Women, Let’s Veil for the Eucharistic Revival


by Rachel Cecilia Stella on Missio Dei

Reclaiming the Reverence for the Eucharist in First Corinthians

Recently I was asked by Lily Wilson, the founder of the Veils by Lily store, what the Holy Spirit might be saying regarding the growing movement of women choosing to wear a veil at Mass. After pondering this for a few moments, I saw a connection between this phenomenon and the Eucharistic Revival initiative from the U.S. bishops.

I started veiling for worship while I was still a “separated” (non-Catholic) Christian because I was (and still am!) interested in obeying St. Paul’s instruction to “any woman who prays or prophesies” (1 Corinthians 11:5). I know people interpret this differently, but from early Christian writings it seems there was a universal consensus that women would wear some type of head covering *at least* for public worship (if not more often).

This reason alone would be sufficient enough reason for me to practice this — once I got over my initial fear of what others would think of me. (I admit I was irrationally frightened at first — I remember the first Sunday morning, looking at this awkward bandanna-scarf on my head in the mirror at home, and imagining myself jumping back into bed and not going to worship at all! That’s when I knew this fear was from the devil, and I marched forward with my veiling agenda to spite him.)

Note: Although I use the term “veil,” I am referring to any type of Christian women’s head covering appropriate for the solemnity of liturgy. The mantilla or chapel veil that is growing in popularity today in the U.S. is one recognizably Christian head covering associated with parts of Western Europe, but by no means is it the only option.

Many Catholic women who veil will reference their faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist as their reason for veiling. But in Scripture, St. Paul doesn’t say anything about the Eucharist when he instructs Christian women to wear a veil. Rather, he writes about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist immediately after writing about veiling. Is there a relationship here or not?

While it appears from the biblical text that St. Paul discussed the two topics separately, it’s worth noting that our Scripture reference system places his instructions on women’s veiling and his teaching on the Eucharist in the same chapter — 1 Corinthians 11. It’s also interesting that both the sections on veiling (verses 2-16) and the sober warning about receiving the body and blood of the Lord in an unworthy manner (verses 27-32) have been largely ignored in recent times. I think there might be a connection here.

Might the Holy Sprit be saying that a resurgence in women’s veiling is a component of the U.S. bishops’ Eucharistic Revival?

The religious sisters who taught in my parish school, one lady who wore a hat, and I were the only women who covered our heads in my parish (at least, at the Mass times I went to) for a long time. But after the covid shut-out, I’ve seen a resurgence in several aspects of reverence for God. I think the horrific separation from the liturgy forced on us in 2020 fired people up to get serious about showing more reverence and devotion in a variety of ways, including more frequent Mass attendance, receiving communion on the tongue, kneeling to receive communion if able, and yes, veiling for women.

I personally veil for any scheduled, public prayer time, even if the sacramental presence of the Lord is not there. I sometimes use a veil for private prayer, too. This past Lent I wore a more practical and durable type of head covering anytime in public as a sign of my readiness to pray at any time, and I have been continuing to experiment with this practice (though I confess I’ve neglected it more as the weather has gotten hotter).

When I go to Mass, I put on my chapel veil in my car, then put on a smile and greet everyone at the church door with “Happy Sunday!” I don’t bring up veiling unless someone asks, and then I simply point her cheerfully to 1 Corinthians 11.

Maybe that’s what we Catholic women need to do — use our veils as a sign to point people to 1 Corinthians 11 so they read the entire chapter and see the solemn warning about the Eucharist that is going woefully ignored. We can demonstrate how seriously we take the second half of the chapter by taking seriously the first half. 

As we recover from the terrors of 2020’s liturgical deprivation and we march forward with renewed strength to advance the Eucharistic Revival, now is the time to reclaim whatever devotional practices that encourage reverence for the Lord that may have fallen by the wayside. May we never again approach our sweet God casually or flippantly, eating and drinking judgment on ourselves. Veiling for the liturgy is a unique privilege and a sacramental for women that connects us to our Christian sisters across time and sends a strong message in both the spiritual and physical realms that our sacramental union with Christ the Bridegroom is real, unequalled in sweetness and solemnity, and worth dying for.

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The Motive for Fraternal Charity

This meditation is from:

“DIVINE INTIMACY”

MEDITATIONS ON THE INTERIOR LIFE FOR EVRY DAY OF THE LITURGICAL YEAR (1)

258. PRESENCE OF GOD – O Lord, teach me how to love You in my neighbour and to love my neighbour in You and for You.

MEDITATION

1 There are not two virtues of charity, one the love of God and the other the love of neighbour; for the charity by which we love God and the neighbour is one and the same. We love God because He is infinitely loveable, and we love the neighbour because faith teaches us to recognise in him a reflection of the lovableness of God. The motive for fraternal charity is the same as the motive for loving God, as we must always love God either directly in Himself or indirectly in the neighbour. Because fraternal charity has God for its ultimate object and last end, it is identical with the theological virtue by which we love God.

Certainly God holds the first place! To Him, the infinite Good, we owe absolute preference above all other loves. The love of God, however, includes the love of the neighbour so that we love him in and for God, that is, because of his relation to God, and because he belongs to God. ‘God is the motive for loving the neighbour,’ says St Thomas, ‘which proves that the act by which we love God is the same as that by which we love the neighbour. Hence the virtue of charity does not stop at the love of God, but it also includes love of neighbour.’ ,,, When one truly loves God, the neighbour is also loved, just as he is, in spite of his faults and the annoyance and trouble which he may sometimes cause; for instead of regarding these things, one looks much further and tries to see God in the brethren. With one’s glance fixed on Him, and because of Him (propter Deum), all are loved without distinction or restriction.

Such a soul readily understands the profound logic of the Apostle’s words: ‘If any man say I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a lair. For he that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not? And this commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God, love also his brother.’ (1 Jn 4,20.21).

2. If I love my neighbour because he is congenial, render me service or sympathizes with me, or because I enjoy his friendship, if I love him because of his fine qualities and pleasing manners, my love is merely human and is not the love of charity. If I am good to my neighbour and help him because I am sorry for him or feel bound to him by human ties, my love may be called sympathy or philanthropy, but it cannot yet be called charity, because the characteristic of charity is to love one’s neighbour ‘propter Deum’ for God. My love becomes the virtue of charity only to the degree in which the love of God enters into it, only insofar as this love for my brethren is inspired by my love for God. The more my love is based on human motives alone- like congeniality, natural gifts, ties of blood- the more it is simply human love which has nothing of the merit and value of charity. ‘Love of neighbour is not meritorious if the neighbour is not loved because of God’ (St Thomas ). This is what St Paul meant when he said: ‘If I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor…and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.’ (1 Cor 13,3).

It is easy to deceive ourselves, thinking we have great charity because we love those who love us, because we are very thoughtful and full of attention towards those who think as we do, or who are close to us, while in reality, it is a question of purely natural love into which the love of God hardly enters. ‘If you love [only] them that love you,’ Jesus said, ‘what reward shall you have?….Do not also the heathens this?’ (Mt 5,46.47). If I want my love for my neighbour to be charity, I must transcend the natural and contemplate my neighbour in God, loving him in relation to God and because of God. Only in this way will my love for my neighbour be an act of theological virtue of charity, the same act with which I love God; only thus shall I find the precept of fraternal charity.

COLLOQUY

‘As You, O God, have created man to your image and likeness, so You have commanded us to love men with a love similar to that due to Your divinity. The reason we love men with a love similar to that due to Your divinity. The reason why we love You, O Lord, is Your sovereignly high and infinite goodness, and the reason why we love men is because they have all been created to your image and likeness, so that we love them as holy, living images of your divinity.

‘The same charity with which we love You, O Lord, is the source of the acts with which we love our neighbour; it elevates us to the union of our spirit with You, my God, and it brings us back to loving society with our neighbour, but in such a way that we love him because he is created to Your image and likeness, created to share in Your divine goodness, to particulate in Your grace and enjoy your glory.

‘To love our neighbour with the love of charity is to love You, my God, in man, and man in You; it is to love You alone for the love of Yourself, and to love creatures for love of You.

‘O God of goodness! When we look at our neighbour created to Your image and likeness, should we not say to one another: See how much this person resembles the Creator? Should we not embrace him, caress him and weep with love over him? Should we not give him many blessings? And why? For love of him? No, certainly not, for we do not know whether he, of himself, is worthy of love or of hatred. Then why? For love of You, O Lord, who created him to Your image and likeness, and made him capable of participating in Your goodness, grace and glory. Therefore, O Love Divine, You have not only commanded us many times to love our neighbour, but You, Yourself, instill this love in our hearts’, (St Francis de Sales).”

(1) Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen OCD., Baronius Press, MMXIV, The Tenth to Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, at pp. 751-754.

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Mass funeral in Egypt for 41 victims of Cairo Coptic church fire sparked by electrical failure

Our deepest condolences and our heartfelt prayers for those who lost their lives in this tragedy and their grieving families and friends.

Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen. May their soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

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The Feast of the Assumption – 15th August

[From “Venite Prandete”]

Ambrogio Bergognone, “Madonna Lactans” (Madonna del latte, or Madonna nursing), 1433. The Halo bears the words, “Beatus venter qui te portavit & ubera” – the words spoken by the woman to Christ in the crowd: “Blessed is the womb that bore Thee and the paps that gave Thee suck.” (Luke 11:27-28).

