Ash Wednesday


Taken from the Saint Andrew Daily Missal

Today’s station at Rome is at Saint Sabina’s on the Aventine, in a sanctuary  built on the former site of the holy martyr’s house. Having been converted by her maid-servant, she was beheaded for the faith and secretly buried. It is to this Church, that in former times, the Pope used to go barefoot “to begin with holy fasts the exercises of Christian warfare, that as we do battle with the spirits of evil, we may be protected by the help of self-denial” [Prayer at the Blessing of the ashes]. In the fifth century it was one of the twenty-five parishes of Rome.

Following the example of the Ninivites, who did penance in sackcloth and ashes, the Church today, to humble our pride and remind us of the sentence of death, which as a consequence of our sins we are bound to undergo, sprinkles ashes on our heads with the words: “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and into dust shalt thou return”. Here indeed, is a thought that should humble our pride.

In this custom we have the remains of an ancient custom referred to in the Roman Pontifical. Those Christians who were guilty of grave faults had to undergo public penance. Accordingly, on Ash Wednesday, the Bishop used to bless the sackcloth which was to be worn by the penitents during the holy Forty Days, and place upon their heads ashes made from palms used the previous year in the Palm Sunday procession. Then, while the faithful were singing the Seven Penitential Psalms, “the penitents were expelled from the holy place on account of their sins, just as Adam was driven out paradise because of his disobedience”. They were not allowed to put off their penitential garb or to re-enter the Church before Holy Thursday after they had gained their reconciliation by toil and penance, and by sacramental confession and absolution.

At the Council of Beneventum (1091) Pope Urban VI commanded that the ashes should be received by all the faithful indiscriminately. Let us receive them in a spirit of humility and penance, that by this powerful sacramental we may obtain from almighty God the blessings which the Church implores in the act of blessing them. For truly, “God overlooks the sins of men for the sake of repentence” (Introit). He is “rich in mercy” to those who are “converted to Him with all their heart in fasting and in weeping and in mourning” (Epistle). We must not indeed, like the Pharisees, rend our garments as a sign of grief, but rather our hearts, for it is not men who are to testify to our fasting, but our Father who sees our innermost souls and will repay us (Gospel), as our Lord Himself tells us in the Sermon on the Mount. Let us then, draw from the Eucharist the help which we need (Postcommunion), so that celebrating today the institution of this sacred fast (Secret), we may “perform it with a devotion which nothing can disturb” (Collect).

Introit:  Wisdom xi. 24, 25, 27

Collect: Grant, O Lord, to Thy faithful people that they may begin the venerable solemnities of fasting with becoming piety, and may persevere to the end with steadfast devotion. Through Our Lord…

Epistle:  Joel ii. 12-19

Gospel:  Matthew vi. 16-21

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Praying, fasting and pleasing ourselves

The following excerpt taken from the Sermons of the Curé d’Ars,  Saint Jean Marie Vianneyseems fitting for the start of the Lenten season. May the great patron saint of parish priests pray for us and help us prepare for Easter in a good and holy way:

z13My dear brethren, we read in holy Scripture that the Lord, while speaking to His people of the necessity to do good works in order to please Him and to become included in the number of saints, said to them: ‘The things that I ask are not above your powers; to do them it is not necessary for you to lift yourselves to the clouds nor to cross the seas. All that I command is, so to speak, in your hands, in your hearts, and all around.

I can easily repeat the very same thing to you, my dear brethren. It is true that we shall never have the happiness of going to Heaven unless we do good works, but let us not be afraid of that, my dear children. What Jesus Christ demands of us are not the extraordinary things or those beyond our powers. He does not require that we should be all day in the church or that we should do enormous penances, that is to say, to the extent of ruining our health, or even to that of giving all our substance to the poor (although it is very true that we are obliged to give as much as we possibly can to the poor, which we should do both to please God, Who commands it, and also to atone for our sins). It is also true that we should practice mortification in many things to make reparation for our sins. There is no doubt but that the person who lives without mortifying himself is someone who will never succeed in saving his soul. There is no doubt but that, although we cannot be all day in the church, which yet should be a great joy for us, we do know very well that we should never omit our prayers, at least in the morning and at night.

But, you will say, there are plenty who cannot fast, others who are not able to give alms, and others who have so much to do that often they have great difficulty in saying their prayers in the morning and at night. How can they possibly be saved, then, if it is necessary to pray continuously and to do good works in order to obtain Heaven?

Because all your good works, my dear brethren, amount to prayer, fasting, and almsdeeds, which we can easily perform as you shall see. Yes, my dear brethren, even though we may have poor health or even be infirm, there is a fast which we can easily perform.

Let us even be quite poor; we can still give alms. And however heavy or demanding our work, we can still pray to Almighty God without interfering with our labours; we can pray night and morning, and even all day long, and here is how we can do it. All the time that we deprive ourselves of anything which it gives us pleasure to do, we are practicing a fast which is very pleasing to God because fasting does not consist solely of privations in eating and drinking, but of denying ourselves that which pleases our taste most. Some mortify themselves in the way they dress; others in the visits they want to make to friends whom they like to see; others in the conversations and discussions which they enjoy. This constitutes a very excellent fast and one which pleases God because it fights self-love and pride and one’s reluctance to do things one does not enjoy or to be with people whose characters and ways of behaving are contrary to one’s own. You can, without offending God, go into that particular company, but you can deprive yourself of it to please God: there is a type of fasting which is very meritorious.

You are in some situation in which you can indulge your appetite? Instead of doing so, you take, without making it obvious, something which appeals to you the least. When you are buying chattels or clothes, you do not choose that which merely appeals to you; there again is a fast whose reward waits for you at the door of Heaven to help you to enter. Yes, my dear brethren, if we want to go about it properly, not only can we find opportunities of practicing fasting every day, but at every moment of the day.

Tell me, now, is there any fasting which would be more pleasing to God than to do and to endure with patience certain things which often are very disagreeable to you? Without mentioning illness, infirmities, or so many other afflictions which are inseparable from our wretched life, how often do we not have the opportunity to mortify ourselves in putting up with what annoys and revolts us? Sometimes it is work which wearies us greatly; sometimes it is some person who annoys us. At another time it may be some humiliation which is very difficult to endure. Well, then, my children, if we put up with all that for God and solely to please Him, these are the fasts which are most agreeable to God and most meritorious in His eyes. You are compelled to work all the year round at very heavy and exacting labour which often seems as if it is going to kill you and which does not give you even the time to draw your breath. Oh, my dear children, what treasures would you be storing up for Heaven, if you so desired, by doing just what you do and in the midst of your labours having the wisdom and the foresight to lift up your hearts to God and say to Him: ‘My good Jesus, I unite my labours to Your labours, my sufferings to Your sufferings; give me the grace to be always content in the state in which You have placed me! I will bless Your holy Name in all that happens to me! Yes, my dear children, if you had the great happiness to behave in this way, all your trials, all your labours, would become like most precious fruits which you would offer to God at the hour of your death. That, my children, is how everyone is his own state in life can practice a kind of fasting which is very meritorious and which will be of the greatest value to him for eternal life.

