Devil admits to exorcist: “I’m afraid of the Madonna”

As the month dedicated to the Holy Rosary nears its end, it is worth reminding ourselves of the importance of this devotion so detested by Satan…. and of the fifteen promises Our Lady made to those who daily pray this powerful prayer. The whole Gospel, and all its deeper truths, are contained within its holy mysteries.

“If Christians knew the power of the Rosary, it would be the end of me!”

We share excerpts from private dialogues between Satan and Fr. Gabriele Amorth, an exorcist in Rome who died last year at the age of 91. Satan and this priest confronted each other on many occasions. Fr. Amorth heard it all—difficult, harsh discussions, and of course full of lies, because the devil’s action is based on lies.


Fabio Marchese Ragona, who is the curator of the Stanze Vaticane blog, wrote, “During an exorcism, Fr. Amorth had asked the devil when he would leave the possessed girl’s body. The devil replied that he would remain until December 8. This turned out not to be true, and when Fr. Gabriele reproached him for the lie, the devil said in reply, “Haven’t they ever told you I’m a liar?” (Faro di Roma, September 2016).


Fr. Gabriele Amorth confided to the website Luce di Maria (May, 2015) that “exorcists interrogate the devil and get answers out of him.” But if the devil is the prince of lies, what use is it to interrogate him?

“It’s true that we sift through the devil’s answers afterwards; perhaps the Lord forces the devil to tell the truth to demonstrate that Satan has been defeated by Christ, and is also forced to obey Christ’s followers when they act in His name.”


According to Fr. Amorth, the evil one often “expressly declares that he is being forced to speak, which is something he will do everything to avoid. But, for example, when he is forced to reveal his name, it is a great humiliation for him—a sign of defeat. But woe to the exorcist who gets lost in questions of curiosity (which the Rite expressly forbids) or if he lets himself be guided by the devil in a conversation! Precisely because he is a master of lies, Satan is humiliated when God forces him to tell the truth.


In an interview with Urlo Magazine (2009), Fr. Amorth recounted, “Once, it happened that I asked a demon why, despite his superior intelligence, he preferred to descend into hell; he answered, ‘I rebelled against God; thus, I showed that I am stronger than He is.’ Therefore, for them, rebellion is a sign of victory and superiority.


In his book The Last Exorcist—composed of texts from various blogs, including Gloria TV and Testimonianze di fede—Fr. Amorth reports an entire dialogue he had, in his role as exorcist, with the devil.

Father Amorth: “What are the virtues of the Madonna that make you angriest?”

Demon: “She makes me angry because she is the humblest of all creatures, and because I am the proudest; because she is the purest of all creatures, and I am not; because, of all creatures, she is the most obedient to God, and I am a rebel!”

Father Amorth: “Tell me the fourth characteristic of the Madonna that makes you so afraid of her that you are more afraid when I say the Madonna’s name than when I say the name of Jesus Christ!”

Demon: “I am more afraid when you say the Madonna’s name, because I am more humiliated by being beaten by a simple creature, than by Him…”

Father Amorth: “Tell me the fourth characteristic of the Madonna that makes you most angry!”

Demon: “Because she always defeats me, because she was never compromised by any taint of sin!”

“During an exorcism,” Father Amorth remembers, “Satan told me, through the possessed person, ‘Every Hail Mary of the Rosary is a blow to the head for me; if Christians knew the power of the Rosary, it would be the end of me!’


On the Libero website (February 3, 2012), Father Amorth remembered his first encounter with Satan. It happened during an exorcism:

“Suddenly, I had the clear sensation of a demonic presence before me. I felt this demon that was looking at me intently. Scrutinizing me. Moving around me. The air became cold. It was terribly cold. Father Candido had also warned me ahead of time about these sudden changes in temperature, but it’s one thing to hear certain things talked about, and another to experience them yourself. I tried to concentrate. I closed my eyes and continued my prayer by rote. ‘Leave, therefore, you rebel. Leave, seducer, full of every kind of fraud and falsehood, enemy of virtue, persecutor of the innocent. Cede your place to Christ, in whom there is nothing of your works’ (…)



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In Magnum’s Wake, Pope “Clarifies” Sarah. Again.

 From Whispers in the Loggia:

In an extraordinary rebuke to one of his own Curial cardinals, the Pope has aimed to “explain simply, and hopefully clearly… some errors” in his Worship chief’s understanding of Magnum Principium, his recent motu proprio on liturgical translations, indicating the new norms granting new oversight to bishops’ conferences as a fresh development and declaring several key pieces of the operative rules in 2001’s Liturgiam authenticam “abrogated.”

A year since Francis’ last open clash with his top liturgical aide, a personal letter from the pontiff to the CDW prefect Cardinal Robert Sarah (above, ad orientem), dated 15 October, was published this morning by the Italian outlet La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana and subsequently confirmed by the Holy See Press Office, as well as being placed on the Italian homepage of Vatican Radio. (Ironically enough, even as this Ordinary Sunday takes precedence, today marks the feast of St John Paul II, under whose authority LA was promulgated.)

Noting a recent, lengthy commentary in which Sarah stated that LAremains “the authoritative text concerning liturgical translations,” the Pope responded by relating that paragraphs 79-84 of the 2001 norms – those which deal precisely with the requirement for a vernacular rendering’s recognitio by Rome – were now abolished, going on to note that Magnum “no longer upholds that translations must conform on all points with the norms of Liturgiam authenticam, as was the case in the past.”

In the new balance of responsibility, Francis said, Sarah’s contention that “the words recognitio and confirmatio, without being strictly synonymous [to explain the Vatican’s role], are nevertheless interchangeable” – in essence, that little had changed from LA – was not the case. As the pontiff explained, “the faculty” now belongs to the respective bishops’ conferences “to judge the goodness and coherence of terms in the translation of the original, albeit in dialogue with the Holy See”; in other words, not a unilateral call on Rome’s part, even at the process’ final stage.

Given considerable focus in the new norms’ wake on the use of the word “fideliter” – that is, a conference’s charge of weighing a translation’s fidelity to the original – in Magnum‘s revision of the Code of Canon Law, the pontiff writes that the term, as judged by an episcopal conference, implies a “triple” meaning: “first, to the original text; to the particular language in which it is translated, and finally to the understanding of the text by its audience.

In light of LA‘s revision of translation principles – which placed a premium on accuracy to the original Latin text over a “dynamic equivalence” approach that allowed a looser standard to ensure widespread comprehension – the Pope’s new interpretation is of particular significance.

While Francis began his letter by thanking the Guinean cardinal for his “contribution,” it bears recalling that, on Magnum‘s release in early September, Sarah – who Papa Bergoglio himself named to CDW in late 2014 – was conspicuous by his absence: an explanatory note on the new norms was instead issued by his deputy, the English Archbishop Arthur Roche. A former bishop of Leeds and chairman of ICEL – the global coordinating body for English-language translations – Roche was likewise received by Francis in a private audience earlier this month by himself.

Given the broad circulation of Sarah’s earlier interpretation on the new norms – in particular, among circles routinely critical, or even hostile, toward the pontiff – Francis closed the letter by asking the cardinal to transmit his response to the outlets which previously ran Sarah’s piece, as well as to the episcopal conferences and CDW’s staff and membership.

The letter published today marks the third instance of Sarah’s responses to Francis meeting a very public retort from the Pope. In early 2016, as CDW promulgated the decree formally allowing women to participate in the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday, an attached letter from the pontiff to the cardinal revealed that Papa Bergoglio’s directive for the change had been held up for over a year.

Six months later, Francis (through the Press Office) issued a “clarification” that Sarah had been “incorrectly interpreted” in calling for priests to adopt the ad orientem stance in celebrating Mass, which the cardinal urged days earlier at a conference for traditionalists in London.

In a major speech to Italian liturgists late last summer, Francis declared, “with certainty and magisterial authority,” that the Vatican II reforms are “irreversible” – adding that, for the church, “the liturgy is life, and not an idea to be understood.”

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Reflection for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Image result for RENDER UNTO CAESAR


FIRST READING  Isaiah 45:1, 4-6

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, Cyrus, whose right hand I grasp, subduing nations before him, and making kings run in his service, opening doors before him and leaving the gates unbarred:  For the sake of Jacob, my servant, of Israel, my chosen one, I have called you by your name, giving you a title, though you knew me not.  I am the Lord and there is no other, there is no God besides me.  It is I who arm you, though you know me not, so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun people may know that there is none besides me.  I am the Lord, there is no other.

SECOND READING        1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:  grace to you and peace.  We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God, how you were chosen.  For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.

GOSPEL       Matthew 22:15-21

The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.  They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.  And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status.  Tell us, then, what is your opinion:  Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”  Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?  Show me the coin that pays the census tax.”  Then they handed him the Roman coin.  He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”  They replied, “Caesar’s.”  At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Today’s readings insist that we must be aware that God is at work even in politicians and in those who govern countries.  God is truly almighty and is able to bring about good in every situation—even when we or those who govern resist His Word.  Always we are called by the Scriptures to acknowledge that God is truly God and all powerful and in charge of all that happens.  Such a view of our world does not leave out our own self will by which we choose either to follow the word o God or to reject that word.

The first reading today is from the Prophet Isaiah.  This passage tells of the presence of the God of Israel in the life of Cyrus.  There are many references to Cyrus in the Old Testament because it was under Cyrus that the Babylonian Captivity came to an end and the Jewish people were able to return to their own land and rebuild the temple.  What is important in this reading is that it is God who is acting through Cyrus.  Even non-Jewish—and later even non-Christian—rulers can be and are used by the Lord God to bring about His will and His plans.

