Whence Comes the Special Resistance to Christ?

Screenshot (730) A few days ago, with the civilised world still reeling in the aftermath of the horrific and barbaric Islamic terrorist attacks in Paris, I read this startling post from Canadian ‘knight for truth’, Vox Cantoris. Here is a blogger who never tires of bringing to our notice the numerous betrayals coming from many of those who currently hold the reins of Church governance and public relations. Instead of a solid, authoritative Catholic assertion to the one Truth – that of the  Sovereignty of Christ over all the Earth – as the only solution to the morally weak and vulnerable position in which the West has now been reduced since its leaders and governments forfeited their Christian heritage, we are dealt up waffly, secular nonsense that has little to do with Catholic teaching. In response to this feeble article from Vatican Radio, Vox explodes in defensive fury with these hard-hitting words:

“The modernist and heretical and masonic liars free under Jorge Bergoglio to run amok in the Church and to lie to the world have done it again. “It is through education that horrors can be overcome.” No, you filthy liar, it is through Our Lord Jesus Christ. 

It is only when Man recognises Christ as Sovereign Lord and King, and his Divine Law written into the doctrines of His Bride, the Church, as the only right and true path to follow, that the threats, dangers and ills of the morally weak West (and indeed, the rest of the world) will ever find solutions. Blog11-23-200x300

Vox then goes on to link to the excellent article by Msgr. Charles Pope (part of the title of this post) in which he draws from “an anthology of the writings of Joseph Sobran (1946-2010), long-time editor at National Review and a keen observer of culture and its intersection with faith”, and follows with some of his own wise observations.


[…] Sobran writes beautifully of the strange resistance that the world has for Christ:

Great as Shakespeare is, I never lose sleep over anything he said … By the same token nobody ever feels guilty about anything Plato or Aristotle said … We aren’t tempted to resist them as we are tempted to resist Christ (Subtracting Christianity pp. 1-2).

I have often pondered the world’s special hatred for and resistance to Christ and His Body, the Church; it is unparalleled. Few of the Protestant denominations experience this hatred. The Buddhists don’t seem to be subject to it, nor do the Muslims even despite all the recent terrorism.

There is almost a knee-jerk, visceral reaction to Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church that is so over the top, so irrational, that one has to marvel at it. The world doth protest too much. Why?

Is it fear? Perhaps. But the Church is not powerful enough to “force our views” on everyone, as some who hate us say we do.

There is no rational explanation for the intense fear and hatred of the world for Christ and Catholicism except to echo the words of Christ Himself:

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without cause’ (Jn 15:18-25).

Yes, they hated Him without cause—at least any rational cause. For indeed, there must be a cause. But it is so irrational and hateful that I surmise it must be that Satan himself is interacting with our flesh. Satan hates Christ in a way that he doesn’t hate Mohammed, or Luther, or Deepak Chopra. Christ is a true threat, so Satan rages. And the world and flesh draw from this rage and fear.

Continue reading…


Yes, that is it: “the WORLD and FLESH draw from this rage and fear” [of Satan] and act as his minions when they continue the attack against Christ’s Church. May we finally, Deo volente, wake up to this reality! For Our Lord has told us: “He that is not with me, is against me” – (Matthew 12:30).  

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Lectio Divina: 1st Sunday of Advent, Year C


Advent: Waiting and Visit


(ZENIT.org) Archbishop Francesco Follo

Roman Rite

Jer 33.14-16; Ps 25; 1 Thes 3.12 to 4.2; Lk 21, 25-28.34-36


1) Wait for a visit

The season of Advent has been chosen by the Church to prepare us to celebrate the incarnation of the Word of God. It is a waiting time that does not last long – four weeks in the Roman rite and six in the Ambrosian Rite – ending with the joy of Christmas, a day that celebrates the birth of Jesus among the songs of the angels: “Glory in heaven and peace to those whom God loves ” and the joy of the just (see Antiphon to the Magnificat – Second Vespers of Christmas Day).

Advent is the time that prepares the birth of Jesus. It is the time for Mary waiting for the birth. It is for us the time to educate our heart to a waiting that is real, daily, in constant tension toward the presence of the One who became man for us and saved our lives. But we don’t wait only for the birth of Jesus, we wait for his final return.

This is why the first Sunday of Advent projects us towards the second coming of Christ, when he comes in glory. This is the most important advent, the one to which we must all prepare.

This is why, in the Gospel of the First Sunday of Advent, Jesus tells us not to lose heart and not to burden it with fears and disappointments. “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down” (Lk 21: 34) then “Be vigilant at all times and pray, that you may have strength to escape all that is about to happen and to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk 21, 36).

In fact, it is simplistic to speak only of the Advent as a period of waiting for Christmas, because this liturgical season is also proposed to prepare us to appear before Christ and to meet the Lord that becomes our neighbor. The Christian walk is all aimed to welcome the newness of God that become our neighbor full of love and mercy. God is the Child who tends his arms full of tenderness, the Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep to bring it safe into the pen, the Father who runs to meet his lost son returning, the Samaritan who bends over the injured man, Jesus who died for us on the cross, dramatic cradle chosen to return to the heavenly Life.

For this reason we need to know how to live “waiting for him”, not only in the sense of waiting for God’s coming, but in the sense of tending toward God that bends towards us by sending His Son to visit us.

In fact the expression “advent” includes that of “visitatio (= visitation)” which means “visit”. In this case it is a visit from God”. He enters into our life and wants to come to us” (see Benedict XVI). The coming-visit of the Lord implies vigilance. We must be vigil as Christ says today “Be careful …” (see Lk 21, 34 and 36). Many times he has repeated it in parables, because the Lord comes like a thief in the night or as a Lord returning to see what happened to his assets entrusted to the servants.

2) Waiting for an encounter.

It is true that Advent means first of all waiting, but it is not a waiting vague, general and purely sentimental. It is the waiting for the personal encounter of light. An encounter that is especially clear in the day of the remembrance of His coming, but that can brighten every day and every moment of our lives. Advent is, therefore, the time when we must renew the decision to throw open the window of our heart and our mind to the Savior to enlighten us and illuminate all that we are.

How do we need to prepare for this meeting beside the fact that we keep vigilant our being stretched to Christ?

First of all, by trying to enrich our knowledge (which does not mean only knowledge but taste) of Christ, with honesty and humility. In fact, how can we recognize him when he comes, love him if we do not know him and know him if we do not “taste him”?

Second, by praying asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten us and support us in our search for the face of the Lord.

This time, therefore, educates the heart and the mind of everyone to a waiting that is real, daily and in constant tension to the presence of the One who became man for us and saved our lives: “The solemnities of the Church certainly recall events of the past, but are also present and alive realization because what happened once in history must be a continuously event in the life of the believer. Then the Lord came for all, but he must come again and again for each one of us “(Benedict XVI).

The three Gospels of St. Mark, St. Matthew and St. Luke speak of this coming just before the story of the Passion of Christ. It is his last preaching. The style is apocalyptic (as I have a briefly explained last Sunday): wars, devastation, natural disasters, destruction of the world. Let these dramatic descriptions not scare us. It is a style particularly used in the East to remind us that in front of Christ everything takes on a new meaning and even the world, which seems stable and eternal, will have an end when the Lord comes to give a new order to all things. So also in the Gospel of St. Luke, that we are going to read in the Year C, the Messiah uses apocalyptic words taking the opportunity from the praise that some were doing of the Temple of Jerusalem, but stating that this temple would be destroyed (Lk 21, 5 – 7) . There would have been warning signs, such as wars of one people against another, persecution of Christ’s disciples (Luke 21, 8-19) and the siege and the destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 21,20 – 24). After the suffering caused by men, Jesus in today’s passage speaks of cosmic events and of his coming in glory. The holy fear that can come from listening to these words helps us to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ not only in a sentimental way, but aware that this is a decisive meeting for our existence.

In this the Virgin Mary can be of example. She is a role model in this waiting because Mary is “a simple country girl, who carries in his heart all hope of God” (Pope Francis). With her “yes”, with her “fiat”, the hope of Israel and the whole world became flesh. The season of Advent, which we begin today, gives us the horizon of hope, a hope that does not disappoint because is founded on the Word of God … It is a hope that does not disappoint simply because the Lord never disappoints! He is faithful! “(Pope Francis.).

Virginity is the means chosen by God to give a new start to the world. As in the first creation, even now God creates “out of nothing”, that is from the void of human possibilities, without any help and any support. This “nothing”, this emptiness, this lack of explanation and of natural causes is precisely the virginity of Mary.

In this Advent let’s contemplate Mary’s virginity for a meditation on the perfect chastity for the Kingdom of Heaven.

St. Cyprian wrote to the first Christian virgins “You have begun to be what we all one day will be” (Virgins, 22, PL 4, 475). Such a prophecy, far from being against the married, is instead primarily for them, for their benefit. It reminds them that marriage is holy, beautiful, created by God and redeemed by Christ and the image of the marriage between Christ and the Church, but that’s not all. Christ is everything.

With their “yes” without reserve to God, with their life humble, simple, poor, obedient, and faithful like the one of Mary also in trials and hardships, they make Christ visible. With the gift of their life they hasten the coming of Christ and His Kingdom. With consecration the consecrated women become for all people sign of the love of God and of the eternal blessings that He gives us.


Patristic reading

Golden Chain

On Lk21,34-36

THEOPHYL. Our Lord declared above the fearful and sensible signs of the evils which should overtake sinners, against which the only remedy is watching and prayer, as it is said, And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time, &c.

