Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross – May 3rd

O Cross, brighter than all the stars, famed throughout the world, lovely unto men, and of all things the most holy, which alone wast worthy to bear the ransom of the world: O sweet wood, O sweet nails, that bore so sweet a burden, save this congregation this day assembled in Thy praise. Alleluia, alleluia. (Antiphon at the Magnificat for Vespers)

truecross

From The Saint Andrew Daily Missal 

After the victory gained by Constantine by virtue of the Cross which appeared to him in the skies, and whose sign he reproduced in the Labarum, St. Helena, his mother, went to Jerusalem to try to find the true Cross. At the beginning of the second century, Hadrian had covered Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre under a terrace of 300 feet in length, on which had been erected a statue of Jupiter and a temple of Venus. The Empress razed them to the ground, and, in digging up the soil, they discovered the nails (Alleluia) and the glorious trophy to which we owe “life, salvation and resurrection” (Introit). The miraculous cure of a woman authenticated the sacred tree (Collect).

St. Helen divided into three the precious wood which had been “worthy to bear the King of Heaven” (Alleluia), which had merely been figured by the cross on which the brazen serpent was raised. One part was deposited in Rome in the church which on this account was called Holy Cross in Jerusalem the second in Constantinople and the third in Jerusalem. This last relic having been carried off by the Persians and recovered by Heraclius, this emperor solemnly brought it back to Jerusalem on May 3rd, 628. Covered with gold and precious stones, the Emperor suddenly felt himself held back by an invincible power. At this sight, Zacharias, bishop of Jerusalem, told him to imitate the poverty and humility of Jesus bearing His cross. Heraclius thereupon covered his shoulders with a common cloak and without further hindrance went his way. 

Introit – Gal. vi. 14

Nos autem gloriari oportet in cruce Domini nostri Jesu Christi in quo est salus, vita, et resurrectio nostra per quem salvati, et liberati sumus, alleluia, alleluia. * Deus misereatur nostri, et benedicat nobis: illuminet vultum suum super nos, et misereatur nostri.
But it behoves us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ: in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection: by whom we are saved, and delivered, alleluia, alleluia. * May God have mercy on us and bless us: may He cause the light of His countenance to shine upon us, and may He have mercy on us.

Collect

Deus, qui in praeclara salutiferae Crucis Inventione, passionis tuae miracula suscitasti: concede; ut vitalis ligni pretio, aeternae vitae suffragia consequimur.
O God, who in the glorious Finding of the Cross of salvation didst renew the wonders of Thy passion; grant us by the price of the wood of life to win the palm of eternal life.


Adapted from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger

Constantine's 'Vision of the Cross' (by disciples of Raphael)

Constantine’s ‘Vision of the Cross’ (by disciples of Raphael)

It was most just that our Divine King should show Himself to us with the sceptre of His power, to the end that nothing might be wanting to the majesty of His Empire. This sceptre is the Cross; and Paschal Time was to be the Season for its being offered to Him in glad homage. A few weeks back, and the Cross was shown to us as the instrument of Our Lord’s humiliation and as the bed of suffering whereon He died; but has He not since then conquered Death? And what is His Cross now but a trophy of His victory? Let It then be brought forth to our gaze and let every knee bend before this sacred Wood, whereby our Jesus won the honour and praise we now give Him!

On the day of His birth at Bethlehem we sang these words of the Prophet Isaias: A Child is born unto us, and a Son is given unto us, and His government is upon His shoulder (Is. 9: 6). We have seen Him carrying this Cross upon His shoulder; as Isaac carried the wood for his own immolation; but now It is no longer a heavy burden. It is shining with a brightness that ravishes the eyes of the angels; and after having received the veneration of man as long as the world lasts, It will suddenly appear in the clouds of Heaven, near the Judge of the living and the dead–a consolation to them that have loved It, but a reproach to such as have treated It with contempt or forgetfulness.

Our Saviour did not think the time between His Resurrection and Ascension a fitting one for glorifying the instrument of His victory. The Cross was not to be brought into notice until It had subjected the world to Him whose glory It so eloquently proclaimed. Jesus was three days in the tomb; His Cross is to lie buried, unknown to men, for three centuries: but It is to have Its resurrection, and the Church celebrates this resurrection today. Jesus would, in His own good time, add to the joy of Easter by miraculously revealing to us this sacred monument of His love for mankind. He entrusts It to our keeping; It is to be our consolation as long as this world lasts: is it not just that we should love and venerate It?

Never had Satan’s pride met with such a humiliation as when he saw the instrument of our perdition made the instrument of our salvation. As the Church expresses it in Her Preface for Passiontide: “He that overcame mankind by a Tree, was overcome by a Tree.” Thus foiled, he vented his fury upon this saving Wood, which so bitterly reminded him both of the irresistible power of his Conqueror and of the dignity of man who had been redeemed at so great a price. He would fain have annihilated the Cross; but knowing that this was beyond his power, he endeavoured to profane It, and hide It from view. He therefore instigated the Jews to bury It. At the foot of Calvary, not far from the sepulchre, was a deep hole. Into this was the Cross thrown, together with those of the two thieves, the Nails, the Crown of Thorns, and the Inscription or Title written by Pilate. The hole was then filled up with rubbish and earth, and the Sanhedrim exulted in the thought of its having effaced the memory of the Nazarene, Who could not save Himself from the ignominious death of the Cross.

Forty years after this, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. The Holy Places were desecrated by the idolaters. A small temple to Venus was erected on Calvary, and another to Jupiter over the Holy Sepulchre. By this, the pagans intended derision; whereas, they were perpetuating the knowledge of the two spots of most sacred interest.  When peace was restored under Constantine, the Christians had but to remove the pagan monuments, and their eyes beheld the holy ground that had been bedewed with the Blood of Jesus, and the glorious Sepulchre. As to the Cross, It was not so easily found. The sceptre of our Divine King was to be raised up from its tomb by a royal hand. The saintly Empress Helena, Constantine’s mother, was chosen by Heaven to pay to Jesus–and that, too, on the very spot where He had received His greatest humiliations–the honours which are due to Him as the King of the world. Before laying the foundations of the Basilica of the Resurrection, this worthy follower of St. Mary Magdalen and the other holy women of the Sepulchre was anxious to discover the Instrument of our salvation. The Jews had kept up the tradition of the site where It had been buried: the Empress had the excavations made accordingly. With what holy impatience she must have watched the works, and with what ecstasy of joy did she behold the redeeming Wood, which, though not at first distinguishable, was certainly one of the three Crosses that were found! She addressed a fervent prayer to the Saviour, Who alone could reveal to her which was the trophy of His victory; the Bishop, Macarius, united his prayers to hers; and their faith was rewarded by a miracle that left them no doubt as to which was the true Cross.

St. Helena and relic

St. Helena and relic

The glorious work was accomplished, and the Church was put in possession of the instrument of the world’s Redemption. Both East and West were filled with joy at the news of this precious discovery, which Heaven had initiated, and which gave the last finish to the triumph of Christianity. Christ completed His victory over the pagan world by raising thus His standard–not a figurative one, but His own real standard–His Cross, which, up to that time, had been a stumbling-block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles; but before which every Christian is henceforth to bend his knee.

St. Helena placed the Holy Cross in the Basilica which had been built by her orders, and which covered both the glorious Sepulchre and the hill of the Crucifixion. Another Church was erected on the site where the Cross had lain concealed for 300 years, and the faithful were enabled, by long flights of steps, to go down into the deep grotto, which had been Its tomb. Pilgrims came from every part of the world to visit the hallowed places where our Redemption had been wrought, and to venerate the sacred Wood of the Cross. But God’s merciful providence willed not that the precious pledge of Jesus’ love for mankind should be confined to one sanctuary only, however venerable it might be. Immediately after its discovery, St. Helena had a very large piece cut from the Cross; and this fragment she destined for Rome, the new Jerusalem. The precious gift was enshrined in the Basilica built by her son Constantine in the Sessorian garden, which was afterwards called the Basilica of The-Holy-Cross-in-Jerusalem.


The Cross Is

The cross is the hope of Christians
the cross is the resurrection of the dead
the cross is the way of the lost
the cross is the saviour of the lost
the cross is the staff of the lame
the cross is the guide of the blind
the cross is the strength of the weak
the cross is the doctor of the sick
the cross is the aim of the priests
the cross is the hope of the hopeless
the cross is the freedom of the slaves
the cross is the power of the kings
the cross is the water of the seeds
the cross is the consolation of the bondsmen
the cross is the source of those who seek water
the cross is the cloth of the naked.
We thank you, Father, for the cross. Amen.

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Critters on St Peter’s, Rock in the Sistine Chapel, Bishop on a Bike…

From Fr Z’s Blog:

The slide continues…

 

We saw that the Sistine Chapel was rented out to Porsche.

We had the projections of critters on the facade of the Vatican Basilica.

Now we have rock music in, again, the Sistina.

From Reuters:

U2’S THE EDGE BECOMES FIRST ROCK STAR TO PLAY SISTINE CHAPEL

The Edge, lead guitarist with the Irish band U2, has become the first rock star to play in the Sistine Chapel, a venue he described as “the most beautiful parish hall in the world.”

The performer, whose real name is David Evans, sang four songs on Saturday night for about 200 doctors, researchers and philanthropists who attended a conference at the Vatican on regenerative medicine called Cellular Horizons.

Backed by a choir of seven Irish teenagers, and wearing his trademark black beanie cap, he played acoustic guitar and sang a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “If It be Your Will”, and versions of U2 songs “Yahweh”, “Ordinary Love” and “Walk On.”

The Edge, whose father died last month from cancer and whose daughter overcame leukemia, is on the board of foundations working for cancer prevention.

He joked with his audience, telling them he was stunned when asked to play in the chapel, which was painted by Renaissance master Michelangelo in the 16th century.

“When they asked me if I wanted to become the first contemporary artist to play in the Sistine Chapel, I didn’t know what to say because usually there’s this other guy who sings,” the musician said, referring to U2 front man Bono.

[…]

He didn’t ask. He was asked.

and then this:

I’ve heard of “flying bishops”, but … not this

 

I saw at katholisches.info via the curiously-named Eponymous Flower an … what’s the word … oddity, hopefully unique.   Not my translation:

The new Archbishop of Palermo, recently appointed by Pope Francis, Msgr. Corrado Lorefice, swung himself in a bicycle and drove through the presbyterium of his Cathedral.

Erzbischof-Lorefice-fährt-mit-dem-Fahrrad-Presybterium-Kathedrale-678x381

[…]

“Palermo. Primatiale Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption, Wednesday, April 27, 2016: Feast of the Athletes. Image: His Excellency Most Reverend Monsignor Corrado Lorefice, Archbishop-Metropolitan, Primate of Sicily, on a bicycle in the chancel of his cathedral..

The Archbishop was given a bike that he didn’t want to try outside the church. Instead, he rose immediately and in full regalia as celebrant,  chasuble and miter,  got on the bike  and drove it through the presbytery of his episcopal church. The Cathedral of Palermo is not only where lay the Stauferkaisers Henry VI. and Frederick II. and the Norman King, Roger II. It is above all one of the oldest Christian places of worship in Europe. The area of ??the Cathedral was secret at the latest  in the second century gathering of Christians in underground tunnels. Here the martyrs of the persecution of Christians were buried. The Christians gathered at their graves. In the early fourth century, the construction of the first cathedral was carried out. Under Pope Gregory the Great, the second cathedral was built around 600.

[…]

The Bicycling Bishop?

The Peddling Prelate?

The Cycling Overseer?

The Velocipedal Vescovo?

Your Excellencies, please don’t do this… in the sanctuary of your Cathedral?  Or anywhere else in your Cathedral?  Or in any church?  Or anywhere at all while wearing Mass vestments?  Please?

And dear CP&S readers, please pray for the Church:

O my Jesus,
I beg You on behalf of the whole Church:
Grant it love and the light of Your Spirit
and give power to the words of priests
so that hardened hearts might be brought to repentance
and return to You, O Lord.

Lord, give us holy priests;
You Yourself maintain them in holiness.
O Divine and Great High Priest,
may the power of Your mercy accompany them everywhere
and protect them from the devil’s traps and snares
which are continually being set for the souls of priests.
May the power of Your mercy, O Lord,
shatter and bring to naught
all that might tarnish the sanctity of priests,
for You can do all things.

Amen.

(Saint Faustina’s prayer for priests)

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Meet the Russian priest investigating the ‘miraculous’ Holy Fire of Jerusalem

CP&S has posted on this amazing annual event before. It takes place in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on the feast of the Orthodox Church’s celebration of Holy Saturday. On 30th April this year, hundreds of pilgrims gathered once more to witness the miracle of the spontaneous lighting of the Holy Fire, and they were not disappointed. There are those who doubt the miracle [see below the following article] and now investigations are underway, but for almost 1.500 years that this has been occurring, not once has any trickery or intent to deceive been detected. Now a new investigation is being made by the Russian priest, Fr Gennady Zaridze.

By Victor Khroul in the Catholic Herald today.

Orthodox pilgrims hold candles during the Holy Fire ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Orthodox pilgrims hold candles during the Holy Fire ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Fr Gennady Zaridze is seeking scientific proof that the fire emanates from God

According to tradition, the Holy Fire ignites from the tomb of Jesus Christ at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It has been descending on the church for more than 1,500 years and it is believed that the year when it fails to light will be the last year in humankind’s history.

In those first few moments after it descends, the fire is only slightly warm. Pilgrims can easily take it in their hands and wash their faces in it, without hurting either their hands or faces.

Is this a miracle? Some people, especially non-Orthodox Christians, have their doubts. But there was no doubt in the minds of the 100-plus pilgrims from Russia that they were witnessing a miracle: that was what had brought them to Jerusalem two days previously, on Friday. In total, thousands of Christians gathered in Jerusalem to light torches and candles from the holy flame on the eve of Orthodox Easter.