The second reading is from the beginning of the First Letter to the Thessalonians.  We can look again at the sentence:  “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.”  The Gospel—the Good News of Jesus Christ—always comes to us in people, not just in words, but in deeds.  There are some people who are able to read the Scriptures and be converted, but most of us are baptized into the Church by our families or we convert because of the example of someone.  When we meet a person who is on fire with faith and who is able to speak clearly and correctly about the Scriptures, we meet the kind of person that Saint Paul wants to bring the Gospel to others.  You and I should be that kind of person:  able to speak about our faith and believing so deeply in the Lord Jesus that His presence radiates out of us.

Of course we might not be that way all of the time, but it is a goal because in that way the Gospel is brought to people and people are brought to Jesus Christ and His Church.

Today’s Gospel from Saint Matthew brings us back to the challenge of living in a world that is not Christian and learning how to live with politicians and civil governors.  The Gospel gives us the account of the Herodians trying to trap Jesus by having Him be against the government.  Instead, Jesus goes right around their arguments and simply tells them that civil government has to be obeyed insofar as it is not a Church matter.

Today in many countries, civil governments are beginning to make laws that will make Christians have to live against the law.  In the areas of sexuality, sexual identity, marriage, abortion and euthanasia, the civil governments are moving in directions completely against the teachings of our Lord.  And there is very little civil discourse about these matters.  Societies are being polarized and Christians who want to be faithful are being seen as old fashioned, out of date and against others.  We can give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but we cannot give to Caesar that which belongs to God.

So we are called today to prepare ourselves for conflict and for being judged badly and for being seen as old-fashioned.  In fact, we might even have to suffer for our beliefs.  Let us trust that God will always give us the strength to be faithful to the Lord Jesus and His Church.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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Good stories tell the whole story

By Dr. Ed Peters from In the Light of the Law:
October 20, 2017


Pope Francis is a story teller who uses stories to make his points. A time-honored method of teaching, of course, but it comes with a risk: omitting parts of a story can leave listeners with a distorted sense of the reality behind the story.

Complaining yesterday for the umpteenth time about Pharisees in the Church—apparently Francis has discounted complaints from Jews that his unrelenting portrayal of Pharisees-qua-boogeymen is lending comfort to anti-Semites—the pope told a story about a pastoral travesty committed in regard to baptism. And it was a travesty.

Per Francis: Three months ago, in a country, in a city, a mother wanted to baptize her newly born son, but she was married civilly with a divorced man. The priest said, ‘Yes, yes. Baptize the baby. But your husband is divorced. So he cannot be present at the ceremony.’ This is happening today. The Pharisees, doctors of the law are not people of the past, even today, there are many of them.

I winced when I read the story not because I assumed, as would any non-lawyer in the wake of those words, that canon law is so heartless as to exclude a father from his son’s baptism, but rather because I know, precisely as a lawyer, how much pastoral wisdom is packed into the Johanno-Pauline Code and how little of that wisdom was brought to bear by the priest’s actions as narrated in the pope’s story

First, let’s us be clear: No canon of the 1983 Code bans parents from sacramental celebrations involving their children and no canon authorizes priests to exclude parents from such sacred events.

In fact quite the opposite approach is taken by canon law: e.g., Canon 226 upholds parental primacy over the raising of their children, Canon 835 § 4 defends this right and duty in the midst of the sacramental-liturgical life of the Church, Canons 867-868 impose parental obligations to seek baptism for children promptly, and Canon 1136 recognizes that parents have “the most grave duty and the primary right to take care as best they can for the physical, social, cultural, moral, and religious education of their offspring.”

So, here, a priest illegally bans a parent from his child’s baptism and yet canon law gets blamed for it. See what happens when key aspects of a story are left out?

But here’s another part of the story, one that the priest who attracted the pope’s ire might have been stumbling toward but which, perhaps being the product of the shabby canonical training that so many seminarians “in a country, in a city” seemed to have received over the last fifty years, he did not understand correctly: canon law (reflecting doctrinal mandates and centuries of disciplinary wisdom) requires for the licit baptism of a child “a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion” per Canon 868 § 1 n. 1.

Ahhh. A “founded hope” of being raised Catholic. Might some vague awareness of that requirement have been behind the priest’s hesitation to treat this baptismal request the same as he would treat a baptismal request from a couple married in the Church and active in the practice of their faith? Or, are all baptismal requests owed an automatic “Sure!” from pastors now?

However illegal was the priest’s decision to ban a father from his son’s baptism (and it was illegal), might the priest’s common sense intuited that Catholic parents who live in contradiction to the teachings of Christ and his Church on marriage diminish the chances that their children will be brought up in an environment conducive to learning and living the requirements of the Catholic faith?  If so, he might have been recognizing exactly what countless of his brothers have recognized in the course of their ministry and, if advised and not ridiculed, he might have been led to spot signs of a “founded hope” for a Catholic upbringing that he overlooked before or, if that were not possible, he might have (as many priests I know have done) used the good desire of the parents to see their child baptized as an occasion to invite those parents into regularizing their own status in the Church both for their good and their child’s.

Either way, though, what the priest would not have done, one hopes, is exactly what canon law seeks to prevent: imposing the burdens of Catholic life on a child unable, through no fault of his own, to fulfill those burdens—perhaps with the pious hope that baptism will somehow just make everything turn out alright.

In any case, none of these, I suggest, highly relevant concerns comes across in the pope’s story. Instead, canon law once again gets blamed for supporting something (here, the banning of a parent from a baptism) that in fact it repudiates, and the possibility that a canonical norm meant to protect children (the “founded hope” requirement) might also have been at issue, is ignored.

+ + +

Postscript. Last fall I commented on Francis’ modification of Canon 868 in regard to the baptism of the children of non-Catholics. The questions I asked then are, to my knowledge, still unresolved.

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First Responses to the Correctio Filialis… a Laudatio from the German bishops!

Roberto de Mattei: ‘The Correctio filialis and the Laudatio of Pope Francis’

St Paul correcting St Peter – Guido Reni

After three weeks the first organized response to the Correctio filialis has appeared: a Laudatio published on the web, signed by a group of priests and intellectuals prevalently from the Austrian-German domain. (

Who are the signatories of the Laudatio? One of them, the German Monsignor Fritz Lobinger, Bishop emeritus of Aliwal (South Africa), is the “father” of the expression “community priesthood” which he explained in the book Team of Elders. Moving beyond Viri probati (2007), wherein he hopes for an introduction in the Church of two types of priests, diocesan priests and those of the community; the former full-time celibates and the latter, married with a family, at the disposition of the community where they live and work.

Another signatory, Father Paul Zulehner, a disciple of Karl Rahner, is known in turn for his fanciful “pastoral futurology” (Pastorale Futurologie, 1990). In 2011, he supported the “appeal to disobedience” launched by 329 Austrian priests, favouring married priests, priestly ordination for women, the right for Protestants and the divorced and remarried to receive Communion and for the laity to preach and lead parishes.

Matin Lintner, is a Servite religious from Bolzano, teacher at Bressanone and President of Insect (International Network of Societies for Catholic Theology). He is famous for his book The Rediscovery of Eros. The Church, Sexuality and Human Relations (2015), in which he is open to homosexuality, pre-matrimonial relations, and his enthusiastic response to Amoris Laetitia, which, in his opinion is “a point of no return” in the Church. In fact, “we can no longer say that today there is a categorical exclusion from receiving the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation for those in a new union, who don’t abstain from sexual relations. Of this there is no doubt, on the basis of the text of A.L. itself” (, December 5th 2016).

It is clear at this point that the deep division running through the Church is not between the detractors and fans of Pope Francis. The breaking line runs between those who are faithful to the immutable Teaching of Popes and those who are complaining to Pope Bergoglio for pursuing the “dream” of a new church, different from the One founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

You don’t need to be a historian to understand that we are experiencing a completely new phase in the life of the Church. We are not at the end of the world, but with regard to our age, we can apply the words of Our Lord, when He spoke of His return at the end of time, saying with sadness: “But yet the Son of Man when He cometh, shall He find, think you, faith on earth?” (Luke 18, 8).

The loss of faith, even on the part of men of the Church, is now quite evident. On January 27th 2012, addressing the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Benedict XVI affirmed: “We are faced with a deep crisis of faith; a loss of the religious sense which constitutes the greatest challenge for the Church today. The renewal of the faith must therefore be the priority in the undertakings of the entire Church in our times.” This loss of faith, has today, the characteristics of a general apostasy.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, intervening at a meeting of the European Episcopal Conferences held in Trieste on November 4th 2013, affirmed that “even among the baptized and the disciples of Christ there is today a sort of “silent apostasy”; a rejection of God and the Christian Faith in politics, the economy, in the ethical and moral dimension and in post-modern Western culture.”

Cardinal Raymond Burke

Cardinal Raymond Burke, for his part, in a homily delivered on October 13th 2017 at Buckfast Abbey, recalled how the message of Fatima “deals with the diabolical forces let loose in our time upon the world, entering the very life of the Church, leading souls away from the truth of the Faith and, thus, from Divine love, which flows from the Glorious, Pierced Heart of Jesus.”

Souls are being lost because language is ambiguous and deceiving, and errors and heresies are being disseminated every day among the faithful. Pope Francis’ Pontificate represents the result and the peak of a process of the Church’s self-demolition which has remote origins but today has reached a dizzying speed.
The Correctio filialis of October 24th 2017 has been like a ray of light piercing the darkness of the night in which souls are immersed. The denunciation of the heresies sustained and propagated by Pope Francis has resounded from one end of the planet to the other, spreading through to the Media and becoming the dominant theme of private conversations among many Catholics. In these conversations few deny the truth of the facts denounced in the Correctio. Divergences regard rather, “ the what to do” faced with a situation which has no historical precedents.