BASIL; Every animal has within itself certain instincts which it has received from God, for the preservation of its own being. Wherefore Christ has also given us this warning, that what comes to them by nature, may be ours by the aid of reason and prudence: that we may flee from sin as the brute creatures shun deadly food, but that we seek after righteousness, as they wholesome herbs. Therefore said He, Take heed to yourselves, that is, that you may distinguish the noxious from the wholesome. But since there are two ways of taking heed to ourselves, the one with the bodily eyes, the other by the faculties of the soul, and the bodily eye does not reach to virtue; it remains that we speak of the operations of the soul. Take heed, that is, Look around you on all sides, keeping an ever watchful eye to the guardianship of your soul. He says not, Take heed to your own or to the things around, but to yourselves. For you are mind and spirit, your body is only of sense. Around you are riches, arts, and all the appendages of life, you must not mind these, but your soul, of which you must take especial care. The same admonition tends both to the healing of the sick, and the perfecting of those that are well, namely, such as are the guardians of the present, the providers of the future, not judging the actions of others, but strictly searching their own, not suffering the mind to be the slave of their passions but subduing the irrational part of the soul to the rational. But the reason why we should take heed He adds as follows, Lest at any time your hearts be overcharged, &c.

TIT. BOST. As if He says, Beware lest the eyes of your mind wax heavy. For the cares of this life, and surfeiting, and drunkenness, scare away prudence, shatter and make shipwreck of faith.

CLEM. ALEX. Drunkenness is an excessive use of wine; crapula is the uneasiness, and nausea attendant on drunkenness, a Greek word so called from the motion of the head. And a little below. As then we must partake of food lest we suffer hunger, so also of drink lest we thirst, but with still greater care to avoid falling into excess. For the indulgence of wine is deceitful, and the soul when free from wine will be the wisest and best, but steeped in the fumes of wine is lost as in a cloud.

BASIL; But carefulness, or the care of this life, although it seems to have nothing unlawful in it, nevertheless if it conduce not to religion, must be avoided. And the reason why He said this He shows by what comes next, And so that day come upon you unawares.

THEOPHYL. For that day will not come when men are expecting it, but unlooked for and by stealth, taking as a snare those who are unwary. For as a snare shall it come upon all them that sit upon the face of the earth. But this we may diligently keep far from us. For that day will take those that sit on the face of the earth, as the unthinking and slothful. But as many as are prompt and active in the way of good, not sitting and loitering on the ground, but rising from it, saying to themselves, Rise up, be gone, for here there is no rest for you. To such that day is not as a perilous snare, but a day of rejoicing.

EUSEB. He taught them therefore to take heed to the things we have just before mentioned, lest they fall into the indolence resulting therefrom. Hence it follows, Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all those things that shall come to pass.

THEOPHYL. Namely, hunger, pestilence, and such like, which for a time only threaten the elect and others, and those things also which are hereafter the lot of the guilty for ever. For these we can in no wise escape, save by watching and prayer.

AUG. This is supposed to be that flight which Matthew mentions; which must not be in the winter or on the sabbath day. To the winter belong the cares of this life, which are mournful as the winter, but to the sabbath surfeiting and drunkenness, which drowns and buries the heart in carnal luxury and delight, since on that day the Jews are immersed in worldly pleasure, while they are lost to a spiritual sabbath.

THEOPHYL. And because a Christian needs not only to flee evil, but to strive to obtain glory, He adds, And to stand before the Son of man. For this is the glory of angels, to stand before the Son of man, our God, and always to behold His face.

BEDE; Now supposing a physician should bid us beware of the juice of a certain herb, lest a sudden death overtake us, we should most earnestly attend to his command; but when our Savior warns us to shun drunkenness and surfeiting, and the cares of this world, men have no fear of being wounded and destroyed by them; for the faith which they put in the caution of the physician, they disdain to give to the words of God.
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A Little Saturday Nonsense (or not)

I’m sorry – but I couldn’t resist.

(H/T Lawrence England & Guy Bridgeport)


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A Guide for Confession

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Preparing Our Hearts for Advent

Ready is my heart, O God, ready is my heart (Ps. 107:2)


Written by Hannah M. Brockhaus

One of my favorite ways to pray during Advent is by candlelight. Easily distracted by the anxieties and to-do lists of everyday life, the post-Thanksgiving rush to Christmas can sometimes just be too much. As beautiful as the Christmas season is, I need every minute of Advent to gear up for the joyful and noisy time with family, loudly-sung Christmas carols, Midnight Mass, wrapping paper messes and eclectically-trimmed trees.

Which is part of why I love to pray in a dark and quiet space, with only the light of an Advent Wreath to break the silence of that visible peace and calm.

In a time that is often filled with the stress and busyness of gift-buying, decorating and baking, extra family time—and when I was a student, with finals and end-of-term papers—being surrounded by near total darkness helps me to forget my worldly cares and concerns and to focus on the cares and concerns of the heart. The areas of my life, both interior and exterior, that I am not allowing Christ, the Light of the World, to enter.

It sounds a little silly to talk about preparing for something that is already itself a period of preparation, but as much as “winging it,” can often be our go-to style of life, opening ourselves to the repentance and grace of Advent requires a willing and aware cooperation with the opportunities for receiving it.

Just as candles need oxygen to burn, we need the space to be receptive to grace. And sometimes—almost always really—this requires a spiritual purging of whatever might be separating us from the Light of Christ.

Receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation is always a good place to start, of course. Giving things up isn’t just for Lent either—Advent is also a penitential season.

So before Advent begins, we should ask ourselves what grime might be dirtying the walls of our heart? And decide what changes we can make to allow room in our lives and in our hearts for God’s grace to work.

Perhaps you struggle with selfishness? Volunteer at a soup kitchen, or rake a neighbor’s leaves. What about hardness of heart? Take some time to really play and spend time with your children or the children of a friend or family member. Or go out of your way to help a family member you find difficult. If it’s gluttony, then give up whatever particular food or drink you find it most difficult not to overindulge in. Laziness? Schedule in and stick to some set-aside prayer time in front of the Eucharist. Wake up earlier to attend daily Mass before work. Feeling spiritually or physically burnt-out? Attend an Advent mission talk at a parish. Put up a Jesse Tree, reading daily Scripture passages as you hang the ornaments.

Are you restless and distracted and busy? Try turning out the lights at night and praying or reading a reflection by only the light of the candles in an Advent Wreath.

About six weeks ago, near the votive candles in a Catholic church in Vienna, I found a small, thin brochure which had printed on the front the words: “Take and Read.” What I found inside was a little reflection on the use and symbolism of candles to aid in prayer, and on the back was this prayer:

a candle stands before me.
It burns restlessly,
sometimes with a small,
sometimes with a larger flame.
Lord, I too am often restless.
Let me find rest in You.

It gives me light and warmth.
Lord, let me too be light for the world.

It burns away and consumes itself in its service.
Lord, may I also be of service to people.

With this candle I can ignite other candles.
Lord, may I also contribute in this way
that others may begin to shine.

We can often get wrapped up in the whirlwind of the secular world’s rush to Christmas. And although the world certainly needs Christmas, the world needs Advent too. So how can we be light for the world during this season. How can we prepare our own hearts in such a way that their light and joy spread?

Interior preparation can be easy to forget or ignore amid all the other preparations because it is just that, interior. We can see the growing pile of gifts under the tree and the number of peanut butter balls multiplying on the counter, but our spiritual readiness cannot be measured.

And this is why it must be as carefully prepared—or perhaps even more carefully prepared—than anything else on our to-do lists this season.

Thus the candles in the Advent wreath, one for each week, are a visible reminder to us of the approach of the birth of Christ, the Light of the World, who dispels all the darkness of our world and cleanses our sins in the fire of his love.

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Of scapulars, devotions and Russian jet fighters

Another excellent post from Fr. John Zuhlsdorf;

Some people are quite disciplined in the matter of wearing a scapular. This comes from Latin scapulae, shoulder blades. Scapulars are garments, usually associated with religious habits, which fall down from the shoulders, mostly over the rest of the habit. Another kind of scapular is small, on strings, which symbolically substitutes for the larger scapular. There are different kinds of scapulars which are spiritual aids in various ways. They generally are a symbol of a relationship through which we derive spiritual protection and aid. Probably the most commonly used scapular is the brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

BTW… once you are “enrolled” and given the brown scapular, if and when your scapular wears out, simply replace it. You don’t have to have the new one blessed.

I am not sure if Eastern Catholics and Orthodox have such things, but a reader alerted me to something which she thought was rather like a Western scapular.

At The Daily Mail there are many photos concerning the destruction of a Russian jet fighter by the Turks. The pilots were killed as they parachuted. Among the photos are the pilots’ effects, including this, which I flipped and cropped:


Lots of people wear religious items without necessarily being devout in any way.

I hope that this young man was indeed devout and that Our Lady helped him to his end.

That said, reflect now for a moment on your own end, your death, which could come at any moment, whether you regularly are in “harm’s way” or not.

Use well the sacramentals that Holy Church provides for your spiritual benefit.  Devout use of the brown scapular is a common devotion because it is an effective devotion.

Use well the sacraments that Holy Church provides.  Examine your consciences and GO TO CONFESSION.  Make good Holy Communions.  Call upon the graces of the your Confirmation and Matrimony and Holy Orders.

Use well other devotional practices which can be of spiritual benefit to you and others.  Perform indulgenced works, such as making the Way of the Cross, reading Scripture, praying the Rosary.

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Shocking Desecration

In Spain, a deeply troubled “artist” designed a blasphemous “work of art” using 242 consecrated hosts that he pilfered by attending Masses over a period of time and receiving Holy Communion in the hand. (One news source here.)

With those consecrated hosts, he spelled the word “pederastia” (English: pederasty).

