be changed to what it is not. This is mutilation and not transfiguration. Mutilations are “against the moral law” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2297). The Second Vatican Council rejected Gnostic dualism: “Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity…he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day.” (CCC, n. 364) Imaginary redefinition of the self has widely become a political “right” and sane rejection of that is called “hate speech.” Where is George Orwell?

The Johns Hopkins psychiatrist, Dr. Paul McHugh explains that sex change is “biologically impossible” and “people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.” Confusing children about their identity comes “close to child abuse.”

Insinuating into the Armed Forces people with such psychological problems harms them and the national defense. It was done as a political act, and to repeal that is simply a nod to reality. Taxpayer dollars could pay the Pentagon at least $1.3 billion in the next ten years for “reassignment surgery.” Nearly four hundred medical conditions can disqualify people from military service, and identity confusion is a serious one. An illness, even a mental one, is not a sin, for an illness is a material disorder, while a sin is a moral disorder. The Greek word for sin, hamartia, means missing the bull’s eye on a target. It is a sin try to move the bull’s eye, pretending that one has not missed the mark, but nature has a way of staying constant.

Current headlines tell of huge military parades in China, naval displays in Russia, and missile launches in the rogue state of North Korea. They would very much like to see more Gnostic dreaming in our armed forces. But fantasy is not the strategy that wins peace among nations or peace of soul.

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Reflection for the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

From The Benedictine Monastery of Christ in the Desert ( by kind permission of the Abbot.


First Reading              Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

As I watched:  Thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne.  His clothing was bright as snow, and the hair on his head as white as wool; his throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire.  A surging stream of fire flowed out from where he sat; thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads attended him.  The court was convened and the books were opened.  As the visions during the night continued, I saw:  One like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.

Second Reading                      2 Peter 1:16-19

Beloved:  we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.  For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, “This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”  We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain.  Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.  You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Gospel                                     Matthew 17:1-9

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.  Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here.  If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”  When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid.  But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.”  And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.  As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Today we celebrate the Transfiguration rather than the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time.  Normally the Transfiguration is a Feast and occurs during the week and many people don’t even know that the Feast has been celebrated.  But when this Feast falls on a Sunday, it takes precedence over the Sunday of Ordinary Time.

This Feast of the Transfiguration invites us to look at the mystery of Jesus Christ, living among us.  This Jesus is truly God and yet truly human.  At the time of His baptism and then at the time of the Transfiguration, the Divine breaks through and a voice is heard:  “This is my beloved Son.”  The Baptism of Jesus is the beginning of His public ministry, but it is also a baptism into death, a baptism into our human condition, a baptism into the will of the Father.  The Transfiguration echoes that baptism:  it is a preparation for the death of the Lord, a preparation to see Him die in our human condition, a preparation for his complete accepting of the will of His father.

The first reading today comes from the Book of Daniel.  We are given a vision of heaven that is full of imagination and images and symbols.  Daniel is one of those who could see the Son of Man and know that a Savior was coming.  The Prophets in general were able to see that God’s love for His people would require a Savior to come.  What that would mean was not yet clear.  What was clear was the sinfulness of humanity and the love of the Father. Just as in the Transfiguration, we have the divinity of Jesus breaking through into our human situation, so also the Prophets could see that God must once again break into our human condition to draw us to Himself.

The second reading comes from the Second Letter of Peter and teaches us that the Transfiguration is given to us so that we can know the power and the majesty of the Lord Jesus.  The declaration from the Father, “This is my son,” is unique and helps all believe that truly, Jesus is God and has come to save us.

Today’s Gospel is from Saint Matthew.  We should note that the Transfiguration was experienced by Peter, James and John—not by the other Apostles or disciples or followers of Jesus—not even by Mary His Mother.  Peter will be placed by Jesus as the head of His followers.  James is the first to die for Jesus.  John is the disciple that Jesus loved.  Jesus does not always share with us his reasoning about why He does things and so we are invited to wonder—as surely did the other followers of Jesus.  And even though Jesus tells these three not to share the vision with anyone until He, Jesus, has been raised from the dead, surely the others were aware that something had happened.  We can try to imagine what answer these three would have given when the others asked:  what happened up there?

For us, the Transfiguration draws us deeper into the mystery of Jesus.  Our faith and the practice of our faith must rest on our belief that Jesus, fully human, is God.  God breaks through into our human history once more in Jesus Christ.  The Incarnation is not that God sent another Prophet or another Anointed one.  It is that, yes, but this Prophet, this Anointed One, is God Himself, present in our human condition, One like us in all things but sin.  God loves us!

