Reflection for Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Year A

 

METROPOLITAN STEFAN'S MEDITATION FOR PALM SUNDAY – Ukrainian ...

 

 

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 50:4-7; Philippians 2:6-11; Mark 14:1 – 15:47

Each year on the Sunday before Easter, Christians around the world celebrate and commemorate what is traditionally called Palm or Passion Sunday, when we recount the events leading up to the betrayal, crucifixion and death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

This week is the high point of the Liturgical Year, culminating in the celebration of the Lord’s resurrection next Sunday. This is thought of as the busiest but also the richest week in the Christian calendar.

The Sunday liturgy of the Eucharist on Palm Sunday begins with a re-enactment of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. After hearing the recounting of this event from the Gospel (this year Mark 11:1-10), everyone processes into church carrying blessed palm or olive branches, singing joyful songs in praise of the Lord who saves us.

The joy and triumph will change to another focus as we move into church and begin to hear the readings about the Suffering Servant of God from the book of the Prophet Isaiah, then the great passage from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Philippians about Christ and finally the recounting of the betrayal, passion and death of the Lord according to the Gospel writer, this year Saint Mark.

The festive mood at the beginning of Palm Sunday Mass turns to a serious and even somber note rather quickly. Holy Week has begun and we must be attentive to all that is being offered to us for our reflection, prayer and spiritual benefit.

The blessed branches received and carried at the beginning of the celebration are reminders that we are committed to following Christ, even unto death. Striving to be faithful to the Lord, we embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ without giving up, even when we are discouraged, betrayed, mocked, or put to death, just as Christ was.

Our procession with palm or olive branches and hearing the words of Scripture regarding the life, death and ultimately the resurrection of Christ, is not something from the remote past meant to remind of what occurred long ago, with little relevance for the present. Rather, all that we celebrate throughout Holy Week is a clear reminder that God is with us now, working on our behalf and that the power of the resurrection of Christ has a daily and real effect in our lives. We are to be convinced that the working of the Holy Spirit in us and with us is an undying source of grace and now and always.

This means that we are called to acclaim the Lord not merely with our lips or just on certain days of the year, such as Palm Sunday, but with our lives, each and every day.

Blessed Charles de Foucauld, the hermit saint of the Sahara, put it in terms of, “proclaiming the Gospel with your life.” How we live should be different from the way someone who does not believe would live.

Saint Benedict tells his monks, “Your way of acting should be different from the world’s ways (chapter 4 of the Rule, verse 20). That means every follower of Christ, not just monks, is in need of evaluating the use of time, talents, words, thoughts and deeds. We not only evaluate, though, but also change what needs to be changed, in order to reflect and live out a Christian commitment here and now. This is no easy task and we may fail regularly in our attempts, but we never give up trying.

Our belonging to Christ is to be a matter of the heart that encompasses our entire being and time. That does not mean we neglect the “mundane” aspects of our life. We all have obligations to family, work and community, and we need time for exercise and relaxation, but all of it is to be consecrated to God and entrusted to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that we may be people on fire for God and for the Kingdom of God present and yet to come. This implies we know our God, that we spend time in prayer each day and joyfully participate in the sacraments of the Church, especially the Eucharist as well as Penance or Reconciliation.

Christ has desired to identify with every human being, past, present and to come. As God, the Lord is capable of this great work. As man, Jesus underwent suffering and death to draw all to himself. We are all partakers of unending love and gifts from God, especially shown to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

To be spiritually enriched in this Great and Holy Week this year, we pray for the grace of God to live our daily lives in the light of faith, hope and love, the theological virtues, seeing in Christ the Just One who was condemned, yet at the same time the origin of our strength and all life.

May this Holy Week find us renewed in zeal for the things of God, for love of God and neighbor, eager to celebrate next Sunday the Passover of our Lord, the central mystery of our Christian faith, the Resurrection of Christ.

We are called to die with Christ so that we might rise with him as well. May God illumine and guide our steps today and throughout our lives.

A blessed Holy Week to all. 

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Australian High Court to pass judgment on Cardinal Pell Tuesday

AUSTRALIA, April 2, 2020, LifeSiteNews:

The Australian High Court has announced that it will hand down its judgment on Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his convictions for historic child sex offenses next Tuesday, April 7.

High Court of Australia@HighCourtofAus

Judgment will be delivered in Pell v The Queen at 10 am on 7 April 2020 in Brisbane

 

Australia’s top court held two days of an appeal hearing last month, with one legal expert present at the hearing saying he believes that it is a possibility that Pell will be acquitted and the Australian media reporting that the second day of the hearing as having been a “good day” for the cardinal.

A jury found Pell guilty of two counts of sexual assault against a child on December 11, 2018. He has always denied the charges, which hinge on the uncorroborated testimony of one person. Last year, the Victorian Court of Appeal upheld the guilty verdict.

During last month’s appeal hearing, Pell’s prosecutors, led by Victorian director of public prosecutions Kerry Judd QC, shifted their position on key evidence relating to Pell’s alleged sexual assault of two choirboys after Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne.

The prosecution has previously argued that there was a five- to six-minute window of opportunity during private prayer time immediately after Mass for Pell to have committed the offenses. But last month, Judd changed her position, saying instead that it could not be stated for certain how long the private prayer time had lasted.

Several witnesses, including Church officials, have testified that Pell — who had recently been appointed the archbishop of Melbourne at the time of the alleged offense — would never have been alone in the cathedral. Moreover, they say it was his invariable practice to greet churchgoers at the front doors of the building immediately after Mass ended. Pell’s defense has also pointed out that he would have been fully vested immediately after Mass, making the logistics of the alleged offenses highly improbable.

Pell was not permitted to attend the hearing and remained in a maximum-security prison in Victoria.

Following last month’s hearing, John Macauley, a former altar server at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne who was present in court throughout, said that “the crown’s case had collapsed under the weight of its own malicious absurdity.”

Pell’s supporters are therefore hopeful that the justices will acquit the cardinal and order his immediate release.

However, it is possible that the court will decline even to consider Pell’s appeal, meaning he would have to serve a minimum prison term of three years and eight months.

Another possibility is for the case to be returned to the Victorian Court of Appeal, which upheld Pell’s original conviction in August last year. The High Court could also order a full retrial, which would effectively send the legal battle back to the very beginning.

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Cardinal Pell, the Living Martyr

 

by Fr Mark Withoos on CRISIS MAGAZINE

A cardinal, a Prince of the Church, remains locked up in a small cell, separated from all, locked in, and without access to the sacraments. No, this is not coronavirus, and this is not Italy. In many ways it is a metaphor—we might even be forgiven for thinking it a paragraph from Lord of the World—but for the man concerned, George Cardinal Pell, it is not a metaphor but reality.

We seem to be wallowing in metaphors at the moment. Many of the faithful are deprived of the sacraments by their bishops, some even in the face of death, and many churches are closed. The government rules by edicts and executive order, no longer by Parliament, as if we are on a war footing. Many have lost their jobs, perhaps for longer than any predicted “shut-in” or “lockdown”—further metaphors. Meanwhile, in Spain and Italy older people are dying alone and neglected. “He who has eyes to see…”

In a recent letter to me the Cardinal told me that the move to his new prison has meant that “life is much easier.” He writes every day during his time as a guest of Her Majesty, and “it is good therapy.”

Behold the Catholic way.

Life throws up to us, as faithful Catholics, any number of even daily challenges. The Catholic who keeps his eyes firmly on heaven, always has the means by which to respond to them. This is no metaphor but the reality of the life lived in this world while being of another.

Have you had the apprehension that in this time of pandemic many who call themselves Catholic, perhaps some of them even members of the hierarchy, have displayed so very little faith?

There is only one reasonable fear that should motivate the Catholic: the fear of eternal death. If the coronavirus comes calling, I need not be afraid if I live, as I ought to, in the state of grace. Regrettably, in our times, many a Catholic does not even have a clear understanding of what that means.

I noted to a friend recently that before this pandemic we had sworn ourselves off much of the news and social media because of all the events taking place in Rome, all the bad news, and the mediatic misinformation. The other day at breakfast I asked this same friend, “How many times have you checked media reports since waking this morning?” To his chagrin, he had consulted the media several times already since waking. Why are we not surprised that we are fearful?