Ukrainian Orthodox believers light candles from the Holy Fire (AP)

Ukrainian Orthodox believers light candles from the Holy Fire (AP)

Orthodox priest Fr Gennady Zaridze from the Russian city of Voronezh was among them. He was there to receive God’s grace transmitted, as he believes, by the Holy Fire. But he was also there as a member of the union of Orthodox scientists to conduct an experiment: he measured the temperature of the Holy Fire with a very accurate device that uses lasers.

I was near him during the experiment and had the chance to see it for myself, close up. As a Catholic, I admit I was sceptical. But the results were surprising. The temperature immediately after we received the fire from the Patriarch of Jerusalem and All Palestine (around 2:34 pm Jerusalem time on Saturday, April 30) was 42°C, but 15 minutes later, at 2:49 pm, it was 320°C.

For Fr Gennady, these results offer a clear scientific argument for the existence of Divine energy in the flame, emanating from God.

A delegation from the St Andrew foundation, led by Vladimir Yakunin, took the Holy Fire from Jerusalem to Moscow, for the Easter service at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral.

The flame’s journey encompasses dozens of Russian cities, as it will share its light, the light of God’s grace, with believers across the country – from Sevastopol to Yakutsk, in addition to other Orthodox churches abroad.


Taken from HERE

The question of the authenticity of the miracle 

“As with any other miracle there are people who believe it is a fraud and nothing but a masterpiece of Orthodox propaganda. They believe the Patriarch has a lighter inside of the tomb. These critics, however, are confronted with a number of problems. Matches and other means of ignition are recent inventions. Only a few hundred years ago lighting a fire was an undertaking that lasted much longer than the few minutes during which the Patriarch is inside the tomb. One then could perhaps say, he had an oil lamp burning inside, from which he kindled the candles, but the local authorities confirmed that they had checked the tomb and found no light inside it.

The best arguments against a fraud, however, are not the testimonies of the shifting Patriarchs. The biggest challenges confronting the critics are the thousands of independent testimonies by pilgrims whose candles were lit spontaneously in front of their eyes without any possible explanation. According to our investigations, it has never been possible to film any of the candles or oil lamps igniting by themselves. However, I am in the possession of a video filmed by a young engineer from Bethlehem, Souhel Nabdiel. Mr. Nabdiel has been present at the ceremony of the Holy Fire since his early childhood. In 1996 he was asked to film the ceremony from the balcony of the dome of the Church. Present with him on the balcony were a nun and four other believers. The nun stood at the right hand of Nabdiel. On the video one can see how he films down on the crowds. At a certain point all lights are turned off – it is time for the Patriarch to enter the tomb and receive the Holy Fire. While he is still inside the tomb one suddenly hears a scream of surprise and wonder originating from the nun standing next to Nabdiel. The camera begins to shake, as one hears the excited voices of the other people present on the balcony. The camera now turns to the right, whereby it is possible to contemplate the cause of the commotion. A big candle, held in the hand of the Russian nun, takes fire in front of all the people present before the patriarch comes out of the tomb. She holds the candle with shaking hands while making the sign of the Cross over and over again in awe of the miracle she has witnessed. This video appears to be the closest one gets to an actual filming of the miracle.”

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1 May: St. Joseph the Worker

From Father Z’s Blog :

In the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, on Sunday 1 May we celebrate the Feast of St Joseph, Opifex or Worker.  We don’t ignore the 5th Sunday after Easter, of course (6th Sunday of Easter in the Novus Ordo): prayers from the Sunday formulary are added after those for Joseph.

Joseph the Worker is a modern feast.  Celebration of his principle feast on 19 March goes back to at least the 10th century.  In 1870, Bl Pius IX declared Joseph to be the Patron of the Universal Church and gave him a feast on the Wednesday of the 2nd week of Easter.  In 1955, however, Ven Pius XII abolished that feast and instituted St Joseph The Worker on 1 May.  This was a response to Communist celebrations of “May Day”, which in part commemorated a bombing, riot, and massacre in Chicago in 1886 called the Haymarket Affair, the consequences of which are, according to some, still felt today around the globe.

St Pope John Paul II wrote about work in his 1981 Encyclical Laborem exercens and about Joseph in his 1989 Apostolic Letter Redemptoris custos.  Of work, he wrote that it is an essential part of human nature, an activity that gives us dignity, while toil is a consequence of sin.  Of Joseph, he wrote,

“Human work, and especially manual labour, receive special prominence in the Gospel. Along with the humanity of the Son of God, work too has been taken up in the mystery of the Incarnation, and has also been redeemed in a special way. At the workbench where he plied his trade together with Jesus, Joseph brought human work closer to the mystery of the Redemption.”

Joseph didn’t perform miracles that we know of. He didn’t go forth and preach boldly or offer himself in bloody martyrdom, as some did.  Instead, in his quiet way, Joseph is as a model for how we should work.  That is, he worked with God and for God.  He worked with God in that he worked with Jesus and for Jesus as carpenter and bread-winner and then as a teacher of carpentry to His Son.  Joseph worked with love.

He was blessed to see the Man God with his physical eyes.  That is, he literally had God before his eyes as He worked.

We don’t have the Lord physically before our eyes as we work, but by Faith we can keep him before our inner eyes, the eyes of our hearts, as we work, even in the most menial of tasks.

As a good Jewish man and father he would have prayed many times a day and taught the Lord His prayers as worked.  Praying as we work is something we should do as well.

Take Joseph as your model, both you men and women, and also teach your children to do the same.  When you work or do chores, however unpleasant you might think they are, remember to do them for God and with love for Him.  Begin your day along with your other prayers by saying “Lord, all that I do today, I do for love of you and for your glory.”  You can say that all during the day.

Never forget, in all your works, to think of God and perform them for love of him.  As we are in the state of grace, those works which are done for God and for the love of him will be rewarded in eternity.  The smallest act will be rewarded before the throne of the divine Judge if it is done with love.

Many saints were very humble and worked hard in small jobs for their whole lives, they were not great nobles or flashy public people.  They were farmers like St. Isidore, soldiers, manual laborers, craftsmen, servants.  How did they save their souls and become saints?  Through the good intention with which they worked, which rendered the small tasks they performed meritorious before God.

Again, the most insignificant actions, such as walking, washing, and working, can win for us the joys of heaven. Do all that you do for God and He will crown your works as His own.

The Latin Church approves 6 litanies for official, public prayer, including one for St Joseph.  Look it up and pray it. Ask your priests to lead you.

And today, especially, beg the help of Joseph for the unemployed.

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Five statements from SSPX on AL

From OnePeterFive:

1-amoris-laetitia

After Father Matthias Gaudron of the SSPX district in Germany published a strong critique of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (here is the full English translation), two more statements have recently been officially presented by DICI, one of the websites of the Society of St. Pius X. Furthermore, two additional statements have just now been published on the website of the SSPX’s District in the United States. Taken together, there have thus been five SSPX priests publicly expressing their strong opposition to Amoris Laetitia.

The first article which we will discuss here is written by Father Alain Lorans and is entitled “Put into Practice Before the Ink is Dry”; and it shows how, very soon after the publication of Amoris Laetitia, several ecclesial voices of authority in different countries – specifically in the Philippines and in Italy – came out with a local declaration that they will now be giving the Sacraments to the “remarried” divorcees. Fr. Lorans says:

The ink is not yet dry on the exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which allows “pastoral exceptions” that authorize divorced and civilly remarried persons to receive communion, but it has already been put into practice as a matter of urgency.

As an example, he quotes a voice from Italy:

In Italy, Msgr. Alberto Carrara, editor of the diocesan bulletin of Bergamo, wrote on April 14: “Divorced and separated persons who have remarried can be readmitted to the sacraments. This is one of the innovations of Amoris Laetitia, the apostolic exhortation Pope Francis wrote following the two synods on the family.”

Fr. Lorans observes that, since the Second Vatican Council, the traditional doctrine “is not directly contradicted, nor openly attacked: it is simply circumvented, as one gets around an obstacle, in the name of pastoral practice.”

The second article now published by the SSPX is authored by Fr. Christian Thouvenot and is entitled: “After the Synod: Indissolubility Called into Question.” After repeating the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage as an indissoluble bond that is open to life, and after criticizing the Instrumentum Laboris for the 2015 Synod for its ambiguity in describing marriage as a bond of happiness, and less as a bond of obligation and duty, Fr. Thouvenot addresses some problems that are contained in Amoris Laetitia.

While stressing that there are some profound parts in the document, Fr. Thouvenot highlights those parts that are troubling, inasmuch as they seem to condone or conduce to sin and they do not call to a deep and sincere conversion those couples who do not now live according to God’s laws. He first observes that “the inversion of the ends of marriage [in Amoris Laetitia]is worthy of remark, where the procreation and the education of children seem eliminated in favor of the love of individuals” and then states:

As for unions that realize this aspect of Christian marriage “in at least a partial and analogous way,” “the Synod Fathers stated that the Church does not disregard the constructive elements in those situations which do not yet or no longer correspond to her teaching on marriage” (ibid. [¶ 292]). This comes down to closing one’s eyes on the sinful nature of these extra-marital relations, in order to tolerate them in hopes that the partners will [gradually]journey towards “the full reality of marriage and family in conformity with the Gospel” (¶ 294).

Thouvenot then makes a morally strong statement when he says about Pope Francis himself:

Never has the Vicar of Christ shown such complaisance towards situations so opposed to Catholic morality and Christian marriage. How is it possible that baptized persons in civil unions or simply cohabiting, otherwise known as living in sin, can reflect the love of God? God, whose sanctity is offended by such behavior where the flesh dominates the spirit? Is this love worthy of the children of God, worthy of an eternal crown from Him?

By way of support for his claim, the author points to the problematic parts of Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia, where the pope finds very soft words for those living in sin, and he thus continues:

But how can public sinners “live and grow in the Church,” if not by separating [in order]to end the scandal, or at the very least, if there are children, living as brother and sister? But this is not stated. Worse, in concluding a consideration that excuses them from all personal wrongdoing (see ¶s 300 – 305), the Pope even affirms that “because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin –which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end” (¶ 305).[12] This help, according to footnote 351, includes the confessional and access to the Eucharist. The Pope is therefore saying that the divorced and remarried can receive the sacraments in some cases. If they lived in perpetual continence and no longer sinned, this could be considered, every risk of scandal having been avoided; but this is neither said nor even considered: the Pope is speaking of [undefined]irregular situations to which the moral law cannot apply as they are (¶ 305).

I propose to conclude this short introduction to Thouvenot’s text with regard to Amoris Laetitia with the two following statements that come with trenchancy at the end of his article:

Unfortunately, as soon as he enters into the “Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization,”[13] Pope Francis seems to set aside doctrine—along with its corresponding discipline—in favor of a deleterious praxis.

Today, the divorced and “remarried,” as well as cohabiting couples, whether or not they have engaged in a civil union, are the objects of solicitude of a lax pastoral approach that strongly risks encouraging them to remain in their openly sinful situations—to the great scandal of faithful Catholics, ever more disoriented by the new conciliar religion.

Comparably strong is an article by Father Denis Puga, who calls Amoris Laetitia a “subversive teaching,” and another one just written by Father Jean-Michel Gleize. At the end of this overall review of the lucid and forceful statements by the SSPX, I shall limit myself now to an excellent quote by Fr. Gleize:

The Pope’s words here are of unparalleled gravity, because by the practice they authorize in the name of “an approach which ‘carefully discerns situations,’” they strike a deadly blow to divine law itself. If put into practice on all the points set forth above, this pastoral Exhortation will be concretely no more and no less than an exhortation to sin; in other words, it is a scandal. After recalling in theory in the opening chapters (¶52, 62, 83, and 123) the Church’s unchanging doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage and the efficacy of supernatural grace, the document encourages the denial of this same doctrine in practice. And let no one rush to point out that in ¶299 the Pope says that “any occasion of scandal” must be avoided, because it is undeniable that having allowed such confusions, his words cannot but lead to scandal.

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Something’s Coming – May the 4th Be With You!

This the second of two posts by Fr. Richard Heilman (ROMAN CATHOLIC MAN) that we are publishing on CP&S on how to better prepare ourselves for the coming 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearances at Fatima in 1917. 

our-lady-of-fatima1-770x439_c

May 13th of this year marks one year until the 100th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady to three shepherd children in the small village of Fatima in Portugal in 1917. She appeared six times to Lucia, 9, and her cousins Francisco, 8, and his sister Jacinta, 6, between May 13, 1917 and October 13, 1917. But, in the Spring of the year prior to Our Lady’s appearance, an angel appeared to the children to prepare them. That would make this, right now, the 100th anniversary of that angelic visit.

For those who are tuned into dates such as these, and tuned into the tumultuous times in which we live, there is a sense that “something is coming.” For more and more people, there seems to be an urgency to “prepare.” I wrote about this HERE.

St. Maximilian Kolbe had this strong sense that something was coming when on October 16, 1917 – just 3 days after the Miracle of the Sun in Fatima – he founded the confraternity known as “The Militia of the Immaculata,” a movement whose purpose is to convert sinners, heretics, and especially Masons, and to sanctify all under the patronage and through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

Much like those who are utilizing “new media” today, to better “win the world for the Immaculata,” he and his fellow friars utilized the most modern printing and administrative techniques. This enabled them to publish countless catechetical and devotional tracts, a daily newspaper with a circulation of 230,000 and a monthly magazine with a circulation of over one million. Maximilian started a shortwave radio station and planned to build a motion picture studio–he was a true “apostle of the mass media.”

Bishop Athanasius Schneider has called us to this same task, as he said:

We must make use of all the resources that the modern world offers to us. We are not confined to waiting for the media to spread these messages. We do not have to wait for each individual pastor to preach them from the pulpit. We should embrace the new media forms that allow us to spread the Gospel and the teachings of our Holy Mother, the Church. We should take our message to the Internet, publish it on websites, blogs, and social media.”