WHAT IS A WOMAN?

A woman gives life. A woman nurtures. A woman gives love – true love. A woman is a mother.

As the vine I have brought forth a pleasant odour: and my flowers are the fruit of honour and riches. I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In me is all grace of the Way and the Truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.

Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits.

For my spirit is sweet above honey and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb.

My memory is unto everlasting generations. They that eat me shall yet hunger: and they that drink me shall yet thirst. He that harkeneth to me shall not be confounded: and they that work by me shall not sin. They that explain me shall have life everlasting. (Sirach 24:23-31)

St Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians 3:18, said:

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”


  • St Louis described the Blessed Virgin as ‘the great and exclusive mould of God”. Friendship with her is a gift so great that it is nothing less than a privileged grace that one receives from the hand of the Almighty Himself.

She is the image, the archetype, in reflection of whom it is proper to make a living image. By this, one is drawn closer to God “at small cost and in a little time”. A soul which has found that mould, and has lost itself in it, is led to Jesus Christ, just as Mary always points us to her Son.

St Louis tells us that Mary, as a mould, is capable of forming a person into an image of the God-man. “Anyone who is cast into this divine mould is quickly shaped and moulded into Jesus and Jesus into him. At little cost and in short time he will become Christ-like since he is cast into the very same mould that fashioned a God-man.”

Such moulding, according to St Louis, is more efficacious than carving by stone, which risks being chipped or making mistakes. Those who rely upon our Lady as the mould “cast and lose themselves in Mary where they become models of her Son.”

However, St Louis warns us to “remember that only molten and liquefied substances may be poured into a mould. That means that you must crush and melt down the old Adam in you if you wish to acquire the likeness of the new Adam in Mary.”

  • [St Louis de Montfort, “Preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus Christ through Mary” and “True Devotion to Mary”.]
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14 August – St. Maximilian Kolbe : priest, martyr, #HamRadio operator

Posted by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf:

Maximilian Kolbe

Today, 14 August, is the Vigil of the Assumption.  It is also the Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan priest put to death at Auschwitz.

St. Maximilian Kolbe, has a special relevance for Catholic media.

Today, dear readers, say a prayer to him, asking his intercession with God for the conversion of catholics who use the media to confuse the faithful and to distort the teachings of the Church.  Pray especially for the conversion of the staff of the National Schismatic Reporter (aka Fishwrap), RU-486 (aka The Tablet), Jesuit-run Amerika, as well as several individuals who prate with tweets that distort the Faith or some aspect of the faith or morals.

Remember the prayer to St. Joseph for the Conversion of the National catholic Reporter which I posted HERE.

These “catholic” outlets must be converted or, like the priests of Baal, they must fail.

Also, please ask St. Maximilian to intercede, asking God to keep those who are dedicated to making Christ and His Church known and loved in their fullness faithful, charitable and courageous.

My 1st Class relic of St. Maximillian Kolbe

St. Maximillian was beatified by Paul IV in 1971 as a confessor (he lived a life of heroic virtue) and canonized by John Paul II in 1982 as a martyr (killed because of the Faith).

The two categories are not exclusive.  As a matter of fact, in the moment of martyrdom, the virtues are perfected in a person.  However, the use of two categories does raise a question.  Which was it?  Heroic virtue?  Martyrdom? In fact, he probably wasn’t killed by the Nazis because of the Faith, or his priesthood: he offered to take the place of another prisoner.  His choice led to his death.  He offered his life, though it may not have been martyrdom, in the strict sense.

There is, in the paths to beatification, both the way of heroic virtue and martyrdom, but also now, since fairly recent, what is called oblatio vitae.  I am not one for innovations, but this seems good to me.

The criteria for oblatio vitae include: a) the free and willing offering of life and heroic acceptance propter caritatem of certain death and in a brief time limit; b) the exercise, at least in an ordinary degree, of the Christian virtues before the offering of life and, thereafter, until death.

Again, this path describes a person who has during life, been living a virtuous life, but in at least an ordinary rather than extraordinary and heroic way. Out of true charity (properly understood as sacrificial love of God and neighbor exemplifying Christ’s own sacrificial love) he performs some act which results in death in a short period of time and because of the act performed.

Hence, St. Maximilian, living of life of virtue (he was beatified under that rubric), by his offering (not necessary because the Nazi’s chose him because he was a Catholic priest) died as a result.

Hence, Ven. Vince Capodanno, who lived a virtuous life and who was killed when trying a help a wounded marine.  The enemy didn’t shoot him because he was a priest, he was just another target.

Hence, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, who lived a virtuous life but who died offering her life for the life of her unborn child.  She made a choice in favor of the life of another that resulted in her death.

Of great importance in this new path is the necessity that it be shown that the person lived a virtuous life before the act of charity that lead to death, and that the act that resulted in death was performed from true charity properly understood.

After that, just as in the cases of martyrdom and of the life of heroic virtue, there must also be a reputation of sanctity and a miracle for beatification, etc., as in the other two paths.

I have a detailed post about this HERE.

Finally, I remind you hams out there that St. Maximilian, was also a ham.

SP3RN!

In 1930, Franciscan Father Maksymilian Maria Kolbe left Poland for Japan, China and India where he organized monasteries. When in Japan, Father Kolbe got acquainted with a network of small broadcasting radio stations. To supplement a large number of religious periodicals that he was publishing in Poland and abroad at that time, he decided to start a radio station as a new medium. In 1930, he applied for a radio broadcasting license in Poland. However, only the Polish Radio Warsaw (1925) and a military radio station held exclusive radio licenses at that time. Radio receivers were allowed to be owned by permission early in 1924.

[…]

More HERE.

These tools and skills will be needed, if thing keep going the way the are going.  Feel free, hams out there, to make a donation or two.

Also, Zednet exists on the Yaesu System Fusion (Wires-X) “room” 28598, which is cross-linked to Brandmeister (BM) DMR worldwide talkgroup 31429, which essentially gives world-wide multi-mode access to a common ham radio network.

Any fellow hams who have access locally to a Yaesu System Fusion repeater, a repeater on the BM network, or a multi-mode hotspot that’s registered with BM can get on and have a rag chew.

WB0YLE gave me a clear list, with links, of everything you need to get involved.

HERE

The net was going well for a while, but I started travelling.  One of the other guys needs to step up.  I can’t be control every week.

Thanks for remembering St. Max. He is an important man for our sad times, especially as the normal modes of communication are being co-opted by the forces of evil.

A great colorized photo of St. Max.

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On the Empty Altars Dwell the Demons


“On the Empty Altars Dwell the Demons” – Specola

‘The Devil hates the Ancient Mass. He hates it because it is the most perfect reformulation of all the teachings of the Church’ – Alice von Hildebrand

St Peter’s Square. It is now 7 a.m. and there are only a few people hurrying to their workplaces.

We enter the abandoned basilica. We have lost the intense activity that used to fill the many altars in the huge space with life since last year and the banning of the numerous celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass on the side altars of St Peter’s Basilica by local or visiting priests to Rome. This was a sacred spectacle, unique in the world. It is no more.

Priests from all corners of the world, alone or accompanied by groups of the faithful, celebrated the Sacred Liturgy of the Mass in Latin, the universal language of the Roman Church, and the readings in diverse languages, raining down from Heaven an abundance of grace on the participants. Now, thanks to Francis’ decree, that is forbidden.

Altar boys, now banned from the Vatican, and employees of the basilica gathered to attend to the hundreds of visitors, reportedly as many as five hundred, who celebrated by the papal altar and the tomb of St Peter. They are now absent. An eerie silence now reigns in the Basilica every morning. The true ancient holy Sacrifice of the Mass – “source and summit of the Christian life” – has been considered as unfitting for the modernists’ idea of the “spirit of Vatican II”.

Martin Luther’s slogan was: “Take away the Mass, destroy the Church.”

So it was on 30th June 2021 that the Vatican made a move to ban Latin, the traditional language of the Catholic Church, from the celebration of most Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica.The traditional blog MessainLatino.it broke the news at the time and posted a picture of a note sent by Msgr. Franco Camaldo, who wrote on behalf of the Cardinal Archpriest of the Vatican, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, O.F.M., who was appointed by Pope Francis earlier this year.

Camaldo wrote that the new rules coming into force are the result of the June 9 Vatican Chapter meeting and were based on what was “proposed” at the meeting, combined with “mature reflection.”

As of 29th June wrote Camaldo, the Eucharistic celebrations would follow the procedure already in use in “papal celebrations.” That is to say Mass would be celebrated only in “Italian,” with the readings and prayers of the faithful permitted to be said in “various modern languages.” Latin would only be permitted in the “fixed parts” of the Mass, the “Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Pater and Agnus.”

Father Z states: “I am convinced that one of the reasons certain bishops and priests seem determined to suppress the TLM and isolate, marginalize the people who want it is because the TLM unsettles, disturbs, annoys, irritates, needles, vexes clerics involved in one of the sins that cries to heaven.”

