Reflection for the Solemnity of Pentecost, Cycle B-2018

Image result for Pentecost

FIRST READING            Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.  And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.  Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.  Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.  At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.  They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?  Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?  We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”

 

SECOND READING                  Galatians 5:16-25

Brothers and sisters, live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.  But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are obvious:  immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.

 

GOSPEL                          John 15:26-27; 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:  “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me.  And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.  “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.  But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.  He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.  He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.  Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

The Holy Spirit!  So often we have very little understanding of the Holy Spirit in our lives, even though that Spirit is always with us and always seeking to draw us into the love of God!  We need to ask that Spirit to be present right now:  Come, Holy Spirit!

The first reading today is from the Acts of the Apostles and describes upon them.  Many of us have never had an experience such as we find in this account.  On the other hand, many of us have had experiences that are different from this but also are experiences of the Spirit.  Many of us have felt truly moved by some religious experience.  Perhaps we have been walking near a Church and have felt some tug in the heart to enter and say prayers.  Perhaps we have heard some terrible news and our hearts have turned to the Lord.  Possibly someone has asked us about our faith and in trying to describe our faith we have felt something new.

There are so many ways in which the Spirit is present in our lives.  Perhaps we have found ourselves in a really difficult situation and have asked the Lord for help—and it all turned out well for us. Or maybe we were in a situation of danger and asked the Lord’s protection, and we emerged safely.

The challenge is to reconcile these experiences with the other experiences that we have when we seem far from God, when we ask help from God and nothing good seems to happen.  We humans often want an all-powerful God who will always do what we ask of Him!  God is not that way. Nevertheless we need to take time to meditate on the positive experiences that we have been given.

The  second reading is from the Letter to the Galatians.  In this section of the Letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul contrasts the values of a life in the Spirit and those of a life without the Spirit.  It is a sobering comparison, especially in our day when so many choose to live with the values which indicate a life without the Spirit.

This is the comparison that Saint Paul gives to us:  “immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.”

The  Gospel is from the 15th Chapter of the Gospel of Saint John and teaches us that the Spirit will guide us in truth.  If we choose to ask the Holy Spirit, even now, that Spirit will show us the way of Jesus our Lord.

May this Holy Spirit come upon us today, guiding us in love, truth and forgiveness.  May this Holy Spirit give us unity in the Church and faithfulness in preaching the Gospel.  May this Holy Spirit guide us in the path of right living and away from the values of this world.  Amen.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Royal Wedding Address: There is power in Love

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Pentecost meditation from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Dom Guéranger, O.S.B.

Image result for Vigil of Pentecost

THE great day, which consummates the work that God had undertaken for the human race, has at last shone upon the world. The days of Pentecost, as St. Luke says, are accomplished.[1]

We have had seven weeks since the Pasch; and now comes the day that opens the mysterious number of fifty. This day is the Sunday, already made holy by the creation of the light, and by the Resurrection of Jesus: it is about to receive its final consecration, and bring us the fullness of God.[2]

In the old and figurative Law, God foreshadowed the glory that was to belong, at a future period, to the fiftieth day. Israel had passed the waters of the Red Sea, thanks to the protecting power of his Paschal Lamb! Seven weeks were spent in the desert, which was to lead to the promised land; and the very morrow of those seven weeks was the day whereon was made the alliance between God and His people. The Pentecost (the fiftieth day) was honoured by the promulgation of the ten commandments of the divine law; and every following year, the Israelites celebrated the great event by a solemn festival. But their Pentecost was figurative, like their Pasch: there was to be a second Pentecost for all people, as there was to be a second Pasch, for the Redemption of the whole world. The Pasch, with all its triumphant joys, belongs to the Son of God, the Conqueror of death: Pentecost belongs to the Holy Ghost, for it is the day whereon He began His mission into this world, which, henceforward, was to be under His Law.

But how different are the two Pentecosts! The one, on the rugged rocks of Arabia, amidst thunder and lightning, promulgates a Law that is written on tablets of stone; the second is in Jerusalem, on which God’s anger has not as yet been manifested, because it still contains within its walls the first fruits of that new people, over whom the Spirit of love is to reign. In this second Pentecost, the heavens are not overcast, nor is the roar of thunder heard; the hearts of men are not stricken with fear, as when God spake on Sinai; repentance and gratitude are the sentiments now uppermost. A divine fire burns within their souls, and will spread throughout the whole world. Our Lord Jesus had said: ‘I am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I, but that it be kindled?’ [3] The hour for the fulfilment of this word has come: the Spirit of love, the Holy Ghost, the eternal uncreated Flame, is about to descend from heaven, and realize the merciful design of our Redeemer.

Jerusalem is filled with pilgrims, who have flocked thither from every country of the Gentile world. They feel a strange mysterious expectation working in their souls. They are Jews, and have come from every foreign land where Israel has founded a synagogue; they have come to keep the feasts of Pasch and Pentecost. Asia, Africa, and even Rome, have here their representatives. Amidst these Jews properly so called, are to be seen many Gentiles, who, from a desire to serve God more faithfully, have embraced the Mosaic law and observances; they are called proselytes. This influx of strangers, who have come to Jerusalem out of a desire to observe the Law, gives the city a Babel-like appearance, for each nation has its own language. They are not, however, under the influence of pride and prejudice, as are the inhabitants of Judea; neither have they, like these latter, known and rejected the Messias, nor blasphemed His works whereby He gave testimony of His divine character. It may be that they took part with the other Jews in clamouring for Jesus’ death; but they were led to it by the chief priests and magistrates of the Jerusalem which they reverenced as the holy city of God, and to which nothing but religious motives have brought them. It is the hour of Tierce, the third hour of the day, [4] fixed from all eternity for the accomplishment of a divine decree. It was at the hour of midnight that the Father sent into this world, that He might take flesh in Mary’s womb, the Son eternally begotten of Himself: so now, at this hour of Tierce, the Father and the Son send upon the earth the holy Spirit who proceeds from Them both. He is sent to form the Church, the bride and the kingdom of Christ: He is to assist and maintain her; He is to save and sanctify the souls of men; and this His mission is to continue to the end of time.

Suddenly is heard, coming from heaven, the sound of a violent wind; it startles the people in the city, it fills the cenacle with its mighty breath. A crowd is soon round the house that stands on Mount Sion; the hundred and twenty disciples that are within the building feel that mysterious emotion within them, of which their Master once said: ‘The Spirit breatheth where He will, and thou hearest His voice’. [5] Like that strange invisible creature, which probes the very depth of the sea and makes the waves heave mountains high, this Breath from heaven will traverse the world from end to end, breaking down every barrier that would stay its course.

The holy assembly have been days in fervent expectation; the divine Spirit gives them this warning of His coming, and they in the passiveness of ecstatic longing, await His will. As to those who are outside the cenacle, and who have responded to the appeal thus given, let us, for the moment, forget them. A silent shower falls in the house; it is a shower of fire, which, as holy Church says ‘burns not but enlightens, consumes not but shines.’ [6] Flakes of fire, in the shape of tongues, rest on the heads of the hundred and twenty disciples; it is the Holy Ghost taking possession of all and each. The Church is now not only in Mary, but also in these hundred and twenty disciples. All belong now to the Spirit that has descended upon them; His kingdom is begun, it is manifested, its conquests will be speedy and glorious.

But let us consider the symbol chosen to designate this divine change. He who showed Himself under the endearing form of a dove, on the occasion of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, now appears under that of fire. He is the Spirit of love; and love is not only gentle and tender, it is also ardent as fire. Now, therefore, that the world is under the influence of the Holy Ghost, it must needs be on fire, and the fire shall not be checked. And why this form of tongues? To show that the heavenly fire is to be spread by the word, by speech. These hundred and twenty disciples need but to speak of the Son of God, made Man, and our Redeemer; of the Holy Ghost, who renews our souls; of the heavenly Father, who loves and adopts us as His children: their word will find thousands to believe and welcome it. Those that receive it shall all be united in one faith; they shall be called the Catholic Church, that is, universal, existing in all places and times. Jesus had said: ‘Go, teach all nations!’ [7]

The Holy Ghost brings from heaven both the tongue that is to teach, and the fire (the love of God and of mankind), which is to give warmth and efficacy to the teaching. The tongue and the fire are now given to these first disciples, who, by the assistance of the holy Spirit, will transmit them to others. So will it be to the end of time

An obstacle, however, opposes the mission at the very outset. Since the confusion at Babel, there have been as many languages as countries; communication by word has been interrupted. How, then, is the word to become the instrument of the world’s conquest, and to make one family out of all these nations that cannot understand each other? Fear not: the holy Spirit is all-powerful, and has provided for this difficulty. With the other gifts, wherewith He has enriched the hundred and twenty disciples, He has given them that of understanding all languages, and of making themselves understood in every language. In a transport of holy enthusiasm, they attempt to speak the languages of all nations; their tongue and their ear take in, not only without effort, but even with charm and joy, this plenitude of word and speech which is to reunite mankind together. The Spirit of love has annulled the separation of Babel; men are once more made brethren by the unity of language. How beautiful art thou, dear Church of our God! Heretofore, the workings of the Holy Ghost have been limited; but now, He breatheth freely where He willeth; He brings thee forth to the eyes of men by this stupendous prodigy. Thou art the image of what this earth was, when all its inhabitants spoke the same language. The prodigy is not to cease with the day of Pentecost, nor with the disciples who are its first receivers. When the apostles have terminated their lives and preaching, the gift of tongues, at least in its miraculous form, will cease, because no longer needed: but thou O Church of Christ! wilt continue to speak all languages, even to the end of time, for thou art to dwell in every clime. The one same faith is to be expressed in the language of every country; and thus transformed, the miracle of Pen-tecost is to be kept up for ever within thee, as one of thy characteristic marks.