What is also shocking is that the Bishop of the place, though issuing a strongly-worded condemnation (in Spanish), has only indicated one solitary Mass of reparation in the face of such a grave scandal! No word in his public statement about the issue of communion in the hand, either!

I’m genuinely surprised that he didn’t order a series of Masses of reparation in every parish in the diocese – or that there even be Eucharistic processions in reparation for such a grave offense. He might also have instructed all the parishes to have ushers to keep an eye on those receiving in the hand, to ensure they consumed the host (so that things like this could not happen again). He might have issued a catechesis on why it is better to receive on the tongue in the first place and why communion in the hand is generally ill-advised practice, even setting grave abuses like this aside.

Now I know that I’m not there in Spain and that more might be happening on the local level. But in today’s day and age, news of such scandals travel the globe at break-neck speed. There needs to be a vigorous public response. This is not just an offense against the Faith; it’s a grave assault against our Lord, Jesus Christ, who is really and truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament!

Let us pray! Join me in making some acts of reparation?

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Pray for Mother Angelica

Mother Angelica, the Franciscan nun known for her zeal and feistiness in regards to spreading the faith is on a feeding tube and her overall health is declining according to the Our Lady of the Angels Monastery Family Newsletter, see link below in the sources.  Mother founded the Eternal World Television Network in 1981 which has helped millions around the world learn the faith and brought many more back to the Catholic Church.  She has been a blessing for the Church despite being attacked by Cardinal Mahony and others who felt she overstepped her role as a religious nun.

We all miss Mother on television and are grateful for the sharing of her faith with all of us. In my opinion, mother is a good strong case for a female priesthood (obviously not possible/hypothetically speaking) since she takes her faith seriously unlike some clergy we have today who seem to see the priesthood as a career.   I learn a lot about the faith during my atheist years. Where well-known priests such as Alberto Cutie, John Corapi, Marcial Maciel, Cardinal O’Brien, Thomas Williams, Francis Stone etc have failed us, mother stood firm all these years showing her faith is unbreakable. This by itself is inspirational even without her presence on television.

We ask the Lord almighty to bless Mother Angelica, give her good health, strength and prepare us all for when He has to take her back home.  Amen.

– See more at: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2015/11/pray-for-mother-angelica-she-is-on.html#sthash.5B2iEwEw.dpuf

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Don’t mess with “gay marriage”

Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula.

Quite a few places in Australia’s south bear pretty French names, largely due to the fact that Britain and France were in a race in the 18th century to chart or lay claim to bits of the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit. Shortly after Captain Arthur Phillip made land in Botany Bay in 1788 Jean-François de Galaup, Comte de La Pérouse, also came ashore to bid the commoner (later-) first British governor of New South Wales a most courteous and gallant, “Bonjour, mon capitaine!”. Later in the same year the noble count and his ships vanished off the coasts of the Santa Cruz Islands, a group now in the Solomon Islands.  (Any interested in the Anglo-Gallic rivalry in the South Seas can read more on page 4 here.) And Botany Bay is now where Sydney’s crumby airport is.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart, the Most Reverend Julian Porteous, has been slapped with a notice that the official anti-discrimination peeps in Tasmania have accepted a complaint from a “transgender” election candidate of the Greens party (with an Irish name) that the archbishop’s distributing of a statement of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference on marriage among Catholic schools and parishes infringed the state’s anti-discrimination provisions and that action will ensue. Grrrrumphhhh!

Michael Cook, boss editor of the mercatornet website in Australia, picks up the tale and notes, or suggests anyway, that it may be virtually impossible in Tasmania for anyone to publicly oppose “gay marriage” there. The amended anti-discrimination provisions in Tasmania, let through by a coalition of Labour and Greens, may have seen to that.

This may be interesting as the whole of Australia may soon be facing a plebiscite on the “gay marriage” nonsense. However, it would appear that in Tasmania (population 515,000), anyway, it will be illegal for anyone to speak against it.

Let us hope that the Tasmanian provisions cannot catch any on CP&S for expressing their sincere views.

The offensive document from the Australian Bishops’ Conference can be viewed in all its horror here.

Michael Cook’s article is here.

Archbishop Julian Porteous of Hobart

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Archbishop Gänswein praises Cardinal Sarah for his prophetic witness

By Edward Pentin at the National Catholic Register:

Screen_Shot_2015-11-21_at_16.52.00-1-255x183Cardinal Robert Sarah’s boldness in proclaiming the Gospel and resisting the Zeitgeist is a prophetic witness reminiscent of a 5th century North African Pope who laid the foundations for healthy church-state relations, Archbishop George Gänswein has said.

In a well-received speech in Rome Nov. 20 at the launch of the German edition of the book ‘God or Nothing’ — an interview with Cardinal Sarah by Nicolas Diat — the personal secretary of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI compared the cardinal favorably to Pope Galasius I whom the Church, by coincidence, commemorated on Nov. 20.

Gelasius’ letter to the Emperor Anastasius I of Constantinople in 494 put spiritual and secular power on an equal footing and helped pave the way for Western democracy.

Commenting on the book, Archbishop Gänswein, who also serves as prefect of the Pontifical Household, said every generation faces giving in to a “totalitarian temptation” that always accompanies the history of the Church “like a shadow”.

Today, he said, it is manifested in the West’s attempt to “overturn, step by step, the natural law at the behest of globally active pressure groups”.

He mentioned gender ideology as an example, adding that the intolerance of secularism is “nothing more than a new pseudo-religion” which once again “takes up where the totalitarian ideologies of the last century left off.” Similarly, he warned that when the state becomes a religion, it is “horrifically expressed in the so-called Islamic State.”

But neither the state nor the Zeitgeist “has the right” to claim omnipotence, Archbishop Gänswein said. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Absolutely. But unto God what is God’s! It is on this distinction that Cardinal Sarah today insists; a solitary, frank and intrepid voice.”

Archbishop Gänswein went on to say that ‘God or Nothing’ is a radical book in the sense of taking us back to the “roots of our faith.” It “opens our eyes” to the fact that “new forms of indifference to God are not just mental deviations one can simply ignore”, but represent “an existential threat to human civilization par excellence.”

Actively proclaiming the Gospel is “gaining urgency” in this “precarious situation”, the German prelate said, and “in this hour he [Cardinal Sarah] arises, prophetically.” Revelation, he reminded those present, “must not be adapted to the world” as the world “wants to devour God.” But God, on the other hand, “wants to attract and convince us and the world.”

He stressed that the book is neither “a manifesto nor a polemic” but a “guide to God who has shown his face in Jesus Christ”. He also said it is a Vademecum (handbook) for the upcoming Jubilee Year which can teach “valuable lessons about the nature of mercy.”

“Mercy and rigor of teaching can only exist together,” Archbishop Gänswein said, quoting the great Dominican theologian, Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange. “The Church is in her principles intolerant, because she believes, and she is tolerant in practice, because she loves. The enemies of the Church are tolerant with regards to the principles because they do not believe, and they are intolerant in practice because they do not love”.

Cardinal Sarah, Archbishop Gänswein said in closing, “is someone who loves”, a man who shows us “how and which masterpiece God wants to shape us into if we do not oppose His artist’s hands.”

During the recent Synod on the Family, Cardinal Sarah gave one of the strongest interventions of the three week meeting, comparing gender ideology and the Islamic State to “apocalyptic beasts”. 


Here below is the full text of Archbishop Gänswein’s speech:

GenTo the Roots!

By Georg Gänswein, 20 November 2015

Most Reverend Cardinal Sarah! Eminences, Your Excellencies, Dear Brothers, Dear Ladies  and Gentlemen!

As I was reading the galleys of your book “God or nothing” this past summer, your candour repeatedly reminded me of the boldness with which Pope Gelasius I in the Rome of the year 494 wrote a famous letter to the Emperor Anastasius I of Constantinople. When at last a suitable date for the presentation of this book here in the Anima was found, I discovered that it is today of all days, on the 20th of November, that the Church commemorates this pope. Today the Church celebrates Pope Gelasius from North Africa. Allow me therefore to briefly say a few words about his letter from the year 494.

Eighteen years before it was written, in the year 476, Germanic tribes had overrun the ancient capital. The Völkerwanderung – the mass migration of peoples – had begun, which brought about the end of the Western Roman Empire. Of that once so powerful empire there remained only the powerless Church of Rome.

It was in this situation that Pope Gelasius wrote the following to the East Roman emperor in Byzantium: To govern the world there is not just one power but two. This we know since the Lord gave to his apostles, after the Last Supper (Luke 22:38), the mysterious information, “two swords”, which they had just handed to him, were “enough”. However, these two swords would have to be, according to his conception, shared by the Emperor and the Pope throughout history. In other words, with this letter Pope Gelasius I put spiritual and secular power on an equal footing. There should be no more omnipotence. Pope and Emperor were – for the benefit of all people! – considered as partners before God.

This constituted a paradigm shift. But there was more. For Gelasius added to this that the Emperor of Constantinople, by divine right, was a little bit subordinate to him, the Successor of Peter in Rome. For did not even the supreme rulers have to humbly receive the sacraments from the hand of every priest? How much more should then the emperor be obliged to be humble vis-à-vis the pope, whose chair after all towered over every other bishopric?

The claim was outrageous. No wonder then that the Byzantine emperor at the time all but shrugged off the suggestion.

But the “two swords doctrine”, as the claim was named after this letter, would describe the relationship between church and state for about 600 years. Its indirect effects lasted infinitely longer. The gradual emergence of Western democracies is inconceivable without this claim. Because here not only the foundation for the sovereignty of the Church was laid – but also for any legitimate opposition.