Msgr. Camaldo gave a further directive concerning the arrangements of the daily Mass in the Vatican, stating that Chapter members were to concelebrate Mass at 7:30 in the morning, but no provision for private Masses was made for members of the Chapter. Due to an evident antagonism towards Latin those rules came on the back of the spring directives regarding private Masses and Traditional Latin Masses in the Vatican. In a March 12th letter, private Masses were abruptly “cancelled,” Masses limited to concelebration at set altars between the hours of 7 and 9 a.m., and celebration of the Extraordinary Form (or Latin Mass) was limited to a small altar in the crypt, also in the hours of 7 to 9 a.m.

There was an outcry of shocked disappointment at this abrupt change but not only from those Catholics who having suffered greatly from the frequent shenanigans at Novus Ordo Masses choose to attend solely the Traditional Latin Mass. Many other Catholics, who having previously never known the TLM, but had occasionally had the opportunity to be present at the celebration of one, added their protests. Recognising its mystery, holiness and focus on adoration of God alone, an increasing number of the faithful were beginning to realise the difference to the NO Mass “shows” they were frequently subject to in their home parishes. And these differences were starting to trouble them. Voices calling for greater reverence at the NO, a liturgical revival with Mass celebrated ad orientem, and a rediscovery of greater faithfulness to tradition, were growing louder. Francis and his flunkeys were getting to feel uneasy at this threat to their “New Church” plans and decided something must be done to put a spoke in the wheels of those “pesky trads”.

Benedict XVI letter to Bishops: “What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden and even considered harmful.” 

Ignoring Pope Benedict XVI’s stipulations of 7th July 2007 laid down in the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, and even the Second Vatican Council’s document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, (that had stipulated in paragraph 36: “Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites”) they struck off this matinal fount of grace of Latin Masses in St Peter’s Basilica in one cruel blow!

The restriction on Latin inside the Vatican came in tandem with a report by Paix Liturgique, according to which Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State for the Vatican, spoke to a group of cardinals about the Extraordinary Form, saying, “We must put an end to this Mass forever!”

St. John Fisher said: “He who goes about to take the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass from the Church plots no less a calamity than if he tried to snatch the sun from the universe.”

Little does Cardinal Parolin know that he is fighting a losing battle. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is timeless. The new Mass (also known as Bugnini’s Mass) celebrated in the vernacular and ad populum can sometimes be celebrated reverently too, and often is by good priests trying hard to do their best and who may have never learnt how to celebrate the TLM. But let’s be honest: there can be no possible comparison of the NO to the Holy Sacrifice of the Traditional Latin Mass (a.k.a. the Tridentine Mass, Mass of the ages, the Roman rite.) How can one compare something so banal with something so sublime and transcendental? It has never been abrogated by the Catholic Church. It cannot be, not today nor ever in the future. And any attempt to abolish it, or simply to greatly diminish the possibilities of it being celebrated, could only be the work of the Devil.

—————

[The various sources for this article include Gloria.TV and LifeSiteNews]

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Sunday Readings and Reflections

Sunday, August 14 
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Roman Ordinary calendar


St. Maximilian Kolbe


Book of Jeremiah 38,4-6.8-10.

In those days, the princes said to the king: “Jeremiah ought to be put to death; he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city, and all the people, by speaking such things to them; he is not interested in the welfare of our people, but in their ruin.” 
King Zedekiah answered: “He is in your power”; for the king could do nothing with them. 
And so they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Prince Malchiah, which was in the quarters of the guard, letting him down with ropes. There was no water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud. 
and Ebed-melech went there from the palace and said to him, 
“My lord king, these men have been at fault in all they have done to the prophet Jeremiah, casting him into the cistern. He will die of famine on the spot, for there is no more food in the city.” 
Then the king ordered Ebed-melech the Cushite to take three men along with him, and draw the prophet Jeremiah out of the cistern before he should die. 

Psalms 40(39),2.3.4.18.

I have waited, waited for the LORD, 
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry. 

The LORD heard my cry. 
He drew me out of the pit of destruction, 
out of the mud of the swamp; 
he set my feet upon a crag; 
he made firm my steps. 

And he put a new song into my mouth, 
a hymn to our God. 
Many shall look on in awe 
and trust in the LORD. 

Though I am afflicted and poor, 
yet the LORD thinks of me. 
You are my help and my deliverer; 
O my God, hold not back! 

Letter to the Hebrews 12,1-4.

Brothers and sisters : since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us 
while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. 
Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. 
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. 

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 12,49-53.

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! 
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! 
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 
From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; 
a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” 


Denis the Carthusian (1402 – 1471) 
monk 
Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, 12:72-74

To light in human hearts the fire of God’s love

      “I have come to set the earth on fire”; I came down from the heights of heaven and, by the mystery of my Incarnation, I made myself manifest in order to light in human hearts the fire of divine love; “and how I wish it were already blazing!”, that is to say, how I wish that it might take hold and become a flame activated by the Holy Spirit, bringing forth abundantly in acts of kindness !

       Christ then reveals that he will undergo death on the cross before the fire of this love ignites in humanity. It is, indeed, the most holy Passion of Christ which merited such a great gift for humanity, and it is above all the memory of his Passion which lights a flame in faithful hearts. “I must be baptized”, in other words: “It falls to me and it is reserved to me by a divine decree to receive a baptism of blood, to bathe and plunge as if in water in my blood shed on the cross to redeem the whole world; “and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!”, in other words until my Passion is completed and I can say: “It is finished!” (Jn 19:30)



Traditional Latin Mass Readings for this Sunday

Click here for a live-streamed Traditional Latin Mass

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The Anointing of the Sick and Apostolic Pardon – Don’t Leave Earth Without It!

By Susan Tassone:

During the Covid lockdown my family experienced two Covid deaths and three unexpected deaths. All in a row. We had 6 Aunts and 2 uncles and as a result lots of cousins. Sadly, only one aunt remained, Aunt Babe. (Angeline was her real name.) We treasured her. She knew our nicknames, she sounded like our mothers. We were always “children” in her eyes even though some of us were Medicare kids!

Aunt Babe decided to move to rural Iowa where one of the cousins worked in a retirement facility. She didn’t want to burden her sons. My cousin gladly welcomed her. She cared for her with great love.

Within two months Aunt Babe contracted Covid. She was dying. They contacted me uncertain how to reach a priest. I was hundreds of miles away. You might experience that there is always “someone” in the family who carries the torch of faith. Someone a relative goes to for prayers and intercession. You be that someone if a relative is in need!

There were two small country churches in the area. Anxiously, checking the internet I contacted St. Patrick’s church to get a priest to administer the last sacraments. The pastor answered. A holy priest. His hands were tied. He needed to contact the Bishop’s office. It was his office that assigned trained “Covid priests” to give the last rites. He couldn’t guarantee a priest would be available. Thirty minutes later he contacted me. A priest was available. This priest drove three hours to get to my dying Aunt. He gave her the last rites with the Apostolic Pardon.

She died that night with the grace of all graces, the final blessing of God to die in the state of grace with the reception of the last sacraments, wearing her treasured scapular. This is a HAPPY DEATH – not to die in the state of Illinois, or California or Virginia, but in the STATE OF GRACE.

What is the Apostolic Pardon?

In my book, Prayers, Promises and Devotions for the Holy Souls, I have a special section specifically for the sick, suffering and dying. Msgr. Patrick J. Gaalaas wrote this important section on the Apostolic Pardon.

The Church provides powerful help to persons who are dying. Most importantly, she obliges her children to seek the grace of the Sacraments of Penance, Holy Communion (Viaticum), and the Anointing of the Sick. She obliges her priests to ensure that the faithful in their care are not deprived of an opportunity to receive them.

In addition to these, there is a little-known, but important, plenary indulgence that is granted to the dying. Administered by a priest, it is called the “Apostolic Pardon,” or “Apostolic Blessing.”

In an old edition of the timeless instruction manual Father Smith Instructs Jackson (published by Our Sunday Visitor), Jackson asks, “Has the Church any other help for the dying [in addition to the sacraments]?” Father Smith responds, “Yes. The Church empowers the priest to impart a plenary indulgence by what she calls a ‘last blessing.’”

The Handbook of Indulgences puts it more forcefully: “Priests who minister the sacraments to the Christian faithful who are in a life-and-death situation should not neglect to impart to them the apostolic blessing, with its attached indulgence.”

The Apostolic Blessing has two forms in the ritual for the Anointing of the Sick. Both are short and easy to memorize:

Form A: “Through the holy mysteries of our redemption, may almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come. May he open to you the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy.”

Form B: “By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a full pardon and the remission of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

What if There is No Priest Present?

The question, of course, arises: “What if there is no priest present when a person is dying?” The Handbook of Indulgences reassuringly stipulates that “if a priest cannot be present, holy mother Church lovingly grants such persons, who are rightly disposed, a plenary indulgence to be obtained in in articulo mortis, at the approach of death, provided they regularly prayed in some way during their lifetime.” Note the two conditions: The dying person must be “rightly disposed” and have “regularly prayed.”

Being rightly disposed means to be in the state of grace and without attachment even to venial sin. This is required in the gaining of any plenary indulgence. Just what does it mean to have “prayed regularly in some way during their lifetime”?

The Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences, Indulgentiarum Doctrina, promulgated by Pope Paul VI, in 1967, notes: if one of the faithful in danger of death is unable to have a priest administer the sacraments and impart the Apostolic Blessing, “the Church, like a devoted mother, graciously grants such a person who is properly disposed a plenary indulgence to be gained at the hour of death.”