There are no lack of those who practice the double-truth: they criticize in private but render homage in public to those who are leading the Church towards disaster. This behaviour was defined “nicodemite” by Calvin to indicate those Protestants who concealed their doctrine, by rendering public homage to the faith and rites of Catholics. Yet the Catholic Church too has always condemned dissimulation, indicating as a model of life, the public confession of the faith, even unto martyrdom.

Confessing the faith means denouncing the errors that oppose it, even if proposed by bishops, and a Pope, as happened to Honorius I (625-638). It is not important to know whether Honorius was a heretic or favens haeresis. The fact that he was solemnly condemned by the VI Council of Constantinople (681), presided by Pope Leo II, and his condemnation was confirmed by two successive Ecumenical Councils demonstrates that the possibility of a heretic Pope (admitted by all the mediaeval canon lawyers) is possible, independently of the fact that it has been verified historically.

Who has the authority, however, to resist and correct a Pope? First of all, this duty belongs to the cardinals who are the Pope’s advisors in the governing of the Church; then the Bishops, who constitute, in union with the Pope, the teaching Church; and lastly, the ordinary faithful, priests, monks and sisters, even lay, who, being baptized, have that absolutely certain sensus fidei which allows them to discern the true faith from heresy.

Eusebius, before becoming Bishop of Dorylaeum, was a lawyer from Constantinople. In 429, he publically interrupted a homily by the priest Nestorius who was placing the Divine Maternity of Mary in doubt. Eusebius would have done the same thing if it had been the Patriarch or the Pope himself speaking that day. His Catholic spirit would not tolerate the Blessed Virgin being insulted in front of the Catholic faithful.

St Maximus the Confessor

Today the Church has no need of nicodemìtes, but confessors of the faith, with the temperament of a Eusebius or Maximus the Confessor, a simple monk who did not hesitate in challenging the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Byzantine Emperors. To those who wanted to oblige communicating with the heretic Monothelites, he replied: “Even if the entire universe communicates with you, I alone will not”. At the age of 80, after three trials, as a result of his fidelity, he was condemned to having his tongue and right hand mutilated, the two body parts through which his words and writings had fought errors and heresies.

He would have been able to repeat the words of St. Paul: “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their charge. But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me, that by me the preaching may be accomplished, and that all the Gentiles may hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion”. (2 Timothy 4, 16-17).

The fact of being just a few – misunderstood and persecuted – is permitted by Divine Providence in order to increase the merits of the witnesses to the Faith and render their behaviour not only right and proper, but also holy and heroic. What else is the exercise of heroic virtue but the accomplishing of one’s duty in exceptional circumstances, not counting on our own strength, but on the help of God?

[Translation: Francesca Romana]

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“At university, it’s risky to ‘come out’ as Christian”

CP&S: We are all discovering for ourselves how it is becoming increasingly hard to openly admit to harbouring Christian principles, much less to publicly defend them without a bombardment of insults and mockery coming our way… as brave Catholic journalists like Caroline Farrow and Joanna Bogle have discovered for themselves. Politicians have an almost impossible task nowadays to fight the growing number of secular anti-Christian laws being churned out by our Governments. Our state schools and universities will often mock Christian beliefs. To hold and stand up for our faith and values in a Western world largely dismissive of them, yet now growing every day more hostile, is going to be the challenge for the future that all true Christians shall have to better prepare themselves for.

by Madeleine Kearns posted Thursday, 19 Oct 2017 on the CATHOLIC HERALD

Students sing worship songs before Donald Trump delivers the convocation in the Vines Center on the campus of Liberty University (Getty Images)

Admitting to being religious is hazardous not only for academic reputations, but social ones too

In the university town of St Andrews, along the narrow road that overlooks the North Sea, there is a modest townhouse with a red door. The small black plaque at the building’s entrance reads “Chaplaincy”. Between its steps and the ocean is the little Catholic church of St James and, nearby, the ruins of a great cathedral.

The chaplaincy’s interior, its 1970s decor, dim lighting and musty scent, in many ways symbolises the impression I had of Catholicism as an 18-year-old student. This was a view that was compounded by my studies, where religion was casually dismissed by my professors in flippant remarks. At such moments, I’d look around the lecture halls for signs of challenge. But no one so much as flinched.

At St Andrews, I learned that, while Christianity may be a fascinating artefact and some sort of vague Christian identity might be acceptable in polite society, it was absolutely not to be used as an intellectual lens. One literature professor scolded me for citing the literary criticism of TS Eliot and CS Lewis in an essay (they were the only books left in the library). These ideas were “out of date”, she said. Marxist, Freudian, feminist, queer, post-structuralist, deconstructionist interpretations were all usable, and available on short loan.

The year after graduating, I moved to New York. I was curious, being under the impression that America was a place where one could discuss religious convictions without feeling like a freak. Besides, the New York University (NYU) Catholic chaplaincy was modern and stylish.

But I soon discovered that the culture, both inside and outside the classroom, entailed a high degree of political presumption. And in many and alarming ways, it was more aggressive than back home. At NYU, all present were automatically assumed to belong within mostly unspoken but implicitly understood progressive norms regarding politics, religion and sex. It was a difficult starting point for anyone outside the fold.

In the US, religion is much more closely aligned with political belief. For instance, on campus I learned that it was “the Religious Right” who were responsible for almost all American malaises including, but not limited to, misogyny, homophobia and gun violence. Once, during drinks with a fellow student, I admitted to being a churchgoer. Her next question was: “So do you support Trump?”

The Catholic students I have talked to at NYU, Columbia, Cornell, Yale and Harvard (as well as those at British universities) have told me that “coming out” as Christian is not only hazardous for academic reputations, but social ones, too. One student recounted how, on a date, she had been discussing her seven siblings when her suitor asked: “Don’t your parents know about contraception?” Another gentleman I know was ridiculed by fellow students after declining a proposition from a young woman when he gently explained that he didn’t believe in sex before marriage.


Read the rest HERE

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Protestant Wonders About Francis

The news report from Gloria TV today includes a Protestant’s perception of Pope Francis’s Pontificate. Plus, a Linguistic professor’s praying of a Hail Mary in honour of Our Lady of Fatima causes a storm at the University.

Protestant Wonders About Francis: The Filial Correction’s concern with Francis’ views of marriage has valid grounds for its complaints according to Jared Hood from the Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne, Australia. Quote, “Even by Roman Catholic standards, I’ve never really got this Pope, with his Marxism, environmentalism and populism.”

Benedict Was Catholic: According to Hood, Pope Benedict made sense. Quote, “He was Roman Catholic.” Hood adds, “I could read the Council of Trent, and read Ratzinger, and see the continuity. He was wrong, but he was identifiably Roman Catholic.”

Is Christ Divided? Hood locates in the Catholic Church an insurmountable problem. Quote, “The current representative of Christ on Earth disagrees with previous representatives of Christ on Earth. Is Christ divided?”

Prayer is a power that can frighten: On October 13 at 5.30 p.m., Clara Ferranti, a professor for Linguistics at Macerata University, Italy, interrupted her lesson in order to recite a Hail Mary for the centenary of Fatima. The little prayer caused a storm at the University. As a consequence, Macerata Bishop Nazareno Marconi, in an ironic way, apologized in the name of the faithful for – quote – “having destabilized the serenity of a University.” And, “The flurry caused by one Hail Mary once again reminded us that prayer is a force, a power that can frighten.

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The Fires of Hell!

CP&S:  This is our translation of an article by Sonia Vázquez, “El infierno existe”, first published on the Spanish Catholic website, ADELANTE LA FE

“He brought us out of hell and delivered us from the hand of death; He saved us from the midst of the burning flames, drawing us out of the fire. Give glory to the Lord, for he is good, because his mercy is everlasting “(Daniel, 3)

This week, my land, Galicia, was ravaged by fire. With deep sadness and despair we saw the flames burning our mountains, the houses, how people were burnt to death, animals … the magnitude was such that it spread to Asturias and Portugal. During that night great gusts of wind blew from the remains of a cyclone. The magnitude of all this was such that smoke and ash reached as far as the skies of London.

The first news came to me from my sister who was imprisoned on the highway and sent us a photo of what was being lived there, astonished we looked immediately at the Internet and social networks and from that moment a wave of madness unleashed, approximately every hour appeared a new focus. The flames reached the city of Vigo and a collective panic broke out. From the first moment the news was clear: a wave of intentional fires  was devastating Galicia … Do you know Galicia? Green is our flag.

We spent the night sunk in deep sadness, our land burnt, consumed by fire, and nobody could do anything. The night, the strong wind, the high temperatures due to the cyclone and the lack of water were the driving motor of these devilish and perverse hands. Worry and despair overwhelmed everything, the night seemed eternal … honestly, it seemed like the end of the world; the very air smelt of death.

I suppose you will wonder, what does all this have to do with the usual topics I usually talk about? The answer is very simple: this is the result of sin. The hand of man, his heart of stone and his sinful soul, have caused this misfortune of incalculable dimensions. All these fires are the work of Satan. Those who witnessed the flames live, saw hell on earth.

The Work of Creation consciously destroyed by man: the mountain, the trees, the flowers, the plants, the animals, the people … this is a crime, yes, but what has to be made clear is that it is a mortal sin; it goes against the Commandments of the Law of God.

“And God said, Let the earth bring forth green grass, herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its nature, whose seed is in itself upon the earth; and it was so. And the earth brought forth green grass and herb yielding seed after its kind and the tree yielding fruit whose seed was in itself, according to its nature; and God saw that it was good.” (Genesis)

Possibly the pyromaniacs, if they catch them, will not spend even a year in jail, as is usual in a country like Spain where they compromise in everything and life in jail is usually more like a month of paid vacations! But it will not be so in the final judgment; condemnation is eternal for one who has voluntarily refused to love God. The vast fire that they have provoked will be like a spark compared to the fire of hell. The sin of others can always affect us negativity…. that is, we can fall ourselves into hatred, rancour, despair, but we must not! Justice does not belong to us. In the morning the Lord brought us the rain, that same rain that must reach our soul like renewing water that shows us that God never abandons us. “Nunca máis” (never again) is the motto when there is a tragedy in Galicia, but I think it is better to say, “never again”, because the Lord never ever forsakes us. Against all the odds, it rained!