Europe in any case has painfully grown and matured from this time onward. The history of the Catholic Church as a civilizing force is unthinkable without the example that Gelasius I. set in opposing the pursuit of omnipotence by Emperor Anastasius I. The subsequent separation of church and state and the system of a “balance of power” began with this letter, when the powerless pope suddenly, fearlessly, denied the most powerful ruler of the world the right to claim to also reign over the souls of his subjects. It was a time of turmoil and the migration of peoples, as I said, during which the Roman Church became the decisive authority of the West.

Of all this today, as quite suddenly a mass migration is again flooding Europe from the East, the historically-minded Cardinal Sarah is very much aware, hailing, just like Gelasius, from Africa, that most vital and dynamic part of the universal, global Church. Probably, therefore, the groundbreaking “African” Synods of Carthage from the 3rd to the 5th century are as present to him as any subsequent councils up to the Second Vatican. Quite certainly he sees clearly – as only few others will – that many states today once more lay claim, with all their might, to that “spiritual power” that the Church once wrested from them in a long process for the benefit of society as a whole.

For when the states of the West today attempt to overturn, step by step, natural law at the behest of globally active pressure groups; when they want to adjudge, for themselves, on the very nature of man (as in the highly ideological programs of Gender Mainstreaming), then this is more  than just a fatal relapse into the rule of the arbitrary. It is primarily a new submission to that totalitarian temptation that has always accompanied our history, like a shadow.

Every generation knows this temptation, even though it manifests itself in a new form and language in every era. Cardinal Sarah today confidently and forcefully insists that the Church must not be allowed to dissolve into the Zeitgeist, even where this spirit comes disguised and camouflaged as science, as we already know it did with racism and Marxism.

Never again should there be any institution whatsoever of omnipotence. Neither the state nor the Zeitgeist has the right to claim it for them – and neither, of course, does the Church. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Absolutely. But unto God what is God’s! It is on this distinction that Cardinal Sarah today insists; a solitary, frank and intrepid voice.

The state must be not a religion, as it is currently horrifically expressed in the so-called Islamic State. Equally, the State may not prescribe to the people Secularism as a supposedly neutral world view, as it is nothing more than a new pseudo-religion, which once again takes up where the totalitarian ideologies of the last century left off in attempting to denounce and ultimately extinguish Christianity (and every other religion) as outdated and useless.
That is why this book by Cardinal Sarah is radical. Not in the sense in which we usually use the word today, but in the original sense of the word. The Latin radix is called “root” [Wurzel]  in German. In this sense, the book is radical. Because this book takes us back again to the roots of our Faith. It is the radicalism of the Gospel that inspired this book. The author is “convinced that one of the most important tasks of the Church is to let the West rediscover the radiant face of Jesus.”

It is for this reason that he has no hesitation to talk anew about the incarnation of God and the radical nature of this good news, which he contrasts with an unsparing analysis of our time. He opens our eyes to the fact that the new forms of indifference to God are not just mental deviations one can simply ignore. He recognizes an existential threat to human civilization par excellence in the moral transformation of our societies.

There is no question that the mission of actively proclaiming anew the Gospel is gaining urgency in this precarious situation. In this hour he arises, prophetically. He knows that the Gospel which once transformed cultures is now in danger of being transformed by so-called “realities of life”. For two thousand years, the Church has cultivated the world with the power of the Gospel. Conversely, it will not work. Revelation must not be adapted to the world. The world wants to devour God. But God wants to attract and convince us and the world.

In this struggle, this book is therefore not a fleeting contribution to a certain debate. It is also not a reply to specific points of view of others. To say this would not do justice to the depth and brilliance of this witness of Faith. Cardinal Sarah is not concerned with individual points of debate, but with faith as a whole. He demonstrates how an individual issue is to be understood by correctly understanding the entirety of our Faith. And how, conversely, every theological attempt to isolate sub-questions damages and weakens the whole.

Yet this book has neither turned out a manifesto nor a polemic. It is a guide to God, who has shown his human face in Jesus Christ. It is a Vademecum for the start of the Holy Year.

On the 20th of November, 2016 – today in one year’s time – this jubilee year dedicated to the “Face of Mercy” will already be over. Until then, we can learn most valuable lessons about the nature of mercy from this book. For “mercy and rigor of teaching can only exist together,” Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange wrote already in 1923. He continued: “The Church is in her principles intolerant, because she believes, and she is tolerant in practice, because she loves. The enemies of the Church are tolerant with regards to the principles because they do not believe, and they are intolerant in practice because they do not love”.

Cardinal Sarah is someone who loves. And he is a man who shows us here how and which masterpiece God wants to shape us into if we do not oppose His artist’s hands. This book is a book of Christ. It is a confession of faith. We must imagine its title as a joyful sigh: God or nothing!


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Francis, a Pope left alone at the command?


How, pray God, did we come to this?

from: Monday Vatican http://www.mondayvatican.com

Marked by shock over the Paris attacks, the past week began with Pope Francis’ visit to the Christuskirche Lutheran Church in Rome on Sunday, November 15. What he said during the visit – completely off the cuff – has apparently established the primacy of conscience over doctrine and over things Pope Francis called “interpretations.” A more in depth interpretation of that meeting and those words, in fact, provides another impression: that Pope Francis is not merely a Pope alone in command, but that he has been left alone in command by those who are supposed to advise him. At the same time, the “hidden Vatican”, comprised of people who silently and tirelessly work on behalf of the mission of the Church, is still marginalized.

During his visit to the Lutheran Church in Rome, Pope Francis spoke off the cuff, answering three questions and preaching during a religious service. It was a fortunate coincidence that the reading of the day was the passage of the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 25) that Pope Francis loves, as he considers it “the protocol on the basis of which we will be judged.”

While the Lutheran pastor, Jens-Martin Kruse, outlined ecumenical dialogue on the basis of a common gazing upon Christ, Pope Francis focused on the common commitment to the poor, and on a sort of “ecumenism of conscience”. In his words, the theological debate seemed something relegated to the second tier of ecumenical activity, while charity and common prayer were given as priorities.

Pope Francis’ improvised discourse included many deprecating criticisms. Sometimes, theology was considered as (“speeches for theologians”), sometimes he even underestimated the theological issues (“life is larger than interpretations”). The Pope also seemed to under-estimate the reason why Catholics and Lutherans cannot take sacramental Communion together, and he seemed willing to leave the issue open to each person’s conscience.

The impression in the end is that Pope Francis has left everything open to the individual’s good will, without emphasizing the common gazing upon Christ which represented “the common gift of faith,” the only ecumenical gift that Pope Benedict XVI brought to Lutherans during his 2011 trip to Germany.

Whereas the off-the cuff-speech offered some criticisms, the prepared text offered even more of them. The prepared text highlighted the primacy of charity (not in the sense of ‘love’, but in the sense of ‘charitable activity’) over prayer and theology. The prepared text stated that ecumenical dialogue “cannot but start with the preoccupations and problems of man today.”

Above all, the prepared speech also proposed a “re-evaluation of Martin Luther” in view of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, to be celebrated in 2017.

The proposal of a re-evaluation of Luther is part of the Pope’s often-noted pushes for the “Protestantization” of the Catholic Church. This Protestantization is characterized by the notion that the Church should adapt itself to the signs of the times. “Signs of the times” thus becomes a topic of relevance to the Church.

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, highlighted this problem. He visited Chile from November 6-10, and gave an important speech to the Chilean bishops, stressing that faith risks being relativized on the basis of the signs of the times.

Cardinal Mueller is one of those working to provide the current debate with theological substance. During this past week, he gave other lectures, all of them pivotal to understanding the issues at stake. During the international symposium on the 10th anniversary of Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Deus Caritas Est,” Mueller interpreted the theological notion of charity on the basis of the notion of love. He proposed that the Christian is not merely committed to performing works of charity, but to living his faith. And this faith is a love that must necessarily be based upon reason. Faith and reason are intertwined, Cardinal Mueller explained, and this is the reason that everything in faith has a particular meaning. He grounded all of his reasoning on the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, is also working to give theological roots to the current discussion. In his speech at the same conference (and also in other occasions), he maintained that the current crisis is above all a crisis of faith. This is the real challenge in order to guarantee the Church a future.

Also last week, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, gave a lecture at the Pontifical Lateran University with the aim of fostering the cultural impetus of Catholic world. Universities, and especially Catholic universities – Cardinal Bagnasco said – must be places where people resist totalitarian and individualistic thought. This is the thought that erodes the reasons of faith.

These visible signs of the Church, expressed by Cardinals Mueller, Sarah and Bagnasco, are supported by the “Hidden Vatican,” that is the individuals who work behind the scenes in this pontificate, shape it on the basis of continuity with an already planned reform process, while they also project a wide-ranging vision: that is, a Church – supported by the Roman Curia – which does not have as its goal to accept and respond to the signs of the times, but one that is able to forecast the signs of the times and to provide prophetic responses to them.

Pope Francis is left alone at the very moment that he needs prophetic views. Let’s be clear. Pope Francis personally made this decision. He is a decision-maker. He listens to everyone, but then he acts on his own. His project is not that of reforming the Roman Curia, but that of reforming the profile of bishops. He has in mind a Church whose guidelines are “pastoral”, not doctrinal. Prophecy, according to the Pope, is not found in issuing a long-term project. Prophecy, for Pope Francis, the Church as a “field hospital,” that heals wounds as soon as they appear.

These guidelines can be glimpsed at through the choice of new bishops and cardinals. Pope Francis always prefers those who have impressed him in personal meetings, or those who are presented as bishops with a major pastoral touch and only a minor impact on the cultural-political environment. According to Pope Francis, getting directly into the political and cultural fray could harm dialogue, and build walls instead of bridges.