The one condition is the practice of praying for this all during life. Use of a crucifix or cross is recommended for the gaining of this indulgence.”

The one condition necessary in such a situation, then, is that the dying person should have desired this indulgence — and prayed for it! No doubt, this can be accomplished in many ways, (i.e., Nine First Friday Devotions, Five First Saturday devotions).

It’s important to know about the Apostolic Pardon so you can request it for yourself and others, or a loved one.  Leaflet Missal Company in St. Paul, Minnesota, offers the Apostolic Pardon Prayer Card available to purchase. (1- 800-328-9582)

I carry a few with me. A friend who died passed these cards out at her wake!

Gregorian Masses

I didn’t stop there for my dear Aunt. I arranged Gregorian Masses for her soul! I highly recommend the Pious Union of St. Joseph in Grass Lake, Michigan (www.pusj.org). They are reliable and efficient. They will mail a beautiful card to the recipient.

Gregorian Masses are a series of Holy Masses celebrated on thirty consecutive days for one deceased soul. A departed monk appeared to St. Gregory and declared that he had been delivered from purgatory upon the completion of thirty Masses. (However, the church does not officially confirm this but points to the efficacy of the Masses!) Sacred Congregation of Indulgences has declared the tradition to be “a pious and reasonable belief of the faithful.” Put them in your wills!

How Does One Prepare for Eternal Life?

Was my aunt prepared to die? Was she in the state of grace? I would hope so. Are you prepared? Over a million souls died of Covid. How many died unprepared?

We must be prepared at all times. We need to pray on a regular basis so we are prepared for eternal life. It begins with the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

We should not wait until the last hour to seek reconciliation with God and our neighbor.

The best way to prepare our soul for eternal life is a constant attitude of forgiveness in our heart and actions. We are called to exercise patience in adversity, assistance to those who are afflicted, love of neighbor and a sincere devotion to Our Lord and His mother — all in the spirit of unceasing prayer, and humility which draws down grace upon us.

Pray for the Dying

One reason prayers for the dying has faded is because society does not think about death. The saints and Christians prayed for special grace and strength at the hour of death. There are many different prayers that can invoke blessings for the sick and dying and to offer for our own souls now and at the hour of our death. Prayers, Promises and Devotions for the Holy Souls is a great resource for the sick suffering and dying. It’s also a source of catechetical teaching to young member of the church who should become familiar with the prayers and devotions.

Johnnette Benkovic Williams, host of EWTN’s Women of Grace, used this book at the bedside of her dying husband. Father Syliva, her former co-host said this book was “gold” for the dying. EWTN chaplain, Father Joseph Mary, at the daily Mass during his homily talked about this treasured book he uses on sick calls.

Pray for the sick, suffering and dying. They become the holy souls! Mercy on them will bring us also the crowning mercy of a holy death. Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen said, “As we enter heaven, we will see them, so many of them, coming towards us and thanking us. We will ask who they are and they will say: ‘A poor soul you prayed for in purgatory.’”

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Another red hat for a McCarrick ally

by Philip Lawler (Catholic journalist)

Robert W. McElroy, bishop of the Diocese of San Diego

Four years have passed since Theodore McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals. We are still coping with the aftershocks of the scandal he caused. Moreover—the reason I write about this subject today—we are still coping with the clerical system that allowed that scandal to fester unchecked for so many years.

A few months after his resignation, the Vatican announced that McCarrick had been stripped of his clerical status. A canonical trial had found him guilty—not only of sexual abuse, but of soliciting in the confessional and abusing his episcopal authority as well.

Since that time, Pope Francis has named five bishops from the US to the College of Cardinals. Barring a dramatic last-minute change, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego will soon join Cardinals Cupich, Tobin, Farrell, and Gregory. All five have had close connections with McCarrick.

Leila Miller, a fearless Catholic author, is trying to bring about a dramatic last-minute change in this story. On her blog she is urging lay Catholics to write to Bishop McElroy, asking him not to accept the red hat. She concedes that she has “no illusion that anything we or others expose to the public will stop McElroy’s ascent, but that doesn’t negate our obligation to try.”

The case against Bishop McElroy is not limited to complaints that he downplayed sex-abuse reports, Miller notes. He also ignored a detailed report on sexual abuse by McCarrick and other prelates, handed to him in 2016—six years before that scandal became public. When he arrived in San Diego, pledging that no predatory priest would remain in ministry in his diocese, he failed to apply that policy to Jacob Bertrand, a priest who had molested a young woman in an act that was blasphemous, felonious, and almost certainly Satanic. A Wall Street Journal column on the case observes that if it were not for state prosecutors, “Father Bertrand might still be in ministry.”

“The Diocese of San Diego never reached out to me,” the victim reports. The diocese received a report on the Satanic abuse in 2014, and took no immediate action. On the contrary, when the victim took her case to civil law-enforcement officials, diocesan lawyers balked at prosecutors’ requests for the accused priest’s records. Only much later would the Church take action, remove Bertrand from priestly ministry, and finally defrock him.

Maybe there is an explanation for Bishop McElroy’s failure to act quickly in this case—although it is very difficult to imagine why a bishop would hesitate to act when a priest is credibly accused of Satanism. Maybe there is an explanation for why he did not meet with Richard Sipe, the researcher who had documented evidence against McCarrick, or with the woman who was subjected to the outrageous Satanic abuse. But on the very best reading, his actions (or rather his inaction) have contributed to a climate of scandal that still afflicts our Church, and to the cynicism of lay Catholics who question whether our bishops are ready to police themselves.

Still I know, and you know, and Leila Miller knows, that Bishop McElroy will receive his red hat in a few weeks, undeterred by our protests. So why raise the issue now?

  • Because four years after McCarrick resigned his position, and despite many promises of transparency, we still do not have a full accounting of how he rose to such power and prominence, and how he remained in power even after his misconduct became a matter of common knowledge. Neither the Vatican nor the American hierarchy have seen fit to answer the obvious questions: Who knew, and when did they know, and why didn’t they act?
  • Because Pope Francis, despite his rhetoric about cleaning up the scandal, still has not named an American cardinal who is not deeply stained by that scandal.
  • Because sometime in the not-too-distant future, the cardinals will be gathered in conclave to select a new Sovereign Pontiff, and it’s chilling to think that some of the cardinal-electors may be vulnerable to blackmail.

This week’s headlines included the news that mediation failed to produce a settlement in a lawsuit brought by one of McCarrick’s abuse victims. That case is now likely to go to trial, with the Archdiocese of Newark (home of Cardinal Tobin) and the Diocese of Metuchen as defendants alongside McCarrick. The disgraced 92-year-old former cardinal also faces a September hearing in a separate criminal case. The ugly facts of the case will be rehashed yet again—no doubt supplemented by new details, which are unlikely to bolster confidence in the Catholic hierarchy. This scandal is not going away.

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Beautiful Saint Clare: a True Heroine

She heard a talk by St Francis of Assisi, left all wealth and comfort behind, and slept on the floor of the order of nuns she founded for forty-one years

St Francis and St Clare

St. Clare was born Chiara Offreduccio on July 16, 1194, the eldest child of Favorino Sciffi (the Count of Sasso-Rosso) and his wife, Ortolana. (“Chiara” is the Italian version of “Clare.”) St. Clare’s mother was a very devout woman who taught the faith to her daughters, Clare, Agnes, and Beatrix. When St. Clare was 12, against her will, her parents wanted her to marry a wealthy young man. Yet, when she turned 18, St. Clare heard St. Francis of Assisi preaching and his message overwhelmed her heart with a far greater desire: to dedicate her life solely to the Heavenly Bridegroom.

On Palm Sunday, while her family went to collect their palm branches, St. Clare stayed home so that she could run away to live the life she felt God calling her to. She ran to St. Francis, who cut off her beautiful long hair and gave her a rough brown tunic and black veil to wear. She lived for a short time with a group of Benedictine nuns who kept her away from her father who attempted to kidnap her to bring her back home and marry. Soon, St. Clare’s sister, Agnes, joined her, and they moved close to the Church of San Damiano, which St. Francis had rebuilt. St. Francis guided her as she began her own order of nuns whose mission it was to live simply, growing in holiness and praying for a world in need of God. They lived a very simple and poor life, which attracted other women to join them. They wore no shoes, ate no meat, lived in a poor house, slept on the floor, and kept silent at most times. The lack of possessions and luxuries allowed for them to keep their eyes focused solely on prayer and sacrifice.

For a short time, St. Francis was the director of this new order (which at the time was known as the “Order of San Damiano”). In 1216, St. Clare accepted the role of abbess, which allowed for her to govern the order on her own, without having a priest as the head of the community. Many times in the following years St. Clare had to hold firm to the way of life that her community lived by, as there were many attempts by Church authorities to get her community to live by the Rule of St. Benedict, which St. Clare felt was too relaxed in comparison to how she felt called to live. St. Clare was determined to live in poverty and simplicity, making only God her priority.

