Readings and Reflections for the Feast of the Ascension

Benjamin West (1801)

Thursday, May 13 
Ascension of the Lord – Solemnity 

Roman Ordinary calendar


Bl. Julian of Norwich


Acts of the Apostles 1,1-11.

In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught 
until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 
He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 
While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; 
for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.” 
When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 
He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. 
But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 
When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. 
While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. 
They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” 

Psalms 47(46),2-3.6-7.8-9.

All you peoples, clap your hands; 
shout to God with cries of gladness. 
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome, 
is the great king over all the earth. 

God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy; 
the LORD, amid trumpet blasts. 
Sing praise to God, sing praise; 
sing praise to our king, sing praise. 

For king of all the earth is God; 
sing hymns of praise. 
God reigns over the nations, 
God sits upon his holy throne. 

Letter to the Ephesians 4,1-13.

Brothers and sisters : I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, 
with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, 
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: 
one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; 
one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 
one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 
But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 
Therefore, it says: “He ascended on high and took prisoners captive; he gave gifts to men.” 
What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended into the lower (regions) of the earth? 
The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. 
And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, 
to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 
until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ, 

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 16,15-20.

Jesus said to the eleven: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. 
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. 
These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. 
They will pick up serpents (with their hands), and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 
So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. 
But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs. 


Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) 
Dominican tertiary, Doctor of the Church, co-patron of Europe 
The gift of the incarnate Word, ch. XIII, no. 29 (The dialogue, trans. Suzanne Noffke, The Missionary Society of Saint Paul the Apostle, 1980, pp. 68-70)

This bridge leading to the very height of heaven

[Saint Catherine heard God say to her:] When my only-begotten Son returned to me forty days after his resurrection, this bridge was raised high above the earth. For he left your company and ascended to heaven by the power of my divine nature to sit at his eternal Father’s right hand. On the day of his ascension the disciples were as good as dead because their hearts had been lifted up to heaven along with my Son, who is Wisdom. So the angel said to them: “Do not stay here, for he is seated at the Father’s right hand.” (Acts 1:11). (…)

So first I made a bridge of my Son as he lived in your company. And though that living bridge has been taken from your sight, there remains the bridgeway of his teaching which, as I told you, is held together by my power and my Son’s wisdom and the mercy of the Holy Spirit. My power gives the virtue of courage to those who follow this way. Wisdom gives them light to know the truth along the way. And the Holy Spirit gives them a love that uproots all sensual love from the soul and leaves only virtuous love.

So now, as much as before, through his teaching as much as when he was among you, he is the way and truth and life – the way that is the bridge leading to the very height of heaven. This is what he meant when he said: “I came from the Father and I am returning to the Father,” and “I will come back to you” (cf. Jn 16:28 ; Jn 14:28). In other words: my Father sent me to you and made me your bridge so that you might escape from the river and be able to reach life.

Live streamed Holy Masses for today

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Vatican uses pro-abortion terminology ‘pro-choice’ for first time in ‘abdication of moral authority’

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SHUTTERSTOCK

VATICAN CITY, LifeSiteNews:

In what would appear to be a first, the Vatican has succumbed to a common practice among abortion advocates and repeatedly mentioned the pro-abortion term “pro-choice” in a recent letter describing politicians who support abortion. 

Cardinal Luis F. Ladaria, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), used the terminology in a May 7 letter to Archbishop José H. Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Cardinal Ladaria was writing in response to Archbishop Gomez’s letter to the CDF informing the congregation that the U.S. bishops were drawing up a policy on the distribution of Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion.

Of these, Joe Biden is the most prominent and well known of Catholics in the public life who support abortion. Any USCCB policy on distributing Holy Communion would be in response to issues the Church would face from Biden, as Archbishop Gomez outlined in his letter after Biden’s inauguration in January. 

In his letter admonishing Gomez for such a plan, Cardinal Ladaria employed the term “pro-choice” four times. He referred to “pro-choice politicians” twice, as well as “pro-choice legislation” and a “pro-choice position.”

One such example of the CDF’s use of this term is given when noting how local bishops should “reach out to and engage in dialogue with Catholic politicians within their jurisdictions who adopt a pro-choice position regarding abortion legislation, euthanasia, or other moral evils, as a means of understanding the nature of their positions and their comprehension of Catholic teaching.”

The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is always wrong because it kills an innocent human being, thus violating the Church’s prohibition on murder, and that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” and “under no circumstances can they be approved” (CCC 2270-2272; CCC 2357).

Furthermore, popes and members of the hierarchy have consistently referred to supporters of abortion in precise terms, not the ambiguous “pro-choice” as favored by abortion supporters. 

In Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, he referred to abortion supporters as “pro-abortion” and used the widespread “pro-life” when referring to those who sought to defend the right to life of the unborn. 

While abortion advocates such as Biden promote the right of mothers to “choose” whether to have an abortion or not, John Paul II firmly rejected the notion that a Catholic could hold this position: “We are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the ‘culture of death’ and the ‘culture of life.’ We find ourselves not only ‘faced with’ but necessarily ‘in the midst of’ this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.”

In 2002, then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote the CDF’s letter “Doctrinal note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life,” echoing the Pope’s words. Cardinal Ratzinger stated that Catholics “have the right and the duty to recall society to a deeper understanding of human life and to the responsibility of everyone in this regard. John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.”

Indeed, the 1974 CDF document “Declaration on Procured Abortion” was firm about the danger of the terminology and arguments of the so called pro-choice movement. “One can never claim freedom of opinion as a pretext for attacking the rights of others, most especially the right to life,” the CDF wrote.

However, abortion advocates have long utilized the term “pro-choice” as a means to separate the abortion argument from the gruesome reality of the murder of the unborn. In fact, Human Life International (HLI) documented how using the term “pro-choice” was the “greatest marketing triumphs of the abortion movement.”

HLI reminded readers how Dr. Bernard Nathanson, himself a founding member of pro-abortion lobby group NARAL and later a pro-lifer, wrote, “I remember laughing when we made those slogans up. We were looking for some sexy, catchy slogans to capture public opinion. They were very cynical slogans then, just as all of these slogans today are very, very cynical.”

Despite some wavering in the pro-abortion lobby about continued use of the 1970’s originated term today, it still remains the standard way by which abortion advocates and supporters describe themselves. For instance, abortion lobby group NARAL includes the term in its official title “NARAL pro–choice America.”

So also does the National Abortion Federation, which has as its website name prochoice.org

These high profile examples offer an insight into what the term has come to mean in modern society, namely “the right to choose abortion,” as NARAL itself wrote.

With its adoption of the pro-abortion terminology, the Vatican appears to be taking making an ideological surrender, which Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger would have sternly warned against. 

Speaking to LifeSiteNews, a representative of Restoring the Faith media warned of the power of the Vatican’s words: “Words are not merely a useful conveyance of ideas or information; they contain within themselves an inalienable meaning and power. To wave the white flag and surrender the language is worse than a tactical defeat, it is no less than an abdication of moral authority, perhaps even a treasonous betrayal of the battle-scarred troops fighting for the cause of life.”

This was echoed by catechist and Catholic author Deacon Nick Donnelly, who wrote to LifeSite via social media: “Only five months ago the CDF issued a statement trumpeted around the world as the Church accepting ‘vaccines’ from babies murdered through abortion. Now it has adopted the euphemism ‘pro-choice’ used to hide the abominable reality of abortion. That the CDF could use such a phrase shows how far the curial officials have abandoned even Vatican II’s understanding of abortion as an ‘unspeakable crime.’ (GS 51) For the two billion-plus babies murdered in the ‘silent holocaust’ of abortion, this was ‘no-choice.’”

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Finding Viganò: Interview with Robert Moynihan

Thanks to LifeSiteNews for this insightful interview with Vatican reporter Dr Robert Moynihan:

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Tradition and Revival in Mexico


Thanks to ChurchMilitant.com for drawing attention to this positive development for the Church. May the forthcoming conference promoting tradition in western Mexico bear much fruit!

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Cdl. Raymond Burke, Fr. Javier Olivera Ravasi,Dr. Peter Kwasniewski and Dr. John Pepino

Organized by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), the Third Conference on Summorum Pontificum will incorporate a series of events for “Catholics who want to learn more about the richness of their liturgical, artistic, theological and spiritual traditions,” according to the conference’s website

Taking place June 10–13 in Guadalajara, Mexico’s third-largest city, the gathering will feature presentations, Latin Masses, confirmation and an ordination.

Ahead of the conference, Fr. Daniel Heenan (of the FSSP) told Church Militant he hopes the rebirth of the Latin Mass will restore the failing Church in Mexico, where young people and the poor thirst for traditional worship and devotions.

“Many Catholics don’t know the traditional Mass, traditional music and traditional thought,” said Fr. Heenan, adding that the conference will help all Catholics enrich their faith. “The devotion and solemnity of the Traditional Latin Mass,” he noted, “can also enrich the ordinary form of the Mass.”

Speakers and participants include Cdl. Raymond Burke, Fr. Javier Olivera Ravasi, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski and Dr. John Pepino. All of the speakers are notable for their enthusiasm for encouraging the use of the Traditional Latin Mass and the celebration of the sacraments according to time-honored practices.

Cardinal Burke is a member of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest tribunal. He was prefect of that body until being removed by Pope Francis in 2014. Burke was one of the four cardinals responsible for the Dubia (questions) seeking clarity about the Pope’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia

Pope Francis removed Burke from the Congregation for Divine Worship in 2016. A notable defender of holy Tradition, Cdl. Burke has called pro-abortion Catholic politicians — including Joseph Biden and John Kerry — “apostates” who should refrain from Holy Communion.

Dr. John Pepino is a professor of Greek, Latin, history and Patristics at FSSP’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Nebraska. Father Javier Olivera Ravasi is an Argentine priest, attorney and writer and vlogger on theology, Church history and the Latin Mass.

In response to Church Militant, Dr. Pepino wrote that he will speak on the prayers of the Mass of the Sacred Heart, and also on the Sacred Heart in the writings of the Fathers of the Church.

Citing Cdl. Robert Sarah, Fr. Heenan told Church Militant: 

All Catholics are traditional Catholics because, as Catholics, we have to love Tradition. Pope Benedict XVI said in Summorum Pontificum that we should appreciate our liturgical traditions. It’s not just for some people. As commonly understood, traditional Catholics are those who have a love or an affinity for the Traditional Latin Mass.

Summorum Pontificum is a 2007 apostolic letter issued by Pope Benedict XVI, which gave priests broad permission to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form — also called the Traditional Latin Mass. Pope Benedict wrote, “In parishes where a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition stably exists, the parish priest should willingly accede to their requests to celebrate Holy Mass according to the rite of the 1962 Roman Missal, under the governance of the bishop.”

Benedict’s letter superseded Pope St. John Paul II’s motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, which had allowed individual bishops, under certain conditions, to establish places where the Traditional Latin Mass (or Tridentine Mass) could be celebrated.

Benedict XVI noted in Summorum Pontificum that Pope St. Gregory the Great (A.D. 540–602) had encouraged the use of the Roman rite throughout Western Europe, writing:

The sacred Liturgy, celebrated according to the Roman usage, enriched the faith and piety, as well as the culture, of numerous peoples.  It is well known that in every century of the Christian era, the Church’s Latin Liturgy in its various forms has inspired countless saints in their spiritual life, confirmed many peoples in the virtue of religion and enriched their devotion.

Despite the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum, bishops and priests in many countries have not encouraged the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. For example, Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., suggested recently the Tridentine Mass should be limited to elderly people and that children should be banned.

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Fr. Thomas Reese

Many Mexican bishops and laity, Fr. Heenan said, appear to believe the Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated only by those no longer in communion with the Pope. “They think it is the sede vacante Mass,” he said, in reference to the belief that the current occupant of the Chair of Peter is not the true pontiff.  This misconception, he said, has led to a dearth of offerings of the Traditional Latin Mass in Mexico and Latin America as a whole.

Father Heenan said the conference in Mexico will serve as a “showcase for some important speakers in the traditional movement,” in the hope of making the Traditional Latin Mass more accepted worldwide, but especially in Latin America. “As an exposition of traditional Liturgy and traditional thought, it will offer a place for traditional Catholics from all over the Americas to gather,” he added. 

He said Cdl. Burke will celebrate three pontifical Masses, and will ordain Rev. Joel Pinto Rodriguez of Guadalajara as an FSSP priest.

Because of church closures due to COVID concerns and people falling away from the Faith, Fr. Heenan said there are concerns about whether Catholics will return to their parishes. He observed the beauty of traditional liturgies, art and chant lead people to the best and thus to the holy. 

The priest deplored statistics recently released by Mexico’s census, which revealed a precipitous drop in the number of Catholics with a concomitant rise in the number of atheists and non-believers. He pointed out that Vatican nuncio Abp. Franco Coppola told Mexican bishops last month that they had “lost not just one out of 100 of the flock but a fourth of them!

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Abp. Franco Coppola

The 2020 Mexican census showed the numbers of Catholics dropped by 5 percentage points (from 82.7 to 77.7%) since 2010, due to the advance of secularism and Protestant sects. Father Heenan noted Mexico became Catholic back when the Traditional Latin Mass was universal and suggested that the Church might flourish again with traditional Liturgy and devotions. “Research shows that [Traditional Latin Mass] is overwhelmingly popular with young people, which is contrary to some perceptions,” he observed.

He added that this is particularly the case among Mexico’s poor and indigenous peoples, where traditional forms of worship and devotion remain popular.

Guadalajara is the capital of the state of Jalisco, at the center of a region that revolted against the atheistic government that rose to power after the Revolution of 1910. In 1926, after seeing churches seized by the government, priests jailed and sent into exile and believers persecuted, armed Catholics barricaded themselves in a Guadalajara church and confronted government troops. When they ran out of ammunition, they surrendered but saw their priest and his vicar murdered by soldiers.

The ensuing conflict lasted for three years and became known as the Cristero War or La Cristiada. Thousands of Catholics died defending their Faith, including 13-year-old St. José Sánchez del Río, who was raised to the altars by Pope Francis in 2016, and Fr. Miguel Pro, S.J., both of whom were executed by Mexico’s army.  Of 31 Mexican saints, 26 were martyrs of La Cristiada. Father Heenan told Church Militant it is poignant that the coming conference will be held in the state of Jalisco, where so many died for their Faith and where Mexico’s renewal might now begin.

Prayer for Mexico:

Our Lady of Guadelupe, gather your children, 
whom you saved from the demon gods of the Aztecs,
in the folds of your mantle and return them to the true faith. 
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, may they become 
warriors for Christ and defenders of the faith.
Vivo Cristo Rey! Amen.

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Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich’s “False Church of Darkness”?

A blessing service as part of a day of action in defiance to the Vatican’s ruling on same-sex unions in the Youth Church in Würzburg, Germany, May 10, 2021

CNA Staff, May 10, 2021 / 14:35 pm America/Denver (CNA)

Priests and pastoral workers in Germany defied the Vatican Monday by conducting blessing ceremonies attended by same-sex couples.

Organizers held a day of protest on May 10 in response to the Vatican’s recent declaration that the Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions. 

The ceremonies, known as “Segnungsgottesdienste für Liebende,” or “blessing services for lovers,” were promoted using the hashtag “#liebegewinnt” (“love wins”). Organizers said that the services were open to all couples, including — and in particular — those of the same sex.

CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported that ceremonies took place in around 80 cities in Germany as well in Zürich, Switzerland’s largest city. 

But it said that it was difficult to calculate the precise number of blessing services. 

In the Bavarian city of Würzburg — but also in other locations such as Aachen, Berlin, Frankfurt, Mainz, and Cologne — several services were held at the same time. 

Almost 130 participants gathered in the Augustinian Church, not far from Würzburg Cathedral, while almost 40 people attended a ceremony in the youth church at the same time.

Observers in Cologne, Munich, and Würzburg reported to CNA Deutsch that in many places a “modest number” took part in the campaign.

A blessing service at St. Augustin Catholic church in Würzburg, Germany, for couples, including those of the same-sex, May 10, 2021. / Gehrig/CNA Deutsch.
A blessing service at St. Augustin Catholic church in Würzburg, Germany, for couples, including those of the same-sex, May 10, 2021. / Gehrig/CNA Deutsch.

A participant reported from Cologne that a total of six couples were blessed in the chapel of the local Catholic university community and a total of 23 people were present.

In many places, a general blessing was given at the end of the service, which, however, explicitly included homosexual couples and their relationships. Sometimes individual blessings were offered after the ceremony.

According to the organizers of a service at the Liebfrauenkirche in Frankfurt, “At the end of the Mass (…) Capuchin friars were available to all couples for personal blessings.” The church, dedicated to Mary, belongs to the Diocese of Limburg, led by Bishop Georg Bätzing, chairman of the German bishops’ conference.

In the Augustinian Church in Würzburg too all couples — expressly including same-sex couples — were invited to “come and get” the individual blessing in a backroom, after the service.

The order of service varied from place to place. A participant who attended the blessing ceremony in Cologne told CNA Deutsch that the ceremony was like a “political event.” The event was led by a female pastoral counselor in liturgical robes, who explained that she had already quit her church service.

After some political statements, the Gospel was read aloud, followed by a speech. Finally, the song “Imagine” by John Lennon was played.

The Youth Church in Würzburg, Germany, May 10, 2021. / Gehrig/CNA Deutsch.
The Youth Church in Würzburg, Germany, May 10, 2021. / Gehrig/CNA Deutsch.

At the Würzburg youth church, an organizer spoke about the “anger and sadness” that had prevailed since the Vatican intervention. A temporary “wall” was set up in the sanctuary and participants were asked to write down “everything that upsets you” and place it there. 

The Church should not presume to define what love is, the organizer commented: “Love is not a sin, we are all blessed, fundamentally. Let us build on that.”

At the same time, in the nearby Augustinian Church, the priest emphasized that God’s blessing belongs to “all people.” 

“We can’t help but bless,” the priest continued, adding that those who blessed same-sex partnerships were following their consciences.

Würzburg student pastor Fr. Burkard Hose confirmed in his address during the blessing ceremony that in the past many people had been blessed “in secret.” 

“We will continue to do this,” he said, adding: “The Church does not have the authority to withhold blessings.”

Some blessings took place before May 10. Diocesan media reported that on May 7 in the city of Geldern, North Rhine-Westphalia, two Catholic priests conducted blessings of 35 couples before an altar covered with a rainbow flag.

Read on at CNA

And here’s a bopping priest and altar server side-show:

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May 10: Feast of Damien of Moloka’i, Saint of the Lepers

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”, (John 15:13).


From CNA

The Catholic Church remembers St. Damien of Molokai on May 10. The Belgian priest sacrificed his life and health to become a spiritual father to the victims of leprosy quarantined on a Hawaiian island.

Joseph de Veuser, who later took the name Damien in religious life, was born into a farming family in the Belgian town of Tremlo in 1840. During his youth he felt a calling to become a Catholic missionary, an urge that prompted him to join the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Damien’s final vows to the congregation involved a dramatic ceremony in which his superiors draped him in the cloth that would be used to cover his coffin after death. The custom was meant to symbolize the young man’s solemn commitment, and his identification with Christ’s own death. For Damien, the event would become more significant, as he would go on to lay down his life for the lepers of Molokai.

His superiors originally intended to send Damien’s brother, a member of the same congregation, to Hawaii. But he became sick, and Damien arranged to take his place. Damien arrived in Honolulu in 1864, less than a century after Europeans had begun to establish a presence in Hawaii. He was ordained a priest the same year.

During his ninth year of the priesthood, Father Damien responded to his bishop’s call for priests to serve on the leper colony of Molokai. A lack of previous exposure to leprosy, which had no treatment at the time, made the Hawaiian natives especially susceptible to the infection. Molokai became a quarantine center for the victims, who became disfigured and debilitated as the disease progressed.

The island had become a wasteland in human terms, despite its natural beauty. The leprosy victims of Molokai faced hopeless conditions and extreme deprivation, sometimes lacking not only basic palliative care but even the means of survival.

Inwardly, Fr. Damien was terrified by the prospect of contracting leprosy himself. However, he knew that he would have to set aside this fear in order to convey God’s love to the lepers in the most authentic way. Other missionaries had kept the lepers at arms’ length, but Fr. Damien chose to immerse himself in their common life and leave the outcome to God.

The inhabitants of Molokai saw the difference in the new priest’s approach, and embraced his efforts to improve their living conditions. A strong man, accustomed to physical labor, he performed the Church’s traditional works of mercy – such as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and giving proper burial to the dead – in the face of suffering that others could hardly even bear to see.

Fr. Damien’s work helped to raise the lepers up from their physical sufferings, while also making them aware of their worth as beloved children of God. Although he could not take away the constant presence of death in the leper colony, he could change its meaning and inspire hope. The death-sentence of leprosy could, and often did, become a painful yet redemptive path toward eternal life.

The priest’s devotion to his people, and his activism on their behalf, sometimes alienated him from officials of the Hawaiian kingdom and from his religious superiors in Europe. His mission was not only fateful, but also lonely. He drew strength from Eucharistic adoration and the celebration of the Mass, but longed for another priest to arrive so that he could receive the sacrament of confession regularly.

In December of 1884, Fr. Damien discovered that he had lost all feeling in his feet. It was an early, but unmistakable sign that he had contracted leprosy. The priest knew that his time was short. He undertook to finish whatever accomplishments he could, on behalf of his fellow colony residents, before the diseased robbed him of his eyesight, speech and mobility.

Fr. Damien suffered humiliations and personal trials during his final years. An American Protestant minister accused him of scandalous behavior, based on the contemporary belief that leprosy was a sexually transmitted disease. He ran into disagreements with his religious superiors, and felt psychologically tormented by the notion that his work had been a failure.

In the end, priests of his congregation arrived to administer the last sacraments to the dying priest. During the Spring of 1889, Fr. Damien told his friends that he believed it was God’s will for him to spend the upcoming Easter not on Molokai, but in heaven. He died of leprosy during Holy Week, on April 15, 1889.

St. Damien of Molokai was beatified in 1995. Pope Benedict XVI canonized him in 2009.

—————

SEE ALSO “The Real Damien of Molokai”

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No Free Speech for Catholics!

Comment. In the past few months, social media giants Facebook and Twitter have adopted increasingly restrictive censoring policies towards Catholic media outlets. One by one, traditional Catholic websites, Facebook pages, comments on Twitter, and YouTube videos, are being brazenly censored by the oh-so-politically-correct secular world that we are calling “Big Tech”, for want of a better word. Any statement that does no more than expound the 2.000 year old Catholic Christian message that Big Tech dislikes -because it happens to run contrary to their lying twisted world agenda’s pro-death message – is being obliterated.
Today it is the turn of pro-life Catholic blog, “LifeSiteNews”, to suffer the axe. They say:

Our Banishment is Complete

As the unprecedented censorship of truth runs rampant, we continue to be censored and banished by merciless Big Tech tyrants who are determined to silence free speech of people seeking truth – just like you.

The most recent adversary is Facebook – who with absolutely NO warning this week – flagged one of our posts about COVID-19 as “going against community standards,” and then immediately shut down our entire page. This is not just “strike one” – there is no chance for recourse. LifeSiteNews has been obliterated from Facebook for good.  

No warning. No discussion. No appeal. Just the iron fist of Big Tech.  

This completes our banishment from nearly every mainstream social media outlet: YouTube, Twitter, Google Analytics, and now Facebook. For a long time, these outlets were major drivers of traffic to our news site, which is how we became such a threat (even Tucker Carlson took note of our ban from Facebook this week!).”

But this very popular orthodox Catholic website is not giving up the fight for its rights, and as LifeSiteNews (For life, faith, family, and freedom) Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief, John-Henry Westen, tells us:

“Over the last few months, we have focused our efforts on breaking free from Big Tech completely so that we can continue to produce and bring you the highest quality life and family news. 

To accomplish this, we have had to expand to alternative social media and video platforms, and invest in our own website capabilities in order to continue to reach the nearly 50 million people who rely on LifeSite as their go-to news source.  

This shift away from Big Tech will ultimately cost us tens of thousands of dollars each month as we build, host, produce, and market our content on our website and a variety of other platforms. Please consider a monthly donation as we incur additional monthly expenses.”

*****

From the Catholic Telegraph a year ago:

“American pro-life advocates have voiced concern about protections for their free speech, and at least one member of the oversight board has links to a group that halted a pro-life billboard campaign in Kenya.

“Facebook is a place where many people exchange ideas and share their lives,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said May 18. “The policies of Facebook should mirror broader society, in which speech that does not incite violence is embraced. It’s ironic that pro-life speech is ever censored considering that we advocate against the violence of abortion and for women and their pre-born children.”

In Hawkins’ view, there is a bias in favor of abortion on most platforms.”

*****


By Philip Lawler on Catholic Culture
:

Prepare to be cancelled

The ominous trend toward censorship, in the news and especially in the social media, is now unmistakably clear. At this point the question is when—not whether—Christian voices will be silenced.

Unless, of course, we can do something to reverse the trend.

In the digital era, information is king. If you control access to information—and can choke off access to information that you dislike—you can consolidate rule of the world. How can skeptics challenge you, if they never receive accurate information about what you are doing? How can your opponents organize, if they lack any way to contact like-minded people?

To cite just a couple of egregious cases:

  • A respected social scientist, the president of a Washington think-tank, learns that his book on the “transgender” movement has been banned by Amazon. The author, Ryan Anderson, has received no explanation for the move; presumably some Amazon employee, acting behind a veil of anonymity, was offended by his views. (BTW Amazon continues to sell Mein Kampf.) Anderson remarks:
  • If you fear what Big Tech can do if you dissent from gender ideology, just wait to see what Big Government will do if the so-called Equality Act becomes law. Second, a lesson: If you fear Big Government, don’t turn a blind eye to Big Tech.
  • An An Irish Catholic bishop is blocked by Twitter because of a comment opposing assisted suicide. Twitter offered the ridiculous explanation that Bishop Kevin Doran had violated its policy against promoting suicide. Eventually Twitter recognized the blunder and restored the bishop’s account. But again a faceless employee had censored an important voice.

Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, and Google form the unassailable elite of the internet, and all four of those powerful corporations are increasingly prone to censorship of opinions their leaders consider misguided. But who guides the censors?

[…]

 Then Lawler gives us a few alternatives open to us in this fight against Big Tech and asks us to make some of our own suggestions.

  • Protest the “cancel culture.” Make it difficult for would-be censors to shut down respectable voices. Expose them. Ridicule them.
  • Press for government action to protect free speech on the internet. Since liberal politicians have generally made common cause with the tech giants, their opponents should make censorship a prominent campaign issue.
  • Create alternative services. I know that there are already several alternatives to Facebook and Twitter, and I wish them well. But realistically, they are not likely to rival the power of the giants in the near future. And do we have any guarantee that the upstart services, if they attained a large following, would not be tempted by the same arrogance of power?
  • Control our own sites. Facebook censors can block posts on Facebook, but they cannot edit posts on independent sites (such as CatholicCulture.org). Individual blogs are beyond their immediate control; they cannot censor what they cannot see. Even if censorship advances across the web, old email-distribution lists can keep discussions going. Think of that possibility as high-tech samizdat. And don’t dismiss it! Build your own email lists now.
  • Above all, however, we need technical experts with the genius and the inclination necessary to design new ways for us to interact, free of meddlesome third parties. The internet was designed to make secure communication possible. Shouldn’t it be possible for us to control which sites we see, which opinions we encounter, which information we access?

Meanwhile, as we wait and hope for a technical solution, I suggest that we should not willingly withdraw from the battle over public opinion. Let’s not make the mistake of censoring ourselves, just to avoid being censored by others. If we are going to be silenced—and that issue is not yet settled—let’s go down fighting.

*****

Yet, come what may, let us never forget Our Lord’s commission to us:

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15).

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Sunday Readings and Reflections

‘Love one another as I love you’ –  from the Maestà by Duccio, c. 1310.

Sunday, May 9 
Sixth Sunday of Easter 

Roman Ordinary calendar


St. Pachomius


Acts of the Apostles 10,25-26.34-35.44-48.

When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and, falling at his feet, paid him homage. 
Peter, however, raised him up, saying, “Get up. I myself am also a human being.” 
Then Peter proceeded to speak and said, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. 
Rather, in every nation, whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him. 
While Peter was still speaking these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word. 
The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also, 
for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God. Then Peter responded, 
“Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the holy Spirit even as we have?” 
He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. 

Psalms 98(97),1.2-3ab.3cd-4.

Sing to the LORD a new song, 
for he has done wondrous deeds; 
His right hand has won victory for him, 
his holy arm. 

The LORD has made his salvation known: 
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice. 
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness 
toward the house of Israel. 

All the ends of the earth have seen 
the salvation by our God. 
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; 
break into song; sing praise. 

First Letter of John 4,7-10.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. 
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. 
In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. 
In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. 

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 15,9-17.

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. 
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” 
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. 
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 
You are my friends if you do what I command you. 
I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. 
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. 
This I command you: love one another.” 

Reflection excerpted from POPE JOHN PAUL II’S GENERAL AUDIENCE, Wednesday 6 October 1999

We can only come to the Father’s love by imitating the Son in his keeping of the Father’s commandments: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (ibid., 15: 9-10). In this way we also come to share in the Son’s knowledge of the Father: “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (ibid., v. 15).

Love enables us to enter fully into the filial life of Jesus, making us sons in the Son: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him” (1 Jn 3: 1). Love transforms life and enlightens our knowledge of God to the point that it reaches that perfect knowledge of which St Paul speaks: “Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood” (1 Cor 13: 12). 

It is necessary to stress the relationship between knowledge and love. The inner conversion which Christianity offers is a genuine experience of God, in the sense indicated by Jesus in his priestly prayer at the Last Supper: “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17: 3). Knowledge of God, of course, also has an intellectual dimension (cf. Rom 1: 19-20), but the living experience of the Father and the Son occurs through love, that is, in the last analysis, in the Holy Spirit, because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Rom 5: 5).

The Paraclete is the One through whom we experience God’s fatherly love. Moreover, the most comforting effect of his presence in us is precisely the certainty that this eternal and boundless love with which God loved us first will never abandon us: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? … For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (ibid., 8: 35, 38-39). The new heart, which loves and knows, beats in harmony with God who loves with an everlasting love.

Traditional Latin Mass Readings for this Sunday

Click here for a live-streamed Traditional Latin Mass

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The Eucharist & Catholics in Public Life (video)

On EWTN’s ‘WORLD OVER’, hosted by Raymond Arroyo, Fr. Gerald Murray, canon lawyer and priest of the Archdiocese of New York, and Patrick Brennan, professor of law at Villanova University, discuss the growing controversy over whether politicians and public figures who support and promote abortion should present themselves for Holy Communion.

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Pius XII: On Christians More In Name Than In Fact

CP&S comment: The teachings of the Catholic Church, from the time of the Apostles down to our day and beyond, form the unchanging bulwarks of the Faith. In this meditation taken from an Encyclical that Ven. Pius XII wrote on the brink of World War II (the worst war in the history of mankind) we find his words as relevant today as they were in 1939. May we heed the advice of this wise and humble Pope, becoming true “soldiers of Christ” to fight the heinous enemies of our own time.

“Can there be, Venerable Brethren, a greater or more urgent duty than to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians iii. 8) to the men of our time? Can there be anything nobler than to unfurl the “Ensign of the King” before those who have followed and still follow a false standard, and to win back to the victorious banner of the Cross those who have abandoned it? What heart is not inflamed, is not swept forward to help at the sight of so many brothers and sisters who, misled by error, passion, temptation and prejudice, have strayed away from faith in the true God and have lost contact with the joyful and life-giving message of Christ?

Who among “the Soldiers of Christ” – ecclesiastic or layman – does not feel himself incited and spurred on to a greater vigilance, to a more determined resistance, by the sight of the ever-increasing host of Christ’s enemies; as he perceives the spokesmen of these tendencies deny or in practice neglect the vivifying truths and the values inherent in belief in God and in Christ; as he perceives them wantonly break the Tables of God’s Commandments to substitute other tables and other standards stripped of the ethical content of the Revelation on Sinai, standards in which the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount and of the Cross has no place?

Who could observe without profound grief the tragic harvest of such desertions among those who in days of calm and security were numbered among the followers of Christ, but who – Christians unfortunately more in name than in fact – in the hour that called for endurance, for effort, for suffering, for a stout heart in face of hidden or open persecution, fell victims of cowardice, weakness, uncertainty; who, terror-stricken before the sacrifices entailed by a profession of their Christian Faith, could not steel themselves to drink the bitter chalice awaiting those faithful to Christ?

[…]

God can do all things. As well as the happiness and the fortunes of nations, He holds in His hands human counsels and sweetly turns them in whatever direction He wills: even the obstacles are for His Omnipotence means to mould affairs and events and to direct minds and free wills to His all-high purposes.

Pray then, Venerable Brethren, pray without ceasing; pray especially when you offer the Divine Sacrifice of Love. Do you, too, pray, you whose courageous profession of the Faith entails today hard, painful and not rarely, heroic sacrifices; pray you, suffering and agonizing members of the Church, when Jesus comes to console and to heal your pains, and do not forget with the aid of a true spirit of mortification and worthy practice of penance to make your prayers more acceptable in the eyes of Him Who “lifteth up all that fall: and setteth up all that are cast down” (Psalm cxiv. 14), that He in His mercy may shorten the days of trial and that thus the word of the Psalmist may be verified: “Then they cried to the Lord in their affliction: and he delivered them out of their distresses” (Psalm cvi. 13).

And you, white legions of children who are so loved and dear to Jesus, when you receive in Holy Communion the Bread of Life, raise up your simple and innocent prayers and unite them with those of the Universal Church. The heart of Jesus, Who loves you, does not resist your suppliant innocence. Pray every one, pray uninterruptedly: “Pray without ceasing” (Thessalonians, v. 10).“

(Ven. Pius XII, Summi pontificatus, 6-8, 112-114)

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Germany: On The Brink Of Schism

from The Catholic Thing

The Schism by Jehan Georges Vibert, c. 1874 

The universal Church is about to witness, in the homeland of Martin Luther, some (but not all) German bishops taking a dangerous path toward open schism with the pope.  In outright rebellion to the text by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on March 15, 2021, which denied that the Church has the authority to bless “same-sex unions,” various German bishops plan to do just that on May 10.

Their website “Love wins, blessing service for lovers” calls for participants to upload their pictures to express agreement with a short statement, which begins, “We do not refuse a blessing ceremony. We do this in our responsibility as pastors” and ends, “We do not accept that an exclusive and outdated sexual morality is carried out on the backs of people and undermines our work in pastoral care.”

The chairman of the German bishop conference, Bishop Georg Batzing, has condemned this “call” and labeled it “not suitable as an instrument for church political manifestations or protest actions.”  He believes sexual morality must be discussed in the context of the Synodal Way, a process the German Catholic Church launched in December 2019, in response to the sexual abuse crisis.

Four topics are currently being examined: power and Separations of Powers in the Church; sexuality and partnership; the priesthood; and women in ministries and offices in the Church.  Unfortunately, many of the documents thus far produced have not strengthened the evangelical and apostolic mission of the Church, but rather merely reflect the message of a divided (and divisive), confused, and secular society.

The genesis of this problem may very well be monetary. Church taxes – paid voluntarily, and collected from Catholic parishioners’ total income tax, 8-9 percent depending on the region of Germany – amounted to almost $7 billion in 2020.  The salaries for bishops and priests, upwards of 180,000 euros (more than $215,000 dollars) a year for a bishop, and 96,000 euros (around $115,000) for a priest, are paid from the Church tax.

In the past year, however, it’s estimated that 300,000 Catholics left the Church in Germany.  Keeping the flock from leaving is not only an evangelical mission but a financial necessity.

Many faithful Catholics in Germany believe this accommodation to secular demands is a ploy to attract more parishioners.  Michael Hesemann, a German Catholic and author of the recently published Jesus of Nazareth: Archaeologists Retracing the Footsteps of Christ believes those who actually attend Mass do not agree with the Synodal way or the schismatic threats.

Like American Catholics, most German Catholics attend weekly and daily Mass out of genuine belief in the salvific message of Jesus Christ.  People freely choose Roman Catholicism specifically for a disciplined liturgical structure and the clear succinct teachings of the Magisterium.  As George Weigel has said, “Catholic lite equals Catholic zero.”

The German bishops should look to their Protestant counterparts, who have capitulated to liberal teachings.  Attendance in Protestant German churches is probably less than 3 percent of the population; the German Bishop’s Conference estimates Catholic attendance still remains around 9 percent.  Numbers vary, but in the small village where my husband and I attend Mass, we see multi-generations filling pews and empty parking lots at Protestant Churches.

The majority of practicing Catholics in Germany are actually foreigners from America, Nigeria, Croatia, and even France.  Still, there is irony in the fact that Luther’s homeland is now more Catholic than Protestant in terms of practice.

Martin Luther warned centuries ago, “You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.”  The grounds for a de facto schism in Germany have already been in place. From the very beginning, bishops supporting and participating in the Synodal Way were making pronouncements about not having to conform to Church doctrine or Rome.

In 2019, German Catholics gathered to discuss such issues as remarriage after divorce, and same-sex unions.  The talks were described as tense, and there was palpable shock at those who supported the Magisterium. Yet the majority of those in the pews protest an agenda that includes women’s ordination, rewriting the Catechism, lifting of celibacy for priests, and blessing unholy or irregular unions.

Instead of acting as true Catholic shepherds, German prelates apparently believe they can lead the faithful without embracing the truth of Scripture or the Magisterium.  After all, what did St. Paul, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, or Cardinal Ratzinger really know about people today?

Schism is a great evil. As Pope Leo XIII wrote: “There is nothing more grievous than the sacrilege, there can be no just necessity for destroying the unity of the church.” Schism is the refusal to submit to proper papal authority or failure to remain in communion with the universal Church. Anyone guilty of an external act of schism is ipso facto excommunicated.

A further problem will arise in the actions the Vatican will have to take in the face of schismatic acts by bishops who openly controvert Church teaching.  Bishop Franz Josef Overbeck, the Ordinary of Essen, has said that his priests will face no canonical discipline for blessing gay and lesbian unions. To date, no couples have signed up to participate in his diocese. But there seems little likelihood of walking back from the brink of what’s been threatened.

The actions of bishops, who eschew the hard work of genuine moral and spiritual conversion in an exchange for overly simplistic cultural platitudes, will have consequences reaching far beyond their dioceses.

Every Sunday, Catholics throughout the universal Church gather in front of the altar to profess their belief “in one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.”  The Body of Christ, like any organic body, cannot be divided or fractured and remain healthy. Every parish and diocese in the world needs others in order to effectively proclaim the message of Jesus Christ.  Excommunicating swaths of the German Church will affect the universal Church not only monetarily, but spiritually. A wound to one part of the body is a wound to the entire body.

[See also, Disobeying Rome: What are the consequences?]

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Gaia, false gods and public policy

By George Weigel at First Things:

I claim no expertise in climate science. I do claim a certain competence in detecting spin in the media; for I’m a card-carrying member of that clan, as I’ve committed print journalism for more than 40 years and worked in television for over 20. Thus credentialed, I rise to note that serious spin has dominated media coverage of climate change for a long time now. There are, to be sure, exceptions to this rule. Since Hurricane Katrina, though, it’s generally been all-hysteria-all-the-time in reporting and commentary on weather and climate change. This may get eyeballs onto screens and newspaper pages; it doesn’t do much for cool, calm public debate.

So when the chief scientist in the Obama administration’s Energy Department, who’s also a professor of physics at Cal Tech, challenges the spin and the hysteria, attention should be paid. That’s precisely what Steven E. Koonin does in the recently published Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters: He takes on just about every shibboleth emboldening today’s crusaders against climate change. Professor Koonin doesn’t deny that the planet is warming and that human beings have something to do with that. He does question some of the claims behind the present drive to Do Something! through massive governmental interventions.

Thus, to quote from the Wall Street Journal review of his book, Professor Koonin shows, from the scientific data, that

tornado frequency and severity are . . . not trending up; nor are the number and severity of droughts. The extent of global fires has been trending significantly down. The rate of sea-level rise has not accelerated. Global crop yields are rising, not falling. And while global CO2 levels are obviously higher now than two centuries ago, they’re not at any record planetary high—they’re at a low that has only been seen once before in the past 500 million years. 

Not shocked (or angry) at Professor Koonin yet? Then try his own words: 

Heat waves in the U.S. are now no more common than they were in 1900 . . . the warmest temperatures in the U.S. have not risen in the past 50 years. . . . Humans have had no detectible impact on hurricanes over the past century. . . . Greenland’s ice sheet isn’t shrinking any more rapidly today than it was 80 years ago . . . The net economic impact of human-induced climate change will be minimal through at least the end of this century. 

As I said, I’ve no credentials to judge the accuracy of Koonin’s assertions. I do like his against-the-grain boldness, and I certainly agree with his argument that the science—not media and activist spin on the science, but the actual data from the many authoritative reports he cites—should govern decision-making about public policy and climate change. I also have an idea of why the climate debate has become so emotionally fraught. It’s not just because of media spin and political opportunism, although both of those play their part. It’s because environmentalism has become an ultramundane pseudo-religion.

That religion has a deity: Gaia, the Earth. It has a sacred text: Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring, which began the transformation of the American conservation movement (which respected the natural environment without deifying it) into contemporary environmentalism. It has its religious holidays, “Earth Day” being the Pentecost of the new religion and the occasion for homiletics that mimic Peter in Acts 2:14–36. (A pre-K student, I’m told, brought home from school this past April 22 the revelation that “we should get rid of our cars because they’re bad for the air.”) Gaia-religion has a kind of ersatz sacramental life: I’ve been in circumstances where there are seven recycling bins, which certainly rings bells in the Catholic mind. It inculcates a moral code; some of it makes sense—how can anyone object to the fact that our highways and national parks are virtually litter-free these days?—but other parts of it veer into the worst forms of elitist, anti-natalist zealotry, as when some of the new religion’s prophets urge shrinking the planet’s human population by six billion people in the name of saving (or appeasing) Gaia. And I certainly can’t be the only person who’s noticed that carbon trade-offs are the new religion’s form of indulgences—the selling of which in the 16th century led to a lot of trouble.

Is ours a secular world? Or is it a world that’s traded authentic religion for a modern form of idolatry—one that’s corrupting our politics because it displaces reason with the kind of existential dread the ancient Canaanites once felt about Moloch?

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4 May: Feast of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

First posted by Fr Z on yesterday’s feast of the English and Welsh Martyrs:

Today is the Feast of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. There are, however, I believe really 284 beatified and canonized martyrs from the time of the Reformation in England.

The monstrous Henry VIII began to execute those who would not sign on to the Act of Supremacy, passed by Parliament in 1534 and which claimed that the King and his issue were “the only supreme head on Earth of the Church of England”, thus usurping the place of the Vicar of Christ, the Pope.  Clement VII had refused to grant an annulment to Henry who wanted to put aside his duly married wife Catherine of Aragon.  After the Act of Supremacy, Parliament passed the Treason Act.  Anyone refusing to sign on to the Act of Supremacy was therefore deemed to have committed treason, a capital crime.  Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher were the most famous of those slain by refusing to go along.   There was another Act of Supremacy passed in 1558 under Elizabeth because the Catholic Queen Mary had had the previous Act repealed in 1554.   This would lead eventually to the virtual conflation of Church and State which has remained as a powerful corrosive force in the Anglican “Church” of England to this day.  Effectively, as societal mores change, because of politics the doctrine of its “Church” must change.

At the time of Elizabeth, Pope St. Pius V in 1570 excommunicated the Queen and released all her subjects from obedience to her.  In turn she enacted harsher laws, making it high treason for any priest to be in England and for any person to aid them.  The usual punishment was to hang, draw and quarter then, many at Tyburn which is now at a traffic crossing in London near Marble Arch at the intersection of Edgeware and Oxford Street.

In 1896 Leo XIII declared in his Bull Apostolicae curae that Anglican orders were “absolutely null and void”.   In 2000 the CDF clarified in Dominus Iesus that bodies without apostolic succession are not, technically, true churches, and refers to them as “ecclesial communities”.

Once upon a time, the Feast of the Forty Martyrs was celebrated on 25, which is the Feast of Sts. Crispin and Crispinian, whose relics are in San Lorenzo in Panisperna in Rome.

Speaking of Rome, the residence of English seminarians the priests studying in the Eternal City, the English College not far from the Palazzo Farnese on the Via di Monserrato. The chapel of the College has murals of the English Martyrs, some of whom had studied in Rome in that very place.

Read on here

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The Tears of Saint Monica

Patron saint of abuse victims, invoked for conversion of family members and loved ones, difficult marriages and disappointing children.