“See, Yahweh, our God, has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire” (Ibid)

[…]   The result of mortal sin is that man lives apart from God, alien to the Father Creator, but the fact is that few Catholics recognise this, or are astonished by the beauty of creation. If we are not able to look at a rose as God’s work, it can hardly hurt that someone tramples on it. Today, instead of observing the beauty of the sea, people are dedicated to throw garbage on it, the same with rivers, in which, many companies have found a wonderful place to pour all the crap they do not know where to throw. Result? In the rivers there are no more trout, salmon; they have been wiped out with the pollutants that they throw on what before was crystalline water. Look, we have to talk about this, but not in a political speech like Pope Francis does with his famous Laudato si, an encyclical more typical of an Obama speech than a Supreme Pontiff: “our common house is also like a sister, with the which we share our existence, and like a beautiful mother who welcomes us in her arms “(Laudato si). Instead of childish and corny phrases, what is necessary to talk about is sin. Mistreating a person or killing them is a sin, but it is equally so when we kill any living being, not for survival, but for pure fun, like so many atrocities that we read about in the press about cruelty to animals.

When we were children, a gesture as simple as throwing a paper to the ground, we could expect a prompt reprimand, besides being reminded that it was wrong. Sins should be confessed. Our parents, not being ecologists of the new wave, transmitted the necessary teachings to take care of what God has so generously given us to love Him more and to draw closer to Him. I remember that in my childhood there were certain times to take out the rubbish, no one shook out their carpets beyond nine in the morning, nothing was thrown on the ground, animals were not mistreated … Listen, I am not speaking about three centuries ago, this was only  a few years ago, when Spain was Catholic and today, can you say the same, when people urinate in the street if it suits them and then are not even given a fine? Some will say that we are surrounded by degenerates, but I tell you that what we are surrounded by is compulsive sinners.

We live in the middle of an atheistic society, our kings are no longer Catholic, neither are executives and businessmen; our politicians are declared atheists who promote abortion, sex changes, children a la carte. What can we expect from the children of the future? From the moment a nation is ruled without Christ, the population is spiritually dead. When the current king of Spain was a child, photos of him receiving his First Holy Communion were made public. Are there public photos of his daughters receiving the Lord? If not, why not? Quite simply, because they renounce the title of “Catholic Kings” now. What was once an honour, now apparently, is a dishonour. And what about our Bishops? In other times they would have called a Procession to ask Our Lord, through the intercession of some Saint, to bring us the rain we so desperately need, and later to perform a Mass in thanksgiving…. but now they only manifest themselves if it is with flags and politicians to be seen grinning at the camera.

I do not know if I am explaining properly the point I am trying to make, but I see it clearly, I believe that all this perversion is the result of grave sin that rules the world. People do not believe in hell; they do not believe in damnation; therefore you feel nothing when you violate the Commandments of the Law of God. As I’ve said before, I’m not afraid to repeat: this is Sodom and Gomorrah.

Yahweh said, “The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and their sins are exceedingly grievous. I will come down to see if they have really done according to the cry that has come to Me”.(Genesis 18:20)

The other day a friend told me that she was Catholic like me, but not a “practicing Catholic”. That phrase already gives one much to think about and that we do not share the same religion, because in Catholic teaching it is clear that the one that does not practice, already lives in state of condemnation. Coupled with this, my friend asked me if I believed in hell, since she was completely sure that it did not exist, and as I said, reaffirmed my belief that one of the two of us is clearly not Catholic. As you will know or have read, the director of the Repubblica, Eugenio Scalfari, puts in the mouth of Pope Francis the denial of hell. True or not, there has been no Vatican mouthpiece  denying these statements of Mr. Scalfari, when the normal reaction should surely be that one of his spokespersons would step in to refute such a serious affirmation. But instead of that, his Holiness has drawn the curtain on any rebuttal. Assuming this is the way the Bishop of Rome thinks, imagine then my poor friend, who is supposed to be at a lower level in preparation! Or what about all those criminals (including the arsonists) who commit their atrocities without feeling guilty; they will think that heaven is a journey towards open doors. There is no hell for the sinner, and there is no justice for criminals, so why not kill, take any pleasure, steal, burn, torture, etc? If anyone had not stopped to think about this, I suppose that now one will understand the reason for the present state of society. The children come home and their parents do not scold them for their bad deeds. Those same children no longer go to catechism and if they go, their catechists do not tell them about sin. Sunday Mass is often a parody to which, when one turns seventeen, he flies away so as not to return … Such is the life of a pyromaniac, a murderer, an abuser, an abortionist, etc., it is a life of those who have not known God; a life in which they have not been told that insulting people, getting drunk, copulating, not meeting schedules, not respecting your parents, etc. is a sin … they have been educated as little savages, like twentieth century tarzans. Certainly Tarzan was not such a beast, he simply followed an animal instinct. Tthese individuals do not even know what a confessional is.

Do you know or remember how Imperial Rome was destroyed? Nothing less than with a great fire provoked by Nero. Was Nero an exemplary Catholic who stood out for his life of piety and prayer? No, he was a pervert who was all day going from orgy to orgy, a megalomaniac, who recreated in himself his greatness; there was for him no god but his own person, and so deeply cruel and Machiavellian was he that he blamed the Christians themselves of the fire of Rome in order not to be blamed for such barbarism, and then in cold blood he sent the Christians to the lions. Nero is still alive today because he is the same devil and like him, his followers want to end the world and become the new masters of an independent republic in which the law of evil reigns … Do you really believe that there is no hell after seeing the flames above our heads? We can only trust in the Good God who will rise in the midst of the flames to save His people from eternal death.

“All mount Sinai was smoking, for the LORD came down upon him in the midst of the fire. This smoke rose like the smoke of an oven, and the whole mountain trembled strongly. The sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder; while Moses spoke and God answered him “(Genesis)


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What is to be done with the body of Archbishop Fulton Sheen?

 CP&S: It seems that there are what appears  insurmountable problems that are holding up the Canonisation of the Venerable Fulton Sheen. Please pray, in the Fatima Centenary Year, that the many interests  might be resolved, and the process proceed without further delays.


Image result for fulton sheen




Visitors to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York’s First Judicial Department on Oct. 10 in New York City might have enjoyed a rather unexpected departure from the usual legal folderol: the latest arguments in Cunningham v. Trustees of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This legal battle is perhaps better known by the question both sides ask and offer answers for: “What is to be done with the body of Archbishop Fulton Sheen?”

The Venerable Fulton John Sheen, the most famous Catholic evangelist in American history, was born in Peoria, Ill., and ordained there in 1919, and the diocese has long desired the return of the remains of its native son. When the Archdiocese of New York said that it would not pursue Sheen’s cause for sainthood in 2002, the Diocese of Peoria opened its own cause, and Sheen was declared a servant of God (the first of three steps toward sainthood in the Catholic Church) that year.

The Most Rev. Daniel Jenky, C.S.C., bishop of the diocese, sought to have Sheen’s body brought to Peoria, both to collect relics and to inter his remains in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria (the diocese already has a Fulton Sheen museum). The only problem is that Sheen’s body lies in the crypt under the high altar of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, does not want to give him up.

A Life Worth Living

Sheen, the forerunner of modern televangelists, had a gift for parsing profound and sometimes complex religious and spiritual material so that it made sense to a popular audience, earning him an audience of tens of millions (Catholics and non-Catholics alike) on radio and television from the 1930s into the late 1960s. He also wrote 73 books over the course of his life and appeared on the cover of Time in 1952. The magazine called him “perhaps the most famous preacher in the U.S., certainly America’s best-known Roman Catholic priest, and the newest star of U.S. television.”

Made an auxiliary bishop of New York in 1951, Sheen found himself at odds with Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York at various points.

Made an auxiliary bishop of New York in 1951, Sheen found himself at odds with Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York at various points, and some biographers have claimed Spellman forced Sheen to surrender his spot as host of “Life is Worth Living” in 1958, though Sheen never criticized the pugnacious Spellman publicly. In 1966 Sheen was made bishop of Rochester in upstate New York, but he resigned the position three years later and was made archbishop of Newport, Wales, a titular see used mainly for honorary titles. He died on Dec. 9, 1979, at the age of 84, and was interred in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Over the past 10 years, local and Vatican officials have been studying the case of a Peoria infant who survived for an hour without a heartbeat and suffered no permanent ill effects after his mother prayed to Fulton Sheen to intercede on her baby’s behalf. In 2014 a Vatican panel of medical experts announced it could find no natural explanation for the event, clearing the way for it to be officially attributed to Sheen’s miraculous intervention. (Ordinarily two miracles must be attributed to a candidate for sainthood by the Catholic Church before canonization).

At Court

The parties in court on Oct. 10 were there to argue an appeal by the Trustees of St. Patrick’s Cathedral of a November 2016 decision by the Supreme Court of the State of New York in favor of Joan Sheen Cunningham, Fulton Sheen’s niece and closest of kin. Cunningham had sought to have Sheen’s remains disinterred and moved to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, and the court ruled she had “provided a good and substantial reason” for the disinterment.

Sheen’s niece has sought to have Sheen’s remains disinterred and moved to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. The Archdiocese of New York disagrees.

Not so, argued John M. Callagy, an attorney acting on behalf of the trustees of St. Patrick’s during Tuesday’s appeal before four appellate judges, because the reasons for disinterment were not substantial: that moving Sheen’s body to Peoria would facilitate the canonization process, that Sheen’s parents are buried in Peoria and that Sheen was himself was ordained a priest in Peoria.