The great St. Augustine alluded to this, when he spoke the following admirable words: ‘The whole body of Christ, the Church, now speaks in all tongues. Nay, I myself speak all tongues, for I am in the body of Christ, I am in the Church of Christ. If the body of Christ now speaks all languages, then am I in all languages. Greek is mine, Syriac is mine, Hebrew is mine, and all are mine, for I am one with all the several nations that speak them.’ [8] During the ages of faith, the Church (which is the only source of all true progress), succeeded in giving one common language to all the nations that were in union with her. For centuries, the Latin language was the bond of union between civilized countries. However distant these might be from one another, there was this link of connexion between them; it was the medium of communication for political negotiations, for the spread of science, or for friendly epistolary correspondence. No one was a stranger, in any part of the west, or even beyond it, who could speak this language. The great heresy of the sixteenth century robbed us of this as of so many other blessings; it dismembered that Europe which the Church had united, not only by her faith, but by her language. But let us return to the cenacle, and continue our contemplation of the wondrous workings of the holy Spirit within this still closed sanctuary.

First of all, we look for Mary; for her who now, more than ever, is full of grace. After those measureless gifts lavished upon her in her Immaculate Conception; after the treasures of holiness infused into her by the Incarnate Word during the nine months she bore Him in her womb; after the special graces granted her for acting and suffering in union with her Son, in the work of the world’s Redemption; after the favours wherewith this same Jesus loaded her when in the glory of His Resurrection: we should have thought that heaven had given all it could to a mere creature, however sublime the destiny of that creature might he. But no. Here is a new mission opened for Mary. The Church is born; she is born of Mary. Mary has given birth to the bride of her Son; new duties fall upon the Mother of the Church. Jesus has ascended into heaven, leaving Mary upon the earth, that she may nurse the infant Church. Oh! how lovely and yet how dignified, is this infancy of our dear Church, cherished as she is, fed, and strengthened by Mary! But this second Eve, this true Mother of the living, [9] must receive a fresh infusion of grace to fit her for this her new office: therefore it is that she has the first claim to, and the richest portion of, the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Heretofore, He overshadowed her and made her Mother of the Son of God; now He makes her the Mother of the Christian people. It is the verification of those words of the royal prophet: ‘The stream (literally, the impetuosity) of the river maketh the city of God joyful: the Most High hath sanctified His own tabernacle.’ [10] The Spirit of love here fulfils the intention expressed by our Redeemer when dying on the cross. ‘Woman!’ said Jesus to her, ‘behold thy son!’ St. John was this son, and he represented all mankind. The Holy Ghost now infuses into Mary the plenitude of the grace needful for her maternal mission. From this day forward, she acts as Mother of the infant Church; and when, at length, the Church no longer needs her visible presence, this Mother quits the earth for heaven, where she is crowned Queen; but there, too, she exercises her glorious title and office of Mother of men.

Let us contemplate this masterpiece of Pentecost, and admire the new loveliness that beams in Mary from this new maternity. She is inflamed by the fire of divine love, and this in a way not felt before. She is all devoted to the office put upon her, and for which she has been left on earth. The grace of the apostolate is granted to her. She has received the tongue of fire; and although her voice is not to make itself heard in public preaching, yet will she speak to the apostles, directing and consoling them in their labours. She will speak, too, to the faithful, but with a force, a sweetness, and a persuasiveness, becoming one whom God has made the most exalted of His creatures. The primitive Christians, with such a training as this, will have vigour and energy enough to resist all the attacks of hell, and, like Stephen who had often listened to her inspiring words, to die martyrs for the faith.

Let us next look at the apostolic college. The frequent instructions they have been receiving from their Lord, during the forty days after His Resurrection, have changed them into quite other men; but now that they have received the Holy Ghost, the change and conversion is complete. They are filled with the enthusiasm of faith; their souls are on fire with divine love; the conquest of the whole world, this is their ambition, and they know it is their mission. What their Master had told them is fulfilled: they are endued with power from on high, [11] and are ready for the battle. Who would suppose that these are the men who crouched with fear, when their Jesus was in the hands of His enemies? Who would take these to be the men that doubted of His Resurrection? All that this beloved Master has taught them is now so clear to them! They see it all, they understand it all. The Holy Ghost has infused into them, and in a sublime degree, the gift of faith; they are impatient to spread this faith throughout the whole earth. Far from fearing, they even long to suffer persecution in the discharge of the office entrusted to them by Jesus, that of preaching His name and His glory unto all nations.

Look at Peter. You easily recognize him by that majestic bearing, which, though sweetly tempered by deep humility, bespeaks his pre-eminent dignity. A few hours ago, it was the tranquil gravity of the head of the apostolic college; now, his whole face gleams with the flash of enthusiasm, for the Holy Ghost is now sovereign possessor of this vicar of Christ, this prince of the word, this master-teacher of truth. Near him are seated the other apostles: Andrew, his elder brother, who now conceives that ardent passion for the cross, which is to be his grand characteristic; John, whose meek and gentle eye now glistens with the fire of inspiration, betokening the prophet of Patmos; James, the brother of John, and called, like him, the son of thunder, [12] bears in his whole attitude the appearance of the future chivalrous conqueror of Iberia. The other James, known and loved under the name of the brother of Jesus, feels a fresh and deeper transport of joyousness as the power of the Spirit thrills through his being. Matthew is encircled with a glowing light, which points him out to us as the first writer of the new Testament. Thomas, whose faith was the fruit he took from Jesus’ wounds, feels that faith now made perfect; it is generous, free, unreserved, worthy of the brave apostle of the far east. In a word, all twelve are a living hymn to the glory of the almighty Spirit, whose power is thus magnificently evinced even at the outset of His reign.

The disciples, too, are sharers, though in a less degree than the apostles, of the divine gift; they receive the same Spirit, the same sacred fire, for they too, are to go forth, conquer the world, and found Churches. The holy women, also, who form part of the assembly of the cenacle, have received the graces of this wondrous descent of the Holy Ghost. It was love that emboldened them to stand near the cross of Jesus, and be the first to visit His sepulchre on Easter morning; this love is now redoubled. A tongue of fire has stood over each of them, and the time will come when they will speak, with fervid eloquence, of Jesus, to both Jews and Gentiles. The Synagogue will banish Magdalene and her companions: the Gentiles of our western Europe will receive them, and the word of these holy exiles will produce a hundredfold of fruit.

Meanwhile, a large crowd of Jews has collected round the mysterious cenacle. Not only has the ‘mighty wind’ excited their curiosity, but, moreover, that same divine Spirit, who is working such wonders upon the holy assembly within, is impelling them to visit the house, whereto is the newborn Church of Christ. They clamour for the apostles, and these are burning with zeal to begin their work; so, too, are all. At once, then, the crowd sees these men standing in its midst, and relating the prodigy that has been wrought by the God of Israel. What is the surprise of this multitude, composed as it is of people of so many different nations, when these poor uneducated Galileans address them, each in the language of his own country? They have heard them speak before this, and they expected a repetition of the jargon now; when lo! there is the correct accent and diction of every country, and with such eloquence! The symbol of unity is here shown in all its magnificence. Here is the Christian Church; it is one, though consisting of such varied elements: the walls of division, which divine justice had set up between nation and nation, are now removed. Here, also, are the heralds of the faith of Christ; they are ready for their grand mission; they long to traverse the earth, and to save it by the word of their preaching.

But in the crowd there are some who are shocked at witnessing this heavenly enthusiasm of the apostles. ‘These men,’ say they, ‘are full of new wine!’ It is the language of rationalism, explaining away mystery by reason. These Galileans, these ‘drunken men’, are, however, to conquer the whole world to Christ, and to give the Holy Ghost, with His enebriating unction, to all mankind. The holy apostles feel that it is time to proclaim the new Pentecost; yes, this anniversary of the old is a fitting day for the new to be declared. But in this proclamation of the law of mercy and love, which is to supersede the law of justice and fear, who is to be the Moses? Our Emmanuel, before ascending into heaven, had selected one of the twelve for the glorious office: it is Peter, the rock on whom is built the Church. It is time for the shepherd to show himself and speak, for the flock is now to be formed. Let us hearken to the Holy Ghost, who is about to speak by His chief organ to this wondering and attentive multitude. The apostle, though he speaks in one tongue, is under-stood by each of his audience, no matter what his country and language may be. The discourse is, of itself, a guarantee of the truth and divine origin of the new law.

The fisherman of Genesareth thus pours forth his wondrous eloquence: ‘Ye men of Judea, and all you that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known to you, and, with your ears, receive my words! For these are not drunk, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith the Lord, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And upon my servants indeed, and upon my handmaids, will I pour out, in those days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.” Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God among you, by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as you also know. This same being delivered up, by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you, by the hands of wicked men, have crucified and slain. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the sorrows of hell (the tomb), as it was impossible that He should be holden by it. For David saith concerning Him: “My flesh shall rest in hope, because Thou wilt not leave my soul in the tomb, nor suffer Thy holy One to see corruption.” Ye men, brethren, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David: that he died and was buried, and his sepulchre is with us to this day. Whereas, therefore, he was a prophet, he spoke of the Resurrection of Christ; for neither was He left in the tomb, neither did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised again, whereof all we are witnesses. Being exalted by the right hand of God, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath poured forth this which you see and hear. Therefore, let all the house of Israel know most certainly, that God hath made both Lord and Christ this same Jesus, whom you have crucified.’ [13] Thus did the second Moses promulgate the new Law. How must his hearers have welcomed the stupendous gift of this new Pentecost, which put them in possession of the divine realities foreshadowed by that figurative one of old f Here again, it was God revealing Himself to His creatures, and, as usual, by miracles. Peter alludes to the wonders wrought by Jesus, who thus bore testimony to His being the Messias. He tells his audience that the Holy Ghost has been sent from heaven, according to the promise made to this Jesus by His Father: they have proof enough of the great fact, in the gift of tongues of which they themselves are witnesses.