Obviously, Pope Francis’ choices are supported by a number of advisers (not so many, in fact). But how much do these advisers care for the Catholic Church in the long term? Or do they instead exploit the Pope’s wish to be both Pope and parish priest at the same time in order to propose, as bishops and cardinals, those candidates who fit the papal profile, but who, at the same time, could water down doctrine?

It is paradoxical that the Catholic Church is seemingly less prophetic now. The Church is 200 years behind; it is not able to look forward, to further developments of the Second Vatican Council, to a new way of being in the world while fostering a dialogue on the basis of a strong identity without forfeiting a single Catholic principle.

The Church today has forfeited its distinctive language, and it did so at the very moment that it gained enormous popularity, thanks to Pope Francis. But such a change can raise suspicions that this popularity is backed by those who want to take advantage of Pope Francis in order to dismantle the Church.

That there is a long-term campaign against the Church seems evident. Under Benedict XVI, there was a very long period of attacks against the Church because of priestly pedophilia, followed by a period of attacks aimed at Vatican finances. This long period of attacks against Vatican finances resulted in a new season of Vatileaks. Of them all, this latest episode constitutes the weakest Vatileaks, since the Vatican financial system actually works and bears fruit. However, this latest Vatileaks chapter allows us to understand the final goal of the individuals behind it: if the mission and the prophecy of the Church are impervious to attack, it becomes important to put the Church’s financial support at risk, so that it does not have the means to carry forward its mission.

The final goal of the last two books of leaks are the “8 per mille” campaign (that is, the public financing of the Catholic Church in Italy), and Peter’s Pence, that is, the contributions sent to Rome by the faithful since the time that anti-clerical Italian troops conquered Rome in the 19th century and Blessed Pope Pius IX found himself exiled in Castel Sant’Angelo.

This anti-Catholic campaign takes advantage of the isolation of the Pope and of the internal divisions within the Catholic Church. The gang war within the Vatican, in fact, helps the external campaigns against the Church. And many of these campaigns find strength and impetus in the personal attacks that take place within the Catholic Church.

Under Benedict XVI, the main target of these attacks was Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, his Secretary of State, who is still a target. Under Pope Francis, the attacks over financial issues are aimed at Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, who took over the control and development of Vatican finances. In both cases, the two cardinals demonstrated a certain naivety in their manner of relating to the Curia and in their attempts to “enlarge” their areas of interest. In a world held together by quibble and small power struggles, enlarging competences is not seen as a good will effort. It is rather perceived as a declaration of war.

Pope Francis’ expansive curial reform was supposed to take shape following a major reform of the State Secretariat. As first envisioned, the Secretariat of State was supposed to become a department for diplomatic coordination, while its first section, concerning general affairs, was supposed to be separated from the Secretariat and refashioned as a distinct department to coordinate the functioning of the other Vatican dicasteries. In the end this design was not followed.

Today the Secretariat of State has regained its de facto central role in the Curia. Moreover, Pope Francis has reaffirmed the central role of the Secretariat in a recent letter which re-establishes the status quo of curial operations until the curial reform is complete.

This is how Cardinal Pietro Parolin, via rescripts and papal documents and letters, has restored the competences of an originally to-be-dismantled State Secretariat. In the meantime, the Curia of former times has regained its influence, and diplomats have once again taken over a key role in the Roman Curia.

This “return to the ancien regime” makes it seem as if Benedict XVI’s pontificate should be put between parentheses.

The mission of the Church suffers more than anyone or anything else on account of this internal power struggle. Even diplomatic texts are written in a sort of paste-and-copy manner, while Pope Francis is left alone. After the attacks on Paris there was a meeting at the United Nations on November 17 about the maintenance of international peace and security. In his speech, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, reiterated that more development is needed for peace, but he used the UN terms “sustainable development”, referring to sustainable development goals. No mention was made in the speech of “integral human development”, the pillar of the social teaching of the Church that Pope Francis placed at the center of his speech to United Nations.

On another diplomatic note, it is remarkable that Pope Francis did not immediately issue any response to the Paris attack. On the day after, a telegram signed by the Secretary of State in the name of the Pope was delivered to Paris, and two days after that the Pope made a public appeal during the Angelus. Beyond that, there was no official statement. Yet there was an occasion in which a statement could have been made: his meeting with Jesuit Refugee Service on November 17. That speech – already focused on the disasters of wars – would have been the ideal place to include a strong condemnation of the Paris attacks. But instead it was read the speech already prepared in advance. Pope Francis’ response was left to an interview with a journalist friend who directs the Italian Bishops’ Conference television station. In the end, it was a papal stance, but it cannot be considered an official stance.

These details concerning his response to the Paris attacks support the idea that Pope Francis has been left alone by the very people who backed his election because of their personal agenda. This network of interests is now focused on a gang war with the intention of hardening its position within the Vatican, and looking forward to the next pontificate.

In the meantime, the misinterpretation of Pope Francis’ pontificate continues unabated. The rationale behind this popular misinterpretation is to create a breach between this and the previous pontificate. This operation became evident during the last US Bishops’ plenary assembly, when the 4 year-old document “Faithful Citizenship” faced a vote.

Two bishops, Gerald Kicanas of Tucson and Robert McElroy of San Diego, criticized the way the document had been drafted. They underscored that “many things have changed,” since the document was written, while insisting that it missed a clear reference to the new Pope’s priorities, that is, global poverty, environmental degradation and the criticisms of the economic order that fuels it. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Vice-president of US Bishops’ Conference, explained that the working document followed the “hermeneutic of continuity,” and other bishops supported the document. The discussion was described in almost negative terms by the Jesuit-run magazine, “America,” one of the most active in backing the “revolution of mercy”. Some in the Jesuit world have clearly taken a key role in developing and interpreting this pontificate. However, this uprise of the “left wing” of the American Church did not find any ground.

In spite of these factors, there is always a Hidden Vatican at work, even though Pope Francis does not take it into account. A major outcome of this work behind the scenes was the speech Pope Francis gave to the German bishops during their ad limina visit this past week.

In that speech, Pope Francis confirmed the crisis of the Church in Germany, taking on board many of the views that Benedict XVI outlined in his speech to the German bishops in Freiburg at the close of his pastoral visit in September 2011. Speaking about a Church whose number of faithful is decreasing and whose members barely go to Confession, Pope Francis asked the bishops to preserve the Catholicity of institutions, told them that even Catholic faculties of theology should “feel united with the Church” (sentire cum ecclesia) and underscored that too many structures are being created, while they are barely filled by the faithful.

Pope Francis also criticized the organizational anxiety of the Church in Germany, and asked for more focus on the sacraments and less promotion of laypeople in central roles within religious services, while he insisted that “with no priest, there is no Eucharist.”

That speech was written with the German Church in mind, the Church from which the winds of the revolution blow, and from which the idea is promoted that there should be no central and Roman Church, but a Church composed of many local realities, detached from Rome even in doctrinal terms. Cardinal Mueller, in his speech to Chilean bishops, warned about this “localism”. The Church is one, and cannot have many doctrines, nor can it allow divergent disciplinary choices. Otherwise it would no longer be a Catholic Church. The Church should not turn into a Protestant ecclesial communion. Nor should it become just another among many evangelicals sects, which are spread so widely in South America. Nor should it turn into an NGO, empty of values, the very opposite of what Pope Francis says he wants.

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The astonishing prayer of Fatima

by Stephen Bullivant (and first published in the ‘Catholic Herald’)

A pilgrim walks on her knees at the Marian shrine of Fatima in central Portugal

A pilgrim walks on her knees at the Marian shrine of Fatima in central Portugal

Surely the ‘O my Jesus’ prayer is too deep for three shepherd children to have invented all by themselves?

On Sunday the Bullivant family went to Barnes, to visit the touring relics of Blessed Jacinta and Francisco, the little shepherd seers of Fátima fame. Fátima means a lot to me: I visited in 2005, when still an unbaptised atheist.

So I’ll no doubt be writing more about it as we move through the imminent Year of Mercy and then into the apparitions’ centenary in 2017. (Incidentally, this is a happy coincidence of dates that can scarcely have escaped our Holy Father’s notice.)

The three 'seers' of Fatima

The three ‘seers’ of Fatima

One thing that has always struck me about Fátima – amongst a great deal that is nothing if not striking – is the sheer profundity of the most famous prayer that bears its name: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, and save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those with most need of thy mercy.

The theological depth of these brief lines alone would likely convince me of their revealed nature, even without the testimony of the sun dancing in the sky.

Consider just the first three words. ‘O my Jesus’ is not a mode of address that comes naturally to us. For how could it? Who dares to speak to the ‘Lord of glory’ (1 Corinthians 2.8) in so familiar, so intimate a fashion? Who would presume to be on first-name terms with the ‘saviour of the universe’ (St Athanasius)?

In the gospels, not a single one of our Lord’s closest followers addresses him directly by name. Most often, they call him Kyrios: ‘sir’ or ‘Lord’. Peter, for example, thinks it suitable for all occasions, from expressing mortal panic (Matthew 14.30), to pledging his enduring love (John 21.17). Even when actually arguing with Jesus – ‘God forbid it, Lord!’ (Matthew 16.22) – he is nevertheless careful to signal his deference with a sufficiently respectful title.

Other such honorifics, used by the disciples and others, play a similar role: rabbi, rabbouni, didaskolos.

Jesus is by name several times, however. Most of these occasions fall into two main types: demons, revealing their supernatural insight to who precisely he is and why he has come (e.g., Mark 1.24); and strangers, humbly begging Jesus to have mercy on them.