The first reason offerred by Peoria, Mr. Callagy argued, is not necessarily true since Sheen’s sainthood cause is not guaranteed, and the second and third seem to be contradicted by the fact that Sheen himself purchased a funeral plot for himself in Calvary Cemetery in Queens, in New York City, shortly before his death. “This court has always made clear that removal of a body without good and substantial reason is essentially a desecration,” Mr. Callagy argued.

Given that Sheen’s own wishes for his burial were ignored, the wishes of the family should be honored, attorney Steven Cohn argued on behalf of Joan Cunningham, and the family wants their famous relative to rest in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. (Observers of the New York political scene may recognize Cohn’s name; he ran for governor of New York in 2014 as the candidate of the Sapient Party.) The Diocese of Peoria, Cohn noted, has suspended Sheen’s canonization cause because New York will not surrender its claim to Sheen’s remains; Cunningham and the Diocese of Peoria both received promises from Cardinal Edward Egan in 2002 that Sheen’s body would be moved to Peoria once the beatification process began; but now, Cohn argued, the Archdiocese of New York has changed its tune.

Given that Sheen’s own wishes for his burial were ignored, the wishes of the family should be honored, attorney Steven Cohn argued.

The fact that Sheen bought a cemetery plot in Queens and stated in his will that he wished to be buried there does not prove he wanted to be buried in New York, Cohn continued; it proves merely that he wanted to be buried anywhere but St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Cardinal Terence Cooke (whose cause for sainthood is also open), the archbishop of New York at the time of Sheen’s death, had told Sheen of the possibility he would rest in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Cohn stated, a move Sheen tried to prevent. Alluding to the longstanding rumors that Sheen was at odds with Cardinal Francis Spellman and the rest of the archdiocesan hierarchy during his life, Cohn argued that “the one thing we know about [Sheen’s] intent is that he did not want to be buried in St. Patrick’s,” which is why he bought himself a funeral plot elsewhere. “They put him in the one place he didn’t want to be.”

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Amoris Laetitia is ‘ambiguous,’ ‘not a Thomistic document’: Filial Correction signatory

ENGLAND, October 11, 2017 (LifeSiteNews)

Father Thomas Crean, O.P., one of the first signers of the Filial Correction, has had a thorough grounding in the philosophy and theology of fellow Dominican St. Thomas Aquinas.

After earning a B.A. in Philosophy and Theology at Oxford University, Crean took a Lectorate at Blackfriars, Oxford’s Dominican college; an S.T.L. from the St. Thomas Aquinas Institute in Toulouse, France; and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the International Theological Institute in Austria.

LifeSiteNews contacted Fr. Crean to settle a burning question: Is Amoris Laetitia, as Cardinal Christoph Schonborn has assured us, Thomistic?

LifeSiteNews: First, what school of Thomas do you follow?

Crean: I would sympathize most with what is called half-humorously and half-seriously “Thomism of the Strict Observance,” which emphasizes the tradition of the commentators, especially Cajetan and John of St. Thomas, as further mediated and developed in the 20th century by men like Gredt, Garrigou-Lagrange, Maritain, and Grenier. Maritain, especially at the end of his life, was closely connected with the Toulouse Dominicans.

LifeSiteNews: In what ways could Amoris Laetitia be interpreted as Thomistic? That is, why might Cardinal Schonborn think so?  

Crean: Two things come to mind. One is that it presents the moral or spiritual life as primarily a growth in virtue, by which we gradually respond less imperfectly to God’s invitation to life and happiness with Him, rather than as primarily conformity to commandments and the avoidance of sin.

The other, which is an aspect of the first, is that it speaks of the need for the virtue of prudence (“discernment”), in consequence of the infinite variety of situations in which human beings find themselves, a variety which means that a necessarily finite code of rules will never be sufficient for good action.

Apart from that, it also quotes St. Thomas on … 14 or 15 occasions, including some works less often cited, such as the commentary on Aristotle’s Ethics.

LifeSiteNews: In what ways could Amoris Laetitia be interpreted as not Thomistic?

Crean: Some of the quotations from Aquinas used in Amoris Laetitia are cut short in such a way as not to give a well-rounded view of his thought on a given subject or, more seriously, quoted out of context so as to give an impression that he thought the opposite of how he really did. Sometimes he is quoted when his words are only slightly relevant to the matter of hand, as if just to increase the number of times his name appears in the footnotes.

LifeSiteNews: What is your “Respondeo” (i.e. answer) to the question “Is Amoris Laetitia Thomistic?”

Crean: If by “Thomistic” one means a document written in the style of St. Thomas himself, or in the style of someone who has taken St. Thomas for his guide in theology, then Amoris Laetitia is not a Thomistic document.

St. Thomas’ work is characterized by conciseness and clarity, whereas Amoris Laetitia is expansive, and, on certain key points, ambiguous – at least if we are to judge by the conflicting interpretations it has received. Again, a phrase such as “time is greater than space” is reminiscent not of St. Thomas but of a certain gnomic, metaphorical style of writing which St. Thomas criticized in the works of Plato.

More important than style is content. Here we could consider either the content of Amoris Laetitia as a whole, or those places in it where St. Thomas is explicitly quoted, or at least referenced.

A grave danger to faith and morals

On the first point, I was one of 45 signatories of a letter about Amoris Laetitia sent last year to all the cardinals and Eastern patriarchs of the Church. … This letter said: “When it comes to (Amoris Laetitia) itself … there is no doubt that it constitutes a grave danger to Catholic faith and morals. It contains many statements whose vagueness or ambiguity permit interpretations that are contrary to faith or morals, or that suggest a claim that is contrary to faith and morals without actually stating it. It also contains statements whose natural meaning would seem to be contrary to faith or morals.”

This letter listed 19 passages of Amoris Laetitia (saying) either that they suggested heresies and other grave errors, or else that their natural (obvious) meaning … was heretical or gravely erroneous. Hence, given that St. Thomas has been declared the Common doctor of the church and presented as a model for theologians … I should not consider Amoris Laetitia to be a Thomistic document.

When it comes to the explicit use made of St. Thomas, we should look at the individual passages. Certain passages quote him accurately and aptly in support of themes in the exhortation. Paragraphs 102, 120, 123, 126-7, and 134 fall into this category. For example, they quote his remarks that marriage is the greatest of friendships, that there need be no limit to the growth of charity in this life, and that friendship involves considering another person as a being of great worth.

At other times, Amoris Laetitia quotes St. Thomas accurately, (but) less aptly or even misleadingly. Thus Paragraph 146 cites (him) in connection with the statement that: “A family is mature when the emotional life of its members becomes a form of sensitivity that neither stifles nor obscures great decisions and values, but rather follows each one’s freedom.”

The reference is not apt, since in the passage cited, St. Thomas is not talking about families or great decisions, or even values or freedom. He is simply discussing whether the virtues co-exist with the moral virtues, and explaining that they sometime do and sometime don’t.

Minor and major misuses of St. Thomas

In regard to misleading uses of St. Thomas, there are minor and major examples.

A minor example occurs in paragraph 99. Talking about family life, Amoris Laetitia quotes these words from the Summa: “Every human being is bound to live agreeably with those around him.” However, it omits the second half of the sentence, which is nisi propter aliquam causam necesse sit aliquando alios utiliter contristare (“unless it should be necessary for him for some reason to cause them profitable sadness at some time”).

Another example occurs in paragraph 148. This first cites Aquinas in support of the statement that excessive seeking of some pleasure can weaken that same pleasure, and also alludes to his teaching that pleasure in the marital act is compatible with observing the “mean” of virtue.

The references here are accurate, but one has the distinct impression in this section that St. Thomas is being pressed into support a more “optimistic” view of human sexuality than he in fact upheld. For example, he taught that the conjugal act in fallen human beings tends, even when legitimately exercised, to weaken the impulse of charity toward God (2a 2ae 186, 4). He also held that for a spouse to ask for the paying of the marital debt without the desire for procreation is always at least a venial fault (Supplement, 49, 5).

Seriously misleading passages

I come now to what I should respectfully consider to be more seriously misleading passages.

(The English version of) paragraph 145  (of Amoris Laetitia) states: “Experiencing an emotion is not, in itself, morally good or evil. The stirring of desire or repugnance is neither sinful nor blameworthy. What is morally good or evil is what we do on the basis of, or under the influence of, a given passion.” It footnotes the Summa, 1a 2ae 24, 1.

But what St. Thomas says here is that no emotion, abstractly considered, is either good or bad. Even hatred is not bad as such: it is good to hate sin. However, every actually existing emotion will always be either good or bad. This is true, independently of any actions to which they may give rise.

St. Thomas says: ipsae passiones, secundum quod sunt voluntariae, possunt dici bonae vel malae moraliter. Dicuntur autem voluntariae vel ex eo quod a voluntate imperantur, vel ex eo quod a voluntate non prohibentur (“The emotions themselves, inasmuch as they are voluntary, can be called morally good or bad. And they are said to be voluntary inasmuch as they are commanded by the will, or else because they are not checked by the will.”) There is a serious mistake in the text of Amoris Laetitia here, since certain emotions can rise by themselves to the level of mortal sin, for example, certain kinds of deliberate anger and sexual desire. It is dangerous to give the impression that only outward acts can be morally good or evil.

The Latin text of paragraph 145 is slightly different, but the net result is the same. On the one hand, it changes “the stirring of desire or repugnance is neither sinful nor blameworthy” to “perceiving a desire or repugnance beginning is neither harmful nor blameworthy,” which strictly speaking is true, since the perception itself would not be a sin. However, it retains the claim that moral good and evil lie only in outward action. And, bizarrely, it also quotes one of the objections in the Summa as if it were St. Thomas’ own teaching!