The holy Spirit makes His presence and influence to be felt in the hearts of these favoured listeners. & few moments previously they were disciples of Sinai, who had come from distant lands to celebrate the by-gone Pasch and Pentecost; now they have faith, simple and full faith, in Christ. They repent of the awful crime of His death, of which they have been accomplices; they confess His Resurrection and Ascension; they beseech Peter and the rest of the apostles to put them in the way of salvation: ‘Men and brethren!’ say they, ‘what shall we do?’ [14] Better dispositions could not be: they desire to know their duty, and are determined to do it. Peter resumes his discourse, saying: ‘Do penance, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, whomsoever the Lord our God shall call.’ [15]

The Jewish Pentecost pales at each word of the new Moses; the Christian Pentecost manifests itself with clearer light. The reign of the Holy Ghost is inaugurated in Jerusalem, and under the very shadow of that temple which is doomed to destruction. Peter continued his instructions; but the sacred Volume has left us only these few words, wherewith, probably, the apostle made his final appeal to his hearers: ‘Save yourselves from this perverse generation!’ [16] These children of Israel had to make this sacrifice, or they never could have shared in the graces of the new Pentecost: they had to cut themselves off from their own people; they had to leave the Synagogue for the Church. There was a struggle in many a heart at that moment; but the Holy Spirit triumphed; three thousand declared themselves disciples of Christ, and received the mark of adoption in holy Baptism. Church of the living God! how lovely art thou in thy first reception of the divine Spirit! how admirable is thy early progress! Thy first abode was in the Immaculate Mary, the Virgin full of grace, the Mother of God; thy second victory gave thee the hundred and twenty disciples of the cenacle; and now, three thousand elect proclaim thee as their mother, and, leaving the unhappy Jerusalem, will carry thy name and kingdom to their own countries. Tomorrow, Peter is to preach in the temple, and five thousand men will enroll themselves as disciples of Jesus of Nazareth. Hail! then, dear creation of the Holy Ghost! Militant on earth; triumphant in heaven; beautiful, noble, immortal Church, all hail! And thou, bright Pentecost! day of our truest birth! how fair, how glorious, thou makest these first hours of Jesus’ bride on earth! The divine Spirit thou givest us, has written, not upon stone, but upon our hearts, the Law that is to govern us. In thee, O Pentecost! we find realized the hopes foreshadowed in the mystery of the Epiphany; for though thou thyself art promulgated in Jerusalem, yet thy graces are to be extended to all that are afar off, that is, to us Gentiles. The Magi came from the east; we watched them as they visited the crib of the divine Babe, for we knew that we, too, were to have our season of grace. It was thou, O holy Spirit! that didst attract them to Bethlehem: and now, in this Pentecost of Thy power, Thou callest all men; the star is changed into tongues of fire, and the face of the earth is to be renewed. Oh! grant that we may be ever faithful to the graces thou offerest us, and carefully treasure the gifts sent us, with Thee and through Thee, by the Father and the Son!

The mystery of Pentecost holds so important a place in the Christian dispensation, that we cannot be surprised at the Church’s ranking it, in her liturgy, on an equality with her paschal solemnity. The Pasch is the redemption of man by the victory of Christ; Pentecost is the Holy Ghost taking possession of man redeemed. The Ascension is the intermediate mystery; it consummates the Pasch, by placing the Man-God, the Conqueror of death, and our Head, at the right hand of the Father; it prepares the mission of the Holy Ghost to our earth. This mission could not take place until Jesus had been glorified, as St. John tells us; [17] and several reasons are assigned for this fact by the holy fathers. It was necessary that the Son of God, who, together with the Father, is the principle of the procession of the Holy Ghost in the divine essence, should also personally send this divine Spirit upon the earth. The exterior mission of one of the Three Persons is but the sequel and manifestation of the mysterious and eternal production which is ever going on within the Divinity. Thus the Father is not sent, either by the Son or by the Holy Ghost, because He does not proceed from them. The Son is sent to men by the Father, of whom He is eternally begotten. The Holy Ghost is sent by the Father and the Son, because He proceeds from both. But, in order that the mission of the Holy Ghost might give greater glory to the Son, there was a congruity in its not taking place until such time as the Incarnate Word should be enthroned at the right hand of the Father. How immense the glory of human nature, that it was hypostatically united to the Person of the Son of God when this mission of the Holy Ghost was achieved! and that we can say, in strict truth, the Holy Ghost was sent by the Man-God! This divine mission was not to be given to the Third Person, until men were deprived of the visible presence of Jesus. As we have already said, the hearts of the faithful were henceforward to follow their absent Redeemer by a purer and wholly spiritual love. Now, who was to bring us this new love, if not He who is the link of the eternal love of the Father and the Son?

This holy Spirit of love and union is called, in the sacred Scriptures, the ‘Gift of God’; and it is on the day of Pentecost that the Father and Son send us this ineffable Gift. Let us call to mind the words spoken by our Emmanuel to the Samaritan woman at the well of Sichar: ‘If thou didst know the Gift of God!’[18] He had not yet been given, He had not yet been manifested, otherwise than in a partial way. From this day forward, He inundates the whole earth with His fire, He gives spiritual life to all, He makes His influence felt in every place. We know the Gift of God; so that we have but to open our hearts to receive Him, as did the three thousand who listened to St. Peter’s sermon. Observe, too, the season of the year, in which the Holy Ghost comes to take possession of His earthly kingdom. Our Jesus, the Sun of justice, arose in Bethlehem in the very depth of winter; humble and gradual was His ascent to the zenith of His glory. But the Spirit of the Father and the Son came in the season that harmonizes with His own divine characteristic. He is a consuming Fire. [19]

He comes into the world when summer is in its pride, and sunshine decks our earth with loveliest flowers. Let us welcome the life-giving heat of the Holy Ghost, and earnestly beseech Him that it may ever abide within us. The liturgical year has brought us to the full possession of truth by the Incarnate Word; let us carefully cherish the love, which the Holy Ghost has now enkindled within our hearts.

The Christian Pentecost, prefigured by the ancient one of the Jews, is of the number of the feasts that were instituted by the apostles. As we have already remarked, it formerly shared with Easter the honour of the solemn administration of Baptism. Its octave, like that of Easter, and for the same reason, ended with the Saturday following the feast. The catechumens received Baptism on the night between Saturday and Sunday. So that the Pentecost solemnity began on the vigil, for the neophytes at once put on their white garments: on the eighth day, the Saturday, they laid them aside.

In the middle-ages, the feast of Pentecost was called by the beautiful name of ‘The Pasch of roses,’ just as the Sunday within the octave of the Ascension was termed the ‘Sunday of roses’. The colour and fragrance of this lovely flower were considered by our Catholic forefathers as emblems of the tongues of fire, which rested on the heads of the hundred and twenty disciples, and poured forth the sweet gifts of love and grace on the infant Church. The same idea suggested the red-coloured vestments for the liturgical services during the whole octave. In his Rational (a work which abounds in most interesting information regarding the mediæval liturgical usages), Durandus tells us that, in the thirteenth century, a dove was allowed to fly about in the church, and flowers and lighted tow were thrown down from the roof, during the Mass on Whit Sunday; these were allusions to the two mysteries of Jesus’ baptism, and of the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost.

At Rome, the station is in the basilica of St. Peter. It was but just that special honour should be paid to the prince of the apostles, for it was on this day that his preaching won three thousand converts to the Church. Though the station, and the indulgences attached to it, are at St. Peter’s, yet the sovereign Pontiff and the sacred college of Cardinals solemnize today’s service in the Lateran basilica, which is the mother-church of the city and of the world.

1 Acts, ii. 1.
2 Eph. iii. 19.
3 St. Luke, xii. 49.
4 Our nine o’clock. Acts, ii. 15.
5 St. John, iii. 8.
6 Responsory for the Thursday within the Octave.
7 St. Matth. xxviii. 19.
8 Enarratio in Psalmum cxlvii., verse l4.
9 Gen. iii. 20.
10 Ps. xlv. 5.
11 St. Luke, xxiv. 49.
12 St. Mark, iii. 17.
13 Acts, ii. 14–36.
14 Acts, ii. 37.
15 1bid, 38, 39.
16 Ibid. 40.
17 St. John, vii. 39.
18 St. John, iv. 10.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Reverence for our Eucharistic Lord

 

By the Most Rev. Alexander Sample, Archbishop of Portland
 

My sister who lives here in Portland watched on EWTN the Mass I celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on April 28. One of her comments (after she finished making fun of her younger brother!) was about how Holy Communion was received. She remembered with some real fondness how, when we were children, we always received Holy Communion at the Communion rail and on the tongue. No one dared touch the Holy Eucharist, except the priest.

Whatever anyone reading this thinks about the current practices regarding the distribution of Holy Communion, the rationale behind the former discipline was a profound sense of reverence and awe for the presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. It is not just a symbol or sign. Jesus Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Holy Eucharist.

The Real Presence

That’s what Catholics believe. But our liturgical and sacramental practices far too often do not reflect that profound understanding and faith in the Real Presence. The story is told of a Protestant minister who was invited to attend Mass. Afterward he was questioned on what he thought. He replied that he did not think that the congregation really believed in the Real Presence. When asked why he thought this, he said that he personally did not believe in the Eucharist as Catholics do, but if he did, he would approach our Lord for Communion walking on his knees. He found the casusal and irreverent attitude at the time of Communion in that particular church very unconvincing.

As part of a new Liturgical Handbook for the Archdiocese of Portland to be released on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (June 3), and after consultation, there are two changes in practice I am implementing with regard to our understanding and reverence for the Holy Eucharist. Please consider this a “teaching moment” for all of us. As shepherd and teacher of the faith, and as the one ultimately responsible for the liturgical life of the Archdiocese of Portland, my intent is to foster greater devotion to our Lord in the Blessed Eucharist and in the Holy Mass.