I have been telling you, too, that there is a certain type of almsgiving which everyone can perform. You see quite well that almsgiving does not consist solely in feeding those who are hungry and giving clothes to those who have none. It consists in all the services which one renders to a neighbour, whether of body or soul, when they are done in a spirit of charity. When we have only a little, very well, let us give a little; and when we have nothing, let us lend if we can. If you cannot supply those who are sick with whatever would be good for them, well then, you can visit them, you can say consoling words to them, you can pray for them so that they will put their illness to good use. Yes, my dear children, everything is good and precious in God’s sight when we act from the motives of religion and of charity because Jesus Christ tells us that a glass of water would not go unrewarded. You see, therefore, my children, that although we may be quite poor, we can still easily give alms. I told you that however exacting our work was, there is a certain kind of prayer which we can make continually without, at the same time, upsetting our labours, and this is how it is done.

It is seeking, in everything we do, to do the will of God only. Tell me, my children, is it so difficult to seek only to do the will of God in all of our actions, however small they may be? Yes, my children, with that prayer everything becomes meritorious for Heaven, and without that will, all is lost. Alas! How many good things, which would help us so well to gain Heaven, go unrewarded simply by not doing our ordinary duties with the right intention!

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Lenten Mission

Lent is coming … soon.
In the past, you could find a traditional Lenten Mission at many parishes. Now, unless you are near a traditional parish, they are nearly extinct — or worthless.

Fortunately, we are not meant to live in the past, we are meant to live in the now. And, now, we have the Internet. And, there is an abundance of good on the Internet, along with the bad.

As always, we bring to your attention this wonderful, traditional, five-part Lenten Mission by the holy and learned Fr. Isaac Mary Relyea. While it is not short, it does go by very quickly, and is easy to follow and understand. It’s clear, concise and bold.

As the season nears, you would do well to listen to this, to pray on it and to use it to prepare for a fruitful Lent — and be ready for it to change you for the better.

Click on each of the five themes of the mission: Prelude to the Mission * On Death * On Judgment * On Hell * On Heaven


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Hail Tradition!

From Rorate Caeli:

So…the 2016 Mercy Jubilee was not the popular success that had been foreseen. What was the solution?

The Pope had the Capuchins bring to Rome from different points of Italy two of the most popular and traditional saints of the 20th Century, great Apostles of Penance and Confession: Sts. Padre Pio and Leopold Mandic.

And the crowds suddenly appeared for the venerable Relics!

Hail Tradition!

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“Christian is my Name, and Catholic is my Surname” – Pope Benedict XV


Last week there was some trouble on our blog after a quote from the great defender of Truth (and tireless adversary of Modernism), Pope St Pius X, was published. In the ensuing discussion a commenter accused all those Catholics who try to follow in the footsteps of Pius X, renouncing the errors of Modernism that are out to destroy the Faith, as giving out “traditionalist diatribes”! One of our team responded very perceptively with: “Our precious Faith is founded on Sacred Tradition. To be Catholic is to be traditionalist. End of.”

So what is all this about?

Once upon a time, simply to call oneself Catholic was probably explanation enough. Anyone listening would have known that here was a person who believed that the Catholic Church was the One True Faith, and that She alone, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, contained “words of Eternal Life”. The Holy Mass was not a happy-clappy ‘community celebratory meal’, as liberals refer to it, but the actual re-enactment of Christ’s saving Sacrifice at Calvary. Dissent, novelties, banality and worldliness did not form part of what it meant to be ‘Catholic’.

Nowadays, however, with so many liberals, progressives and modernists running amok in the Church, it is not enough any longer. Hence, to make one’s position clear, those who hold to and defend the fullness of the Church’s timeless doctrines, beliefs, practices and sacred liturgy, often have no alternative but to use the adjective ‘traditionalist’ before the name, Catholic. But in reality this is an appellation that the enemies of Sacred Tradition twist to brand all faithful Catholics, in marking them out as intransigent, bigots, or (their favourite adjectives) ‘intolerant’ or ‘judgemental’. Father Z’s famous Fishwrap – the most unCatholic newspaper in the whole Catholic media – has a hilarious long list of derogatory names for Catholics who hold to what the Catholic Church teaches! They should take a look at this:

“It is…Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as ‘profane novelties of words,’ out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: ‘This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved”(Athanasian Creed).

But now we come to another group in the Church: those who like to follow a middle way; in other words, neither proclaiming themselves in favour of Catholic Traditional values, nor running with the progressives and dissenters. These are the moderates, who like to blow “neither hot nor cold”. [And please note: I am not referring here to people who simply cannot take all these disagreements in the Church and simply want to live their Catholic Faith in peace. Many of these are old people, too tired and world-worn to get into discussions of this sort. Or else they are those who feel the need to stick solely to a life of silent prayer and practice. These are not moderates, but still faithful Catholics doing their own bit for the Kingdom of God on Earth.]

In a most insightful article on Courageous Priest the other day: The Error of Being Moderate: “A Compromised Truth is Always Falsehood”, Father Erik Richsteig had this to say about moderates in the Church:

“One of my former bishops was described, even by himself, as an extreme moderate. I would have called him a pathological moderate, but, hey, that’s just terminology. He was and is a nice fellow and a good man, but he made the mistake of assuming the the middle ground was always the truth. He also made the mistake of thinking that he was always in the middle ground. (Often his positions were liberal/progressive.)

This is a common way of looking at the world. Heck, I looked at the world that way during my stupid liberal college days. You just find what you consider to be two opposite and extreme positions, create a continuum and stake out a mid-ground between them, and then you are safe. Except, that it makes a lot of false assumptions.

He then goes on to explain what these “false assumptions” really are:

Falsehoods of Moderation

The first falsehood is that is assumes the things are opposites, like good and evil, male and female. Good and evil are not opposites. That view is heretical. Evil is a privation of good. It is nothing, a defect. Moderation between a thing and its privation is just less defective. Male and female are not opposites. The are complementary sexes of the same species. Neuter or androgyny aren’t a virtuous middle between two extremes, but rather something else entirely.

The second falsehood is to assume that the extremes are natural opposites. Consider fascism and Marxism. They are opposites, right? Wrong, they are both versions of socialism. They differ but that doesn’t make them opposites. Much of the time, the moderate will just pull two relevant things or positions out of a cocked hat and say, “Look at these two extremes. I am in the middle, so I must be right.” But the secret is that there is no middle between the two positions. […]

Watered Downed Gospel

Compromising on the Gospel in not possible. What is arrived at is something else with no power to save. To try, to present a watered down false Gospel does nothing but earn the presenter a great big millstone. […]”

Yes, truly, you have to be a “courageous priest” to speak like that today!

Finally, some sagacious words from Pope Benedict XV:

There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim ‘Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,’ only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself.” — Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

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Yvonne-Aimée de Jésus


MYV copy.jpgThe Anniversary of a Heavenly Friend
February 3rd is the 65th anniversary of the death of one of my dearest heavenly friends: Mother Yvonne-Aimée de Jésus (Yvonne Beauvais), Augustinian Canoness, Hospitaller of the Mercy of Jesus, of the Monastery of Malestroit in Brittany, France. Born in 1901, Mother Yvonne-Aimée died, after a life of extraordinary love and extraordinary suffering, at 49 years of age on 3 February 1951. On the very day of her death she was preparing to undertake a visitation of the monasteries of her Order in South Africa.