Next, paragraph 301. Here Amoris Laetitia states that people … can be living in irregular (e.g. adulterous) situations and may know the Church’s teaching on ‘the rule’, and yet may be unable to see the value of “the rule.” These people, Amoris Laetitia says, may possess sanctifying grace and may be unable to obey the rule without sinning.

It goes on: “St. Thomas Aquinas himself recognized that someone may possess grace and charity, yet not be able to exercise any one of the virtues well.” As Dr. Joseph Shaw has pointed out, this quotation is irrelevant to the question of whether one can be excused from obeying the divine law by an ability to see its value, or whether one can be obliged to disobey it to avoid some other sin. St. Thomas is simply talking of people who have repented of past sins, and who now live virtuously, but do so with some difficulty because of the effect that those past sins have left behind.

Hence Dr. Shaw wrote: “Aquinas is simply pointing out that impediments are more likely when the virtue has not been acquired by a process of training and habituation over time, but by an infusion of grace from God. This abstruse issue is completely irrelevant to the matter at hand, and makes me wonder about the intellectual integrity of the people advising Pope Francis at this point in the document.” A more relevant passage from the Summa would have been found in 1a 2ae 19, 6: “If erring reason tell a man that he should go to another man’s wife, the will that abides by that erring reason is evil; since this error arises from ignorance of the Divine Law, which he is bound to know.”

More serious because more plausible misuse

A more serious, because superficially more plausible, misrepresentation of the angelic doctor is found in paragraph 304. Amoris Laetitia is discussing the question of universal moral laws, in the context, of course, of invalid second marriages and the conferral of the sacraments, and it quotes a passage from 1a 2a 94, 4: “Practical reason deals with contingent things, upon which human activity bears, and so although there is necessity in the general principles, the more we descend to matters of detail, the more frequently we encounter defects …  In matters of action, truth or practical rectitude is not the same for all, as to matters of detail, but only as to the general principles.”

Although the argument at this point in Amoris Laetitia seems designed to be hard to follow, the impression is very strongly given that St. Thomas would have said that either sexual activity within a marriage not recognized by the Church as valid, or else giving Holy Communion to those who engage in such activity, cannot be objects of a universal prohibition. There can be, the text implies, only a defeasible presumption against such things. In fact, St. Thomas teaches, with the whole tradition of the Church, that there are indeed such things as intrinsically bad actions which generate universal prohibitions.

Thomas would have been horrified

On the question of the reception of the sacraments, Amoris Laetitia can hardly be considered Thomistic, (because) it does not quote the relevant text from the Summa: “Holy Communion ought not to be given to open sinners when they ask for it” (3a 80), or the identical teaching in the Scriptum (Super Sent., lib. 4 d. 9 q. 1 a. 5 qc. 1 co).

What then was the meaning of the passage from Aquinas quoted in Amoris Laetitia 304?

St. Thomas there spoke of certain ”general principles” that are the same for all. These include the commandments of the decalogue and any other precepts of divine law. In addition to these, there are “matters of detail,” i.e. certain rules of good action which human reason can work out for itself, such as “keep your promises” (and) “obey the law of the land” …

But these, though generally applicable, may in certain circumstances not serve as reliable guides to good action, because human reason cannot foresee all cases. For example, it may be necessary to break a promise to meet someone in order to deal with a medical urgency, or to break a speed limit to drive someone to hospital. It is fair to say that St. Thomas would have been horrified to think that any bishop would one day use this common-sense teaching in order to authorize Holy Communion for those publicly committed to illicit unions.

Finally, in a footnote to the same paragraph, Amoris Laetitia says: “In another text, referring to the general knowledge of the rule and the particular knowledge of practical discernment, St. Thomas states that ‘if only one of the two is present, it is preferable that it be the knowledge of the particular reality, which is closer to the act.’” It refers us to his commentary on the Nicomachaean ethics, Book 6, lecture 6, section 11.

Again, it misrepresents Aquinas’ teaching, with potentially seriously consequences. St. Thomas is not here contrasting rules and ‘discernment’ but rather universal truths and more particular truths. He gives the example of one man who knows that ‘light flesh’ is healthy to eat, but not what counts as light flesh, and another man who doesn’t know the general principle about ‘light flesh’, but does know that the flesh of birds is healthy to eat. The latter person is a better guide about how to eat.

Hence, St. Thomas is not saying that a priest who thinks he can discern the presence of the Holy Spirit in Mr. Smith’s soul despite Mr. Smith’s invalid second marriage but has never heard about the principle of not giving Holy Communion to those in adultery is in a better position to judge what to do at the altar rails than a priest who knows the principle but can’t discern the Holy Spirit in Mr Smith’s soul. Rather, he is saying that a priest who knows the truth that one should not give Holy Communion to those in public adultery, but doesn’t know the more universal truth that one should not give it to those in public sin, is in a better position to decide what to do than one who knows that one should not give it to those in public sin, but who does not know that a second marriage counts as public sin.


In conclusion, although many and various passages from St. Thomas’ works are quoted in Amoris Laetitia, I cannot say that I believe that they give, as some readers might suppose … a reliable account of the angelic doctor’s teaching on married love, the emotions, universal moral prohibitions or the reception of Holy Communion by public sinners. Hence, given also what was said above about the content of Amoris Laetitia as a whole, and about its style, I should not be able to say that I considered Amoris Laetitia a Thomist document.

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Reflection for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Image result for wedding feast of the King

FIRST READING  Isaiah 25:6-10a

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.  On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever.  The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face; the reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the Lord has spoken.  On that day it will be said:  “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!  This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”  For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain.

SECOND READING        Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20

Brothers and sisters:  I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance.  In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.  I can do all things in him who strengthens me.  Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.  My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.

GOSPEL       Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.  He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come.  A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”‘  Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.  The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.  The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.  Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come.  Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’  The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.  But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.  The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’  But he was reduced to silence.  Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’  Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Banquets and parties—and yet the invited don’t show up.  Today’s readings are about God’s invitation to you and to me.  Will we answer his invitation?

The first reading today is from the Prophet Isaiah.  The Prophet tells us that God will provide a banquet for all peoples.  Everyone is invited.  God wants all to be saved.  God will destroy death forever.  All will rejoice that God has saved us.

This is a strong message because so many in our world do not want salvation for everyone nor even do many people want good things for everyone.  There is enormous competition in our world—and so many, perhaps even ourselves, want to be ahead of others.  Such desires destroy our humanity.  We can strive to be the very best person that we can be—but never in competition with another.  We can strive to serve others to the best of our ability—but not by competing with others.  God wants us all to be saved and that should always be our prayer for our sisters and brothers.  May they be the person that God has created them to be:  and if they are better than we, so be it.

The second reading is from the Letter to the Philippians.  Here Saint Paul is teaching us:  “I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance.”  The challenge is for us to live the same way.  Whether we have power and might and money or whether we have nothing, we must know how to live for God’s glory and not for our own purposes.

Today’s Gospel from Saint Matthew brings us back to banquets!  Now the King, God Himself, is giving a banquet and those invited don’t come to the banquet.  Jesus uses this image as an image of the Kingdom of God.  We are all invited!  Are we going to respond to the invitation of Jesus?  God wants us.  God also invites us to live in a way given to us by Jesus Himself.  So many people today no longer believe that Jesus is Lord, that Jesus is God, that Jesus is Savior.

When we acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, God and Savior, then we can understand how important it is to respond to His invitation and to live as He has shown us:  love for all others, sacrifice of ourselves for the sake of others, trying to give our lives completely to the Lord through the service of others.

Just as in today’s Gospel, God will not force us.  Jesus accepts our freedom to reject Him and His invitation to the banquet of the Kingdom.  Even though Jesus is God and Lord, He will never compel us against our own choices.  So we are left in the end with our own choice:  I don’t have to be perfect.  I don’t have to do everything right.  I can make mistakes.

At the center of my heart there is only question:  Am I seeking to follow the Lord Jesus?

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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The Times Are Urgent and We Must Heed the Warnings of Our Lady

David Roberts, “The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70”, 1850

Pray the Rosary daily for the conversion of sinners. Beg the Lord for poor sinners to repent.

I would like to reflect on the parable of the vineyard owner to see its application to our times. Here is a brief summary:

A landowner set forth a vineyard with great care and lavish attention. He then entrusted it to tenant farmers. At harvest time, he sought his share of the produce. Yet instead of giving the owner what was due him, the tenant farmers refused, ridiculing, beating, and even killing the servants sent to collect his share. They end by killing the landowner’s own son.

When Jesus asks his audience what they thought the owner would do in response, they replied that he would put the men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who would give him the produce at the proper time. Obviously, they did not realize that in the parable the Lord was actually describing them, and that such a judgment would be upon them unless they repented.

This is not merely a story told to illustrate a moral point. It had an actual historical fulfillment and remains a “real-world scenario” even today. The vineyard set forth with love and great care was Israel. God was the landowner, who gave them the land, protected them with His law, and sustained them with His love and providence. The servants who called for the fruits represented the prophets. Jesus Himself is the son whom they kill. Even in spite of this crime, God allowed Israel 40 biblical years to repent and come to believe in Him, sending forth apostles, evangelists, and teachers to convince them. Still, there was a collective and obstinate refusal to believe in Jesus, the Messiah sent to save. So, in A.D. 70, God permitted the unrepentant people to wage a foolish war against the Romans. The result was that the Romans conquered Jerusalem, utterly destroying it and the Temple. According to Josephus, 1.2 million Jewish people lost their lives in that terrible war.

The parable was a true warning of the destruction that was sure to come unless repentance and faith replaced the obstinate refusal to obey and believe. It is tragic that things were so bad that God had to act drastically in order to reset the moral and spiritual order, to and save even a few.