Showing reverence

We will return to the practice of kneeling after the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God). The current practice is to remain standing, which has been an exception to the universal norm of kneeling that has been perfectly legitimate and permitted by the liturgical norms. Nevertheless, returning to the practice of kneeling at this moment in the Mass will foster a greater reverence for our Lord.

The priest at that moment is about to hold up before the congregation our Blessed Lord in the Holy Eucharist and proclaim, “Behold the Lamb of God.” It seems most fitting that we be on our knees before the Lord for such a proclamation of faith. In the Book of Revelation, when the Lamb of God (Christ) is presented before the throng of heaven, all fall down in worship before him. The Mass is a participation in this heavenly liturgy.

On Communion and Holy Sacrifice of Mass

The second change coming is that, in the absence of a priest to offer Mass, the distribution of Holy Communion on weekdays in the parish church during a “Communion service” will no longer be permitted. This does not affect such Communion services in nursing homes, prisons, etc., where the people do not have the opportunity to attend Mass on Sunday in the parish.

There is an intimate and intrinsic link between three realities that is essential in this context. They are the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the priest who ministers in the person of Christ, and the distribution of Holy Communion. These are not to be separated except for serious reasons and pastoral need. As long as the faithful have the opportunity to participate in Mass and receive Holy Communion on Sunday, there is no such pastoral need to receive Holy Communion outside of Mass.

When we go to Mass, we are there to do much more than just receive Holy Communion. We participate actively and consciously in the offering of Christ, the Paschal Victim, through the hands of the priest, who ministers in the very person of Christ at the altar. From this sacramental offering, we receive the Body and Blood of the Lord, thus culminating our participation in the paschal mystery being celebrated. This is the way the Church has always viewed this. The Church never envisioned breaking them apart by distributing Communion outside of Mass. This is only done for the sick and those otherwise unable to participate in the Sunday Eucharist. To do otherwise is very poor sacramental and Eucharistic theology.

When Mass cannot be offered on a weekday in a particular church, parishioners are invited to experience the wider Church by attending daily Mass in a neighboring parish. The faithful can also gather for other forms of prayer, and our Office of Divine Worship has prepared a prayer service for such occasions that include parts of the Liturgy of the Hours with readings from the Mass of the day. This is a way to experience another form of the Church’s liturgical prayer.

These changes may take some time for adjustment, but I am confident that they will lead us to a more profound reverence for the most precious gift of the Holy Eucharist, and a more informed, conscious and active participation in the Holy Mass. And a greater love for our Lord in the Mass and in the Blessed Sacrament will lead to a greater love of neighbor and service to the poor.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Bishop Schneider Addresses a New “Syllabus of Errors” for the Modern Church

From OnePeterFive:

It is with much gratitude that we present today to our readers a lengthy, original interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan. He was so considerate in his answers to the following questions, which we sent to him prior to the recent 3 May meeting of German bishops with the Vatican concerning the current conflict about Communion for Protestant spouses, as well as prior to the scandalous opening of the “Heavenly Bodies” exhibition in New York. It was our intention to put questions to him that would give him an occasion to issue a new sort of “Syllabus of Errors” — our term, not his — for the modern Church, thereby providing fraternal correction of some of the serious distortions of the Faith that are circulating uncorrected in both ecclesial circles and the public.

Bishop Schneider thus comments on issues such as the blessing of homosexual couples, the ordination of female priests, Communion for Protestant spouses of Catholics, Freemasonic symbolism in the Vatican, married priests, the Vatican’s lending of sacred items to the New York fashion exhibition, and, last but not least, the case of little Alfie Evans.

The good bishop does not hesitate to take a clear and principled stance in matters of faith and morals, and we are very grateful to him, once again, for his Catholic witness. May it radiate far and wide, confirming Catholics the world over in their faith.


Maike Hickson (MH): At the beginning of the year, representatives of the German Bishops’ Conference proposed a blessing of homosexual couples. What would be a response to this in light of Catholic doctrine?

Bishop Athanasius Schneider (BAS): Imparting a blessing to a homosexual couple signifies to bless the sin of not only extramarital sexual acts, but what is worse still, sexual acts between persons of the same sex, i.e., to bless the sin of sodomy, which is considered by the nearly entire human history and by the entire Christian tradition as a sin which cries to heaven (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1867). Why does such a sin cry to heaven? Because it nullifies, defiles and contradicts directly the nature and the order of human sexuality in the mutual complementarity of the two sexes, as created by the infinite wisdom of God. Homosexual acts or homosexual relationships are directly against reason and all logic, and against the explicit will of God.

Homosexual acts are intrinsically so nonsensical that one can compare them, for example, with the nonsense of obstructing the mechanism of a seat belt, where the “tongue” (male) connector is pushed into the “buckle” (female connector). Each person with common sense will state the absurdity to use for the seat belt only two tongues or only two buckles. It will not function and it will cause in many cases death because the belt was not fastened. So, too, homosexual acts are causing spiritual death and oftentimes physical death because of the extremely high risk of venereal diseases.

When clerics are promoting the blessing of homosexual relationships, they are promoting a sin, which cries out to heaven, and they are promoting a logical absurdity. Such clerics are committing thereby a grave sin and their sin is even more grievous than that of the homosexual partners whom they bless, because they are giving these people incentives to a life of continuous sins, and exposing them consequently to the real danger of eternal condemnation. Such clerics will surely hear from God – at the moment of their personal judgment – these grave words: “When I say to the evil-doer, death will certainly be your fate; and you give him no word of it and say nothing to make clear to the evil-doer the danger of his evil way, so that he may be safe; that same evil man will come to death in his evil-doing; but I will make you responsible for his blood” (Ez. 3:18). The clerics who are blessing homosexual practices are reintroducing a kind of pagan temple prostitution. Such clerical behavior is akin to apostasy and to them are fully applicable these words of the Holy Scripture: “Certain people have infiltrated among you, who were long ago marked down for condemnation on this account; without any reverence they pervert the grace of our God to lewdness and deny all religion, rejecting our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).

MH: Fr. Anselm Grün, a German book author one of whose books has recently been praised by Pope Francis, now says that he could picture in the future a female pope. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn also said recently that a future council very well might establish a new rule for female priests and even bishops. What is here possible and good in the Church, and what is not? What is the proper role of women in the Church in light of the Gospels?

BAS: By Divine institution, the sacrament of Holy Orders (sacramentum ordinis) can be administered only to a male person. The Church has no power to change this essential characteristic of this sacrament, because she cannot change a substantial aspect of the sacraments, as taught the Council of Trent (cf. sess. 21, chap. 2). Pope John Paul II declared that the impossibility of ordaining women is an infallible teaching of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium (cf. Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis, n. 4), hence it is a Divinely revealed truth, belonging to the deposit of faith (cf. Response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faithfrom October 28, 1995).

Whoever obstinately doubts or denies this revealed truth is committing the sin of heresy, and by doing it publicly and pertinaciously, the sin becomes a canonical crime, which entails the automatic excommunication (latae sententiae). There are a number of clerics, and even in the episcopal ranks, who are nowadays committing that sin, thereby separating themselves invisibly from the community of the Catholic Faith. To them one could safely apply these words of God: “They have gone from among us, but they never really belonged to us” (1 John 2:19).

No Pope and no Ecumenical Council can ever permit a female sacramental ordination (whether deaconate, presbyterate or episcopate). If, in a hypothetical case, they would do it, the Church would be destroyed in one of its essential realities. Yet this can never happen, because the Church is indestructible and Christ is the true Head of His Church, who will not permit that the gates of hell will prevail against her in this concrete aspect.

The most beautiful, unique and irreplaceable role of the woman in the Church is her vocation and her dignity to be a mother, either physically or spiritually, because every woman is by her nature maternal. Inseparably with the maternal is her bridal dignity and vocation. In this her bridal dignity the woman proclaims the truth that each Christian soul, and also the soul of a man, should be a bride of Christ. In her maternal and bridal vocation, the woman is living the interior priesthood of the heart, which is unique to her, and which is complementary to the exterior ministerial manly priesthood of the Apostles. How wisely has God established the order of nature, which reflects itself even more beautifully in the order of grace, in the sacrament of Holy Orders! A female ordination would destroy the Divine order and would consequently bring only spiritual ugliness, spiritual sterility and, ultimately, idolatry.

MH: The German bishops approved in February a handout that allows Protestant spouses of Catholics, in individual cases and after a period of discernment, to receive Holy Communion on a regular basis. In light of the Church’s sacramental order and also in light of the need for Catholics to go to the Sacrament of Penance regularly, is such a move by the German bishops at all licit and possible?

BAS: Since the times of the Apostles (cf. Acts 2:42) the integrity of the Faith (doctrina Apostolorum), the Hierarchical Communion (communicatio) and the Eucharistic Communion (fractio panis) are inseparably connected with one another. In admitting a baptized person to Holy Communion, the Church should never dispense him from professing the integrity of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith. It is insufficient to demand from him only the Catholic belief in the sacrament of the Eucharist (or in the sacrament of Penance and of the Anointing of the sick).

Admitting a baptized person to Holy Communion, and not demanding from him as an indispensable prerequisite the acceptance of all other Catholic truths (e.g., the dogmas of the hierarchical and visible character of the Church, the jurisdictional primacy of the Roman Pontiff, the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff, of the Ecumenical Councils and of the Universal and Ordinary Magisterium, the Marian dogmas etc.) signifies a contradiction to the necessarily visible unity of the Church and to the nature of the Eucharistic sacrament itself. The proper effect of the Eucharistic Communion is namely the manifestation of the perfect union of the members of the Church in the sacramental sign of the Eucharist. Hence, the very reception of Holy Communion in the Catholic Church – even in exceptional cases – by a Protestant or by an Orthodox Christian constitutes, ultimately, a lie. It contradicts the sacramental sign and the interior sacramental reality, inasmuch as they, the non-Catholics admitted to Holy Communion, willingly continue to adhere visibly to the other beliefs of their Protestant or respectively Orthodox communities.