Beloved of Jesus
Yvonne Beauvais’ life was indescribably rich . . . in bitter sufferings and in the most astonishing charisms. From the time of her girlhood she knew of Our Lord’s tender love for her. She believed in it. She trusted it, and she staked her life upon it. At the age of eleven Yvonne offered herself and her whole life to Jesus, writing in what appears to be her own blood: “O my little Jesus, I give myself to Thee completely and forever. I shall always want what Thou shalt want. I shall do all that Thou shalt tell me to do. I shall live for Thee, I shall live in silence, and if it be Thy will, I shall suffer much in silence. I beg Thee to make me become a saint, a very great saint, a martyr. Make me always faithful. I want to save many souls and to love Thee more than everyone else, but I also want to be very little so as to give Thee more glory. I want to possess Thee, my little Jesus, and to shine with Thee. I want to belong to Thee alone but, above all, I want Thy will.”  Yvonne was, in the truest sense of her name in religion, the Beloved of Jesus.

An Intercessor
Mother Yvonne-Aimée’s intercession is swift and powerful. From her place in heaven she is attentive to all the prayers addressed to her. Ever a Hospitaller of the Mercy of Jesus, she responds graciously, willingly, generously, and promptly to those who ask her for help. In a word, she is in heaven as she was on earth: a dispenser of tenderness, mercy, healing, and joy. Mother Yvonne–Aimée’s  spiritual son, Father Paul Labutte, borrowing a line from the famous French literary critic, Charles du Bos, said of her, with all due proportion, what Du Bos said of Our Lady: “There will never be but one way to come to know her; it is by addressing her. No sooner does one call upon her than she reveals herself by answering.” Personally, I can attest that this is true.

A Victim of Violence
It is all to the credit of her spiritual son, Father Paul Labutte, that, after more than fifty years of silence, he chose to reveal one of the most painful secrets of her life. On 10 August 1925, three men ambushed Yvonne Beauvais, then twenty-four years old, in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt. The three men beat Yvonne, and tortured her. One of the three was a depraved priest, whom she had previously tried to help by addressing to him a warning from Our Lord. The reprobate priest later repented of his crime and was converted. Father Labutte chose to write of this episode in the life of Yvonne-Aimée, believing that victims of similar crimes would take comfort in seeking the intercession of one with a personal experience of their suffering.

Her Care for Priests
Beginning in her early twenties, Yvonne Beauvais had a particular mission to priests. Ever respectful and discreet, she was sensitive to priests in moral distress and in temptation. She readily took on herself the temptations and sufferings of priests. She calmed many a troubled conscience, dispensed wise motherly advice, and communicated joy and hope to priests haunted by depression and tempted to despair. Many times she was sent by Our Lord to deliver a message to priests in the throes of temptation or spiritual combat. To my brother priests and, in particular to those among them enduring emotional or spiritual sufferings, as well as to those struggling with depression and weariness, I recommend recourse to the intercession of Mother Yvonne-Aimée.

Gaston Courtois and Other Priests
Among the many priests who sought her out was the Abbé Gaston Courtois, Fils de la Charité. The Abbé Courtois exercised a profound influence over the French clergy between 1930 and 1950. It was said of him that he was priestly “to the very last fibre of his soul.” Mother Yvonne-Aimée referred priests in difficulty to the Abbé Courtois. It is interesting to me that forty–two years ago, one of the first books given me to meditate was a little volume by the Abbé Courtois. It would, said my Novice Master, warm the heart.  The Abbé Gaston Courtois, in turn, entrusted priests, especially those in need of a real conversion of life, to Mother Yvonné–Aimée. Concerning her, the Abbé Courtois wrote:

Only those who were very close to her know to what point she suffered, in a great spirit of Redemption, most especially for priests.

Dom Germain Cozien, Abbot of Solesmes 1921–1959

Dom Germain Cozien, Abbot of Solesmes 1921–1959

The Impressions of Two Great Abbots
According to her spiritual son, Father Paul Labutte, Dom Marie-Gabriel Sortais (1902-1963), Abbot General of the Trappist Order (O.C.S.O.) considered Mother Yvonne–Aimée a great Superior who built all her work on the rock of faith. Dom Sortais remarked Mother Yvonne-Aimée’s gift for pacifying and opening up souls; he kept her photo on his desk.

The Abbot of Solesmes, Dom Germain Cozien (1921-1959), observed that Mother Yvonne-Aimée was marked by “the sense of prayer, of liturgical beauty, of praising God, in the school of the Church.” And he added: “All the life of Mother Yvonne-Aimée was under the influence of God.”

Mother Yvonne–Aimée rightly esteemed the choral celebration of the Divine Office. She fostered the beauty of the Divine Office’s sacred choreography, seeing to the good order and harmony of the community’s entrance into choir, the profound inclinations made together at each Gloria Patri, and the signs of the cross done slowly and reverently. She said, “Pray by making these movements together! This harmony pleases the Lord and touches many souls! The Angels praise the Lord alongside you and sing with you!”

My Own Experience
About thirty years ago, after having tried for a very long time, as most monks do, to practice the ceaseless prayer of the heart, I came, providentially, upon a rare and out–of–print biography of Mother Yvonne-Aimée, and learned of her Little Invocation, O Jesus, King of Love, I trust in thy merciful goodness. One day, kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament without trying to think of anything in particular, I realized, to my surprise, that the prayer was repeating itself ceaselessly and effortlessly in my heart. I found myself praying the Little Invocation at every waking moment and even during the night, in a way similar to the practice of the “Jesus Prayer” by monks of the Eastern Church. Over the years, the grace of ceaseless prayer by means of the Little Invocation has not abated. It is always there: a gentle murmur of confidence bubbling up deep inside.

As a newly-ordained priest, I often gave the Little Invocation as penance to those who came to me for Confession. Individuals from all walks of life began attesting to the graces received: graces of inner healing, of victory over persistent and deeply rooted habits of sin, of trust in the mercy of Christ, and of a ceaseless prayer of the heart. I still recommend the Little Invocation to penitents for, as we chant during Holy Week, “The mercies of the Lord never weary; hope rises with the dawn, for the Lord is faithful” (Lamentations 3:22–23).
The Little Invocation Approved by the Church

O Jésus, Roi d’Amour,
j’ai confiance en ta miséricordieuse bonté.

O Jesus, King of Love,
I  trust in thy loving mercy.

Mother Yvonne-Aimée received the inspiration of the Little Invocation on August 28, 1922. Within the community at Malestroit, the prayer brought about healing and the restoration of unity in charity. Immediately the invocation began to spread, first in certain communities of her own Order and among their hospital patients, and then on a wider scale. Before long, persons praying the Little Invocation began witnessing to the graces and favours they received.

In 1932 the Bishop of Vannes, France, approved the prayer for his diocese. The following year, Pope Pius XI indulgenced it for the Augustinian Canonesses of the Mercy of Jesus, for their sick and for all those hospitalized in their health care facilities. Pope Pius XII renewed the favour, and on December 6, 1958, Pope John XXIII extended it to the universal Church.