In order to prepare for the “something coming” St. Maximilian Kolbe sensed, he modified the St. Louis de Montfort 33-day preparation for consecration to just 9 days, to make it more accessible. He simply had to get as many as possible consecrated in the shortest period of time. Hundreds of thousands of people were consecrated to Jesus through Mary, seemingly overnight.

“While St. Maximilian Kolbe’s push for consecration was the largest,” according to Father Michael Gaitley, “the one going on right now is the second-largest ever, and the largest since St. Maximilian Kolbe’s.” Father Gaitley went on to say “now is the perfect time” to consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary. He said the “culture of death is strangling our country right now.” He added that Our Lady is trying to “bring Christ back there,” saying she comes when things look hopeless. There’s a “historical reason” for the new push to consecration. Fr. Gaitley said. “there’s something happening, something moving, something ahead,” while no one knows specifically what is coming. “Our Lady wants to be embracing all of us,” he added.

Consider Cardinal Pacelli’s remarks before he became Pope Pius XII:

“I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith, in Her liturgy, Her theology and Her soul … A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God.”

Pope Benedict XVI (then, Cardinal Ratzinger) implores us to seek the strength of Mary:

‘The Heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind. The fiat of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it brought the Saviour into the world—because, thanks to her Yes, God could become man in our world and remains so for all time. The Evil One has power in this world, as we see and experience continually; he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God.”

Yes! The fiat of Mary! This is the key to everything! We must learn this sweet and loving obedience that brings new life into such a soul. Obedience brings grace! So we ask ourselves, what has God shown us, and how can we obey? Here’s what we do to prepare for “something coming” …


OUR PREPARATION BEGINS

With the full-on utilization of new media, we are embarking on this plan to bring souls back to Christ. The campaign begins by calling upon God to empower us in His grace.

First, go to Confession ASAP.

Then …

On May 4th (leading up to the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima), we will begin the Maximilian Kolbe’s 9-day version of the preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.

All of the prayers for the 9-day preparation are found HERE.

If you would like daily offerings of each of the 9 days, join this Facebook group: HERE

MAY THE 4TH BE WITH YOU!

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A Prominent German Theologian and Friend of Pope Benedict Warns of the Danger of Schism

By Robert Moynihan:

The Spaemann Interview

The Catholic News Agency (CNA) news service (which is connected with the late Mother Angelica’s EWTN Catholic television network), has bureaus in a number of countries, and a journalist in the bureau in Germany, Anian Christoph Wimmer, has just published an interview with Spaemann. It appeared in German first and is now out in Italian thanks to the Vatican journalist Sandro Magister. (link)

Spaemann is a professor emeritus of philosophy at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich. He is one of the leading Catholic philosophers and theologians in Germany. He lives in Stuttgart. His latest book published in Italy was God and the World. An Autobiography in the Form of Dialogue, published by Cantagalli in 2014.

Here is my own English translation based on the Italian.

It is worth noting that Spaemann is the same age as Emeritus Pope Benedict, who turned 89 in April.

Spaemann: “It’s chaos made into a principle with the stroke of the pen”

 

 

 

 

The following is a translation of the interview on Amoris laetitia that Spaemann (photo) gave exclusively to Anian Christoph Wimmer for the German edition of the Catholic News Agency on April 28:
Professor Spaemann, as a philosopher, you followed closely the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Many believers today are asking whether the post-Synodal Exhortation Amoris laetitia of Pope Francis may be read in continuity with the teaching of the Church and of these Popes.

Prof. Robert Spaemann: For most of the text that is possible, even though his line leaves room for conclusions that can not be made compatible with the teaching of the Church. In any case, Article 305, together with footnote 351, which states that the faithful “in an objective situation of sin” may be admitted to the sacraments “because of mitigating factors,” directly contradicts Paragraph 84 of Familiaris Consortio by John Paul II.

What was John Paul II’s central concern?

Spaemann: John Paul II declares human sexuality “real symbol of the giving of the whole person” and, more precisely, “a union that is not temporary or ad experimentum (“for an experiment”). In Paragraph 84 he affirms, then, with total clarity that the divorced and remarried, if they wish to receive communion, must give up the sexual acts. A change in the practice of the administration of the sacraments would therefore not be a “development” of Familiaris Consortio, as Cardinal Kasper holds, but a break with its essential teaching, on the anthropological and theological level, regarding marriage and human sexuality.

The Church does not have the power, without there being a prior conversion, to give a positive value to sexual relationships, through the administration of the sacraments, dispensing “in advance” the mercy of God. And this remains true no matter what the judgment may be of these situations whether on the moral level or on the human level. In this case, as in the case of women priests, the door here is closed.

Could one not argue that the anthropological and theological considerations you mentioned could perhaps be true, but that the mercy of God is not bound to these limits, but connects to the concrete situation of each person?

Spaemann: The mercy of God is at the heart of the Christian faith in the Incarnation and Redemption. Certainly the gaze of God falls upon every single person in that person’s concrete situation. God knows every single person better than that person knows himself or herself. The Christian life, however, is not an educational exhibition in which one moves toward marriage as toward an ideal, as it seems it is presented in many passages of Amoris laetitia. The entire scope of relations, especially those of a sexual nature, has to do with the dignity of the human person, with the person’s personality and freedom. It has to do with the body as the “temple of God” (1 Cor 6:19). Any violation in this area, no matter how frequent it may have become, is therefore a violation of the relationship with God, to which Christians are called; it is a sin against His holiness, and always and continuously is in need of purification and conversion.

The mercy of God consists precisely in the fact that this conversion is made continuously and ever again possible. This mercy, certainly, is not bound within certain limits, but the Church, for her part, is obliged to preach conversion and does not have the power to go beyond the existing limits by the administration of the sacraments, causing, in this way, some violence against God’s mercy. This would be proud arrogance.

For this reason, the clerics who stick to the existing order do not condemn anyone, but take into account and announce this limit with regard to the holiness of God.

It is a healthy proclamation.

To accuse them unjustly, for doing this, of “hiding themselves behind the teachings of the Church” and of “sitting on the chair of Moses… to throw stones at people’s lives” (Paragraph 305), is something that I do not even want to comment on. I note, just in passing, that this text is exploited, playing on a deliberate misreading of that Gospel passage. Jesus says, in fact, yes, that the Pharisees and scribes sit on the chair of Moses, but he stresses that the disciples have to practice and observe all they say, but do not live like them (Mt 23:2).

The Pope would like us not to focus on the individual phrases of his exhortation, but on the work as a whole…

Spaemann: From my point of view, focusing on the passages cited above  is entirely justified. Before a text of the papal Magisterium, one cannot wait for people to rejoice because it is a nice text and pretend not to notice decisive sentences, that change substantially the teaching of the Church. In this case there is only one clear decision between yes and no. Give or withhold Communion: there is no middle way.

Pope Francis in his text repeats that no one can be condemned forever…

Spaemann: I find it hard to understand what he means. That it is not licit for the Church to personally condemn anyone, let alone eternally — which, thank God, she cannot even do — is something quite clear. But, when it comes to sexual relationships that objectively contradict the ordering of Christian life, then I really would like to know from the Pope after how long and under what circumstances an objectively sinful conduct turns into a conduct pleasing to God.

Here, then, is there really a rupture with the traditional teaching of the Church?

Spaemann: That it is a rupture is something that is seems obvious to any person capable of thinking who reads the texts in question.

How was it possible to come to this rupture?

Spaemann: That Francis positions himself at a critical distance from his predecessor, John Paul II, was already seen when he canonized John Paul together with John XXIII, when he deemed unnecessary for the latter the second miracle that, instead, is canonically required. Many have rightly perceived that choice as manipulative. It seemed that Pope Francis wanted to relativize the importance of John Paul II.

The real problem, though, is an influential current of moral theology, already present among the Jesuits in the 17th century, which supports a mere situational ethics. The quotes of Thomas Aquinas used by the Pope in Amoris laetitia seem to support this line of thought. Here, however, the fact that Thomas Aquinas knows objectively sinful acts, for which admits of no exception linked to situations, is obscured. These acts include disordered sexual behaviors. As he had done already in the 1950s regarding the Jesuit Karl Rahner, in an essay that contains all the essential arguments, still valid today, John Paul II has rejected situation ethics and he condemned it in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor.

Amoris Laetitia also breaks with this magisterial document. In this regard, moreover, do not forget that it was John Paul II who made the theme of his pontificate divine mercy, dedicating to divine mercy his second encyclical, discovering in Krakow the diary of Sister Faustina and, later, canonizing her. He is her authentic interpreter.

What implications do you see for the Church?

Spaemann: The consequences can be seen already. Growing uncertainty, insecurity and confusion: from the episcopal conferences to the last parish priest in the jungle. Just a few days ago, a priest from the Congo expressed to me all his despair in front of this text, and the lack of clear guidance. According to the relevant passages of Amoris laetitia, in the presence of not-better-defined “extenuating circumstances,” not only the divorced and remarried may be admitted to absolution for sins and communion, but everyone living in any “irregular situation,” without requiring them commit themselves to abandon their sexual conduct and, therefore, without full confession and without conversion.

Every priest who holds to the sacramental order hitherto in force may undergo forms of bullying from their faithful and be put under pressure by their bishop. Rome can now impose the directive that from now on only “merciful” bishops will be appointed, bishops who are willing to soften the existing order.

Chaos has been erected as a principle with the stroke of a pen.

The Pope should have known that with such a step he splits the Church and leads her toward a schism.

This schism would not reside at the periphery, but in the very heart of the Church. God forbid.

One thing, however, seems certain: what seemed to be the aspiration of this pontificate — that the Church would transcend her “self-referentialness” in order to go out to meet persons with an open heart — with this papal document has been destroyed for an unforeseeable length of time.

One must now expect a secularizing boost and a further decline in the number of priests in large parts of the world. One can easily verify that, for some time, that the bishops and dioceses with an clear attitude in matters of faith and morals have the highest number of priestly vocations. It must be borne in mind here what St. Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians: “If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Cor 14: 8).

What will happen now?

Spaemann: Every cardinal, but also every bishop and priest, is called to defend in their own field of expertise the Catholic sacramental system and to profess it publicly. If the Pope is not willing to introduce corrections, it will be up to the next pontificate to put things back in place officially.

 

See also Maike Hickson’s article on OnePeterFive

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On the verge of a deal with the SSPX?

.- Pope Francis may soon offer the Society of Saint Pius X regular canonical status within the Church, without requiring the acceptance of certain texts of the Second Vatican Council with which they disagree.

It also appears the SSPX may itself be poised to take such a historic step, urging that “perhaps only Pope Francis is able to take this step, given his unpredictability and improvisation”, according to an internal SSPX document that was leaked to the press in recent weeks.

The memo, titled “Considerations on the Church and the position of the Society of Saint Pius X in it”, outlines six reasons why the group should accept an offer of regularization by Pope Francis, provided “an appropriate ecclesial structure” is ensured. It also addresses possible objections raised against such a move.

“It seems the time to normalize the situation of the Society has come,” the memo reads.

The document, dated Feb. 19, was written by Fr. Franz Schmidberger, rector of the SSPX’s seminary in Germany. Fr. Schmidberger had served as superior general of the SSPX from 1982 to 1994.

In the memo, Fr. Schmidberger asserts that the Vatican has been “gradually lowering its demands and recent proposals, no longer speak of recognizing neither the Second Vatican Council nor the legitimacy of the Novus Ordo Missae.”

On April 10, Bishop Bernard Fellay, the current superior general of the SSPX, said before some 4,000 pilgrims in the French city of Le Puy-en-Velay that there is a “profound change” in the Society’s relationship with the Vatican, triggered by the “dire situation” of the Church: “in the midst of this disorder … comes this whisper: ‘No, we cannot force you to accept the Council.’ They perhaps will not say it so clearly, but they did indeed say it to us after all.”

Albeit carefully, these assertions are to some extent matched by similar utterances from Rome.

Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary for the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei –  the Vatican office of the responsible for doctrinal discussions with the SSPX – said in an April 6 interview with La Croix that “as far as the Second Vatican Council is concerned, the ground covered in the meetings over the past few years has led to an important clarification: Vatican II can be adequately understood only in the context of the full Tradition of the Church and her constant Magisterium.”

“Certain questions can remain ‘subject to discussion and clarification’,” Archbishop Pozzo added.

Similarly, Fr. Schmidberger’s memo asserts that whilst the group would like to “return from its ‘exile'”, further discussions would be expected: “We will not be silent, more over, we will point out the errors by name. Before and after our normalization.”

Reliable sources inside the SSPX have confirmed to CNA that the leaked memo from Fr. Schmidberger, which apparently was meant for circulation among the leadership of the Society, is indeed authentic. Comprising seven sections and running to three pages, it concisely covers a summary of the history of the relationship with Rome and an outline of arguments for a full reconciliation, to the practical considerations of such a move. It even includes a kind of “FAQ”-section, answering the most frequently raised concerns of a reconciliation with Rome from the perspective of those in the SSPX more hesitant about reconciliation with Rome.

Fr. Schmidberger cited several reasons that the time to regularize the canonical situation of the SSPX has some, including that fact that “any abnormal situation lends itself to normalization.” He noted the danger in losing the realization that the Society’s situation is abnormal, and seeing it instead as normal: if the priests of the Society “feel comfortable in this situation of liberty with respect to dependence on the heirarchy, then this implies a gradual loss of the sensus ecclesiae.”

The memo also noted that there are members of the Church’s hierarchy who are sympathetic to them, but that they can only collaborate after regularization, and that the SSPX will need new bishops in the future and that licit consecration should be pursued.