We didn’t believe the media before; why should we believe them now, only in order to be further terrified? It is a good time for us to check on the sources of our information and their reliability. Every day that an innocent cardinal remains in jail without protest, while the world goes mad about toilet paper and sanitizer, is a continuing reminder that something is seriously wrong with our Western world, and while we are in it, we are not of it.

During the World Wars, it was the example of many Catholics—including many Catholic priests who ministered to the dying—who were prepared to “go over the top” to stop an artillery position, or bring back the wounded, that motivated many to convert during and after the war. The Catholic with faith concludes, reasonably, that if today is the day that God has determined for him to meet God, provided he is ready and in a state of grace, he may be able to take some risks. Many who went “over the top” in those trenches of war accomplished heroic feats of bravery as a result. Many times, despite the incredible risk, they returned unhurt to their position, having saved the lives of many. That day was not the day for them to die.

Many of us are now closed in, deprived of the sacraments just like Cardinal Pell. I am sure this is no metaphor either. In a time of Lent, almost at the beginning of “the week of weeks,” it comes as a wonderful aide-memoire, one that even the apostles asked themselves: am I ready to die with Him? If I am, perhaps I might be prepared to take some risks, to “go over the top.” As the Lord says through St. John: “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

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Friday after Passion Sunday, The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin

Our Lady of Sorrows

From SAINT ANDREW DAILY MISSAL

The Christmas Cycle had celebrated the part taken by the Blessed Virgin in the Mystery of the Incarnation, glorifying both the divinity of Jesus and the divine maternity of Mary. The Easter Cycle tells us how the mother of the Saviour co-operated in the Mystery of the Redemption. It shows her in this season of the Passion at the foot of the Cross where Christ is dying (Introit, Sequence, Gospel). “An ineffable union is established between the oblation of the Incarnate Word and that of Mary; the divine blood and the tears of the Mother flow together and are mixed for the redemption of the human race .”

“The prophecy of Simeon is fulfilled: a sword of grief pierces the most gentle soul of the glorious Virgin Mary (Collect), who by her unequalled love becomes the Queen of Martyrs ” (Communion).

As Judith had delivered Israel by killing Holofernes (Epistle), the Virgin is our deliverer with Jesus. Wherefore the Gospel shows us, at the foot of the tree of Passion, in a scene which recalls the tree of prevarication, the
maternity of Mary with regard to the Church personified by St. John.

“Let us venerate the Transfixion of the glorious Virgin Mary at the foot of the cross, in order to gather the happy fruit of the Passion of her Son” (Collect).

Stabant juxta crucem Jesu mater ejus, et soror matris ejus Maria Cleophae, et Salome, et Maria Magdalene. *  Mulier, ecce filius tuus: dixit Jesus; ad discipulum autem: Ecce mater tua.
There stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister Mary of Cleophas, and Salome, and Mary Magdalen, * Woman, behold thy son, said Jesus; and to the disciple, Behold thy mother.
(John 19:25-27 from the Introit of Mass)

Deus, in cujus passione, secundum Simeonis prophetiam, dulcissimam animam gloriosae Virginis et Matris Mariae doloris gladius pertransivit: concede propitius; ut, qui transfixionem ejus et passionem venerando recolimus, gloriosis meritis et precibus omnium Sanctorum cruci fideliter astantium intercedentibus, passionis tuae effectum felicem consequamur.
O God, at whose passion, according to the prophecy of Simeon, a sword of sorrow pierced the most sweet soul of the glorious virgin and mother Mary; grant in Thy mercy that we, who call to mind with veneration her soul pierced with sorrow, through the glorious merits and prayers of all the saints faithfully standing by Thy cross, may obtain the blessed result of Thy Passion.
(Collect)

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How I Found True Contrition at the Site of My Sins

The Last Communion of Saint Mary of Egypt
by Marcantonio Franceschini (1680)

By Bettine di Fiore at OnePeterFive:

Sunday was my thirteenth day in coronavirus quarantine. I must confess that although I have done some liturgical sewing and have spent more time than usual exercising, cooking, and praying, most of this precious downtime has slipped by without anything of note transpiring.

But Sunday was different.

My church — a small Melkite parish — is currently closed, but our priest has live-streamed Orthros and Divine Liturgy the past two Sundays from his own home, which he has re-arranged for this specific purpose. I tuned in yesterday from the utilitarian comfort of my sewing studio.

It was Mary of Egypt’s feast day, and our priest told us this saint’s remarkable story during his homily. She spent the first seventeen years of her adult life as a prostitute — not motivated by desperation per se, but rather by lust and love for the sport of leading others astray. At the end of that time, she traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross to seduce the pilgrims gathered there. She attempted to enter a church in which the True Cross was being venerated, but an invisible force prevented her entry — not once, but three times. Realizing that her impurity was what was blocking her, she retired to a corner of the churchyard and looked up to see an icon of the Virgin Mary above the church. Beset with grief over her sins, she promised Mary that if she would be allowed to venerate the True Cross, she would renounce her life of sin and go wherever the Virgin wished. Again she approached the church, and this time she was allowed entry.

Being a former prostitute myself, I have always considered St. Mary of Egypt a patroness, although perhaps not one of my principals. But as I listened to my priest relate her story yesterday, I realized that I had never been truly contrite about those years spent peddling iniquity. Sure, I recognized that what I did was wrong, and I repented, but as for feeling a deep sense of grief over the sin aspect of what I had done, like what St. Mary of Egypt felt outside that church? No, that I had never experienced. I had always at least partially justified what I had done by telling myself that, given my extreme circumstances and lack of other options, what I had done was really not all that bad. Not exactly good, but not exactly evil, either.

This realization perturbed me. So I prayed for the grace of true contrition right there during Liturgy.

Late last night, I felt restless and decided to go for a drive. I hadn’t been out of the house in several days except for walks around my own neighborhood, and I just wanted to blast my music and feel the road race by beneath me — I didn’t care where I went. And so I started out without any clear destination in mind.

Almost as if on auto-pilot, I found myself traveling customary paths — roads that were familiar because they were routes to places in which I used to live or work. And before I knew it, I was on my way to the apartment where I had lured so many men into sin.

As I approached the corner on which the building stands, I started to feel a great weight on my chest. Breathing became significantly more difficult. I turned the corner and saw the place itself, and it hit me like a sock on the jaw: “My God, what have I done to You?”

I realized the weight on my chest was the weight of my sins. And I realized that I had made a grotesque mockery of God’s laws, laws given to us out of love and for our protection. But, most painfully of all, I realized that I had deeply wounded the only One who loves me infinitely and unconditionally. He had given me everything, and I had squandered it in filth.

A shower of profound sorrow washed over me. It was more than I could bear. I had to get out of there. So I pressed the gas and raced down the street, although I was gasping for breath and could barely see the road through my tears.

I kept driving — visiting the sites of many past mistakes — shedding years of uncried tears.

Sunday was noteworthy in another way, too: the latest interview with the exiled Archbishop Viganò was published. In it, he discusses the COVID-19 pandemic and how it relates to matters of faith. He speaks of the pandemic as an instrument of divine wrath meted out upon a world saturated with sin, and, more especially, a Church hierarchy that has abandoned its own doctrine, embracing in its stead secularism, “religious relativism,” and even blasphemy. He characterizes God as a Father who “sends us many signs, often very sternly” to repent, this being one of them.

Abp. Viganò calls for the “immediate and absolute” conversion of “[t]he Pope, the Hierarchy, and all Bishops, Priests, and Religious.” He also calls upon our societies to repent of sins “such as recognizing the right to abortion, euthanasia, and sodomy” as well as “corrupt[ing] children and violat[ing] their innocence.”

“Public sins,” he goes on, “require public confession and public atonement”; otherwise, we “cannot evade God’s punishment.”

In other words, it is time for the whole world, and especially the Church, to have its St. Mary of Egypt moment. Like her, we are being denied access to our churches. And like her, according to Abp. Viganò, it is because of our impurity.

St. Mary of Egypt spent the last years of her life battling, and ultimately overcoming, her temptations and doing penance for her sins. She was rewarded for her efforts with great spiritual gifts, including the ability to perform miracles.