Mother Yvonne-Aimée cherished the Little Invocation to Jesus, King of Love; she wanted to make it known and see it spread because such was Our Lord’s own desire. In a letter requesting that Pope Pius XI indulgence the prayer, she wrote:

It is so sweet, so strong, so rich, this little invocation . . . This invocation is appreciated by the sick; it consoles them. They love this prayer because it appeals to the Kingship of Christ Jesus, to His Love, His Mercy, His Goodness; in some way, it compels us to trust. It condenses our familiar invocations to the Sacred Heart and sums them.

The Image of the King of Love
In 1927, Mother Yvonne-Aimée had little cards printed in order to spread the prayer. In 1940, during World War II, in order to make the prayer even better known and loved, she had a medal struck. She drew an image of the Child Jesus, King of Love, which has since been distributed around the globe. Her drawing is naive and sweet; let the art critics say what they will, it appeals to the little and the poor, to the weak and the fearful, and has a way of touching their hearts.

Mother Yvonne-Aimée had but one aim: to draw souls to trust in the Heart of the Child King, to hope in His merciful goodness, and to abandon to Him all their worries, their fears, their cares, and even their sins. This remains her aim, even today, from her place in heaven. Ask for her help. You will not regret it.

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Day of Great Reparation

According to the writings of Mother Mectilde, the following Day of Reparation takes place on the Thursday of Sexagesima week. Since tomorrow will be Quinquagesima and thus the prelude to Lenten Observance, we have passed the ‘Day of Reparation’ for those who serve on the Sanctuary of Our Blessed Lord. However, it is always well to be reminded of our own sins as well as those of the Church and indeed the World in this Year of Mercy – both by frequent Confession and by consistent reparation.

I have included a biography of Mother Mectilde for those who are unfamiliar with this great Benedictine, and acknowledge Father Mark of Silverstream Priory as the author of the biography.  (



Catherine Mectilde de Bar, born at Saint–Dié in Lorraine (France) on 31 December 1614, deserves to be universally known in the Church. She is a woman of the stature of a Gertrude the Great, of a Teresa of Avila, and of a Marie de l’Incarnation. Mother Mectilde’s  life and mission are a vivid and compelling demonstration of the role of women in the Church today and in every age. Her writings, steeped in Sacred Scripture and in the liturgical tradition that formed her as a Benedictine nun, reveal a woman of profound human insights and of supernatural wisdom.

2. Mother Mectilde presents the grace of Baptism as being intrinsically ordered to actual participation in the victimhood of Christ by reception of the adorable mysteries of His Body and Blood in Holy Communion.  In affirming this, she elucidates with the brightness of her own Eucharistic experience the universal call to holiness articulated in Chapter V of the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium.

3. The vocational journey of Catherine Mectilde de Bar was marked by unforeseen turns, by sufferings of body and soul, by new beginnings, by constant displacements, and by an immutable stability in the One Thing Necessary. In this, Mother Mectilde speaks to the young men and women of today who must discern their vocations with an immense courage in the midst of uncertainty, movement, and rapid change.

4. The past fifty years have witnessed a massive loss of faith in the real presence of Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist and in Holy Mass as a visible though unbloody sacrifice making present the mystery of Christ, Priest and Victim, in His oblation to the Father. Mother Mectilde’s lucid and fiery Eucharistic doctrine defies every attempt to empty the Mass of its essentially sacrificial character as defined by the Council of Trent.

5. The study of the life and writings of Catherine Mectilde de Bar constitute a precious locus theologicus in which it will be possible to engage certain key teachings of the Council of Trent with the authentic magisterium of the Second Vatican Council in such a way as to arrive at a fruitful synthesis of liturgical continuity, Eucharistic theology, and mystical experience.

6. Mother Mectilde offers a vision of Benedictine life capable of rejuvenating monasticism — especially where it has become institutionalized and listless — with an infusion of Eucharistic vitality. Her commitment to perpetual adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament corresponds to a contemporary yearning, especially among young people, for a personal, transforming encounter with the Face of God.

7. Catherine Mectilde de Bar’s intimate and cordial relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary is a model of life–giving Marian piety. The place she gives to Our Lady as the Abbess of her monasteries suggests that every community and family can become, under Mary’s royal  protection, and consecrated to her maternal Heart, the cenacle of a continuous Pentecost, a school of apostles and evangelists, and a fruitful womb bearing new life in every generation.

8. Mother Mectilde’s attachment to the sacred liturgy, to the worthy celebration of the Holy Mysteries in an environment marked by beauty, by profound reverence, and by a humble decorum is an invitation to the recovery of what earlier generations held as sacred and great while, at the same time, recognizing every effort at growth and progress duly undertaken in organic continuity, without rupture and, above all, in charity.

9. Catherine Mectilde de Bar lived in a time marked by superstition, sorcery, dalliance with the powers of darkness, blasphemy and sacrilege. Recent distressing events in churches on every continent have demonstrated that global society today has more in common with  war–torn 17th century France than one might think.  Mother Mectilde bound herself in self–sacrificing love to the perpetrators of such horrible crimes, offering herself as a victim of reparation, that is, as an offering irrevocably made over to God with the intention of supplying for the love and adoration denied Him by those who hate Him and outrage His holiness while, at the same time, praying God to show them mercy and grace them with repentance.

10. Catherine Mectilde de Bar is an icon of the kind of spiritual motherhood needed in the Church today, not only in monastic and religious communities, but in every context where the Church is being born, and born again, of the Eucharist. Ecclesia de Eucharistia. Mother Mectilde demonstrates that the altar itself — the place set apart for the immolation of the Divine Victim — becomes a wellspring of supernatural fecundity in the life of every woman who adhering to the Holy Sacrifice, enters into the victimhood of Christ and, with Him, adores the Father in the Holy Spirit.


In her meditations for the Feast of Reparation, solemnized on the Thursday of Sexagesima week, Mother Mectilde de Bar reflects on the sins of those who serve in the sanctuaries of the Lord.

The Church, in her desolation, cries, O you who have some love for me, you who know all the glory that my Bridegroom deserves, see and consider if there be any sorrow like unto mine. O you, ministers of the Lord and friends of the Bridegroom, the Bride address these laments to you. Hasten to relieve her pain by making reparation for the affronts to Jesus Christ; give Him the glory that others would strip from Him.

Having once shown the disorders of the children of Israel to the prophet Jeremias, the Lord led him to the entrance of the temple; He ordered him to pierce an opening in its wall, and to look upon what was going on inside. The prophet obeyed, and says that therein he saw even greater abominations.

Who, alas, does not grasp that this is but a figure? Who does not know that the sanctuary is the theatre par excellence of the Lord’s ignominies? Who does not know that, alongside of priests who are fervent and truly divine, there are priests who are lukewarm and indifferent, priests who are wicked […]? And so, the Church, in calling [us] to reparation, begs us not to forget the outrages made against the glory of her Divine Spouse by His own ministers. Yours it is, she says, to expiate the sins of the Sanctuary; yours it is to bear the weight of the sins of the priesthood.

Let us enter into these intentions of the Church, and united in spirit with what remains on earth of fervent Christians, and of priests pressed by the charity of Jesus Christ, let us strive to repair the outrages of indifference and impiety; let us lift up the throne of the Lord, and offer Him the tribute of homage that, by so many titles, He deserves.