In its conclusion, the text argues that if “God wants to come to the effective aid of His Church, which is bleeding from a thousand wounds, he has thousands of different means of doing so. One of these is the official recognition of the SSPX through the Roman authorities.” It then closes with a prayer for the intercession of the Virgin Mary.

It has been speculated that the normalization of the SSPX would be accomplished by recognizing the group as a “personal prelature,” a canonical structure which so far has only been used for Opus Dei.

The SSPX was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970 to form priests, as a response to what he described as errors that had crept into the Church following the Second Vatican Council. Its relations with the Holy See became particularly strained in 1988 when Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer consecrated four bishops without the permission of Pope John Paul II.

The illicit consecration resulted in the excommunication of the six bishops; the excommunications of the surviving bishops were lifted in 2009 by Benedict XVI, and since then, negotiations “to rediscover full communion with the Church” have continued between the Society and the Vatican.

In remitting the excommunications, Benedict also noted that “doctrinal questions obviously remain and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry.”

The biggest obstacles for the Society’s reconciliation have been the statements on religious liberty in Vatican II’s declaration Dignitatis humanae as well as the declaration Nostra aetate, which it claims contradict previous Catholic teaching.

Archbishop Pozzo addressed this issue in his discussion with La Croix, saying that he considers Nostra aetate as “directives for pastoral action, directions, and suggestions or exhortations of a practical pastoral nature,” adding that “the acceptance of the texts on relations with other religions is not a prerequisite for the canonical recognition” of the SSPX.

“The difficulties raised by the SSPX concerning the Church-State relationship and religious freedom, the practice of ecumenism and dialogue with non-Christian religions, certain aspects of the liturgical reform and its concrete application, remain subject to discussion and clarification but do not constitute an obstacle to a canonical and juridical recognition of the SSPX,” the Vatican official said.

The archbishop noted that following the canonical regularization of the Society, the declarations of Vatican II will “remain subject to discussion and deeper study, in order to obtain greater precision and avoid the misunderstandings or ambivalences that we know to have spread throughout today’s ecclesial world.”

Under Pope Francis several moves have suggested a warming in relations between the Vatican and the SSPX.

In 2015 the Holy See delegated a cardinal and three bishops to visit the seminaries of the SSPX. They were sent to become better acquainted with the society, and to discuss doctrinal and theological topics in a less formal context.

Pope Francis announced in a September 2015 letter on the Jubilee Year of Mercy that during the jubilee year the faithful can validly and licitly receive absolution of their sins from priests of the SSPX.

“I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity,” he wrote.

And Bishop Fellay met with Pope Francis and Archbishop Pozzo April 1-2. Bishop Fellay indicated that at that meeting, the Pope had said the SSPX is Catholic and he would not condemn it, and that he wishes to extend the faculties of its priests.

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“Things Accelerate Toward The End” – Prophecy of Archbishop Fulton Sheen

FultonSheen1crop-770x439_c

By Fr. Richard Heilman

“The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid … because anyone who operates for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be contended and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue … however, Our Lady has already crushed its head” (Sister Lucia, one of the seers of Fatima).

The Latin phrase, motus in fine velocior, is commonly used to indicate the faster passing of the time at the end of an historical period. I’ve heard it said that it means, “Things accelerate toward the end.” We are living through an historical hour which is not necessarily the end of times, but certainly could be marked as the end of an era. I wrote about the potential significance of the 100 years since Fatima, which could be the “100 years Satan.” That 100 years concludes in 2017.

With the Supreme Court decision to redefine marriage (Which I’ve been calling our “Genesis 19 Moment“), along with many other events happening in the world, many wonder what kind of evil has been unleashed upon the world. Many of these events correspond to approved prophecies, most of which have been given in the past two centuries. Up until recent years, I was completely unaware of this prophecy attributed to Our Lady of Good Success, but many years prior to that, I had been saying that “something happened … something erupted in the 1960s …”

“Thus I make it known to you that from the end of the 19th century and shortly after the middle of the 20th century…the passions will erupt and there will be a total corruption of morals… As for the Sacrament of Matrimony, which symbolizes the union of Christ with His Church, it will be attacked and deeply profaned. Freemasonry, which will then be in power, will enact iniquitous laws with the aim of doing away with this Sacrament, making it easy for everyone to live in sin and encouraging procreation of illegitimate children born without the blessing of the Church … In this supreme moment of need for the Church, the one who should speak will fall silent.” – Our Lady of Good Success

“Shortly after the middle of the 20th century” … most certainly points to the infamous anti-authority, pro-hedonism 1960s, that ushered in unparalleled self-indulgence (the essence of the demonic) into our world. In the midst of this, our Church has not only suffered unprecedented losses in the shear number of souls, but we are witnessing an epidemic of liturgical abuse and rampant sacrilege. In an article that speaks to this, I called this a “Stealth Arianism.” Many claim we very well could be in the throes of what is termed, “The Great Apostasy.”

Did Archbishop Fulton Sheen prophesy about the condition of (many parts of) our Church today?

“[Satan] will set up a counterchurch which will be the ape of the [Catholic] Church … It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content.”

We are living in the days of the Apocalypse, the last days of our era. The two great forces – the Mystical Body of Christ and the Mystical Body of the anti-Christ – are beginning to draw battle lines for the catastrophic contest.

The False prophet will have a religion without a cross. A religion without a world to come. A religion to destroy religions. There will be a counterfeit Church.

Christ’s Church the Catholic Church will be one; and the false Prophet will create the other.

The False Church will be worldly, ecumenical, and global. It will be a loose federation of churches and religions, forming some type of global association.

A world parliament of Churches. It will be emptied of all Divine content, it will be the mystical body of the anti-christ. The Mystical Body on earth today will have its Judas Iscariot, and he will be the false prophet. Satan will recruit him from our Bishops.

The Antichrist will not be so called; otherwise he would have no followers. He will not wear red tights, nor vomit sulphur, nor carry a trident nor wave an arrowed tail as Mephistopheles in Faust. This masquerade has helped the Devil convince men that he does not exist. When no man recognizes, the more power he exercises. God has defined Himself as “I am Who am,” and the Devil as “I am who am not.”

Nowhere in Sacred Scripture do we find warrant for the popular myth of the Devil as a buffoon who is dressed like the first “red.” Rather is he described as an angel fallen from heaven, as “the Prince of this world,” whose business it is to tell us that there is no other world. His logic is simple: if there is no heaven there is no hell; if there is no hell, then there is no sin; if there is no sin, then there is no judge, and if there is no judgment then evil is good and good is evil. But above all these descriptions, Our Lord tells us that he will be so much like Himself that he would deceive even the elect–and certainly no devil ever seen in picture books could deceive even the elect. How will he come in this new age to win followers to his religion?

The pre-Communist Russian belief is that he will come disguised as the Great Humanitarian; he will talk peace, prosperity and plenty not as means to lead us to God, but as ends in themselves …

The third temptation in which Satan asked Christ to adore him and all the kingdoms of the world would be His, will become the temptation to have a new religion without a Cross, a liturgy without a world to come, a religion to destroy a religion, or a politics which is a religion–one that renders unto Caesar even the things that are God’s.

In the midst of all his seeming love for humanity and his glib talk of freedom and equality, he will have one great secret which he will tell to no one: he will not believe in God. Because his religion will be brotherhood without the fatherhood of God, he will deceive even the elect. He will set up a counterchurch which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical body of the Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ …

But the twentieth century will join the counterchurch because it claims to be infallible when its visible head speaks ex cathedra from Moscow on the subject of economics and politics, and as chief shepherd of world communism.

(Fulton J. Sheen, Communism and the Conscience of the West [Bobbs-Merril Company, Indianapolis, 1948], pp. 24-25)

 

WHAT CAN WE DO?

We need to stand behind our General Patton in His Eminence, Raymond Cardinal Burke. This is our Lepanto. In 1571, Pope St. Pius V called upon the world to turn back the forces looking to “deal the last blow.” Pope St. Pius V did two things. In our times, Cardinal Burke is following this model precisely:

1) Pope St. Pius V Formed a Holy League – In 1571, this Holy League was a collection of the remnant forces of Christianity who, miraculously, defeated a much larger force, looking to deal the last blow to Christianity, in the famous “Battle of Lepanto” on October 7, 1571. In our times, this is spiritual warfare. The devil is gaining immense ground with his forces of secularism within our Church. Or, as Archbishop Fulton Sheen puts it, a Church “emptied of its divine content.” We must reclaim the surrendered ground of the sacred … the supernatural. I wrote about this recently HERE. Archbishop Fulton Sheen believed this was the place in which we will win the war: “You will have to fight many battles, but do not worry because in the end you will win the war before the Blessed Sacrament,” and …

Neither theological knowledge nor social action alone is enough to keep us in love with Christ unless both are proceeded by a personal encounter with Him. Theological insights are gained not only from between two covers of a book, but from two bent knees before an altar. The HOLY HOUR becomes like an oxygen tank to revive the breath of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the foul and fetid atmosphere of the world.

Cardinal Burke is the Spiritual Head of an initiative to promote monthly Holy Hours of Adoration around the globe. This initiative is aptly entitled, The Holy League. Please go to the website, and join forces with Cardinal Burke to regain the surrendered ground of the Sacred.

2) Pope St. Pius V Called the World to Pray the Rosary – The Feast Of Our Lady of the Rosary actually commemorates the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. Pope St. Pius V had asked the world to pray the rosary, and when the Holy League won the miraculous battle, the saintly pope pointed to our Lady’s intercession by proclaiming that day, October 7, The Feast of Our Lady of Victory, which was later named The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Cardinal Burke has joined with Catholic Action to ask the whole world to enlist in a spiritual crusade to storm Heaven with prayers to dispel confusion and:

  • bring Hope to souls and minds throughout America and the world;
  • provide spiritual support in the struggle against the temptations of discouragement;
  • to protect our families and our Faith;
  • to stop the advance of evil in our society;
  • and to flood souls with Grace and Light and Truth.

Please go to this website (HERE) to become one of a million Catholics praying the Rosary on the 1st of each month.

BE THE SPIRITUAL WARRIOR GOD IS CALLING YOU TO BE!!

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CP&S Comment: This is the first of two posts we are re-blogging from ROMAN CATHOLIC MAN  about the acceleration of signs of something big coming at the 100th anniversary of Fatima next year.  

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Bishop Schneider weighs in on Amoris Laetitia

Update: There is now an official English translation of Bishop Schneider’s response to AL which we offer below. It is preceded by a note from the Bishop to OnePeterFive. Bishop Schneider wishes this to be read by all so please repost and forward far and wide: 

Bishop-Athanasius-Schneider

Note from Bishop Schneider: “You can use and spread this my official text to whom you want. The exclusive rights of this text I reserve however with me. Yet I do not make any restrictions in spreading the text. I myself will spread the text, because it should be a pastoral help for many souls in distress in our days. God bless you. Yours in Jesus and Mary, + Athanasius Schneider”

 

 

The paradox of the contradictory interpretations of “Amoris laetitia”

The recently published Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris laetitia” (AL), which contains a plethora of spiritual and pastoral riches with regard to life within marriage and the Christian family in our times, has unfortunately, within a very short time, led to very contradictory interpretations even among the episcopate.

There are bishops and priests who publicly and openly declare that AL represents a very clear opening-up to communion for the divorced and remarried, without requiring them to practice continence. In their opinion, it is this aspect of sacramental practice, which, according to them, is now to undergo a significant change that gives AL its truly revolutionary character. Interpreting AL with reference to irregular couples, a president of a Bishops’ Conference has stated, in a text published on the website of the same Bishops’ Conference: “This is a disposition of mercy, an openness of heart and of spirit that needs no law, awaits no guideline, nor bides on prompting.  It can and should happen immediately”.

This opinion was further confirmed by the recent declarations of Father Antonio Spadaro S.J., after the Synod of Bishops in 2015, that the Synod had established the “foundations” for the access of divorced and remarried couples to communion by “opening a door” that had still been closed during the previous Synod in 2014. Now, as Father Spadaro alleges in his commentary on AL, his prediction has been confirmed. There are rumours that Father Spadaro was a member of the editorial group behind AL.

The way to abusive interpretations appears to have been paved by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn himself, who said, during the official presentation of AL in Rome, with regard to irregular unions, that: «My great joy as a result of this document resides in the fact that it coherently overcomes that artificial, superficial, clear division between “regular” and “irregular”». Such a statement suggests that there is no clear difference between a valid, sacramental marriage and an irregular union, between venial and mortal sin.

On the other hand, there are bishops who claim that AL ought to be read in the light of the perennial magisterium of the Church and that AL does not permit access to communion for divorced and remarried couples, not even in exceptional cases. This statement is fundamentally correct and desirable. In fact, the content of every Magisterial text must, as a rule, be in its content consistent with the former teachings of the Magisterium of the Church, without any break.

It is no secret, however, that divorced and remarried couples are admitted to Holy Communion in a number of churches, without their being required to practice continence. It must be admitted that certain statements in AL could be used to justify an abusive practice that has already been going on for some time in various places and circumstances in the life of the Church.

Certain statements of AL are objectively vulnerable to misinterpretations 

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has invited us all to make a contribution to reflection and dialogue on the sensitive issues surrounding marriage and the family. “The thinking of pastors and theologians, if faithful to the Church, honest, realistic and creative, will help us to achieve greater clarity” (AL, 2).

If we analyze certain statements of AL with intellectual honesty within their proper context, we find ourselves faced with difficulties when trying to interpret them in accordance with the traditional doctrine of the Church. This is due to the absence of the concrete and explicit affirmation of the doctrine and constant practice of the Church, founded on the Word of God and reiterated by Pope John Paul II, who said, “However the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage. Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who … are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that … they take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples” (Familiaris Consortio, 84).

Pope Francis had not established “a new general norm of Canon Law, applicable to all cases” (AL n. 300). He says, however, in note 336: “This is also the case with regard to sacramental discipline, since discernment can recognize that in a particular situation no grave fault exists”. Obviously referring to the divorced and remarried, the Pope says in AL, no. 305 that, “because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.” In note 351, the Pope clarifies his statement by saying that “in some cases, this may include the help of the sacraments”.

In the same chapter VIII of AL, n. 298, the Pope speaks of the divorced involved in “a second union consolidated over time, with new children, proven fidelity, generous self giving, Christian commitment, a consciousness of its irregularity and of the great difficulty of going back without feeling in conscience that one would fall into new sins. The Church acknowledges situations “where, for serious reasons, such as the children’s upbringing, a man and woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate””. In note 329, the Pope cites the document Gaudium et Spes of the Second Vatican Council; unfortunately, he does so in an incorrect fashion, because in the passage in question, the council refers only to valid Christian marriage. The application of this statement to divorced persons may cause the impression that a valid marriage is to be equated to the union of divorced persons, if not in theory, then in practice.

The admission of divorced and remarried persons to Holy Communion and its consequences 

Unfortunately, AL contains no verbal quotes of the principles underlying the moral teaching of the Church in the form in which they are formulated in no. 84 of the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio and in the encyclical Veritatis Splendor of Pope John Paul II, particularly on the following topics of paramount importance: “fundamental choice” (Veritatis splendor, nos. 67-68), “mortal and venial sin” (ibid., n. 69-70), “proportionalism, consequentialism” (ibid., no. 75), “martyrdom and universal and unchanging moral norms” (ibid., no. 91 et seq.). However, a verbal quote from Familiaris Consortio n. 84 and of some of the most significant affirmations in Veritatis splendor would render AL unassailable by heterodox interpretations. General allusions to moral principles and to the doctrine of the Church are certainly insufficient in a controversial matter that is both sensitive and of fundamental importance.

Representatives of the clergy and even of the Episcopate are already affirming that according to the spirit of Chapter VIII of AL, the possibility that in exceptional cases, the divorced and remarried may be admitted to Holy Communion without being required to live in perfect continence cannot be excluded.

If we accept such an interpretation of the wording and spirit of AL, we must, if we want to be intellectually honest and respect the law of non-contradiction, also accept the following logical conclusions:

  • The sixth Divine Commandment, which prohibits any sexual act that does not take place within a valid marriage, would no longer be universally valid, but would admit exceptions. In the present case, this would mean that the divorced could practice the conjugal act and even be encouraged to do so to help them maintain “mutual fidelity”, cf. AL, 298. There could therefore be “fidelity” in a lifestyle that directly contradicts the express will of God. However, to encourage and legitimize acts that are and will always be, as such, contrary to the will of God, would mean to contradict Divine Revelation.
  • The words of Christ himself: «What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder« (Mt 19 :6) would no longer apply always and to all spouses, without exception.
  • It would be possible, in a special case, to receive the sacrament of Penance and Holy Communion while intending to continue one’s direct violations of God’s commandments: «Thou shalt not commit adultery« (Ex 20, 14) and «What therefore God has joined togetherlet not man put asunder« (Mt 19, 6; Gen 2, 24).
  • The observance of these commandments and of the word of God would, in such a case, be a matter of theory rather than of practice, and would, therefore, lead the divorced and remarried into «deceiving themselves« (James 1: 22). It would, therefore, be possible to believe perfectly in the divine nature of the six Commandment and in the indissolubility of marriage without however acting accordingly.
  • The divine word of Christ : «Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if a wife divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery» (Mark 10, 12) would no longer be universally valid, but would be subject to exceptions.
  • A permanent, deliberate and free violation of God’s sixth Commandment and of the sacredness and indissolubility of true and valid marriage (in the case of divorced and remarried couples) would no longer be always a grave sin, that is to say, a direct opposition to the will of God.
  • There could be cases of serious, permanent deliberate and free violation of one of the other commandments of God (e.g. in the case of a lifestyle of financial corruption) in which the person concerned could be granted access to the sacraments due to mitigating circumstances, without such access being made contingent upon a sincere resolution henceforth to abstain from such acts of sin and scandal.
  • The permanent and infallible teaching of the Church would no longer be universally valid, particularly the teaching confirmed by Pope John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio, n. 84 and by Pope Benedict XVI in Sacramentum Caritatis, 29, according to which the precondition for admission to the sacraments of the divorced and remarried is perfect continence.
  • The observance of the sixth commandment of God and of the indissolubility of marriage would become an ideal that is not attainable by all, but only by a kind of elite.
  • The uncompromising words of Christ commanding men to observe the commandments of God always and in all circumstances, and even to take upon themselves considerable suffering in order to do so, in other words, to accept the Cross, would no longer be valid as absolute truth: “And if your right hand causes you to sincut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members thanthat your whole body be cast into hell” (Mt 5, 30).

Admitting couples living in “irregular unions” to Holy Communion and allowing them to practice acts that are reserved for spouses in a valid marriage would be tantamount to the usurpation of a power that does not belong to any human authority, because to do so would be a pretension to correct the Word of God himself. 

The danger of the Church’s collaboration in spreading the “plague of divorce”

Professing the eternal doctrine of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Church teaches: “The Church, since she is faithful to her Lord, cannot recognize the union of people who are civilly divorced and remarried. “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:11-12). The Church manifests an attentive solicitude toward such people and encourages them to a life of faith, prayer, works of charity and the Christian education of their children. However, they cannot receive sacramental absolution, take Holy Communion, or exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities as long as their situation, which objectively contravenes God’s law, persists” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 349)

Living in an invalid marital union and constantly contradicting the commandment of God and the sacredness and indissolubility of marriage signifies not to live in the truth. To declare that the deliberate, free and habitual practice of sexual acts in an invalid marital union could, in individual cases, no longer constitute a grave sin is not the truth, but a serious lie, and will therefore never bring genuine joy in love. Consequently, to grant permission to such persons to receive Holy Communion would be a bluffing, a hypocrisy and a lie. The Word of God in Scripture is still valid: “He who says ‘I know him’, but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him”(1 John 2: 4).

The Magisterium of the Church teaches us about the universal validity of the Ten Commandments: “Since they express man’s fundamental duties towards God and towards his neighbor, the Ten Commandments reveal, in their primordial content, grave obligations. They are fundamentally immutable, and they oblige always and everywhere. No one can dispense from them” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2072). Those who claimed that God’s commandments, including the commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery” admit of exceptions and that, in some cases, people should not be held accountable for the fault of divorce were the Pharisees and, later, the Christian Gnostics of the second and third centuries.

The following statements of the Magisterium are still valid because they are part of the infallible Magisterium as expressed by the universal and ordinary Magisterium: “The negative precepts of the natural law are universally valid. They oblige each and every individual, always and in every circumstance. It is a matter of prohibitions which forbid a given action semper et pro semper, without exception. … are kinds of behaviour which can never, in any situation, be a proper response. … The Church has always taught that one may never choose kinds of behaviour prohibited by the moral commandments expressed in negative form in the Old and New Testaments. As we have seen, Jesus himself reaffirms that these prohibitions allow no exceptions: “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments… You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness” (Mt 19:17-18)” (St. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, 52).

The Magisterium of the Church teaches us even more clearly: “A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity proceeds at the same time “from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith” (1 Tim 1: 5; cf. 3: 9; 2 Timothy 1: 3; 1 Peter 3 21; Acts 24, 16)” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1794).

In the event of a person committing objectively sinful moral acts in full awareness of the sinfulness of such acts, freely and deliberately, and with the intention of repeating such acts in the future, it is impossible to apply the principle of imputability for a fault because of mitigating circumstances. The application of the principle of imputability to such divorced and remarried couples would constitute hypocrisy and a Gnostic sophism. If the Church were to admit such people to Holy Communion even in a single case, it would contradict its own doctrine, give public testimony against the indissolubility of marriage and thus contribute to the spreading of the “plague of divorce” (II Vatican Council, Gaudium et spes, 47).

In order to avoid such an intolerable and scandalous contradiction, the Church, in its infallible interpretation of the divine truth of moral law and of the indissolubility of marriage, has, for two thousand years, steadfastly observed the practice of admitting to Holy Communion only those divorced who live in perfect continence and “remoto scandalo”, without any exception or exceptional privilege.

The first pastoral task that the Lord entrusted to His Church was to teaching, the doctrine (cf. Mt 28, 20). The observance of the commandments of God is intrinsically linked to doctrine. For this reason the Church has always rejected any contradiction between doctrine and practical life, referring to such contradictions as “gnostic” or as the heretical Lutheran theory of “simul iustus and peccator”. There should be no contradictions between the faith and the daily life of the children of the Church.

When dealing with the observance of the express commands of God and the indissolubility of marriage, we cannot speak of opposing theological interpretations. If God says, “thou shalt not commit adultery”, no human authority could say “in some exceptional cases or for a good purpose you can commit adultery”.

The following assertions of Pope Francis are very important; the Pope speaks about the integration of the divorced and remarried in the life of the Church: “This discernment can never prescind from the Gospel demands of truth and charity, as proposed by the Church. … The following conditions must necessarily be present: humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching. … There can be no risk that a specific discernment may lead people to think that the Church maintains a double standard” (AL, 300). These laudable statements in AL, however, remain without concrete specifications on the question of the obligation of the divorced and remarried to separate or at least to live in perfect continence.

When it is a question of the life or death of the body, no physician would express his opinions in an ambiguous manner. The doctor cannot tell the patient: “You have to decide whether or not to take the medicine in accordance with your conscience, while at the same time respecting the laws of medicine”. Such behaviour on the part of a doctor would very likely be considered irresponsible. And yet, the life of our immortal soul is more important, since it is on the health of the soul that its fate for eternity depends.

The liberating truth of penance and of the mystery of the Cross

To say that remarried divorcees are not public sinners in the Church is a pretense of wrong facts. The true condition of all members of the Church militant on earth, moreover, is that of sinners. If the divorced and remarried say that their voluntary and deliberate acts against the sixth commandment of God are not always sinful or, at least, do not constitute major sins, they are deceiving themselves and the truth will not be in them, as St. John says: “If we say,” We have no sin, “we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us “(1 John 1: 8-10).

The acceptance on the part of the divorced and remarried of the truth that they are sinners and even public sinners will not deprive them of their Christian hope. Only the acceptance of reality and truth will enable them to take the path of a fruitful penitence according to the words of Jesus Christ.

It would be very beneficial to restore the spirit of the early Christians and of the time of the Fathers of the Church, when there was a living solidarity with public sinners on the part of the faithful; however, this solidarity was based on the truth. There was nothing discriminatory in such solidarity; on the contrary, the whole Church participated in the penitential progress of public sinners by prayers of intercession, tears, acts of expiation and acts of charity for their benefit.

The Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio teaches that “even those who have strayed from the Lord’s command and are still living in this state (divorced and remarried) may obtain from God the grace of conversion and salvation, if they persevere in prayer, penance and charity “(n. 84).

During the first centuries, public sinners were integrated into the praying community of the faithful and were instructed to kneel, with arms raised, to implore the intercession of their brothers. Tertullian gives us this moving testimony: “The body cannot rejoice when one of its members is suffering. It must suffer and strive for recovery in its entirety. When you stretch out your hands towards the knees of your brothers, it is Christ that you touch, it is Christ that you implore. Similarly, when they weep over you, it is Christ who sympathizes” (De paenitentia, 10, 5-6). St. Ambrose of Milan found similar words: “The whole church took upon herself the burden of the public sinner, suffering with him through tears, prayers and pain” (De paenitentia 1, 81).

It is true, of course, that the forms of the penitential discipline of the Church have changed. However, the spirit of this discipline must remain alive in the Church at all times. Today, priests and bishops relying on certain statements of AL are beginning to imply to the divorced and remarried that their condition does not render them public sinners from an objective point of view. They tranquillize them by stating that their sexual relations are not a grave sin. Such an attitude does not correspond to the truth. They are depriving the divorced and remarried of the possibility of a radical conversion to the obedience of God, letting these souls live in an illusion. Such a pastoral approach is very easy, cheap and costs nothing. There are no tears, prayers and intercessory works inspired by brotherly love to be offered for the benefit of the divorced and remarried.

In admitting the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion, even in exceptional cases, without asking them to stop performing acts contrary to the sixth commandment of God, and also presumptuously declaring that their manner of life is not a serious sin, we take the easy way out by pushing aside the scandal of the cross. Such pastoral care of the divorced and remarried is ephemeral and misleading. To all those who advocate this cheap and easy way out for the divorced and remarried, Jesus is still addressing the words, “Get thee behind me, Satan! Thou art an offence unto me because your thoughts are not those of God, but of men!” What  Jesus said to his disciples was that “If anyone would be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16: 24-25).

Regarding the pastoral care of divorced and remarried couples, we must rekindle in our day the spirit of following Christ through the truth of the cross and of penance, which alone can bring lasting joy, avoiding ephemeral pleasures that are ultimately misleading. The following words of Pope Gregory the Great are not only truly applicable to our current situation, but also shine a bright light on it: “We must not become too attached to our earthly exile, the conveniences of this life must not make us forget our true homeland lest our spirit become drowsy in the midst of these amenities. For this reason, God combines his gifts with visitations or punishments, to ensure that everything that delights us in this world becomes bitter for us and the soul is filled with the fire that always rekindles in us the desire of heavenly things and enables us to progress. This fire makes us suffer with pleasure, crucifies us gently and fills us with a joyful sadness” (In Hez., 2, 4, 3).

The spirit of the genuine penitential discipline of the early Church always remained alive in the Church at all times, until today. We have a shining example of it in the Blessed Laura Vicuna del Carmen, born in 1891 in Chile. Sister Azocar, who took care of Laura, recalled: “I remember that the first time I explained the sacrament of marriage, Laura fainted, probably because she understood from my words that her mother was living in mortal sin as long as she remained with that gentleman. During that time in Junín, only one family lived in accordance with God’s will.” Therefore, Laura multiplied her prayers and penances for her mother. She received her first communion on June 2, 1901 with great fervour; she wrote the following resolutions: “1. I want to love and serve you all my life, oh my Jesus; for this, I offer you my soul, my heart and my whole being. – 2. I prefer to die rather than offend you by sin; so I want to distance myself from anything that could separate me from you. – 3. I promise to do my best, even if I have to offer great sacrifices, that you may be ever more known and loved, and to repair the offences inflicted upon you daily by men who do not love you, especially the ones you receive from those who are close to me. – Oh, my God, grant me a life of love, mortification and sacrifice!” But her great joy was clouded by seeing her mother, present at the ceremony, not receiving communion. In 1902, Laura offered her life for her mother who was living with a man in an irregular union in Argentina. Laura multiplied her prayers and sacrifices for the true conversion of her mother. A few hours before she died, she called her mother to her bedside and said to her, “Mother, I am going to die. I have asked Jesus for this and my prayers have been heard. Almost two years ago, I offered my life for the grace of your conversion. Mother, will I not have the joy of seeing you repent before I die?” Her mother, shocked and overwhelmed, made the promise:” Tomorrow morning I will go to the church and I will go to confession.” Laura caught the eye of the priest attending her and said: “Father, my mother has just promised to abandon this man; bear witness to her promise!” Then she added: “Now I can die happy!” With these words, she expired on 22 January 1904 in Junin de los Andes (Argentina), at the age of 13, in the arms of her mother, who rediscovered her faith and put an end to the irregular union in which she had been living.

The admirable example of the life of the young girl now known as Blessed Laura is a demonstration of the seriousness with which a true Catholic treats the sixth commandment of God and the sacredness and indissolubility of marriage. Our Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to avoid even the appearance of approving an irregular or adulterous union. The Church has always faithfully preserved and transmitted this divine command in its doctrine and practice, without any ambiguity. With the offering of her young life, Blessed Laura certainly did not intend to represent one of several possible different doctrinal or pastoral interpretations. One does not offer one’s life for a possible doctrinal or pastoral interpretation, but for an immutable and universally valid Divine truth. This truth has been demonstrated by a large number of saints who offered their lives, beginning with Saint John the Baptist to the simple faithful today whose name only God knows.

The need for “Veritatis laetitia”

Fortunately, there can be no doubt that AL contains theological affirmations, as well as spiritual and pastoral guidelines of great value. However, realistically speaking, it is insufficient to say that AL should be interpreted according to the traditional doctrine and practice of the Church. If an ecclesiastical document – which, in our case, is neither definitive nor infallible – is found to contain elements likely to give rise to interpretations and applications that could have dangerous spiritual consequences, all members of the Church, and especially the bishops, as the fraternal collaborators of the Supreme Pontiff in effective collegiality, have a duty to report this and respectfully request an authentic interpretation.

In questions concerning Divine Faith, the Divine commandments and the sacredness and indissolubility of marriage, all members of the Church, from the simple faithful to the highest representative of the Magisterium, must join in the effort to keep intact the treasure of faith and practice. In fact, it was the Second Vatican Council that taught: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One (cf. 1 Jn 2: 20.27), cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” (St. Augustine, De Praed. Sanct. 14 27), they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God (cf. 1 Thess 2: 13). Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints (cf. Jude 3) penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life” (Lumen gentium, 12). The Magisterium, for its part, is “not above the Word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been transmitted” (II Vatican Council, Dei Verbum, 10).

It was the Second Vatican Council that encouraged all the faithful and especially the bishops to express their concerns and observations without fear, for the good of the Church as a whole. Servility and political correctness have introduced a pernicious evil into the life of the Church. The famous bishop and theologian of the Council of Trent, Melchior Cano O.P., said these memorable words: “Peter does not need our lies or flattery. Those who close their eyes to the facts and indiscriminately defend every decision of the Supreme Pontiff are those who contribute most to undermining the authority of the Holy See. They destroy its foundations instead of strengthening them.”

Our Lord has taught us clearly what constitutes true love and the true joy of love: “He that has my commandments and keeps themhe it is that loves me” (John 14, 21). When he gave man the sixth commandment and ordered him to observe the indissolubility of marriage, God gave it to all men without exception, not just to an elite. Already in the Old Testament, God said: “This commandment which I have given you today is certainly not beyond your strength and reach” (Deuteronomy 30, 11) and “If you want to, you shall keep the commandments to remain faithful to his will” (Ecclesiasticus 15, 15). And Jesus said to all, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Which commandments? And Jesus answered, thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not commit adultery” (Mt 19: 17-18). From the teaching of the apostles, we have received the same doctrine: “For to love God is to keep His commandments. And His commandments do not weigh heavily upon us” (1 John 5: 4).

There is no true, supernatural and eternal life without keeping the commandments of God: “I command you to observe his commandments. I have set before you life and death. Choose life!” (Deuteronomy 30, 16.19). There is therefore no real life and no real, genuine joy of love without truth. “Love consists in living according to his commandments” (2 John 6). The joy of love is the joy of the truth. The authentically Christian life consists in the life and in the joy of truth: “Learning that my children live in the truth, there is nothing that brings me greater joy” (3 John 4).

St. Augustine explains the intimate connection between joy and truth: “I ask them all whether they do not prefer the joy of truth to that obtained by lies. And they do not hesitate over this question any more than over the question of happiness. For the happy life is the joy of the truth, we all want the joy of the truth “(Confessions, X, 23).

The danger of general confusion with regard to the indissolubility of marriage 

For some time already, we have seen, in some places and environments of the life of the Church, the tacit abuse of the admission of divorced and remarried couples to Holy Communion without requiring them to live in perfect continence. The unclear statements in Chapter VIII of AL have given a new dynamism to the declared advocates of the admission of divorced and remarried couples to Holy Communion in special cases.

We now observe the phenomenon of the abuse beginning to spread even more in practice, since those in favour of it are now feeling justified to some extent. There is also obviously some confusion with respect to the interpretation of the relevant assertions in Chapter VIII of the AL. This confusion is increased by the fact that everyone, both supporters of the admission of the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion and their opponents, are saying that “The doctrine of the Church concerning this issue has not changed “.

Taking due account of historical and doctrinal differences, our situation shows some parallels and analogies with the general confusion caused by the Arian crisis in the 4th century. At that time, the apostolic and traditional faith in the true divinity of the Son of God was secured by means of the term “consubstantial” (“homoousios”), dogmatically proclaimed by the universal Magisterium of the Council of Nicaea I. The profound crisis of faith, accompanied by an almost universal confusion, was caused mainly by the refusal or avoidance strategies to use and profess the word “consubstantial” (“homoousios”). Instead, the clergy and mainly the episcopate began to propose alternative expressions that were ambiguous and imprecise, such as, for instance, “similar in substance” (“homoiousios”) or simply “similar” (“homoios”). The formula “homoousios” adopted by the universal Magisterium of that time expressed the full and true divinity of the WORD with so much precision that it left no space for equivocal interpretation.

In the years 357-360, almost the entire episcopate had become Arian or Semi-Arian as a result of the following events: in 357, Pope Liberius signed one of the ambiguous formulations of Sirmium, in which the term “homoousios” was eliminated. Furthermore, the pope, in a scandalous move, excommunicated St. Athanasius. St. Hilary of Poitiers was the only bishop who dared to rebuke Pope Liberius severely for these ambiguous acts. In 359, the parallel synods of the Western episcopate in Rimini and that of the Eastern episcopate in Seuleukia had accepted fully Arian formulas that were even worse than the ambiguous formula signed by Pope Liberius. Describing the confusion of those times, St. Jerome said: “Everyone was surprised to realize that they had become Arians” (“Ingemuit totus orbis, et arianum se esse miratus est”: Adv Lucif, 19).

Arguably, in our time, confusion is already spreading with regard to the sacramental discipline for divorced and remarried couples. There is therefore a very real basis for the assumption that the confusion may reach truly vast proportions, if one fail to propose and proclaim the following formula of the universal and infallible Magisterium: “Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance, which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples” (S. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 84). This formula is unfortunately and incomprehensibly missing in AL. However, the apostolic exhortation inexplicably contains the following statement: “In such situations, many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living “as brothers and sisters” which the Church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers” (AL, 298, n. 329). Such a statement leaves the impression of a contradiction with regard to the perennial teaching of the universal Magisterium, as formulated in the cited passage from Familiaris Consortio 84.

There is an urgent necessity for the Holy See to confirm and re-proclaim the cited formula of Familiaris Consortio 84, perhaps in the form of an authentic interpretation of AL. This formula may be seen, to some extent, the “homoousios” of our days. The lack of such a formal and explicit confirmation of the formula of Familiaris Consortio 84 from the Apostolic See could contribute to major confusion with regard to sacramental discipline, with the subsequent gradual and inevitable repercussions on doctrinal questions. This would lead to a situation to which it would be possible, in the future, to apply the following statement: “Everyone was surprised to find that divorce had been accepted in practice” (“Ingemuit totus orbis, et divortium in praxi se accepisse miratus est”).

Confusion in sacramental discipline with regard to divorced and remarried couples, with its inevitable doctrinal implications, would contradict the nature of the Catholic Church, such as it was described by St. Irenaeus in the second century: “The Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered around the world, keeps them carefully as though inhabiting a single house, and she believes in an identical manner, as though she had only one soul and one heart, and she preaches, teaches and transmits in a unanimous voice, as though having only one mouth”(Adversus haereses, I, 10, 2).

The See of Peter, that is, the sovereign Pontiff, is the guarantor of the unity of the faith and of apostolic sacramental discipline. Considering the confusion regarding sacramental practice in respect of the divorced and remarried, and the many differing interpretations of AL amongst priests and bishops, one may consider justified the call on our beloved Pope Francis, the Vicar of Christ, the “sweet Christ on earth “(St. Catherine of Siena), to order the publication of an authentic interpretation of AL, which must necessarily contain the explicit proclamation of the disciplinary principle of the universal and infallible Magisterium concerning the admission of divorced and remarried couples to the sacraments, according to the formulation in Familiaris Consortio 84.

In the great Arian confusion of the 4th century, St. Basil the Great made an urgent appeal to the pope of Rome, asking him to give though his word a clear direction, so as finally to ensure unity in the thought of faith and charity (cf.. Ep. 70).

An authentic interpretation of AL by the Apostolic See would bring to the entire Church (“claritatis laetitia”) the joy in clarity. Such clarity will ensure the joy in love (“amoris laetitia”), a love and a joy that would not be “according to the minds of men, but to the mind of God” (Mt 16, 23). And this is what counts for the joy, the life and the eternal salvation of the divorced and remarried, and of all men.

 

+ Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary Bishop

of the Archdiocese of St Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan

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The Biggest News Story Never Told

BY WILLIAM KILPATRICK

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What’s the biggest news story of our time? What has been the biggest story for the last decade and one-half?

Answer: the resurgence of Islam, and, in particular, the rapid spread of Islamic jihad.

But, with a few exceptions, you would never know it from reading the Catholic press. If you look through the list of titles published by Catholic book publishers, you will find few, if any, books on Islam. There may be a title or two about the Crusades, but if you search the “current events” lists of most Catholic book publishers, you will come up empty. Books dealing with the biggest story of our time are conspicuous by their absence.

How about Catholic magazines and newspapers? Surely, they are telling the story of what’s happening now? Well, yes, they are, but in a strangely truncated way. The Catholic media carry reports on the latest atrocities perpetrated by ISIS, Boko Haram, and the Taliban, but if you turn to the commentary or opinion section of your favorite Catholic periodical, the pickings are slim. For the last 15 years (using 9/11 as a base point), Catholic media have been almost completely devoid of analysis on Islamic terrorism.

We are told what is happening, but almost no one ventures to say why it is happening. Catholic periodicals tend to treat Islamic jihad against Christians and others as though it were some kind of natural disaster—not unlike a typhoon or a tsunami. Like a storm or an earthquake, jihad is presented as a random event that unaccountably strikes here rather than there. And, as with a natural disaster, the reporting tends to focus on relief efforts: we may not know how to prevent the storm of jihad, but we feel an obligation to do all we can to bring attention to the plight of its victims.

Moreover, as with a natural disaster, the jihad is only noted when it erupts in some spectacular form. It is not treated as an ongoing problem which has its source in a particular ideology which can be analyzed, criticized, and defended against. Consequently, there is a lacuna of serious and sustained comment on what is, arguably, the most important story of the twenty-first century.

That’s not to say that Catholic writers and bloggers can’t think of anything with which to fill the empty space. On the contrary, they can think of a million other topics to write about. Take for example, one popular Catholic online site which offers to present “the news of the world from a Catholic perspective.” Sure enough, it does present the news, including the news on Islam. But insofar as “perspective” means analyzing the meaning of events, there is very little perspective on Islamic violence. If the “trending stories” on the daily newsletter I receive from this site are any indication, most of the perspective is reserved for stories of the Ladies Home Journal variety. Here’s a sample of titles from a recent issue:

“A quest to build deeper friendships”

“How the Hays Code brought us the sensational screen kiss”

“10 pithy and potent quotes from Benedict XVI”

“The life-changing benefits of a good apology”

“Finding your daughter’s First Communion dress on a budget”

“How architecture affects your brain (reasons to spend more time at church or in a library)”

“A must-try French recipe: Cannelés de Bordeaux”

Some other recent stories include:

“My next tattoo”

“Eating through Mexico with Pope Francis”

“Learning to slow down and say no when anxiety hits”

“Scientists study the language of cats”

“Kobe Bryant formed and saved by his Catholic faith”

All well and good if this were still the 1950s and Islam were still a sleepy-time religion as it was in the days of King Farouk and the Shah of Iran. Such stories are the online equivalent of Cannelés de Bordeaux. They are comfort food for the mind. They reassure us that life will proceed as it always has. Of course, not all of the stories on Catholic media are of this nature. There is plenty of good, solid reporting and solid analysis on issues such as marriage, family, sexuality, religious liberty, same-sex “marriage,” and a host of other contemporary issues. Still, the scant attention paid to Islam leads the reader to conclude that nothing new and supremely dangerous has emerged on the world stage.

In other words, Catholic bloggers and journalists are still fighting yesterday’s battles without seeming to realize that we are in the midst of a new battle. Catholic writers are on top of the latest iterations of issues that have been with us for twenty years or more—secularism, relativism, the Sexual Revolution, abortion, gay rights, classroom indoctrination, religious liberty, Supreme Court decisions, media bias, and bioethical issues. These battles still need to be fought and, since we are losing most of them, they need to be fought even more vigorously. But that doesn’t let us off the hook of fighting the new battle that has been thrust upon us.

This new war is particularly insidious because much of it is being fought as a culture war. While focusing on the hot war of battlefield jihad, we tend to ignore the cold war of cultural jihad. Yet, at least in the West, it is the main front. And, ironically, the stealth jihadists have built on the victories of the secular and leftist culture warriors. For example, they benefit from the rules of political correctness laid down by their counterparts on the left. Thus, any attempt at analyzing or explaining Islam from a non-Islamic perspective is met with cries of “bigotry” and “Islamophobia.”

One of the chief aims of the Islamist culture warriors is to convince us that we must not draw any connection between violent jihad and Islam, and they have been remarkably successful in doing so. ….

Please go over to CRISIS MAGAZINE to continue reading the rest of the article.

Further reading: Cultural Identity Theft

 

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Non-Judgmental Shepherds

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgement – (John 7:24)

Sermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch

Sermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch

By Rev. Jerry J. Pokorsky on The Catholic Thing (slightly abridged) – Sunday, April 24, 2016

Many people today expect religion to be “non-judgmental.” Self-esteem, apparently, is in short supply at the moment. So there is a demand that priests be inspiring and vibrant and – above all – non-judgmental. All this, in order to enable us to “feel good about ourselves” – regardless of behavior.

Someone recently told me about a Catholic religion teacher who was called by a concerned parent. The teacher was presenting the Catholic faith in a methodical fashion. An upcoming topic was to be love and marriage. The parent wanted assurances that his young daughter would not be taught that the lesbian lifestyle of her older sister is immoral.

If the younger sister came home with a crisp understanding of Christian marriage, she would become hopelessly “judgmental” – a truly horrible person – at least in Dad’s judgment. And she might even find herself denied entry to one or more colleges on the basis of her “intolerance.” You see, believing and living the Catholic faith is “judgmental” and it ruins education – and careers.

The demand for non-judgmental authority figures, however, defies logic. If a criminal tries to break into your house and you call 911 for assistance, you wouldn’t want a “non-judgmental” police officer to be dispatched to accompany the burglar on his journey. In small claims court where you sue to retrieve a $500 over-charge, you wouldn’t want the magistrate to be “non-judgmental.” When a doctor discovers a dangerous cancer that needs immediate treatment, the last thing you want is someone who is “non-judgmental.”

Indeed, “non-judgmental” authority figures under these circumstances would be negligent – perhaps criminally so. Lobbyists for a “non-judgmental” morality would agree, but in so doing they render the term “non-judgmental” unintelligible, except as a “new morality” code word.

God created the mind to think and distinguish clearly and make judgments with sufficient evidence. The inability or refusal to judge is either virtuous or vicious. We are unable to judge, for example, the state of a person’s soul. We will never have sufficient evidence to judge whether anyone is condemned to Hell. God alone judges a person’s soul. This is why Jesus Himself teaches, “Judge not and ye will not be judged.”

But when we have sufficient evidence – as when a doctor diagnoses a patient – we have an obligation to make a judgment. When there is sufficient evidence that certain behaviors are sinful, we have an obligation to so judge. While it’s certainly possible to be uncharitable and even cruel with properly formed judgments, the failure in charity doesn’t make us “judgmental.” The error is not in the judgment; the error is in the evil use of a correct judgment.

Increasingly the non-judgmental “ideal” is used to silence the proclamation of the Gospel, betraying the diabolical root of the term. When a person is described as “non-judgmental” the term may evoke an attribute of kindness in general. Such a person “affirms people where they are at” regardless of behavior.

But below the surface of a so-called “non-judgmental” person are indulgence and apathy, an inability to see evil, personal narcissism, the pathological desire to be liked, going along to get along, as long as everyone is comfortable. This is why there are so many “non-judgmental” priests, despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by the People of God on each of them during their seminary education, an education that should have included solid courses on logic and Catholic moral theology. To describe Jesus Himself as “non-judgmental” is not only inaccurate, it is exceedingly shallow and insulting.

The Good Shepherd by Eric Gill, 1926

The Good Shepherd by Eric Gill, 1926

Similarly, to label a priest “non-judgmental” is damning. It means he is incapable of thinking clearly, affirms his people in their moral errors, and doesn’t take stands opposing the new morality of polite secular opinion. It means he doesn’t have the courage to warn his people against the danger of mortal sin and the fires of Hell.

“Non-judgmental” clergymen do not concern themselves with lost sheep. “Non-judgmental” clerics have made their peace with evil and are comfortable with the adulation of their sheep. They are hirelings, evil shepherds and anti-Christs. (I hope I’m not missing nuances.)

There is good reason the Lord calls Himself the “Good Shepherd” rather than the “Non-Judgmental Shepherd.” Christ was kind to the crippled and infirm; merciful but firm with the woman caught in adultery (“Go and sin no more”); courageous in calling out the Pharisees as a “brood of vipers.” He warned of the fires of Hell for those who were hateful. He was inflexible in condemning adultery. And He suffered gallantly on the Cross for all our sins – including the abundance of our rash judgments and failures in Christian charity. Christ is truth personified.

In contrast to the secular “non-judgmental” moral code, the vocabulary of the Faith is refreshingly clear. To be “good” includes virtues such as justice, mercy, honesty, reverence, kindness, generosity, prudence, courage, temperance, chastity, charity, and truth. Christ is the Good Shepherd precisely because He reveals and teaches the goodness of the Heavenly Father. And we can be good too if we honestly follow Him on His path to heavenly glory. It is virtuous and holy to encourage our loved ones to do so as well.

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UK Parliament recognises genocide in Middle East – Finally!

From Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) – 22nd April 2016.

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The House of Commons has recognised Daesh (ISIS)’s attacks on Christians, Yazidis and other ethnic and religious minorities as Genocide. Many thanks to all of you who contacted your MP to raise awareness of this most-important issue.

Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director of ACN (UK) welcomed the result of Wednesday’s vote, he said: “We are delighted by this result – as it should now lead to action for Christians and other persecuted minorities in the Middle East. Our project partners in the region say they often feel abandoned and forgotten by the West, we hope that this will lead to concrete steps being taken that will give them real hope amidst the ongoing turmoil.”

Daesh has declared its intent to both eradicate Yazidis from the region and to kill “the worshippers of the cross”.

Opening the debate in the house, MP Fiona Bruce referred to evidence from Yvette, a woman who had flown in from Syria to address parliamentarians at a meeting the evening before.

Mrs Bruce said that: “[Yvette] spoke of Christians being killed and tortured, and of children being beheaded in front of their parents.

“She showed us recent film footage of herself talking with mothers—more than one—who had seen their own children crucified.

Mrs Bruce also mentioned “the truly harrowing personal testimony” of 16-year-old Yazidi girl Ekhlas.

“She was seized by Daesh from her home, along with others from her community in Sinjar in northern Iraq. At the age of 15, she saw her father and brother killed in front of her. She told of how every girl in her community over eight, including herself, was imprisoned and raped. She spoke of witnessing her friends being raped and hearing their screams, and of seeing a girl aged nine being raped by so many men that she died.”

As much as mankind is capable of terrible acts of barbarism, we also have an enormous capacity for compassion. Your love and compassion enables ACN to provide vital aid and spiritual support to Christians and others who have suffered the most horrific treatment imaginable.

ACN funds over 140 emergency and pastoral projects in Syria and Iraq, prioritising pastoral help and emergency aid to refugee families in the Middle East.

ACN: “Thank YOU for helping your Brothers and Sisters in Christ – please continue to stand with them.”

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When I don’t know what to do, I tell myself to act like Mary!

1f84e22ee3ec728c9c7a672f225a124bWhen we meet the Virgin Mary, something changes within us… The Immaculate is “unique.” But our way to reach the level of her purity must be through humility, with a simple, child-like attitude, far different from the complicated ways of self-love.

If we truly encounter Mary, we experience a tenderness and a mercy for others that transform us. Mary’s tenderness and mercy are for everyone. When we don’t know how to act, we should ask ourselves how the Blessed Virgin would act. Then we will carry on, even if it’s not exactly to our own liking. Mary is always the bright star for us to follow.

What is my secret? Well, when I don’t know what to do anymore, I tell myself to act like Mary! And right away a small light starts to shine deep inside my soul. It’s a light of truth, simplicity and peace…

If we want to cast more light on Mary, we must first expose ourselves to her light, take the time to pray and gaze at her. We always get back to basics by looking at Mary and praying…

Sister Marie de Saint-François (d.2005), Order of the Annonciades founded by Saint Joan of France 
Source: www.annonciade.info

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Bl. Alexandria da Costa – Mystic known as “Fourth Seer of Fatima”

In direct contrast to the spirit of our times, the whole life of intense suffering of Blessed Alexandrina, offered up humbly and willingly for the conversion of sinners, “reaffirms the immense value of suffering offered in union with Jesus, and stands as a beacon of hope to those who suffer in any way, and a sign of contradiction to those who would deny the value of suffering offered in union with Jesus”.

A tribute to Blessed Alexandrina – a living miracle of the Eucharist.

“ I desire that, after your death, your life may be known, and that will happen; I shall see to it. It will reach the ends of the earth .” (Our Lord speaking to Blessed Alexandrina, 22nd November 1937)

page_template_clip_image002The desire of Jesus to see a widespread knowledge of the life of Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa of Portugal is starting to be fulfilled, as devotion to her grows steadily throughout the world. One of the great mystics of modern times, a ‘victim soul’ chosen by Christ to suffer in atonement for the sins of humanity, she appears set to become an important and well-loved saint in the Universal Church.

Her life gives us an example of complete fidelity to the will of Christ, and also presents an astonishing and undeniable explosion of the supernatural to an increasingly secular world. Bedridden for life from the age of twenty, after sustaining a serious injury some years earlier while trying to escape from an attack on her virtue, she suffered unspeakable pain throughout her life and mystically underwent the Passion of Christ on Fridays to atone for the sins of humanity. She also had frequent ecstasies during which she saw and spoke with Our Lord and Our Lady, and offered her sufferings to bring about the consecration of the world by Pope Pius XII to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, an act which in turn shortened the duration of World War II.

Her life reaffirms the immense value of suffering offered in union with Jesus, and stands as a beacon of hope to those who suffer in any way, and a sign of contradiction to those who would deny the value of suffering offered in union with Jesus. She prayed especially for youth, and has been proposed by the Church as “a model of purity and perseverance in the Faith for today’s youth.”

Although she was never able to visit the site of the apparitions of Our Blessed Lady at Fatima, Alexandrina’s extraordinary story has many connections to the Fatima events, and her message is essentially the same: “Do penance, sin no more, pray the Rosary, receive the Eucharist ”. Because of this, she has been described as the ‘fourth seer of Fatima’. One can point to miraculous occurrences in the lives of all the saints, but Alexandrina herself became a living miracle , for in the last thirteen years of her life, she ate and drank absolutely nothing, existing on the Holy Eucharist alone.

Pope John Paul II said the following about Alexandrina in his homily at her beatification ceremony in 2004:-

‘Do you love me?’, Jesus asks Simon Peter, who replies: ‘Yes Lord, you know that I love you’. The life of Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa can be summarized in this dialogue of love. Permeated and burning with this anxiety of love, she wished to deny nothing to her Saviour. With a strong will, she accepted everything to demonstrate her love for him. A ‘spouse of blood’, she mystically relived Christ’s passion and offered herself as a victim for sinners, receiving strength from the Eucharist: this became her only source of nourishment for the final 13 years of her life. With the example of Blessed Alexandrina, expressed in the trilogy ‘suffer, love, make reparation’, Christians are able to discover the stimulus and motivation to make ‘noble’ all that is painful and sad in life through the greatest evidence of love: sacrificing one’s life for the beloved. Secret of holiness: love for Christ.”

[….]

[Continue reading here to learn about the early years of Blessed Alexandrina.]

fatima12c-seersIn 1928, devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, who had appeared in the Cova da Iria 11 years earlier, was sweeping through Portugal, and people from the diocese of Braga responded to the call of Fatima by arranging a pilgrimage. Alexandrina, like many others of her time, would have been caught up in the fervour and awe of those relatively recent events. Alexandrina’s parish priest had already lent her a statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary during the month of May, and she saved hard until she could afford a similar one. The parishioners of Balasar arranged to join the Braga pilgrimage, and when Alexandrina learnt of this, she dearly wanted to go with them, and begged Our Lady to obtain this grace for her. Reports of numerous miracle cures occurring at the Fatima shrine gave Alexandrina cause for hope, but this hope was very short lived as her doctor and the parish priest were in complete opposition to the idea. They argued that it would be impossible to carry her nearly 200 miles, when the least movement caused her intense pain. Alexandrina, bitterly disappointed, offered this sacrifice to God and she redoubled her efforts to pray for a cure, even promising that if she were healed, she would become a missionary. Although she was never healed, she did become a most effective missionary for the Fatima message – without ever leaving her bed. She constantly exhorted those she came into contact with to live the Fatima message – and of course, the best way to inspire is by example, and few can claim to have lived the message of Fatima more faithfully than Alexandrina. She kept a picture of Jacinta Marto, one of the Fatima seers, over her bed where it remains to this day. She also requested that a little altar be set up beside her bed, on which she kept the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which Deolinda decorated with candles and flowers. During Our Lady’s month of May, she used to offer what she called “spiritual flowers” to Our Blessed Lady. These “flowers” consisted of offering in a spirit of reparation the various sufferings she underwent throughout the day.

It was at this time that Alexandrina began to realise that suffering was going to be her vocation, and instead of praying incessantly for a cure, she began to think only of loving God and suffering for Him. She wrote the following after her fellow parishioners had returned from Fatima:-

“Before he went to Fatima the Parish Priest asked me what I wanted from there. I asked him to bring me a medal but he brought a rosary, a medal, a Pilgrim’s Manual and some Fatima water. His reverence suggested that I make a novena to Our Lady and drink the Fatima water, and that when I finished it I would be cured. I did this not just once, but many times . . .

Nothing has happened, but my desire to be cured has died. Each time I feel a more ardent desire for the love of suffering and I think only of Jesus. Without knowing quite how, I offered myself to Our Lord as a victim, and from this I went on to ask for a love of suffering. Our Lord granted me everything, that is, all the graces, so that today I wouldn’t exchange my illness for the whole world. It was the consolation of Jesus and the salvation of souls that consumed me.”

Alexandrina made an important connection between her own circumstances and those of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. During prayer, she thought of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, present nearby in the parish church of St. Eulalia, and it suddenly dawned on her that He was a prisoner in the tabernacle, just as she was a prisoner in her bed of pain.

stigmata38This connection with Jesus prompted her to remain before Him in spirit, offering Him constant love and reparation, and imploring Him to convert sinners. Through this union with Jesus, she was given insights into the terrible consequences of the many grave sins occurring throughout the world at that time. In turn, she became more convinced of her mission to offer her sufferings in union with those of Jesus, as a victim soul for the conversion and salvation of sinners. She begged Jesus to accept her as a victim, and agreed to suffer as much as she could endure if only sinners could be saved.

Having made this offering sincerely, she was taken at her word, and her pain increased greatly. In a desperate state, and wracked with fever, Alexandrina would continually make the offering of her agonising suffering, using the prayer given by Our Lady to the three shepherd children at Fatima:- “O Jesus, this is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary”. Her extreme pain continued with only brief periods of respite. In 1931, she entered into a state of ecstasy and heard Jesus confirming her vocation as victim soul, when He said to her “Love, suffer and make reparation.” Alexandrina gave her full consent to Jesus’ request and asked Him for the necessary grace to fulfil her mission of suffering for humanity. This was the first of many ecstasies.

[…] [Here follows a detailed account of the ecstasies and torments of Alexandrina.]

In her final years Alexandrina increasingly prayed for the Church, as Jesus told her that it was facing a “great crisis”. He said:- “Tell my ministers to be vigilant, for the devil is preparing a massive assault on the Church . . .” She also underwent an astounding array of profound mystical experiences, such as a mystical marriage with Jesus, a coronation by Our Lady, and a piercing by darts of unspeakable love from a flight of angels. An incredibly beautiful fragrance emanated from her that was even noticed in other parts of the village. Alexandrina was unaware of this, but Jesus told her that it was the perfume of her virtue.

Thousands of people continued to visit Alexandrina on a daily basis, and she constantly exhorted them to live the message of Fatima, crying out:-

“Make reparation to Our Lord in the Adorable Eucharist! Penitence! Penitence! Penitence! Pray the Rosary devoutly every day. Practise the First Saturday devotion. Consecrate yourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary through the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.”

Alexandrina pleaded with people to practise the First Saturday devotion and to consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary through the Brown Scapular for very good reason, as Our Lady Herself has promised to assist with the eternal salvation of those who practise these devotions. Our Lady revealed the First Five Saturday devotion on December 10 th 1925 to Sister Lucia of Fatima, saying:-

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

OLMCandStSimonStockThe Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, was given by Our Lady in the 13 th century to St Simon Stock of the Carmelite Order at Aylesford in Kent, with the promise that those who die wearing it shall not suffer eternal damnation, and it has been worn ever since by millions as a sign of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and a pledge of Her Motherly protection. Countless saints have recommended its use, and it has consistently received Papal approbation, including that of Pope John Paul II, who said in a message of 25 th March 2001 to the Carmelite family on the 750 th anniversary of the Bestowal of the Brown Scapular:

“ . . . two truths are evoked by the sign of the Scapular: on the one hand, the constant protection of the Blessed Virgin, not only on life’s journey, but also at the moment of passing into the fullness of eternal glory; on the other, the awareness that devotion to her cannot be limited to prayers and tributes in her honour on certain occasions, but must become a ‘habit’, that is, a permanent orientation of one’s own Christian conduct, woven of prayer and interior life, through frequent reception of the sacraments and the concrete practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. In this way the Scapular becomes a sign of the ‘covenant’ and reciprocal communion between Mary and the faithful: indeed, it concretely translates the gift of his Mother, which Jesus gave on the Cross to John and, through him, to all of us, and the entrustment of the beloved Apostle and of us to Her, who became our spiritual Mother . . . I too have worn the Scapular of Carmel over my heart for a long time! ”

Formerly, only Carmelite priests could enrol people in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, but now the Holy See has extended the faculty to all priests, so that as many as possible may reap the benefits of this great devotion.

In 1948 Fr Pasquale was sent by his superiors to do other work, which meant that Alexandrina had to rely on other priests to bring her daily Holy Communion. She recorded in her diary that on occasions when no priests were available, Jesus Himself used to bring her Holy Communion. In early 1955 her health rapidly deteriorated and she lay for several months in agonising pain – worse than anything she had suffered before. Towards the end of September 1955 the pain subsided somewhat, and on October 2 nd she heard a voice saying to her :- “Who will sing with the angels? You, you, you! In a little while, in a little while.” Taking this as a sign that her time on earth was coming to an end, Alexandrina started to prepare for death. In the evening of the 12 th October, Mass was celebrated in her room and she received Holy Communion. Towards the end she said:- “My God, I have always consecrated my life to you and I offer you now its end, accepting death with resignation, with all its pains, for your greater glory.” After thanking everyone present for all they had done for her over the years, she cried out :-

“O Jesus! I can no longer stay on earth! Oh Jesus, life is dear, Heaven is dear! I have suffered so much in this life for souls! I am crushed, I am consumed in this bed of pain. Forgive everyone! Pardon, pardon the entire world . . . Oh I feel so happy! I am so happy because I am going to Heaven at last!”

On the morning of the 13 th October, the 38 th anniversary of Our Lady’s last appearance at Fatima and the day on which the miracle of the sun took place, Alexandrina received a vision of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who said to her “I am about to take you”. She received Holy Communion for the last time at 8am, and afterwards delivered her final poignant message to those present in her room, and to all humanity, crying out:- “Do not sin. The pleasures of this life are worth nothing. Receive Communion. Pray the Rosary every day. This sums up everything.” Alexandrina suffered extreme pain throughout the whole day, which she bore with great fortitude to the very end. At 8pm, she kissed the crucifix for the last time, and died at 8.29pm.

Fr Pasquale was in Italy at this time and was unaware that Alexandrina had died. On the day after her death, he offered Mass in the morning as usual, and afterwards was approached in the sacristy by an elderly woman. Thinking that she wanted confession, he asked her to wait in the confessional and said that he would be with her shortly. He was amazed when this woman told him that she didn’t want confession, but that she had a message from Our Lady for him. The woman said:- “ When you were saying Mass, Our Lady appeared to me and asked me to tell you that Alexandrina is dead and is in heaven ”. The woman said that she didn’t know who Alexandrina was. She also informed Fr Pasquale that Our Lady had told him not to worry, and that Alexandrina was with him. Three days later he received a letter from another Salesian priest confirming her death.

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The news of Alexandrina’s death spread quickly throughout Portugal and a multitude came to venerate her and pay their last respects. An all-pervading deep sense of loss affected the entire region. The funeral took place on the 15 th October and was attended by thousands, including dozens of priests. Alexandrina was buried in a humble tomb, with her face turned towards Jesus in the tabernacle, as she had requested. Two years after her death, a small chapel was built over her tomb, and 12 years after her death, on 14 th January 1967, the diocesan investigation into the cause for her beatification was solemnly opened. It was completed on 10 April 1973 and sent to Rome. In 1978 the diocese transferred Alexandrina’s remains from the small chapel to a place of honour inside the parish church of St Eulalia, next to the high altar, where her remains are kept to this day. She had previously predicted that her body would turn to ashes, without decomposing, and when she was disinterred, this was indeed found to be the case. There was no body or bones – just ashes. These have been known on occasions to exude the same heavenly fragrance that used to emanate from Alexandrina during her life.

lucia marySister Lucia of Fatima wrote to Fr Pasquale, saying “ May the Lord grant that Alexandrina’s cause of beatification advance as quickly as possible, for the glory of God. It is necessary that such a materialistic world sees that there are still souls capable of being raised into the realms of the supernatural. ”

A plea to sinful humanity, which Alexandrina originally dictated in 1948, was engraved on her tomb at her request:-

“Sinners: If the ashes of my body can be useful to save you, approach; if necessary, pass on the ashes, trample on them until they disappear; but never sin again, never offend Jesus again. Sinners: There is so much that I would like to tell you. This vast cemetery could not contain all that I would like to write. Be converted. Do not offend our dear Lord any more. Do not lose Jesus for all eternity. He is so good. Enough of sin! LOVE HIM! LOVE HIM !”

Rome approved Alexandrina’s writings in the late 1970’s, and issued a decree for the introduction of the cause for her beatification on 13 th January 1983. She was declared Venerable on 12 th January 1996. In the previous year, a miracle took place through the intercession of Alexandrina, and the evidence of this was used for her impending beatification. The miracle, the complete cure of a woman named Maria Madalena Azevedo Gomes Fonseca, from a type of incurable Parkinson’s disease, was approved by Rome in 2003. To the great joy of her devotees throughout the world, Alexandrina was beatified on 25 th April 2004 by Pope John Paul II, who decreed that her feast be celebrated each year on the 13 th of October.

Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, was asked by the international journal Inside the Vatican about the significance of Alexandrina’s beatification for Portugal and for the world. He told them:-

“Because a Saint does not belong to this or that country, but rather to the Church of Christ, firstly the Beatification of Alexandrina da Costa is a great event for the Church in Portugal, but even more so for the Universal Church because Pope John Paul II is going to propose a special role model for the world today and especially for today’s youth, and that is the great message of the beatification of Alexandrina da Costa. Firstly, she was a great heroine when she defended her virginity by jumping from a window and ending up a paraplegic. This was a heroic act. Today there exists a great spiritual laziness. A lack of courage in today’s youth that should always have present a strength of conviction in the values of the Faith. Therefore, Alexandrina da Costa is a model of purity and perseverance in the Faith for today’s youth.”

The centrality of the Holy Eucharist in Alexandrina’s life, and her call for our lives to be centred on the Eucharist is highlighted by Fr Joaquim Mendes, Salesian Provincial of Portugal, in an article on the Salesians of Don Bosco website. When asked what specific contribution Alexandrina had made to Salesian spirituality, he said:-

“The first particular contribution is love of the Eucharist. She lived this love for Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. She spent the greater part of each day praying, with her eyes fixed on the tabernacle in the church of Balasar. As well as this she received Holy Communion each day, and for thirteen years took no other food. She also wanted her tomb to be directed towards the tabernacle”

It is fitting that the 50 th anniversary of Alexandrina’s death coincided with the year pronounced by Pope John Paul II to be The Year of the Eucharist.

One of the most moving tributes to Alexandrina, written ten years after her death in 1965 by her second spiritual director, Fr Pasquale, is held in the archives at Balasar. The following is an excerpt:

“Being frequently questioned about Alexandrina, I confirm that in my long clerical life I became close to many people of all kinds, but I have never found anyone (even religious or priests) so spiritually and humanly perfect, in all aspects, as Alexandrina. Never. When I recall the frequent meetings I had with that exceptional soul, illuminated by ascetic knowledge that I have learnt from spiritual readings throughout my priestly life, I cannot discover the least shade of imperfection in her. On the contrary, I discover beauty, refinement and heroism in her virtue. I admire the wonderful action of God’s grace in that soul more and more. If I had to point out the virtue in which she most distinguished herself, I could not, because she did not have one that shone more than the others: she was excellent in all, in a perfect harmony, even in those that were more visible: for example, in her obedience to ecclesiastical authority and her directors; in the patience so often tested by her illness or by troublesome people that came to see her; or in her charity to others, especially to those who had caused her serious sorrow. Her truly giant personality was assisted by a spirit of genuine and evident humility that arose from her lips and more so from her inner attitudes, which can easily be deduced from the careful reading of her daily notes: by complete indifference to her own will, always anxious in seeking and fulfilling the will of God, through a total resignation of her desires and personal wishes. She was a creature truly and totally consecrated to her God, in a spirit of immolation and reparation for the offences continuously committed against Him, and to save all souls for Him. Such a consecration cannot be explained without an eminent degree of love of God: insatiable, burning, overwhelming love. This love could not be better defined than by applying to it the adjective ‘seraphic’, in the most complete sense of the word . . .”

Model of purity and perseverance in the Faith for today’s youth; ardent adorer of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament; inspiration and help for those suffering in any way; faithful Fatima messenger: Blessed Alexandrina is all these things and much more. Many have already benefited from the graces won by her sufferings and prayers, and undoubtedly, many more will benefit in the future. Let us pray that her canonisation may take place soon.

[Please click here to read the whole article and for the ‘Official Novena Prayer’ for the Canonization of Alexandrina.]

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