Right now, we are all in the equivalent of St. Mary of Egypt’s churchyard — and, in this quarantine environment, we have ample time to reflect upon our sins and how they might have contributed to our present crisis. Will we, like her, be gifted with the grace to repent in time to save our society, our souls, and our Church from ruin? Or will we selfishly cling to the world we have grown complacently accustomed to, which is so repugnantly offensive to Our Lord?

I urge each one of you to pray for the grace of true contrition. I can tell you, it hurts like nothing else on this earth, but don’t you think it’s about time we stopped indulging every pleasure-seeking whim and started doing a little productive suffering? I, for one, intend to start doing penance right now, today. And, during this painfully pregnant pause in our mostly misguided lives, every member of the Church Militant — including and especially the hierarchy, going all the way to the very top — should and must do the same if we are to escape the horrific fate we so justly deserve.

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Remnant TV: Killing Covid-19

From Michael Matt at The Remnant:

Did you know that 80,000 Americans died of the flu in 2018? That’s a lot of people.

Did you know that that the actor Tom Hanks has not only recovered from COVID-19, but is now back in the States and doing just fine?

I wonder why the MSM isn’t reporting much of anything at all on the survivors of this thing. It’s almost as if they WANT us to panic!

Is it going to be “the sky is falling” and “it’s the end of the world” for the rest of the summer, right through to November?

What’s going on here?

Are we seriously going to hide in homes and lose our jobs every time the flu comes around for the rest of our lives?

Of course, the current virus is nasty. But so too were others. In 1968, a million people died of the flu.

Do you remember? Of course not, because nobody locked the country down over it, causing us to lose our jobs and get cut off from the Sacraments of our Church.

And now doctors are warning that panic and fear are becoming a bigger threat to many people’s lives than the virus itself.

Can we talk about this yet? Or is that against the law, too!

I think you’ll agree me, that the time has come to ask some rather urgent questions. And that’s exactly what we do in this week’s episode of From the Editor’s Desk. 

Keep praying, keep washing those hands and question everything!

In Christo Rege,
Michael J. Matt

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The Bishops Have Abandoned Us: These Wolves Deserve All Our Contempt and Disdain

The worldwide situation is serious.

The underlying illness causing the situation is also serious.
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But the attitude of most bishops in most affected countries is simply despicable, repugnant, deserving all our contempt and disdain. Not content with having thrown the faithful for decades to the care of sexual abusers, now, in the moment of greatest need, they simply abandon us.
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The suspension of large gatherings (including public masses) is quite understandable. But the other measures are abusive, and a sign of the complete disregard of these wolves who pretend to be shepherds for the souls of the faithful. But the act of many, apparently most, bishops to close churches to simple individual prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament? And, much worse, to “ban” confessions in the time of greatest need? To “ban” last rites, including the viaticum and extreme unction in the time of greatest peril?
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What is the point of the Church at all, of the priesthood, if these physicians of the soul abandon the sick right now? How come Francis mentioned the church as a “field hospital” from day one of his pontificate, and, when the need for actual field hospitals is here, priests and bishops simply do not show up? Do they have to despise the laity that much? THIS is clericalism of the worst kind.
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Note this, bishops who have “banned” confessions and last rites in this time: WE WILL NOT FORGET THAT YOU ABANDONED US IN THE MOMENT OF GREATEST NEED.
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Canonical deep breath time

Dr Ed Peters at In the Light of the Law:

Since COVID19 left Communist China last month and began its rampage around the world a myriad of issues and problems have been confronting us all. Among these crisis items are a host of canonical questions, questions that arise on a daily, sometimes an hourly, basis and which take almost innumerable forms, often reformulating themselves before anything like coherent answers from informed persons or authorities can be formulated to their first instantiation. The internet, of course, magnifies and speeds the dissemination of canonical views and opinions, right ones as well as wrong. In short, folks, it’s deep breath time. Not everything is going to be sorted, let alone sorted correctly, within a few minutes of its popping up.

Here I offer a few observations on six matters, in no particular order.

1. Do not assume that some wrong, even stupid, policies being announced by various levels of Church government are necessarily canonically illegal policies. Christ, who foresaw COVID19, nevertheless gave considerable authority to his Church, specifically to his bishops and popes, to formulate how the Church would carry on his mission in these days. People should be very wary of concluding that a given a local Church policy is canonically illegal and can therefore simply be disregarded.

Consider, e.g., that for most of Church history the institution of “territorial interdict”, whereby Church authority could shut down access to sacraments for the innocent as well as the guilty in whole countries, was practiced. See most recently 1917 CIC 2268-2277. There were, of course, efforts over the centuries to mitigate the impact of territorial interdicts on the innocent but, in its heyday, though criticized on prudential grounds, interdicts were not attacked as illegalin themselves nor as somehow outside of the Church’s authority to implement. Today, what amounts to territorial interdicts are being imposed (rightly or wrongly, in terms of medical advice) as a way to protect the innocent. Even if such policies are wrong-headed (as some seem to me) that does not necessarily mean they are canonically illegal.

2. The use of communication devices (e.g., cell-phones, video devices) in sacramental Confession has been an interest of mine for some time and I published a peer-reviewed series of three articles exploring the validity and liceity of such practices.* While I far prefer such matters to be debated in the calm of academe some points apparently need to be made now.

The prevailing opinion against “remote” Confession or “technology-assists” in Confession (and people who know me know my great respect for prevailing opinion) is (a) rather more nuanced than is being presented these days and (b) rests heavily on doctrinal postulates concerning the role of the human voice in sacramental form. I have argued that the role of human voice might not be as determinative for sacramental form as it has been narrowly presented to date and that, even in schools holding for “voice”, technology-assisted Confessions in times of crisis were not uniformly ruled out, this, by canonists of impeccable credentials such as Felix Cappello. Moreover, legitimate concerns about eavesdropping on sacramental Confessions carried on by cell-phone are prudential in nature, not doctrinal. A Confession so violated is still valid and licit. Since 1998 an automatic excommunication threatens those who record the contents of a sacramental Confession, here.

Now, so far, the “guidelines” I have seen regarding the use of, say, cell-phones for in-person Confession are descriptive in nature, not directive (so I am not sure they even qualify as normative documents), but they certainly do not determine the validity of personal Confessions attempted with technology assistance. If some arch/bishop actually issues a precept against their use, we’ll deal with that then.

Speaking of precepts, and the lack thereof, let’s move to another point.

3. That a bishop could purport to authorize the enunciation of sacramental form for Anointing by a cleric and the execution of the sacramental matter by a hospital worker gives some insight into what kind of challenges confront sound pastors and canonists these days. But, while that bizarre idea was shot down in a few hours thanks to the internet, a new mess has taken its place, one whereby a bishop thinks he can “suspend” the celebration the sacrament of Anointing in times of greatest need!

Keeping this short, I know of no authority whereby an arch/bishop can “suspend” the operation of a sacrament itself so I can only conclude that whenever a proper, willing minister utters the correct form while applying the necessary matter to an eligible, willing, recipient, the sacrament occurs. All of the usual considerations for the administration of sacraments in time of serious danger apply, of course, and those factors lean heavily (not uniformly, but heavily) in favor of administration of the sacraments, especially to the gravely ill.  Again, if some bishop actually issues a precept against celebrating Anointing, it can be dealt with then.

4. Slightly distinguishable from the above case are the many arch/dioceses that are delaying the Easter administration of Baptism (and thus Confirmation, and first holy Communion) for catechumens (many of whom have been preparing for over a year) and the sacramental reception into full communion of many other already-baptized persons. I think such people have an acquired right to these sacraments and, while the Church has the authority to regulate the exercise of rights (see c. 223), every effort should be made to provide these sacraments in a timely manner, regardless of whether, say, “a fuller participation by the community” might be more feasible later. Consider, some bishops are allowing up to ten “technical assistants” to help priests broadcast their Masses on-line. Well, if ten tech aids can gather to hold lights and point cameras, surely a half dozen candidates and catechumens can kneel before their priest and be baptized, confirmed, and communicated.