Mother Mectilde de Bar, Meditations for the Day of Great Reparation

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Pope Video 2: Care for [God’s] Creation

From Vatican Radio:

Pope Francis is asking people around the world to pray during the month of February for an increase of attention to and care for our common [earthly exile] home. The Holy Father is making the request through his new video initiative in cooperation with the Jesuit-operated Apostleship of Prayer:

Now go and read Gaia Church: Love the earth. Heaven can wait by Steve Skojec over at One Peter Five

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Pure In Heart – Ireland

Here is some encouraging news from Ireland: a new movement that aims at bringing back chastity and purity to the lives of young people. These beautiful virtues used to be an important part of Catholic Irish identity before the Sexual Revolution of the sixties, and the recent Secular attacks on traditional Christian marriage and the family. 

“Pure In Heart offers an engaging and balanced presentation to adolescents that promotes a healthy attitude towards love and relationships. Our primary aim is to encourage young people to become the best version of themselves by promoting their self-worth, a positive self-image, and provide the necessary skills to build lasting relationships. We have spoken to over 125.000 young people to date and further groups have since been established in England, Wales, Haiti, U.S., Kenya and Liberia.”

[Edit.: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Cor. 16:19).

Sadly, this description above of the Pure In Heart movement makes no mention of Ireland’s Catholic roots, or the underlying reason why we have “self-worth” to start with. Such is the current hostile mood towards the Church in Ireland, it was considered wiser to focus only on the humanistic and ethical benefits of chastity first of all, even though the great majority of its members are in fact practicing Catholics.] 

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Quote for the day from Pope St. Pius X

Pope St. Pius X already foresaw the One World Church of Apostasy (see his quote below). Now some in the hierarchy today, through the Masonic ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council, appear to be working towards it’s ultimate fulfillment.


“And now, overwhelmed with the deepest sadness, We ask Ourselves, Venerable Brethren, what has become of the Catholicism of the Sillon? Alas! this organization which formerly afforded such promising expectations, this limpid and impetuous stream, has been harnessed in its course by the modern enemies of the Church, and is now no more than a miserable affluent of the great movement of apostasy being organized in every country for the establishment of a One-World Church which shall have neither dogmas, nor hierarchy, neither discipline for the mind, nor curb for the passions, and which, under the pretext of freedom and human dignity, would bring back to the world (if such a Church could overcome) the reign of legalized cunning and force, and the oppression of the weak, and of all those who toil and suffer.
We know only too well the dark workshops in which are elaborated these mischievous doctrines which ought not to seduce clear-thinking minds.”
-Pope St Pius X in Notre Charge Apostolique

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Cardinal De Paolis: Italian Same-Sex Legislation Violates Italy’s Constitution

With attacks on marriage and the family continuing apace the world over, and nowhere more vigorously than in western nations, it is mostly the Catholic laity who are rallying in protest and raising the loudest voices against the manipulations of the secularists, feminists, pro-abortion groups and ‘gay lobby’ to force-feed their evil laws upon us. A few brave leaders and members of the hierarchy have been standing out in strong opposition to these perversions being written into our constitutions, unafraid of the secular world’s fierce criticism being heaped upon them in retaliation. From Italy, Cardinal De Paolis is the latest to voice his unstinted support for Christian marriage and family values.    

Speaking last weekend as hundreds of thousands of pro-family Italians rallied in Rome against the proposed bill, he said it also contradicts Church teaching, natural law and common sense.

BY EDWARD PENTIN (National Catholic Register’s Rome correspondent) 

Supporters of marriage through the Circus Maximus in Rome at the Family Day celebration and rally. – Edward Pentin photo

Supporters of marriage through the Circus Maximus in Rome at the Family Day celebration and rally.
– Edward Pentin photo

ROME — An Italian cardinal has said that proposed legislation to allow same-sex unions and adoption by same-sex couples in Italy is “fundamentally against the Italian constitution” as well as Catholic doctrine, “the natural moral law” and “common sense.”

“We believe that marriage is a natural reality, and one cannot alter that through the law,” Cardinal Velasio Di Paolis told the Register Jan. 30.

“It’s a point of civil legislation, and we must respect the civil order; but we are also citizens who have a responsibility to the country and to doctrine, and we have the right and obligation to support the faithful,” he said.

The cardinal was speaking on the same day that hundreds of thousands of people from all over Italy descended on Rome’s Circus Maximus to defend marriage in the face of the legislation.

The event organizer, Massimo Gandolfini, said the numbers of those attending were “many, many more than we thought” and estimated the crowd size to be 2 million. (The more likely figure, based on the size of Circus Maximus and crowd-density calculations, was 200,000-300,000, but the number nevertheless filled the historic venue almost to capacity.)

If passed, the so-called Cirinnà bill would grant same-sex couples — as well as non-married couples of the opposite sex — the same legal rights as married couples of the opposite sex. Among the legal allowances would be the adoption of a child by the same-sex partner of his or her parent.

Italy is the only major Western European country to offer no legal rights to same-sex couples. Gandolfini, a member of the Neocatechumenal Way and a married father of seven adopted children, said protesters didn’t want amendments but the entire rejection of the bill. “Without limits, our society will go mad!” he told the rally. “We are here for the family; we’re not against anyone,” he added.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who has pushed for such legislation since his election in 2014, has said a total rejection of the bill would be “unacceptable” because Europe has repeatedly criticized Italy for not allowing rights for same-sex couples. Last July, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Italy violates the European Convention on Human Rights by not recognizing same-sex couples’ right to family life.

Cardinals’ Comments
Saturday’s event comes nearly a decade after the 2007 Family Day helped scupper a previous civil-union bill under Romano Prodi’s government. At that time, the Italian bishops took a leading role in opposing the legislation under the leadership of Cardinal Camillo Ruini, former president of the Italian bishops’ conference.

This time around, the cardinal warned members of parliament they “would do well to listen” to the protesters at Family Day.
Asked why he opposed the bill even though proponents claim it won’t affect Italy’s ban on “womb rental” for surrogacy, Cardinal Ruini said he believes the stepchild-adoption provision would open the door to such a practice. “How else can two men have a child?” he said.

Cardinal De Paolis, president emeritus of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See, said that, despite the resistance, the bill will probably pass.
“Unfortunately, I have little optimism, because the overall mentality of the majority is in favor,” he said.

But some saw Saturday’s rally as a hopeful sign — the beginning of a possible backlash against a culture that views same-sex relations as licit.

“This event is a very positive development, because, three years ago, most Italian people were unaware of what was going on,” said Riccardo Cascioli, editor of the Italian daily newspaper La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana. “Now you can see more and more, also compared to a demonstration in June, that there’s a much greater desire to participate and to say, ‘No’ to all the bad consequences of this law.”

Citizens Mobilize
The “continuing momentum” to oppose it, Cascioli told the Register, contrasts with recent protests by those in support of the legislation. Despite having the media and powerful lobby groups on their side, “they couldn’t gather very many,” he noted.

Professor Roberto De Mattei of the pro-life group Famiglia Domani said public displays of resistance have been forming since Italy’s March for Life, now in its fifth year, which “gave an impulse to manifestations like this.”