During the early years of establishing her order, St. Clare remained good friends with St. Francis, seeing him as a father figure to her. She took care of him during the last years of his life until his death in 1226. After the death of St. Francis, St. Clare continued to work to keep to the strict way of life that she and her sisters lived by – even to the point of disagreeing with the popes who encouraged her to relax her rule. She stated that “They say that we are too poor, but can a heart which possesses the infinite God be truly called poor?” St. Clare’s heart certainly possessed God, and as such she showed her love for her sisters in everything she did. Though she held the title of abbess, St. Clare served her sisters at table, tended them when they were sick, and washed and kissed their sore feet when they returned from begging. She would get up late at night to tuck in the sisters who had kicked their blankets off. She was the first to rise each morning, and would light the candles and ring the bell to call the sisters to choir for prayer. After prayer, she would leave the chapel with her face aglow.

St Clare Stained Glass Window

Besides all her other virtues, she was especially remarkable for her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She sometimes remained whole hours immovable before the Tabernacle, and was often seen in ecstacy, so great was her love for the Saviour it concealed. She sought her comfort in Him alone in all her trials, amidst all her persecutions; and how great were the graces she thereby received, the following event will sufficiently illustrate.

The Saracens besieged Assisi and made preparations to scale the walls of the Convent. St. Clare, who was ill at the time, had herself carried to the gates of the convent, where, with the Ciborium, containing the Blessed Sacrament, in her hands, prostrating herself in company with all her religious, she cried aloud: “O Lord, do not give into the hands of the infidels the souls of those who acknowledge and praise Thee. Protect and preserve Thy handmaidens whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.” A voice was distinctly heard, saying: “I will protect you always.” The result proved that this was the voice of heaven. The Saracens, seized with a sudden fear, betook themselves to flight, those who had already scaled the walls, became blind, and flung themselves down. Thus were St. Clare and her religious protected and the whole city preserved from utter devastation, by the piety and devotion of the Saint to the Blessed Sacrament. 

Another similar incident occurred in 1244: Emperor Frederick II, who was at war with the pope, entered the Assisi area to attack it. One of the first places he was to stop was at San Damiano, where St. Clare and her sisters were living. As the soldiers were scaling the walls of the convent, St. Clare took the Blessed Sacrament out to the gate, in the sight of the attackers. St. Clare prayed for the protection and safety of her sisters, and again heard the voice of God tell her that they would always be in His care. At this, St. Clare turned to her sisters and told them to trust in Jesus. Suddenly, terror struck the attacking soldiers and they fled in haste, leaving St. Clare and her sisters unharmed.

One Christmas Eve St. Clare was too ill to attend Mass. In bed, she sighed to herself and prayed, “See Lord, I am left alone here with You.” At this, St. Clare received a vision in which she was able to see the Mass as it was taking place, yet from her own room. It is for this reason that many years later, in 1958, Pope Pius XII named her as the patron saint of television, for she had received a “live broadcast” from God.

We must omit many miracles which God wrought through His faithful servant, in order to relate her happy end. She had reached the age of sixty years, during twenty-eight of which she had suffered from various painful maladies, though she had not been confined to her bed, or rather, her bundle of straw. Her patience while suffering was remarkable, and she was never heard to complain of the severity or the duration of her sickness. The contemplation of the Passion of Christ made her own pains easy and even pleasing to her. “How short,” said she one day, “seems the night to me, which I pass in the contemplation of the Lord’s suffering!” At another time, she exclaimed: “How can man complain when he beholds Christ hanging upon the cross and covered with blood!” Having suffered so long and with such noble resignation, she saw at last, that her end was near. She received the Blessed Sacrament, and then exhorted all her daughters not to relax in their zeal to live in poverty and holiness. 

When her confessor conversed with her on the merits of patience, she said: “As long as I have had the grace to serve God in the religious state, no care, no penance, no sickness has seemed hard to me. Oh, how comforting it is to suffer for the love of Christ!” The hour of her death drew near, and she saw a great many white-robed virgins come to meet her, among whom was one who surpassed all the rest in beauty. She followed them and they led her to see the Almighty face to face. Several who had read in the depths of her heart, said that she died more from the fervour of her love for God than from the effects of her sickness.

After years of working to establish her rule as the official Rule by which her sisters would live, on August 9, 1253, the papal bull “Solet annuere” was issued by Pope Innocent IV and confirmed that St. Clare’s rule would be the governing rule of St. Clare’s Order of Poor Ladies. Only two days later, on August 11, St. Clare passed away. The great number of miracles wrought after her death through her intercession, and the heroic virtues which made her so remarkable, induced Pope Alexander IV to canonise St. Clare two years later in August 1255. Construction of the Basilica of St. Clare was completed in 1560 in Assisi, Italy. Her remains were transferred to the basilica and remain there today. In 1263, Pope Urban IV changed the name of her order from the “Order of Poor Ladies” to the “Order of St. Clare,” more commonly known as the “Poor Clares.”

Prayer to St. Clare

O Glorious St. Clare! God has given you the power of working miracles continually, and the favour of answering the prayers of those who invoke your assistance in misfortune, anxiety, and distress. We beseech you, obtain from Jesus through Mary His Blessed Mother, what we beg of you so fervently and hopefully, (mention your petition) if it be for the greater honour and glory of God and for the good of our souls. Amen.

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS.

“How can man complain when he beholds Christ hanging on the cross and covered with blood,” asked St. Clare; and she also said that those nights in which she contemplated the passion of Our Lord, seemed short. During her long and painful maladies, she meditated on all the sufferings which Our Lord endured to save us, and by this means, learned such resignation that she not only had no thought of murmuring against Divine Providence, but also bore her pains with great interior consolation. See your crucified Saviour and think: “What is my suffering compared to that which my Redeemer endured for love of me? My Jesus has suffered with patience, with joy, and even with the desire to suffer still more. Why then should I be impatient and faint-hearted.” With such thoughts you should animate yourself, especially during the night, as it is generally then that pains increase. Remember the night, the bitter night, which your Saviour passed in the house of Caiaphas, maltreated in every possible manner, and pray for grace, to bear the cross laid upon you, with patience and fortitude. Only try it once and you will find great relief. St. Gregory said rightly: “Remembering the sufferings of Christ, we can bear everything patiently, how heavy soever it may be.

*****

[This article has been taken from various sources on Saint Clare]

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How a Carmelite Philosopher and Journalist Became Catholic Martyrs 80 Years Ago: The Witness of Sts. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross and Titus Brandsma

By Father Raymond J. de Souza

(L-R) A passport picture that Edith Stein (1891–1942) had to have taken for her passport (ca. December 1938-1939) before moving to Echt, Netherlands. Saint Titus Brandsma (1881-1942).

The Holocaust Museum at Auschwitz includes exhibitions documenting the Shoah in various countries. In the Dutch pavilion there is searchable computer database for those murdered at Auschwitz by the Nazis.

If “Stein” is entered, the following information is displayed: 

 Family Name: Stein

First Name: Edith Teresia Hedwig

Date and Place of Birth: 12-10-1891 Breslau

Date and Place of Death: 9-8-1942 Auschwitz

There is a similar entry for Edith’s sister, Rosa. The two Jewish converts to Catholicism, both Carmelite nuns, were deported from the Netherlands on Aug. 7, 1942, and killed in the gas chambers at Auschwitz on Aug. 9, 1942.

Behind those simple dates lies a great tale of the conflict between the Catholic Church and the Nazi regime.

The 80th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) — canonized in 1998 and declared by St. John Paul II a co-patroness of Europe — is a reminder of the drama of the summer of 1942. Just a few weeks before Teresa was martyred at Auschwitz, Titus Brandsma, canonized just this past May, was killed at the Dachau concentration camp by lethal injection in the camp “infirmary”.

In 1942, the Nazis were intensifying their murderous campaigns against Jews and political resisters. St. Titus was a leader of the resistance efforts that led indirectly to the martyrdom of St. Teresa.

Edith Stein, raised a Jew but turned an atheist in her teenage years, decided to become Catholic after the brilliant philosopher read the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila. Baptized 100 years ago, on Jan. 1, 1922, she would eventually become a Carmelite, following the path of Teresa of Avila. Eventually, Edith’s sister Rosa would follow that same path, too.

Edith was baptized in Breslau, then part of Germany, now Wrocław, in Poland. She joined the Carmelites there. As the Nazis took power and persecution of Jews increased, it was decided that it would be safer to send the Stein sisters, Jewish by birth, to a Carmelite house in the Netherlands.

Titus Brandsma, also a Carmelite, was one of the most prominent Dutch priests. Unusually for a Carmelite, Brandsma had a very active apostolate in both Catholic higher education and journalism. He was an outspoken critic of Nazism.

In 1941, the Dutch bishops made a strong denunciation of the Nazi regime occupying their country. In response, the Nazis decreed that Catholic newspapers must print pro-Nazi advertisements and press statements. Father Brandsma, well known by the country’s small episcopate, encouraged them to stand firm. In turn, he was asked to carry secret letters from the bishops to the editors of Catholic newspapers, instructing them not to reprint Nazi propaganda.

Father Brandsma accepted the mission. He knew that it imperiled his life. He managed to visit 14 newspaper editors before he was arrested in January 1942. He would eventually be transferred to Dachau, near Munich, which housed thousands of priests. He was tortured and savagely beaten. He was killed on July 26, 1942.

The witness Father Brandsma had offered while still in the Netherlands had encouraged the Dutch bishops, even as they had, in turn, strengthened him.