Luke has his lepers implore ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ (17.13; see also 18.38; Mark 10.47-8). Note that in each of these cases, even though Jesus is indeed named, some other, more formal mode of address is swiftly added.

But there is nothing like that in the Fátima prayer: just ‘O my Jesus’. Peter and the disciples, Mary Magdalene, the desperately hoping for a personal cure, even the demons… not one is so bold as to speak so informally with ‘my Lord and my God’ (John 20.28). So how then can we?


At the end of Luke’s gospel, God himself, scourged and humiliated, hangs dying on two rough planks of wood. Perversely, in this degradation he is surrounded by titles and terms of respect. His claims to be the Saviour, indeed ‘the Christ, the chosen one of God’ (23.35), are turned against him in mockery. Above his head, a sign sarcastically proclaims him ‘the king of the Jews’.

It is only now, alone within the entire gospel witness, that the Messiah is addressed by just his first name: ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’ (23.42).

These words, of course, come from the repentant thief. They are spoken out of true humility. He acknowledges his own guilt, and regards himself as justly condemned. He is beyond hope of reprieve. Offered the opportunity to ask the Christ for anything at all, he asks not for rescue or redemption, but merely to be remembered.

And yet the one that miserable thief speaks to, the one whom he believes will soon ‘come into his kingdom’, is likewise a condemned criminal. Jesus is indeed the ‘Christ, the chosen one of God’, he is ‘the king of the Jews’. But he is these things precisely because he can be addressed as a social equal by an abject, and justly condemned, sinner. The two men – one executed, the other murdered – hang side-by-side as social equals.

This is, of course, precisely the point of the incarnation: God himself comes to hang beside us, as a ‘man among men’ (St Irenaeus); the only one who can offer us the mercy we need, beside us as one whom we might actually dare to ask mercy of.

And this is, more or less, the over-riding message of Fátima: that while we – all of us – are in dire need of mercy, we’re on first-name terms with him on whom we have to call. Now that’s a rather deep bit of theology for three illiterate shepherd-children to have come up with all by themselves.

O my, Jesus!

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Lectio Divina: 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Solemnity of Christ the King, Year B

King of Truth and Love


Paris, (ZENIT.org)

Archbishop Francesco Follo

Roman Rite

Dn 7, 13-14; Ps 93; Rev 1, 5-8; Jn 18, 33b-37


A King crowned with thorns, a witness (martyr) of the truth of love.

On this last Sunday of the liturgical year we are invited to celebrate Christ the King of a “kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace” (Preface of the Mass of Christ the King). To Pilate, who asked him if he was a king, Jesus replied that the royalty claimed by him is not political, but completely different. It is a royalty of truth and love, which is exercised as a witness to the truth and not as an imposition of a domain. In fact, in today’s Gospel Jesus concludes: “I am the king, for this I was born and for this I came into the world to bear witness to the truth” (Jn 18, 37). I think that it is fair to say that in his reply to Pilate Christ not only speaks about what truth is, but answers to the question “Who is the truth?”.

The kingship of Christ reveals Him who is the Truth of love of which he is a witness, namely a martyr.

In his brief and intense dialogue with Pilate, Jesus also says another important thing: “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” In order to understand the kingship of Jesus and become his subjects in his kingdom, which is a kingdom of the other world but not a kingdom of the dead, it is necessary to have chosen truth. It is a kingdom of the other world because there the power of love will “reign”. It is a king who does not condemn to death his fragile subjects but gives his life so that they may have life.

There are people who are “on the side of the truth” and others that instead are “on the side of falsehood.” It is not simply a matter of lies but a basic attitude, a choice of values. In the narration of the trial these two opposing possibilities are embodied by two characters facing each other: Jesus and Pilate.

On the one hand Jesus, who is the Truth, gives himself fully in the hands of the Father without hesitating to give his life. On the other hand there is Pilate who instead represents a political power that serves the truth but not beyond a certain price. A power that believes to have more important values ​​to save. Three times Pilate recognizes the innocence of Jesus and declares it publicly, and three times he tries to save him. However at the end he condemns him to the cross.

This Prosecutor of the human kingdom sentences to death an innocent and denies justice and truth to save himself.

Christ, however, is a king who does not kill anyone, on the contrary he dies for everyone. He does not spill the blood of anyone, He sheds his blood for all. He does not sacrifice anyone, he sacrifices himself for his servants that he calls friends. The Redeemer manifests the truth of God who is Father and the Father is the one who gives life and freedom to his children, not the one who takes away life and freedom from his children.

Christ the King “uses” power according with truth, according with justice, namely according with the truth of love. It is a power exercised by the Savior who takes a cross as throne and thorns as crown. It is the same power of humble love that at the Last Supper had driven Jesus to exercise his kingship by washing the feet of the apostles. Jesus is a chief and a king who really puts himself at the service of his subjects. A king who knows how to give bread instead of taking it, who knows how to give life rather than taking it, who knows how to free form the law instead of imposing it.

A special subject: the good thief.

One man that understood the truth of Jesus was the good thief who, hanging on the cross next to Christ, asked “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23, 42). In response the King on the cross said to him “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). For this thief the way of the cross became, infallibly, the way to heaven, the way of truth and life and the way of the kingdom.

Let’s make ours the openness of heart and the prayer of this thug whom the Christian tradition calls “the good thief”. Although he was on the cross, this wrongdoer had a heart and an intelligence of such an openness that he has been able to recognize a dying man as a King. He has been able to seize the kingship of Christ that manifested himself on a paradoxical throne, the Cross, so to ask “Remember me in your kingdom”. He recognized this kingdom to be a real, happy and everlasting one. The closeness to Christ is not enough, because in the moment of passion others were close, but they despised and blasphemed him. The good-hearted thief, animated by a holy desire, asked salvation and he was the first to enter with Christ into heaven.

Let each of us pray “Jesus, remember me, remember my fellow human beings to whom I want to give daily the bread of your true and living Gospel”. If we persevere in the prayer “Thy kingdom come”, we will see Christ’s promise come true. If we are firmly beside him letting us be drawn by Him on the cross, we will become like Him witnesses (= martyrs) of Truth.

In addition to the way of the good thief, there is another way to stand beside Christ, King of the Cross, and this is the one of the Virgin Mary, who was so associated in the kingship of Christ that we rightly sing in the sacred liturgy “Holy Mary, Queen of heaven and mistress of the world, stricken with grief, stood by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ “(Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows). Francis Suarez wrote” Like Christ, who for the particular title of the redemption, is our lord and king, so the Blessed Virgin (is Our Lady) for the singular participation to our redemption, by giving her being and offering it to us voluntarily wishing, wondering and funding in a unique way our salvation “(De mysteriis vitae Christi, disp. XXII, sect. II and. Vives, XIX, 327).

Even the consecrated Virgins in the world are called to participate in the kingship of Christ and of the Virgin Mary, giving their testimony to the truth of Love.

The character of martyrdom (= witness) is also rightly attributed to virginity. Virginity is indeed considered a form of martyrdom, being a life totally given to Christ, Bridegroom and King. As a result, a royal dignity is recognized to virginity and virginity is crowned by her groom, the king of the universe. For this reason, during the Rite of Consecration, a veil that has the meaning of a royal crown is placed on the head of the virgin.

It is true that the first meaning of the veil is to indicate that the consecrated virgin is the bride only of Christ subtracted from the eyes of men to be always under the gaze of God and to please him for the purity and the intensity of love. But it is equally true that the veil is a sign of consecration to Christ and consequently it is a sign of a high nobility, that of the bride of Christ the King. Could there be a higher dignity for a woman? I think not, but the veil keeps her in humility.

Veiled, but present- like the Virgin Mary – the woman is totally dedicated to the Lord in prayer. The virgin is not a disembodied and indifferent being, distant from ordinary people, but a woman able to give love and a gift unselfish, chaste, universal, and free because virginal. This is the mystical meaning of the veil on the head of the consecrated women, hidden in the world to be in the heart of the world and bring all people in the heart of Christ, the only spouse of the Church.

[1] The solemnity of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI on December 11, 1925 with the encyclical Quas Primas. It is, therefore, a relatively recent liturgical feast. However the idea of ​​royalty attributed to Christ is already in the Holy Scriptures, in the Fathers of the Church, in the theologians, and even in the sacred and in the common sense of the faithful who all agree on this royalty. When asked “What is this kingship of Christ?” the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said “It is not that of the kings and of the great of this world; it is the divine power to give eternal life, to liberate from evil, to defeat the dominion of death. It is the power of Love that can draw good from evil, soften a hardened heart, bring peace to the bitterest conflict, turn the thickest darkness into hope. This Kingdom of Grace is never imposed and always respects our freedom. ” (Address at the Angelus, November 22, 2009)
[2] As I mentioned several times the Greek word martyr means witness. We should keep in mind that in the language of St. John “truth” is the truth of God, his love for man, for every man.


Patristic Reading

Saint Augustine of Hyppo

Tractate CXV.

On Jn 18,33-40.