Whereas the 2007 protests were spearheaded by the Italian bishops and backed by then-opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi, he noted how, “in this case, the decision has been promoted from the bottom up, not the top down.” The bishops’ conference, he said, has been obliged to follow the general mobilization by laypeople. “This is very interesting: The bishops were pushed to protest.”

It is no secret that the Italian episcopate was divided over how or whether to support Family Day. Bishop Nunzio Galantino, secretary general of the Italian bishops’ conference, appointed by Pope Francis, wanted a non-confrontational approach, as opposed to that of Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops, who wanted to repeat the example of Cardinal Ruini and Benedict XVI in 2007.

Bishop Galantino is hoping for a “pacific agreement on this, if possible,” said De Mattei, but he added that, in his opinion, such an approach is “not possible” because of widely differing “conceptions of life” between those campaigning for a change in the law and those who are opposed to it from the point of view of the natural moral law.

Broad-Based Movement
The lack of participation by the Italian bishops, the reluctance of Vatican institutions to give the rally much attention (L’Osservatore Romano gave it a cursory mention on the inside pages of its Saturday edition), and the seeming reticence of Pope Francis to speak out in support of the event, caused considerable concern in the run-up to the event, as it came to be seen by some, as a “No” to Catholics to mobilize against the legislation.

Throughout his papacy, the Holy Father has defended marriage and has criticized same-sex unions. Although he most recently spoke out strongly in favor of marriage in a speech to the Roman Rota on Jan. 22, saying there can be “no confusion between the family willed by God and every other type of union,” he said no more on the issue.

But this papal approach was in many ways in line with that of the rally organizers. They asked that the meeting not be associated with any “movement, association, group, party, committee or any other religious leader” because they didn’t want it to have any “sectarian connotation” or be seen as only a Catholic gathering.

Even Kiko Argüello, founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, which transported many families to the event, was told not to speak just days before the event, according to a letter obtained by Vaticanist Sandro Magister. Argüello did eventually address the rally, but in a personal capacity.

Participants’ Perspectives
Despite the absence of senior Church figures (only one bishop reportedly attended) and public papal support for the event, some saw it as an important strategy. “Such an approach showed it’s not about religion, but about human nature,” said Augusto Silberstein, a Brazilian student at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, who attended the event. “That’s the power of it. If it were tied to the Catholic hierarchy, some Catholic movement, religious group, or any group, it would have put limits on it.”

He said he thought it was “very, very well thought out” to show that it was open to everyone. “You had people from the political left and people from the right. It also showed this was a movement of laypeople,” he noted.

On the Pope’s silence, he said it was important not to give the idea to adversaries that the event was “being steered by the Pope, which it wasn’t,” because it allowed politicians to see what the people really think.

What is crucial now, he believes, is to “go much deeper” and try not just to change the law, but also to “change culture.” The rally was very important to show “that people who think this way are not alone,” he said, but added that changing the culture cannot be done with one or two events and needs a “series of initiatives.”

“That’s where the laymen have to mobilize and be creative” and show that the way of living they are fighting for is “much better than the alternative,” he said.

Dominican Father Ezra Sullivan, an American studying at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also attended the rally. He told the Register he is hopeful that it will mark a start in changing people’s opinions and believes it will unite them in creating “good political consequences.”

“As Rome is still the capital of the world, I believe Americans can take their cue from Romans who fight for the truth,” he said.

Cause for Political Reflection
Although pessimistic about the outcome of this legislation, Cardinal De Paolis also believes the rally forced politicians to “take into account the will of the electorate.”

The Cirinnà bill was passed in the lower house of the Italian parliament last week. The Senate will begin debating it tomorrow [i.e. today]. A final vote on the text, with additional amendments, is expected on Feb. 11.

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Candlemas: some spiritual instruction

The Presentation of the Lord - Philippe de Champaigne

The Presentation of the Lord – Philippe de Champaigne

What spiritual lessons do the rites of Candlemas have to offer for our sanctification? Fr. Goffine offers some illumination about the significance of the feast.

From Fr. Leonard Goffine’s The Church’s Year, we provide an instruction on the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commonly called Candlemas, which occurs on February 2. Many may be surprised to learn that this day is actually considered a II class feast of Our Lord and not of Our Lady, despite its Marian title.

After the usual Sunday Asperges, the rite of blessing candles and a solemn procession with them takes place, followed by the Mass of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is integral to the mystery of the Presentation of Our Saviour in the Temple. A special feature of this Mass is the holding of lighted candles during the Gospel and from the Sanctus until Communion.

What is this festival?
This the festival on which the Church venerates the humility and obedience of Mary who, though not subject to the law of Moses, which required purification and presentation in the temple, yet subjected herself to it. From this comes the name Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Presentation of Jesus in the temple. It is also called Candlemas, because before Mass on this day the candles used in divine service are blessed and carried in procession.

Why are the candles blessed on this day and carried in procession?
In remembrance of the presentation of Jesus to His Heavenly Father on this day, when the aged Simeon called Him: “A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of the people of Israel” (Luke 2:32), and to remind us that, like the five wise virgins, we should go to meet Christ with the light of faith and good works.

With what intention are candles blessed?
With the intention of obtaining from God by their pious use and the prayers of those who devoutly carry them, health of body and soul; that our hearts, through the doctrine of Jesus and the grace of the Holy Ghost, may be interiorly enlightened; and that the fire of the love of God may be kindled in our hearts, purify them from all remains of sin, and make us partakers in the joyous light of heaven, which will never be extinguished.

The INTROIT of the Mass is: We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple: according to Thy name, O God, so also is Thy praise, unto the ends of the earth: Thy right hand is full of justice. Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised: in the city of our God, in His holy mountain. (Ps. 57) Glory, etc.

COLLECT Almighty, ever-living God, we humbly beseech Thy Majesty, that as Thine only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh; so we also may, with purified hearts, be presented unto Thee. Thro’., etc.

EPISTLE (Malach. 3:1-4) Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I send my Angel, and he shall prepare the way before my face. And presently the Lord, whom you seek, and the Angel of the testament, whom you desire, shall come to his temple. Behold, he cometh, saith the Lord of hosts, and who shall be able to think of the day of his coming, and who shall stand to see him? For he is like a refining fire, and like the fuller’s herb: and he shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold and as silver: and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice. And the sacrifice of Juda and of Jerusalem shall please the Lord, as the days of old, and the ancient years: saith the Lord Almighty.

EXPLANATION The angel or messenger who shall prepare the way for the Lord, is John the Baptist, (Matt. 11:10) and the long desired Ruler and Messiah is Christ, who on this day comes into his temple. He is called the Angel of the testament, because He has arranged between God and man a new and far more excellent covenant than God had made with the Jews; inasmuch as He has given to the Christians not merely temporal but eternal good. This Angel of the testament, Christ, came the first time in all the humility of a little child into the temple, but His second coming at the end of the world will be terrible. The prophet likens Him to a fire which purifies the gold, and to that herb with which cloth is whitened in the fuller’s machine; under which figures he alludes to the severity of judgment, with which Christ will judge the just and the unjust. Pure as refined gold, and as the white linen (corporal) on which the Body of Christ is laid in the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, must be the heart of those who receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, or seek worthily to offer the holy Sacrifice with the priest.

GOSPEL (Luke 2:22-32) At that time, After the days of Mary’s purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried Jesus to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord. And to offer a sacrifice, according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons. And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Ghost was in him. And he had received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when his parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law: he also took him into his arms, and blessed God, and said: Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word, in peace: Because my eyes have seen thy salvation: which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: a light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Why was Jesus brought into the temple of Jerusalem?
That He might be offered to God, who had commanded the Jews to offer their first-born sons to Him in grateful commemoration of the destroying angel having spared their first-born at the departure from Egypt, when all the firstborn of the Egyptians were slain. (Exodus 12:12) These children had to be redeemed afterwards by certain gifts. (Exodus 13:13)

How soon after birth was this offering to be made?
On the fortieth day; for according to the law the mother’s impurity lasted for this length of time after the birth of a boy, after which she went to the temple, and in order to be declared purified, made her offering of purification. (Lev. 12)

Was Mary subject to this law of purification?
No, for she had not, like other mothers, conceived in sin, and, therefore, did not need purification; but she placed herself with her divine Child among sinners and fulfilled the law by which these were bound. “Nothing”, says St. Bernard, “was impure in her conception, nothing impure in her birth; there was nothing to be cleansed, for the Child itself was the origin of all purity, and came into the world to purify it from sin. Truly, O happy Virgin, thou wast not in need of purification, but thou wouldst pass as a woman among women, as thy Son also passed for a child among children.”

Why did Mary comply with the law of purification?
She did this to give us an example of obedience and true humility, for she interiorly thought little of herself and wished externally to be so regarded; to teach us to thank God for the favours He has shown to our ancestors, for the law of the Jews was given to encourage them to gratitude for the preservation of the first-born of their ancestors from the hands of the destroying angel; (Exodus 12:12) and in order not to scandalise, by being regardless of this law, those who did not know that she was not required to observe it.

Learn, O Christian, from Mary’s example to be truly humble and obedient, to be grateful to God for the benefits which your ancestors and parents have received, and to be on your guard never to give scandal, by failing to observe the commandments of God and His Church.

Why did not Mary offer a lamb as did the rich, (Lev. 12:6). but merely, like the poor, a pair of doves?
Because she was poor, and was not ashamed to appear as such before the world. Mary loved humility and the poverty connected with it. Be not ashamed, therefore, if thou art poor, love poverty the more; but if rich, be poor in spirit, and love the poor and distressed.

How did it come to pass that Simeon met the Saviour in the temple?
Because he was a pious and faithful servant of God, it had been promised him that he should not die, until he had seen the Saviour. When Jesus was brought into the temple, Simeon was inspired by God to go there also, and when he found Jesus there, he by divine inspiration knew Him to be the Messiah, and gave testimony of Him.

See how God rewards those who sincerely love and serve Him, giving Himself to them to be known always more and more!

Why was Simeon ready to die when he had held Jesus in his arms?
Because his wish was fulfilled; for since he had not only seen with his own eyes, but had held in his arms the Desired of all nations, for whom the patriarchs had so vainly longed, what more could he wish than to leave this miserable world, and commend his spirit into the hands of his Saviour?

Why did Simeon call Jesus a light for the revelation of the Gentiles?
Because Jesus had come into the world as the true light, (John 1:9) which was to free the Gentiles from the darkness of superstition and idolatry, and from the blindness and slavery of Satan, as well as to conduct the Jews out of the bondage of the Mosaic Law into the liberty of the children of God. (Gal. 4:31)

PRAYER Heavenly Father! look down from Thy throne of mercy upon the face of Thy Anointed in whom Thou art well pleased. Behold, He is this day offered to Thee in the temple for the sins of His brethren. Let this offering please Thee, and move Thee to have compassion on us sinners. In consideration of His humility and obedience, forgive us our pride and disobedience, and grant us, that purified by His blood, we may one day, having like Simeon departed this life in peace, behold Thee as the eternal Light which shall never be extinguished in the temple of Thy glory, be presented to Thee by Mary, our beloved Mother, and love and praise Thee forever. Amen.

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Interstellar – the movie

Look I know I am a little late in submitting this. Interstellar was released in November 2014, but I have only just seen it and wanted to give a Catholic’s critique. I doubt I will be very original, but here it is anyway.

I won’t give away the plot: Watch the darned film, you low-rents that you are!

What I will say is that the film shows that the only things that cross all dimensions, including time, space, and the Heavens above them, are gravity and LOVE.

Gravity brings everyone down to the bottom, (including Satan according to Scripture). In the film it is personified by a super-massive black hole swallowing all around it. It resembles justice without mercy.

LOVE is the only lifting and communicating force that transcends all dimensions. It is portrayed in the film by an estranged father and daughter trying desperately to reconnect. Sacrifice is the only way they have for reconnection.

Here’s the nub: to save Humanity and his own soul, the father-hero has to descend into the black hole, on a one way suicide journey, from his point of view….. There he reconnects with his daughter across time and space, and thereby saves the world. Then he is returned many years later to our time to meet his daughter in her great-grandmotherly dotage.

Confused? Re-watch the darned film, the low – rents that you are!

The final scenes even include a hat tip to the raking of the souls in Purgatory, by the saviour figure

All I can say is that this film is among the most beautiful I have ever seen. Rarely before have cinematic images, music, plot and script joined together so gloriously for me.

The allegory of Salvation history within it overwhelms me with its beauty.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The soundtrack is surreal, here are the best bits including a soaring Church organ:



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This is a most enlightening interview that we reprint with kind permission from Rorate Caeli.

SSPX; Women and foot washing; consecrating Russia; anti-pastoral bishops and much more

Last week, Rorate Caeli interviewed His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider, one of the most visible prelates working on the restoration of the traditional Latin Mass and faith, on numerous topics. In this wide-ranging interview, His Excellency thoughtfully expounded on issues critical to the Church in this great time of crisis. Read the entire interview so you don’t miss His Excellency’s thoughts on the current status of the SSPX, women’s participation in the Mass and the washing of women’s feet, whether Russia was ever truly consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Summorum Pontificum and anti-pastoral bishops and much, much more.



Rorate Caeli: In the recent Synod, we will not know the legal impact it will have on the Church for some time, as it’s up to Pope Francis to move next. Regardless of the eventual outcome, for all intent and purposes, is there already a schism in the Church? And, if so, what does it mean practically speaking? How will it manifest itself for typical Catholics in the pews?

H.E. Schneider: Schism means according to the definition of the Code of Canon Law, can. 751: The refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with those members of the Church who are submitted to the Supreme Pontiff. One has to distinguish the defect in belief or heresy from schism. The defect in belief or heresy is indeed a greater sin than schism, as Saint Thomas Aquinas said: “Unbelief is a sin committed against God Himself, according as He is Himself the First Truth, on which faith is founded; whereas schism is opposed to ecclesiastical unity, which is a lesser good than God Himself. Wherefore the sin of unbelief is generically more grievous than the sin of schism” (II-II, q. 39, a. 2 c).

The very crisis of the Church in our days consists in the ever growing phenomenon that those who don’t fully believe and profess the integrity of the Catholic faith frequently occupy strategic positions in the life of the Church, such as professors of theology, educators in seminaries, religious superiors, parish priests and even bishops and cardinals. And these people with their defective faith profess themselves as being submitted to the Pope.

The height of confusion and absurdity manifests itself when such semi-heretical clerics accuse those who defend the purity and integrity of the Catholic faith as being against the Pope – as being according to their opinion in some way schismatics. For simple Catholics in the pews, such a situation of confusion is a real challenge of their faith, in the indestructibility of the Church. They have to keep strong the integrity of their faith according to the immutable Catholic truths, which were handed over by our fore-fathers, and which we find in in the Traditional catechisms and in the works of the Fathers and of the Doctors of the Church.

Rorate Caeli: Speaking of typical Catholics, what will the typical parish priest face now that he didn’t face before the Synod began? What pressures, such as the washing of women’s feet on Maundy Thursday after the example of Francis, will burden the parish priest even more than he is burdened today?

H.E. Schneider: A typical Catholic parish priest should know well the perennial sense of the Catholic faith, the perennial sense as well of the laws of the Catholic liturgy and, knowing this, he should have an interior sureness and firmness. He should always remember the Catholic principle of discernment: “Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus”, i.e. “What has been always, everywhere and from all” believed and practiced.

The categories “always, everywhere, all” are not to be understood in an arithmetical, but in a moral sense. A concrete criterion for discernment is this: “Does this change in a doctrinal affirmation, in a pastoral or in a liturgical practice constitute a rupture with the centuries-old, or even with the millennial past? And does this innovation really make the faith shine clearer and brighter? Does this liturgical innovation bring to us closer the sanctity of God, or manifest deeper and more beautiful the Divine mysteries? Does this disciplinary innovation really increase a greater zeal for the holiness of life?”

As concretely to the innovation of washing the feet of women during the Holy Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday: This Holy Mass celebrates the commemoration of the institution of the sacraments of the Eucharist and the Priesthood. Therefore, the foot washing of women along with the men not only distracts from the main focus on Eucharist and on Priesthood, but generates confusion regarding the historical symbolism of the “twelve” and of the apostles being of male sex. The universal tradition of the Church never allowed the foot washing during the Holy Mass, but instead outside of Mass, in a special ceremony.

By the way: the public washing and usually also kissing of the feet of women on the part of a man, in our case, of a priest or a bishop, is considered by every person of common sense in all cultures as being improper and even indecent. Thanks be to God no priest or bishop is obliged to wash publicly the feet of women on Holy Thursday, for there is no binding norm for it, and the foot washing itself is only facultative.


Please read the rest of the interview over at Rorate Caeli.

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Surface ecumenism vs. lasting ecumenism

from: Father Ed Tomlinson – TunbridgeWells Ordinariate.

There are two different approaches to ecumenism floating around the church today. Both have the same good intention at heart; the bringing together of the fractured body of Christ. But that is where similarity ends. Let us examine.

‘Papering the cracks’ approach: 

The first approach is to brush historic difficulty under the carpet. This allows for a rosy picture of imagined harmony to emerge. The press photo of Catholic and Anglican counterparts is made possible. They grin from ear to ear, looking like the greatest of chums… even though they are not actually in communion at all, remaining deeply divided on any number of fundamental issues of doctrine.

The benefit of the approach is that it is profoundly easy. Little demand is being made. You share sandwiches, clap each other on the back but can then retreat to the safety of your comfort zone; delighting in a mutually convenient fantasy- that unity  somehow occurred. And the bonus is that, because you didn’t bring up the pain of the past or present, nobody gets hurt or need face up to uncomfortable truth.

The weakness of the approach is obvious then. Any gain is very slight in concrete terms. Friendship may emerge, and that is good, but no actual reconciliation of differences can occur. It is a triumph for political relations and good manners but so often a complete failure on all other counts. And those are the ones that matter if we are to reconcile our differences.

Deep down I suspect the approach- which is reliant on watered down liturgy and inoffensive teaching- is based on fear. Hence the desire to ever remain in the shallows; a search for surface gloss not lasting walks of unity. A more timid approach because its adherents do not actually believe unity is possible or desirable. The hope is not to bring people into one fold so much as to celebrate one another’s closed doors- presented as ‘a celebration of diversity’- but of course…

Only that is NOT what Jesus called for. He he said- we should be one as the Father and He are one. So whilst it may prove a useful approach for the FIRST stage of creating unity- the building of friendship- it is deficient as the ultimate means.

‘Widening the doors’ approach:

The other approach, favoured by Pope Benedict when he launched the Ordinariate, is to move things to a deeper but more challenging level. But one that at least has a realistic hope of achieving the unity people desire.

Now if the first approach is akin to expecting a separated couple to get on at a daughter’s wedding, this approach is more like getting them to sit down before a marriage guidance counsellor to reconcile differences and save the broken marriage. A more frightening request certainly but a vital one if friendship is restored and authentic reconciliation is actually hoped for.

So instead of brushing difficulty under the carpet you confront it; but in the most generous way possible. A call to unity is actually made but a celebration of differences is also present. We see immediately why those entering the Ordinariate had to sign up to the catechism- the necessary demand- but were gifted their own liturgy- the celebration of healthy difference. The right sort of diversity.

This serious approach to unity rests, as it must, on shared proclamation of truth. Gesture and appearance is not enough here. There must be a working out of house rules. A doctrinal base must emerge on which to build a common future. It is a riskier approach then. Because bluffs will be called when a real call to unity is issued. The fakes are soon spotted. Those who only ever wanted the photo opportunity and who were perfectly happy to exist apart for personal and corporate reasons. For them the first approach must continue but not at a cost to the second. For the Ordinariates are proving daily- this more meaningful approach really does create unity. No longer is it all talk, talk; one also witnesses genuine walk, walk.

A final thought

All of this has been on my mind because it is being reported that Pope Francis wishes to be present at a Lutheran celebration of the reformation. This does not sit at all comfortably with me. Not because it is a very clear example of the first approach. As stated that approach has uses. But because it could seriously send out the wrong message and thereby damage the second, more meaningful approach.

Not that I am surprised. This pontificate has been all about photo opportunity and political gesture at the cost of doctrinal certainty. Hence the use of ambiguous messages and media pleasing; a rescuing of a battered reputation, one suspects, in the wake of the abuse crisis. Be that as it may- THIS photo opportunity seems one too many. For whilst it would be fitting for the Pope to celebrate aspects of Lutherism, how can he possibly celebrate the moment of schism itself given that it caused so much death and division? Given that it stopped the church speaking clearly to the world which, in turn, led to the rise of secularisation.

The Pope is of a generation who only tend to endorse the first approach to ecumenism. But too much will be swept under the carpet here if Rome is not careful. If Francis is seen to ‘celebrate’ the reformation…what does this say about the deeper reality of disunity? What does it say about the sacrifice of reformation martyrs? Are they to be forgotten? More importantly, is what they stood for and died for to be ignored and downplayed?

I have no doubt the intention is good. But what if disunity is blessed and not challenged? So that the world imagines God delights in diversity of a fractured  body, though he called us to be one via shared proclamation of the faith he revealed.

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