As the Nazis began mass deportations of Dutch Jews to the camps in July 1942, the Dutch bishops, in union with the other Christian churches, sent a telegram to the Nazi authorities, condemning the deportations. In response, the Nazis agreed that they would not deport Jews who had become Christian before January 1941. Yet if the protest was made public, Jewish converts to Christianity would also be deported to the death camps.

The other Christian churches thus demurred from making their protest public. The Dutch Catholic bishops, however, wrote a strong pastoral letter condemning the deportations, dated July 20, 1942. It was read from all the pulpits in the country on Sunday, July 26, 1942 — the same day Father Brandsma was murdered in Dachau.

The consequences were swift and harsh. Far from ceasing their deportations of Jews, the Nazis began deporting Jewish converts to Christianity, too. Fifteen days later, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross would be dead at Auschwitz.

When the Gestapo came for the Stein sisters at their Dutch Carmel, Edith, ever a daughter of Israel, said to her sister Rosa, “Come, let us die for our people.”

Pope Pius XII was deeply shaken by the response to the Dutch pastoral letter and conducted his opposition to the Holocaust accordingly. With great practical creativity and urgency, Catholic institutions were essential to saving the vast majority of Roman Jews. Yet after the Dutch experience, Pius refrained from an open and direct condemnation of the Holocaust. Though he spoke with more clarity than Roosevelt or Churchill or any other Allied leader, his diplomatic efforts are the subject of controversy even to this day.

There is a Polish complement to the Dutch drama. 

On Aug. 14, 1942 — the first anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Maximilian Kolbe at Auschwitz — a Vatican emissary arrived in Kraków to see the indomitable Prince-Archbishop Adam Sapieha, the hero of the “long night” of Nazi occupation. Archbishop Sapieha, who was then operating a clandestine seminary out of his residence that included Karol Wojtyła — was a fierce resister of the Nazis.

With documents from the Holy Father camouflaged with spaghetti labels and hidden in wine bottles, the emissaries avoided detection of their clandestine papers by the Gestapo. They had brought to Archbishop Sapieha a letter to the Polish Church from Pius XII entitled, “Ideological Differences and Opposition to National Socialism.”

Archbishop Sapieha read it in horror. Papal solidarity was welcome, but he knew the consequences of public denunciation.

“It is absolutely impossible for me to share [it] with my clergy, and much less can I communicate it to the people of Poland. It would be sufficient for only one copy to reach the hand of the [Nazi intelligence] and all our heads would fall,” Archbishop Sapieha explained to his visitors. 

“In this case, the Church in Poland would be lost.”

Archbishop Sapieha immediately burned the package.

The Polish shepherd may have already heard about the reprisals against the Dutch pastoral letter. He likely did not know that Teresa Benedicta of the Cross had been killed only five days earlier in his own archdiocese. He likely did not know that Titus Brandsma had been killed 19 days earlier in Dachau, though it is possible that he knew the priest had been interned for encouraging Catholic institutions to resist the Nazis.

In any case, Archbishop Sapieha knew well the pressures of the Polish occupation. He would not have known that his seminarian Wojytła would become pope, but he likely feared that Wojtyła and others would have been killed had he circulated the papal condemnation. 

Pius XII evidently understood. Within a year of the war’s end, he created Archbishop Sapieha a cardinal.

The lessons of August 1942 are complex. Courage and prudence in the face of evil are lessons to be learned anew in every age.

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ASK FATHER: Considering the chaos surrounding ‘Traditionis custodes’ could we say that, in effect, it is no law at all?

CP&S comment: The shock, confusion and upset caused by Francis’ Apostolic Letter, “Traditionis custodes”, has no precedent in the Church. The cruelty of vastly limiting the celebration of the ancient, but timeless, Sacrifice of the Mass – that has nourished countless millions throughout the centuries and has been instrumental in filling Heaven with holy saints – can only be seen as an act of liturgical sabotage inspired by evil forces. But how lasting can such an order be when one year later there is nothing but arbitrary chaos surrounding its implementation? Father Z makes a brilliant analysis for the defence of the Mass of the Ages and its millions of adherents, and the likely unlawfulness of TC.

*****

From Father Z’s blog

Traditional Latin Mass

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

Some years ago I studied for graduate theology with several distinguished theologians, one of whom was chancellor for Card. Burke in Lacrosse. In those Canon Law classes, he made the point over and again that the law is specific, defined and unambiguous and that when one interprets the law you should never add, nor subtract from what is explicitly stated.

Couldn’t it be reasoned then that because so many bishops have made such wide ranging rules, or no rules, based on Traditionis custodes that effectively there is no law at all? It is one thing to have some reasonable variations of implementation of law, but there isn’t just variation, there are outright different worlds being forged. I contend that the chaos is desired, but that will be the downfall, for in chaos there is no law leaving the faithful to appeal to higher laws than ecclesiastical ones.

Thank you for all you do Father.

The chaos is an opportunity.  I’ll get to that.

Let me come at this from two directions.  First, there are the differences between Summorum Pontificum and Traditionis custodes, including the problem of the lack of a vacatio.   Then, there is the issue of “reception” of Tradionis, for which Francis will ever be remembered as quite simply cruel.

“Wide ranging rules”?

When Summorum Pontificum was issued, Cardinal Darmaatmadja, S.J., the Archbishop of Jakarta, simply said “it does not apply here.” And that was that.

No one ever seems to have gone after him for that. He served out his time as archbishop and retired.

I assume he must have somehow invoked can. 87 §1.

Will bishops who refuse to implement TC eventually be targeted by Rome for torture?  It would not surprise me.  As a matter of fact, someone recently intimated to me that Rome was contacting bishops to tell them to get on it – or else – rather more than bishops were contacting Rome to obtain cover for their plans.

Traditionis custodes (TC or “Taurina cacata“) is disciplinary law.  You could argue that a bishop is supposed to comply, but if conditions on the ground warrant, if in the bishop’s estimation the application of the disciplinary law would be counterproductive or disruptive, etc., then a bishop could do what Card. Darmaatmadja did.

There are subtle differences between the “legal aspects” of Summorum Pontificum (SP) and TC , but they are crafted in an similar way. They are both Apostolic Letters given motu proprio, SP has a paragraph before the Articles with DECERNIMUS [sic, full caps] (“WE DECREE … the following”) and TC’s paragraph before Articles has decernere (“…it seemed to Us opportune to decree the following”).

SP: Instantibus precibus horum fidelium iam a Praedecessore Nostro Ioanne Paulo II diu perpensis, auditis etiam a Nobis Patribus Cardinalibus in Concistorio die XXIII mensis martii anni 2006 habito, omnibus mature perpensis, invocato Spiritu Sancto et Dei freti auxilio, praesentibus Litteris Apostolicis DECERNIMUS quae sequuntur:

TC: Nunc igitur, examinatis votis ab Episcopatu expressis et iudicio Congregationis pro Doctrina Fidei audito, cupimus, praesentibus Litteris Apostolicis, magis magisque in communione ecclesiali assidue conquirenda perseverare. Qua de causa, opportunum nobis visum est quae sequuntur decernere:

The big question is the “Qua de causa” — having examined the votes/opinions expressed by the bishops and heard the judgment of the CDF”.

I and others have called B as in B, S as in S.  I don’t even for an instant believe that the poll of bishops laid adequate grounds for TC.  We should be able to for ourselves what the votes/opinions were and to read the judgment of the CDF.

Gonna happen?  Not so much.

This reminds me of the “annulment reform” legislation that Francis issued in 2015. Mitis Iudex abolished the automatic appeal of an affirmative sentence in favor of nullity. Francis stated that he ended the automatic “2nd Instance” review of annulments because, he said:

“This was called for by the majority of the synod fathers in the synod last year [2014]: streamline the process because there are cases that last 10-15 years, no? There’s one sentence, then another sentence, and after there’s an appeal, there’s the appeal then another appeal. It never ends. The double sentence, when it was valid that there was an appeal, was introduced by Pope Lambertini, Benedict XIV, because in central Europe, I won’t say which country [Poland], there were some abuses, and to stop it he introduced this but it’s not something essential to the process.”

I might have missed it, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I didn’t see anything from the 2014 synod indicating that a “majority of the synod fathers” wanted this.

It’s not unlike the bizzare claim that, before the Council, “everyone” wanted a vernacular liturgy.  It’s not unlike that claim in that weird appendix to Sacrosanctum Concilium that “everyone” was clamoring for a fixed date for Easter.  The only people who wanted these things were pointy-headed “experts” in rarely dusted university offices bored during their office hours and, like the infamous Good Idea Fairy who spreads chaos and wasted time, thinking up stuff.

Make stuff up as an excuse to impose your personal desire.   There are a lot of ways to squander moral capital.  This is one of them.

NB: TC had no vacatio, that is, a period of time before it was to go into effect.  SP did.  TC didn’t.  A vacatio allows for planning on how to implement it.  That means that if a priest were to rise in the morning and gone straight to say Mass without having perused the Vatican Bolletino, he would have been, technically, in violation of the law.  Big deal, right?  Well, if you are interested in charity, yes.  It isn’t charitable to drop bombs in such a way that you – by your haste- cause problems for others.

The wisdom of including a vacatio is proven by the fact of the confusion, chaos and irregular application over the year after TC was issued.  A lot of bishops just arbitrarily created for themselves a pseudo-vacatio.  Fair to the bishops to do it that way?  Nope.

Also, the lack of a vacatio suggests that TC  was a long time in the making, but when Francis needed surgery, it could not be put off any longer. Hence, it was hastily sprung on everyone without a vacatio.  It smacks of panic, under the circumstances (of his impending surgery) as well as total disdain for the people it would effect, including the bishops.

Continuing with similarities, SP has a clear “servari iubemus” at the end, while TC has more convoluted language.

The alarming lack of knowledge of Francis about, as above, canon law and matrimonial nullity procedures was on full display in his statements.  Maybe the situation in Argentina was so bad that he heard about endless cases and appeal.   But to impose something on the whole world because in some places reform is needed?

Regarding liturgy, let’s not forget the virtually iron-clad adage about the essentially clueless: As lost as a Jesuit in Holy Week. To impose something truly draconian on the whole world because a few trads are jerks?   That smacks of despotism and lack of competence driven by personal animus egged on by sycophantic ideologues.

Shifting gears, I predict is that TC is not going to be received in the long run.  It will prove to be no law at all. 

Reception theory states that a law, in order to be a law, a binding law, must be received by the community for which it is intended.  If they community does not receive it, that is, they reject it outright or it fails to have any effect on how they live, the presumed law is non-binding and is really no law at all.

This doesn’t apply to moral law, because it flows from above reception or rejection by mere human beings.   In the late 1960’s and after, dissidents from Humanae vitae infamously tried to apply “reception theory” to the Church’s teaching on contraception.  Fail.

Reception theory does not apply to moral teaching, but it can apply to certain of the Church’s disciplinary law, which includes liturgical law.

BTW… did you all see that the… I am not making this up… Pontifical Academy for Life tweeted that Paul VI didn’t intend that the Church’s teaching about contraception was infallible?  HERE

Let’s have a mind exercise and think about reception theory in view of Traditionis custodes,

Popes make mistakes.  The faithful can see that they make mistakes.  The faithful have the right to express themselves about those mistakes, even when they have to do with disciplinary laws.  Sometimes the faithful respectfully and quietly vote with their feet.  Sometimes they organize and take action.  Sometimes they organize and quietly resist.

Sure, there will be some zealous bishops who turn on the faithful who want Tradition.  It is inevitable, considering.  However, my sense is that there are so many young priests and young people who now know and love the TLM that they will find a way simply to keep going.  It might be as simple as Father leaving the doors open when he says Mass privately (that is, not on the schedule) and people happen to wander in for some time in church.   It might be that the bishop will strike down that young priest.  A couple others will spring up.

In the chaos, there is opportunity.

I don’t think this can be stopped.

Mind you, there are going to be a lot of tears and anguish because of these bishops.  But in the end, they are only bishops.

This not like the earlier attempts to crush tradition.  Now, we have the internet, access to materials for Mass, many thousands have been exposed to it and want it.  These days are very different from the 70s-90s.

Friends, when your bishops do something good and generous regarding the Traditional Roman Rite, thank them.  When they do something stingy, work on them with spiritual bouquets, fasting, sincere requests.  Be the woman at the door of the judge before you turn to more drastic measures.

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Sunday Readings and Reflections

The Faithful and Wise Steward, Jan Luyken (1649-1712), etching, Bowyer Bible, Bolton, Greater Manchester, England

St. Cajetan

Sunday, August 7 
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Roman Ordinary calendar

Book of Wisdom 18,6-9.

The night of the passover was known beforehand to our fathers, that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith, they might have courage. 
Your people awaited the salvation of the just and the destruction of their foes. 
For when you punished our adversaries, in this you glorified us whom you had summoned. 
For in secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice and putting into effect with one accord the divine institution. 

Psalms 33(32),1.12.18-19.20.22.

Exult, you just, in the LORD; 
Praise from the upright is fitting. 
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD, 
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance. 

See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him, 
upon those who hope for his kindness, 
To deliver them from death 
and preserve them in spite of famine. 

Our soul waits for the LORD, 
who is our help and our shield, 
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us 
who have put our hope in you. 

Letter to the Hebrews 11,1-2.8-19.

Brothers and sisters: Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. 
Because of it the ancients were well attested. 
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. 
By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; 
for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God. 
By faith he received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age–and Sarah herself was sterile–for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy. 
So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore. 
All these died in faith. They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth, 
for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland. 
If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come, they would have had opportunity to return. 
But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. 
By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son, 
of whom it was said, “Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.” 
He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol. 

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 12,32-48.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. 
Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. 
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. 
Gird your loins and light your lamps 
and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. 
Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. 
And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.” 
Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 
You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” 
Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” 
And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute (the) food allowance at the proper time? 
Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. 
Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. 
But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, 
then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. 
That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; 
and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” 


Saint Cyprian (c.200-258) 
Bishop of Carthage and martyr 
Treatise on the unity of the Church, 26-27

“You also must be prepared”

The Lord was looking to our days when he said, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8) We see that what he foretold has come to pass. There is no faith in the fear of God, in the law of righteousness, in love, in good works (…). That which our conscience would fear if it believed, it does not fear because it does not believe at all. If it believed, it would also take heed; and if it took heed, it would be saved.

Therefore beloved brothers, let us arouse ourselves as much as we can and break the slumber of our listlessness. Let us be watchful to observe and to do the Lord’s precepts. Let us be like he himself has bidden us to be, saying, “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival”. 

We ought to be dressed for work, lest, when the day of setting forth comes, it should find us burdened and entangled. Let our light shine in good works, and glow in such a way as to lead us from the night of this world to the daylight of eternal brightness. Let us always wait with solicitude and caution for the sudden coming of the Lord, so that when he knocks, our faith may be on the watch, and receive from the Lord the reward of our vigilance. If these commands be observed, if these warnings and precepts be kept, we will not be overtaken in slumber by the deceit of the devil. But we shall reign with Christ in his kingdom as servants on the watch.

Traditional Latin Mass Readings for this Sunday

Click here for a live-streamed Traditional Latin Mass

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Offer Reparation for the Sins Committed Against the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Today is an opportunity for everyone to begin the First Five Saturday Devotion.

Would you like to practice a devotion that is a true-win-win on so many levels? It is known as the First Saturday Devotion, also called the Five First Saturdays Devotion. Its requirements are very simple and yet they can have a profound impact on your spiritual life. This devotion is one of reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 

It goes back in part to the third apparition Our Lady of Fatima gave on July 13th 1917 to the three Fatima Visionaries, including Lucia dos Santos when, after having shown them a terrifying glimpse of hell she told them:           

“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace… I shall come to ask for the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays of the month”

Lucia, after she became a nun, later wrote the following account (illustrated above) in following up on this devotion, referring to herself in the third person: “On December 10, 1925, the Most Holy Virgin appeared to Lucia, and by Her side, elevated on a luminous cloud, was the Child Jesus…She [that is Mary] showed her [Lucia] a Heart encircled by thorns.” 

At the same time, the Child said: ‘Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce It at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of Reparation to remove them.’ Then the Most Holy Virgin said: ‘Look My daughter, at my Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. 

You at least try to console me and announce in my name that I promise to assist at the moment of death, with all 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.’

Jesus Himself later revealed to Sister Lucia on the night of May 29-30, 1930 the reason for their being five Saturdays of reparation. He told her  “My daughter, the reason is simple. There are five types of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary: 

1: Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception. 

2: Blasphemies against Her Perpetual Virginity. 

3: Blasphemies against Her Divine Maternity, in refusing at the same time to recognize Her as the Mother of men. 

4. The blasphemies of those who publicly seek to sow in the hearts of children indifference or scorn, or even hatred of this Immaculate Mother. 

5. The offenses of those who outrage Her directly in Her holy images. 

“Here, My daughter, is the reason why the Immaculate Heart of Mary inspired Me to ask for this little act of Reparation.”

Clearly Jesus was showing Sister Lucia, and by extension all of us as well, His immense love for His Blessed Mother! 

You may well notice how spiritually nourishing the First Saturday devotion is right away! In practicing it you make reparation to Mary in her Immaculate Heart and partake of the two essential sacraments in our faith, the Eucharist and Penance. And you can “bond” with her in the 15 minute meditation, as well as in praying the Rosary. (Note that the 15 minute meditation is in addition to not instead of praying the Rosary that day.) 

We need to practice the devotion on five consecutive First Saturdays. If you miss one, by all means start fresh the following month, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to keep to a schedule on this. This checklist might be helpful.

Here is a summary of the four requirements for this devotion, as mentioned earlier in Sister Lucia’s account. These should all be done with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

First: Receive communion on that Saturday. Our Lord told Sister Lucy during the night of May 29-30, 1930 in answer to the question concerning those who did not have Mass in their parish on Saturdays that, as he put it: “The practice of this devotion will be equally acceptable on the Sunday following the first Saturday when My priests, for a just cause, allow it to souls.”

(When in doubt check with your priest or bishop on this. Fathers Richard Heilman and John Zuhlsdorf, both very solid priests, say that communion within 24 hours of the first Saturday will suffice. To me it shows our Lord’s mercy at work here, as in the second requirement, which follows.)

Second: Go to confession on that Saturday, although this can be done either 8 days before or afterwards. If for some reason this is not possible you can go to confession even beyond those 8 days afterwards, but you should go as soon as possible. 