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip


Image: The Transfiguration of Our Lord by Raphael (1620)

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Bishop Schneider Says “There are Ambiguities in Vatican II”


Mgr Athanasius Schneider.

On July 26, 2017, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Astana in Kazahkstan, published a column in the Corrispondenza Romana, on the theme of “the interpretation of Vatican II and the current crisis in the Church”. Here are the main points of his article.

The auxiliary bishop of Astana begins by drawing attention to the unprecedented crisis the Church is going through that, to quote his exact terms, is “comparable with the general crisis in the 4th century, when Arianism had contaminated the overwhelming majority of the episcopacy”.

Faced with such a situation – believes Bishop Schneider – it is necessary to keep a higher perspective, with “realism” about the situation on one hand, but also a “supernatural spirit, with a profound love for the Church, our mother, who is suffering the Passion of Christ because of this tremendous and general doctrinal, liturgical and pastoral confusion”, on the other. This summit avoids “two extremes”, says the prelate: “a complete rejection” of Vatican II, and the “infallibilization” that seeks to forbid any debate on the contentious points in the Council.

The “respectful attitude” advocated by Bishop Schneider towards the Council “does not mean,” he explains, “that we are forbidden to express well-founded doubts or respectful improvement suggestions regarding some specific items, while doing so based on the entire tradition of the Church and on the constant Magisterium.”

The prelate is more precise: yes, there are indeed “ambiguities” in the Council. “Those statements of Vatican II which are ambiguous must be read and interpreted according to the statements of the entire Tradition and of the constant Magisterium of the Church.”

With this criterion of discernment, Bishop Schneider believes it becomes possible to see the dogma of Christ the King as fully applicable today; to restore “its true sense” to the universal primacy of the Successor of Peter in the government of the Church; and even to insist upon “the noxiousness of all non-Catholic religions and their dangerousness for the eternal salvation of the souls”. Along the same lines, the prelate voices his doubts as to the definitive character of the conciliar doctrine on religious liberty.

It is in the context of this endeavor to correct the Second Vatican Council – a superhuman endeavor in many ways – that Bishop Schneider places the question of the canonical situation of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X: “An SSPX, canonically and fully integrated in the life of the Church, could also give a valuable contribution in this debate – as Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre desired.” And he continues: “The fully canonical presence of the SSPX in the life of the Church of our days could also help to create a general climate of constructive debate” on Vatican II.

In the end, Bishop Schneider’s column proves to be a particularly interesting contribution: a bishop from “outside” the world of Tradition clearly and concisely, and in a very free way, places the burning question of the ambiguities of the Second Vatican Council and the corrections that need to be made right back at the heart of the matter.

As an outside observer, the hypothetical role the prelate attributes to the Society in the future is not without interest: he sees it as helping to shed light upon the conciliar ambiguities and to bring ever more honor to the priesthood and the liturgy in the Church.

Bishop Schneider seems to be repeating the famous words of Pope John Paul II before the Sacred College on November 6, 1978: “The Council must be understood on the light of the whole Tradition and on the basis of the constant teaching of the Church.”

Archbishop Lefebvre, who accepted this principle, explained its exact meaning to avoid any mistaken interpretations. Judging the documents of the Council in the light of Tradition, he explained on December 2, 1983: “This obviously means that we reject those that are contrary to Tradition, that we interpret those that are ambiguous along the lines of Tradition, and that we accept those that are in keeping with Tradition.” Tradition is like a filter to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Concretely, Archbishop Lefebvre envisaged a gradual resolution of the crisis: “The pope could declare with authority that some of the texts of Vatican II need to be better interpreted in the light of Tradition, to such an extent that it becomes necessary to change some phrases, in order to make them more faithful to the Magisterium of the preceding popes. It needs to be said clearly that error can only be ‘tolerated’, and that it cannot have any ‘rights’, and that a religiously neutral State cannot and must not exist.”

In answer to what would one day become the “hermeneutics of continuity” so dear to Benedict XVI, that is, an artificial determination to incorporate the teachings of Vatican II into the constant Tradition of the Church, he explained: “There are, of course, some conciliar texts that are in keeping with Tradition, and that pose no problem; Lumen Gentium, for example, but also other documents, the one on priestly formation and seminaries. Then there are ambiguous texts, that can nonetheless be ‘interpreted’ correctly according to the preceding Magisterium. But there are also texts that are a blatant contradiction of Tradition and it is in no way possible to ‘incorporate’ them: the declaration on religious liberty, the decree on ecumenism, the decree on the liturgy. In these cases, any agreement is impossible.”

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