We can discover in this context also the problematic and contradictory principle of canon 844 of the Code of the Canon Law (about the administration of certain sacraments such as the Holy Eucharist to non-Catholic Christians in situations of emergency or danger of death). This principle contradicts the Apostolic Tradition and the constant practice of the Catholic Church throughout two thousand years. Already in the sub-apostolic time of the second century, the Roman Church observed this rule as Saint Justin witnessed it: “This food is called among us the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true” (Apol. I, 66). The problem created recently by the German Bishops’ Conference is – to be honest – only the logical consequence of the problematic concessions formulated by canon 844 of the Code of the Canon Law.

MH: Some observers feel here reminded of the introduction of communion in the hand, which was first initiated regionally, only in order later to be implemented for the Universal Church. Do you see here parallels?

BAS: According to the logic of human fragility, the dynamism of ideological pressure, and the contaminating effect of bad examples, exceptional cases of Communion given to Protestants will also have over time a large implementation, which will then be very hard to stop.

MH: If this new intercommunion initiative would be approved by Rome in an upcoming 3 May meeting [Please see here the outcome of that meeting, M.H.], could this turn into a second weakening of the Church’s sacramental teaching after Amoris Laetitia and its aftermath?

BAS: Without doubt!

MH: In light of this recent German intercommunion project, do you see here limits to calls for decentralization in the Church?

BAS: When there is a real danger that in a particular Church the integrity of the Catholic Faith and the corresponding sacramental practice are damaged, the Roman Pontiff has to exercise his proper duty and correct these defections in order to protect the simple faithful from a deviation from the integrity of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith. When bishops act contrary to their duty, which says that they have “to promote and to safeguard the unity of faith and the discipline common to the whole Church” (Second Vatican Council, Lumen gentium, 23), the Roman Pontiff has to intervene because of his task of being “the teacher of all faithful” and the “supreme teacher of the universal Church” (Lumen gentium, 25). When during a navigation, some of the ship’s officers start to drill holes in the vessel’s side, the ship’s captain cannot say: “I will not interfere, because I want to follow the principle of decentralization”. Each person with common sense will consider such behavior to be irresponsible and absurd, because it will have fatal consequences. When this is true for the physical life, how much more is it true for the supernatural life of the souls! When, however, local bishops do their work well in promoting and safeguarding the faith, the discipline and the liturgy of the Church, the Pope should in no way restrict their initiatives. In this case, there would be a sane decentralization. In “everything that is true, honorable, upright, pure, good, and praiseworthy” (Phil. 4:8), what the local bishops do, the Pope should not interfere with, and he should let them be in these good works decentralized.

MH: In the context of the upcoming 2019 Amazon synod, there are many calls now issued for an allowance of the married priesthood in the Latin Rite. What is your own response to it. Should and can the Catholic Church go this path?

BAS: The Roman Catholic Church should not fall for the trick of the “viri probati” or be overwhelmed by the fact of a drastic shortage of priests in some regions. Such a reaction would be all too human, and there would be a lack of a supernatural view of the Divine Providence, which is always guiding His Church. There are sufficient proofs of periods and regions in Church History with a drastic shortage of priests, in which the Catholic Faith of the lay people was nevertheless flourishing because of the transmission of the faith in the family and because of the witness of virtuous single persons. I myself spent my childhood in such conditions, where there was no priest for several years.

It is sufficiently demonstrated by documents of the Early Church that the priestly celibacy or the law of priestly continence is of Apostolic origin. In the Apostolic times and the times of the Fathers of the Church it was a transmitted and initially not-written norm, that, from the moment of the sacred ordination (deacon, presbyter and bishop), the ordained cleric had to live in perpetual sexual continence, regardless if he was married or single. There exist solid scientific studies, which confirm this fact, e.g., the studies of Christian Cocchini, Cardinal Alfons Stickler, Stefan Heid et al. The Synod of Carthage (390) in the time of Saint Augustine had declared perpetual continence to be “what the apostles taught and what antiquity itself has observed.” Pope Leo the Great (+ 450), a scrupulous observer of the Apostolic traditions, stated: “The law of continence is the same for the ministers of the altar, for the bishops and for the priests; when they were still lay people or lectors, they could freely take a wife and beget children. But once they have reached the ranks mentioned above, what had been permitted is no longer so” (Epist. ad Rusticum). The categorical prohibition to contract marriage after the ordination was universally valid, and is still valid even in the Orthodox churches, where celibacy for diocesan priest is abolished. This is a clear demonstration of the fact that the law of continence for higher orders is of Apostolic origin.

The first attempt to break the Apostolic Tradition of the law of continence, i.e., of the law celibacy in a wider sense, constitutes the legislation of the Byzantine Church in the so-called Second Trullan Synod (691), which, however, the Apostolic See has not recognized. According to the Byzantine legislation, the married priest has to observe sexual continence the night before he will celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Yet a true Catholic priest, who is day and night “another Christ” (alter Christus), and who therefore should celebrate daily the Holy Sacrifice, has to live always in perfect continence. This is a logical consequence of the ontological dignity of the New Testament priesthood and of his perpetual connection with the offering of Christ’s Sacrifice upon the altar, unlike the carnal dynastical priesthood of the Old Testament, which was obliged to sexual continence only during their periodical service in the Temple. It was precisely with the reference to the Old Testament priests, to whom it was allowed to have sexual intercourse with their wives, that the Trullan Synod in 691 dispensed married priests from the law of continence.

If the planned Amazonia Synod in 2019 will introduce married priesthood, even in singular cases and in specific geographical areas, the very dynamism of such an innovation – the phenomenon of married priesthood – will doubtless gradually inundate the entire Latin Church. We hope that the Amazonia Synod 2019 will not promote the introduction of the life style of the Old Testament priests, a lifestyle alien to the example of Christ the Eternal High Priest and of the Apostolic Tradition. Besides, there exists an excellent novel of the Argentinian writer Hugo Wast (a pseudonym of Gustavo Adolfo Martínez Zuviría, + 1962) with the title “Lo que Dios ha unido” (“What God has joined”), in which the author demonstrates, convincingly and brilliantly, the incompatibility between the Catholic priesthood and a sexually active conjugal life.

MH: At a recent Vatican conference, there were gifts handed to the participants that have a strong resemblance to Freemasonic symbolism. Is this a problematic development in light of the preservation of the Catholic teaching whole and entire?

BAS: The mentioned “gifts”, which one can see described and displayed in the internet, are openly pagan, esoteric, and Masonic. These actions, which took place in the Vatican, where is the seat of the truth (“cathedra veritatis”) of Saint Peter, are able to remind us the frequent episodes in the Old Testament, where the people of God and some of their leaders had fallen away from the true and unique worship of God. For, according to the opinion of some religious leaders in the Old Testament it was licit to unite the worship of the true God with the cult of idols. However, God through the voice of all His prophets scourged this as an abomination. There can be no doubt that about the mentioned pagan cultic display in the Vatican there will sound the same condemning voices of all the Biblical prophets. This tragic episode in the Vatican reveals some similarity with the following prophetic vision of Blessed Anne Catharine Emmerich: “I saw again the present Pope and the dark church of his time in Rome. […] And lo, a most singular sight! Each member of the congregation drew an idol from his breast, set it up before him, and prayed to it. It was as if each man drew forth his secret thoughts or passions under the appearance of a dark cloud which, once outside, took some definite form.  The most singular part of it was that the idols filled the place; the church, although the worshippers were so few, was crowded with idols. When the service was over, everyone’s “god” re-entered into his breast. The whole church was draped in black, and all that took place in it was shrouded in gloom” (Vision from May 13, 1820).

MH: The Vatican recently decided to loan many sacred vestments and other sacred items to a secular fashion exhibition in New York which will also show clothing for a female priest, a female bishop, a female cardinal, and even a female pope. Is such a decision on the side of the Vatican not confusing the sacred with the profane and even the cause of moral and spiritual confusion of the faithful?

BAS: Such an action is clearly a profanation of sacred things, which were blessed for the exclusive worship of the true God, the Most Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One can’t help being reminded of the profanation of sacred objects in the Old Testament by King Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Dan. 5:2). However, “God is not mocked” (Gal. 6:7). The following words of God through the mouth of the prophet Daniel are quite applicable to the mentioned episode of profanation of the sacred vestments, consented to by a Vatican authority: “You have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored. Then from his presence, the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Tekel, Parsin” (Dan. 5:23-25). If the prophet Daniel were to live today and were to know of the mentioned profane use of sacred vestments, he doubtlessly would direct the same words to those people, who consented to such a profanation or collaborated with it.

MH: Recently, the world witnessed the Alfie Evans case where the state decided to end the life support of a sick child. Archbishop Paglia and some British bishops praised the state for this decision with reference that one should not use excessive treatments. What is your own response to this Alfie case? Did the state make the right decision, and is the secular world going into the right direction here? What should be the principles for dealing with the gravely ill – whether children or adults?

BAS: The Alfie case revealed itself as the tip of the iceberg. The iceberg is the modern anti-culture of killing unborn children, a practice started as a legal action for the first time in human history by the Communist and Marxist dictatorship of Lenin in 1920. Since the sixties of the last century, the legal killing of unborn children was spread gradually like an orchestrated action in almost all Western countries. The worldwide ideology of killing unborn babies is essentially an ideology of contempt of humanity under the cynical mask of the alleged rights of the woman or of the nebulous “reproductive health.”