St Monica by Benozzo Gozzoli, (1464-65)

FEAST DAY 3rd MAY (Traditional calendar)

All mothers can relate to St Monica. Even if we don’t have a wayward son who says, “Lord make me chaste, but not yet”, (Confessions 8,7), we can understand her desperate concern for her son’s moral and spiritual well-being.

She was a Berber woman, a devout Catholic, born in 331 AD and married to a pagan man, Patricius, who was abusive and materialistic. When Augustine was a young child, he became ill to the point of near death and St Monica managed to persuade her husband to allow his baptism into the Catholic faith. Augustine, however, grew into a wayward young man, stealing and cheating and indulging in sexual hedonism. He journeyed to Carthage, studied law and rhetoric, and became consumed with an ambition to excel in oratory.

In his “Confessions” – an ode to God – he tells of his search for truth – his journey through a life beset with sin, in which his profound unhappiness drove him. In this journey, St Monica was with him:

She told me-and I well remember itnot to sin with women, above all with another man’s wife.
I remember her heartfelt concern when she said this.
To me, however, all this was old woman’s talk.
I would have been ashamed to heed it.
But indeed the words were Yours, And I did not know.
I imagined that You were silent.
And that it was she who spoke.
Yet You were speaking to me through her.
In ignoring her I was ignoring You,

I her son, the son of Your handmaid, I Your servant. (Book 2;3)

At this stage, as the result of a profound dissatisfaction with his life and the unhappiness with which he was beset, he became a Manichean, which was a heretical movement – a cult in which the physical material world was seen as evil, the creation of Satan, and the spiritual world good, the realm of God. Seventeen centuries before Scientology, video games and science fiction, the Manichean cult proclaimed that, as a result of the invasion of the realm of the Lord of Light by the minions of Archon, the Lord of Darkness, (Satan), mankind, and indeed, all material things, are facets of light trapped in the foul embrace of matter. For this reason, all matter was seen as evil.

Sexuality, as a manifestation of the physical and material world, was viewed as evil and corrupt and the consumption of foods seen as the product of sexual intercourse was prohibited to the “Perfecti,” (the “perfect” or the “elect”). As a result, the Manichean elect, (and later versions such as the Cathars and the Bogomils), were forbidden meat, (product of sexual intercourse), dairy foods, (fruit of the body and resulting from sexual intercourse), eggs, (same). Inexplicably, St Augustine did not seem to be attracted to spending his life with the 3rd century version of vegans, and eventually rejected the Manichean doctrine, although, admittedly on doctrinal rather than culinary grounds.

Manichean dietary rules required the faithful to eat as much of the substance of the Lord of Light as they could – for example by the consumption of figs, believed to contain a portion of the divine light entombed in material matter. Augustine found this characterisation of God as unworthy and absurd, ridiculing the consumption of figs as belching forth bits of God.

The Manichean view rejected the incarnation of Christ through the body of a woman, this being a sanctification and affirmation of our physical nature. In doing so, they implicitly rejected the concept of man as made in the image of God. Moreover, their belief in the deity manifested in matter invested the creature, (in this case, the fig), with aspects which rightly belong to the Creator.

Strangely, the disassociation of the physical self from the spiritual has manifested itself again in a modern version of Gnosticism, by which a physical “identity” is differentiated from physical reality and given legitimacy.

Augustine referred to his Manichean adventures in his Confessions, first by his reflection on the deception consequent upon seeking knowledge divorced from truth based in God:

“So I joined a group of men who, though calling themselves philosophers, were mainly slick talkers, very sensual and proud to the point of madness.
In their mouths were diabolical snares, Set to trap people with a messy bait, Comprised of the syllables of Your name, And the names of the Lord Jesus Christ, And of the Holy Spirit, The One who answers our cries and comforts us.” (Book 3,6)
…..

“We see these things as the beasts and the birds see them.
But even if we imagine them, they are more real than the extravagant notions of people like these Manichees.
Such things have no reality at all, But on such fantasy food I was fed, And remained hungry.”

When Augustine turned to Manicheism, his mother threw him out of the house. She, however, never ceased in her prayers for her son:

You stretched out your hand from on high and rescued my soul from this dark world, because my mother, who was devoted to You, wept to You for me. She wept more tears for the death of my soul than ever mothers weep for their child’s bodily death.
In the light of her faith and her spiritual wisdom she regarded me as dead.
And You heard her and did not disregard her tears, when they streamed from her eyes and watered the ground against which she pressed her face whenever she prayed
. “(Book 3; 11).

St Monica’s funeral stone was discovered in 1945 in the church of Santa Aurea. It reads:

“Here the most virtuous mother of a young man set her ashes, a second light to your merits, Augustine. As a priest, serving the heavenly laws of peace, you taught the people entrusted with your character. A glory greater than the praise of your accomplishments crowns you both – Mother of the Virtues, more fortunate because of her offspring.”

From ‘Venite Prandete

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Vatican Health Gig gets Contraception Cash


VATICAN CITY, ChurchMilitant.com:

The John Templeton Foundation, committed to promoting contraception in partnership with faith-based organizations, is pumping $750,000 into the Vatican’s global health conference as its main financier.  

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Mgr. Trafny is allying himself with contraception crusaders

Pfizer, which pushes its injectable contraceptive Sayana Press in collaboration with global aid groups in the world’s poorest countries, will also feature at the Vatican conference “Exploring the Mind, Body and Soul,” beginning Thursday.

The new alliance leaves the Vatican “binding hands and feet to the contraception industry,” according to Italy’s New Daily Compass.

Vatican Invested in Abortifacient

The revelations come days after former Vatican auditor general Libero Milone admitted on Italian channel Rai3 that the Vatican’s Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See had been investing in the “morning-after pill” for the last 20 years.  

Rai3 called the Holy See’s decision to buy shares worth 20 million euros in the pharma giants Novartis and Roche “one of the most paradoxical investments in the recent history of the Church.” Novartis makes and sells the abortifacient through its subsidiary Sandoz.  

The Vatican’s health summit, organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture (PCC), has come under a firestorm of criticism for hosting hugely controversial speakers like New Age guru Deepak Chopra and abortion promoter Chelsea Clinton in its lineup of celebrity speakers.Can the Church play a role to increase the use of family planning methods?

Summit organizers are also being accused of providing a platform to vaccine oligarchs to combat “vaccine hesitancy” — a euphemism for conscientious objectors to the experimental gene therapy and abortion-tainted jabs — promoted vigorously by Pope Francis.

Read on at Church Militant

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