1). What Pilate said to Christ, or what He replied to Pilate, has to be considered and handled in the present discourse. For after the words had been addressed to the Jews, “Take ye him, and judge him according to your law,” and the Jews had replied, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death, Pilate entered again into the judgment hall, and called Jesus, and said unto Him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus answered, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?” The Lord indeed knew both what He Himself asked, and what reply the other was to give; but yet He wished it to be spoken, not for the sake of information to Himself, but that what He wished us to know might be recorded in Scripture. “Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” This is what the good Master wished us to know; but first there had to be shown us the vain notion that men had regarding His kingdom, whether Gentiles or Jews, from whom Pilate had heard it; as if He ought to have been punished with death on the ground of aspiring to an unlawful kingdom; or as those in the possession of royal power usually manifest their ill-will to such as are yet to attain it, as if, for example, precautions were to be used lest His kingdom should prove adverse either to the Romans or to the Jews. But the Lord was able to reply to the first question of the governor, when he asked Him, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” with the words, “My kingdom is not of this world,” etc.; but by questioning him in turn, whether he said this thing of himself, or heard it from others, He wished by his answer to show that He had been charged with this as a crime before him by the Jews: laying open to us the thoughts of men, which were all known to Himself, that they are but vain;1 and now, after Pilate’s answer, giving them, both Jews and Gentiles, all the more reasonable and fitting a reply, “My kingdom is not of this world.” But had He made an immediate answer to Pilate’s question, His reply would have appeared to refer to the Gentiles only, without including the Jews, as entertaining such an opinion regarding Him. But now when Pilate replied, “Am I a Jew? Thine own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered thee to me;” he removed from himself the suspicion of being possibly supposed to have spoken of his own accord, in saying that Jesus was the king of the Jews, by showing that such a statement had been communicated to him by the Jews. And then by saying, “What hast thou done?” he made it sufficiently clear that this was charged against Him as a crime: as if he had said, If thou deniest such kingly claims, what hast thou done to cause thy being delivered unto me? As if there would be no ground for wonder that one should be delivered up to a judge for punishment, who proclaimed himself a king; but if no such assertion were made, it became needful to inquire of Him, what else, if anything, He had done, that He should thus deserve to be delivered unto the judge.

2. Hear then, ye Jews and Gentiles; hear, O circumcision; hear, O uncircumcision; hear, all ye kingdoms of the earth: I interfere not with your government in this world, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Cherish ye not the utterly vain terror that threw Herod the elder into consternation when the birth of Christ was announced, and led him to the murder of so many infants in the hope of including Christ in the fatal number,2 made more cruel by his fear than by his anger: “My kingdom,” He said, “is not of this world.” What would you more? Come to the kingdom that is not of this world; come, believing, and fall not into the madness of anger through fear. He says, indeed, prophetically of God the Father, “Yet have I been appointed king by Him upon His holy hill of Zion;”3 but that hill of Zion is not of this world. For what is His kingdom, save those who believe in Him, to whom He says, “Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world”? And yet He wished them to be in the world: on that very account saying of them to the Father, “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”4 Hence also He says not here, “My kingdom is not” in this world; but, “is not of this world.” And when He proved this by saying, “If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews,” He saith not, “But now is my kingdom not” here, but, “is not from hence.” For His kingdom is here until the end of the world, having tares intermingled therewith until the harvest; for the harvest is the end of the world, when the reapers, that is to say, the angels, shall come and gather out of His kingdom everything that offendeth;5 which certainly would not be done, were it not that His kingdom is here. But still it is not from hence; for it only sojourns as a stranger in the world: because He says to His kingdom, “Ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.”6 They were therefore of the world, so long as they were not His kingdom, but belonged to the prince of this world. Of the world therefore are all mankind, created indeed by the true God, but generated from Adam as a vitiated and condemned stock; and there are made into a kingdom no longer of the world, all from thence that have been regenerated in Christ. For so did God rescue us from the power of darkness, and translate us into the kingdom of the Son of His love:7 and of this kingdom it is that He saith, “My kingdom is not of this world;” or, “My kingdom is not from hence.”

3. “Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king.” Not that He was afraid to confess Himself a king, but “Thou sayest” has been so balanced that He neither denies Himself to be a king (for He is a king whose kingdom is not of this world), nor does He confess that He is such a king as to warrant the supposition that His kingdom is of this world. For as this was the very idea in Pilate’s mind when he said, ’“Art thou a king then?” so the answer he got was, “Thou sayest that I am a king.” For it was said, “Thou sayest,” as if it had been said, Carnal thyself, thou sayest it carnally.

4. Thereafter He adds, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” * *8 Whence it is evident that He here referred to His own temporal nativity, when by becoming incarnate He came into the world, and not to that which had no beginning, whereby He was God through whom the Father created the world. For this, then, that is, on this account, He declared that He was born, and to this end He came into the world, to wit, by being born of the Virgin, that He might bear witness unto the truth. But because all men have not faith,9 He still further said, “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” He heareth, that is to say, with the ears of the inward man, or, in other words, He obeyeth my voice, which is equivalent to saying, He believeth me. When Christ, therefore, beareth witness unto the truth, He beareth witness, of course, unto Himself; for from His own lips are the words, “I am the truth;”10 as He said also in another place, “I bear witness of myself.”11 But when He said, “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice,” He commendeth the grace whereby He calleth according to His own purpose. Of which purpose the apostle says, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are called according to the purpose of God,”12 to wit, the purpose of Him that calleth, not of those who are called; which is put still. more clearly in another place in this way, “Labor together in the gospel according to the power of God, who saveth us and calleth us with His holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace.”13 For if our thoughts turn to the nature wherein we have been created, inasmuch as we were all created by the Truth, who is there that is not of the truth? But it is not all to whom it is given of the truth to hear, that is, to obey the truth, and to believe in the truth; while in no case certainly is there any preceding of merit, lest grace should cease to be grace. For had He said, Every one that heareth my voice is of the truth, then it would be supposed that he was declared to be of the truth because he conforms to the truth; it is not this, however, that He says, but, “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” And in this way he is not of the truth simply because he heareth His voice; but only on this account he heareth, because he is of the truth, that is, because this is a gift bestowed on him of the truth. And what else is this, but that by Christ’s gracious bestowal he believeth on Christ?

5. “Pilate said unto Him, What is truth?” Nor did he wait to hear the answer; but “when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and said unto them, I find in him no fault. But ye have a custom that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?” I believe when Pilate said, “What is truth?” there immediately occurred to his mind the custom of the Jews, according to which he was wont to release unto them one at the passover; and therefore he did not wait to hear Jesus’ answer to his question, What is truth? to avoid delay on recollecting the custom whereby He might be released unto them during the passover-a thing which it is clear he greatly desired. It could not, however, be torn from his heart that Jesus was the King of the Jews, but was fixed there, as in the superscription, by the truth itself, whereof he had just inquired what it was. “But on hearing this, they all cried again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.” We blame you not, O jews, for liberating the guilty during the passover, but for slaying the innocent; and yet unless that were done, the true passover would not take place. But a shadowy of the truth was retained by the erring Jews, and by a marvellous dispensation of divine wisdom the truth of that same shadow was fulfilled by deluded men; because in order that the true passover might be kept, Christ was led as a sheep to the sacrificial slaughter. Hence there follows the account of the injurious treatment received by Christ at the hands of Pilate and his cohort; but this must be taken up in another discourse.

1 (Ps 94,11,

2 (Mt 2,3 Mt 2,16.

3 (Ps 2,6).

4 Chap. 17,16, 15.

5 (Mt 13,38-41.

6 Chap. 15,19.

7 (Col 1,13,

8 The verse quoted reads in Latin, “Ego in hoc natus sum, et ad hoc veni,” etc.; and in reference to the words, in hoc, Augustin goes on to say, in the passage marked * * . “We are not to lengthen the syllable [vowel] of this pronoun when He says, In hoc natus sum, as if He meant to say, In this thing was I born; but to shorten it, as if He had said, Ad hanc rem natus sum, vel ad hoc natus sum (for this thing was I born), just as He says, Ad hoc veni in mundum (for this came I into the world). For in the Greek Gospel there is no ambiguity in this expression,” the Greek having eij” tou`to. This passage is interesting only to Latin scholars, as showing that in ordinary parlance they marked, in Augustin’s time, the distinction between hoc of the abl. and hoc of the nom. or acc.-Tr.

9 (2Th 3,2,

10 Chap. 14,6.

11 Chap. 8,18.

12 (Rm 8,28,

13 (2Tm 1,8-9,


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The Need for Catholic Manhood in a World of Disruption and Disorder

By Maike Hickson and published on ‘OnePeterFive

John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man (1952)

John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man (1952)

After the first terrorist attack in Paris in January of 2014, I began working on this essay. Following the most recent attacks, I decided it was time to finish it and see it published. Two important articles have raised important questions about the state of the West in its unavoidable confrontation with the increasing expansiveness of Islam. After the attacks of felonious homicide in Paris, France on January 7th, two authors, Professor Roberto de Mattei[1] from Italy, and Emeritus Professor William Kilpatrick[2] from the United States, have both warned the West to understand the resolute will of Islam, despite their varied means, to attain one main objective: to take over Western culture and civilization, and not only in Europe. Both show that the West in its vacillating and relativist ideology of multi-culturalism and liberalism is not prepared to defend its own countries against a growing Muslim influence and implantation. In the face of the recent attacks again in Paris, it is worthwhile considering these two authors once more.

De Mattei wisely says that many methods of the modern Muslim combatants have been influenced by revolutionary methods of Terror that derive originally from the secular Enlightenment as well as from Communism-Leninism (and the subtler forms of Gramscianism) all of which have implemented their anti-Christian worldview in Europe with the indispensable help of terror, perhaps first practiced systematically in France itself in 1793. Thus, de Mattei shows how the Christian West is encircled or permeated by two antagonistic powers—Secular and Islamic—which are both anti-Christian and also disposed to employ inhuman methods to spread their worldview, especially those hypocritical Secularists who openly support the systemic large-scale terror of “abortion” (the deliberate killing of pre-born children). The answer of the Italian historian, de Mattei, to this grave, even mortal, challenge, is: Christ Crucified. Only by clinging to Him and to His truth in full will the West be able to recover its strength and find the will to defend itself, or the vulnerable women and little children. As he shows, a weakened and softened West without strong convictions and principles will lack the necessary strength to oppose such declared and resolute opponents.