I would argue, based on prophecy, that we are nearing such a time now and that we must urgently pray for both mercy and repentance. The warnings and prophecies of Our Lady in the past one hundred years have become more urgent and even dire.

We all know what the Virgin Mary said at Fatima in 1917 and that she was very serious. Although one terrible war (World War I) was ending, she said that another more terrible war would come if men did not pray and repent. Further, in the aftermath of the coming war, Russia would spread her errors (atheistic Communism) and both the Church and the world would have much to suffer. Our Lady said that only prayer (specifically, the Rosary) and obedience to her Son could stave off the impending doom. She even promised that there would be a final warning of great lights in the sky before the war’s outbreak.

On Jan. 25, 1938, a remarkable solar storm and subsequent display of the aurora borealis fulfilled that warning. The northern lights were seen as far south as Northern Africa. Two months later, Hitler annexed Austria and in the following year invaded Poland. The Second World War was underway. While the death toll of World War I was approximately 18 million, estimates for World War II range from 50 to 80 million. Following the war, Russia did spread atheistic Communism. The horrific death toll as a result of the subsequent “Cold War” of the regimes of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot was arguably even higher.

This is what happens when we do not repent. In spite of this history, we have collectively refused to repent, just like the tenant farmers in the Lord’s parable. Despite the sea of blood due to our sin and our refusal to pray, not only have we failed to repent, but we seem to have gotten worse. Today we have we have abortion on demand, no-fault divorce, fornication, pornography, human trafficking, single motherhood, the celebration and outright “pride” in homosexual acts, transgenderism, unbridled greed, euthanasia, and much more.

In 1981, Our Lady of Fatima warned through Sr. Lucia that the final battle will be against marriage and the family and that anyone who tries to defend them will experience persecution and tribulation. And here we are. Even at the highest levels of the Church, certain priests and bishops mislead God’s people. Meanwhile, clergy and faithful who seek to uphold marriage are dismissed as pharisaical, rigid and unpastoral. This was also confirmed by Our Lady of Akita in Japan:

The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres … churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord (Message of Oct. 13, 1973).

Yet in our obstinately disobedient culture, no matter how high the body count, how virulent the diseases, how broken our families, how deep the sexual confusion and addiction, how onerous our debts due to greed and entitlement, we seem to have no intention of making any change. Like the tenants in the parable, many ridicule every prophet sent to us, calling them hateful, intolerant, bigoted, homophobic and misogynistic. They seek to marginalize them, to punish them legally, and to ruin them financially. Soon enough, many will be willing to jail and kill God’s prophets, who are only saying what God and the Church have always said. What we have today is a collective, obstinate refusal to obey God and produce the fruits of righteousness.

The sins of our time are not merely ones of weakness. Those who fall through weakness admit that they have done wrong and seek mercy. The greatest sin today is the obdurate refusal to repent. With a figurative clenched fist, many today say, “I will not be told what to do. I will decide what I want to do and I will determine whether it is right or wrong.”

In this sort of climate, what is God to do? In many cases, it does not seem that reasoning with people can or will bear fruit. The hardness of heart and the self-righteous attitudes of increasing numbers, who arrogantly reject even the most obvious moral guidance, brings the dire conclusion that the only viable solution is a punishment so severe that all arrogant self-reliance will be impossible.

Warnings of this sort of dire punishment were given by Our Lady of Akita in Japan:

… If men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. …

The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and priests. The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them (Message of Oct. 13, 1973).

I would caution every single soul reading this column not to hope for this chastisement. It will be awful—so awful that we will be jealous of the dead. No, our stance should be to beg the Lord for mercy, for more time. For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Our Lady would surely rather that we pray and repent in order to stave off the coming calamity. Pray the Rosary daily for the conversion of sinners. Beg the Lord for poor sinners to repent.

Come what may, though, we must remember that justice is with God, not us. We have seen in Scripture that God will not spare even His holy people or His holy city and temple if doing so means that more will be lost to the eternal fire of Hell. In 721 B.C., the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom were destroyed by the Assyrians. In 587 B.C., Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Babylonians. In A.D. 70, Jerusalem again was crushed, utterly destroyed by the Romans.

There comes a time when a good doctor must consider severe options such as amputation or high-risk surgery in order to save a patient. It’s better to go through life maimed than to die. So also it is with God. There is nothing worse than going to Hell. No earthly destruction or loss could ever compare to horror of eternal damnation.

For now, pray that lesser remedies and more time will be our lot! But know this: as the historical fulfillment of the Parable of the Tenants teaches, God will not hesitate to do what is finally necessary to save as many souls as possible.

Listen to Our Lady’s warnings. Heed her solution. Pray the Rosary daily for the conversion of souls. The times are urgent and many well-attested prophecies suggest that time is short—very short. The year 2017, the 100th anniversary of Fatima, may be a year that brings blessings or curses. Through Mary, the Lord sets before us life and death, blessings and curses.

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live! (see Deuteronomy 30:19)

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Pouring the Argument Into the Soul”: On Taking Care How We Worship.


from: 1Peter5:

Image credit: Ben Yanke



At one point in Plato’s Republic, Thrasymachus, the nihilistic proponent of might-makes-right, asks his interlocutor Socrates: “Am I to take my argument and pour it into your very own soul?” To which query Socrates replies: “God forbid, don’t do that!”[1]

I was thinking about this recently in connection with some truly despicable church music I had heard: a Mass setting with lounge-lizard jazz harmonies, Broadway melodies, and not a milligram of sacrality. The vivid description given by Thrasymachus is, in fact, just how liturgy operates—especially its music. Liturgy pours an argument directly into our souls, before we have any chance to evaluate what is being done to us. Our reason is not capable of being a filter when the music comes into our ears, when various images pass before our eyes and become lodged in our memory, to be carried with us until they are either brought to perfection in heaven, scoured away in purgatory, or permanently fastened to us in hell. What happens experientially shapes us into an image of itself, before we have a chance to evaluate or accept or protest. This is why I once wrote that whoever attends a service is implicitly saying to it: “Shape me, make me like yourself.”

God intended that it be so, and it is a fine thing as long as the liturgy is done properly. We ought to be formed like clay in the hands of the potter, rather than sitting with arms crossed like theatre critics.[2] When the sound of the chant or bells floats into our ears, when the scent of incense creeps into our nostrils, when the sight of flashing raiment reminds us of an anointed mediator offering holocausts on the altar, then we are caught up in the worship of the one true God, plunged into His holy mysteries, and renewed beneath and beyond all rationality. In this act of self-surrender we water the roots of our everyday consciousness and, one might say, tie it and bend it towards heaven.

However, nowhere is the axiom corruptio optimi pessima (the corruption of the best is the worst) more true. Socrates uttered his exclamation “God forbid, don’t do that!” because he knew that if Thrasymachus could pour nihilism into his soul, the argument would scorch or freeze it before there would be time to react. It is too late to raise difficulties about arsenic once one has ingested it. In like manner, if the content or manner of the liturgy is flawed, God will be dishonored and our souls will be injured. There is no “perhaps” or “maybe” about it. We are choosing a blurred vision of the Mass, the liturgy, the act of adoration, the life of prayer, and thus we are deviating from the Catholic Faith as it has been taught and lived by the great saints who came before us.[3]

So, then, we always stand at a crossroads. Is this liturgy in which I am about to participate going to be a healthy and health-giving ‘argument’ to pour into my soul? Will it be God-glorifying in its essence and in its accidents, and therefore perfective of me as a creature made in God’s image? Or will it be sickly and sickening, harmful to the development of the interior life, missing the mark, displeasing to God because it is an exhibition of wilfulness, indolence, narcissism, tawdry pop culture, or any other corrigible defect? I have heard church music that is so completely unsuitable for the freight of its words and the seriousness of its purpose within the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that it constitutes a form of spiritual self-mutilation to allow oneself to be sonically assaulted by it, and a form of cruelty to allow impressionable children to be subjected to it. When I have been confronted by such situations (which were usually surprises), I have left the building or taken my family out until the music ended. Afterwards, I considered carefully how to avoid the same problem in the future.

We ought to get into the habit of thinking about this crossroads ahead of time so that we can make sound decisions for ourselves and our dependents based on what we can reasonably expect and hope for in our circumstances. We will be rewarded for our good efforts to seek truly divine worship as well as punished for our collusions and compromises, especially if we were free to choose among better options available to us in our vicinity.

As to how far one should be willing to go to find a liturgy that is worthy of God, of man, and of the God-man Jesus Christ, that depends on how bad the nearer options are. If they are bad enough to disturb your inner equilibrium, interfere with reverent prayer, set your teeth on edge, or make you want to incarcerate the perpetrators of abuse, it’s surely time to travel further afield, or even to consider pulling up tent pegs and moving. Given the massive crisis of faith, morals, and liturgy in the Church, Catholics should no longer expect to entertain, much less achieve, the old-fashioned ideal of long-term stability in a single place. We are never permitted, on account of work, family, or friends, to make a continual sacrifice of our spiritual health or our access to a God-pleasing liturgy, as this would conflict with the virtuous self-love that belongs to the theological virtue of charity (“love your neighbor as yourself”). Sometimes we may be forced to postpone a needed move by circumstances beyond our control, but this is manifestly a bad situation, not one that can be taken as permanent. Divine Providence has permitted the ecclesial crisis so that we may be tested as to whether we are, in fact, living according to the command to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” with faith that everything else we need will be added on to us. Most of us know of families that drive one or two hours every week to get to a traditional Latin Mass, or families that go to a Byzantine Divine Liturgy in order to avoid the Western morass of their region. This is the stuff of heroism. It is the dry martyrdom that will populate the heavens.[4]

Let us return to Plato. Socrates claims in the Republic that as the participants in the dialogue create a city through their speech, what is justice will eventually emerge. In a way hardly surprising for those who are acquainted with his uncanny proto-Christianity, Socrates managed to hit upon a fundamental truth of worship. Liturgy is a certain “city in speech,” within which God’s justice, His righteousness, emerges—or fails to emerge. When we celebrate the liturgy, we are necessarily creating the image of a city. Which city is it? It will be either the City of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, or the City of Man, the worldly Babylon. What are the traits of these cities according to St. Augustine? A modern scholar, Robert Barr, offers a vivid summary:

The City [of God] knows and worships one God only, and lives by His Law. Its directing virtues are faith in Him Who intends to save the city and humility in His sight. This is the faith which is necessary for salvation, and without which there is no return to the City—for which therefore the martyrs have borne whatever might come; and it is this humility which principally distinguishes the citizens of the City of God from their irreconcilable enemies, the subjects of the Devil. … The City of God is God’s temple and true Sacrifice. While physically distinct from the Offering of the Mass, it is mystically identical with it.[5]

In its venerable forms handed down through the ages, Christian liturgy is the foremost representation and guarantee of the orthodox Faith, and by our Marian receptivity to it we live most fully the virtue of humility in the face of divine revelation. When we worship in any traditional liturgy, Eastern or Western, we know that we are safely drawn into the holy city of Jerusalem, exercising our rights of citizenship, letting the King Himself rule over our hearts and minds.