5. Infants are to be baptized “in the first few weeks” after being born, even sooner, of course, if there is danger of death. I agree with the Exegetical Commentary which states that Canon 867 “protected the fundamental right of the parents to baptize their children within the first few weeks. This right shall not be limited or restricted by a particular law, at least not by a norm of lower rank than the [1983 Code] itself.” Exeg. Comm. III/1: 465. Commentaries on the old law (e.g., 1917 CIC 770) warned against parents trying more than a month to secure the service of a priest before acting on their own. See, e.g., Woywod, Practical Comm. n. 669. Parents, unable to secure the ministrations of a cleric during a pandemic, who baptize their own children, should simply report such baptisms to the pastor of the parish, per c. 878. May I suggest an audio-visual recording of the event, should the pastor later have any questions about matter, form, and so on. A later “incorporation” rite before the community may still be offered such children.

6. Canonical form for marriage need not be observed, even by two Roman Catholics, if it is foreseen that an official witness (typically, a priest) cannot be present for at least thirty days. 1983 CIC 1116. We are very near that time already. Such couples still need, of course, to observe state law for the civil effects of their marriage to arise, but canon law provides for lawful celebration of marriage without canonical form in surprisingly short order. Note, though I think canonical form itself needs to be repealed, I cite here, obviously, the plain text of the Code.

More, if I have time. A lot going on these days. Oremus pro invicem.

* See, e.g., Edward Peters, “Canonical and cultural developments culminating in the ordination of Deaf men during the twentieth century”, Josephinum Journal of Theology 15 (2008) 427-443; id., “The ordination of men bereft of speech and the celebration of sacraments in sign language”, Studia Canonica 42 (2008) 331-345; and id., “Video communications technology and the sacramental confessions of Deaf Catholics”, The Jurist 73 (2013) 513-537.

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Archbishop Viganò on COVID-19 and the Hand of God

vigano in rome

From The Remnant:

Editor’s Introduction: During this seemingly apocalyptic moment, we must be ever mindful of the fact that, despite the great apostasy that’s been unfolding in the Church for decades, God Himself has not abandoned us.

Good priests all over the world are answering the call of the disenfranchised faithful, to help them maintain the lumen Christi in the midst of the present darkness that seems to be enveloping the whole world. In this moment of desolation, many of them are beginning to understand the warp and woof of the Modernist revolution that has decimated the Catholic Church, nearly destroyed the venerable Roman Rite and now finally left us all spiritually abandoned outside of locked churches.

In the face of this chastisement, when so many bishops have fled and taken our Sacraments with them, we’re so grateful that at least a few good shepherds have broken the chains of collegiality in order to bring to  us the consolation of Christ’s truth and call the scattering sheep back into the protection of the fold.

Clearly, we are not alone. God is again raising up his prophets.

Millions of Catholics are struggling to assimilate everything that has happened in the last few weeks. On this First Sunday of Passiontide, Archbishop Viganò honors us with this interview, in which he provides  honest and Christocentric guidance.

First he reminds us that “disease – and therefore epidemics, suffering, and losing a loved one – must be accepted in a spirit of faith and humility, even in atonement for our own personal sins.” We must allow this scourge to soften our hearts and induce us to repent and turn back to God.

Then he enjoins all baptized Catholics to keep in mind that despair is certainly not an option and that we should “bear these trials for the sins of others, for the conversion of those who do not believe, and to shorten the time the Holy Souls have to spend in Purgatory.”

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If “something as terrible as covid-19 can also be an opportunity for us to grow in Faith and active Charity,” so too can it become an opportunity for our shepherds to resolve to soften their hearts and realize they must not go on “offending the Majesty of God” and even disobeying His mother:  “Our Lady of Fatima asked the Pope and all Bishops to consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart,” Archbishop Viganò recalls, and she “announced wars and disasters until this came about. Her calls have gone unheard. The Hierarchy must now reform and obey the Mother of God!”

So, how must the Church respond to this crisis?

His Excellency warns that “the pope, the Hierarchy, and all Bishops, Priests and Religious must immediately and absolutely convert.” Bishops especially must “regain consciousness of their own Apostolic Authority” since the time has come to “put an end to synodal paths,” to that “hypocritical use of the word ‘dialogue’ instead of fearlessly preaching the Gospel,” and so too the bishops must stop “teaching false doctrines”,  stop being afraid of “preaching about purity and holiness,” while “being silent in front of the arrogance of evil.”

The sheep will follow, but the shepherds must learn to lead us away from the world and back to Christ again.

May God bless and keep Archbishop Viganò. His is a voice crying in the wilderness, and I would plead with our readers to pray for him and to ask God to grant him the grace and the courage to continue to sound the alarm before it’s too late. Nations and men alike must turn back to Almighty God, if peace and tranquility are to return to our shores.  – Michael J. Matt


Interview with Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò

Michael J. Matt (MJM): Your Excellency, how do you feel ordinary Catholics are to assess the covid-19 pandemic?

+ Carlo Maria Viganò:  The coronavirus pandemic, as with all diseases and death itself, are a consequence of original sin. The sin of Adam, our first parent, deprived him and us not only of divine grace, but also all the other good things God gave to creation. Then disease and death came into the world as a punishment for disobeying God. The Redemption we were promised in the Protoevangelium (Genesis 3), prophesied in the Old Testament and brought to completion with the Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord, redeemed Adam and his descendants from eternal damnation; but its consequences were left as a mark of the Fall and will only finally be restored at the Resurrection of the flesh, as we proclaim in the Creed, and which will happen before Judgment Day. This must be remembered, especially at a time when the basic tenets of the Catechism are unknown or denied.

Catholics know that disease – and therefore epidemics, suffering, and losing a loved one – must be accepted in a spirit of faith and humility, even in atonement for our own personal sins. Thanks to the Communion of Saints – thanks to whom the merits of all the baptized are passed on to everyone else in the Church – we may also bear these trials for the sins of others, for the conversion of those who do not believe, and to shorten the time the Holy Souls have to spend in Purgatory. Something as terrible as covid-19 can also be an opportunity for us to grow in Faith and active Charity.

As we have seen, if we only consider the clinical side of the disease – which plainly we must do everything we can to fight – completely removes the transcendental side of our lives, thus leaving them without any spiritual outlook and inevitably locking us into blind and hopeless selfishness.

MJM: Several Bishops and Priests have claimed the God “does not punish” and that considering coronavirus as a scourge is a “pagan idea.” Do you agree?

The first ever punishment, as I was saying, was visited upon our first parent. However, as we hear in the Exsultetwhich is sung during the Easter Vigil, O felix culpa, qui talem ac tantum meruit habere Redemptorem! O happy fault, that merited to possess such and so great a Redeemer!

A father who does not punish his children does not love them, but neglects them; a doctor who uncaringly observes the patient getting worse until gangrene does not want his recovery. God is a loving Father because He teaches us what we have to do to be worthy of eternal happiness in Paradise. When we disobey His commandments by sinning, He does not let us die but comes to find us and sends us many signs, often very sternly. Then we mend our ways, repent, do penance, and return to our old friendship with Him. You are my friends, if you do the things that I command you. I think the words of Our Lord leave no room for ambiguity.

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I should also like to add that the truth about a just God Who rewards the good and punishes the wicked is part of our common inheritance from natural law which Our lord gave everyone throughout history. An irrepressible call to our earthly paradise, which shows even pagans how the Catholic Faith is the necessary completion of everything which sincere and well-disposed hearts suggest to them. I am surprised that nowadays, instead of stressing this truth written deeply into everyone’s hearts, those who seem to feel such great sympathy for the pagans fail to accept something the Church has always considered the best way of attracting them.

MJM: Does Your Excellency feel that there are certain sins which have provoked the wrath of God rather than others?

The crimes which stain each of us in the eyes of God are another hammer blow on the very nails used to pierce Our Lord’s sacred and venerable Hands, a lash ripping away the flesh from His Sacred Body, a spit in His beloved Face. If only we realized these things, we would never sin again. And sinners would weep with profound sorrow for the rest of their lives. And yet here is what really happened: during His Passion, our divine Savior took upon Himself not just original sin, but also all the sins all men have committed and will commit. The most glorious thing is that Our Lord went to die on the Cross, when just one drop of his Most Precious Blood would have been enough to redeem us all. Cujus una stilla salvum facere totum mundum quit ab omni scelere, as Saint Thomas teaches us.

As well as the sins committed by individuals, there are also the sins of societies, of nations. Abortion, which is still murdering innocent children even during the pandemic; divorce, euthanasia, the abhorrence of so-called gay “marriages,” the celebration of sodomy and other terrible perversions, pornography, the corruption of children, speculation by the financial elite, the profaning of Sundays, and the list goes on…

MJM: May we ask why Your Excellency makes a distinction between the sins of individuals and the sins of nations?

Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches that it is the duty of the individual to recognize, worship, and obey the one true God. By the same token societies – which comprise many individuals – cannot fail to recognize God and ensure that their laws allow members of society to reach the spiritual end to which they have been destined. There are nations which do not merely ignore God, but deny Him openly. There are those which require their citizens to accept laws against natural morals and Catholic teaching, such as recognizing the right to abortion, euthanasia, and sodomy. Others corrupt children and violate their innocence. Those who allow people to blaspheme God’s Divine Majesty cannot evade God’s punishment. Public sins require public confession and public atonement, if public forgiveness is sought. Let us not forget that the ecclesiastical community, which is also a society, is not exempt from heavenly punishment when its leaders become responsible for collective offences.

MJM: Is Your Excellency saying that the Church can have faults?

The Church has always been unfailingly holy, because She is the Mystical Body of Our Lord and Savior, and it would be not only rash but indeed blasphemous even to begin to consider that this divine institution which Providence placed on this earth to provide us all with Grace as the only Ark of Salvation might be even minimally imperfect. The praises we sing of the Mother of God – whom we call precisely Mater Ecclesiae – can be sung of the Church, the Mediatrix of all graces via the Sacraments, the Mother of Our Lord, onto Whose limbs it holds. The Church is the Ark of the Covenant, guardian of the Blessed Sacrament and the Commandments. The Church is the Refuge of Sinners, to whom it grants pardon after a good confession. It is Health of the Sick, upon whom it has always lavished much care. This Queen of Peace promotes harmony by preaching the Gospel. However, it is also terrible as an army set in battle array, because Our Lord has given his sacred ministers the power to crush demons and the authority of the Keys to Heaven. Let us not forget that the Church is not only the Church Militant here on earth, but also the Church Triumphant and the Church Penitent, whose members are all saints.

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I must also say that although the Church is holy, some of Her members and of Her hierarchy here on earth may be sinners. In these troubled times, there have been many clerics unworthy of the name, as the abuse scandals committed by them and, unfortunately, even Bishops and Cardinals, have shown. The faithlessness of the Sacred Pastors is a scandal for their confreres and for many among the faithful, not only in terms of lust of thirst for power, but also – I might say especially – when they touch the integrity of the Faith, the purity of the Church’s teachings and the holiness of morals. They have even committed acts of unprecedented gravity, such as we saw with the adoration of the pachamama idol in the Vatican itself. Indeed, I think Our Lord has rightly become indignant at the great multitude of scandals committed by those who ought to be setting a good example, because they are Shepherds, to the flocks to whom they have been entrusted.

Let us not forget that the example given by so many in the Hierarchy is not merely a scandal for Catholics: it is a scandal for those outside who look at the Church as a lighthouse and a point of reference. Nor is this all: this scourge cannot dispense the Church, in her Hierarchy, from making a proper examination of her conscience for giving in to the spirit of this world. She cannot escape her duty to condemn firmly all those errors she has allowed in after the second Vatican Council, which have brought down upon her all those just punishments. We must mend our ways and return to God.

It pains me to have to say that even now, after we have seen the divine wrath beating down upon the world, we go on offending the Majesty of God by speaking of mother earth demanding respect, as the Pope said a few days ago in his umpteenth interview. What we must do is ask forgiveness for the sacrilege perpetrated in the Basilica of Saint Peter’s, and reconsecrate it before the Holy Sacrifice of Mass can be said there. We should also call a public procession to show penance, even if only Prelates take part under the Pope’s guidance. They must call down the mercy of God upon themselves and upon His people. This would be a sign of that true humility we are all waiting to see, as reparation for all the offences committed.

How are we to contain our bewilderment when we hear words like those said in Santa Marta on 26 March? The Pope said, “The Lord must not find us, at the end of our lives, and say to us, ‘You are corrupt. You have left the path I showed you. You have bowed down before idols’.” Such words as these are truly bewildering, especially if we remember that he himself brought off a terrible sacrilege before the eyes and ears of the whole world, before the very Altar of the Confession of Saint Peter, a real profanation, an act of pure apostasy, with those filthy and satanic images of pachamama.

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MJM: On the Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lady, the Bishops of Portugal and of Spain dedicated their countries to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Bishops of Ireland and of England and Wales did the same. In many Dioceses and towns elsewhere, the Bishops and the local authorities have placed their communities under the protection of Mary Most Holy. How does Your Excellency consider there events?

These are actions which fill my heart with hope. Although they are not enough to atone for our faults they have been completely ignored by those at the top of the Church, even though the simple faithful have long cried out for solemn acts such as these by their Shepherds. Our Lady of Fatima asked the Pope and all Bishops to consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart, and announced wars and disasters until this came about. Her calls have gone unheard. The Hierarchy must now reform and obey the Mother of God! It is shameful and scandalous that no Bishop in Italy has joined in with this great initiative!

MJM: How do you judge the suspension of the Sacraments which we have seen in almost all the world?

This is a terrible suffering, perhaps even the worst the faithful have ever seen. It is unbelievable to think such a thing has been denied to the dying.

At this juncture, it seems most that the Hierarchy, with very few exceptions, had no scruple in closing the churches and in preventing the participation of the faithful in the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They have behaved like cold bureaucrats, like executors of the will of the Prince, and most of the faithful have taken their actions as a sign of their lack of Faith. Who can blame them?

I almost wonder – and it is a terrible thing to think – whether the closure of churches and the suspension of all Celebrations might not be another punishment by God, in addition to the pandemic. That they might know that by what things a man sinneth, by the same also he is tormented. (Wisdom 11, 17) Offended though He is by the slovenliness and lack of respect shown by his priests, outraged by the profanation of the Blessed Sacrament which occurs every day when they give Communion in the hand, and tired of silly songs or heretical homilies, is still – from His place of silence within the Tabernacle – satisfied by the austere composed praise offered by the many Priests who are still saying the Mass of all time. The Mass which goes back to the time of the Apostles. And which has always been the beating heart of the Church down through the centuries. Let us remember this most solemn warning: God is not mocked.

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Clearly I understand and share the basic worries about safety and protection which the authorities require for public health. However, just as they have the right to pass measures for things affecting our bodies, so the Church authorities have the right and the duty to worry about the health of our souls. They cannot deny the faithful the spiritual sustenance they receive from the Eucharist, not to mention the Sacrament of Confession, Mass, and Viaticum.

When so many shops and restaurants were still open, the various Bishops’ Conferences had already suspended all sacred functions, even when the civil authorities had not asked them to do so. This is further proof that the Hierarchy is in a dreadful state and shows that Bishops are all too willing to sacrifice the well-being of souls to pacify the power of the state or the dictatorship of ideas.

MJM: Your Excellency mentioned restaurants. What do you say about the meals for the poor which were offered in the last few months in places of worship?

For Catholics, helping those in need is an act of charity. It reminds us that God is love. We have to love God above all things with our whole hearts, and love our neighbor for love of Him. Thus, in accordance with the beatitudes, we can see Our Lord in the poor, in the sick, in prisoners, and in orphans. From the very start, the Church has always been a luminous example in this field. Even the pagans admired us for it. History shows us the many impressive works of aid which have been started thanks to the generosity of the faithful, even in times of great hostility by states. Rulers have often taken over these works under orders from freemasons, who clearly despised the great works of so many good Catholics. Caring for the poor and those on the edges of society is not something that started with Bergoglio or with various woke associations.

We must realize that when the new regime helps the poor, it does so with absolutely no reference whatever to the supernatural. All we are seeing is works of corporal mercy, whereas works of spiritual mercy have been utterly wiped out. Nor is this all: the current Papacy has completely eliminated any form of apostolate, and says the Church must not perform any missionary activity, which it calls proselytism. We can only provide food, hospitality, and health care, but nobody provides food, hospitality, or care for the souls of those who so desperately need it. The modern Church has been turned into a sort of ONG. True Charity is nothing to do with its masonic imitation, however much they try to hide it with an extremely vague sense of spirituality: it is the exact opposite, because the various bodies we see at work today deny that there is only one true Church, whose message of salvation must be preached to those outside it. This is not all: the Church has drifted so far after the Council in questions of religious freedom and ecumenism that many charitable bodies now confirm the people entrusted to their care in their paganism or atheism. they even offer them places of worship where they can go and pray. We have even seen terrible examples of Masses where, at the explicit request of the Celebrant, instead of the Holy Gospel a reading is taken from the Koran or, as happened more recently, idolatry has been practiced in Catholic churches.