The Abortion industry and its political ideology had always categorically refused the comparison of abortion with infanticide. Yet, the case Alfie showed, in full view, to the whole world that the worldwide political, juridical and media power of annihilating the unborn – the vulnerable and weak unborn human life – want to make the next quality step by introducing the legality of infanticide, by initially starting with a legal killing of a seriously ill child. With the Alfie cause, they wanted to set an example in this direction. Indeed, that is only a logical consequence of abortion, combined now with the euthanasia ideology. The Alfie case demonstrated truly, who is who in the issue of the uncompromising defense of the inviolability of human life. It united spontaneously from all corners of the earth the defenders of life into a common battle line. It was a small, but noble, spiritual army unit against the powerful conspiracy of an agreed agenda of politics, of the judiciary and – to our great astonishment – also of medicine. The army of life seemed to be a new David in front of the modern Goliath of infanticide. It seemed that this time Goliath has won. Yet, in fact, this Goliath has lost. Because in the case of Alfie the parties of politics, judiciary, and medicine involved lost the moral credibility of impartiality, transparency, and of the sense of justice. The winner was nevertheless the little army of Alfie. For in the eyes of God and even in the eyes of History, those who defend the most weak and vulnerable human beings, who are in the first place the unborn and ill-born children, will always be the winners. Political, juridical and medical conspiracy against human life will one day surely collapse, because it is inhuman.

To the Alfie case and to the little life-army around him, one can apply these words of the Holy Scripture: “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” (Ps 126:5).

+ Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana

Bishop Schneider at the Rome Life Forum

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Vatican II & Pope Francis: Fr. Clovis Interviewed by Michael Matt

Father Linus Clovis is the brother of Greg Clovis, father of one of the largest and best known Catholic families in southern England. Greg Clovis and his wonderful wife Aghi (an Iranian convert from Islam) have done so much to spread the Faith by their inspiring witness. They live in Chislehurst, Kent, and attend the lovely old church of St Mary there. I have been very blessed to have met Aghi and many members of her amazing family.

———-

RTV in LONDON: Michael Matt interviews Father Linus Clovis. The conversation covers the question of refusing Communion to pro-abort politicians, the necessity of the TLM, Pope Francis, and Amoris Laetitia, which Father calls a “Trojan Horse.”

Plus, is Pope Francis an anomaly, or did Vatican II make Francis inevitable?

Subscribe to The Remnant YouTube Channel, as this week we’ll be in France doing RTV work for the Chartres Pilgrimage.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

“Incels” and the Meaning of Sex

WEDNESDAY, MAY 16, 2018

Events sometimes introduce new terminology into our public consciousness or draw attention to an obscure word, and the recent attack in Toronto, in which a man assaulted a group of women with his car out of anger about his present relationship status, has produced another: “incel,” or “involuntary celibate.” These two words, and the incident that brought them to the fore, say much about the present state of our culture.

The term here refers to a person who is not presently in a sexual relationship, but who wishes to be. Now, technically, this is an inaccurate use of the term “celibate.” I note this not to be pedantic, but because it is revealing.

In Catholic teaching, there are three “c” words that spell out different aspects of sexuality. “Chastity” is limiting sexual activity so as to fit one’s state of life, respecting the power of the sex drive and the natural consequences of the sexual act (i.e. children). “Celibacy” is that state in life that forgoes marriage for the sake of some other purpose. “Continence” is the lack of sexual activity. So, to put the words together properly, for the celibate, chastity requires continence.

In modern usage, however, the meaning of these terms has collapsed into one, so that they’re all taken to mean simply “not having sex.” With that, any coherent sense of the purpose behind Christian sexual morality has disappeared. The “why” of chastity and the meaning of celibacy are less well understood.

Allegory of Chastity by Hans Memling, c. 1480 [Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris]

*

The revolutions that Western society has undergone in the last several decades have often been centered on sex. The political revolutionaries of the Sixties and Seventies held up “free love” as a hallmark of their anti-establishment agenda of self-actualization. And the advent of “the pill” made that agenda much more practically possible.

A culture that seeks to elevate the unencumbered (i.e., radically autonomous) individual above all else must necessarily have a radical view of sex, because sex at its root is an act that naturally leads to bonds and obligations. Sex is now seen as an act of self-actualization and fulfillment rather than as the sealing of a permanent relationship with lasting effects.

Thus even some Catholics have attempted to turn the distinction between the unitive and procreative aspects of the sexual act into a division. But this is an error. Separating the unitive from the procreative doesn’t simply separate out the two elements so that they stand independently – precisely because they can’t.

Rather, the unitive disintegrates and degenerates into pleasure-seeking – uniting for the moment rather than for life. When the notion of the living bond, the child, is completely removed from the equation or viewed as an accidental by-product, then what else is there but the feeling of the moment? And what in that feeling necessitates a lifelong bond, apart from sentiment? Sentiment is not a strong enough mortar to hold together any ethic.

As Ross Douthat observed in a recent column, when a society organizes itself around the principle of individual autonomy, and autonomy is defined as “having the right to do whatever I please,” and the sexual act becomes merely another pleasurable activity, then it is inevitable that some will come to see sex as a right, as something owed to them. And if they are not having sex, it is only because some unjust person or structure withholds it from them. There is no sense of a proper refraining from sexual activity, as in chaste continence.

This attitude manifests itself in different ways, from the man who commits murder in the name of answering this supposed injustice, to those who wish to monetize this phenomenon by reclassifying prostitution as “sex work” – just another service rendered, another commodity traded for cash.

Yet this is where the ideology buts up against nature and breaks apart. Sex is essentially a gift of self to another, and a gift can never be demanded as a right. Nor can another person. To say that one is owed sexual activity is to say either that one has at least a general claim on another person’s body, or that the other person involved in the act, their good and their fulfillment, is entirely irrelevant. (This is the case both with prostitutes, with whom there is only a transactional relationship, and the hellish specter of “sex robots,” which Douthat alludes to.) It necessarily turns sex into a dehumanizing act.

This mentality cannot comprehend celibacy, true celibacy, the conscious giving up of the goods of marriage for the sake of serving as a living sign of a higher good. Nor, really, can it see the sacrifices of marriage as anything more than a capitulation to bourgeois expectations. It cannot see that the very term “involuntary celibate” is a misnomer, a category mistake. Celibacy and marriage are prime examples of putting the other before the self and finding joy in that.

Should it be any wonder that, in such a selfish age, both are on the decline?

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Upcoming 2018 Pilgrimage to Chartres

Annual Pilgrimage to Chartres Friday 18th – Tuesday 22nd May 2018
This year marks the 36th Chartres Pilgrimage – a walk of 70 miles in three days from Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, to Notre Dame Cathedral, Chartres – with the theme: “St Joseph, Pilgirm and Servant”.

The British contingent of the Pilgrimage gather on Friday 18th May for Mass in Westminster Cathedral crypt at 7.00am and then board a coach for Calais at 7.30am. Each day throughout the Pilgrimage the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be offered and the Holy Rosary will be prayed. Confession and spiritual guidance will both be available throughout each day.

Notre-Dame de Chrétienté (NDC)—the organisation responsible for what the late, great Michael Davies, referring to the Chartres Pilgrimage, once described as the ‘most important annual event in Christendom’ has announced that Robert Cardinal Sarah (Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments) will offer the Pontifical High Mass in the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres at our arrival on the third day, Monday 21st May. A NDC  statement reads, “We sincerely thank Cardinal Sarah for having accepted to come and join us on pilgrimage. We are happy to organise this event, which will be an important landmark in the history of our pilgrimage.”

What joyful news! And what a very great blessing this will be for us weary pilgrims!

On Tuesday 22nd May, there will be Mass in the crypt of Chartres Cathedral, before the coach takes the pilgrims back to England via the Eurotunnel, arriving at Westminster Cathedral at about 8.00pm.

What is the Chartres Pilgrimage all about?

A brief explanation HERE.

Wikipedia entry with information on previous pilgrimage themes HERE . (N.B. However there is one mistake in the wiki entry: the SSPX is not “in schism” from the Catholic Church).

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Good Times, Bad Times, Give Me Some Of That…

In early 1996, I splashed out an inordinate amount of money on my first ever laptop computer. At the time I was living hand to mouth as a locum anaesthetist. My lifestyle involved not knowing from one day to the next where I would be employed or for how long. I must confess it was a quite exciting time, like that of the life of a pirate upon the Spanish Main…

My poltroon’s existence ended when the burdens of fatherhood responsibility rightly and justly overwhelmed me. My wife and daughter’s needs for security won over my needs for exciting employment. It was a silent revolution within my life. With amazing ease, my locum-agency effortlessly found me very gainful employment to supply our income.

I swiftly ended up working in Germany at Consultant/Wing Commander level at the RAF hospital at Wegberg for a couple of months before returning to Blighty for the birth of our son.

My laptop came with Windows 3.11, which was a bit primitive. At the local NAAFI store I purchased a copy of Windows 95. On that CD I found this music video, which in my isolation I played over and over again, because I found it so hauntingly beautiful:

Edie Brickell is the wife of the famed songsmith Paul Simon.

The integration of both the good and the bad in life is a very Catholic activity, as we are all continuously called to forgiveness by Our Father.

In time: good times, bad times, give me some of that!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The German Church Divided

From The Catholic Thing, by Robert Royal:

Monday May 7, 2018

It’s tiresome to write about Rome these days. Confusion continues, seemingly without anyone taking much notice. But some things that happen don’t allow you to ignore them. This time, it’s the meeting of German bishops in Rome last Thursday – a meeting called because there is division within the German bishops’ conference about whether to allow Communion, in some instances, to Protestant spouses of Catholics.

The conflict seemed to have been resolved a few weeks earlier. According to reports, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) – the Vatican office charged with handling doctrinal matters – sent the Germans a letter saying that they could not change longstanding practice. Former CDF head Cardinal Gerhard Mueller has argued the same point at length and with great clarity [1]. Pope Emeritus Benedict also is said to agree.