On February 15, 1926, when appearing before Sister Lucia the Child Jesus, told her that confession could be made beyond this time frame as long as souls were in a state of grace when receiving Him in communion on the First Saturday, and that they had the intention of making Reparation to His Mother’s Immaculate Heart. 

If they forgot that intention, they could make it at their next confession at the earliest opportunity. You should go at least once a month in any case.

Third: Recite 5 decades of the Holy Rosary.

Fourth: Last, but by no means least, keep Our Lady company for 15 minutes while meditating on one or more mysteries of the Rosary (this being separate from your praying the actual prayer). You can do those 15 minutes covering any or all of the Rosary mysteries. It’s a great way to give our Lady some love and comfort as well!

In this regard, I think of what Mary told Sister Lucy, as mentioned above: “you at least try to console me.” Think of this yourself as you meditate with our Blessed Mother in this devotion. She herself could use consolation from us all, especially nowadays. We’ve seen her weeping for us “Banished Children of Eve” (as we say in the Hail Holy Queen) in the Apparitions at La Salette, France in 1846 and Akita, Japan in the 1970’s. 

It’s as if she is saying to us, in a warning especially applicable nowadays in this age of schism in the church and increasing paganism, division, and violence in society at large, “Will you people please listen to me, obey, and love my Son?” 

The image mentioned earlier of our Blessed Mother’s heart encircled by thorns brings to mind another tragic one, that of our Sorrowful Mother’s heart pierced with seven swords, for the Seven Sorrows Mary suffered during her Divine’s Son’s earthly ministry, and more specifically in His Passion and Death. 

You may recall that Simeon, described in Scripture as being “just and devout” (Luke 2:25)  informed our Lady when she and St. Joseph presented the infant Jesus in the Temple fulfilling the Mosaic Law requirements, that as he put it quite memorably, both for her, no doubt and  for us as well, that “thy own soul a sword shall pierce” (Luke 2:35).

The bond and love between the Blessed Mother and her Divine Son are strong and close!! We pray to Mary for her intercession on our behalf to her Divine Son. After all, what are her last words in Scripture? “Do whatever He [that is, Jesus] tells you” (John 2:5).

Keep in mind how great it is to have a devotion in which we can comfort our Lord’s mother and strengthen ourselves spiritually so much at the same time! You can’t get a better reinforcement of the Armor of God St. Paul spoke in Chapter 6  of his letter to the Ephesians than this powerful combination of the Eucharist, Penance and the Rosary, the prayer St. Padre Pio once referred to as his weapon! And notice the great mercy of our Lord in allowing us extra time to complete this devotion in Confession! 

Once you’ve completed the Five First Saturdays you can also continue this devotion on subsequent Saturdays as well. Think of this as a way of getting an important monthly spiritual “tune-up”, as Father Donald Calloway once referred to it. I’ve found it great for keeping to a regular confession schedule! 

And time spent with our Mother in meditation on the Rosary is also a great way to practice Mental Prayer as well! And don’t think that she will ever be too busy for you to keep her company or that somehow it’s a bother. It’s quite the opposite, in fact! 

If more people took the time to spend with our Lady in prayer, and of course with her Divine Son in Eucharistic Adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament for example, we would have far less trouble in the world in these days! 

Both our Lord and our Lady will be grateful for your fervent practicing of the Five First Saturdays. Your loving devotion to this devotion can help save souls and give you graces from our Blessed Mother. And the First Saturday Devotion is needed now more than ever!

[Source: Adapted from “Our Catholic Prayers”]

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The Dedication of St Mary Major


by Gregory Dipippo on The New Liturgical Movement

The Miracle of the Snows, by Jacopo Zucchi, ca. 1580

The Roman basilica of Saint Mary Major, whose dedication is celebrated on August 5th, is also known by several other titles, among them, “the Liberian Basilica”, after its putative founder, Pope Liberius (352-366). I say “putative” because although Liberius did certainly build a church on the site, it was badly damaged in a riot that broke out over the contested election of his successor, St Damasus I; it was then abandoned until the next century, when St Sixtus III (432-440) replaced it with a completely new church. Despite a great many alterations and additions, the nucleus of the structure as we have it today is Pope Sixtus’ building, the oldest church in the world dedicated to the Mother of God; there is no reason to believe that Liberius’ structure was so dedicated. Nevertheless, the title “Liberian” has stuck; the basilica’s chapter of canons is normally referred to in Italian as “il Capitolo Liberiano.”

Pope Liberius is also a protagonist of the famous legend concerning the church’s founding, which has given it another one of its titles, “Our Lady of the Snows.” The story is that a wealthy Roman patrician named John and his wife, having no heirs, wished to leave their patrimony to the Virgin Mary, and prayed to Her to let them know how they might do so. On the night of August 4th, the Virgin appeared to both of them, and also to the Pope, and told them that in the morning, they would find a part of the Esquiline hill covered in snow, and in that place they should build a church in Her honor. (Snowfalls are exceedingly rare in Rome even in the winter.) The next morning, coming up to the Esquiline, they did indeed find the place covered in snow, and thus the church was founded.

Each year, during the principal Mass of the Dedication, a shower of white jasmine petals, representing the miraculous snowfall, is let fall from the roof of the basilica during the Gloria; the ceremony is repeated in the evening during the Magnificat of Vespers. It is seen here in a video taken by John Sonnen of Orbis Catholicus in 2010.


Painful as it is to impugn the story behind such a beautiful liturgical tradition, it is now regarded as purely legendary. The text of Pope Sixtus III’s dedicatory inscription is preserved, and does not mention it; indeed, the story is not heard of until several hundred years after it supposedly took place. The legendary character of the episode is also implicitly recognized in the Tridentine liturgical reform. In a Roman Breviary printed in 1481, the story is told in six unusually long lessons at Matins, each almost a full column in length; the Breviary of St Pius V preserves the essence of the legend, but reduces it to the bare facts at just over 200 words. The feast also had a proper collect, which reads as follows: “O God, who, to declare the glory of Thy Mother, the glorious Virgin Mary, by a snowfall in the heat of summer didst deign to show forth the place in which a church should be built for Her; grant, we ask, that, devoting ourselves to Her service, by the cooling of concupiscence, we may be cleansed in the brightness of innocence.” In the Tridentine reform, this prayer was replaced by the generic prayer from the common Office and Mass of the Virgin.

The upper left section of the mosaic on the triumph arch of Saint Mary Major, with the Annunciation above and the Adoration of the Magi below. To the right of the Annunciation, the angel comes to reassure St Joseph. In the Adoration of the Magi, Christ is shown as a young child, but not as an infant, since the Gospel of St Matthew does not say how long after the Birth of Christ the Magi came to Him.

In the Liturgy of the Hours, historical lessons are no longer read at Matins, (now called the Office of Readings,) with a few rare exceptions. For today’s feast, the second reading is a passage from St Cyril of Alexandria’s “Homily against Nestorius”, delivered at the Council of Ephesus in 431. In the Breviary of St Pius V, this passage was read on September 15th, the Octave of the Virgin’s Nativity, but it also makes an especially appropriate choice for the Dedication of St Mary Major. The church was built by Sixtus III, and decorated with mosaic images of the Virgin’s life, in the wake of the great controversy stirred up by Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, who declared that it was wrong to refer to the Virgin Mary with the title “Theotókos – Mother of God”, and that She ought rather to be called “Christotókos – Mother of Christ.” The Council of Ephesus was called to respond to Nestorius’ heresy, and at that Council, St Cyril was the adamant defender of the orthodox faith, the “unconquered teacher that the most blessed Virgin Mary is Mother of God”, as the traditional collect of his feast calls him.

“I see here the joyful company of holy men, all willingly gathered together, called by the holy Mother of God, Mary, the ever-virgin. The arrival of the holy Fathers has brought me from the great grief wherein I dwelled unto joy. Now is fulfilled among us the sweet word of David the psalmist: Behold how good and pleasant it is for brothers to live together as one.” (Psalm 132)

“Therefore, rejoice with us, holy and mystical Trinity, that called us all to this church of Mary, the Mother of God. Rejoice with us, Mary, Mother of God, the venerable treasure of the whole world, the ever-shining light, the crown of virginity, the scepter of orthodoxy, the indestructible temple, the place of Him whom no place can contain, Mother and Virgin; through whom is named in the Holy Gospels the Blessed One, who comes in the name of the Lord.

Rejoice, thou who in thy virginal womb held Him who cannot be held; through whom the Trinity is sanctified; through whom the cross is called precious and is venerated throughout the world; through whom heaven exulteth; through whom the angels and archangels rejoice; through whom demons are put to flight; through whom the devil, that tempter, fell from heaven; through whom the fallen race is taken up to the heavens; through whom all creation, possessed by the madness of idols, hath come to the knowledge of truth; through whom cometh baptism to them that believe, and the oil of gladness; through whom the Church hath been established throughout the world; through whom the nations are led to repentance.

What need is there to say many more things? (This is somewhat ironic, since St Cyril goes on to say a great deal more than can be reproduced here.) Through Thee, the only-begotten Son of God hath shone as a light upon those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death; the prophets foretold, the apostles preached salvation to the nations; the dead are raised to life, and kings rule through the holy Trinity.”

 

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