I think the decision to turn churches into refectories or dormitories for the needy is proof of this basic hypocrisy which, as we have seen with ecumenism, makes an apparently good thing (such as feeding the hungry or sheltering the homeless) – and exploits it to help the grand masonic plan for one world religion with no dogmas, no ceremonies, no God. Using churches as hostels, in the presence of smug Prelates who drop by to serve pizzas or pork chops with an apron over their ecclesiastical dress means profaning them. Especially when those smiling to the photographers absolutely never open the doors of their own mansions to those they want to take advantage of for political purposes. Let me go back to what I was saying and repeat that all this sacrilege is the underlying cause of the current pandemic.

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All too often they use the poverty and homelessness of these poor people so they can appear on the front pages of the newspapers. This we saw only too often with the landings of all those immigrants. The only purpose was to set up a new industry for reception, behind which are hidden not only mean economic interests but also their complicity with those who seek to destroy a Christian Europe starting with Italy.

MJM: In other cases, such as the city of Cerveteri near Rome, the forces of law and order stopped a Priest who was saying Mass. How have the Church authorities reacted to this sort of thing?

Cerveteri may simply have been an excess of zeal by two local policemen, especially if they have to work under all the extra stress that has arisen since to coronavirus outbreak. It must also be clear, though, especially in a country like Italy which signed a Concordat with the Church in 1929, that the ecclesiastical authorities have sole rights over places of worship. The Holy See and the local Ordinary really ought to have protested over such a violation of the Lateran Treaty, which was confirmed again in 1984 and which is still in force. Yet again, the authority of Bishops, given directly to them by God, melts away like snow and shows how cowardly they all are. This might lead to even worse abuses in the future if it is not corrected now. Let me take this opportunity to ask for a forthright condemnation of this unacceptable meddling by government forces in affairs which are the direct responsibility of the Church Authorities.

MJM: Pope Francis invited all Christians, Catholics and non-Catholics, to come together on 25 March to ask God to put an end to this pandemic, and let it be understood that members of other religions could pray too.          

The religious relativism which was brought in with Vatican II led many people to believe that the Catholic Faith was no longer the only means to salvation, or that the Blessed Trinity was the Only True God.

In his Abu Dhabi declaration, Pope Francis said that God wants all religions. Not only is this a blatant heresy, it is also a very serious apostasy and a terrible blasphemy. Saying that God wants to be worshipped as something other than how He revealed Himself means that the Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Savior are completely meaningless. It means that the reason for founding the Church, the reason for which millions of holy Martyrs gave their lives, for which the Sacraments were instituted, along with the Priesthood and the Papacy itself, are all meaningless.

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Unfortunately, just when we should be doing atonement for our offences against the divine Majesty of God, here is someone who asks us to pray to Him along with those who deny the divine Maternity of His Mother, on Her Feast day.

Would this not be the best way to put an end to the current pestilence?

MJM: It is also true that the Apostolic Penitentiary has granted special Indulgences to those struck by this terrible affliction and for those who assist them materially and spiritually.

Firstly let me stress that Indulgences can never take the place of the Sacraments. We must firmly resist the villainous decisions taken by several Shepherds, who have forbidden the Priests from hearing Confessions or baptizing children. These measures – along with the ban on public Masses and the suspension of Holy Communion – go against the law of God, and are proof that behind it all is Satan. Only the Evil Serpent can explain these measures which will bring about the spiritual loss of so many souls. It would be like ordering doctors not to treat patients in danger of death.

The example of the Bishops in Poland should be followed by the universal Church: they ordered more Masses to be said so that more faithful could go safely to hear Mass. This would happen if the Hierarchy actually cared about the eternal salvation of Catholics. Do not forget that in Poland, the effects of the pandemic are much lower than in other countries.

The Church’s teaching on Indulgences has not been swept away by the revolutionaries, and this is a good thing. However, whereas the Bishop of Rome has the power to draw upon the infinite riches of Grace, it is also true that Indulgences cannot be trivialized or considered as some sort of end-of-season sales bonus. The faithful felt the same things towards the end of the Jubilee of Mercy, when a Plenary indulgence was granted under such strange conditions that those earning the Indulgence hardly realized what was happening.

There is also a problem with the Sacrament of Penance and Eucharistic Communion which are necessary for an indulgence to take effect, which the Apostolic Penitentiary has postponed until some unspecified “as soon as possible.”

MJM: Does Your Excellency feel that the general dispensations for General Absolution instead of absolving individuals may apply in the current epidemic?

An imminent danger of death justifies certain solutions which the Church, in Her zeal for the eternal salvation of souls, has always generously allowed. Such is the case with General Absolution for soldiers about to go into battle, or for people on board a sinking ship. If an emergency affecting an intensive care ward does means that a Priest can only enter under extremely strict conditions, and he cannot hear the individual confessions of the dying, I think such a solution may be the best.

However, if a precedent is set whereby General Absolution is extended to all cases, even when penitents are not in danger of immediate death, we must be extremely careful to ensure that what the Church allows in extreme cases does not become the norm.

Let me remind people that watching Mass on the internet or on television does not absolve the precept of going to Sunday Mass. It can be a good way to sanctify the Lord’s Day when it is absolutely impossible to go to church; but we must always remember that living the Sacraments cannot be replaced by virtualizing the Sacraments. At a more banal level, we cannot feed our bodies by looking at a photograph of a loaf of bread.

MJM: What message would Your Excellency like to give those in charge of defending and guiding Christ’s flock?

The pope, the Hierarchy, and all Bishops, Priests and Religious must immediately and absolutely convert. This is something the laity are calling for, as they suffer because they have no firm and faithful guides. We cannot allow the flock which Our Divine Lord has entrusted to our care be scattered by faithless mercenaries. We must convert and go completely over to being on God’s side. We cannot reach any compromises whatsoever with the world.

Bishops must regain consciousness of their own Apostolic Authority, which is personal, which cannot be delegated to intermediate subjects such as Episcopal Conferences or Synods, which have distorted the exercise of the apostolic ministry, causing serious damage to the divine constitution of the Church.

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The time has come to put an end to synodal paths. To an absurd sense of inferiority and flattering when dealing with the world. To that hypocritical use of the word dialoguing instead of fearlessly preaching the Gospel. We must stop teaching false doctrines and stop being afraid of preaching about purity and holiness. And stop being silent in front of the arrogance of evil. Stop covering up terrible scandals. Stop lying, tricking, and taking revenge.

Catholic life must be a battle right to the end, not a happy-go-lucky walk towards the abyss. All of us, having received Holy Orders. will be asked by Our Lord to give account of the souls we have saved, and those we have lost by not reprimanding and rescuing them. Let us go back to the One true Faith. To living a life of holiness. To the only Cult pleasing to God.

Conversion and repentance, as Our Blessed Lady, Mother of the Church, asks of us. Let us all ask Her, Tabernacle of the Most High, to give Priests and Bishops the heroic impetus they need to save the Church and to bring about the victory of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart.

viganos crest+ Carol Maria Viganò
First Sunday of Passiontide 2020

 

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St. Raphael: Prayers in Troubled Times.

SAINT RAPHAEL,ARCHANGEL

The archangel’s name in Hebrew means “Divine Healer.”

Among the three archangels named in the Bible, St. Raphael is probably the least known. This is likely due to the fact that St. Raphael is only found in the Old Testament (and there only in a book not considered canonical by Jews or Protestant Christians), while Gabriel and Michael feature prominently in the New Testament.

Traditionally, Raphael had a separate feast celebrated on October 24, though recently his feast was combined with those of the other two archangels on September 29.

St. Raphael is a powerful intercessor whom we should not forget, especially during times when we are most in need of healing.

Raphael is found in the Book of Tobit, where he reveals himself as a healer of mind, body and spirit. The first part of the biblical story narrates the life of Tobit, a righteous Jewish man who took upon himself the burial of the dead even when it was forbidden by his Assyrian captors. Tobit became blind after bird droppings fell into his eyes. The blindness lasted for several years and sent Tobit into a deep anguish, creating in him a desire to die.

At the same time there was a woman named Sarah who was tormented by a demon. She married seven times, but each time her bridegroom was killed by the demon on their wedding night, before the marriage could be consummated. She too was deeply depressed and wished for death.

St. Raphael was sent to both. He brought about their healing by accompanying Tobit’s son, Tobias, on a journey to find a special kind of fish liver with healing properties. Raphael was disguised as Tobias’ travel guide, and in this tradition he is often invoked by pilgrims.

On the way back home, Raphael and Tobias stopped at the home of Tobit’s kinsmen — the parents of Sarah. Tobias and Sarah fell in love, and on their wedding night Tobias’ pledge of chaste love, stirred by Raphael’s angelic power, defeated the demon.

Returning home with his bride, Tobias laid the fish liver on Tobit’s eyes and his blindness was healed. At the marriage feast of Tobias and Sarah, the family turned to thank Raphael, who only then revealed himself as an archangel.

The word Raphael in Hebrew can be rendered as, “God heals,” “Divine Healer,” or “Remedy of God.” His angelic mission on earth is to heal, which is very important for those suffering in any way.

O Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners. I beg you, assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the “medicine of God” I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul and the ills that afflict my body. I especially ask of you the favor (here mention your special intention), and the great grace of purity to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Short Prayer to St. Raphael the Archangel

St. Raphael, the Archangel, arrow and medicine of Divine Love, wound our hearts, we implore you, with the burning love of God and let this wound never heal, so that even in daily life we might always remain upon the path of love and overcome all things through love. Amen.

Consecration Prayer to St. Raphael

Holy Archangel Raphael, standing so close to the throne of God and offering Him our prayers, I venerate you as God’s special Friend and Messenger. I choose you as my Patron and wish to love and obey you as young Tobias did. I consecrate to you my body and soul, all my work, and my whole life. I want you to be my Guide and Counsellor in all the dangerous and difficult problems and decisions of my life. Remember, dearest Saint Raphael, that the grace of God preserved you with the good angels in heaven when the proud ones were cast into hell. I entreat you, therefore, to help me in my struggle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Defend me from all dangers and every occasion of sin. Direct me always in the way of peace, safety, and salvation. Offer my prayers to God as you offered those of Tobias, so that through your intercession I may obtain the graces necessary for the salvation of my soul. Remember me and always entreat for me before the Face of the Son of God. Help me to love and serve my God faithfully, to die in His grace, and finally to merit to join you in seeing and praising God forever in heaven. Amen.

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Reflection for the 5th Sunday of Lent (Passion Sunday) – Cycle A

The Resurrection Of Lazarus. Fragment of painting of the Vladimir ...

Readings: Ezekiel 37:12-14; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:14-45

It is nearly Palm Sunday and Holy Week, but not quite yet! There is still a week until Palm Sunday. We are entering the Fifth Sunday and Week of Lent and the Gospel passage assigned for this Sunday brings us face to face with death, the death of a close friend of Jesus. Whenever Christians ponder death they are also supposed to be thinking of ko,,resurrected life. That can be very difficult to do, of course, when one or many whom we love die, and our grief cannot be swept away with a few words. Yet even in grief the Christian is called to believe the triumph of Christ over death is a gift extended to the whole human race, to all who die and to all who mourn, called to participate in God’s life that can never die.

The seed must die in order to give life to a plant. This image reminds us that our earthly existence will come to an end, but from that apparent annihilation, resurrected life can come forth, as promised by the Lord and shown by His own Resurrection from the dead. It is especially prefigured in the raising of Lazarus from the tomb, which Latin or Roman Catholics recall each year the Sunday before Palm Sunday. Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Christians recount the raising of Lazarus on the day before Palm Sunday.

In either case, the story of Lazarus’ return to life is placed in the Christian liturgy quite close to Holy Week when we especially ponder each year the mystery of Christ’s saving death and resurrection. Just as Lazarus, who was dead and in a tomb for some days was raised to new life by Christ, so too each of us can experience resurrected life in Jesus Christ. Resurrection from the dead is the basis our hope and the cause of our rejoicing even in the face of death.

In other words, we Christians believe that death is not the end of our existence. Our life changes at death but does not end. In fact our death is the entrance into a new and eternal life which lasts for ever. The Sacred Scriptures of our Church are an exclamation of life, of resurrection, of dwelling in God and ultimately in the Holy Trinity of Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The three Scripture readings for this Sunday proclaim clearly the call of life. From Ezekiel the Prophet we hear, “Thus says the Lord God: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them.” And further, “I will put my spirit in you that you may live.” Could there be more encouraging words?

In the second lesson for this Sunday Saint Paul says, “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will bring your mortal bodies to life also through His Spirit dwelling in you.” What great news for the follower of Jesus Christ, called to be part of God’s kingdom here on earth and in the world to come.

Finally, in the Gospel this Sunday we find the gloriously encouraging words of the Redeemer: “I am the resurrection and the life: whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life; and whoever is alive and believes in me will never die.”

Jesus’ life and mission led to death for the salvation of the world. Christ died because He loved to the extreme, always seeking to do God’s will for the good of the human race. We may lack a firm belief in this at times, since the mystery of God becoming a human being and redeeming us transcends that which we can easily perceive with our senses. Christ walked upon this earth, yet it takes faith to see in him the promised Redeemer and the ultimate desire of all peoples.

The presence of God actively involved in our life is a reality that cannot be weighed and measured, yet is what gives meaning to our life. Jesus came to give life, but most especially life eternal. Christ was sent by the Father to bring joy and happiness, which lasts forever, not just for a moment. Christian faith is a tremendous support in one’s journey through life. We give thanks to God for the gift of faith, which may at times seem like a tiny mustard seed, but in fact is a tremendous potential for doing great things and sharing in life eternal with God.

May the Lord increase our faith and encourage us to persevere in doing good, living in faith, hope and love.

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He Had Corona Virus and Recovered: Alexander Tschugguel talks to Dr. Taylor Marshall

Alexander Tschugguel – the young Austrian man who threw the Pacha idols into the Tiber River talks to Dr. Taylor Marshall about having contracting the Corona Virus, being hospitalized, and then about his recovery.

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England’s Re-dedication as “Mary’s Dowry” in Face of the Current Pandemic

WALSINGHAM, England will be re-dedicated as the “Dowry of Mary” in the face of the Wuhan virus pandemic, renewing the first dedication made by King Richard II in 1381 at Westminster Abbey as he sought Our Lady’s protection during a period of great political turmoil.

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Icon of Our Lady of Walsingham
painted for the rededication

However, with all churches in Britain closing from Monday night, “the rededication will now be an individual event taking place in hundreds of thousands of homes up and down the country on Sunday, March 29,” a press statement from the Catholic National Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady announced.

There will be no main service at Walsingham or rededication services at churches and cathedrals, including some Anglican churches, as earlier planned. “Instead, we are going to use social media to help individuals and families do the rededication at home at noon (GMT) with the hashtag #RededicationAtHome,” press coordinator Jack Valero told Church Militant.

“In the Middle Ages, England was one of the most Marian countries in Europe. A young Richard II consecrated England to Mary as depicted in the Wilton Diptych (pictured herein). We are hoping that the re-dedication will rekindle love for Mary in England and encourage many people to seek her protection in their hour of need,” Valero said, noting that “this is all the more important in this time of crisis where it has become clear that as human beings we cannot control everything.”

English royalty have made frequent pilgrimages to Walsingham: Henry III in 1226, Edward I (11 times), Edward II in 1315,  Edward III in 1361, Richard II in 1383, Edward IV in 1469, Henry VI in 1487 (and many other times) and Henry VIII in 1511, in thanksgiving for the birth of his son, Prince Henry.

Henry VIII frequently visited the shrine in his earlier years as Fidei Defensor, making many trips to pray for a male heir with his wife, Catherine of Aragon.

It has taken us 60 years to begin to recover from this Protestant demotion of Our Lady.Tweet

Following the Protestant Revolt, on the orders of Henry VIII, military divisions were sent into Walsingham in 1538, razing the shrine. The canons and monks tried to defend it but those who resisted were hanged, drawn and quartered on a field now known as Martyr’s Field. Its sacred image was carried to Chelsea and burned.

Speaking to Church Militant, commentator Deacon Nick Donnelly said he was gravely concerned by the “Protestant demotion” of Mary — but this time coming from within the Catholic Church.

The rededication of England to Mary will foster the resurgence of Marian piety and “reverse decades of neglect of devotions to Our Lady following Vatican II, when there was a concerted effort to suppress popular devotions,” Donnelly said.

 

“It was a big mistake to relegate the Council’s consideration of the Mother of God to a section tacked onto the end of Lumen Gentium, rejecting Cdl. [Alfredo] Ottaviani’s proposal of a separate document dedicated to Mary,” he remarked.

The deacon, a prominent voice in the Catholic Church in England, added:

It has taken us 60 years to begin to recover from this Protestant demotion of Our Lady. My hope is that following this re-dedication of England as Our Lady’s Dowry, we will regain our prominence in promoting devotion to Our Lady, which we’ve had since Anglo-Saxon times, when we introduced the dedication of Saturdays to the Queen of Heaven.

Canon law expert Fr. Stephen Trott echoed Deacon Donnelly’s words: “The stampede following the Council to tear down the altars, to reduce the liturgy to monosyllables, to pour away many centuries of spirituality and devotion, has left the Western Church both impoverished and in distress.”

“The deep and heartfelt love of the Church for Mary, Theotokos, Bearer of the Lord, has been sadly neglected for some 60 years, even in shrines such as Walsingham, which have been subjected to the iconoclasm of the postconciliar era. It is a cause for joy that at last the tide is turning, and that a new generation is set to recover ‘the beauty of holiness,’ so long neglected but now treasured and to be restored,” Trott commented.

Father Paul Haffner, member of the Pontifical International Marian Academy, explains that the title “Dowry of Mary” was “one of England’s greatest glories.” A dowry is the money, goods or estate that a woman brings to her husband in marriage.

This is your Dowry, O Holy Virgin, therefore rule over it, O Mary.Tweet

The priest-historian points out that the earlier recorded use of the title was by King Richard II as he placed England under Our Lady’s protection, in thanksgiving for having regained it: “Dos tua Virgo pia Haec est, quaere leges O Maria, This is your Dowry, O Holy Virgin, therefore rule over it, O Mary.”

It was used by Abp. of Canterbury Thomas Arundel in 1399: “We English, being the servants of her [Mary’s] special inheritance and her own Dowry as we are commonly called, ought to surpass others in the fervour of our praises and devotions.

By the 14th century, England was commonly called “Our Lady’s Dowry” throughout Europe, notes Haffner. “It was chiefly because of the importance of Walsingham that England received her titles, ‘the Holy Land’ and ‘Our Lady’s Dowry.'”

Ruins of the priory at Walsingham

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has expressed his hope that the rededication will save England from “the rapid de-Christianisation of British society” and will lead to “the bright hope of a new evangelization.”

“I have asked the faithful to make use of the daily Angelus to entrust our families and our nation once more to Our Lady who invites us to share her fiat — her ‘yes’ to God’s plan — in the face of the many challenges and opportunities of this moment in our history,” he said.

Following the destruction of the shrine during the Protestant Revolt, the first Catholic Mass was offered on Aug. 15, 1934. A few days later Cdl. Francis Bourne led a pilgrimage of 10,000 people to the Slipper Chapel at Walsingham and declared it to be the Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady.

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March 27th “Urbi et Orbi” Blessing from Pope Carries Plenary Indulgence

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis said he will give an extraordinary blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) at 6 p.m. Rome time March 27 (12 noon CST).

The formal blessing — usually given only immediately after a new pope’s election and on Christmas and Easter — carries with it a plenary indulgence for all who follow by television, internet or radio, are sorry for their sins, recite a few prescribed prayers, and promise to go to Confession and to receive the Eucharist as soon as possible.

The prayer and blessing will be broadcast live on the Vatican News website at https://www.vaticannews.va/en.html

Tune in to Relevant Radio or view live on the Relevant Radio app or https://relevantradio.com/
Watch the live stream on http://catholictv.org or on Facebook: @CatholicTV

The blessing will be broadcast on EWTN live at noon [N.B. 5pm in the UK, Ireland and Portugal] and again at 6pm then rebroadcast at 7 p.m. Friday and 4 a.m. Saturday.

The conditions for receiving a plenary indulgence are (Cf. The Gift of the Indulgence, by the Apostolic Penitentiary):

  • having the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin;
  • having sacramentally confessed sins;
  • receiving the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required);
  • prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.

*During these times of lockdown and quarantine, the Vatican has determined that the 2nd and 3rd of those conditions can be fulfilled when it becomes again possible.

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Marco Tosatti: Coronavirus is spreading behind Vatican Walls

AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

From Church Militant:

Dear readers, the coronavirus has reached the highest levels of the Vatican. The head of the Italian section of the Secretariat of State, Msgr. Gianluca Pezzoli, is hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19.

Monsignor Pezzoli is quite young; he was born in Mantua in 1962 and is only 58. He is described by those who know him as a great worker, a man who is reserved and sober. He is certainly not a worldly monsignor. He lives at Santa Marta. Thus it is very probable that he was infected inside the Vatican Walls. His role as head of the Italian section, which is definitely the biggest section of the Secretariat of State, makes it quite probable that before he had symptoms he must have had personal contact with many people, and thus they would have been exposed to the virus.

The fact that Msgr. Pezzoli lives permanently at Santa Marta naturally increases the concern. In addition to the pontiff, dozens of prelates live at Santa Marta, either permanently or temporarily.

But very reliable sources tell me that there are actually only five people currently living at Santa Marta, and all of them are in isolation because they suspect they have contracted the coronavirus. The pope has stopped taking his meals in the common dining room. He spends the majority of his time in his apartment on the top floor. His personal secretary brings him lunch and dinner.

We need to remember that when he was young, Jorge Mario Bergoglio underwent a major surgical operation, in which doctors removed a large part of his lung. This explains the breathing difficulties and shortness of breath that sometimes afflict him. Naturally, a person who has this sort of handicap would have a particular fear of a virus that attacks the lungs like COVID-19.

The fact that the pope has decided to eat alone, in his own room, indicates that he is very worried. We recall how Pope Bergoglio decided, when he was elected, not to occupy the papal apartment in the Vatican Palace as his predecessors had done, but to live at Santa Marta. He took his meals in the common dining room, although for some years a row of potted plants gave him a small amount of privacy. But the fact that he has now renounced community life is a sign that he is both worried and prudent.

Any official Vatican information on COVID-19 is lacking. On March 24, Matteo Bruni, the director of the Vatican Press Office, said:

At the present time four people have tested positive for the coronavirus. In addition to the first case that had already been reported there is an employee of the Business Office and two employees of the Vatican Museum. These four persons were placed in isolation as a precautionary measure even before they tested positive, and their isolation has lasted over 14 days; they are presently in the care of Italian hospitals or at home.

The first positive case within the Vatican City State was a monsignor from Bergamo who was summoned by the [Vatican] Health and Hygiene Office. The monsignor was supposed to take up service in the Vatican after coming from his native city of Bergamo, which is one of the cities in Italy with the most outbreaks of COVID-19. But just as in other cases, he had time to spread the infection in the Vatican and elsewhere before he showed any symptoms.

In the meantime, another papal journey has been canceled. Pope Bergoglio was supposed to go to Malta on May 31, but his visit has been canceled. We would like to recommend that you follow the development of these matters on a very accurate and well-informed website, Korazym.org. This site was the first one to sound the alarm about the danger of the situation developing behind the Vatican walls. To read the story, click here.

There are two principal things that are suspected as being the source of the contagion.

The first is the Vatican Museums, where up until the moment they were closed the employees asked in vain for masks and gowns to defend themselves from the risk represented in the crowd of tourists entering the museums each day.

The second is a French bishop who made his ad limina visit and tested positive for the coronavirus after he returned. During their ad limina visit, in addition to meeting with the Pope, the bishops visited all of the dicasteries of the Curia. And so this case too offers numerous possibilities that many people were infected.

Originally published at Marco Tosatti’s blog

Translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino @pellegrino2020.

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