Reports also appeared that Pope Francis did not want the letter published. Instead, he called bishops on both sides to Rome. The head of the German bishops’ conference, Cardinal Marx, expected the pope’s support, since many believe Pope Francis favors such changes. But the current head of the CDF merely told the German bishops that the pope’s decision was that they go home and reach a “unanimous” decision on their own.

Now, as with many things the pope does, the meaning is unclear, and you could read that decision in several ways. The first and most obvious interpretation is that the pope is trying to further his vision of a “decentralized” Church, in which individual bishops and bishops’ conferences don’t always turn to Rome for answers to questions.

But the problems with such a decentralized, “synodal” institution are legion. After the Synods on the Family, several of us pointed out that we could get different teachings about the Eucharist on different sides of the Germany/Poland border. In Poland, it remains a sacrilege to receive Communion after divorcing and remarrying (without an annulment); but in Germany taking Communion after a “penitential period” would be regarded as wonderful progress in mercy.

It’s now clear that even this scenario was too rosy. The Germans – some, anyway – have played an unexpected role in the Vatican under the first Latin American pope. Cardinals Marx and Kasper have been pushing 1970s liberal goals and getting a hearing. But at the same time, even in Germany, Rainer Maria Woelki, the Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne, Germany’s largest and richest diocese, and other prelates oppose such “pastoral” adjustments because they lead to different “doctrinal” positions on the Eucharist – and even the Church.

Which brings us to a second way to look at the pope’s decision. If you are committed, as he is, to a more “synodal” Church, conflicts like this are going to multiply rapidly, perhaps in the same way that doctrinal matters quickly splintered the Protestant Reformers into multiple, conflicting groups. If the German bishops all lived a hundred years, they will never reach a “unanimous” view about this question because the two sides have deep opposing positions.

It’s a bit like hoping pro-lifers and pro-abortion activists can someday reach perfect consensus. It won’t happen – can’t happen – because there’s no common ground between thinking abortion is necessary for women’s equality and thinking abortion is murder.

Perhaps the pope realizes that unanimous consensus is impossible and is content merely to let the debate go on, without intervening. It’s one of his four main principles to “start processes,” not seek to “dominate spaces.”

Which brings us to a third consideration, however: if the above is correct, do we also now have a new vision of the papacy? The pope does not and should not make every decision in a global Church. Individual bishops and bishops’ conferences have a legitimate role in deciding how the truths of the Faith are lived out locally. But their proper authority cannot be allowed to fracture the unity of the universal Church.

Local bishops can make decisions about details of liturgy, personnel matters, and so forth. But certain questions can quickly lead to schism; that is why one of the roles of the pope has always been the pontifex, the bridge builder – promoter of unity.

In my view, there cannot be divisions over the nature and meaning of the Eucharist – the sacrament of unity. Which is where we seem to be at present.

One side sees that sacrament as a kind of hospitality and welcoming of all, a “medicine not a prize for the perfect;” the other sees it as a deep sign of full unity in Christ – and with one another.

Communion for the divorced and remarried became a sore spot precisely because, in the murky way of Amoris laetitia, it seems to exacerbate the very same division about the Eucharist. Chesterton remarks in one of his essays that a person may walk right up to the edge of a precipice if the weather is clear and he can see precisely where he’s putting his feet. If he’s walking in a fog, however, the smart thing to do is to give the chasm a wide berth.

In the current Catholic fog, some are happy because personally troublesome distinctions seem to have been obliterated. But others – yes, sometimes excessively, but not without reason – fear that we are dangerously near to a fatal step on several fronts that we don’t even see.

Pope Francis is not the clearest of leaders. But what is perhaps even more disturbing in these contested matters is that we are often arguing as if the questions have never been treated earlier in the Church. They have – and were settled in ways that do not lend themselves to change via “dialogue.”

We are in a time when we are not only increasing division among existing Catholics, but with the Fathers of the Church and the great doctors and saints, martyrs, and confessors of the ages. And ultimately we have to ask ourselves, would Sts. Peter or Paul, would Jesus Himself, think that allowing these divisions to persist is what God wants for His people?

_____________________________

Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century, published by Ignatius Press. The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West, is now available in paperback from Encounter Books.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Holy Mass: As It Should Be Explained To Those Who Do Not Understand.

 

I was in class at school with this guy many years ago, and visited him briefly last week for some catch-up. He speaks very well for Christ, I think.

(PS: If you hear no sound, move your mouse-cursor over the video pane and click the little crossed-out speaker icon bottom-right).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pastoral Letter on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae

Today, on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, the Bishops and Ordinaries of Kazakhstan issued a Pastoral Letter about the continued relevance of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae concerning matters of human life. With this letter, the authors desire to confirm “the teaching of the constant Magisterium of the Church regarding the transmission of human life,” which they also discussed during their recent meeting in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The signatories — among them Bishop Athanasius Schneider — affirm “that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life.” With reference to different papal statements, the prelates point out that, with God’s help, it is possible to live out the generosity toward new life as desired and sought by God Himself.

Additionally, the signatories of this Pastoral Letter remind us that the teaching as it is found in Humanae Vitae “reasserts the continuity of the Church’s doctrine and tradition” and thus “was inspired by the immutable teaching of the Bible and the Gospel.” “The truth expressed in Humanae Vitae does not change.” These words seem to aim at recent attempts to declare the teaching of Humanae Vitae as not being infallible. The Pastoral Letter also repeatedly points to the fact that the Church’s teaching on matters of life is based on the Natural Moral Law.

Finally, the Pastoral Letter stresses — based once more on papal statements — the beauty of large families, and thus invokes the Blessed Mother’s protection, asking her to “comfort the sufferings and dry the tears of those in distress because of the difficulties of their families.”

This re-affirmation of the Church’s teaching regarding the transmission of human life comes at a time where we have some Catholic priests — like Father Maurizio Chiodi, a newly appointed member of the Pontifical Academy for Life — proclaiming that, sometimes, there are “circumstances — I refer to Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8 — that precisely for the sake of responsibility, require contraception.” Since May of 2017, there are reports coming out of Rome that there are plans now to re-interpret Humanae Vitae.

It is in this context that the upcoming conference in Rome organized by the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family will also discuss the importance of the transmission of life.

In the following, we present the Pastoral letter in its entirety.

______________________________________________________________

Pastoral letter on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the encyclical Humanae vitae

Praised be Our Lord Jesus Christ! Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! The current year is marked by the memorable event of the 50th anniversary of the encyclical Humanae vitae, in which Blessed Paul VI confirmed the teaching of the constant Magisterium of the Church regarding the transmission of human life. The Bishops and Ordinaries of Kazakhstan want to take this favorable occasion in order to honor the memory and the enduring importance of this encyclical.

During the last meeting of all our priests and religious sisters in Almaty, there were thorough discussions on the theme of the preparation of young people to the sacrament of marriage. There was made the proposal to transmit to young people the main truths of the Magisterium of the Church with regard to the Christian marriage and the sanctity of human life from the moment of its conception.

We proclaim with the voice of the Magisterium of the Church as we can learn it in the encyclical Humanae vitae and in the documents of other Roman Pontiffs the following demanding truths of Christ’s “sweet yoke and light burden” (Math. 11:30):

  • “The Church in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life” (Paul VI, Encyclical Humanae vitae, 11).

  • “Excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (cf. Rom 3. 8) — in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong” (Paul VI, Encyclical Humanae Vitae, n. 14).

  • “When the spouses through contraception deprive the exercise of their conjugal sexuality of its potential procreative capacity, they attribute to themselves a power which belongs to God alone: the power to decide in the last instance the coming to existence of a human person. They attribute to themselves the qualification of being not the cooperators of the creative power of God, but the ultimate holders of the source of the human life. From this perspective, contraception is to be objectively judged to such an extent illicit, that it could never, for any reason, be justified. To think or to speak the contrary, equals to hold that in human life there could be given situations in which it would be licit not to recognize God as God” (John Paul II, Address to Participants of a Study Seminar on Responsible Procreation, September 17, 1983).

  • “Many think that the Christian teaching, although true, is nonetheless unfeasible, at least in some circumstances. As the Tradition of the Church has constantly taught, God does not command the impossible but every commandment also entails a gift of grace which helps human freedom to fulfill it. Yet constant prayer, frequent recourse to the sacraments and the exercise of conjugal chastity are needed. Today more than yesterday, man is again beginning to feel the need for truth and right reason in his daily experience. Always be ready to say, without ambiguity, the truth about the good and evil regarding man and the family” (John Paul II, Address to Participants in a Study Meeting on Responsible Procreation, June 5, 1987).

  • “Humanae Vitae reasserts the continuity of the Church’s doctrine and tradition. […] This teaching not only expresses the unchanged truth of Humanae Vitae, but also reveals the farsightedness with which the problem is treated. […] What was true yesterday, is true also today. The truth expressed in Humanae Vitae does not change; on the contrary, precisely in the light of the new scientific discoveries, its teaching becomes more timely and elicits reflection on the intrinsic value it possesses” (Benedict XVI, Address to Participants in the International Congress on the 40th Anniversary of the Encyclical Humanae vitae, May 10, 2008).

  • “This document, i.e. Humanae vitae, was inspired by the immutable teaching of the Bible and the Gospel, which confirms the norms of the natural law and the irrepressible dictates of conscience regarding respect for life and its transmission by fathers and mothers who practice a responsible parenthood. The document has acquired new and urgent relevance in view of the wounds now being inflicted by civil laws on the holiness of the indissoluble marriage bond and the sacredness of human life even in the maternal womb. In face of saddening defections in the Church and society, We, like Peter, feel compelled to go to Him as the only source of salvation and cry out to Him: Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Paul VI, Homily on June 29, 1978).