The interrelated theses of these two authors have further inspired me as a German, moreover, to think, as a convert, even more practically about the Catholic Faith as the only adequate resistance and remedy for our situation.

The Catholic Church has long been largely under attack from Liberals, especially since the visceralities of the 1960s, when feminism gave rise to criticism of the “patriarchical structures” of the Church. The society, and especially the women, purportedly had to be disencumbered from such suppression and submission. In the wake of this ongoing cultural revolution, women strove more and more to be like men, to seek their types of institutional functions, to emulate the men and take their positions and jobs, and even to look more and more like them in dress and gesture. The women toughened up—and are now even entering Army Ranger School—and the men increasingly conceded and receded and were further weakened, in part, by the spreading suspicion that the men enduringly have had an underlying “will to subjugate the women.” And from early childhood on boys, often taught largely by women, were thwarted, if not nearly suffocated, in their natural desire to be protectors and providers and to be manifoldly strong.

My husband – who himself is a West Point graduate and Special Forces officer – memorably reported to me how a fine young Catholic Marine recruit from Baltimore was sent home from his basic training in the mid-1980s, because he would not surrender his rifle to a woman inspecting-officer. The male officers privately appreciated his choice, but dared not make their views public—and thus they asked him to relent, because he was even then considered to be such an excellent prospect as a full Marine and was already at the very top of his class at his well-known Parris Island, South Carolina basic training. When the young man then very soon came to visit my husband at his home in Front Royal, Virginia to tell him, with much embarrassment, the whole story, my husband warmly honored him and embraced him, especially after the young man said the following words: “Sir, there comes a time when a man should no longer have to take orders from a woman—and certainly not to have her inspect his rifle.” That was so in the 1980s, but we have gone much further now in what my husband calls “the forward march of regress.”

My husband and I have already observed in our own little boy of five years of age, how much he desires to be a protector and provider. He blossoms when he can “cut trees down,” “clear the yard,” “rescue people,” “shoot the invader,” or just show how strong he is, wrestling and boxing with his dad and asking to be thrown high aloft. All these ideas and desires of our little son derive nothing from television or video games, for he has none of these and has no access to them, but only to books and an occasional film. We have abstained from exposing him to examples that directly or indirectly present such sensation and violence and worse, to include the spreading scenes of unmistakable inhumanity. Our little son’s recurrent desire to protect, to do the difficult chores, to be strong is somehow implanted, and I believe it is God-given. That is what he is made for: to found a family, for example, and to protect and provide for that family: indeed a beautiful and challenging adventure itself. God made men strong so that they can do hard jobs and can make a living to feed a whole family. What an honor. What a grace. God made men also strong so that they can protect their families against intruders and aggressors, which is an enlivening form of just defense. Such was part of the chivalrous ethos which forthrightly said, or implied: “the more defenseless someone is, the more that person calls out for your defense.” It is according to this ethos that, in an emergency situation when a ship is sinking, women and children are always first put into the rescue boats. Men need to be honored for that. But, my husband sometimes asks with agony and from his heart: “Where are the men now when we are drowning in the blood of our children and are even sending women to do our fighting for us?”

That these same virtuous and chivalrous qualities are needed now again—and more and more so in our degenerating societies and the deeper culture—should be a conviction growing continually clearer to any reflective person—even to one who is but briefly and desultorily exposed to the happenings of war and diminishing peace in our world today. For instance, I remember seeing recently with my husband a short film about the citizenry in that contested strategic part of Ukraine (and historic Russia) called the Crimea and how the men in the towns of these contested areas on the verge of civil war took prompt precautions and concrete actions for the protection of their families—and they took them in their own hands without waiting for any government approval, much less supervision. They set up check points and made sure no one with weapons would enter their town. (I do not intend to enter into the discussion about the merits of the Russian-Ukrainian historical and cultural and strategical claims in this exacerbating conflict in the Ukraine; I only take this manly and vividly remembered sincere response of family fathers as a supporting example). When I saw the serene and unpretentious and abidingly responsible conduct of these men, I said to my husband: “Which men would act like this in the U.S., or even in Old Europe, any more? Sincerity, cheerfulness, no strutting or swaggering, and yet a just and persevering determination to do the right thing for the right reason—always to protect the little ones. ”

One cannot expect men to protect us women if we have feminized them for decades and have gotten them accustomed to being halted in their attempt to guide and to lead. If you take away their leadership—and their sense of responsibility and of accountability—in society and in families, they will not later be leaders in a larger conflict in society, or in a challenge coming from without.

That is where the full truth of the Catholic Church should be re-introduced into the discourse and manners and our practical and unblushingly virtuous conduct. While honoring and cherishing women throughout the centuries and giving them prominent as well as humble places where, in their different “states of life,” they became admired and cherished saints, spiritual doctors of the Church, prioresses, foundresses of religious orders, authors, solitary contemplatives and quietly suffering souls—but especially mothers and nourishers of family love—the Church herself as an intrinsically hierarchical communion is led by men. God has become man in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ founded His Church with twelve men, while holy women had their own important and indispensable part in the Passion and Salvation History. (We think now especially of St. Mary Magdalene!) While the Church was led by a Pope, as the Vicar of Christ, the families were analogously led by men as the heads of families. St. Paul even more explicitly presents the analogy between Church and Family in the following pericope, when he says in Ephesians 5:

Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord: Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the savior of his body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it.” (Eph. 5: 22-25, Douay-Rheims translation).

In both cases, the men who lead are called to a special form of self-sacrifice. The men, traditionally, are the ones who volunteer first and die first in a war. Christ loved us first and died first for us. In this teaching and fostered expectation, the Church strengthens manhood and the leadership of man, and unto the greater good of the families and of the society and the authoritative State. Since God has created us, He knows best how we should live on earth unto the benefit of larger mankind and, most of all, unto eternal life and the salvation of souls: i.e., the supernatural Common Good, not just the natural-temporal Common Good.

Therefore—and here I hope with my husband and with our children to follow in the steep and good footsteps of Roberto de Mattei himself (indeed a “Bonum Arduum” in the words of Saint Thomas)—the world should (and must) rediscover the fuller truth of the Person of Christ and His more abundant life and teaching: Christ Crucified and Christ the King. We would, thereby, not only create happier families and a happier society, but ultimately we would also know, with the indispensable help and virtues of Catholic Manhood, how better then to defend ourselves against all enemies coming from without and from within the Church, knowing that we were made for Beatitude and may thus trust in the Divine Grace to assist our completion there—with the hope that not one of our little children would be finally lost.


[1] Roberto de Mattei, “Christ Crucified: Scandal to the Muslims, Foolishness to the Secularists,” Corrispondenza Romana, January 14, 2015, as translated by Rorate Caeli: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2015/01/christ-crucified-scandal-to-muslims.html

[2] William Kilpatrick, “Will a Future Pope Be Forced to Flee Rome?,” The Catholic World Report, 21 January 2015: http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/3645/will_a_future_pope_be_forced_to_flee_rome.aspx

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The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From ‘Saint Andrew Daily Missal’:

Fresco of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary from the Church of the Entrance of the Virgin Mary into the Temple, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia

Fresco of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary from the Church of the Entrance of the Virgin Mary into the Temple, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia

The Feast of the Presentation of Mary is founded on a pious tradition, originated by two apocryphal gospels which relate that the Blessed Virgin was presented in the temple of Jerusalem when three years old, and that she lived there with other girls and the holy women who had them in their care. Already in the sixth century the event is commemorated in the East and the Emperor Michael Comnenus alludes to it in a constitution of 1166.

A French nobleman, Philippe de Maizerès, who was chancellor at the court of the King of Cyprus, having been sent in 1372 as ambassador to Pope Gregory XI, at Avignon, related to him with what magnificence the feast was solemnised in Greece, on November 21. His Holiness introduced the feast at Avignon and Sixtus V in Rome in 1585. Clement VIII raised it to the rank of greater-double and re-arranged the office.


O God who wast pleased that on this day the blessed Mary ever a virgin, the dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost, should be presented in the temple; grant, we beseech Thee, that through her prayers we may be found worthy to be presented in the temple of Thy glory. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Ghost, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.


From a beautiful post on Vultus Christi: ‘The Earlier Mysteries of the Blessed Virgin Mary’:

The image is a detail from Dürer’s Virgin and Child with Saint Anne (1519)

The image is a detail from Dürer’s Virgin and Child with Saint Anne (1519)

For some years now, especially around the Marian feasts of September 8th, September 12th, November 21st, and December 8th, I have “told my beads” while dwelling on five mysteries of the first part of Our Lady’s life. These five mysteries of the Blessed Virgin Mary are:

— the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne (feast December 8th);
— the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (feast September 8th);
— the Most Holy Name of Mary (feast September 12th);
— the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple (feast November 21st);
— the Betrothal of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Joseph (feast January 23rd).

There is a particular sweetness in dwelling on these mysteries of Maria Bambina, the Infant Mary, the Child Mary. They distill graces of purity, of childlike simplicity, and of littleness.

All five mysteries are commemorated in the Sacred Liturgy. The liturgical books are rich in texts to nourish the meditation of each one. It is enough to take an antiphon, a verse, a single phrase, and to hold it in the heart while telling one’s beads. The Rosary corresponds to the meditatio and the oratio of monastic prayer; it begins necessarily in lectio divina, the hearing of the Word, and then, gently, almost imperceptibly, draws the soul into contemplatio.

The Rosary is, I am convinced, the surest and easiest school of contemplative prayer. The Rosary decapitates pride, the single greatest obstacle to union with God. The repetition of the Aves, like a stream of pure water, cleanses the heart.

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