Far different is modern committee-fabricated liturgy, replete with dubious theological modifications and extemporaneous adaptations. It is not an age-old, universally accepted proclamation of the orthodox Faith, a measure against which all else must be measured, a trustworthy invitation to self-surrender. This novel liturgy evokes the City of Man, promoting the all-too-human agendas of its compilers and impresarios. Describing Augustine’s view of the citizens of this civitas terrena, “earth-born and earth-bound,” Barr writes:

Their interests are private, yet they lust to dominate the world. As a result their city is torn by passion, plague, and revolt. They only unite, it seems, against a common enemy—the City of God: glorying in their numbers and strength, they persecute that city—to the latter’s advantage! … Really the most deadly persecution the devil and all his hellish minions can launch is that against the Faith itself, by inspiring heresy. He would, if he could, deprive the elect of God’s Revelation, of their unanimous subscription to the teaching of the few writers of Sacred History [i.e., the inspired authors of Scripture], and scatter them among the adherents of the numberless philosophers of the City of Confusion.[6]

The City of Man is aptly expressed by two popular songs, one of them completely secular, the other faux-sacred: “We Built This City on Rock n’ Roll” and “Let Us Build the City of God.” In spite of the latter’s title, its logos, ethos, and pathos (message, character, and feeling) is unquestionably by, of, and for the City of Man. It is horizontal, humanistic, constructivist, pragmatic, superficial, and dull. If this is what we listen to or sing, we should not be surprised at the results we get: in our souls, the result of cleaving to this world; in our communities, the result of looking to each other for a salvation that comes only from God. God’s justice will fail to emerge.

The City of God, in contrast, is beautifully expressed by two truly sacred songs: the Gregorian chant Urbs beata Jerusalem[7], which expresses the beauty of the heavenly fatherland for which we long, and which we glimpse past the veil of the sacred liturgy when it is true to God— 

Urbs beata Jerusalem,               Blessed city of Jerusalem,

dicta pacis visio,                         called “vision of peace,”

Quæ construitur in coelo         Which is built in heaven

vivis ex lapidibus,                       out of living stones

Et angelis coronata                    And crowned by the angels

ut sponsata comite.                   like a bride for her consort.

—and William Byrd’s motet Civitas Sancti[8], which expresses the deep sorrow of the exile who has lost his earthly home. If these are the songs we sing or listen to, the wings of our soul will sprout and grow strong, and we will find ourselves yearning for the Lord more than watchman for the break of day. This, this is the city we must build in our souls, in our churches, on our altars. This is the argument, the Logos, that we want to have poured into us and into our children.

May God grant us grace to be faithful to His righteousness as taught and lived in traditional Catholicism, clear, strong, and beautiful as it is, and may He keep us from succumbing to the poisons offered by the world—including the world within the Church. “Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” (Rev 13:10).



[1] Plato, The Republic, 345b, trans. G. M. A. Grube, rev. C. D. C. Reeve, in Plato: Complete Works, ed. John M. Cooper (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997), 989.

[2] See my article “Mosebach’s Paradox.”

[3] I highly recommend this series of articles: “Focus vs. Blur: Multi-Sensory Learning, Motivated Focus, & The Mass.” Part I:; Part II:; Part III:

[4] See my article “ “ and “Traditional Liturgy Demands More and Delivers More.”

[5] Robert R. Barr, “The Two Cities in Saint Augustine,” Laval théologique et philosophique 18. 2 (1962): 211–29; here, 214–15.

[6] Ibid., 215–16.

[7] Changed to Coelestis Urbs Jerusalem under Pope Urban VIII. For a translation: One interpretation of the exquisite chant may be listened to here:

[8] A recording of this motet may be found here:


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“The urgent message of Fatima’s Third Secret”

Even if the imagery is not to be taken literally, we should never ignore the call to repentance

One hundred years ago, on 13 October 1917, crowds gathered outside a dusty little Portuguese village, soon to become famous throughout the world. Word had got round that, on the thirteenth of each of the past five months, Our Lady had been allegedly appearing to three primary-school-age children: siblings Francisco (9) and Jacinta (7), and their cousin Lucia (10). Our Lady, it was rumoured, had promised a kind of grand finale in October.

Accordingly, tens of thousands poured into Fátima. Some, like Fox Mulder, came wanting to believe. As Lucia later recalled with some embarrassment, many humble souls would kneel in the presence of the three children, asking for cures, for conversion, and for many types of favours from Our Lady. But others – perhaps very many of them – came, in that resonant scriptural phrase, to scoff and wag their heads. The cynical and hardbitten hacks covering the jamboree for the anti-clerical newspaper, O Século, were unsurprisingly among the latter.

The full events of the day are difficult to summarize, but O Século’s headline on the 15th (no twenty-hour newscycle then!) day does a pretty good job:



Apparitions of the Virgin – What the sign from heaven consisted of – Many thousands of people say there has been a miracle produced – War and Peace*

All in all, it has been estimated that around 70,000 people were there to see the sun “dance” in the sky. Most afternoons, such celestial acrobatics would be hard to beat in a Buzzfeed-esque “most remarkable things to have happened ” listicle. Not so in this case, however.


The rest of this article can be read at the CATHOLIC HERALD


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And the Sun Danced at Fatima 100 Years Ago Today

The crowd looking at ‘the Miracle of the Sun’, which happened during the Our Lady of Fatima apparitions

The Account Given by Sister Lucy of the Events of October 13, 1917

“The rumour had spread that the authorities
intended to explode a bomb quite close to us, at
the very moment of the Apparition. This did not
frighten me [Lucia] in the least. I spoke of it to
my cousins [Francisco and Jacinta]. “How
wonderful!” we exclaimed, “if we were granted
the grace of going up to Heaven from there,
together with Our Lady!” My parents, however,
were very much afraid, and for the first time they
wished to accompany me, saying that if their
daughter was going to die, they wanted to die by
her side. My father then took me by the hand to
the place of the Apparitions. But from the
moment of the Apparition itself, I did not set
eyes on him again until I was back home with
the family that night.

We left home quite early, expecting that we
would be delayed along the way. Masses of
people thronged the roads. The rain fell in

On the way, the scenes of the previous
month, still more numerous and moving, were
repeated. Not even the muddy roads could
prevent these people from kneeling in the most
humble and suppliant of attitudes. We reached
the holmoak in the Cova da Iria. Once there,
moved by an interior impluse, I asked the people
to shut their umbrellas and say the Rosary. A
little later, we saw the flash of light and then Our
Lady appeared on the holmoak.

“What do you want of me?”

“I want to tell you that a chapel is to be
built here in my honour. I am the Lady of the
Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary
every day. The war is going to end, and the
soldiers will soon return to their homes.”

“I have many things to ask you: the cure of
some sick persons, the conversion of sinners,
and other things….”

“Some yes, but not others. They must
amend their lives and ask forgiveness for
their sins.”

Looking very sad, Our Lady said:

“Do not offend the Lord our God any
more, because He is already so much

Then opening Her hands, She made them
reflect on the sun, and as She ascended, the
reflection of Her own light continued to be
projected on the sun itself.

Here is the reason why I cried out to the
people to look at the sun. My aim was not to
call their attention to the sun, because I was not
even aware of their presence. I was moved to
do so under the guidance of an interior

After Our Lady had disappeared into the
immense distance of the firmament, we beheld
St. Joseph with the Child Jesus, and Our Lady
robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the
sun. St. Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to
bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the
Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this
apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our
Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of
Dolours. Our Lord appeared to bless the world in
the same manner as St. Joseph had done. This
apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady
once more, this time resembling Our Lady of

I spent the afternoon of that day with my
cousins. We were like some curious creature that
the multitudes wanted to see and observe. By
night time I was really exhausted after so many
questions and interrogations. These did not even
end with nightfall. Several people, who had been
unable to question me, remained over till the
following day, awaiting their turn. Some of them
even tried to talk to me that night, but overcome
by weariness, I just dropped down and fell asleep
on the floor. Thank God, human respect and selflove
were, at that time, still unknown to me. For
that reason, I was as much at ease with any person
at all, as I was with my parents.

Of all the words spoken at the Apparition, the
ones most deeply engraved upon my heart were
those of the request made by our heavenly

“Do not offend
Our Lord and God
any more, because He
is already so much
How loving a
complaint, how tender
a request! Who will
grant me to make it
echo through the
whole world, so that
all the children of our
Mother in Heaven
may hear the sound of
Her voice!”

[Source: “The Full Truth of Fatima” by Cornelia Ferreira”]

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