The entire human history gave sufficient evidence for the fact that a true progress of society depends to a large extent on large families. This fact applies all the more to the life of the Church. Pope Francis reminds us of this truth: “It is a consolation and hope to see so many large families that welcome children as a true gift from God. They know that every child is a blessing” (Pope Francis, General Audience, January 21, 2015).

May the following words of Saint John Paul II, the pope of the family, by a light, a strength, a consolation and a joyful courage to all Christian couples and to the young men and young women, who prepare themselves for the life of a Christian marriage and family.

“We have the distinctive confirmation that the path of holiness lived together as a couple is possible, beautiful, extraordinarily fruitful, and fundamental for the good of the family, the Church and society. This prompts us to pray the Lord that there be many more married couples who can reveal in the holiness of their lives, the “great mystery” of spousal love, which originates in creation and is fulfilled in the union of Christ with his Church (cf. Eph. 5:22-33). Like every path of holiness, yours too, dear married couples, is not easy. We know how many families in these cases are tempted to discouragement. I am particularly referring to those who are going through the sad event of separation; I am thinking of those who must face illness and those who are suffering the premature death of their spouse or of a child. In these situations, one can bear a great witness to fidelity in love, which is purified by having to pass through the crucible of suffering. Dear married couples, do not be overcome by hardship:  the grace of the Sacrament supports you and helps you constantly to raise your arms to heaven, like Moses. At the same time, I ask all families to hold up the arms of the Church, so that she may never fail in her mission of interceding, consoling, guiding and encouraging” (Homily in the Holy Mass of the Beatification of the couple Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi and Maria Corsini, October 21, 2001).

“May the Virgin Mary, who is the Mother of the Church, also be the Mother of “the Church of the home.” Thanks to her motherly aid, may each Christian family really become a “little Church” in which the mystery of the Church of Christ is mirrored and given new life. May she, the Handmaid of the Lord, be an example of humble and generous acceptance of the will of God. May she, the Sorrowful Mother at the foot of the Cross, comfort the sufferings and dry the tears of those in distress because of the difficulties of their families. May Christ the Lord, the Universal King, the King of Families, be present in every Christian home as He was at Cana, bestowing light, joy, serenity and strength” (Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio, 86).

Astana, May 13th 2018, Memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima

Your Bishops and Ordinaries:

+ Jose Luis Mumbiela Sierra, Bishop of the diocese of Most Holy Trinity in Almaty and President of the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of Kazakhstan

+ Tomash Peta, Metropolitan Archbishop of the archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana

+ Adelio Dell’Oro, Bishop of Karaganda

+ Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana

Very Reverend Father Dariusz Buras, Apostolic Administrator of Atyrau

Very Reverend Mitred Archpriest Vasyl Hovera, Delegate of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches for the Greek-Catholic faithful in Kazakhstan and Central Asia

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Reflection for the 7th Sunday of Easter-Cycle B, 2018

Image result for Jesus praying sending his spirit

FIRST READING            Acts of the Apostles 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26

Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers—there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons in the one place–He said, “My brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus.  He was numbered among us and was allotted a share in this ministry.  “For it is written in the Book of Psalms:  May another take his office.  “Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection.”  So they proposed two, Judas called Barabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.  Then they prayed, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.”  Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles.

SECOND READING                  1 John 4:11-16

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.  No one has ever seen God.  Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.  This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit.  Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.  Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God.  We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.  God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.

GOSPEL                John 17:11b-19

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:  “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.  When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.  But now I am coming to you.  I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely.  I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any ore than I belong to the world.  I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.  They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.  Consecrate them in the truth.  Your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.  And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

The Lord has ascended and now prepares to send the Holy Spirit upon us with power.  We must have hearts that are open to receive this power of the Holy Spirit.  We must have hearts that believe deeply in Jesus Christ and in his Holy Church.  We want to be transformed more completely so that God’s glory may be seen on earth.

The first reading today is from the Acts of the Apostles.  The followers of Jesus are now replacing the Judas who betrayed Jesus.  There is a sense that the group of Twelve Apostles must remain as a group of twelve and so Judas who betrayed Jesus must be replaced.  Later this sense of the group of twelves transforms itself into the bishops of the Church.  Then it is no longer just twelve, but all who share the same burden as the twelve:  that of being shepherds of the various parts of the Church.

The second reading today is from the First Letter of Saint John.  It should not surprise us at all that this section of the First Letter of Saint John is about loving one another.  Saint John tells us:  “If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.”  If we love one another….  That is the constant theme:  love one another.  How do we know that we love one another?  We know that we love one another because He has given us His Spirit.  This is why we await the great celebration of Pentecost.  We want to celebrate once more that Jesus has given us His Spirit and in that Spirit we have the power to love one another.

Today’s Gospel is from Saint John.  Saint John tells us today:  “May they be one just as we are one.”  That is so strong that we can hardly believe it.  The Father and the Son are ONE.  Jesus wants us to be one with one another.  It sounds so wonderful, but when we look at other people, we are never sure that we want to be one with them.  Our human reality pushes up against divinity and often we choose our human reality instead of choosing divinity!

Only the Spirit of God can transform us and truly make us one.  Only when we choose to live in the Spirit can we choose to live in truth.  Only be asking the Spirit to be in our lives and to guide our lives can we truly be followers of the Lord Jesus.  We want to live in truth and we can only do that when we call on the Spirit to transform us totally in this life.  Come, Holy Spirit!

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Irish ‘Obstetrician of the Year’ strongly defends the pro-life Eighth Amendment

From LifeSiteNews: 

Dublin, Ireland, May 9, 2018

An honored Irish OB/GYN has defended the endangered Eighth Amendment, saying it has never threatened the life and health of pregnant Irish women.

Mr Trevor Hayes, the consultant named Ireland’s “Obstetrician of the Year” by Maternity & Infant magazine in 2009 and 2013, spoke earlier this month at a Dublin press conference called by the pro-Eighth Amendment “Love Both Project”

In Ireland, as in the United Kingdom, a specialist uses “Mr” and not “Dr” as a courtesy title.

The veteran of a 20-year career in medicine, Hayes attacked the false narrative that the Eighth Amendment endangers Irish women:

“In my many years of medical practice, I have never been prevented by the Eighth Amendment from doing everything necessary to fully care for women and to fully protect them in my practice,” he said.

“Any suggestion that Irish doctors cannot intervene to protect women is deliberately misinforming the Irish public and creating unnecessary fears,” Hayes continued. “I’ve never gambled with the lives of my patients. I’ve never lost a mother. The Eighth Amendment has never prevented me from doing my job to the best of my ability.”

Hayes said professional guidelines for obstetricians are very clear that they may “intervene” to protect the life of a mother. Doctors do not even have to wait until the threat to life is imminent. Meanwhile, he is “concerned” about the untruths being reported about the state of mother’s health services in Ireland.

“I am very concerned that recent weeks have seen significant and untrue public statements about the practice of maternal healthcare in this country,” he said. “No doctor doing their job properly would wait until there is an immediate and critical threat to a pregnant woman’s life before acting to protect the woman, the Eighth Amendment does not stop me from doing my job. Never has and never will.”

The veteran consultant stated that if the Eighth Amendment were to be abolished, 99 percent of the ensuing abortions would not be done to preserve the mother’s life.

“If repeal were to happen, 99 percent of abortions would take place for any reason at all or on supposed mental health grounds. That’s the reality based on what has happened in other countries, but you wouldn’t think it based on how the present debate is being conducted,” he said.

The Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution guarantees the right to life of the unborn child. After years of criticism by the UN for Ireland’s pro-life stand, the Irish government is holding a national referendum vote on May in an attempt to abolish the Eighth Amendment.

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

A Profitable Week – Part One

I recently suffered a major health crisis which scared the bejeepers out of me. My colleagues rallied round and I was soon on the mend. My physical ill-health mirrored my spiritual ill-being. To be honest, I was in a bit of an overall mess, but I then found myself with a whole week of free time to spare. This is how I spent it.

With my wife’s blessing I drove to London to stay with a friend from schooldays. He is now a parish priest, and he has a little apartment in his presbytery in which I shacked up for the duration. Suddenly, I was in the continuous company of both a wise and lovable pastor, and also the Blessed Sacrament.

My spiritual health immediately began to improve. I first made a good Confession, and then received Holy Communion at the Friday evening Mass.

My host then fed me with a rake of seafood pasta-he’s an excellent cook too. After my illness and the long drive, I was exhausted and went to bed early to sleep like one of the just. Remarkably, I had no bad dreams that night, at all.

The next morning, after Mass, I headed up into town to join the “March for Life”, which first assembled near Holborn and then proceeded through Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, and Whitehall, before reassembling at Parliament Square. It is hard to gauge numbers but estimates of 1200-4000 were later bandied about. What is certain is that central London was choked up by the passing of our ruly joyful mob for about three quarters of an hour.

I took some video shots on my phone but also listened to and watched the reactions of people in the street. They were mostly genuinely interested, but I did hear some naysayers speaking with coarse and nasty voices.

“How dare they bring little children on a political demonstration like this….”

“…As if there weren’t enough bloody people on the planet already…”

(Those are the most printable comments at least).

At Parliament Square we were treated to a counter demonstration of perhaps 50 shrill and silly young women with unnaturally coloured hair (mostly) chanting vicious nonsense anti-life slogans. We easily overwhelmed them with our goodwill and non-combativeness. Our spirit was just too strong. Staring agape at them, I remarked to the guy next to me that there seemed to be more children on our side than theirs. It made him laugh.

Then there were some speeches to be made, but I had to retire from the melee as I was fatigued and dehydrated by the burning sunshine, and had also promised to meet my youngest son in Oxford for a burger and some shandy. Train and car got me there eventually.

To be continued…

WordPress won’t let me upload my video so here is a link to the short movie:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1thFmt3X6HzbqNGOU8hJpWIXtZ7Q09v3R

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments